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Posted: 6/12/2016 11:23 PM PDT
     There’s something about folk tales that stuck with me ever since I was a boy, wondering what their morals and messages could mean. But at the end of the day, I knew they were stories and nothing more than that. Well, I wish I could say the same about something I witnessed a long time ago and I’ve never forgotten it.
     I was fourteen at the time. A typical kid who started high school and was already flunking math class. I hated school, but it was the girls that kept me going, I suppose. I don’t know, it was something about them that drove me crazy and I couldn’t stop thinking about them. And that’s why I hooked up with as many as I could, even though they eventually caught onto my game.
     
But that’s a different story, and isn’t what I wish to tell you about scarecrows.
     
Now when you think of a scarecrow, surely nothing out of the ordinary comes to mind. Well, I used to think that was true myself and I thought there wasn’t anything peculiar about them because they were just scarecrows. Everyone knew they were harmless things that stood around and scared away the crows. But I was wrong. There was so much about them I didn’t know, and everything changed when I heard rumors of lights appearing from the woods surrounding my house. No one (not even my parents) could explain it, and I didn’t know what was happening.
     
At first, there wasn’t anything strange about the lights because I assumed it was a bunch of kids running around in the dark, flickering their flashlights at each other. I didn’t find it creepy or anything, just weird was all. It happened every night around midnight or so, and the lights would grow brighter and brighter as if they had a mind of their own.
     
So one night I decided to investigate and see the lights for myself.
     
If I knew what I was getting myself into, however, I would have pulled the blankets over and stayed hidden beneath my pillow. But I was curious, wanting to know what those strange lights were and where they came from. And that’s when it began.
     
It was one of those nights when there was hardly any stars in the sky, and the full moon was partially visible behind a curtain of dark clouds. There was a slight chill in the air and a light wind flowed through my open window. Lifting the blankets, I stared out the window and saw the maples around my house. And that’s when I saw it. Beams of light were flickering between the twisted branches, appearing and re-appearing at will. 
     
Throwing back the blankets, I got out of bed, stepped on the floor, and walked barefoot across the room. Reaching for the windowsill, I lifted myself off the floor and climbed my way through the window. I didn’t want to wake my parents, so I snuck out and fell to the ground. It wasn’t a long fall, as my window wasn’t very high off the ground, and I landed safely.
     
I scrambled to my feet and glanced to the woods, watching the lights weave like string between the pines and maples. Without looking back, I ran in the direction of the lights and felt spellbound the entire time. I remember thinking to go back and forget the whole thing. But I didn’t. I wanted to see the lights for myself. 
     
I ran away from the house and made my way into the forest, watching more and more beams of light appear ahead of me. I wasn’t very far in, when lights suddenly exploded overhead and something cocooned in shadow approached me. It was some kind of mangled scarecrow, resembling a skeleton, and its skull was hidden behind a black veil. Wearing a cloak of straw over its dark robe, the scarecrow clenched its skeletal hands and started muttering gibberish, casting light from its fingertips. Flashing its red eyes, the scarecrow kept me rooted to the spot and I was frozen in fear.
     
At that moment, kids of all ages appeared from no-where and started gathering around the scarecrow. A few of them I recognized from the posters around town, saying they were missing and no-one knew what had happened to them. And there they were, holding hands in a circle around the scarecrow. But something was odd. The kids were pale. Very pale, in fact, and parts of their skull could be seen through their wrinkled skin. Each kid was wearing a black veil and had a cloak of straw draped over their dark robes, resembling the scarecrow that hovered over them. In unison, the kids were speaking gibberish, along with the scarecrow, and they seemed to understand each other. 
     
Then it happened. Turning its head, the scarecrow muttered something and pointed its long crooked finger toward me. Before I could scream, the kids overcame me and I was dragged away in the darkness. The lights vanished and the scarecrow disappeared, leaving the woods as they were. 
     
I don’t know what happened to my parents after that night. It’s hard to say, really. They probably moved out of town, had a few kids, and started a new life. But I know one thing. They forgot me and it’s been ages since I last saw my town. Well, the town I remember, anyway. After hearing reports of kids being abducted by lights, the government assumed it was aliens and shut the whole place down. Everyone was forced to go, leaving their careers and memories behind them. Eventually, the town deteriorated and was taken over by the wilderness.
     
It was fourteen years ago when the scarecrow, and his children, took me into the woods and made me apart of them. I wasn’t the only one they held captive, however, as there were a lot of kids piled on top of each other in a fire pit. I was amazed to see so many kids tied together, fighting for their life. It had the feel of a trial, a test of the childrens’ will to survive. If they lived, the scarecrow took them for his own and they were his children. But if they couldn’t overcome the flames, they perished in the pit and their souls departed. 
     
I was tossed into the pit, trying to catch one last glimpse of the moon. I didn’t know what was so important about it, but I somehow knew it was going to be the last time I would see it. Standing over the pile of kids, the scarecrow reached into his robe and took out a torch, lighting it with his finger. The last thing I remember was staring into his red eyes, before he tossed his torch into the pit, and his children sang and danced around the growing flames.
     
The rest I can’t remember. But it was a seemingly harmless scarecrow that drew kids from my neighborhood into the woods, and snatched their souls away. Although my fate was sealed all of those years ago, it doesn’t mean the same should happen to you. Listen to the words of a boy who once lived in a town very much like your own, and avoid any scarecrows you see because it could be the last thing you do.
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