8.12: Part One
27th October 1993
Carmel wasn’t scared of anything. At least, that
was what she liked everyone in high school to think. After
all, it paid to be the one everyone else looked up to,
right now, as she walked home from a get together with
some of her friends, she didn’t feel so brave. Her
watch read ten after midnight, and she was alone.
was all Arnie Kinmont’s fault – he’d
promised to walk her and then decided to stay back with
some of his football buddies instead.
Sally huffed silently.
course, there was no real reason to be afraid. She was
in a pretty safe suburban area where mostly the “older
No reason to
feel jittery, and yet Sally did feel jittery.
felt chills running down her back and her throat was becoming
suddenly very dry.
She chided herself. There’s only one block
to go now…
the edgy feeling wouldn’t go away, no matter how
much she internally scolded. In fact, the sensation had
grown to the point were Sally was convinced she was being
could hear her footfalls echoing on the concrete and feel
her own chest rising and falling far too quickly as she
such a wuss! Sally spun around, handbag at the ready
to assault any would-be attacker, but the street was empty
save for a lone black and white cat pawing at a trash
can that’s lid had been left off.
chuckled and took a deep breath. Boy, her friends would
have the last laugh if they could see her now. Even so,
as she focused back on her journey, she quickened her
step just a little. There was no harm in getting home
a few minutes faster, after all.
houses around her were in darkness, every last one of
them, and that did little to quell the fear in the pit
of her stomach. Mostly seniors lived here, and Sally guessed
they were all in bed already.
if I AM being followed…
her, the cat she’d seen suddenly shrieked, and as
Sally whirled around again, she saw it skittering off
into the night, its tail between its legs like it had
seen a Hellhound.
hands began to shake, and she dropped her bag. A bright
pink purse and various makeup items tumbled out onto the
pavement, and she was forced to drop down to her knees
to retrieve them.
had she stayed so late? Why was she so dang scared of
a creepy cat anyway..?
long, misshaped shadow fell over her and Sally froze.
It looked odd, like it had lumpy, sticky out pieces on
the head. She swallowed hard, daring herself to look up
at the person standing over her.
face that stared back wasn’t human – it had
sack cloth for a head, with glowing red demon eyes sunk
back into the material and little bits of straw sticking
out from every orifice.
head was cocked at an odd angle, as if it found Sally
to be intriguing.
scarecrow’s body was just as scruffy. Dirty, torn
clothing with more straw protrusions, and where the arms
finished, there were old tan leather gloves. In the right
hand, there was some kind of strange tool – a slightly
curved blade with a hooked end.
sight of the thing was such a surprise, Sally fell flat
on her bottom, and then burst out into a fit of giggles,
sudden relief making her laugh.
Young, you’re fooling no one! Everyone in town knows
you’ve been working on that dang scarecrow costume
for Halloween for the past six months!” Sally scowled
at the thing and then stumbled to her feet, scooping her
purse back into her bag along with the makeup.
scarecrow’s head straightened, and it looked at
Sally for one second longer before lunging at her with
the blade in its hand.
screamed, her lungs expelling every ounce of air until
they felt raw. And then she ducked, just in time for the
blade to narrowly miss her throat.
dropped her bag again, and this time she didn’t
stop to retrieve it, she simply ran. Her legs felt like
Jell-O and her mind couldn’t focus, but she moved
anyway. This wasn’t Billy, and it wasn’t a
her, she could hear the slithery steps as the scarecrow
gave chase. And once, she was sure she felt the waft of
the blade as it was swung at her again and narrowly missed
the back of her left shoulder.
there were more trash cans, and Sally decided she was
going to use them. As she raced past, she grabbed the
nearest can with her left hand and spun it around behind
was a crash as the metal hit the footpath and the can’s
contents spilled out into the road, but Sally daren’t
look to see if it had tripped her assailant, instead she
kept up the ridiculous pace until the muscles in her legs
begged for mercy.
ultimately slowed as pain and cramp crept into every sinew
of her body, and eventually, when her ears could no longer
discern someone following, she stopped, just for a second
and looked back.
street was empty.
scarecrow, no stray cat, no nothing.
sucked down fast, painful breaths until the burning in
her chest waned. Her eyes darted from street corner to
front door and back again as she decided her next move.
was a mist starting to form over the low ground, and in
the waxing moonlight it frightened her almost as much
as the scarecrow had. This was all wrong, all so very
be happening! It can’t! I need a phone, I need the
pushed her tired limbs to jog to the nearest door, and
she began to pound on it until she felt splinters of wood
stick into her fist. She ignored them.
need help! Anybody! Somebody, please just
answer the door!”
an upstairs window creaked laboriously open and an old
lady with a bright red hair net poked her head through.
