“Tommy knows that you pushed Hannah into the mud. If you don’t tell the truth, he’ll come to get you.”
“Daddy, I know Tommy is just a scarecrow! He’s not a real person!”
“You’d be surprised buddy. Now go wash up, we’ll talk more about this at dinner.”
It’s sort of funny, I can remember a conversation that I had when I was 10 so vividly, yet I nearly forget my keys every morning. Dad always knew that Tommy freaked me out, so he would refer to him in his punishments. Tommy wasn’t even our scarecrow at first. You see, he belonged to my grandparents. When my dad was seven, my grandparents took him on a trip to Italy. They stayed at a farm that was also a B&B. On their last day there, as “a gift for being such great guests,” the mother of the man who owned the farm gave my grandparents Tommy.
“He is more than a protector of the crops.” she told them.
This was a very nice gesture, but my dad grew up in the suburbs, which meant there were no crops to protect. So Tommy sat in the attic until Halloween came around every year.
When my dad turned 16, he began work as a farm hand at one of the largest farms in New York State. He rose through the ranks and eventually married the farmer’s daughter — my mom. Around the time my mom found out that she was pregnant with me (my parents were both 24), my pop-pop was dying. He held on so hard to see me born. He passed away when I was three months old, handing the farm and all of its business to my parents. We now grow tons of crops and we’re also involved in both the milk and meat businesses. And all the while, Tommy sat in our cornfield, protecting our crops.
I’m guessing you would probably like to know what Tommy looks like! Well, nobody ever really bothered to take a picture of him, but I can easily describe him to you.
Tommy was a pretty large scarecrow, his whole body measured about 6’5″. His face was very human-like. His face was light brown leather morphed into a pretty spot-on human face. A red “B” was carved into each of his “cheeks” (those have been there since Italy). He donned a straw hat. If it ever started to fall apart, we’d buy a new one. As for clothing, Tommy was always dressed for success. Instead of overalls and plaid, my dad dressed him up in a cheap grey suit he had purchased at a thrift store. His suit had gotten pretty tattered, but dad always said, “It gives him character.”
My grandfather on my dad’s side was in the military for 16 years, so when we inherited the farm, my dad attached my grandpa’s old version of SAP gloves, and combat boots on Tommy. But the creepiest thing about Tommy wasn’t what was on the outside, but what was inside of it. Tommy wasn’t stuffed with straw, but a mixture of animal hair from the original Italian farm, plus some from our farm, and human hair from local barber shops. I always asked my dad why, but he never really had an answer, he just said that it was how it was done… Now, imagine seeing that on a crucifix. Wouldn’t that scare the hell out of you?
My phobia of Tommy began when I turned eight. I was with a few of my friends out in the cornfield playing tag, when I ran shoulder-first into Tommy’s “shin.” I would’ve quickly shaken it off and forgot about it, but right after I ran into Tommy, I heard something like a very faint moan in my vicinity. It sounded as if someone was trying to hide pain. The sound lasted for less than a second, but it was long enough for me to realize it was above me. I remember sprinting back into the cornfield and yelling at my friends to get back home.
I told my dad what had happened and he teased me. He used Tommy as a joke until around the time I turned 16. It was when he became scared of Tommy, too.
It was early October, and we had just opened our pumpkin patch to the public. The farm went all out when it came to Halloween. Besides the decent-sized pumpkin patch, we ran a haunted hayride through the woods behind our house, and we turned Tommy’s cornfield into a corn maze. One day, a woman and her young son came running out of the maze and began yelling at one of our workers. My dad saw this and asked the woman what was wrong.
“You should tell your patrons when you make an attraction scary,” the woman said.
This was weird because the cornfield wasn’t a horror attraction. My dad informed the woman of that, but she wouldn’t have it.
“Yeah right, just tell your scarecrow actor that he shouldn’t touch the guests,” she said.
My stomach dropped when she said this. Not only was I still terrified of Tommy, but I had no explanation for what this woman was saying. It wasn’t windy at all that day, and Tommy was always tied to the crucifix extremely tight. My dad looked worried, but he told me he had to go check to see if Tommy’s ties had come undone. He told me to go help the front workers at the register. About an hour later, when the farm was getting really busy, my dad finally came out of the cornfield. He looked pretty shaken, like he was in a hurry. When he was completely out of the field, I noticed he had something big in his arms. It was Tommy. I went up to ask him what was going on, but he shooed me off, grumbling something about having to put Tommy away. As he passed me, I noticed the back of my dad’s sweatshirt was cut up.
