Idiosyncratic Places

February 14, 2008
By Alex Petree, Wichita Falls, TX

“Someday, your curiosity will draw you into idiosyncratic places,” Said Rob while eating his peaches and cream oatmeal in the retirement home. “When I was your age” Rob told the kids who were visiting the elderly for community service hours, “My curiosity led me to discover the most intriguing place.” Capturing the kid’s attention, they gathered in closer, eager to learn more.

“I grew up on a farm with cows and chickens; we also grew crops, such as corn and wheat. Now back in the day, we didn’t have all those fancy machines that did all the work for you. We didn’t have those video games that rot your brain neither. I had to go out from sunrise to sunset everyday and reap wheat with a scythe, and use an ox pulled plow. One day I was making my way out to the fields to harvest some corn.”

By this time the kids listening to the old man’s story were doing everything they could to stay awake. A few were drooling all over themselves. After taking another bite of the now cold oatmeal, Rob began to continue his story.

As I walked through the rows of corn picking the ears off, it came to me for the first time that, it seemed there were always good number of ears of corn missing. The strange thing is, we hadn’t already picked those corns, and they hadn’t fallen on the ground either. I hadn’t noticed before then, but it had been that way every year. And there never were any rabbits or rodents running around either. I started to get curious, and began to look around. The sun was starting to set, casting strange, and menacing shadows down the rows of corn. Then, something caught my eye while I was making sure the shadows didn’t reach up, bind me, and drag me away to be tortured. There were foot prints in the dirt. But they weren’t any ordinary prints; they were small and peculiar yet, barefoot.”
The old man had just disposed the remnants of his meal, and was now working on the banana pudding that one of the children had given him. “I had been the only one out in the corn field in weeks; enough time for a few feet to disappear. When I went outside, whether for work or play, I wore my shoes. Now, I was like a fish on a hook. I was being reeled in by some mysterious force that wouldn’t let go. The two feet started out close together and calm. But as I followed them further, only the front half of the foot was indented in the dirt, and the distance between the prints had increased five times as much as it had previously. Then suddenly the tracks darted into one of the rows of corn!”
The kids had compiled themselves together in a huddle, clinging onto each other, hoping that the one next to them would protect them. And there was silence. One of the kids got up, realizing that he wasn’t in the dark corn field, and tapped the old man on the shoulder. Rob quickly sat upright and continued.
“What? Where was I?” The kid that was standing reminded the old man where he had left off in the story and then the story really continued.
“By this time, it was just a few minutes shy from being completely dark outside. It was next to impossible trying to follow the footprints, and having to weave through those corn stalks didn’t make it any easier. But miraculously, I had stepped on something unfamiliar, stopping me in my tracks. Easing around carefully and feeling for the alien object, I had discovered a golden ring. But as I tried to pick it, it lifted a small door in the dirt leading down to a spiral stairwell. I discovered that the walls were made from damp old cobblestones when I grabbed hold of the wall for guidance down. I could not actually see the stairs, but I managed to slowly make my way down them without incident. At the bottom was a long elaborate hallway lined with torches that lit up the elaborate golden arches that supported the whole structure. As I made my way through the long macabre hallway, I could hear faint noises that grew as I progressed. About halfway through the hall, I saw a golden coin with foreign encryptions on it. I snatched it up and put it in my pocket for safe keeping. As I approached the end of the hall, I crept along the wall; and poked my head around the corner. What I saw, to this day, leaves me wondering if I dreamt this whole thing up.”
The children were no longer sitting down attentively; they were standing up on their feet as if their favorite football team was about to make the game winning pass.
“I saw an entire underground city that was lit up as if it were broad daylight. And the most amazing thing about it was that it was still functioning. It was the size of one of those large amusement parks. The place was packed with Indian looking people, jumping around, dancing some sort of tribal ritual. Now that I think about it, they must have been celebrating the harvest season. On a large platform in the middle of all the commotion, was a massive pile of all the missing crops that had been stolen of the farm up above their ceiling. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the luxury of sticking around and enjoying that new experience. One of the people spotted me. Scared of all the things they might do to me if I was caught, I turned around ran for all I was worth; down the hall, up the stairs, and through the fields all the way back to the house. I ran upstairs to my room, bolted the door, and hid in my bed. The next thing I remember, was waking up in my bed the morning. Remembering what had happened, I felt in my pocket. But only to find that the coin I had found was not there.

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