I need you to listen carefully. Are you listening? Are you paying attention? Do you heed? This is important and I am the only one within the sound of your scream who will tell you the truth.
Can you hear the truth? Can you bear to hear it?
Listen. Be still and quiet and listen.
A scarecrow is real. A scarecrow is the most real thing you will ever know in your entire young life.
Don’t laugh! Don’t you dare! You don’t know the old ways, the rituals of blood and sorrow. Do you really think a scarecrow is merely a poppet of hay stuffed into old clothes, hung on a cross-post? Do you think such things are made in haste? From scraps from a closet and spare minutes of time? It is not. They are not.
You do not see this yet. But…you will see. You will learn.
Look at that pile of clothes. Go ahead. Look while you can still turn your head and your eyes can still open. Do those clothes scare you? Of course not. You are scared – and rightly so! – but not by that bundle of rags. Indeed, those clothes would not scare a child. Do you think they could scare a crow? Ha! Crows are wise and oh, so clever. They talk. They listen. They gather and share what they have collected but not with such as I. Oh no. Crows speak to the night and the terrible old things that live in it. They carry power and know much and can’t be scared by a mere shape of hay wrapped in old work clothes. It takes more. It takes blood and earth, mingled. It takes the essence of a body bound up in that shape with the skill I learned from my Mam and her Mam before her. It takes time and sorrow and pain. It takes hanging that effigy thus infused on a cross like an offering to the night.
Do you understand now? No. Of course not. You think I’m touched. You think the woods have worked on me and bent my mind until it broke. Well enough. I suppose this place looks like a haint home, but it’s not. It is wall against the night. There is more in this world, soft city girl, than you can ever know. There are horrible things. Things that take a baby from its parents’ bed without either one so much as stirring. Things that eat a mind and leave the body an empty shell but not dead. Not so fortunate as that. Things that wear a person’s shame like…like a scarecrow will wear old clothes! Yes!
I am not touched, not more than you’d expect from living in this place, making things to hold back the terrible things of the night, scaring the crows so they can’t gather and hear and talk. You do not see that, but you will. I promise. Even though your eyes are stitched shut and your mouth sewn with twine, you will see and speak and stand watch.
Now, lie still so that I can work. What I will do to you will hurt you. There must be pain. Much pain. I am sorry for that, but it cannot be helped. Give voice to the pain. Scream if you must. Wail and whimper and plead. Just do not struggle. It will not help you and it will only slow my work. You do not want me to work slowly. Oh, no. Certainly no.
You want me to work quickly as I can. So that your sorrow and pain will find sharp focus.
So that you will be real, my scarecrow.
Many months ago, while working on another writing project, I wrote a scrap of dialogue spoken by a bent and ancient creature to another figure lying on a table, helpless and wide-eyed. I had thought it the beginning of that project but, as it happened, I went another direction and quite happily so. You’ll see that project come to life next year at some point. But that is, quite literally, another story.
I revived this piece not very long ago and thought I’d finish it, then add another piece or two in the same style — monologues delivered by monsters, but not the traditional monsters with which we are all familiar. As I described what I wanted to do to another writer friend, I inadvertently combined “monologue” and “monster” and — hey, presto! — “Monsterlogue”.
This is the first of five Monsterlogues you will see here, one each from today until Halloween Saturday. The art is all original, from the brilliant mind and skilled hands of Rachael Sinclair. I think her illustrations are perfect for their stories and I’m sure you’ll love them as much as you love what I’ve written.