She looked annoyed, her nose wrinkling up in disgust.
“Will you dang trick or treat people just scoot?
Don’t ya’ll know it’s not even Halloween
Sally could respond the woman vanished back inside and
the window was slammed firmly shut.
stomach lurched and she abruptly hated herself for all
the tricks she’d played on the elderly over the
years. Ironic, now, that those pranks were hitting her
right back in the face.
it wasn’t over yet.
scarecrow still hadn’t reappeared, and Sally’s
taxed brain screamed at her to run for the callbox on
the corner of the adjoining street. It wasn’t far,
but to her legs and her terrified psyche it may as well
have been the other side the world.
box was cold inside, like a refrigerator, but Sally was
welcome of the sanctuary it seemed to offer. She grabbed
the handset, her hands still trembling and began to dial.
half put in the number to her parents house when the shadow
from earlier returned across the battle-scarred glass
of the booth.
there was only one way in or out.
dropped the phone and reflexively turned just in time
to see the scarecrow step from the still forming fog.
damned if it didn’t seem to be smiling.
was the very last thought Sally Carmel ever experienced.
scarecrow brought the sharpened tool in its hand up in
a thrusting movement straight into Sally’s chest.
Her eyes bulged, and she slowly slid down the back of
the booth, leaving a streak of blood on the glass panels
as she slumped to the floor.
Above her, the
scarecrow cocked its head again in morbid curiosity, its
radiant ruby eyes watching every last dying breath until
the girl was no more.
* * *
Mission City P.D.
Crow Wing County
29th October 1993
pulled the Jeep into an empty parking spot and killed
the engine. Instead of stepping straight out, he sighed
and looked around at the bustling place that had once
been his home.
was good to be back, and he really should come more often,
but then this time wasn’t exactly his own idea.
Ryder, his old school buddy had called the previous day
saying he had a problem Mac’s “unique talents”
might be able to solve. When Mac had pushed for more details,
Neil had been pretty elusive saying that it was police
business he couldn’t discuss on the phone.
a while MacGyver had considered whether it was just a
ruse to get him back to Mission City, but the strange
tone in Neil’s voice had convinced him otherwise.
After Sam’s recent climbing accident, it had still
been a pull to come out here and leave his son behind.
He hoped Neil’s mystery was worth it.
ran a hand through his hair, took out his keys and hopped
out of the Jeep. It was a short walk into the police station
and up to the duty sergeant’s counter.
leaned on the desk and smiled. “Hi, name’s
MacGyver, I’m here to see Sgt. Ryder?”
cop the other side eyed him warily, and then sauntered
into a back room without speaking. Two minutes later,
Neil appeared in his place, a wane smile on his face.
“About time we saw you around these parts again,”
rolled his eyes. “C’mon, Neil, you know my
work keeps me busy. And now that Sam’s around too…”
nodded and gestured that they go outside into the police
lot. “Yeah, you need to bring the kid over more
often. We should all go camping together, a father and
son kinda deal.” He reached a police cruiser and
opened the driver’s door. “Get in, I want
you to meet someone. I’ll explain on the way.”
raised a brow – all this secrecy wasn’t like
Neil at all, and that meant it must be something pretty
big. He climbed into the passenger seat and waited until
Neil was out onto the local highway before looking at
his friend expectantly.
appeared to be heading out of town, and that meant out
of Neil’s jurisdiction if they carried on.
Mac finally asked. “What are you up to, and why
do you need me?”
pulled up at a red light and glanced over. When his eyes
met MacGyver’s they were filled with something akin
to dread. “Two nights ago a young high school kid
named Sally Carmel was killed in a neighboring town, and
then last night another from the same school was murdered
in exactly the same way.”
rubbed at his neck. The long drive had made him stiff
and sore, but he pushed it aside. “Sounds nasty,
but how do I fit in? I’m not exactly a cop, and
by the sounds of things it’s not your jurisdiction
nodded. “It’s not, but a friend of mine, Sgt.
Steffi Webber was working on the first killing. We’ve
known one another awhile and we try to help one another
when we can. You know, cross border intel and so on…”
she was working on the first killing? Something
happen to change that?”
lights changed to green and Ryder pulled the cruiser away
and into a right lane. “You could say that.”
