By C.L. Beck
I was lost and running blindly, wanting to scream for help. Instead, I turned to my husband, Russ, and said, “This corn maze we’re in—is it supposed to be fun?”
“Yup,” he said with a grin while jumping a mud puddle wide enough to be Utah Lake.
“Which way should we turn?” I don’t know why I asked him. This is the man who gets lost on his way to the post office. But to be fair, he is good at finding the potato chip aisle in the grocery store. And since both potatoes and corn are vegetables, I hoped he’d know how to get out of the maze.
“I’m not sure,” Russ replied. He looked at the young man next to him and asked, “What do you think?” That young man was the world’s cutest, smartest, fastest soccer player. Coincidentally, he’s also our five-year-old grandson.
“This way,” Cameron said, pointing to the left.
I looked at the turn and wondered if he’d inherited Russ’s sense of direction. “Isn’t this the same circle we’ve been traveling since we stepped into this place?” The path held another puddle with footprints around it—no doubt made by lost souls who were doomed to wander the corn maze until next spring, when the farmer finally tilled the fields.
I looked at Russ and Cameron’s shoes. Mud coated them. We were the doomed wanderers.
Then I heard voices. People! Maybe they knew something. “Is this the way out?” I asked the two women as I pointed in the opposite direction.
“No, that goes in a loop.” They giggled. I’m sure they were just pretending to have fun. As they trotted off one of them called over her shoulder, “Does the path you were on go anywhere?”
Russ said, “Sure. Maybe. Eventually. Or it might go in a circle.”
By now dark clouds were forming. A breeze rustled the leaves. My mind filled with visions from Stephen King’s book, “Children of the Corn”. And I’d never even read that novel.
Pollen drifted through the air, along with the scent of something yucky—mildew. I could feel my lungs tightening. No doubt the sadistic farmer who created this labyrinth would find me here next spring, lying at the base of the moldy, tattered stalks, gasping my last breath.
Suddenly, I heard voices again. For a moment, I wondered if angels were coming to take me to my rest.
Two teenagers in dark shirts and jeans walked past. A sadistic laugh escaped from my lips and I called out, “You’re lost too, aren’t you?”
Their voices floated back on the wind as they disappeared around the turn. “No, we work here.”
I turned to Russ. “They work here?”
“Yes, didn’t you see that their shirts said, ‘Corn Cops’?”
I grabbed Russ by the collar—not an easy task since he’s taller than I. “They know how to get out of this forsaken place. And they’ve just vanished through the corn! Quick, run after them and get directions.”
I should have known better. No man will ever ask for directions. Not even one who’s lost in a muddy cornfield with a category five hurricane ready to break overhead.
Fortunately, another couple wandered toward us. I managed to croak through my mildew-tightened voice, “Do you know how to get out?”
“Take the next two turns to the left,” they said, hurrying past. I’m sure my glazed eyes and panic-stricken expression had nothing to do with their haste.
Thunderclouds blocked the sun and the wind blew harder. Running the final distance, I leapt out of the maze. Russ and Cameron followed close behind, exultant at finishing without personally asking for directions.
“How long were we in there?” I said, gasping for breath.
Russ looked at his watch. “Ooo, a long time! All of 15 minutes.” Then he grinned, “If you’d thought to ask those two Corn Cops for directions, we’d have been out a lot sooner.”
If there’d been a corncob in my hand, I’d have chucked it at him. But I didn’t have one—and there was no way I was going back into that maize-of-doom to get one.
What books C.L. recommends:
Life is Like Riding a Unicycle by Shirley Bahlmann
Publishing Secrets by LDS Storymakers (BJ Rowley and others)
Writing for Story: Craft Secrets of Dramatic Nonfiction by Jon Franklin
Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Rennie Browne & Dave King
View C.L.’s other work: