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The Sower

horror by Jodi MacArthur

Night howled over the trees and their floundering leaves. A crunch somewhere along the graveyard’s lane followed the Sower. The sound of the Reaper’s teeth frightened her, causing her to move more swiftly.

She scratched the dirt with her hoe, removing any bit of green that tried to grow; then tossed the hoe aside, picked up the trowel, and got down on all fours. The Sower traced a perfect line, an ever-so-slight ditch in the earth.

Crunch, crunch. She heard It behind her. Its power was strong and immortal as sin, giving It the strength to snap bones. It haunted her dreams; It was why she had become a junkie in the first place.

“You would too,” she had told a dark man in an alley once. “If you had the Reaper following you around, demanding you pay the price.”

The price of what? she thought, starting on the second row. The price of sorrow.

The crunching echoed as the wind quieted. She worked faster, noticing the lowered moon in the east. She needed to finish before dawn. Every seed the Sower planted sprouted death. Graves may not be sowed in sunlight. In the dark, she didn’t feel the weight of the sun and the living memories it brought. The Reaper numbed her with Its threats.

Something pricked her finger as she dug into the earth.

“Ouch!”

Crimson spilt over her pale, filthy skin. The sharp edge might as well as pricked her soul. She felt. She hurt.

Picking up the small object and holding it to the moonlight, The Sower saw it was a piece of Jasper’s Humpty Dumpty Christmas ornament. She could never forget that black eye and smile. She flipped the piece over. It read, Jasper 2006.

“All deserve death,” said the creature now beside her. The Reaper crunched. A bit of bone dropped to the dirt.

She wouldn’t talk to It. Never did, never had, but she knew what It expected of her.

“Sow the seeds,” It said, holding out a velvet black bag. The Sower looked inside, finding tiny bone seeds. Each seed held a familiar face. “Sow the darkness, so I may reap.”

He held the bag out to her. She didn’t take it. She felt tired, so tired her arms wouldn’t move. Or was it something else? An aching stirred within her.

“Plant the crop, Sower,” It demanded. The sky flashed a horrible yellow.

“No,” she said, speaking aloud.

It felt good to acknowledge the creature. Slowly, she lifted her face and looked at the terrible robed figure. It stank of old flesh. The weight of sowing the darkness overwhelmed her for the first time. She felt ashamed, yet minutes, hours ago she was numb. The pain of Humpty Dumpty’s razor edge and the memories of joy it had brought her child mixed bittersweet emotions within her.

The Reaper snatched a femur from his pocket. Bits of flesh and worm still clung to it. He lifted the bone to his black hood. Crunch!

He spit out the seeds letting them fall around her. Soft pieces of flesh pelted her face; a worm fell on her arm.

She reached for the black bag, but instead grabbed Its bony arm. It writhed like a snake. She swung the sharp piece of Humpty Dumpty at Its robe, expecting it would pass through. Humpty Dumpty sank deep into something more rotten than solid.

The bag of seeds slipped from Its hands. The Reaper’s hood fell back. The Sower gasped at what she saw. In Its skeleton’s head, in Its empty eye sockets, she saw faces. She saw the faces of her two children, the one living and the one dead. The face of her husband. The face of her elderly parents. The Reaper opened Its mouth. A hellish light burst forth, highlighting Its teeth. Each tooth was a cracked white letter. S-o-r-r-o-w.

The Sower cried out in rage, in horror, and lunged at It again, Humpty Dumpty in hand. This time when glass hit flesh, she pulled down, gutting it. Syringes and needles poured from Its chest, melted into black serpents, and wiggled away.

The Reaper’s writhing body fell to the ground as Its bones caught fire.

She set the piece of Humpty Dumpty aside, picked up the trowel, and began to dig, deeper, deeper, until sunlight peaked over the evergreens. The first sunlight she’d seen in years.

She dumped the bag of bone seeds, now ash, into the grave as well as The Reaper’s robe. She tore her own garments and tossed them in. After filling in the grave, she picked up the piece of glass, the memory of her child, her family.

And as the sun climbed the sky, the Sower remembered her name. It was Hope.

Copyright January 2010 by Jodi MacArthur

Jodi MacArthur lives in south Texas. She blogs about writing at Fiction Writer – Jodi MacArthur.

[Return to the January 2010 stories]

20 Responses

  1. this is such a cool concept and executed flawlessly, love the teeth! i guess you really do reap what you sow? super work here jodes, amongst your best imho.

  2. Exactly. 😉 Thank you, Mike! I love this story as well.

  3. Nice visuals to this, Jodi. Love the teeth! It’s great to be sharing an edition with you!

  4. Thank you, Laura! It’s great to be here with you as well. 😉

  5. Loved this piece Jodi. Congrats on a great start to 2010. Long may it continue for you.

    Regards, David.

  6. Thank you so much for taking the time to read all my work lately, David. I can’t tell you how much your support means.

    So glad you liked the story. This one is close to my heart.

  7. Love the imagery and suggestions in this – your words are always so powerful – “Crimson spilt over her pale, filthy skin. The sharp edge might as well as pricked her soul. She felt. She hurt.
    You are sowing art and success, congrats!

  8. Erin,
    Thanks for finding this and taking the time to read and comment. It’s one of my favs and I’m glad you enjoyed it too. 😉

  9. JODI ~
    From the tight well-executed furrows of your dug into mind, where “Its power was strong and immortal as sin”, to what cut the mood and the sentencing doom of task, to the realization of the name of HOPE, this reader was aware of some yet more powerfully underlying expressive faucet within you was turned on yet the more in this piece’s flow.

    You’re flowing fast, free and finely forward in seeds you sow and those you throw. Proud to know you along some of this journey — it tells you much that I read ‘horror’ genre all the way through … just because it came from you. So good, so you. ~ Absolutely*Kate,

  10. I know it takes alot for K*te to read horror and I’m honored that you’d read mine all the way through. There is always hope in the end – Frank would say so too. Wouldn’t he dear lady?

    Thank you always for your light, K*te. Love ya.

  11. Hey Jodi,

    Nightmare in prose. So many difficult images to convey, but you didn’t lose me anywhere along the way. Good job. Your seclusion in the cave has paid off.

    –John

  12. The detective is finding my work. These are huge compliments coming from you. Thank you, John.

    I might just have to quote your, “Nightmare in prose” line. Love it. I hope you are well.

  13. very, very, well done. catches you right away. The tightly woven prose keep you engaged until the very end.

  14. Wow – thank you, Connie. Very kind words. 😉

  15. […] In Genre on August 15, 2010 at 7:30 am The pain of Humpty Dumpty’s razor edge and the memories of joy it had brought her child mixed bitt… ▶ No Responses /* 0) { jQuery('#comments').show('', change_location()); […]

  16. Thank you, Paul. 😉

  17. Wow, you never cease to amaze me! From the moment she saw the sun for the first time I knew something fantastic was coming. Of course you surprised me in the most positive way. 🙂

  18. I love your mind girl. Thanks so much for reading!

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