Whitney was not one of those people who believed in ghosts or urban legends, but even to her this room had a bad vibe.  She tried to tell herself it was because it was a no choice last chance room.  For the one hundredth time she cursed the rotten luck that had caused the football to go through her window.  Stupid Chuck and Perry, Whitney could not remember how many times they had told them not to let the game spill over from the delta yard into kappa’s but she was sure it was up there.  Granted, that was so none of the flowers got smashed but still the basic ideal was sound; keep the running man-boys and their airborne toys away from the pretty girls and their stuff.  Now she was stuck moving into the only room still vacant in the house till Payne and son’s window replacement could get the special order window in, which Whitney knew without a doubt would be after the long weekend.
It’s not that the room was dirty or anything like that, but it was in the attic and it faced the back of the property unlike the rest of the bedrooms which faced the street.  Which meant that instead of looking out her second story window down on to the well manicured front lawn and Greek Rho she would have to suffer through a view which encompassed the vast shadowy backyard.  Unlike the front the back yard was an enclosed space where a towering brick privacy fence loomed seven feet high and ran to the small grove of over grown apple trees that had stopped bearing fruit before the college had purchased the property back in ’46.  Whitney surveyed the void, as all the kappa girls jokingly referred to the backyard, and not for the first time wondered why it had never been forced into the well controlled lawn seen out front, but while the grass was kept cut in the closest half which was dominated by an unused fire pit and patio the furthest portion of the void had knee high grass and weeds which even threatened the stout brick fence.  If anything went missing Hannah, the kappa house mother, would always suggest a quick search party to the back yard no doubt explaining how it became known as the void.  She shook her head and turned her back on the curtain free dormer window and went about adding her brightly colored room accessories.
Within the hour the room was awash in loud lime green and bubble gum pink stripes.  Her temporary bed was complete with girlie throw pillows and stuffed animals, the closet boasted a wide selection of party dresses in lovely spring colors, and even the dresser looked better with her necklaces hanging cover the edges.  She slipped off her fuzzy house shoes and threw herself backwards onto the bed.  “What the…” Whitney screamed as she popped back up and searched the window sure she had seen someone looking back at her as she arched backwards, but she could not imagine how that was possible.  She visibly jumped as her name rent the air.
“The game’s in five, you coming or what?”
“Yeah,” Whitney took one final look out the window before grabbing her pale yellow pea coat and heading for the stairs.  “You startled me Gabby why didn’t you just come up?”
“Like I’m climbing 15 extra stairs every time I want to talk to you, your just going to have to get used to the bellow.”
As the laughter died away the room’s new colors dimmed with the passing of a shadow past the window.

