After a while, Scarecrow stood and retrieved his shield and sickle. He frowned at the blood that was spattered across his chest and arms as he straightened and smoothed his armor. Scarecrow wished he had time to make himself presentable. Surely, they will understand, he thought to comfort himself as he turned his gaze to the door. It had swung nearly closed in the scuffle so that it blocked the room allowing only a halo of soft orange light to escape. He stepped over the mangled corpse to stand at the doorway. The color felt warm on his face.
Scarecrow extended his hand toward the door and paused. He stretched out his fingers and realized they were shaking. With effort, he curled his fingers into a fist and squeezed until the trembling stopped. Then gently, almost timidly, he rapped his wooden knuckles on the door. He reached for the handle and paused fingers hovering just over the metal. He felt… inadequate. Am I even worthy?
A muffled sob escaped from the room beyond. It was followed by a tender but urgent shush. The Scrap Knight rattled his head and straightened his back. Squaring his shoulders, Scarecrow gripped the handle and pushed the door open.
The room beyond was a riot of color compared to the muted midnight shades that washed all the rest of creation. Furniture made of rich chocolate wood populated the room. Rose red curtains framed the shattered window. Shards of broken glass dotted the floor like mirrors, catching the light and making it dance. A thick down mattress dominated the room and was swaddled in a plush checked quilt over white sheets like red peppermint sweets over a bed of decadent frosting.
His mouth fell open as his soft yellow eyes devoured all the delicious hues. Scarecrow’s gaze passed hungrily over every corner as he glided into the center of the bedroom. His head spun dreamily, unable to take all in at once.
Then there was the sob again. The Scrap Knight blinked twice and scanned around for the source of the cry. On the other side of the bed, huddled together was a mother and her two small children. All three were shaking uncontrollably with silent rivers flowing from their eyes. As he moved into view, the mother clutched her children to her chest and sobbed something harsh and desperate but unintelligible.
The creator! Scarecrow’s eyes went round and yellow. He fell to his knees. Here was the creator herself in the company of her angels! He trembled, overwhelmed by the power of the moment he had longed for all his life. His pilgrimage and all its trials complete; he would finally understand the meaning of his existence, his purpose in this world of paltry light. He would soon learn the creator’s grand design and her will. Now here she sat, something beyond beauty embracing her cherubic angels with her eyes shining in the soft orange light.
The orange light! Scarecrow’s eyes drifted from the face of the divine up to the bed side table and there it was. The light of creation swayed sensually upon the wick of an oil lamp as it spilled its warm essence on the world through a glass chimney. Scarecrow’s jaw grew slack again as his orbitals widened and the pale light of his eyes swayed in time with the flame. It’s so beautiful… Mesmerized, he crawled forward on reverent hands and knees.
A shriek that could have curled cream ripped him from his rapture. The creator screamed again clutching her angels even tighter to her breast. She lashed out at him with the heel of her barefoot trying to force him away.
Confused, Scarecrow skuttled backwards. Had he broken some boundary, some law of propriety? Angry for his ignorance, he prostrated himself. In silent supplication, he prayed his error, whatever it may be, would be forgiven. Please, let it be forgiven… He prayed she would understand his actions were out of ignorance, not disrespect. Slowly and with penitence in his eyes, he lifted his gaze from the floor and back to her.
The mother screamed something at him, but her words were choked out by wracking sobs. The angels in her arms balled their chubby fists into her night gown and lent their shrieks to the chorus. She kicked at Scarecrow again and again. He was well out of her reach but still she flailed.
An ache filled Scarecrow’s chest. What did I do that is so unforgivable? Eyes sunken to deep wells, he reached out towards the creator. Twiggy fingers extended; Scarecrow tried to calm her. He was her child, her loyal servant. He would do anything to appease her. He needed her to know that. Please understand…
The creator snapped her foot back as soon as his splintery fingers grazed her big toe. She screamed and turned her body to place herself between her children and Scarecrow. He advanced slowly, hand outstretched and without sound. She could see the unholy glow inside those jack-o-lantern eyes. This demon could take her if he must, but she prayed to every god she knew that he would not hurt her babies.
“Stay back!” She wailed as she groped for anything to put between them and this nightmare creature. She reached up to the nightstand and fumbled for the oil lamp. When her fingers found the thick glass base, she whipped it off the table and hurled it at Scarecrow. “Leave us alone!” she screamed in a voice thick with tears and snot. The lamp arced over Scarecrow and impacted the wall shattering into a spread of burning oil.
Scarecrow jumped back. He saw the horror on her face. Her abject disgust for him was etched in every groove and ridge. He was an abomination to her. He saw that now. Somewhere deep inside his straw chest, he felt something crack. A deep ache spread throughout his whole being. His own maker would destroy the light of creation out of sheer hatred for him. A heaviness settled into this body and all of him wished she had made him capable of tears. But alas, she had kept that luxury for herself.
I don’t belong here, he thought pulling himself to his feet. The ache in his chest made his limbs feel sluggish but he shuffled over to the bed. Trying not to listen to the sobbing woman and her children, the Scrap Knight pulled the quilt from the mattress, ambled over to the splash of burning oil, and smothered it. He left the quilt crumpled on the floor before staggering out the bedroom door.
With no purpose left to him, the Scrap Knight wandered out of the house and into the fields beyond. There were no answers to be found here. No higher truths to be uncovered. There was only an ugly, darkened world left to him. That’s where I belong, with the other ugly things, he thought as he shuffled away from the valley.
He was nearly at the tree line when the first light of dawn bubbled up over the mountains. Too numb to be startled, he settled himself onto the wet grass to watch with detached curiosity. Soon a wash of powder pink painted the cottony clouds. The mountains transformed from a jagged line of deep shadow to a rolling spill of purples and blues that were eventually crowned by a radiant disc of the purest gold.
As rich hues and subtle shades filled the sky, the disc spilled its honey light over the rim of the summits. It flowed down the slopes, across the valley, and washed over him with a rush of warmth that ran up his wooden bones. His rind lips parted as he watched. When the warmth of the morning had finally driven the chill from his straw chest, those same lips curved upward into a smile nearly as wide and warm as the sun itself. She didn’t destroy it after all. Hers was but a mote, a minor imitation. This was the real light of creation! The Scrap Knight sat on the slope in the brilliance of the dawn reveling in all the beauty it held.