Creatures of the Corn

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?

He stopped.

Listened.

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.”

“Me too.”

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.

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12 Responses to “Creatures of the Corn”

  1. knightofswords Says:

    Better yet, take you flash camera in there at night and take a photo of yourself. You may be surprised, though, when you upload it on your computer and find another set of eyes in the background.

    Malcolm

  2. Sia McKye Says:

    And you can lose your sense of direction in a huge field where the stalks are over your head.

    You sure your in that field? I saw sunflowers in there. Even magnified, I wasn’t sure you were there. I did see the shadow, but then that could have been anything…could have been the corn stalker, even….

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      That’s what happened in my novel. I got to thinking that perhaps corn didn’t really grow that tall, but guess what? It does!

      Corn stalker, or perhaps a corn . . . flake!

  3. Sheila Deeth Says:

    Wow. I’ve never been in a cornfield. This certainly puts it in perspective.

  4. Robin Cain Says:

    I think cornfields are terrifying! Not only do you lose your sense of direction, but you have no idea whatsoever of what is lurking within. That is a great scene!

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks they’re spooky. I walk up and down the lane for exercise, and the cornfield is always there. It’s taller than I am, it makes noise, and I have no idea what is going to come running out of there.

  5. siderealview Says:

    great scene, Pat – you are your own worst critic! of course you can create stealth, tension, scaryness – you’re a master of it.
    Don’t know if wordpress allows embed code, but trying one on for size – also did you ever see Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams……?

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      The embed code disappeared, but I checked out the photo anyway. The corn dolly made me smile.

      And yes, I saw Field of Dreams. One of my favorite movies.

  6. aseeofgreen Says:

    Having lived surrounded by corn fields most of my life, I would have to say they are both more frightening than city folk realize, and also more mundane. Your scene is very creepy as I add my own cornfield perspective to it in the reading.


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