Who killed Angus Hard and why? Doctor Jack Lantern and his evil alter ego, Scarcrow, will not rest until the truth is uncovered. But nothing is quite what it seems and this leads to a battle for his very soul as a familiar evil arises to confront him.
IN THE BEGINNING SCARCROW
“Jack Oliver Lantern, for crimes against your fellow man I have no choice but to sentence you to hang by the neck until you are dead! May God have mercy on your soul,” were the last words I would hear from the judge of my worldly f lesh for committing no more than theft from something which he had no idea even existed. Conviction should have found me for my earlier experiments which were crimes, not just against my fellow man but, in addition, against natural law. All I knew, was I was sentenced to death for an unjust cause and a law, which I once helped, had condemned me for having a mind which, on occasion, looked for deeper answers. A curse to many and it must be silenced in this world we have constructed, but somehow it felt as though my path would not end here at the end of my tether, but many years to come. The noose, so wiry in appearance and stagnant with the smell of iron and fluids, staining not only its reputation, wrapped around my neck as though a medal, achieved for committing a heinous act. Alas, pride came before the fall! That part is vague in memory
but what came after has remained and shall do so until my mind is far gone. The executioner stands to my left with a dark
mask concealing his grief, cold, stricken face from his peers lest he show inclinations toward remorse for the lives he claimed. Watching several tens of men falling to the pits of despair on a daily basis, playing the part of ‘he that shall not be named’, wondering when his time would come should this corrupt people I came to serve but no more, how could I? So then I make the decision to serve one who will get me out of this situation and as the executioner reaches for the trapdoor mechanism, I grab hold of the cross which has been close to me for many years and utter my last words, “God, may you have mercy upon my soul”. No sooner than the lever is pulled, than do I feel a weightlessness of conscience as my body succumbs to gravity. The noose tightens around my neck and as I fall, my life replays before my eyes with highlighted moments leading from poverty into ambition, from ignorance into revelation and in that moment, the
rope is loosened. Cut from its source by a masked assailant, gas spreads through the crowd, scattering them to the four winds and the distinct aroma of mustard is in my nasal cavities. I cough and reach in disbelief, feeling the sensation of tingling in my skin and the burning of my throat, accompanied by the old lacerations from an outer prison reopening and beginning to weep. With blood stains blinding my every blink there is a sharp incision into my neck, giving an intense pain for only a few moments leading to complete darkness and paralysis. I awaken unto a table resembling that found in a morgue with the coroner looking over me, astonished by my sudden recovery after declaring my death! A table of ice, shelves lined with bottled medicine and a cold embrace to the room stare from its white walls and f loor with dark oak furniture as the only homely touch. To my shock and dismay, my torso had been filled with puncture wounds and small vivisections in an effort to resuscitate life but to no avail. Only after this maiming did I finally awaken to see not a body, but a series of dissections stitched back together. From then on, I came to know myself not only as Jack Oliver Lantern, but
as people who feared me would come to know me … Scarcrow! “Ah, you’re awake. I must say it is a miracle that you are even breathing! This wound in your neck was delivered with some force and nearly proved fatal. The sedative was quite the mix of potent toxins preventing ordinary bodily functions, enough for you to be declared dead and transferred here! Because I strugtem have no need for him. He stares into my eyes, bruised and beaten from officers I once regarded as friends and I concede the pity in his, bowing my head in acceptance from one falsely appointed wretch to another. The bag, resembling that of a scarecrow with stitched eyes and mouth cavity, has strange structures resembling circles around the mouth parts. The eyes having a clear haze when compared to the remainder as if wishing me to see everything before f lames engulf my soul and caress my flesh with torturous intent. I wear this