Previously: The Corner Game.
The Man in the Fields ritual bears some similarities to a couple of other games we’ve looked at in previous installments of “The Most Dangerous Games”: Like the Candles Game, you have a task to complete after you perform the summoning (in this case, closing everything in your house that could possibly open), and like the Midnight Game, you’ll have to watch your back while you do it (here, you’ll meet the Man in the Fields if you’re not careful). But while the stakes for the Man in the Fields are roughly as high as they are for these two previous rituals, there’s also much more to gain; for that reason alone, the Man in the Fields ritual might be very attractive to some.
Although the game’s introduction notes that it has been “passed down throughout the centuries” and “originates from the British Isles during the Middle Ages,” I’m somewhat skeptical of this claim; I suspect that, like many of the other games and rituals floating around out there on the internet, it’s actually an invention of the digital age, an internet urban legend aged up to lend it a little more gravity. However, it is true that wicker men have long been burned in effigy stretching back to ancient times — so perhaps there’s something at the root of this ritual after all. Of course, it’s also true that we have little to no proof that these wicker men were used as tools for human sacrifice — the idea of them being used as such may have been a rumor spread by Julius Caesar in an attempt to dehumanize his enemies — but… still.
[Like what you read? Check out Dangerous Games To Play In The Dark, available from Chronicle Books now!]
That scarecrow in your backyard?
It’s not a scarecrow.
As always, play at your own risk.
- One principal.
- A house with a back garden or backyard. Inside the house should be at least one room that has only one door. Ideally this room should be empty, and ideally, the sole door should have a lock.
- A non-electric source of illumination. A candle or lantern works well, as long as you have a supply of matches or a lighter.
- A crucifix.
- An analog watch or clock. Do not use a cell phone. It won’t work.
- Begin after sunset, but before midnight. How much time you leave yourself is up to you, but it is not recommended that you begin less than one hour before midnight. See also: Additional Notes.
- Clear the house and backyard of other people. Make sure you have your crucifix on your person.
- Light your candle or lantern.
- Enter the backyard and turn to face the house. Repeat the following phrase seven times: “But who will scare the crows away?”
- After the seventh repetition, listen closely.
- If you hear nothing: The summoning has failed; do not proceed. Although there are no known negative consequences for simply returning to your house, it is recommended that you leave the premises immediately. Do not return until after 6am.
- If you hear a voice behind you (or perhaps in your own head): The summoning has succeeded; you may proceed. The voice will say, “That’s not your biggest problem.” Heed its warning.
- Return to your house and close the door behind you. Do not look back.
The Main Event:
- Go to the room with only one door. Ideally the room should be empty of all objects, but if it is not, close anything in it that might open — drawers, closets, windows, doors, boxes, containers, bags, anything. Do not miss anything. If it is able to be opened, and if it is open, you MUST close it. This will be your safe room.
- Leave the crucifix in the safe room. Continue carrying your candle or lantern.
- Exit the safe room.
- Everything else in your house that is capable of opening will also be open. Your task is to close everything — everything — before your clock strikes 12.
- If you see a man with ashen skin in your peripheral vision: Do not look at him. Do not make eye contact with him. However, there is no need to fear him. Simply go about your business. He is not the Man in the Fields.
- Do not look into the backyard.
- Do not look into the backyard.
- Do not look into the backyard.
- If you look in the backyard: Go immediately to your safe room and close and lock the door. Find your crucifix, and grasp it tightly. Pray you did not leave anything in the room open — anything at all. Do NOT open the door before 6am, no matter what you hear — or don’t hear — outside.
- After you have closed everything in your house — and you are positive you have closed everything in your house — go to bed and close one final thing: Your eyes.
- Sleep, if you can. Do not open your eyes.
- If you wake up in the morning, congratulations — you’ve won.
Although any house with a backyard or back garden will suffice as a location, a secluded house in the country with a proper field at its back is recommended. This location yields the strongest results.
Although you may begin the ritual at any point between sunset and midnight, no attempt performed before 9pm has ever succeeded. Additionally, no attempt performed less than one hour before midnight has ever succeeded, although for very different reasons. See also: The Winning Condition.
The Winning Condition:
If you successfully complete the ritual, you will be completely safe for one calendar year; however, what you are safe from will depend on when you began the ritual:
- If you began three hours before midnight: Your safety is physical. You will suffer no illness; you will suffer no injury; you will remain in perfect health for one calendar year.
- If you began two hours before midnight: Your safety is physical and financial. You will remain in perfect health, and you will never want for money for one calendar year.
- If you began one hour before midnight: Your safety is complete and total. Your actions will cause no negative consequences in any way for you for one calendar year.
It is unlikely that you will complete the ritual successfully in one hour.
Concerning the Ashen Man:
He is not the Man in the Fields.
He is more like a referee.
Concerning the Backyard:
If you look in the backyard, you will see a scarecrow that you’ve never seen there before. I say “scarecrow,” of course, but “scarecrow” is a loose term. It is much taller than any scarecrow should be, and it will be missing the same piece of anatomy as a certain horseman I could name.
If you see the scarecrow, he will also see you. And when he sees you, he will begin to climb down from his post.
This is the Man in the Fields.
From the moment he turns his gaze to you, you will have no more than 60 seconds to reach your safe room and lock the door. Do not, under any circumstances, open the door before 6am. If you do, he’ll take something of yours. Something you need. Something you can’t get… ahead without.
One Final Note:
Should you be forced to flee to your safe room, you’d also better hope that you didn’t leave anything in there open.
If you did…
…He’ll still be able to get in.
[Photo via The hills are alive*/Flickr]