I wrote this an hour before the deadline. And I didn’t edit it.
To Meagan and Brandon: *cheers*
I should have paid better attention to the time.
My legs were weak from sprinting, a bruise forming where my backpack had been hitting against my spine. My lungs hurt, but the inhaler would have to wait.
I’d be lucky if I made it out of the field.
The base of the sun had already crowned against the top of the field. It was my visual timer.
The whispers started.
I wasn’t sure if I had tears in my eyes, but I know I wanted to cry.
Was the fairytale real, or was I creating it in my head?
I wasn’t too keen on finding out.
Finally, another child. This one must be brave.
One voice stood out in particular. I gasped, choking on a mixture of my own spit, air, and some dust from the corn stalk that I had just ran into.
But now I was on the ground. And this time I was sure I was crying.
Precious seconds were ticking by as I got to my knees and started to limp into a run again, ignoring the choking in my lungs.
The sun was more than halfway hidden by the stalks on the field.
If I had seen this image in a museum, it would have been mesmerizing. The way the sunlight drowned out the color of the stalks, turning them into shadows against the skyline.
But now I had to panic.
My feet were bleeding in my shoes. It slid in between my toes and created a barrier between my socks and my skin. If I looked down, my white gym shoes would be covered mud, but blended with the burgundy-red color of blood.
I was slowing down, but not by my own choice.
She knew what would be back there, but looking meant that it was real.
I could live in my own fantasy, on the fence of knowing that I had made a mistake and knowing that I was not going to be sitting in my 1st period 8th grade math class tomorrow. All thanks to a sleepover story that I had taken too much of an interest in.
I’m so stupid!
My backpack was yanked and I almost stopped.
I looked without thinking.
There were many hands.
I think I screamed. I opened my mouth and air came out, but I couldn’t hear anything.
There was little sunlight left, but I could see the edge of the field finally.
I cried more.
But the hands got stronger the closer to the end I got.
Stay with us for a while.
The sunsets are pretty here.
You can play with the others.
My phone started to ring in my back pocket.
I reached for it, sparing a quick look to make sure I was grabbing the right thing.
I didn’t want to grab one of the hands that were grabbing harder and harder with each passing second.
“Mom help! I’m at Katzke’s farm! In the field! I need help!”
Beep beep beep Signal lost.
The end was right there. Almost within reach.
There was a sliver of sunlight left, and the sky was that blue and pink mixture that meant the day was almost over.
Or, in my case, my life.
No one escaped the fields of Katzke’s farm after 8pm.
My vision was starting to blur and the sound of my own breathing was drowning out everything else.
My feet hurt and my lungs hurt and everything hurt.
I wasn’t going to make it.
See if you can beat us, girl. We’ll play nice.
Boo! The face popped out of the field right next to hers, the putrid smell of death lingering on its breath. It laughed, and I screamed.
Where are you going? He stood right in front of me. He was there one second and gone the next.
She was on my shoulders. I could feel her weight slowing me down. She was drooling on my neck and soaking the collar of my shirt. I felt her tongue run up the side of my face and slither inside my ear. She tastes so young! She growled.
I couldn’t cry or scream anymore. I just pumped my feet as hard as I could.
It was right there. Only a few more steps.
The hands jerked me back harder, almost making me trip.
Someone struck her in the face, leaving a slimy trail across her cheek.
There was laughter.
I wasn’t convinced that it wasn’t my own.
You can’t make it! Just come stay with us.
I barrelled into someone.
Or, rather, through someone. I felt crunching, like I was walking through a thick brush of trees, and a cold shiver run down my spine.
I couldn’t breathe.
But I pushed forward. I could hold my breath for 5 seconds.
Someone else jumped on my back. They started gnawing at my arm over my clothes. It felt like a teething child.
Several people stood in front of me. Their eyes glowed and they growled and laughed.
I tried to gasp.
I could touch the world outside of the cornfield.
I reached my hand out, feeling the beauty of the first few drops of moonlight.
But I fell to the ground, the edges of my vision blurring together.
So I started crawling.
Mom’s minivan roared around the corner and I could see the panic in her face. I screamed for her.
With the last little bit of oxygen and energy that I had, I leapt forward, plunging myself from the field.d
And onto grass.
I was free!
“Mom!” I felt the word leak from my lungs.
The flesh scraped from my stomach and chin as I was yanked back into the dirt.
She left her foot in the field.
“Tell Aunt Maggie I love her!” Mother yelled as she collapsed to the ground.
I loved you too, sister.
It was the woman on my back.
Welcome to the tale of Katzke farm, girl. Now lie still, this is going to be agonizing.