Oscar Crew! His name stared back at him from the front of an unaddressed envelope. Hidden within the thin paper package was a letter, one he had waited years to read.
‘A strange item to leave in a will,’ thought Genevieve, studying the letter in Oscar’s hands.
‘Dad was always very secretive about it,’ replied Oscar. ‘When he caught me looking at it, he seemed rather anxious, as if he feared the day I opened it.’
‘Did the lawyer say anything when they handed it to you?’
‘That I must open it before the next waxing crescent moon.’
Nervously, Oscar picked up a pair of scissors and cut along the top of the envelope. Genevieve ignored his disturbingly loud breathing as she watched him pull out an old, frail piece of parchment.
‘That must be centuries old,’ stated Genevieve. ‘A family heirloom?’
His eyes skimmed over the words written in perfect cursive.
Lips sealed, keep safe secret curse,
Revealed once waxing crescent light disperse.
When creator passes for eternity,
You inherit an unfortunate destiny.
Spinning web weaves a hidden word,
One connected to a murderous bird.
Where greeting hands forge an eternal bond,
And hayfields go far beyond.
Secrets confess a longstanding crime,
This fate is yours until the end of time.
Genevieve gasped, the words triggering a memory. Flipping through her university case study notes about unsolved crimes, she opened up to a page with a picture of two large boulders.
Her sudden burst of enthusiasm puzzled Oscar. ‘Why are you showing me this?’
‘It’s a picture of Handshake Rock, located on a deserted farm surrounded by hayfields.’
‘The line about an eternal bond, it matches the description of Handshake Rock perfectly. No one ever goes there; they say it’s cursed.’
‘When is the next waxing moon?’
Genevieve googled his question on her phone. Horror cursed her expression, her eyes fearful as she looked at him and replied, ‘Tonight.’
Rays of sunlight slowly faded across the endless fields of hay as they arrived at Handshake Rock. Genevieve was on edge. She jumped at the sound of Oscar slamming the car door. Oscar was just as anxious. Finally, he would discover the secrets hidden within the letter.
No sign of the web appeared until the moonlight illuminated the sky. The abnormally large spider web was intertwined within the fingers of the large boulders. A word, woven within the white, silky strands, had Genevieve spooked. It was not just the word. Eleven strange shapes had suddenly appeared within the hayfields.
Genevieve knew this case intimately. There were 11 people in the area who had mysteriously disappeared. Reports spoke of this phenomenon, but it was too farfetched to believe.
Something abnormal began to occur to Oscar’s face. He could feel it happening but had no control over it. His expression became malicious, his skin like old stretched leather. When the makeup around his eyes and mouth became visible, Genevieve knew what he had become.
She ran hysterically, not thinking about where she was going. It was short-lived. Her body suddenly felt numb. Instead of flesh and bone, her limbs were now straw, her clothes replaced by old rags and her body tied to a wooden cross. She had become the twelfth victim. Oscar wanted it to stop, but he was powerless. He now knew his family’s curse, why his father feared the letter. Spun within the web was the word revealing his unfortunate destiny. He had inherited the identity of infamous mass murder, the Scarecrow.