“On our way here, we encountered a rather strange incident.” Ashley Morris took a sip of his coffee and looked at his wife.
“Oh yes,” said Jane. You must hear of this.
Jane and Ashley were sitting in the beautiful lounge of Edward and Kate Mckinley. Each trip to the Mckinleys was one that they eagerly looked forward to.
“As we drove down here, a lot of people gathered around; and all of them seemed to know that we were coming here. They looked at us strangely, almost pityingly!”
“Why?!” exclaimed Jane in her soft soothing voice. “That’s strange!”
As everyone talked, Jane looked out at the garden. It was bathed in a hauntingly beautiful moonlight. At the far end of the garden there stood a scarecrow. Jane never quite knew why the Mckinleys wanted to keep an ugly scarred scarecrow in their beautiful garden. Its eyes always seemed to be looking at you and through you, and it seemed to know everything that you ever wanted to hide.
“Some people actually begged us not to come here!”, said Ashley angrily. “We’ve been coming here for years!”
Jane, who had momentarily lost track of the conversation could’ve sworn that Edward and Kate were looking at each other almost fearfully.
That night, everytime Jane dozed off, she was woken by disturbing dreams. Finally giving up the attempt to sleep at round 2:00 am, she walked over to the window. To her great surprise, Kate and Edward were out in the garden, pacing up and down restlessly.
A sudden flicker of movement caught Jane’s eye. Well-hidden in the shadows, at the far end of the garden stood a man! Evidently, he was listening in on the conversation. Suddenly the man darted forwards, and before Jane knew it, she was staring into those hollow sunken eyes. Jane was aware of the sudden stillness that had settled over the garden. Then, somewhere, a man started screaming, pleading. Jane wanted to help him…he was just there, and yet too far away to be helped…..
All at once, the screaming stopped, and fragments of the conversation floated up. Kate was talking in a scared voice. “Ed, it’s impossible! No one can know!” Edward wrapped his arms round Kate. “No one knows.” He tried to reassure her. “No!!!” screamed Kate hysterically. “Roger is here-!”
Jane, who had stood frozen to the spot, seemed to snap out of a trance, her head reeling. Before she could steady herself, an invisible force hit her squarely in the chest, and she stumbled backwards. She grabbed the window for support, and looked out on the garden only to see that it was quite devoid of people. Only at the corner stood that horrible scarecrow, looking at Jane. As Jane shut the window, it didn’t occur to her that the scarecrow could only be looking at her if it tilted its head upwards. And that shouldn’t have been possible.
That day as Jane went downstairs, she was surprised to see a dishevelled Ashley sitting there. Ashley was always neatly dressed. Before Jane could ask, Ashley staggered over.”Jane! I had such a disturbing night.” he said. “I couldn’t sleep, and Kate and Ed were out in the garden; and a woman-”
“A woman? I saw a man-”
At that moment, Ed and Kate entered, and cut short the conversation. Edward greeted them almost coldly. Breakfast was an uncomfortable affair. All through breakfast, Kate kept looking out of the window, and Edward threw warning glances at her everytime she did that. After breakfast, Kate murmured and excuse and walked out, and Edward followed. The moment the couple left, Jane and Ashley rounded upon each other. Ashley blurted into speech. “Jane, I couldn’t sleep last night; disturbing dreams, and then I saw Kate and Edward out on the garden, and a woman stood eavesdropping, and then something hit me, and I stumbled backwards, and-”
“And then you looked upon the garden to see that it was empty?” finished Jane. They stood silently, looking at each other. “I saw a man, I’m sure,” said Jane.
Ashley walked out of the room, and Jane followed. From the library, two scared voices drifted over. “Ed-what do we do? If Susan-” Kate’s voice was drowned by a terrified scream from Edward. “Do not speak her name!” he hissed.
Outside, Jane and Ashley looked at each other. After a moment, the library door opened, and Edward and Kate stepped out. The two couples looked at each other uneasily. After a beat, Kate forced a smile. “It’s such a lovely day! Let’s go for a walk in the garden.” Edward greatly admired his wife for that easy smile of hers. It was a wonder that she even managed to fake smiles now. It was all such a nightmare…
The four friends strolled out to the garden. Instinctively, Jane and Ashley looked at the scarecrow. It stood there at its usual corner, its eyes full of secrets. Ashley turned and banged straight into Edward. “Ed-?” He just stood there, as if carved of wood. Kate looked at her husband, and she too froze, the color draining from her face. “Kate? Ed?” Neither of them replied. Suddenly, Kate screamed, and grabbed Edward’s arm, he stumbled, and both of them fell upon the garden. Ashley and Kate rushed over to help them, but both of them screamed and pushed them away. Then out of nowhere, two figures materialized in front of them- a man and a woman. The woman had a deep wound on her throat, and the man was scarred and broken. To Kate and Ashley’s horror, they realised that they were the same people who had stood eavesdropping the night before. Kate and Edward were screaming hysterically; the warm day grew cold and dark…and then scenes from somewhere began playing in front of them.
Edward stood beside a beautiful woman in a wedding dress; the very same woman who now stood before them. Then the scene shifted, and Edward was bending over the woman with a knife in his hand. The scene shifted, and Kate stood with a man on a cliff, the same man who stood there then. There was a strange smile on Kate’s face, the smile of a murderer. Kate turned, and deliberately, mercilessly, pushed the man off the cliff, shutting her former lover from her life forever.