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Once Apon A Cornmaze
They say it’s a myth, that right before you die your life flashes before your eyes. That’s no myth, that’s the truth. How do I know? I’ve experienced it.
You might think you’d have been told that you’d see the happiest moments of your life, a birthday party, an award, a favorite vacation or something along those lines. That’s a myth. I saw the scariest moments of my life; they were moments in my life I feared I would die. I saw the day I was at the circus, the main attraction, an elephant named Tyke, couldn’t stand the abuse anymore. He kicked and thrashed and finally broke from the ring. Darting into the crowd, he made a run towards the street. The ambulance rushed towards the trainer and the groomer, both who had tried to stop Tyke in his haste to get away; the ambulance were too late.
Then I saw myself at five, I was stuck up a tree in my uncles backyard. Underneath the tree was his pit-bull, Rex. He was barking at me and clawing at the base of the tree. Through my five year old eyes, his mouth was foaming and his eyes looked crazed. Through my eyes now he still looked crazed but a little less rabid. Quickly, the image changed and I was jumping on a trampoline. With one big bounce from her father and a limb moved the wrong way, my leg was broken, a clean break. Then I was in my mothers mini-van. A car was going to ram us and all I could do was brace myself. The car lunged forward and its hood crumpled up like a broken nose. We were sent skidding along the yellow line until we were flipped. Everything I saw was like a movie playing before my eyes. I continued to see horrible images, a blur of colors and words. That is until I saw myself enter the maze. I followed myself until I was in the current time, now.
“Commmmeeee onnnnnnnn! Just go in with me Liza, a little corn won’t hurt anyone.”
“No. I don’t want to. Anyway, corn can hurt you. I saw a woman on the news once; she died because she ate too much corn.”
“So what if I did lie. I don’t want to go in. There could be all kinds of nasty stuff and germs in there. People could pop out at you!”
“Sheesh, your fourteen. A fourteen year old chicken!”
“Oh shut it Minnie! You know you don’t want to go in either, you hide in your sleeves, like a donkey.”
“You got that from Shrek.”
“Still makes a good analogy.”
“Well, if you won’t go in on your own… you’re just going to need some motivation. I dare you to go in!”
“...fine, I take your dare, but if I’m scared, or I don’t like it, I am scampering right out of there. You hear me? But… to match your dare, we bet. If I beat you out of there, you know crossing the finish line and all that jazz. I get a new pair of shoes from you, expensive shoes.”
“Yeah, yeah, but if I win you buy me earrings.”
We stuff a few water bottles, a compass and a bottle of aspirin in back packs and ride our bikes up to Old Wilson’s Corn Maze, the biggest corn maze in Connecticut. It’s supposedly thirty six square acres, only four acres less than the biggest in the world. I don’t know about that, but it sure is huge...and famous. There’s even a legend that old man Wilson’s son, James Wilson died there in 1956. They say he was murdered with a chainsaw. No one could ever find his killer; at least... that’s the legend. If you ask me it’s bologna. Anyway, so we each get on line at a stand. Both of us get a stopwatch and a ticket.
“You ready Liza?”
“Ready to beat your butt that is.”
“It’s on. Ready? Set? GO!” There are two paths to start on, one to the right and one to the left, and each bearing an old wooden sign that says “Enter Maze” in big blocky painted on letters. I start on the path to the right in a sprint, so does Minnie. I hear her footsteps behind the wall of corn and I hear mine. Coming to a turn I hear her footsteps fade. She thinks I’m running, so she’ll run. If I walk, and she runs I’ll conserve energy and she’ll die out. I might be skinny, long legged, sporty and run track, but I don’t have the endurance to beat the gimpy kid in my grade if we had to run a mile.
I can only run in the short distance races, two hundred meters, four hundred tops. My room is filled with all the medals, but after every meet I’m dead. I plop right on my bed and go to sleep. Minnie on the other hand, is not sporty. She takes after her namesake, Minnie Mouse. She is a girly girl, wearing frilly skirts and dresses, never participates in gym blah blah blah. She can’t run much and she won’t do a sport. She’ll be drained by the time she walks out of here, or shall I say by the time I’ve beaten her.