Dad put Tommy into the storage shed next to the cow barn. He never brought him out again. I would always ask dad to bring Tommy back out, as my fear had turned into morbid curiosity, but he would always say no. This annoyed me for some reason, so last July, at my graduation party, I was determined to bring Tommy out. Two friends and I walked to the storage shed — everyone else was too busy partying all over the farm (about 220 people came to the party and it was awesome). My dad always locked the storage shed with two padlocks. I didn’t have any sort of key, so tipsy me decided using bolt cutters would be a good idea. We got through the first one, but we stopped when we heard a loud thump from inside the shed. It sounded like someone jumping in the air and landing right on their ass, hard. All three of us jumped and we all ended up screaming when we heard someone yell, “HEY!” behind us. In shock, we turned to see my dad standing there with a pitchfork. I thought he was trying to scare us, but he just yelled at us to get back with everyone else. He walked by us and wedged the pitchfork between the door and the ground as a makeshift lock.
Last August, I went away to college. It’s only 45 minutes from my house, but I wanted to experience dorm life. In college, I discovered my love for photography. Unfortunately I didn’t discover that until mid-December, and I wasn’t going to be doing any photo shoots in the freezing winter. When late-March hit, the snow was finally melting away. I took advantage of this on March 28th, when I went back home to do a solo shoot. Before you ask, I didn’t want to take pictures of Tommy. Besides, I couldn’t have done so even if I wanted to, as in January, a blizzard destroyed the storage shed, and Tommy went missing during the storm.
I started at around 10-in-the-morning, mostly taking pictures of the cows, pigs, and horses. Then I got around to the woods. It was a normal shoot, until I got to the large oak tree where we had built a treehouse when I was younger. I saw something carved into the oak. In large letters was the word “LACRIME” etched into the old tree. It was weird, but I assumed some local kids had done it. My suspicion was confirmed when I got to our old bonfire pit.
Around the pit were dozens of empty beer cans and blunt wrappers. I didn’t mind this, but what was inside the pit turned my stomach. A small rabbit was nailed to a small cross, and a sticky note was stuck to its head. Written in sloppy handwriting was the word “LACRIME”.
I planned on telling my parents about it when I got back to the main house, but I wanted to finish up with the photoshoot. Next, I went to the abandoned farmhouse next door. This farmhouse has been there since before pop-pop owned our farm. Nobody has claimed it, and for some reason the town hasn’t done anything about it.
I approached the house from the front, and was hit with a rotten smell. The closer I got to the dilapidated house, the worse the smell got. I put my shirt over my nose, and entered through a hole in the side of the house. I took out my camera to start taking pictures, but I felt something brush my neck. Surprised, I fell over backwards and saw nobody there. I put my hand on a log that was laying behind me to get leverage to stand. As soon as I placed my hand on it, I felt a mixture of something furry and damp. I practically “kipped up” to get a closer look. It was a human scalp. Disgust and fear coursed through my body, and so I made a run for the exit, trying not to throw up. I ran all the way back home, where I called the police.
The police finally left after questioning my family. My dad told me to stay in the house for the rest of the day. I usually would’ve argued against it, but after the barn, I complied. It was around 2PM when I fell asleep while watching Netflix, but I woke to a sound of what sounded like a pig squealing from outside my window. When I strained my ear, it actually sounded like a human trying to imitate a frightened pig. I yelled for my dad. He ran into my room brandishing his Hawk shotgun. I pointed to my open window, and he stuck his head out of it. He was like that for a few seconds until he ripped his head back in, knelt down, put the gun through the window, and shot. I wasn’t ready for that, so I screamed at him asking what the hell was going on. He told me to get into the living room.
My dad, mom, and I all sat on the couch.
“I need to know what’s going on,” I said.
My dad laid the gun against the sliding glass door, and sat down in the recliner next to it.
“It’s Tommy….” he began.
“Garry, I don’t think we should be telling him.” my mother interrupted.
He waved his hand in the air. “No, Jen, he needs to know.”
I sat down on the other recliner in the corner of the room and interrupted both of them.
“Need to know what? Just say it.”
MY dad sighed. “Tommy is alive,” he said. “He is a living thing.”
