Far away, along the long ridge of Texas, the crops on the tunes of weary winds were dancing like scarlet dancing troops. The drunken crops were no more standing. Besides, the seasonal birds were there to give more burdens to the farmers. Busy farmers along with their members started to dream of the harvest while working. In April, farmers in Texas used to be busy with the corns and were ready for the harvesting month. It was mid-April and as usual Mark with his two sons, Johnny and Tommy were busy in their cornfields too. Johnny was 18 and Tommy was 15. Tommy was mending the worn-out scarecrows in the fields. He was working though complaining. Like other boys of his age, he wanted to bask around with his mates: do whatever he liked and enjoy a very carefree life. However, he had to help his father and brother in the field. Though complaining, he was on with his work.
Tommy was mending the tenth scarecrow, when he noticed the eleventh scarecrow unusual at sight. It seemed the head moved and stared at him. A crow was sitting on its head too. He was frightened a bit. Leaving behind the tenth, he went near the eleventh. Now, he could see the scarecrow bigger than others. He went nearer and nearer, the living scarecrow was still silent with its face down. But he could see the sharp claws and paws of the living scarecrow. He slowly turned aback and began to run backward. Meanwhile Laira was barking continuously in spite of being forbidden by Johnny, who was beneath a truck. He was repairing the truck and Mark was inside the farmhouse on irons. Laira kept on barking towards the field. Johnny was telling Laira to stay cool.
All of sudden, Johnny heard someone crying for help. He remembered there was no one out in the field except his kid-brother. Tommy ran shouting for help. How long could his small legs carry him away from the cannibal? The living scarecrow flew up the sky and fell on the boy. It was the last and best sound the little boy ever produced that reached the ears of the father who ran out with a rifle. They were looking for Tommy who was nowhere on sight. They shouted calling his name again and again. A ‘help’ sound was coming from the cornfield. The duo pushed themselves in the corns and ran towards the sound they heard.
The living scarecrow ran fast in the corns dragging the boy, thrusting his sharp paws on the boy’s neck. The little boy kept on crying for help. The father and son, duo ran after the horrible being like anything. Suddenly, the giant flying daemon took off in the sky with his big fleshy wings flattering. The daemon flew away with the little boy very fast. Mark aimed at the beast with the rifle, but couldn’t shoot. The duo stood helpless looking up the sky. Tears took no time to roll down father’ s cheek.
It has been befallen since time immemorial, a flying daemon had been venturing on earth on every 23rd year in April, for 23 consecutive days. He fed on human flesh, piled up human bodies for food for the twenty-three off years. Whatever he ate, stored up in the stomach and could be used in future. He could grow a new leg, a new hand, a new head if cut off. He had a big pair of fleshy wings that helped him to fly around. He grew nails like Tigers. The teeth were sharp enough to chew anything. He had a black skin, thick enough to resist anything. He resembles a tall man. He sometimes disguised himself, stood still like a scarecrow and picked up farmers for prey. He ran fast like a Cheetah, threw his dreadful star-like weapons at the tires of moving vehicles and picked up the passengers one after another. He preferred night to prey. He decided his own prey, when and whom to pick up. Thus, he proofed his existence.
Mark was totally broken after the incident. He recalled the past moments he shared with his lovely son. Had they responded to Laira earlier, they could have saved the boy. Repentance was the only they could rethink. The daemon had taken off their boy in front of their eyes, and they were helpless. Johnny was blaming himself for the loss of his brother.
Blood raised up his head whenever he thought of his brother. He assumed the thing that flew away with his brother. Could it be big bird, a dragon, a being more powerful than human from other planets? He was with living for the moment with many unanswerable questions. What would he do if the beast happened to come again? They didn’t talk to each other much. The episode that the daemon took away Tommy was flashing back in their eyes again and again. They didn’t even close their eyes for a second that night. Revenge took birth in Mark’s mind.
Early next morning Johnny with Laira visited the spot where the flying daemon took off with his brother. Johnny stopped crying when Laira informed him with a ‘BARK’. Johnny came there at the place and he found a dreadful knife, sharp like a brand new razor. Its handle was very horrible and various dreadful signs were sculpted. The knife carried a hidden meaning to understand. He took hold of the knife and came running to his father. Mark was sitting inside a dark room on a swaying chair. Only a half-opened window with its curtain down could be seen in the room. One could see only Mark’s half face. Johnny brought and showed the knife to his father. The knife was a very spontaneous and targeting one. It never missed the target it aimed at. Mark took the knife and held at the handle. No sooner he held at the backside of the knife, it went off straight and hit the wooden pillar 20 feet away from him. One could assume how much strong and powerful that daemon would be. The knife remained stuck on the pillar throughout. Mark worked on irons making that knife like powerful weapons days and nights, and he completed in two days. The iron couldn’t resist the fire of revenge he carried that the iron took the desired shape readily. Mark dreamt of the daemon even killed in the dreams. He decided to lay down his life to kill the flying daemon. He used to sit in front of the transistor-cum-receiver round the clock hoping to hear about any movements of the daemon.
