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Author Topic: Empty Head  (Read 5082 times)

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Slimebeast

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on: 04:18:18 AM 06/26/13
Growing up, the kids in my idyllic suburban neighborhood would often play cruel tricks on each other. Be it mashing mud down the back of someone's jeans while crying out "SHITPANTS!" or telling someone that having a hand larger than your face was a sign of Down's Syndrome, only to smash their own palm into their nose when they tested it.

One of the nastier events involved "Empty Head". There was a large tobacco field just past our housing development. It was far enough that you had to bike there, but close enough to be used as our regular playground.

Even after we'd tried chewing and burning the tobacco leaves to see if we could "smoke", only to get sick or have nothing happen at all, the field still held a certain sense of danger for us. It was bad to be there. Wrong. We could feel it.

Some of the older kids from school would tell us not to hang out there, and we decided that was because THEY wanted the place to themselves. They repeatedly spoke of a man with no face who would stand out in the middle of the tobacco plants in the dead of night, when they had grown about waist high. He'd been a farmer, they said, one who had blown his brains out with a shotgun years earlier.

The story changed between tellings, from child to child, so we didn't put much stock in that either. Sometimes he was an escaped prisoner, for example, whose face was destroyed by the kick from a horse he tried to steal.

Any way you chose to tell it, we didn't buy a word.

Eventually, the day arrived when a series of dares and wagers between friends resulted in a handful of us deciding to visit the field at night and prove Empty Head wasn't real. I almost didn't go when one of my friends arrived beneath my bedroom window, but I admit the indecision was due to fear and not a sense of how ridiculous the concept was.

We biked out to the tobacco field guided by the flashlight only one kid thought to bring. There was no moon, the clouds covered what starlight there might've been, and in this void of blackness a variety of grotesque insects saw no option but to hover near us and repeatedly collide with our pitiful, flickering lantern.

A good deal of relief washed over me when we arrived at the field and found no one there. The scarecrow near the road gave us all a start, but that only lasted momentarily. All who let out a yelp at the sight of it were properly mocked.

Then, one of the kids yelled out for a second time. He was the oldest among us, a tall, blonde boy with good looks that we all envied and hated - secretly or not. He pointed out into the field with the silent, wide-eyed horror that makes you dread sharing in his knowledge.

Some of us turned right away. Myself and a little girl in rabbit pajamas simply locked eyes with each other and went rigid. She asked the others to tell her what they saw, then asked them not to. Her high, almost squeaky voice chilled me the core. I felt my stomach turning based entirely on the amount of horror that saturated her pleading, drawn out utterances.

Mustering up all of the internal strength I could manage, I turned.

All I could hear were the quiet, stifled gasps and whispered queries from the others around me mingling with the chorus of a thousand crickets strumming out their identical and overlapping tunes.

A figure now stood in the middle of the field, and for all we could tell it was another scarecrow. The lean, stoop-shouldered figure wore a black and white striped shirt with suspenders. Below that there was no way to tell due to the height of the crop.

What we noticed first, however, was the man's pale green head and how the trembling beam of that flashlight shone straight through it.

The man's face, from what we could tell in the darkness and from that distance, appeared cracked and broken... more like an egg shell than flesh. A tremendous hole stood in place of his visage. Within, there was nothing, true emptiness, through to the similarly jagged back of his head. Longish tendrils of sandy brown hair hung down across the opening and over his ears, ringing around a bald cap.

We were simultaneously terrified and awestruck. The stories had been true... at least in part... and we were actually witnessing something beyond the understanding of any adult. This meant that all the other things we'd suspected had indeed been real. Ghosts, monsters, aliens, et al.

The tall boy with the blonde hair seemed to be the only one among us who wasn't impressed by the sight. First, he called out to the thing, only to be shushed by the rest of us. Then, he called out again in a more profane tone. Finally, he seized the flashlight from its owner and flicked the light across the creature's face several times. Nothing seemed to have any effect on its stoic, silent demeanor.

The boy who had brought the flashlight was a short, but tough kid we'd all come to regard as a bit of a nuisance. He was always dirty, always wearing the same clothes, and had a habit of being around right before something of yours went missing. He had rusty hair as well, which inspired all manner of ridicule.

The rusty-haired boy demanded the flashlight back, saying it belonged to his Dad and he'd get a beating if it went missing. Upon hearing this, the tall boy did what any reasonable young man in his position would choose.

He cast the flashlight into the field, grunting as he threw for all he was worth. The object landed amid the bright green leaves of the tobacco, its beam now half-lighting the creature in the distance.

Rather than feel any pity for the child, the rest of us began to chat, insisting he go into the field and retrieve the object he so desperately wanted. It's frightening to look back at how we treated him. Nearly as frightening as the situation itself.

The rusty-haired boy slowly stepped into the field, his eyes fixed on the creature less than fifty feet away. He took one step, then another, and soon out raucous whoops and hollers died away, replaced by a quiet anticipation of what was to happen next.

We wanted something to happen, and we got it. As soon as the boy picked up his flashlight and once again turned it full on the creature, on Empty Head, the thing immediately wrapped its arms around itself and disappeared.

That is to say, he dropped. Below the soil. There wasn't a sound made as all six feet or more of this thin, fully grown man dropped from site like a body on the gallows.

Needless to say, perhaps, the boy and his flashlight began the return trip quickly. The beam of light danced and waved and blinded us all at times while his small legs nearly seemed to spin beneath him like a cartoon character.

He jumped... and tripped... over several plants on the way back out of that field. Then he stopped only a few feet from the roadside, and what must have seemed like salvation.

The reason for this sudden change was the strange noise coming from the tall, blonde boy who had driven him into the field. The boy who was now looking pained, a twisted, awful grimace contorting his face.

It wasn't a groan or a cry or any sort of vocalization.

It was the sound of cracking.

From his forehead, a jagged, shell-like, flesh-colored shared fell... pushed outward by a pale, green finger.
« Last Edit: 04:23:09 AM 06/26/13 by chwolf »
If I should live until I wake, I pray the web my death to fake.