The plums were lovely. Half purple and half violet, filling the air with a faintly sweet smell. Sarah Rackson stood on her top toes and reached up through the thinner branches to one of the thicker ones, she wrapped her fingers around it and bent the branch almost to snapping point.
"Thanks" said Jessica Barker, she plucked a few of the larger plums from the branch and dropped them in her basket.
"Nice to have a bud that's super tall." Sarah smiled but her arm was starting to ache, she was about to let go when there was a loud crack as the branch snapped in two. Sarah yelped, lost her balance and fell backwards, tripping over a low bench and landing hard on her back. Jessica burst into peels of high pitched laughter and shrieked for her friends.
"Quick! You guys have to see this! The only time you'll see Sarah Rackson on her back!" Vaz Demargra appeared at the edge of the plum orchard; he smiled and raised an eyebrow.
"Oh I dunno. I've seen her on her back a few times and on her knees and on her head and on her - ."
"Thank you Vaz. Shut the fuck up" snarled Sarah, blushing beetroot red as she struggled to her feet.
"Yeah? Do we get to see pictures next time, Vazzy?" Vaz turned towards the voice, the smile dropping from his face. The twins stopped laughing immediately; Ben and Max Charm glanced at eachother before turning on their heels and hurrying towards the corn fields.
Vaz pulled Sarah to her feet, they left the plum orchard and caught up with the twins, Jessica was right behind them. Sarah sighed, she was fuming. Now her back ached and her shirt was filthy, the sound of giggling drew her attention back to the twins. They stopped as soon as she faced them but the giggling started again as soon as she turned away. Biting her tongue and gripping Vaz's hand so hard he winced, Sarah tried to take her mind of the overwhelming urge to knock their teeth down their throats.
The apple orchard was to their right but they had already been there. Sarah touched her fingers to her cheek where a bruise was starting to flower from where Max had thrown one of the apples at her. The dick had laughed and said she needed to learn how to duck. Sarah smiled as she remembered the ringing the slap she had delivered to his face.
"Looks like I'm not the only one that needs to learn how to duck!" Sarah crowed. She sniggered to herself as they turned into the cornfield.
"I thought it was bigger" sniffed Ben.
"That's what she said" said Vaz, slapping him across the back of his head. The corn was so tall! Sarah herself was just under six tall and Vaz was a good foot taller than her again but the corn towered above both of them. They stepped into the nearest row and followed the signs for the ripe corn. Sarah held onto Vaz as they passed the scarecrow at the centre. That thing was creepy as hell. The arms were thrown out to the sides, black eyes staring straight ahead as if keeping a watchful eye on any unwanted visitors in its domain. Despite the heat, Sarah felt a chill saunter its way up her spine. Vaz slipped his arm around her shoulders but she still felt kind of cold inside.
Jessica moved towards the scarecrow and peered up into its face, even reaching out to push her fingers into its stomach.
"Creepy dude" she muttered.
"Looks like your ex" laughed Max. Jessica gave a small smile before shoving the scarecrow away from her; it spun around and was suddenly looming over the twins. Jessica laughed as they shrieked like little girls and scrambled over eachother to get out from under its shadow. Jessica winked at Sarah before pulling a plastic bag from her pocket and filling it with corn.
It took less than five minutes to collect what they wanted.
"I'm hungry. Let's go back to that little cafe thing and get some food" said Sarah, wiping the sweat from her face.
"I'm not hungry" replied Ben, shoving another handful of strawberries into his mouth. Vaz snatched the bag from him and retied the top.
"Good. You can get us more fruit to replace everything you've eaten while we go get a brew." Both twins groaned as they all turned and followed Jessica as she led the way out of the cornfield.
They had been walking for maybe fifteen minutes when Sarah stopped, she was sure they should have reached the edge of the field by now.
"Jess got us lost" said Max to Ben, Ben nodded.
"How can we get lost in a field that's less than a mile wide?" snapped Jess. Sarah frowned and turned away from them, she twisted in a full circle before turning back to Vaz.