The Day was 23rd April; the last day of the adventurous daemon, he would hunt human down in maximum numbers. The daemon sharpened his teeth, claws and paws. Sometimes, it flew far above the sky; hid itself in the roadside corns. Thus he was searching out to prey.
Moreover, it was mid-day that a very noisy school bus drove the highway. The bus carried three teachers and 42 boys and girls. The unbeaten scorching heat made them lazy and half-asleep. To stay awake, they started singing songs. Some made good raps, some shouts at the fullest, and some kept on chattering. It was loud noise and could be heard from far away places. The teachers were asking them to slow down. All of a sudden, they heard a loud bursting sound that muted them. Silence was the moment, all looked at other’s eye asking what had happened. The driver kicked the brake. The three teachers came out of the bus and found that the hind-tyre produced that loud sound. The tyre was totally torn and inside they could see a very sharp star-like weapon stuck. The weapon was sharp enough to cut Mathew’s hand when he tried to remove it. The daemon was flying high in the sky with an eye on them, waiting for the night to fall. They called up a nearby police station and informed about the accident. The teachers asked the students to stay inside the bus. It took two hours to replace the tyre.
It was two hours before dark when the bus was ready to set on again. Talking about the unexpected accident, they moved on. A weary wind distributes the fragrance of tiredness inside the bus, it took no time, and all of them had fallen to sleep. Mary, an intuitive girl, dreamt a very unusual dream: a man in black was running parallel to the bus 10 – 20 yards away. In an instant, he threw a star-like weapon at the bus that hit at the hind tyre of the bus again. Simultaneously, a big jerk disturbed the passengers and the bus came at a halt. All of a sudden with a rush, they all got down from the bus. The teachers found out that a similar weapon hit the bus again, destroying the left hind tyre again. Anguished with fear and impatience, they gathered themselves like a herd. The girls started crying. The highway was an uninhabited one, far along the ridge; there were no living signs. Vehicles seldom came on the way, only far-land bound trucks used to pop up sometimes, but no vehicles came up on the way for hours. They were all worried for they didn’t know what would come up in the next moment. Mathew, the physical teacher took out some torch-like lighters and made a circle of them around the bus to kill the darkness. Far at the right end towards the ground from the bus, one or two unattended broken down trucks were seen. But, nobody dared to go up see the vehicles. Nevertheless, in a blink of the eye, he was no more on the scene. No one saw how he vanished from the sight. All except the other two teachers rushed inside the bus again. They made a search-out of Mathew but was seen nowhere. A minute after, the daemon flew down and picked up Bob, the other teacher. This time, a student saw what was happening. He uttered no words; everyone could see his wide-opened eyes. Then, he cried out saying; “A big bird took away Bob”. Moreover, before the noise came to halt, another tragic incident happened. Archer, the third teacher tried to get inside the bus but the daemon flew down and got hold of his shoulder. His hand got hold of the iron bar of the bus, students too got hold of the lower portion of his body, but all went futile as the daemon took the teacher away too leaving behind a splash of blood.
All were panic inside the bus. They shut all the doors and windows of the bus from inside. They were all frightened that no one spoke. It was when Anthony contacted a man through the wireless-set, who promised them to bring police for help, that they all had a long breathe. It seemed that the cobs would reach in no time and freed from the hell, but no signs of the cobs could be seen for hours. It was Mark with whom Anthony asked for help. Instead of informing the cobs, Mark equipped his truck with his killer-weapons. Johnny drove the truck and he was standing at the rare opening of the truck. Laira was sitting next to him. The truck has two front seats, and the back was opened for carrying goods, where Mark installed his weapon soldered to the body of the truck. The gun-like weapon he carried along had a curly lead, slided down a foot with a circular twist, continued by a foot-long smoothly with a heavy metal. A 60-70 meters long iron rope continued the end of the weapon that was wrapped over a moving roller, fixed two feet away down the trigger. He gave a rocket propulsion touch to the weapon. The weapon could strike a target 70-80 meters far in seconds. He brought three such weapons. He prepared those weapons especially for the daemon’s kill. He asked Johnny to get the truck to the site of the bus.
