The Melody Of Autumn, Passing Into Winter
rating: +43+x

☦Dystopia tale about the Scravecrow.☦

Things were falling apart, even though they were finally coming together. He watched the world from his high tower, wires coiling around the steps to his throne like a thousand serpents.

The music played, as it had for as long as anyone who could remember - anyone who remembered anything else didn't last long. The royal ravers danced in the music as they came together to beat a man to death in a public execution. The crime was being caught playing a violin.

The scarecrow dimmed the lights of the room as he entered. Locked the door. Shut down the cameras. He had come here to make a deal, away from the prying eyes of the facilities. A rave exploded in the basement of the site containing the man he looked for and people flocked towards it despite themselves. It would keep them distracted while he did his work.

Before him sat a prophet near-delusional in his fervor.

Spirit and prophet discussed as two businessmen. The god was pleased with the offer and impressed by the plan. It was agreed that the god would lend its great power for the cause. The prophet's hands shook as they clasped straw-filled gloves.

By way of touch, the eldritch being passed on its blessings through its prophet. When the deed was one, the prophet's broken body fell to the floor as an empty husk.

The pact was sealed in blood and shattered soul.

The group of humans below his high tower were his hand-picked lords and ladies of the dance. Music flowed through their blood as the beats shook the air. Beyond the royal party was the second party of servants. Beyond that were the music sellers, merchants, and rave fashionistas. Beyond that, and beyond that, and beyond that… A sea of writhing humans, pressed against each other to try and get closer to their god-emperor The Scravecrow.

Far into the horizon, a second set of towers scraped the sky. On those towers were televisions and sound equipment, lights and dispensaries. There, the lowest of them, the tone-deaf, crowded around the towers to touch the holy metal. They were below even those that could no longer dance. They alone would never see the god's face. Cursed with the inability to truly hear the beauty as it should be, this lowest caste remained forsaken by all creatures.

Of the many groups that could aid him, he first went to the artists. The difficulty was not in winning them over so much as trying to figure out who was cool yet.

The scarecrow tracked what he could through the avant-garde theatres, the post-apocalyptic fashion industry, the soft-grunge aesthetic social groups. Through that he followed the breadcrumb trail through Lowercase music producers, indie art game designers with unpronounceable names, and french horror movie specialists who spoke no french besides "omlette du fromage".

He searched through a sea of obscure artistic endeavors to find the few groups that could help him. He found one group in the knit bombers. He found another in the social group of human earwax sculptors. He almost missed one in the painters that mixed blood with their colors.

Of them all, he asked for their aid. He promised in the new world, art would finally have the recognition it so deserved. No artist would go hungry. No creative passion would go crushed by the responsibilities of being in a society that valued fitting in to standing out.

It wasn't hard to win them over. Just to find them in order to do so.

The scarecrow spewed glowsticks and drugs into the crowd, howling a gale of fluorescent mist from the north. It chilled the marrow of their bones, cooling the mass of sweat and flesh and music.

The Scravecrow watched the body beneath, writhing in a sea of the angry ravers. The violinist, a young man, begged towards the heavens for a mercy that would not come. He struggled as his limbs were twisted out of their sockets, then broken. His body stilled and life left him.

His royal ravers had executed the violinist. The playing of actual instruments had long been forbidden by unspoken rule. In these days, the only music produced were samples of samples of samples, a mottled menagerie of torn pieces.

The corpse was torn apart, pieces of flesh spread between the ravers as proof and reminder that justice would always be served to maintain this wonderful, glorious land of fun and lights. Once the ritual was over, people dispersed to their own, smaller parties. The only ones allowed to remain were the royal lords and ladies of the dance floor. They would remain here until they died from overdose, exhaustion, or injury.

The king of his land laid the music to autoplay. He stood and turned away from his most loyal and disappeared into his tower. Within the tower, he wandered his chambers. Plastic skeletons lined the walls. Cotton webbing drifted with real spider webs. Fires danced in pumpkin heads, lighting the room. There, he lay down into a bone dry bed of autumn leaves to think.

With a god's might clenched around his soul, the scarecrow traveled to the land of the Collective.

There, he preached his grand plan. A god needed an army and here in dreams was the best strategic position. The vast majority of his enemies would still need to find rest in these lands when they were at their most vulnerable. He wanted to take advantage of this weakness.

He claimed in his envisioned future, there would be people who were free to dream even when they were awake. It would be a perfect permanent home for the creatures here, who had lived so long in the inherent instability that is waking and sleeping.

Furthermore, when the world became under his rule, the first guests of honor to his land would be every dream that cared to visit.

The agreement was a rush of excitement and gratitude. He shook many hands and many more unknown limbs.

In truth, he knew that he would come to this conclusion the whole time. He just didn't want to admit it. Not to the air. Not to his reflection. He could not confess it even to this little piece of home he carved out for himself.

The Scravecrow disappeared from his home and touched his hay-filled feet upon dirt. This barren, abandoned patch of land brought him some memories. This was the last place of the Foundation resistance. When he took over the land, that group proved the most stubborn in conversion. So desperate to cling to the past they knew, the Foundation dug their own grave to meet the ruins below the earth.