"Where's the scarecrow? We just head to that and make our way from there" she said. Max pointed to their right.
"Over there." Sarah frowned again, it looked quite small in the distance but she was sure it had been quite close to the edge of the field.
"We only need cooking apples" said Jessica, yanking Sarah back to the moment.
"They are that way" she said, pointing towards the scarecrow after checking her map. They turned and headed to what they hoped was the edge of the field.
"I do not sodding believe this!" growled Ben. He wiped his face and yanked his shirt off, stuffing it in the back of his jeans. Max was jumping up and down to try and see over the top of the corn but he was nowhere near tall enough.
"This field isn't even a frigging field!" cried Ben, throwing his arms out and warming to his theme. "It's only a few hundred yards wide! We've been walking for half an hour; we should at least be able to see the edge by now!" He was getting more and more worked up but the boy did have a point. They should have been out of the corn and half way across the apple orchard by now.
"Vaz, stick Sarah on your shoulders and have a look around" said Max, keeping an eye on his brother. Vaz raised an eyebrow but knelt down so Sarah could swing her leg over his back. Once they were comfortable, he began to turn in a slow circle. Sarah frowned; her voice when she spoke was shaking and barely understandable.
"I don't see anything. I don't just mean the farm, there are no roads or trees or anything! Just corn as far as I can see. How's that possible!" cried Sarah, she slid down Vaz's back and stood shaking at his side. Vaz moved his head from side to side, wincing as the bones cracked. He stopped and stared at Max. The poor kid's face was so pale he was almost see through, his eyes were wide and his mouth was working but no sound was coming out.
"Max? Mate, what's up? You look like you're gonna puke!" Max swallowed and took a deep breath.
"The scarecrow. It moved."
Everyone turned to where Max was staring. He was right; the scarecrow did seem to have moved. The rate they had been walking, it should have been left far behind them but it was barely 50 yards away from them.
"Maybe we just walked in a big circle?" said Ben, wringing his hands. Jessica opened her mouth, closed it and spoke in a small voice.
"Maybe there's more than one? I mean, in a field this size - ."
"But it wasn't this big when we walked into it! Not to mention the fact that that thing was on the left and now it's on the right. I think we may be fucked" cried Max, he was breathing hard and obviously trying not to cry. Sarah rubbed her eyes; she was starting to get a headache from the sun. She turned away and almost walked into the scarecrow.
"What the Hell!" Sarah shrieked. Vaz grabbed her arm and yanked her backwards in a move so fast it left her breathless. He stared, wide eyed, at the scarecrow that was now right behind them. Nobody moved and nobody breathed. After a moment, Sarah stepped out from behind Vaz and reached out a trembling hand towards the scarecrow. She prodded at the chest, feeling the straw shift but it was still a little too solid in there for her liking. Sarah swallowed, pulling her hand away and taking a few steps backwards.
"Let's go" she said. Sarah turned and let out a shuddering breath.
"Oh Jesus Christ." The scarecrow was, once again, blocking their path.
Max stumbled backwards and spun around, but he wasn't seeing things, the scarecrow was the only one there and it was blocking their way.
"What the flying fuck is this?" he said. A strangled cry dragged their attention back to the scarecrow. Sarah gagged and voiced a silent scream. The coat the scarecrow was wearing had been flung open, the chest a mass of bloody gore and straw. A thick length of straw was extended from the centre and had wrapped itself around Jessica's throat; blood spurted from her neck as the straw cut into her neck, almost decapitating her. With a vicious yank, Jessica was hauled forward into the scarecrow's chest. The coat closed and she was gone.
The silence was almost deafening, they were too terrified to even scream. A hand dropped onto Sarah's shoulder and she had to bite her tongue to hold in the rising shriek, Ben pulled her backwards a few steps. As the group moved, the scarecrow followed them. It didn't seem to walk or even float but it just vanished and then reappeared an instant later behind them. The head shifted a little and the stitched lips lifted in a grin, a voice drifted out to them, a dry voice like a fire in a corn field.