Whitney did not make it back from the game till nearly midnight and looking up at her open doorway she hated herself for not leaving a light on.  She had to laugh when she realized that she was actually thinking about sleeping on the couch in the den. “It’s just 15 steps to the door and the light switch,” she told herself in a calm and reassuring voice. However, she still ran up the steps and threw her hand to the right of the doorway searching for the switch before she braved entering her new bedroom. After a small amount of fumbling she heard the click and instantly the room filled with welcoming artificial light. Whitney breathed a sigh of relief which she could not really explain, it was not that she had expected anything to be wrong or disturbed, but just the same she was thrilled that nothing was.
She lay in the bed wide awake covers pulled up to her nose, the bedside lamp still on, and Lancel, her stuffed horse, tucked under one arm. Very slowly Whitney reached over and turned off the lamp. As late as it was the room itself was not all that dark; a good amount of light from the nearly full moon streamed in the short square window creating a kind of twilight. Pulling herself up against the headboard Whitney surveyed the nighttime scene before her, the pea coat she had hung off the chair near the window was bathed in whitish light and appeared non sinister, she had remembered to shut the closet before jumping in bed so there was nothing to fear from that corner, but the light did not quite make it to the bed and her frilly green bed skirt was filled with shadowy possibilities for grabbing hands or peaking faces. Tipping over each side of her bed Whitney made sure nothing was below, and while she felt very childish she was finally ready to sleep when the window light dimmed. She found herself in the middle of her bed, blankets over her head, and back turned to the window, “It’s only some clouds covering the moon, calm down,” she told her self. However, the light was not flickering or returning at all. She tried closing her eyes and counting backwards from one thousand but still sleep eluded her, so Whitney got up and moved over to the rocking chair which was just to the side of the window and began rocking back and forth her eyes glued to the window pane.
The call of a frightened crow startled Whitney awake and as her eyes shot open the room filled with moon light. Without truly thinking it through she ran to the window frame and peered out into the night, once again Whitney could find nothing around the window itself. Much to her horror the night sky was beautifully clear the sinking moon had no clouds to obscure it or even the faintest stars, as the realization that something or someone had been casting the shadow over her room hit her Whitney collapsed forward. Her hands now griped the sill and her forehead rested on the glass, frozen in her fear Whitney could do nothing other than scan the void for movement. Her sharp intake of breath punctuated her find.
Not trusting her eyes she opened the window outward and leaned into the night. Sure enough there amongst the gnarled apple trees stood…what…a man. No that couldn’t be Whitney told herself how could someone have scaled back down the house and ran to the grove in less than two minutes. Though she strained her eyes to the max Whitney could not make out a face or even tell if it was the front or back she was looking at, but the way it moved seemed wrong. What ever it was did not seem to be moving away from the house rather it swayed in lop sided circles as if drunkenly trying to decide which way to go. She felt like she was in a staring contest as she refused to move or blink sure she was looking at what had darkened her window, but as the dew collected and the moon finally disappeared the void was filled with the actual dark in which the shadowy figure was lost. Without a moments hesitation Whitney slammed the window and locked it, grabbed her slippers and robe, and ran down the two flights of stairs which would take her to the kitchen, one of the only other rooms with rear facing windows.
She did not know how long she had held her post staring out the window over the sink but the fact that her muscles groaned in protest when she jumped in response to Gabby’s hand on her shoulder suggested it had been a while.
“What the hell are you doing,” Gabby asked as she pulled the kettle off the stove top. “You do realize its like six in the morning on a Saturday, right?”
Gabby had to be right it was actually light outside now, though Whitney could not remember setting the water to boil, tea did sound nice.
“Earth to Whitney, what are you doing making tea at this hour? Actually you look like shit…you okay?”
“I…um, well I didn’t sleep much last night,” Whitney finished lamely. The look on Gabby’s face said to keep going so she did. “Promise not to laugh…”
It was about half an hour later and the two girls sat at the breakfast nook, true to her word Gabby had not laughed, at first, but when Whitney explained how weird it had moved she had laughed out loud.
“Well there’s your answer drama queen, one of the delta’s probably jumped the wrong fence and passed out in the void.”
“What about the shadow or the eyes” Whitney implored still very unsure that Gabby’s simple answer was the right one.
“Come on,” Gabby said with a wink, “let’s see if he passed out naked.”

Yes, it was day time now but Whitney still had nighttime fears of going under the apple tree’s shade today, but there was only one way to find out what it was that she saw. So after donning their rain goulashes the two girls ventured out into the void one holding a coat and coffee the other a flashlight and tucked in her pocket a steak knife. Having never gone into the grove before Whitney was surprised to find that the backyard had sloped up to me the trees meaning that once thy reached the tall grass they were unable to see much more than grass and sky. Finally they reached the trees which were lazily blowing in the soft wind gusts. Whitney glanced back over her shoulder towards her window, “A little more to the right I think” she said quietly. Which was apparently the cue for Gabby to run off into the trees announcing loudly, “Wrong yard delta boy!”
But there was no frat boy naked or otherwise, instead the two girls stood facing what appeared to be a cross of rotten mossy wood rising from what might have been a pile of mouldering straw or grass.
“How very anti climatic, Whit. I think you may want to cut back on your horror flicks.”

