Trick or Treat

By MacsJeep

Episode 8.12: Part Two

 

Any normal person would have run – but MacGyver was far from ordinary. This was a puzzle, and solving it would lead to the capture of a cold blooded killer. So, instead of turning tail, Mac decided a full on sprint after the scarecrow was the only way to get his answers.

“Hey!” Mac shouted after the thing, and it twitched as if startled by his full-frontal approach.

For a moment, the scarecrow seemed to pause for thought, and then it spun around, making a dash for the edge of the campus.

MacGyver gave chase, bounding over a wall and two short fences before realizing that somehow, the scarecrow had vanished into thin air.

It was as if the mist swirling at his feet had swallowed the farmyard creature up.

Mac stopped and caught his breath, realizing that his opponent was not only extremely ugly, but also extremely lithe. You’re getting old if you can’t keep up with something made of straw! He half-joked to himself.

But of course, the scarecrow wasn’t really straw, it was human, and that meant it had returned to the scene of the crime, like so many other killers before it. I need to call the police, it could still be hanging around, and there are plenty of kids it could attack next…

And why the heck am I calling it an “it” when I know dang well it has to be a person?

MacGyver sucked down another breath and then began to jog back to the nearest building. He’d gotten half way when a familiar face appeared.

“Steffi?” Mac’s brow furrowed in surprise. “What are you doing out here?”

Webber managed to shrug despite the sling on her arm. “I got out of the hospital an hour or so ago and called Neil. He was feeling pretty bad for driving off and forgetting you had no transport, so I said I’d come over and see if you needed a ride?”

MacGyver smiled wanly. “I am kinda sick of grabbing cabs already, but that’s the least of my worries.” He grew more serious. “I just saw your scarecrow and it was carrying the turnip knife again. What if its here for another kid?”

Steffi’s mood seemed to instantly darken and the spark of amusement in her eyes from moments earlier vanished. “I’ll call in and get some uniforms out here. I’m not officially on the case anymore because of my arm, but I guess they can’t argue.”

They headed for the main building together and Steffi made the call. About twenty minutes later, the campus was awash with uniforms and lots of worried students, but there was no sign of the scarecrow.

“You must have scared the guy off,” Steffi mused as she guided MacGyver to her Volkswagen Beetle.

Mac shook his head as he grabbed the chromed door handle and climbed inside the ancient motor. “I have a feeling the person we’re dealing with doesn’t scare at all.” He waited for Steffi to drop behind the wheel and then looked at her with a frown. “Just how are you going to drive with that arm?”

Webber popped her arm from the sling, flexed her fingers, and then grimaced. “With great difficulty,” she admitted. “But I’d rather suffer than walk.”

“I could drive?” Mac was about to climb back out and swap places, but Steffi put a hand on his arm.

“I can manage,” Steffi’s tone said there would be no negotiation. “All I need to know now is where the heck to? I’m not ready to go home and sleep just yet.”

MacGyver looked at her intently and decided he was dealing with one stubborn lady. He didn’t, however, plan or arguing that point with her. Women invariably beat him at that game.

“I was thinking maybe we should pay Billy Young a visit. Apparently he’s quite famous for making a really good scarecrow costume.”

Steffi nodded, turning the ignition key and letting the engine turn over and over before it finally caught. “Sounds like a plan,” she agreed, wincing as she tugged at the huge steering wheel. “And the good news is he only lives two blocks from here…”

* * * *

True to Steffi’s word, Billy Young only lived five minutes from the high school. Not only that, but his parents owned a rather large house, that reminded MacGyver of Lisa Woodman’s home. In other words, they were pretty wealthy.

That fact had also led to Billy being one very cocky young teenager, despite his gangly frame and spotty façade.

“Would you mind us seeing your costume?” Steffi appeared to be trying to be polite, even though Billy hadn’t stopped scowling since his mother had let Mac and the injured cop in.

“Give me one good reason why I should?” Billy shot back the retort as he slumped down on a chair, one leg dangling over the arm. “You’re not on duty, and I don’t see any kinda search warrant?”

Mac tried his hand. “Look, Billy, people are dying, people you know and go to school with.”

“People who I don’t like and generally don’t like me,” Billy spat as he scooped up the T.V. remote and started fiddling. “But then I guess that’s why you’re here?”

Steffi put her good hand on her hip in obvious frustration. “We know you do have a costume, and you just admitted your own motive.”