His faithful ravers pulled them out of their ruins like rabbits from their burrows. They were butchered. Hundreds of bodies were dispersed throughout the population as handfuls of flesh, broken badges, shattered identification cards and strips of bloodied cloth. He had not ordered this act. He had not ordered any of this. He learned then that a god is not obeyed. It is worshiped.

In the present, a fog descended upon him, shielding him as he kneeled into the soft earth. He dug himself a shallow depression, then fell into it. This was his apology to a people lost to memory. Even if he could speak the words, there would be no one left to forgive him.

Time passed as he lay there in the re-imagining of the metaphorical burial of the unmarked grave that was the Foundation.

The chilly night was not unusual for either of them. Fog obscured their conversation, though they spoke openly on a neighborhood street. On a carefully constructed couch of leaves, the scarecrow and his kind friend had their discussion.

"Tell me your thoughts tonight." the friend whispered into still air. He leaned back into the leaves, looking up to the stars with his perpetually pitying expression. His movements were slow, careful. As if everything he touched was fragile and precious.

The scarecrow had no voice of his own. Instead, he borrowed the autumn wind to speak on his behalf. "What is it like? Is it below? Is it above?"

"Neither. It's more like stepping out. Seeing the forest instead of the trees." The scarecrow's friend lit his cigarette with intense nonchalance, exhaling a purple smoke into the air. "I would say it is beautiful, but at the same time what you must sacrifice to see it is something most people won't give up until the moment they have no other choice."

The breeze made a soft, dissatisfied noise.

The scarecrow was handed a card, with a number and location. Another puff of smoke. "Ever possessed something?"

"But of course! The leaves don't snap themselves off, you know." The branches rustled in proud response around them.

"Then this'll do you well in your journeys."

Before they shook hands, one last statement was echoed through the fog. "Thanks. I owe you."

To that, the autumn spirit's companion could only press his lips together in a grim smile.

He would give everything to be called Jack again. Of the lanterns. To hear costumed children running from house to house. He could almost imagine it now. The children would run from house to house before stopping at one who took Halloween a little too seriously. There was one in every neighborhood. That house would be filled with gravestones in its front yard, carefully sculpted cotton stretched thin decorated with plastic spiders. Skeletons would lay in pieces on the pavement.

The children would dare each other to enter the yard and claim the sweet treasure within. Eventually, one brave soul would approach. For some, it would be their first taste of the base fear that ran through all humans. The candy dispensing creature would hulk out of the shadows or some bush, previously hidden. Howling and screaming would ensue, and those sounds would fill his spirit with an addictive euphoria.

The screams and wild costumes of the parties were similar, but they weren't really. The flashing lights and loud music were too different. The drugs were not part of the equation. The sex wasn't, either. He had once thought, when he first started this, that he could drown the longing for his past with the energy of a rave. But nostalgia was a persistent beast. A fickle craving remained, dissatisfied with anything less than the impossible.

Once he had gathered all the help he could, the plan was set to motion early in the morning.

The dreams clutched tightly to the Foundation personnel sleeping. Swaddled in fantasy and delusions, they would not be woken by anyone or anything for a long, long while. Those that hadn't slept were met with an explosion of artistic expression across most of their sites. That morning was one of chaos as the Foundation gathered the few men awake to deal with the containment breaks as a result.

In the chaos, the Scarecrow slipped relatively unnoticed into the chamber containing a specific disco ball. He peeled back the disco ball's metal container, then took off his pumpkin head and set it down for the last time. He placed his raggedy, straw-filled gloves onto the shiny surface as one would caress a lover's cheek. Through the touch he felt the energies of the sphere, how it ticked, how it didn't tick.

He placed it onto his shoulders, replacing his old head. He rebuilt its unspoken workings, edited it, shaped it, possessed it for his own. Instead of spreading radiation, it would spread a rave nation.

The scarecrow began to dance and all was lost.

The scarecrow found himself on a cold and empty street. Everyone had left. Everyone save for one.

His friend was there, sitting in the fog, exhaling a familiar purple smoke. The friend sat beside his old head, welcoming him home with a warm blue glow. "Good evening, Jack."

Before that kind friend, the god-emperor was nothing more than Jack, the lost autumn spirit looking for home. Jack kneeled and the fog around them coalesced into rain with his bitter weeping.

His companion took the disco ball off his shoulders with all the kindness, all the patience of a parent watching their child's first taste of adult pain. The silvery sphere was set to the floor to continue its work unattached to any god or emperor. Then the pumpkin head was placed back where it belonged and Jack felt, for the first time in too long, a bit of wholeness come back to him.

The friend extended a hand, smiling kindly. An idle breeze brushed leaves off the sidewalks to curl around the disco ball, protective. Afraid.

"They'll be alright. You'll see, when you're out."

Jack took the open hand in his own. A chill autumn wind howled and all that remained was a silver sphere nestled in a bed of bone dry leaves.

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