symbol and watch in horror as many children bare witness to this act, their faces lit with opportunity and fear of what they are about to see, as a constant reminder of those who stand against a corrupt system or empire! But upon witnessing them in their purity, tainted by older generations’ acceptance, I decided there and then to resist. No matter what my fate, I will stand alone against tyranny in the hopes to rally those free of mind, to my cause, despite the briefness. “I may fall but through me, many shall rise!” Reminiscent of ages past, people in history rush to mind; Socrates, Copernicus and Galileo to name but a few, falsely convicted, put to death for knowing a truth wished to be kept from a denying public accordingly to maintain social control and political power! As though sparked with lightning, my entire body jolts and my eyes feel as though they are retreating into my skull with another’s replacing them. I begin to see the effects of what I can only describe as a hallucinogenic, with gaseous forms f loating around the room as spectres and ghosts of the fallen, screaming, calling and reaching out to me. Their torment gathers beneath me with
outstretched arms creeping through the slats in the wooden floor and grasping hold of my feet! Their touch so strong and with such purpose; but not to pull me down, to hold me up! I see the wrongs of people’s past, overwhelmed by the sheer number of people present: kleptomania, debauchery, murder, abuse, prostitution, racism, assault and other horrific atrocities from those condemning me to death! Not one of them looking upon themselves and evaluating their right to
judge one which they had not even met before. This was a peo the same cannot be said for the good doctor as I laugh hysterically and throw a multitude of globes toward wall and ground alike, their shells cracking and exploding into a f lurry of shattered reflection, releasing a mist upon the poor souls within. The vapour slithers up the doctor’s legs and wraps around him in coils, entwining his lungs with water and blood from the war which now occurred within him. He rips his interior to shards and blood pours from his eyes only for him to cry out, “You are free!” and then collapse before me! I am surrounded by equations of concentration and formulae for weapons of malicious intent, involving surgical apparatus and pressurised gas containers with small interjections of psilocybin within a methanol body. Water added to the mix and only activated by that exhaled from a cigarette would make a vile combination which would render victims paranoid, delusional schizophrenics in the best cases. How could such a weapon, such an idea, be conceived? Using chemicals to destroy your fellow man! The feeling of guilt is overpowering and yet I am overwhelmed by intrigue as this new inhabitant of my mind wishes to witness this horrific spectacle to its last. I begin to shed tears of blood and experience a loss of vision with the smell of charcoal in my nose, perhaps lining the mask which entraps my grotesque face, now not simply on the outside.
The burning crawls around my body, tangling around me as wire with sharp barbs present, stinging in areas and scarring in
others. I attempt to remove the mask but only allow the mist access and it begins to devour my lower jaw, peeling the skin from bone, muscle becoming visible and lips ceasing to exist. Again, stupidity has led to loss and it is all my fault this time. I thought punishment was mine but this new accomplice wishes for differences in me, an intrigue far surpassing the constraints of natural law as in to understand what makes us mortals writhe in pain. Enough to drive one to confess its deepest and darkest secrets. The mask reclaims its strangling grip and my hands fall to my side, as does the rest of me unto my knees, bowing my head as though to accept its reign from my shoulders. “God forgive me,” are the only words I can muster from my torn mouthparts, the segled to revive you, I was given strict instructions to observe all aspects of your anatomy in case you were deceased. Those who saved you believe you are quite the find else they wouldn’t have
gone to such effort.” “I’m glad I could be of such assistance to these martyrs of secrecy and mutilation.” “Oh no, you can’t be mad at them. They did all they could to save you, this is all my work!” “All your work? Even those?” I said, pointing toward pumpkins of glass filling with liquid, bubbling away as the Bunsen burners heated them to boiling point.
