Jerry Dorwell was a high-flying bigshot on the Manchester City Council, well-respected as a ‘fixer’ who could get stuff done by lunching and charming difficult colleagues, a young-looking and smiling politician hotly tipped as the next Labour candidate for the Salford West seat when Paul Carstairs retired. Or, he was all this until he began to be troubled by terrible dreams in which all of Manchester was destroyed by a giant crow, which would descend upon the city, terrible and black, and then all the power would be cut through fear of his shadow, the windows would smash, and he would dive, the crow, right into the Hilton tower, which would then topple over under the strain and crush all the Manchester underneath it, the only survivors so badly burned, bloodied and traumatised that they could only envy the dead. And Jerry Dorwell would always wake from this dream sweating and screaming, and his wife would murmur to him to be quiet and give her more of the duvet.
And Jerry Dorwell had this dream so regularly that he couldn’t think about anything else. He would look at Manchester, out of the window of his office or just wandering around outside, and the would see the Hilton tower, and he would see it all crashing and crumbling apart in his dream. He wasn’t able to concentrate on his work, his superiors were concerned. If you looked at his nails you’d see that they were bitten down to the cracked skin underneath, and his jaw clicked from grinding his teeth too much.
So he had to do something about it. His solution was to design and have built a giant scarecrow, the size of the Hilton tower and directly adjacent to it, so that it could be propped up using the tower as a support. It wouldn’t need to be great job, it would just need to repel the crow, when it came, and then Manchester would be safe once more. Of course, Jerry didn’t know when exactly the crow would strike, but as his dreams became more regular and more and more vivid, and yet more and more always the same, he knew that the attack must be coming soon, so speed was imperative. Luckily, Jerry was given quite a lot of leeway with things on the Construction Committee, so no one questioned his unusual plans too much, and he was able to contract a company to build the scarecrow for him.
It was, in fairness, a rush job, but the builders had stayed pretty much true (despite whatever incredulity they might have had at the idiosyncratic nature of this particular contract) to Jerry’s original designs, and the scarecrow loomed up above Manchester with a grotesque, rectangular smiling face full of gapless teeth, and dead brown eyes big and staring, great slices of Elephant Straw poking out from its gargantuan hat, and Jerry was pleased that now no giant crow would ever dare go near Manchester with a scarecrow guarding the city like this. And now Jerry could sleep soundly at night. He still had the same dreams, but now they were changed. The crow still arrived but now, with the scarecrow present, the crow was repelled. Jerry was then paraded through the city like a hero, and later on, the next year, he won Salford West in a landslide.
But alas, it wasn’t all that easy, and naturally what with the size of the scarecrow and everything and what with it being propped up by the Hilton tower and all, people started noticing and thinking: “what’s going on with the scarecrow?”, and the council got all sorts of complaints about it obscuring the cityscape and frightening their children, and so they decided to investigate who had done it, and promise to take action against them and have the scarecrow taken down. And so Jerry found out about this and rushed into the head of the council’s office and yelled: “No! You cannot take the scarecrow down! If you do, we’ll all be attacked by a giant crow. I have had visions… and now they’re gone, thanks to the scarecrow! We cannot take the scarecrow down!”
And so, naturally, the head of the council thought Jerry had gone quite insane, and had him fired for misuse of council funds, and over the course of a public inquiry into the scandal Jerry became the option of some great public ridicule, and Tom Simm was selected as the next candidate for Salford West instead. But worst of all for Jerry was the fact that the scarecrow had been torn down, and he lived in perpetual fear because his dreams had returned to be just as bad as before, and his wife could no longer put up with this erraticness, and had him committed to an asylum, and everyone agreed that this was the best thing for poor Jerry, and meanwhile he could scrawl great tracts detailing his visions, and warning people to take action, and all the time he’d be shaking, and biting his nails, and he stopped being able to eat, he would just throw up any food he was given, and by the end he was so scared he couldn’t even swallow. And so he wasted away, and died, all the time dreaming of Manchester’s imminent destruction at the beak of a giant crow.
His wife was sad at his death but no one really mourned his passing, as he had been agreed to be completely insane. Then, on the day of his funeral, Manchester was attacked by a giant crow, and it knocked down the Hilton tower and destroyed it, but in fact aside from the immediate area affected everywhere else was pretty much OK.