He grimaced. “Steffi went over to interview the
dead girl’s high school friends and was actually
there when the second kid, Tom Klein was killed. She actually
saw the killer and…”
interest was suddenly piqued by how Neil’s voice
had petered out, like he didn’t want to tell the
rest of the tale. “And?” He pushed.
it was someone dressed as a Halloween scarecrow, with
some kinda weird blade we haven’t been able to identify
yet. Webber tried to stop the creep when she saw what
was going down – fired three shots into it, and
it still kept coming at her.” Neil pulled into a
vast parking lot and took the nearest available bay.
waited for his friend to kill the cruiser’s engine
before pointing out the obvious. “You don’t
need me to suggest the guy was probably wearing a bulletproof
vest, right? Amazing what a piece of Kevlar will do.”
squirmed in his seat, his hands clasping and unclasping
on the car’s steering wheel before he got up the
nerve to serve up the next piece of his story. “No,
I don’t need you to tell me that,” he conceded.
“What I need you to tell me is how come Steffi fired
two more shots point blank into the thing’s head
and it didn’t flinch? In fact, it sliced her pretty
good. If she hadn’t fallen back down some stairs,
it probably would have finished her.” He pointed
to a large building at the back of the lot. “That’s
why I want you to meet her.”
squinted at the building, finally realizing it was a small
out of town hospital. He swallowed hard, trying to take
all the information in, as crazy as it sounded. It was
Halloween, yeah, but no way was he buying that anything
creepy was going down. “She’s sure she hit
the guy twice in the head? I mean, c’mon, couldn’t
she have been scared enough to have missed?”
shook his head. “I trust Steffi’s judgment,
Mac. I’ve known her for over ten years, and if she
says she hit the thing I believe her. That’s why
I asked you to come down. If anyone can think outside
the box and figure out how that goon defied two slugs
in the skull, then it’s you.”
out at the stark hospital in the distance, and swallowed.
If the killer really had taken two bullets to the head
without flinching, he wasn’t sure even he could
* * *
St. Joseph’s Medical Center
wasn’t keen on hospitals. Heck, he’d spent
far too much time in them to ever want to walk the white,
sterile halls of one ever again. And yet, here he was
following Neil down yet another antiseptic smelling corridor
to Steffi Webber’s room.
to Neil, the surgery to Steffi’s slashed arm had
gone well and she was due for release later in the day,
so that was something, but it did little to quell the
queasiness Mac always felt in these places.
reached a teak colored door and Neil paused, rapping lightly
on the wood with his knuckles.
they entered, a petite brunette sporting a sling on her
right arm glanced up from reading a typed report and smiled.
She looked tired, small bags under her eyes giving away
lack of sleep. “Neil! I wasn’t expecting you
nodded and motioned to MacGyver with his thumb. “This
is the friend I was telling you about…”
to meet you, ma’am.” Mac bobbed his head.
smile widened. “Neil’s told me all about you.
He thinks you can help me out with my little
problem? I can’t exactly file it in my
report or my colleagues will think I’m going nuts.”
pulled out a chair and sat down at the side of Webber’s
bed. Neil took a seat the opposite side.
sure willing to try, but I’m gonna need a few more
details…” Mac raised a brow in anticipation.
shrugged, holding her injured arm as if speaking of the
event actually made it hurt more. “There’s
not much I can tell you that Neil probably hasn’t
already. But I think we need to hurry. I have this gut
feeling there might be more killings.”
makes you say that?” Neil asked, looking slightly
sighed. “When I interviewed the friends of Sally
and Tom, the two dead kids, they reluctantly admitted
to a practical joke, and I can’t help but think
it may be what’s started all this.”
kind of joke?” Mac pushed, knowing all-too-well
what kind of pranks high school kids could get up to.
it’s near Halloween and they’d all been drinking,”
Steffi explained. “It seems they thought it would
be hilarious to go into a local fruit farmer’s field
and do a few “pagan rituals.” They lit a fire,
wore some old robes and were out there chanting. Apparently
they imagined it might freak out some of the more local
yokels, as they put it.” She looked out of the window
into the distance, as if she could see the field from
her room. “I’m scared they’ve offended
someone in a big way…”
wasn’t convinced. “C’mon, would someone
really dress up as a scarecrow and kill like this just
to get back at a few kids? That’s kinda a big stretch.”
He tapped his fingers on the end of the bed as his mind
started to turn things over. “What about the murder
weapon? Neil says it’s some kinda strange blade?
Can you describe it?”
cocked her head as she apparently tried to remember. “It
wasn’t a knife,” she began. “In fact
it looked more like a tool of some sort. The blade was
curved, and the end was hooked. It was about this long,”
she indicated the thing’s length with her good hand.
mulled over the description, biting on his bottom lip
as he deliberated. “I think I’ve seen something
like that before. In fact I think my grandpa Harry had
put us out of our misery!” Neil demanded. “What
the heck is it?”
it’s a turnip knife – an old farming tool,
and I mean old.” MacGyver let out a long
frustrated breath. “’Course, that doesn’t
get us one bit closer to solving anything, though.”