“Oh no, that is your work. They said you would know what to do when the time came and that I would be the one to guide
you there.” “A mentor of sorts?” “Of sorts. You see, you will obtain true justice through me in the form of vengeance and if I can guide you to use these chemicals to obtain the truth, then it will be a pleasure. Oh, they instructed me to give you this as well. They said you were already introduced and to think of it as the darker side of ambition.” “Darker side?” And before I can refuse, he places the mask over my head again, covering my jet-black hair and pronging my eyes with fringe whilst compacting it toward my ears and neck area. I feel heightened in sense and mind, as if found by strength and a new
intensity like I had never before experienced. I struggle to comprehend my condition and the more I concentrate the further it retreats into the recesses of my mind. Breaking the belts which once secured my body, I snap and contort my limbs in order to release my shackles although now I am well aware they have become interior due to an unseen master’s design.
I thought I was in command but this spectre soon proves me wrong, reaching for the pumpkin shaped, orange stained glass
globes. The distinct smell of chlorine and phosgene reveal phantasms in my vision and despite their concentration, prove to be a stimulant rather than a horrific form of gaseous torture. Alas, they strike me to the back of the skull and throw my lifeless corpse into the Thames, leaving me to the elements and animals alike, welcoming death and disease with every breath I take, engulfing sewer-filled water and choking on the air just as much. My lungs now lined with decay, I have become the embodiment of plague with only the possibility of some poor soul retrieving my body from a watery grave to look forward to. As moments pass and light and darkness lapse across my face, I turn in the raging waters, changing state from liquid to gas, the change in pressure and intensity so apparent it remains in my innermost memory and constitutes fear within my soul. However, the will to live surpasses all understanding and I begin to make my way toward the shore as the only source of life left to me. A child calls out and draws attention to my f loating carcass with a vicar in tow, scouring the beach for new bodies to line the morgues and bring the dead to rest. They take me by the arms and drag me up the embankment, trailing my legs behind until they leave the cold embrace of the Thames’ toxic waters. I cough and splutter in vomiting up the disgust which fills my innards with both physical and spiritual upheaval. Darkness befalls me once more and all I hear is, “What is it that you fear? To defeat fear, you must become fear and bask in its radiance.” I awaken once again and find the young lad and vicar praying over me as though to have faith enough to bring about resurrection. As I sit up straight I remark, “Only one had the power, father, and you know him better than I.” “Indeed, sir. I must ask, did the waters do that you?” “No, father, this was the work of imprisonment but you know all too well of that. I’m sure you have witnessed many disfigured remnants on the embankment before me.” “I sure have, sir, but surely someone would have aided you in such a moment?” My mind casts back and I witness a memory within a memory. Alone I stand in a corridor, two to my right, one behind and verity of pain is almost enough to send me into a dream state but no, not this time. I am to remain awake for this memory to scar me for the rest of time itself. The mist lifts and the mask slackens as though to squeeze what little humanity I still possess and leave me with the consequences. Removing the mask, all I can do is check the doctor’s pulse and scream in anger at the ground, knowing I had accomplished that which never should be accomplished; in the beginning, God created life and I had taken it! I arise from my fallen pose and am greeted by a group of masked figures all looking similar with slight differences, much like that of human kind. They bear a mark similar to the doctor’s tattoo, so unfamiliar and yet noticeable. Taking my underarms as wings of a fallen angel, they drag me into a catacomb filled with water and the stench of rotting waste embracing my senses like an order of oriental dishes. They reveal their intentions to me as I drift in and out of consciousness. I catch parts of conversation in a multitude of voices, a choir of deception, “He is the one, master will be pleased.” And all my being cries out, “My soul searches beyond the ether, for I still believe.” “He is delusional.” “Side effects from the gases I assure you,” they continue to whisper. All I know is that only faith could redeem me from this state I had accepted without due thought or questioning, like many indoctrinated before me. Who could save such a wretch as me? A murderer, a thief, a deranged scientist with a vivid imagination? My mind could only struggle to bring one forth, but was I worthy of his attention? “When you are ready to accept who you are then we will train you with all we know and more. We will release your true potential and help you to become what is planned for you. You are so important in our grand design and you will be instrumental in the demise of this empire and many like it. But for now we will let fate decide and should our paths meet again …it will truly be destiny!”test