"Run for me. Now." Vaz grabbed Sarah's arm.
"No need to tell me twice" he muttered. They ran into the field with the echo of laughter behind them.
Max suddenly skidded to a halt, as he was in the lead the others ploughed into him.
"Why've you stopped? Keep going!" yelled Ben, shoving his brother in the back. Max shoved him back and pointed forwards, a slight smile on his lips. Sarah followed his finger and gave a squeal of delight. The edge of the field was just visible in the distance. Vaz leaned on his thighs, breathing hard.
"Fucking Hell. I thought we'd done the Blair Witch Project" he panted. A dry chuckle floated to them on a slight breeze and suddenly they were running again.
Moving. Always bloody moving. But it wasn't just them; the edge of the field seemed to be moving away from them too.
"I can't! I'm too freaking tired!" screamed Sarah, she threw herself onto the ground and curled up into a ball. Vaz stared down at her, his eyes kept returning to the distant edge but he couldn't bring himself to go on without her. He opened his mouth to speak but no sound came out, his eyes seemed to bulge out of his skull before blood suddenly erupted from his chest as a tendril of straw snaked through him. Vaz dropped to his knees and reached out a trembling, blood soaked hand towards Sarah. Her fingers brushed his before he was yanked backwards into the straw. Sarah laid her head down on the mud and closed her eyes; she just needed to sleep for a while and then this nightmare would end.
Max and Ben tried to get Sarah back on her feet but she just curled up into a tighter ball and murmured something about needing to wake up.
"We'll carry her. I'll go first, and then we'll swap" said Max. Ben nodded as his brother scooped Sarah up into his arms, once he had found a comfortable position, they began to walk again. They moved as quietly as possible, listening for the rustle of something other than the corn. Max shifted Sarah slightly, she was getting heavy and it was time to swap.
"Hey Ben, can you take - ." He stopped, Ben was gone. There was nothing left of his twin but a puddle of blood a few paces back. Max let Sarah slip through his arms as he began to cry.
"Ben. Why didn't you say something, you stupid bastard" he sobbed. Sarah blinked and lifted her head. Where was everyone? Then it all came flooding back. Jessica and Vaz were gone. Max was on his knees crying for his brother and Ben was nowhere to be seen. She swallowed and crawled to him, holding his face in her hands.
"We have to go, sweetie. Okay?" Max hiccupped and nodded, leaning on Sarah as they stood up. After a few moments, Sarah let out a high pitched laugh.
"Look! We made it!" The edge was suddenly a few feet away, Max took a single step forward when a thick length of straw burst from the corn and wrapped itself his ankle. He fell forward and slammed his face into the mud, when Max looked up there was a trickle of blood sliding from his nose.
"Go" he said. Sarah moved to grab his arms but Max batted her away.
"Sarah, RUN!" Max screamed as he was yanked backwards. Sarah hesitated for a moment before she turned on her heel and made a dash for the edge.
Panic rose when she heard the soft foot falls behind her. She refused to look back but pumped her legs harder, ignoring the cramp that tried to spread to her burning lungs. When something brushed her neck, she screamed and threw herself over the edge of the field. The gravel from the path sliced into her palms but she barely noticed, scrambling to her feet and bolting to the gate. Sarah spun around and stared at the scarecrow, now standing motionless on the edge of the corn field.
"I beat you, fucker. I beat you" she murmured. Sarah pushed open the gate but a hand closed around her neck, a dry voice whispered in her ear.
"I don't think so." Sarah screamed but nobody came and she was dragged back into the corn.
The five hundred yard field (that wasn't really a field) of corn was quiet once again. The scarecrow had returned to the centre, watching over his domain. The coat bulged over his chest as what was inside shifted and settled, even the crows wouldn't near with the stench of death still in the air. The stitched lips of the scarecrow were lifted in a smile and around its neck hung a piece of card with words scrawled in what looked like (but surely couldn't be) blood. 'Pick Your Own.'