Wednesday, October 19, 2011

It's Good to be Afraid-- 19, October

19,October–Late Evening

He burst through the front doors. Vilmos Uzor recoiled in horror. Jack and the scarecrow were lurking under the balcony, discussing something in hushed tones. The discussion stopped when the doors slammed against the walls.

“Henry,” the scarecrow said. “I see you've made your way back to us.”
Henry Talbot hurled a balled up piece of metal at their feet. Jack retrieved it but looked puzzled.

“A bullet,” Henry said. “From my head. Thanks to your guys' twisted plan. I know to expect deception from Jack, but not you, Scarecrow. You've never played anyone like this before.”

“While I apologize for not being entirely upfront with you about the plan, I assure you that the mess the night became was entirely due to Jack's improvisation.”

Henry looked at the old man.
Jack shrugged. “I have nothing to hide. The scarecrow wanted ye to stay in your cell, hooting and hollering. Instead, I took a recruit with me and got things stirred up.”

“Consequently,” the scarecrow added, “He was able to dupe our young friend into doing the dangerous work for him while Jack snuck around unhindered. While the Harvest did get off to a good start, it also resulted in the loss of the dear boy and your unfortunate circumstances.”

“You know I never liked this Harvest business,” Henry told the two.
“Of course,” the scarecrow said. “And, of course, we understand your dual nature prevents you from taking a side. Your curse separates you from the world of man, and your immortality prevents you from appreciating the Harvest. Consequently. . .”

“Consequently,” Henry interrupted, “I'm shutting this thing down.”

From below his muddy, worn jacket, a pistol was suddenly in Henry's grip. His hand was calm, relaxed, and the first shot was perfectly clean. It tore through the center of Jack's heart, exited his back and lodged in a thick wooden support pillar. With the moment of surprise over, Henry had to quickly adjust his aim and fire again. The bullet was off its mark but still a good shot, taking the scarecrow roughly in the midsection. It passed through even more easily than Jack's bullet, disappearing somewhere through the back wall of the house. It was chased by a splatter of blood and straw.

There was a moment of hushed silence after Henry's attack. Then she scarecrow said: “Surely you must be joking.”
“You really did it this time,” Jack said, bemused. “And ye actually thought it'd work.”

Henry had feared this scenario, but failed to plan for it. The two began to advance on him. The open door was behind him, but even if he fled, he knew there was no where to go.
“I bled me last drop over 100 years ago,” Jack told him.
“I'm a scarecrow.” The scarecrow shrugged.

Henry raised the gun once more and fired again. The bullet smashed into Jack's mouth, rocking his head back on his neck.
“At least we can have a little quiet before I go.”

Jack smiled. His gap-toothed mouth now resembled the carved pumpkin he carried. Henry was annoyed at his ability to still appreciate a good joke. Jack closed the final distance between them very quickly, and Henry felt a dagger go in under his sternum, then up toward his heart.

“See you next full moon, old boy,” The scarecrow said from behind Jack.
Henry stumbled backward and collapsed onto the front porch.
“I promise we'll patch things up then.”
The man's eyes closed as his heart stopped. Jack retrieved his knife.

“Mr. Uzor!” The scarecrow called.
The old man appeared almost immediately. He had clearly presupposed how the evening was going to play out, as he was already dragging a flatbed trolley behind him.

“Hide our old acquaintance,” The scarecrow instructed him. “Just be sure to leave him where he will have a pleasing view of the sky come next month.”

“And you!” The scarecrow jabbed a finger at his other acquaintance. “That last bullet's done you a favor. See if you can keep from making a mess of things any more this season.”

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