Billy’s jaw seemed to set and then he suddenly grinned until it looked like his spectacles would pop off. “Yeah, but I also have an alibi. I was home at the time those goofballs bought it, and my mom can confirm it.” He focused on the television, turning the sound up as far as it would apparently go to signal the conversation was over.

Steffi stared at him, her eyes popping with anger and MacGyver was forced to grab her good arm and steer her out into the gargantuan hallway. “He’s one cocky teenager, but I don’t think he would have the actual guts to hurt anyone.”

“You read people that well?” Steffi demanded as the Young’s maid showed them back out of the entrance.

Mac smiled. “Oh, I’ve been known to on occasion.” He jogged down the steps back to Steffi’s Beetle and opened the door for her. “Besides, his costume was hanging in the study and it didn’t look anything like the one I saw earlier.”

Webber gaped. “You saw in the study? How’d I miss that?”

“Because you let your anger take control,” MacGyver pointed out. “That’s how you can miss things. And…”

“And?”

“And,” Mac chuckled as he dropped into the Volkswagen. “I asked the maid where it was while you were grilling the kid when we first arrived.”

Steffi swatted him with her good hand and then guided the Beetle out back onto the main road. “You know his mom could be covering for him? I’ve known parents take a murder rap for their kids before.”

Mac shook his head. “I don’t buy it. There’s something much deeper going on here.” He glanced over at the Beetle’s clock. It was almost a quarter past eleven, but he didn’t feel one bit like sleeping. “How about we call at the field where those kids did the ritual? Maybe we can find something?”

Steffi nodded and tried to make fourth gear with her injured arm. She almost missed and a horrid crunching sound came from the car’s gearbox. She winced. “Okay…but it might take awhile,” she smiled apologetically, and Mac couldn’t help but smile back.

* * * *


Irwin’s Fruit Farm
Near Mayo Lake

MacGyver trudged across the fruit field using just the moonlight to navigate. Without his Jeep he had no flashlights or other tools to hand save his knife and a few oddments in his pockets, and he felt lost.

Eventually, even without a light, he spotted what he was looking for – a dark black patch of ground where the high school kids had lit their fire and performed their joke ritual.

It looked innocent enough, just a scorched piece of earth and a few discarded beer bottles.

Mac kneeled and ran his fingers through the charred remnants of grass and soil and wondered if this could really be the motive for the killings.

Behind him, he heard Steffi’s slow approach. Even though she’d denied it emphatically, he knew she was getting tired, and he could sense her arm was hurting more than she was willing to admit.

Mac felt her legs brush past him, and then heard a small gasp that made him straighten up and instinctively grab the injured cop like a guardian angel. “What’s wrong?” he asked in all-but a whisper.

Steffi swallowed and pointed, and her expression said she was momentarily terrified. “It’s there, watching us!”

MacGyver followed her gaze to see a scarecrow watching over them. He blinked, but it didn’t move, it didn’t crook its neck, and it definitely didn’t have a turnip knife in its right hand.

He tried to stifle a small chuckle and failed. “It’s just an ordinary scarecrow,” he explained, spinning Steffi around to face him. “It can’t hurt us,” he assured, squeezing her shoulders.

Steffi smiled wanly, but then a metallic click behind them melted away any further mirth. It was the sound of someone cocking a shotgun.

Mac turned first, followed swiftly by Webber.

Facing them was an old man with short grey stubble and a frown that surpassed anything Harry Jackson could have mustered.

“Whoa,” MacGyver tried to calm the situation. “We’re not here for any trouble…”

“Damn right you ain’t,” the old timer spat back. “I’m done playing with you dang Halloween freaks messing in my fields. You can come back to my place and explain yourselves to the cops.” He eyed them warily, as if he expected them to run.

Steffi stepped forwards, her good hand held out in front of her. “We are the local cops. Well, at least I am,” she said haughtily. “And if you’ll let me reach into my jacket I can show you some I.D.”

The old man nodded, but kept his finger firmly on the Browning’s trigger.

Steffi slid a hand inside her jacket and pulled out her badge.

MacGyver followed by offering up his Phoenix credentials. “Now would you mind lowering the twelve gauge?”

“Sorry, but I’m fed up of those kids hanging around making fires and such.” He lowered the gun and offered his hand. “Name’s Herb Irwin. I own this farm, have done some twenty years now.”

Mac took Herb’s hand and shook it, making sure his grip was firm and reassuring. “We’re here about the kids that got murdered,” he clarified. “I don’t suppose you saw anything that might help?”

