March of the Straw Men
by Eric Drewes

I hear the rustle of a thousand footsteps, marching through the empty field behind the house.
I know it is the straw men who have come for me again. They said they would be back, though, at the time I didn't believe them. The sound is getting closer and I look
through the window. Their voices sound like strong wind blowing through a thicket of grass. I hear their tiny yelps and calls.

Clamoring for me.
Calling out to me.

Who are the straw men?
They are men of straw.

Who am I?
I wish I knew.

I hide in my room, scared of something silly and surreal, scared of a dream come to life. They quickly envelop the house, sliding through every crack, every small crevice they can fit their bodies through. They seem to be everywhere now, these straw men, the ones that are afraid of fire and horses and goats. They come like the wind in the night as I lay in bed waiting for them.

Maybe they will take me away. Maybe they will build a house of straw around me, to protect me from the rain and the heat of the sun. Maybe they will merely create a bed for me to rest on. Maybe they will make me join them. My skin, my body, my organs and brain, my heart, all transmuted to straw. Then I would march with my straw brothers proudly.

The straw men speak amongst themselves as they flood through my wide open door, as they come for me in my room. I see them scurry across the floor towards me, their straw bodies and faces, their movements seem to reveal an almost human-like nature. I want to hold them in my arms and squeeze them because they love me. They flood in like a liquid sea of straw leaving no space on the floor unfilled by their horde.

Suddenly though, a small group bump into my table, knocking a lit candle unto them.

A fire erupts, flames everywhere. The straw men run like ants whose hole had collapsed. They fall as their bodies are consumed and crumble into oblivion. My friends, my enemies, the straw men were burning to ash. The fire spreads quickly, torching the entire group. I watch sadly as they are taken away, drifting lazily up to straw man heaven in a large puff of smoke. The fire quickly dies along with the last of them.

I watched the straw men's march.
I watched the straw men's defeat.

The ashes blow away with the wind.
The window is open and I am cold. My blanket does little to keep me warm.

I will drift off to sleep now.

Perhaps my dreams will be sweet.