When he entered the cornfield and saw the stalks closing in over his head, his heart beat faster and icy beads of sweat chilled his brow. He wiped his clammy hands on his pants and forced himself to relax.
He looked around. A wide path cut through the corn, and the tall stalks afforded some protection from the incessant wind.
He stopped short. What was that?
He listened, but did not hear anything out of the ordinary.
Man, you’ve got yourself spooked. Get your head straight!
As he hurried to catch up to Pippi, he heard the noise once more.
Was something shuffling through the corn?
Heard only the wind rustling the dry corn stalks.
He started walking again. Straining his ears, he thought he could hear the sound of footsteps, not in sync with his but a fraction of a second later, like an echo.
Maybe it was an echo? It couldn’t be. He barely made any noise.
He moved faster; so did the furtive footsteps.
Pippi stopped and waited for him. “Did you hear something?” she asked. “I thought I heard footsteps.”
She shivered. “It’s like The Children of the Corn.”
He heard a metallic thunk. A rifle being cocked?
Without warning, Pippi took off running.
He hesitated a moment, then he trotted after her.
* * *
That is a scene from my novel A Spark of Heavenly Fire. I’ve been wondering if the characters’ fear was a bit over the top, because it is only a cornfield after all. But now I know I didn’t go far enough.
This year a cornfield has been planted across the lane from where I live, and the corn is tall and dense and very, very spooky. Yes, corn does rustle. And yes there are strange noises. And yes, creatures of all kinds live in the corn. Or at least visit it. I’ve seen deer come charging out of the corn and cross the lane in front of me. I’ve seen birds, cats, skunks. And, most astonishing of all, a fox. Never seen a fox before, but there it was, slinking out of a row of stalks. It started crossing the lane in front of me, stopped, stared at me, then streaked back into the corn. Within a second it had disappeared.
Just to show you how dense the cornfield is, here is a photo of me standing three feet inside the stalks. (I’m in the far left row. You can see the shadow of my head in the bottom left hand corner of the picture.) When I realized how impossible it would be for you to see me, I considered taking another photo. Then I remembered: Startled deer. Foxes. And who knows — maybe even another me.