Published by Amanda Hockless
Copyright 2012 Amanda Hockless
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Every night Ray watched the Scarecrow’s shadow lengthen, and its nightly fog spread through the town. His bedroom window, one of the few above ground, faced the Fallout Fields, home of the towering figure. Rumor had it that the Scarecrow had risen from the ashes of Fallout almost 70 years ago when a devastating bomb destroyed more than half of Deathdefy’s inhabitants and its toxic gas killed half the survivors. From then, the Scarecrow watched over Deathdefy and became a symbol for its unlikely survival. The townsfolk gave him thanks for their clean daylight hours and were safely underground before sunset when his green-glowing fog let out.
The only life Ray knew was of a hard-working, self-sufficient town. Most folk avoided thinking about the green. A few doubted the Scarecrow and resented leaving him food. Like last winter, when there was less, Ray’s mother, Beatrice had to fog two poor brothers who stole from the Scarecrow’s portion. Fogging was Deathdefy’s death penalty; a conviction from the Marshall meant being left to fend for yourself after dark. Ray felt sorry for them, but after listening to their rants about the Scarecrow he was as glad as his mother to see them go, and no one lasted long once the Scarecrow got to them.
During the sunlight hours, Deathdefy was a dusty, melting wasteland. The cracked husks of old dwellings baked with you, the sparse greenery and smooth silver mounds that were the roofs of most folk’s homes shimmered mirage-like from a distance. Ray passed the imposing Scarecrow on his way to help set up the town square for tomorrow’s Kobal Night festivities. Kobal Night was the one night a year that the Scarecrow granted Deathdefy a reprieve from its nightly fog. The townsfolk ventured out from their underground bunkers and celebrated their freedom in the night air.