I walk thought the corn occasionally making a left, a right, a loop or two. Sometimes I jog, but mostly I walk. The whole time my mind is wandering, what kind of shoes will I get? What’s for dinner? That’s a pretty corn stalk.
I’ve been in the maze an hour when I find myself in a small open area. A field I would call it, I’m a little disoriented by all the corn so I set down my pack and take a sip of water. The field was maybe fifteen feet long and twenty feet wide. Nothing but four walls of corn and a small opening for the path. Ordinary, right? I thought so too, but there was just something peculiar about it. I listened closely and that was it. Nothing. I heard absolutely nothing, not a whisper. All sound was drowned out like the room was secluded.
I check my watch again and decide it’s time to leave the tiny field. I swing my pack over my shoulder and get moving. I’ve got to beat Minnie, I think, Minnie, Minnie, Minnie. As I jog, I listen again, still no sound, just the rustling of the corn and my heart beat. With no use for my mind, I let it roam again. While my mind wandered, there must have been some indication of the right way, so you don’t get lost. I must have missed those signs because I got lost. Hopelessly lost.
I turn to the North, I saw corn. I turned to the East, I saw corn. To the South? Corn. The West? Strawberries...I wish, nope no strawberries. Just…corn. I wipe the sweat that had accumulated over my brow and look at the time. It was five o’clock, I had been in the maze four hours already, and the sun was low in the sky. The clouds were beginning to change colors, revealing a pink and blue cotton candy sky. Dark was approaching…fast.
Hurry up, I think, it might be getting dark but those shoes are as good as mine! Minnie’s definitely as lost as me. Definitely. Lets get out of here…Where is out? I had come to a stop in front of a huge intersection, four paths faced me. One path faced me to the north, one to the east, one to the south and one to the west. Four paths that would lead me somewhere, but only one that would take me out of this maze.
I make a quick calculation and figure my shortest distance is the east, so I start off in a steady jog. I run, and run, and run for what seems like forever, the sky is slowly changing and so are the numbers on my watch. Forty nine seconds…………forty eight seconds…………forty seven seconds, forever it takes for the thin seconds hand to reach the big twelve. After fifteen minutes I see a little lump in the path. Curious, I pick it up. As I hold it to the light I see it is a tiny Red Sox sweatshirt for a toddler. No wonder it was left behind. They suck!
I get ready to leave, sweatshirt in hand, but then think again and leave it there. In a few minutes I’m at another intersection. This time I don’t think twice and decide to go strait through and keep going east. Again, seconds tick on slowly and then time stops altogether. On the floor is a small crumpled mass. Is it a body? What is it? Oh no, please God, don’t tell me it’s Minnie!
I poke it with my index finger but its soft and my finger sinks through, it’s some kind of clothing. I hold it up and see it’s a small Red Sox sweatshirt. Oh, a coincidence, maybe the kid had a twin? I think that, that is, until I see a small silver glint up the path. I wander over to it a pick it up. A small silver L earring. Hmmm, I think I have ones just like these. Didn’t Minnie give me some for Christmas? In fact…aren’t I wearing them now? I feel my right earlobe, L earring. I reach to my left lobe, no L earring.
I guess I must have been here. I pop the earring back in, grab the little sweatshirt and keep running until I get to the intersection again. Standing in the middle I think for a moment. I was running to the east, and just came out from the west path, it must be a loop. They’re probably all loops except for one. I’ll mark these two. I drop a water bottle at the west entrance and the sweatshirt at the east entrance. Then I started to sprint up the north passage. I ran for fifteen minutes, all I could hear were my footsteps and breathing. Left. Right. In. Out. Left. Right. In. Out. Up the path, I see a small break in the corn; I slowed and then stopped to a halt. Could this be it? Am I free? I crept toward the opening, unsure of what I was going to see; then realization dawned on me. I’m back where I started! And sure enough I was in the intersection again. There’s no end, I think, I’ll just stay here forever. Admitting defeat, I sat on the floor. That was when I got my big idea. I started to follow the east trail and then stopped. Examining the wall of corn, pulling on a few stalks playing with them, I looked past them but all I saw was more corn. No pathway.
