Once upon a time, in the fields over Yonder, a vampire fell in love with a scarecrow.
This didn’t happen often, and it certainly wasn’t what the Munchkins intended when they started bloodying the damn things to keep the monsters away, but Eden is a strange place and strange things happen here. And you know what? Round these parts, we believe that love is love is love—even the love between a blood-sucker and a man made out of straw.
The vampire’s name was Crescenda. She’d been an elf before she fell for a neck romancer with bad blood in his veins, and her greatest regret was that she’d cut her hair for the bastard—her long and luxurious locks—and that she was stuck with awkward bob now for the rest of eternity. She should have known, she told herself. She should have taken his repeated assertions that her hair was always “in the way” as some kind of a sign. But she hadn’t, and now she was just like him.
Hungry. Forever empty inside.
The scarecrow didn’t have a name, not at first, but Crescenda took to calling him Hermey—after a misfit she’d known in her youth. And the scarecrow couldn’t speak either, at least not when Crescenda first came calling, for he was not yet alive. And so, on their first date, as Crescenda licked clean the blood-soaked rags that were his clothes, she did all the talking.
“I think you would be quite lovely company,” she told him, ”if you were real.” Then she ran a hand along his chest, from his collar to his belt, and she imagined what she would do with a boyfriend she could build from scratch—or almost from scratch, in this case. Oh, the kinks she’d iron out. Oh, the fixes she’d make. If she could bring Hermey to life and train him right, he would be absolutely perfect.
On the nights between her visits to him, those two weeks between bloodyings, she dreamt of what her life with Hermey would be like. She imagined freeing him from the poles which held him upright. She imagined walking with him, arm in arm, through fields of grain, and back to her castle. She imagined bringing him to bed and teaching him all the things that a man must be taught.
On their second date, she told him all of this—all of her plans—and was just about to leave when a scratchy voice issued from a freshly popped seam in Hermey’s head. “I think you would be quite lovely company,” he said, repeating the first words she’d spoken to him.
But though she wanted to take him away right then, to start their happily ever after right now, Hermey said that he needed more time. He needed more time to understand what he was and what his place was in the world. In two weeks time, he said, when you come back to feed, I will be ready.
When Crescenda returned for the third time, her great love was not there. A new scarecrow had been put up in his place, and he was nowhere to be found.
Crescenda feared the worst and hurried across the countryside that night, in search of poor Hermey. Had they found him out? Had those awful Munchkins, in their xenophobic rage, destroyed him? Was he burning upon a pyre even now?
Soon Crescenda found herself at a farm on the other side of the Yonder River, a human farm—for the humans held all the lands south of Munchkinland. And it was there, on the grounds of that farm, that she heard the sound that shattered what was left of her broken heart.
It was a girlish giggle, coming from behind the stone wall of the grain silo, and it belonged to the farmer’s daughter. But she wasn’t alone. That was the worst part. The farmer’s daughter was getting cozy with someone else, back there in the shadows. And whose chest did she have her dainty hands upon just then? WHOSE?
Do I even have to say it? Okay. Are you sure?
It was Hermey.
And the burnt husk of the farm, the farm that Crescenda set ablaze to have her revenge on that contemptible scarecrow, is still known, to this day, as Hermey’s Folly.
Special thanks to Betty from the World Anvil Discord for naming Crescenda during a chat on Saturday, December 31, 2022. Check out their world of Khalan!
I kept singing Siouxie Sioux and the Banshee's 'Scarecrow' after reading this. Only that's a bit happier tale. As usual, I love your dry wit. It makes this piece shine.
E. Christopher Clark
Oh, thank you so much. This was a blast to write. It was my last thing for this year's WorldEmber and it was fun to end on such a silly, witty note.