Half an hour after the last attack, the daemon appeared again. He showed his anger when he found the doors shut. Opening his mouth wide he showed his sharp teeth and licked the window-glasses with his tongue. He sniffed with a long breath and gestured to a black boy to come nearer. All looked at the black boy with a fright. The daemon hanged like a bat on the walls of bus. Suddenly, he disappeared and all the students inside the bus asked each other if the daemon had left. But the students could hear the heavy but silent moves of the daemon on the roof. All of a sudden, the daemon thrust his hand from the roof to hold a prey. He could get hold of a head of a student, but had to free him when Mary pushed up a long iron rod that penetrated the roof pierced the left eye passing through the head. Leaving behind everything, he tried to remove the rod with all his might, but he couldn’t. Silence swept the moment. Anxious Joseph climbed up the seat to see what was happening. He saw the daemon removing the injured half of his head. The daemon’s half cut head resembles the cut-off cake by a knife. Then, the daemon flew away leaving a big thrush behind. The students thought as if the daemon wouldn’t come back. They all felt wrong and disturbed again when it fell on the bus heavily. All the glasses of the bus were broken and the bus was shaken. One wing of the daemon fell inside the bus through the roof-hole. Maxy came near the wing, touched it as if he feared none. He pushed up the wing and asked his friends to gather themselves on a side. One after another, they moved to the other side of the bus. All of a sudden the wing wrapped up Maxy. He was shouting for help but no one dared to come near the wing. Two three boys came up and pulled the wing down, but the daemon pulled up its wing and dropped Maxy’s body without head. The body stood for a while shivering and fell down. The students had never seen such killing action except in movies. They heard the daemon chewed the head. Meanwhile, Joseph again climbed on a seat and tried to see what the daemon was trying to do. Oh God, he saw a very strange thing happening on the roof. The daemon swallowed the cutoff head of Maxy as a whole. He uprooted his own damaged head and threw it away, and then a head slowly rose up from the stomach and stood on the neck like the original one. It was Maxy’s head that he was using instead. In no time, the head took the form of the former head and looked dreadful again. He stood up on the roof of the bus, and leaving behind a big thrust he flew away towards the sky.
There was a chaos prevailing inside the bus. Anthony, the ringleader among the students, talked openly to all. He said, “There are two kinds of people in the bus, first: the group which will be hunted by the daemon, second: the group who would be safe. We don’t want the second group to suffer because of the first, so I want the second group to leave the bus, or we all will be in danger”. The black boy stood up and revolted against. This time, Anthony made his statement clear. He warned him that it was him the daemon would come again to prey. All the students passed statements against Anthony. They had decided to leave the bus and they did. Even his girlfriend, Linda was against his injustice. Anthony tried to stop her but she asked to let off her. Then, he too came out of the bus. Suddenly, they heard a big move in the air. They all run aback towards the bus again. But the door was bolted from inside by few students who were hiding beneath the seats. But, the beast was reaching them in no time, so they headed towards the roadside ground. The daemon spotted the black boy first and flew down chasing, but missed him as the boy tumbled on a rock lying on the ground. He flew up in the sky again. The daemon then targeted Anthony with the knife. Meanwhile Mark and Johnny were looking for the bus. Laira signaled them by a series of ‘BARKS’ that they are not far from the spot. Johnny stopped the truck when they saw Mary who was very frightened. It seemed she knew much about the daemon. Mark asked, “Where do you come from?” Mary said, “It is of no use to fight the daemon. Nothing can kill him; he will come back after 23 years from now. Go back or he will hunt all of us down.” In spite of being warned by Mary, Mark asked her to take them to the bus. The daemon was on the bus trying out the students inside the bus from the hole when Mark saw him. The light beam struck him; with an instinct, the daemon rose on the bus and stood with the wings stretched.