Herb huffed. “Ain’t seen nothing, but after the way they was carrying on I wouldn’t be surprised if it ain’t the ghost of old Mr. Richardson himself that done got ‘em.”

“Who?” Both Mac and Steffi chimed simultaneously.

Irwin smirked and than spat something onto the ground Mac could only imagine was chewing tobacco. “I guess neither of you two are from around these parts then, huh?”

Mac shrugged. “I’m a Mission City kid.”

“I moved here from Bristol County about ten years ago,” Steffi also confessed.

Herb nodded knowingly. “What I’m talkin’ about was some twenty-six years ago now, just before I bought this place. Old Mr. Richardson was out Halloween night of ’67 in this very field, working on some piece of machinery. The story goes that some high school kids came here and played a prank, just like the ones now who are being killed.”

“And something bad happened?” Mac pushed.

“Yeah, back in ’67 the fire they started spread to the machine Richardson was working on, went right on to the fuel tank. It exploded, turning the whole field into one huge fireball. Poor old Richardson was seen screaming as he burned trying to escape the flames. Some folks said he looked like a human scarecrow as he flayed around. They also say it took him two weeks to die of his injuries. Horrific, painful injuries…” Herb let the words trail to seemingly add more effect, and Mac pondered that the man could go into narrating horror stories if the fruit business ever gave out.

“That’s pretty gruesome,” Steffi conceded, “but I doubt Richardson’s the one we’re after. I’m inclined to look for a more earthly answer.”

Irwin scratched absently at the end of his nose. “Suit yourself, ma’am. I’m off to check my other fields.” He tipped his head, holding the tip of his grimy cap for a second before ambling off.

“Quite a character,” Mac observed as they picked their way back to the Beetle. “But I doubt Richardson is our motive. Surely the murderer would realize the kids they’re killing aren’t the ones from ’67?”

Steffi stopped and looked across the darkness. Her eyes were glazed, as if her mind was elsewhere. Eventually, she looked back straight at MacGyver. “Well, a human killer would know…”

For a moment, Mac was stunned the cop would even consider a supernatural option, even if the scarecrow had taken two slugs to the head. He wanted to tell Webber that, but some inner part of him was also yelling that he should keep an open mind.

“What say we meet up at the local library tomorrow and do some more digging?” Was all he could eventually think to say.

Steffi nodded, but from the way she was biting into her bottom lip, Mac knew her thoughts were still firmly with the scarecrow.

* * * *


Pequot Lakes Community Library
31069 County Rd. 112
30th October 199
3

MacGyver walked into the library to see Steffi already sitting at a table, engrossed in a pile of old newspapers. He waved at her as she heard his soft footfalls from across the room and looked up.

“Hey,” she mouthed, attempting to obey the “Please be Quiet” sign that adorned every library across the land.

Mac nodded and slid into a seat beside her.

The journey here had thankfully been taxi free, as Neil Ryder had finally gotten MacGyver’s Jeep sent over from Mission City, so Mac had made good time from his motel and was feeling ready for a challenge.

“Find anything without me?” Mac asked, his eyes searching the top newspaper on the desk.

Steffi pulled out the center of the paper and pointed to a small article. “There’s not as much on this as I expected, but yeah, I think it’s a start.” She tapped with her finger and Mac began to read out loud, albeit somewhat mutedly.

“…Richardson is survived by one daughter, fifteen-year-old Teresa. Local authorities have been unable to find any living relative in the immediate area, and Miss Richardson is to now live with her Aunt in Chicago once the final court hearing has taken place…”

“There’s another item from a later date saying Teresa showed signs of mental instability after the hearing and would require counseling after what she’d witnessed.” Steffi raised a brow. “This sounds like a motive to me, and if Teresa was unstable…”

“Then maybe she might kill today, for something that happened all those years ago,” MacGyver agreed. “But none of this tells us where to find her now,” he pointed out with a sigh.

Steffi chewed on her bottom lip. “I can probably find her. I’ll make a call to Briscoe, he’s a friend, and he just got put on this case in my absence.” She pushed up from her seat and sauntered over to the librarian’s counter at the far end of the room. After a brief conversation, the librarian passed Steffi a phone and she dialed out.

Two minutes later, she was back at the table where Mac had found her, and she was grinning.

“I take it Briscoe is on the case as we speak to find Teresa Richardson?” MacGyver exited his chair as he spoke.

Steffi nodded. “Uh huh, so now all we have to do is wait. I know a great coffee shop just around the corner from here. I told him to call us there. C’mon, I’ll buy you a drink and we can talk.”

