Collecting scraps to build a nest is tiring work, I thought to myself, circling one of my local fields for the sixth time that day. It wasn't a huge nor pressing issue, as the eggs I had laid were quickly snarfed up by a hungry bird of prey before they could hatch, but I needed a place of warmth to stay for the winter.
My progress was swift, I had nearly completed the structure as of the day before and was looking for some more luxurious items; chicken feathers, pieces of cotton and grass were all high prizes on the list.
It appeared that i was to go without such items today.
The man who owned the field had placed what appeared to be a fake person in the centre of his property; a scarecrow.
The figure was as tall as a cornfield in the height of September but hung thinly and hollow, reminding me of the man who placed it.
Hard times had hit him in recent years. A combination of a high pest population and severe weather changes had left him with a few years of useless crops. This new addition to the field was an attempt to frighten off the hungry wildlife. 'I suppose that includes me' i thought with a small pang of guilt.
In truth, I couldn't be entirely consumed by the feeling. I had to live just as much as he does. Why wouldn't I use his fresh ground to fill my belly? Even if I didn't have any eager offspring waiting for my return, I would still use the best options available to me.
Perhaps I had always been this selfish.
It was beginning to get darker as the sun drew low, dropping below the trees.
Might as well say hello to my new neighbour before nightfall, I thought to myself, altering my wing position to begin a descent.
My shadow grew longer as the ground rose up to meet me.
Upon landing on the figure's shoulder, I observed the state of the scarecrow with a beady eye.
Old tatty clothes hung on two crossed sticks forming the imitation of a solid figure. A hat adorned it's head, obscuring its face from view.
"You're not so scary up close, huh?" I croaked, patting my claws against its shoulder a few times, testing stability.
I settled down, pushing my weight back, preparing to watch the dusk.
It was, in short, beautiful. A large, full moon rose into a darkening sky, illuminating the scarecrow and myself in a silver glow; our cold night light and companion.
The temperature was dropping rapidly, causing me to puff up my feathers in an attempt to remain one degree above freezing to death.
My thoughts on returning home were interrupted...
"Hello, little one."
A pumpkin head lifted from below the hat. A lifeless face greeted me. One which had been hastily carved out from the orange gourd, all sharp edges and jagged cuts.
I crouched, preparing to take flight, my heart picking up in pace.
"Don't you know what my job is?"
I froze in fear. The creature's voice was originating from somewhere within the strange orange glow of the jack o lantern.
The shoulder I sat on gave way when the scarecrow moved to grab me with a twig hand, forcing me to fly upwards as quickly as my wings could carry me. Narrowly avoiding capture.
Flapping wildly, I turned to face towards the direction of my home, intent on reaching it as soon as possible.
The wind whooshed around my head as I set a fast pace, but not enough to block out the eerie sound of laughter that followed me into the night.
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