Walking through the fields at dusk, Melody mused, is always a little creepy.
The corn stalks stood tall, taller than Melody by a foot at least. The short woman was dressed in coveralls and a thick work shirt, gloves up to her forearms dirty from the time spent in the fields. She’d gone past the corn into the wheat to get soil samples, so that they could be later checked for minerals and nutrient levels for next years planting rotation. The job had taken the better half of a day, and now the sun was bleeding out on the horizon, leaving her in the shadows of the corn and the low-light of the moon.
Walking down the path between the rows of corn, Melody jumped when she almost walked into the post where the scarecrow stood tall, the straw man’s head covered in a burlap sack. The whole figure was dressed in dark clothes, with a wide-brimmed straw hat stapled to the head, making it look like a sleepy farmer just nodding off.
Melody shook her head and walked around the post. To think the thing still scared her, even after all this time. She’d hated putting it together and hated it even more when she nailed it up on the post. Something about the lanky figure bothered her, and no amount of logical thinking could talk her out of her unease.
A warm wind blew over the high stalks, the forest of corn rustling from the unseen hand of God. Melody shook the thoughts from her head and continued on her way, relishing the thought of putting her feet up and having a cold beer after a hard day’s work. It was only when she’d broken through the edge of the field did she hear the unwelcome sound of a crow.
Turning, she spied one perched on the bough of the tree in her front yard. It stared at her with an unblinking carelessness that made her hackles rise.
“Get out of here!” She shouted, waving her arms.
The crow responded with an almost mocking caw, before jumping up higher on the branch. It was almost as if the bird was daring her to try something.
Glaring at the pest, Melody stalked to her front porch where she kept her rifle. The .22 was the perfect tool for dealing with undesirables like this offensive bird, and she relished the chance to wipe the smug attitude from the bird.
Picking up her rifle, she took aim and squeezed the trigger. A loud bang echoed across the fields as the bird gave a final caw before bursting, inky darkness splashing across the branch as if it’d been a water balloon filled with paint.
Blinking, Melody lowered her rifle and stared at the branch, the smoking ichor of the bird defying her brain’s thought process on what should have happened.
“What in the Hell…?” she muttered.
Another caw made her jump, this one closer. Spinning in place, she leveled her rifle at the bird perched on the railing of her porch. The large crow stared at her, daring her to shoot. She didn’t know what would possess such an animal to come this close to a human but decided to oblige the nuisance.
Taking aim, she squeezed the trigger once more and blasted the bird not five feet away from her.
Another pop and splash of black, this time steaming fresh like it’d been pulled straight from the oven. It spattered across the porch and the wall, and she cursed her reckless decision.
“Shit,” she said. “Going to have to clean that up…”
Lowering her firearm, she turned to head inside the house to fetch a mop, only to find her door frame fractured, the locked door bearing a smudge in the center from a boot. The door swung open on a low whine of a squeaky hinge, and the darkness of the home loomed before her in greeting.
“What the…” she muttered, stepping into the house. Flicking on the light, she winced at the sudden brightness before letting out a bloodcurdling scream.
The walls were bathed in sticky red slop, chunks of gore falling from the ceiling and sliding down the walls in a congealed mess. Her living room table bore a body, a knife sticking from the back. It was unrecognizable and had been brutally butchered. A third crow stood atop it, pulling away meat in lengthy strips to gobble down.
Before she could react, a hand lurched forward from behind the door, grabbing the barrel of her rifle. It pulled on the weapon, yanking Melody partially inside, enough so that the knife in the killer’s hand could sink into her side.
Another scream tore from her throat, this time one of pain. The knife ripped out of her and back in in rapid succession, a mad cackle filling her ears as the unseen madman repeatedly stabbed her. She finally managed the strength to shove him away, though the motion sent her toppling to the floor. Looking up, she winced as she took in the sight of the man.
Dressed in a stained tee shirt and faded denim jeans, the man had a blood-stained beard and mad eyes that danced in his skull. Balding, he looked old enough to be her father. He was bulky, not from muscle but from sheer fat, rolls of it spilling from beneath his stained shirt.
“Hello my pretty,” he grumbled, voice thick with scorn. “Will you scream for me one more time? Nice and long now, enough for me to remember you by.”
Melody complied as he barreled down on top of her, her throat going raw before splitting in twain from the knife plunging into her. Darkness crept at her vision, and she soon collapsed, unable to stay awake any longer.