Mac didn’t know why, but he liked that idea. “A tea would be wonderful,” he conceded. “And the chat sounds even better.”

* * * *

The coffee shop was much smaller than MacGyver had imagined, but what it lacked for in size, it oozed in personality. Lanterns and all kinds of Halloween décor filled the tiny seated area, and a special seasonal menu was on offer with some ghoulish sounding treats.

Mac opted to stick to his tea, but Steffi couldn’t apparently resist a slice of pumpkin pie.

“Nice town you have here,” Mac offered as Steffi ate. “Kinda reminds me of Mission City a lot.”

Steffi swallowed then looked around as if she was suddenly looking at Pequot Lakes through new eyes. “I guess…I suppose they’ll cancel the party now, though, seeing as we have a killer on the loose.”

MacGyver fiddled with the fine porcelain cup he’d been given. “Party?”

“Yeah, we have a big Halloween bash every year. It was supposed to have been on the Lakes Nature Reserve tomorrow night. The whole town has decked the place out, everyone would have been there – the kids from the high school, parents, shop owners – everyone.” Webber abruptly turned glum. “I even had a fancy dress outfit all ready to go, my pumpkin was carved and I was locked and loaded to trick or treat! You know we even had a band to play out by the lake?”

MacGyver smiled. “Sounds like you’d have had fun. I’m not really into parties myself…” His thoughts turned to the birthday party Pete had once organized back at Phoenix. It hadn’t been so bad, really, but they just weren’t his thing.

Steffi’s expression turned from confused to disappointed. “That’s a real shame…” She put her free hand on top of Mac’s where it had settled by his tea cup, and MacGyver realized if the party wasn’t cancelled, he’d probably have been getting an invite.

Maybe that wouldn’t be such a bad thing…

“Excuse me, are you Sgt Stephanie Webber?” The little old lady who had originally served them was back in front of their table, and Mac hadn’t even seen her approach. She was stealthier than a ninja.

“That’s me,” Steffi admitted. “How can I help?”

The old lady pulled a scrawled note from her apron that had apple pie smudged on the corner. She handed it to Steffi, and then skittered off without saying another word.

Steffi read it with a frown. “It’s from Briscoe. It says Teresa Richardson married a few years ago and her name is now Wilson. And get this, she teaches out at the high school! Briscoe spoke to her on the phone and she has no alibi for the nights of the murders. He’s going to take her in for questioning as soon as he gets the go ahead from the officer in charge of the investigation.”

“I’ve met her!” Mac’s mind flashed back to the school campus. “She was right there when I saw the scarecrow. In fact, right before I saw the scarecrow.” He pondered the details for a moment. “What I don’t get is why she didn’t attack me with the turnip knife instead of just running?”

Steffi shrugged. “Maybe we’ll find out once Briscoe takes her in and starts asking questions.” Her face abruptly changed back into a smile. “And maybe, just maybe then the town can still have its Halloween party too!”

Mac smiled back, even if he really had no intention of going to the party if it happened. “Well, I guess you don’t need my help anymore. I don’t think you and Neil ever did.” He pushed up from his chair. “I’m gonna head back to my motel. Promise me one thing, though? If Wilson ever tells how she got around being shot in the head, I’d love to know? It’s the one thing I’ve encountered that’s really got me stumped,” he admitted.

Steffi nodded, her face wearing a very odd expression even Mac couldn’t fathom. “Trust me,” she pledged, “you’ll be the first to know…”

* * * *


All Tucked Inn
Room 33
8.32p.m.
30th October 1993

MacGyver ran until his lungs decided they didn’t want to work anymore. The exercise did much for his body, but little for his beleaguered mind. Running usually cleared Mac’s head and helped him think more productively, but tonight, it seemed to only make things worse.

He slowed, coming to a halt outside his motel room and stretching. Something was gnawing at him, but it wasn’t his aching muscles. Maybe he could mull it all over one more time as he packed to leave?

Mac reached to slip the key into his room’s lock when a tired voice made him pause.

“Um, Mr. MacGyver?”

Mac looked up to see the elderly motel owner looking at him strangely. “How can I help?”

The man’s hand quivered slightly as he offered up a note. Was he scared of MacGyver, or just unsure what to make of him? “This is from the duty sergeant over at Mission City P.D.”

MacGyver took the message and the old-timer vanished into the evening like a wraith. Sheesh, talk about Norman Bates…

Mac read the note and all his previous mirth was consumed by something he didn’t even know how to describe. Was it fear?