Whitney had hoped that the trip to the void would be her and Gabby’s secret, but not even minutes after arriving at Greek Rho Oktoberfest Gabby was regaling the beer tent with ‘the story’. By nine o’clock Whitney was over all the people trying to scare her at every corner and had turned down at least three offers to make sure she got home without incident. As such she found herself walking alone back to the large three story brick at the end of Greek Rho, as she passed the theta house it hit her. The house was already festooned in orange and black in preparation for the season of Halloween parties just weeks away, and front and center was a scarecrow. She ran the rest of the way home, not even pausing to check the fence gates as she had originally intended, and slammed the locked door behind her. Whitney walked awkwardly toward the Charter room, where all the pictures and documents were kept. Her hand shook noticeably as she opened the heavy oaken double doors, and though she walked slowly back to the book case Whitney never stopped to ponder which books to take up to her room.
With her side lamp holding off the dark Whitney opened the very first scrap book and started flipping pages. While she scanned images and squinted over old inscriptions a trio of blackbirds landed on her window ledge and kept up a lively debate which filled the eerie silent house and eased her fraying nerves. Two-thirds of the way through Whitney hit pay dirt as some uber-feminine kappas of the 1950’s tried to rein in the wilderness of the void. The pictures included girls climbing the apple trees, gardening, and posing next to a scarecrow. The bird’s ruckus halted the instant Whitney began scrutinizing the image and it’s accompanying inscription. Slowly she left her bed noting that it was nearly midnight as she walked over to the window. Opening it wide she again looked for any movement which would have caused the birds to vacate their perch, but only the leaves of the apple trees swayed in the wind. As she turned from the window the sharp crack of a broken twig sounded like an alarm through the night, and when she turned the figure again stood beneath the grove billowing in the night breeze. Not possible Whitney told herself as she pulled the window in and locked it, again she looked out at the trees and saw nothing but shadows, not possible she reminded herself. Having taken only a few short steps from the dormer she realized that she had glanced back at the window five or more times.
“Enough!”. The word echoed off her bare walls losing strength. Whitney walked over to the vanity mirror and looked herself in the eyes, “You are not this girl,” she said out loud, “You do not close your eyes during scary movies, you do not believe in the paranormal, and you have out waited every one you have ever played Bloody Marry with. Stop this, this instant.”
Careful to avoid looking out the window Whitney used her robe to cover the glass, forced herself to turn her back on it, and made her way back over to her bed. She picked up the old books, set them on the floor, and got into bed fully clothed. To prove to herself how brave she was Whitney leaned over to turn off the lamp, but the image with the scarecrow caught her eye. With her head dangling over the bed side Whitney read the picture’s caption ‘Maggie’s Spontaneous Scarecrow’ and felt her heart stop. No that’s not possible she told herself yet again as she switched off the lamp and laid down facing away from the window ignoring the itching feeling that eyes were watching her.