Now Mark could see the creature vividly. The daemon stared at Mark without a blink, showing his sharp canine teeth. Mark drew up all the blood in his head and pulled the trigger; the dreadful weapon went straight away and hit the daemon at the chest. The three and half feet long weapon pierced the daemon’s thick body. The weapon carried the daemon away twenty-five meters. Silence swept the moment. With a roar the daemon rose and flew up from the ground. The weapon was still piercing his body. He flattered his wings heavily and tried to fly away with the truck. The truck was not heavy enough for the daemon, and he could have dragged and flown away with the truck. Mark asked Johnny to take the truck behind the bus. The daemon couldn’t lift up the truck but he succeeded removing off the weapon from his body and flew backward. The weapon flew back and hit the seat where Johnny was sitting. The weapon broke the front glass and nailed Johnny’s jacket on the seat. He breathed heavily holding his forehead. He drove the truck and hid behind the bus. The daemon remained flying in the sky. The angry daemon flared up his horrible red eyes, flew like a swift swallow and came attacking the father-son duo from the other side of the bus. In nick of time Mark was ready with his second weapon again; he asked the kids in the bus to hide themselves under the seats and shot at the daemon again through the window of the bus. The daemon was badly hit this time and was thrown away far away again. The next moment was very uncertain; they looked at each other and waited for next scene. The iron rope moved a little and the next moment was definitely certain. With the weapon entangled with his body when he flew up again. He couldn’t fly up high as the bus stopped the rope. With all his might he flew up; the rope began to cut the roof. Seeing the danger if remained in the truck, Mark jumped out off the truck. The daemon lifted up the truck forcefully, and the truck was in the air for some seconds. Within minutes, the daemon was seen in the dark sky flapping his wings. Nowhere he could see any signs of his preys except the father-son duo. The daemon might have sensed danger staying there that he took the shelter of the darkness.
Joseph and the black boy disturbed the silence when they came driving an unattended truck. The daemon now came out from the dark and as once again was ready to prey. He licked his lips and came flying towards the moving truck. Joseph was driving while the black boy was sitting at the rear open. The truck could be seen from far away places in the moonlit night. The daemon came chasing and was about to get hold of the boy. The black boy took out the pistol, which he picked up that fell on the road when Mathew, the physical teacher, was picked up by the daemon, and shot at the daemon. The bullet hit the daemon but there was no evidence of being hit, the daemon came on chasing them. Meanwhile, an instant idea struck Joseph. He asked his friend at the back to tease the daemon and bend down all over when he kicked the brake. The black boy couldn’t catch what Joseph was up to. But, he readily followed what was told and teased the daemon making some unusual gestures. The daemon was angry enough to fly faster and catch his prey and he did. As he flew faster, Joseph kicked the brake hard and his friend too bent down on the rear open, the truck stopped with a huge jerk. The daemon with all his force and strength collided with the driver’s back glassed-window, and the truck had multiple over-head turns along with the daemon. The last turn threw away them on all directions. And the truck with a loud burst caught fire. The site was lighted up by the fire and kept on burning. The daemon was thrown 20 to 30 feet away on the grass. He made some moving sounds and sniffed on all directions raising his head. The black boy suffered multiple injuries and was crying in agony. He felt a fright when he saw a cut-off wing by his side. The Joseph was seen nowhere. The sharp glasses of the truck cut off his right arm and the right leg. He needed a prey to recover the injuries, so he sniffed and crawled towards the boy who was 50 meters away form him. Had he reached the boy in time, he could have got a new arm and a leg. The boy saw the devil coming towards him, he tried to stand and run, but he couldn’t. He had severe injuries at his legs. He too crawled and picked up the pistol again with a single bullet in it. He was too slow for the daemon that made frog-like jumps towards him. It was just from a few meters far the daemon made the last long jump, but that very 23rd day was written for his end at the hands of the father-son duo who were waiting from a near front for the beast with the last weapon ready. Mark shot at the beast at the forehead this time, before the daemon could reach the boy. The daemon fell down at the back on the grass with the weapon on the forehead. The daemon tried to take out the weapon with his left hand, but couldn’t. Leaving no chances, Mark came running towards the beast with a spear. He thrust the spear at the chest again and again until blood-like fluid came oozing out from the body. But, the daemon was trying still to take out the weapon. Mark thrust the spear again and again. Mary who was observing from a near end shouted that he would never die. Mark said, “Seems dead to me”. The fire-like revenge in Mark slowly dropped down slowly.
They brought back the death home, and kept hanging at the wall. Mark couldn’t bring back his little boy to life, but he made a powerful revenge. A flower of happiness made a bloom on the desert-like hearts of the father-son duo. The news of the death of the daemon was heard far and wide across the land. People paid visits at Mark’s home every now and then. Johnny got a new job attending the visitors. He would randomly charge money on the visitors sometimes. But Mark was reminded of all the existence of the daemon forever and was waiting eagerly for the next 23rd spring. He waited for the daemon to arise from the death throughout his life with his weapons ready. He looked at the daemon’s closed eyes every now and then with a thought of seeing the eyes opened in some other spring.