From The Dead

Entry by: J.S. Spadeface

6th April 2018
Can scarecrows die, thought Henry Grandhomme as he waved goodbye to his father's entourage. The old man had come with his usual bunch of lackeys; the silent, glibly stoical younger ones who hung back and attempted to reflect the gravitas that his father had generated wherever he had roamed throughout his eighty-seven years. The middle-men, who had worked for some years for the old man and were politest and most personable of them, or as far as they could be when working for a man with a heart as blackened as his father's.
And of course, the two chief lapdogs, Marius and Romanie. They had wilted Henry's goodbye wave with as much thorough disgust and distaste as they had shown to Henry throughout his father's life, whilst seeming to remain immune to the ravages of time that had eventually brought down the old man. Marius had remained clean shaven for the fifty-three years that Henry had feared him, dark, bruise-coloured swathes of stubble had seethed under his jawline every last day that Henry had known and feared him, whilst Romanie had had little else for Henry except a stern, unsmiling face and open contempt, both of which she silently admonished Henry with now as she led the entourage around the corner of the ruins.

Leaving Henry alone with his dead father.

A week earlier, one of the middle-men had been good enough to visit Henry and let him know that his father had died a fortnight before.

Henry had gone blank. He had lived in a vivid fear of his father and his followers since he could remember and knew that around this wretched corner of the country, months of mourning would be observed. His death would not change his fear of the old man. It surprised him not that he had been not made aware of his father's decline, and eventual death until a week had passed. His followers had elevated the old man to a status that surpassed plausibility and reason, objectified him to the degree that his name was a law, a cult, a religion, an atmospheric gas that anyone wishing to prevail in this part of the country must inhale and exhale.

And now his decaying body had been bent into a chair and carried to his son, who would undertake the final phase of his passing.

Henry's legs began to shiver violently. The old man's face had died long ago, and been replaced by a slab that resembled a spreading of fungus that you would only expect to find in the darkest pit of the deepest woods, with no light or love to be found within its rank contours. And dying had only served to make his father's face resemble the scarecrow of death that Henry had come to see him as with an even greater amplitude.

His father's clumps of grey and black hair rose to a sudden wind, revealing a scalp riddled with pus, boils and something that seemed to be moving independently.

An anguished sob broke from Henry as he continued to regard his dead father.

'The scarecrows are just the dead amending for the past, boy.'

These had been the words his father had uttered to him when a young Henry had cried upon seeing a scarecrow being erected onto one of his father's cornfields.

'That is a dead... man, father?'

'Yes, boy. A pointless man who only toiled when drinking. So now he has to stand in a field and use his afterlife to keep the crows away from the fields.'

Henry had cried some more, attracting a look of particular disgust from Romanie, who had been tailing Henry and his father with Marius.

'He had his chance, boy,' continued his father. 'He could have eaten the death away before it took him. Any man who eats the flesh of his father when he dies is granted a blissful afterlife. Any man who refuses to perform such a noble task will end up, I'm afraid...'

Henry's father gestured towards the scarecrow, then bent down to his sobbing son.

'You will eat me when I die, won't you Henry?' asked his father, a rare smile growing across his already damned face like a dagger in a kidney.

Henry falls to his knees, his hands splaying across his father's lap.

He looks over towards the decaying row of scarecrows, their clothing flapping desultorily in his father's fields.

Henry claws a chunk of face from his father's left cheek and begins to chew.