I snorted, and looked at my mom. For my whole life, my mom has been a skeptic of EVERYTHING supernatural. She is also a “devout” atheist in contrast to my dad’s laid-back Christian views.
She gave me a slight nod, agreeing to what had just come out of my dad’s mouth. That’s when I sat back in the chair. My heart felt like it was burrowing into my stomach.
“Your mother and I have known for three years now, but my parents have known this since they got him,” my dad said.
“I’ll try to explain it like your grandparents did a couple years ago.” He sat there for a few seconds, trying to gather himself. “Something is inside Tommy. I’m not going to say that it’s a ghost, because I don’t know if that’s true.”
I was confused. He must’ve noticed because he cleared his throat.
“Let me explain,” he said. “My parents first noticed Tommy was different about a month after we had gotten home from Italy. Things in the attic would break without anyone being up there. Then, while we were all out of the house, things downstairs would be moved. We didn’t know what was going on until your grandma saw Tommy move. She was in the attic putting things away when she heard something move. She turned around and saw Tommy’s arm inching back to the place it was when grandma had first saw him. Tommy somehow knew that Grandma saw him move, so he began to shake. Grandma ran out and locked the door. Unbeknownst to me, they tried to contact the Italian family. Through this, they found out that the people that owned the B&B were arrested just two weeks after we had left. The police found 35 bodies buried in their vineyard after the husband was arrested during a botched kidnapping attempt. People said all four members of the family were using people in some type of weird ritual that involved living forever. And somehow during those rituals, Tommy was created.”
I sat back in the chair with a grin on my face. I expected him to follow up with “Just kidding!” but my mom and dad just sat there.
“So why would you risk bringing him around me? Why wouldn’t you just throw him away or burn him?” I asked.
“You don’t think grandma and grandpa tried to get rid of him? He would always just come back.”
“What about destroying him?”
That’s when my Mother spoke up. “I can answer that,” she said.”After your father’s corn maze incident, and what your grandparents told us, we tried to contact the relatives of that Italian family. We were able to get ahold of the husband’s brother. We asked if everything about Tommy was true, and he said yes… Everything is true. And we asked him if we could destroy Tommy. I’m glad we did. Because he told us to never destroy it. Whatever is inside Tommy won’t go away if we burn him. It’ll…just go into the nearest object or person that it finds. We didn’t want to risk whatever it is to go into you.”
I nodded, I still felt like this whole thing was crazy.
“So what exactly happened to you in the corn maze?” I asked.
My dad cleared his throat. “Well after I roped off the maze, I went to check out Tommy.” He cleared his throat again. “I used these shears to cut the rope that was holding him up there, and placed them both behind me. I checked to see if the cross was loose when I felt something cut into the back of my shirt. I instinctively jumped forward and I hear a light crash behind me. Tommy was on the ground, but closer to me, but I couldn’t find the shears. I assumed that someone else was in the maze and tried to hurt me, so I picked up Tommy and ran towards the exit. But right before I got out, I heard something come from inside Tommy…it was a voice. What did he say…Lake? Grime? Lake Grime?”
“No… was it Lacrime?” I asked him.
“Uh wow, yeah actually, that’s it. When I heard that voice say it, I pretended like I didn’t hear anything and I locked him up in the shed.”
I sat waiting for them both to start laughing, but instead I looked at my father, this big guy who I had always looked at like a superhero, holding back tears. I started to say something, but we heard light footsteps in the front foyer. My dad snatched up his gun and ran towards the sound. Before my dad even left the living room, I heard the front door open and slam shut. I followed my dad. Of course, when we got there, nothing was outside.
The rest of that night was uneventful. But it dawned on me that if Tommy had ran out the front, he must’ve seen the parking pass sticker for my college on my window. I was worried the next day when I got back to school, Tommy would be waiting for me.
For the past month I’ve been calling my parents every day to see how they’re doing. They haven’t seen Tommy, but my dad did wake up to a paper taped to the front door one morning. One word was on the note: “Lacrime”. The police still haven’t found out what was up with the scalp in the barn. I have no proof that it was Tommy, but unfortunately, I think it was him. Since I live in a single, I check every inch of my room just to be safe. I’m afraid he is looking for me.
Some nights when I’m laying in bed, I swear I can hear that squeal outside my building. I feel like I should see if it’s really him so nobody else gets hurt, but I just can’t do it.