Finally giving in, Whitney turned over to her left side and was happy to find sun light filtering in through the robe but terrified of the light brightly filling a triangle of bare glass the robe had not covered during the night. Failing to suppress the shiver that ran down her spine Whitney sprung out of bed threw on a sweater and headed down stairs. A few of the girls sat rubbing sleep from their eyes as they nursed large cups of coffee, but it was Gabby who motioned her over.
“When I didn’t wake up to the tea kettle I thought it was a good sign, but…”
“You don’t have to say it I already know I look like shit Gabby, because I feel like it too.”
“Still up for the lake trip, might be just what you need,” Gabby asked with questions in her eyes.
“Not at all, two nights without sleep would make me the worst travel companion ever. Have fun though'” Whitney said as she went out to sit on the back patio. She sat facing the void her mug cooling on the seat next to her forgotten for the moment.
“Did you see it again,” Gabby asked striving for casual.
“Yeah…no, well I’m not sure I covered the window last night so…,” Whitney responded never looking up.
“Wanna go check again, I’m packed and we don’t leave for another hour.”
Whitney’s sullen science said it all.
“Our secret this time, unless you find something then you get to tell the story on me.”
She answered by standing and walking towards the tall grass she might not have the flashlight or the knife this time but she had to know, even if it was just further proof that she was crazy. Again they reached the trees and slanted to the right, but this time it was Whitney in the lead. “What the fuck!”. Was all Gabby heard as Whitney slipped out of sight in the shade under the grove.
“For crying out loud you can’t do that to me Whit, what’s the…” Gabby stopped in her tracks, open mouthed. “Is that a…”
“Scarecrow.” Whitney looked like she might fall over but since using the scarecrow or the tree to lean against were both non options for her she sat.
“I am so sorry I never should have told anyone, Whit,” Gabby said rushing over to her. “Those stupid delta guys must have done this, I did see Perry and a few others wonder away for about an hour last night.
“When?”
“I don’t know around 10 I guess.”
“It wasn’t them then.”
“Whit, of course it was them. Who else would it be? Just wait till I get a hold of them today, expect an apology.” While talking Gabby had started moving towards the scarecrow, “Help me take this thing down, will ya.”
“Don’t! Don’t touch it Gabby,” Whitney practically screamed as she lunged for Gabby’s hand. “Just leave it OK? Talk to the guys if you want, but leave it alone Gabby.” Whitney stepped back and really looked at it; its body was a faded black duster, its legs a holey pair of jean overalls that ended in muddy work boots, and his head was burlap sac covered by a brownish fedora. “Can we just go back in, you’re going to be late otherwise.”

After waving goodbye to the van full of kappas Whitney had slowly made her way back up to her room. Upon entering she turned on the light, straightened the robe so all of the glass was covered, and sat on the bed pulling the books up off the floor and into her lap. If it was indeed Maggie’s scarecrow Whitney needed to know all she could about her, so she set aside the scrap book and picked up the photo album which held the Kappa lists dating all the way back to the beginning. Within a few minutes she had her, Margaret Hanson had been a junior member in 1952, VP in ’53, and then was not seen in the lists again. Try as she might Whitney could not find any reason for leave or dismissal. Walking over to the rocking chair she toyed with the idea of pulling back the robe and searching for the figure in the day light, but the very idea left her feeling tired, rather she sat down and rocked back and forth attempting to rationalize recent events.
Whitney woke hours later to a thud which reverberated through her entire room. She barely stifled her scream as she grabbed her coat and ran for the stairs. A quick glimpse out a front facing window told Whitney that dusk had fallen and that it was now or never. In perhaps her most ill considered decision she went out the back not the front door, and ran to the apple trees.
She stopped just inches from the shadows beneath the grove wavering on the edge of indecision. Finally Whitney stepped beneath the twisted limbs braving the dark. As she walked into the clearing her first impression was that the full moon was almost too bright, but it was quickly followed by fact that the scarecrow was not where she had left it. “I refuse to let you scare me anymore,” she told the trees for lack of a more captive audience. “So either let me know what you want or leave me be, Maggie…” The rest of her sentence was lost to the rustle of leaves in the grove. The snap of a branch sent a jolt through her, but it was the voice in her ear that whispered “Not Maggie” that brought her to her knees. When it moved Whitney could hear it rustle and the musty smell of decaying leaves followed it. The loud call of a startled crow caused her to lift her head but the word “Mine” was the only sound that mattered as a cloud blotted out the light.

Monday morning Gabby ran up the steps two at a time hoping to talk with Whitney about the scarecrow which every delta she had questioned had denied pointing out that a seven foot brick fence was a pretty good deterrent. However, only a scrap book on the floor near the rocking chair occupied Whitney’s temporary room. After a moments hesitation Gabby grabbed the book and headed for the apple grove, walking quickly she flipped the pages along the way. When she left the shade of the trees she found her self looking at a yellow pea coat, which was hung over the arms of the wooden cross in place of yesterday’s scarecrow, and holding a page in the book dedicated to the missing kappa Maggie Hanson.

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