Excited, I ran through the corn pushing them back, separating them one by one. I was so occupied by this I didn’t hear the purr in the distance…that is until it got closer. AAAAAHHHHHHMMMM NAAAMMM NAAMM NAM! AAAAAAAAHHMMMM NNAMMM NAAAMMMM NAM! I stopped dead in my tracks and turned around; I could tell that the source of the noise wasn’t that close but I could also tell that whatever it was, was getting closer. I was curious as to what it was, but I didn’t want to stick around and find out. I weaved through the stalk as best as I could, not caring if I was hit or not. Even though it was pitch black now and hard to see, I could tell that it was getting closer. With every step I took. It took two steps.
Faster! I think, but as hard as I tried my heavy legs couldn’t bear the burden, I slowed to a jog and then to a sluggish pace. Panting, I bent down to catch my breath. The purring got closer but it too slowed. I was in a small field again, not unlike the one I saw in the first length of my journey. As the purring got closer I backed up to the wall of corn. I stood there waiting, waiting and thinking. Can I run? Will anybody find my body? What’s going to happen?
Slowly I see a figure step out of the corn; it looks large and burly somewhat like a football player but a little less built. Maybe a swimmer? A friendly swimmer!?! I hope. It looks like a young man, I think. After studying him more, my eyes divert toward the purring object in his right hand. It was a small box with a thin slab of metal with something roving around it.
“Hello Liza.” Says a deep voice. I gasp. “Yes, I know your name. I know the names of everybody who passes through my fathers corn fields…Shame they’ve plowed places down for paths,” He says fingering a corn stalk. “I’ve been away too long to stop the madness.” I was far beyond scared and couldn’t utter a word. Not even a simple “help” or “your stinking crazy” I doubt either one would do anything though.
“So many people come through here, timing themselves, setting records…pathetic. I only feel sorry for the ones caught here after dusk. Like you, they never return.” Scared out of my wits, I do the only thing I can think of… I throw a rock at him. Waiting to hear the thump of the impact, all I hear is it drop to the ground. No cries of pain, no swears, nothing, just the purr of the box. The young man chuckles.
“Ha. I see you’ve found that out. No rock or weapon can help you now, for I cannot live like you. I cannot live at all; my time was up fifty years ago. Now I haunt these mazes after dusk, seeking vengeance for my death. For I, am James Wilson.” With that, the box gave another roar. AAAAAAAAHHMMMM NNAMMM NAAAMMMM NAM! Then I realized it, it was a chainsaw. As he sauntered forward, I saw images. I was at the circus, gazing in horror from the audience. Watching the Elephant escape. Then I was in a tree, clutching a branch for support, stiff with fear. The image switched and I was on Patricia’s trampoline screaming with pain, I then saw my mother’s car accident. I heard her scream and the cries from the nine year old in the backseat, me. Then I was following myself into the maze, finding the sweatshirt, weaving through the corn. I saw myself running and then I stopped. I was no longer watching myself as if from a movie, but the young man was getting near to me.
I didn’t feel my legs move, but they must have because the next thing I know I’m on the other side of the corn and people were cheering and shining flash lights at me
“She’s here! She’s here!” Minnie runs toward me and embraces me.
“Oh Liza! I was soo worried. Whenyoudidn’tcomeoutaftersixthirtyIcalledthecops, thenthenewscameandthenotherpeopleIshouldhavenevermadeyougointothatstupidmaze. I am sooooo sorry.” Still rigid with fear I stutter.
“C-calm d-down. I-its o-okay.”
“Liza? What’s the matter?”
“He’s in t-there. He…he chased me. He had a chainsaw!”
“WHAT!?!” We told the police what happened, the chief police thought it might have been a prankster or something, so he sent a few officers in. They all came back fifteen minutes later.
“I’m sorry miss…no one was in there.”
“How can that be? He chased me. He-he-“
“No one was in there.” For a moment I stood there thinking of what just happened. I was running over the possibilities when Minnie nudged my shoulder.
“Come on, let’s go home. I could eat a horse right now!”
“Oh come on, you get what I mean.” The crowd soon clears out; we link arms and turn the corner to walk home. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the tip of a chainsaw and heard a faint purr.
“What?” interrupts Minnie. She looks over my shoulder trying to find what I’m looking at but as I already know, she couldn’t see it.
“Nothing c’mon lets get some food.”
“Ooh! Ooh! Let’s go to Subway...and while we’re on the way, how about those earrings?