He looked at his watch. “I think I’m gonna
go over to the high school and take a peek where the second
kid was killed.”
shook his head apologetically. “Well, I wish I could
stay and help but I have a shift back in Mission City
I can’t miss.”
Mac nodded. “No
worries, I’ll take a cab…”
* * *
Pequot Lakes high School
30805 Olson St.
had taken MacGyver longer than he’d expected to
actually get a cab and get to the high school. By the
time he’d laid foot on the campus, the October sun
was fading into oblivion, dull grey clouds interspersed
with scarlet banded hues filling the evening sky.
took off his sunglass and slid them into his pocket, taking
short strides to a line of yellow police tape where the
second kid had been killed, and where Steffi had been
few minutes, a student would pass by, stop, look and then
move on with an expression akin to either curiosity, or
terror. Mac didn’t envy them, while the killer was
out there, and the motive was unknown, anyone was fair
bobbed under the yellow lines and dropped down to examine
were dark stains on the concrete that had also been marked
off with small numbered labels. MacGyver knew the crime
scene people had left these behind after photographing
for any potential clues.
winced as he kneeled closer to the marks he knew had been
caused by blood pooling. There had been a lot of it –
the killer had been ruthless in the attack. The stains
alone did little to help his plight, and he stood up,
intent on checking out where Steffi had been slashed.
me, young man, but just what do you think you’re
doing? Those police markers are there for a reason!”
spun around to see a middle-aged woman staring at him
with intense blue eyes that seemed to burn like a laser.
She was dressed like someone from a fifties B movie and
her attitude was far from pleasant.
don’t just stand there,” she growled. “I
want an explanation, or I’m calling the police!”
brash tone rendered MacGyver speechless, at least for
a couple of seconds. Shouldn’t she be more cautious?
I could be the dang killer for all she knows, and she
confronts me on a rapidly emptying campus?
slowly reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out his
Phoenix I.D. card. “I’m here at the request
of a friend in the local police department,” he
explained as he slid his credentials under her nose.
woman took the card, scrutinized it for far too long and
then handed it brusquely back. “I’m Professor
Wilson,” she offered, appearing to relax just a
little. “”I teach history here and I…well,
I thought you were one of those ghoulish individuals who
get a kick out of seeing where people died.”
grimaced. “No, ma’am, I’m just here
to help.” He nodded back to the dark, discolored
concrete. “Do you know anything about what happened?”
face screwed up until she looked like a wizened fruit.
“Everyone knows Billy Young is the one messing around
with a scarecrow outfit. Why he hasn’t been arrested
already is beyond me!”
smiled. “You know, anyone can get a Halloween outfit.
Owning one that looks like a scarecrow isn’t exactly
nose creased up and her eyes rolled skywards as if she
was talking to someone of lesser intellect. “Really?”
She offered with more than a hint of sarcasm. “Well,
if you’ll excuse me Mr. MacDriver, I have to go,
papers to mark and so on.”
skittered away with a folder under her arm and a definite
bee in her bonnet.
MacGyver.” Mac corrected to no one in particular
as the teacher vanished into the ether. Boy she was
a tough cookie…
stuck his hands in his jeans pockets and sighed. There
was nothing here to give him any clues as to what had
really happened, or how the scarecrow had performed its
magic trick with the head shots.
stole a glance at his watch. It was getting late, he hadn’t
even arranged a place to stay, and his Jeep was still
back in Mission City.
noticed a motel on the way into town that would serve
his needs, but he was going to need another cab to get
there, and a phone to call one.
somewhat inadequate in his plight to help Steffi and Neil,
Mac began to amble back towards the school buildings,
hoping to catch campus security to let him use a phone.
He was about halfway when he finally noticed he was ankle
deep in a swirling white mist. It seemed to pool around
his legs like it had a purpose and mind of its own.
frowned. Yes, it was close to Halloween, and it was October,
ahead made a scuffling noise and MacGyver instantly forgot
the fog. He looked up; searching the shadows for whatever
had caught his attention.
there it was, looking back at him with shimmering red
eyes, its head cocked to one side in morbid fascination.
didn’t move. He simply stared back, almost mesmerized
by the scarecrow’s gruesome features. If this was
a costume, it was no “off the shelf” offering.
scarecrow seemed to appreciate his lack of fear and took
a tentative step forwards, its gait stiff and mechanical.
In fact, it was almost slithering.
in its right hand, was exactly what Mac had expected,
a recently sharpened turnip knife that normally would
have reflected the muted moonlight.
tonight, this one still dripped with a scarlet residue
that MacGyver could only imagine was fresh blood.