The note was from Neil, but what it asked was wrong on so many levels MacGyver had to stand and close his eyes to compose himself before he could even consider it.

Mac

Meet me at the hideaway as soon as you can, its really important.

Neil

Mac took a calming breath and finally allowed his subconscious back into that dark place. “The Hideaway” had been the name he and his friends had given to an old mine shaft they’d once used as a den.

Like the gun that had eventually killed Jesse, they’d all known the mine was a “No Go Area,” but kids being kids, they’d gone anyway.

MacGyver and the others had never been back there since Jesse’s death, and right now, he was having a hard time imagining why Neil would be asking him to reopen old wounds.

He closed his eyes again as images filtered into his brain – images of Jesse, and Neil with old blankets and food, trying to make the place their own. And there he was, fashioning things with his penknife oblivious of what their future would soon hold.

MacGyver could smell the dank, musty aroma of wet timbers and mold, he could see the shadows and silhouettes the candles they’d used had made dance in the cool evening air.

And Mac could see Jesse, alive, happy, and playful.

Mac’s eyes snapped back open and he jogged over to his Jeep without even changing out of his t-shirt and sweat pants.

Heading back out onto the highway, it didn’t take long to reach the sign for Mission City, and from there it was only minutes to the dirt track that eventually led to the mine.

The turn off came to an end in front of a recently erected metal gate, and MacGyver was forced to exit the Jeep and walk the rest of the way into the woods until he found the ancient warning sign.

It was just as he’d remembered it, the once vibrant red paint now faded, and in places worn away altogether. He ignored the portent of doom and walked up to the boarded mine entrance.

It was like the maw of a mythical being, and it seemed to want to consume his soul – or at least, that was how it felt.

MacGyver pushed away the feelings of dread erupting in his mind, and in his stomach, and fished out a small flashlight he’d brought along from the pocket of his pants.

Flicking on the light, Mac washed it over the boards, remembering the gaps he and the other kids had sneaked through many moons ago.

The holes were still present, and just wide enough for him to still push his way through – if he dared.

Mac swallowed, and in the back of his subconscious he heard the others goading him to go inside, but this wasn’t ghostly voices he was hearing, it was a memory from his childhood.

MacGyver fought the recollection and began to squeeze through the boarding. The nearest plank was so rotten it gave with a snap, giving him free access to inside the mine.

Mac shone the beam of his light around in an arc, but as he as he’d expected, there was no sign of Neil Ryder. The light began to quiver and he realized his hand was trembling just a touch.

C’mon Mac, you weren’t scared of a knife wielding scarecrow, but you’re afraid of an old den?

He moved his feet, forcing them to trudge just a tad deeper into the shaft. And there, right in the center, just as he remembered it, was the tiny wooden table they’d played on.

Cobwebs and dust adorned the table’s surface, but there were items on it that didn’t belong. A pumpkin leered at him, the candle inside flickering and bobbing in the dim light casting bizarre shadows MacGyver would rather not have seen.

Neil wouldn’t do this…

And yet someone had been in the mine.

Morbid curiosity pushed him on, and MacGyver couldn’t help but walk up to the table.

As his eyes finally met the other item that had been placed for him, his stomach lurched.

It was the time capsule he and the other boys had buried, and more recently as adults, dug up. It was open, but instead of the things they’d put in it all those years ago, there was a gun.

But not any gun – this was the weapon that had killed Jesse.

That can’t be, it’s still in police evidence! And yet MacGyver knew what he was looking at. Its evil form was etched into his psyche forever.

A scratching sound from the mine entrance caught his attention and he spun around, glad not to have to look at the gun a second longer.

Standing by the boarding he had entered through, was the scarecrow.

It was watching him again, those huge red orbs dazzlingly bright in the darkness. As before, its head was cocked, but it didn’t attack.

I guess we were wrong about Teresa Wilson then, Mac admitted to himself. She must be in custody by now…

The scarecrow seemed to sense his thoughts and dived through the wooden laths to the outside, shattering the decayed timbers with the weight of its escape.

MacGyver kicked into a sprint, intent on catching up with his farmyard nemesis. It had just made things personal on a level even he couldn’t ignore. How did it/he get the gun?

But there would be no answers tonight.

As Mac neared the shattered entrance he heard an all-too familiar click – in his haste to catch the killer, he’d missed one vital part of his surroundings – a concealed trigger.

Before he could react, the explosion engulfed the mouth of the shaft, bringing down the support beams, and several tones of soil with it.

 

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