A creepy treat for Halloween

The Corn Maze small

Jacey wrestled the end of her tail out of the closed door before turning the lock. She was more than thirty minutes late, thanks to her tail. This was the second time she’s gotten it caught–once in the bathroom door and now in the front door. Not to mention the glass of wine it had toppled. Jacey had considered changing out of the sexy cat costume, but the only other option she had was Dorothy. And that outfit was too cliché for a farm turned Halloween haunt.

Why was she rushing to meet up with friends at a corn maze anyway? She’d rather be almost anywhere else. Flirting with the new bartender at Red Tap was at the top of her list.

I promised Amy.

Settling behind the wheel of her beat-up Honda, Jacey jerked forward to adjust the end of the tail now sharply poking her in the back. She was about to tear the damn thing off when her cell phone rang.

“Where are you?” Amy squealed, obviously unable to hear herself over the heavy-metal rendition of Monster Mash blaring in the background.

“Almost there,” Jacey said, starting the car.

“Liar.”

“This stupid tail! I swear it will be the death of me.”

“Oh goody, you wore it! Collin will be knocked on his ass.”

“Wait, what?” Jacey eased off the accelerator, contemplating making a u-turn.

“Oh yeah, Collin’s here with a little redhead.”

“So? We broke up months ago. If this is another one of your match-making schemes, I’ll just meet you at the bar.”

Amy laughed. “No! We’re waiting for you. But hurry, our beer cooler’s almost empty.”

Twenty minutes later Jacey turned onto the dirt road leading up to the farm. Several cars lined one side of the driveway. When she spotted Amy’s blue Camry, Jacey pulled into the grass field and parked in the nearest open space.

Mindful of her tail, Jacey shut the car door and headed toward the bright lights and rattling hum of generators in the distance.

Rounding the corner, she followed a string of lighted skeletons lining the matted footpath and soon came upon a roughly constructed ticket booth. The overhead sign, torn on one side, billowed in the wind. Behind the plywood counter sat a lonely rusted stool. She looked around. The hay bales and coolers that made up the concession area were also empty.

There wasn’t a soul in sight.

So much for waiting for me…

“Hello? Amy!”

A loud pop made Jacey jump.

The generators sputtered, the lights dimmed, and then suddenly everything shut off.

Surrounded by silent darkness, Jacey fumbled through her bag for her phone. Clicking on the flashlight app, she hoped to see Amy standing in front of her–a good scare well played.

No one.

I’m going to kill them.

Without a second thought, Jacey stormed past the ticket counter. She kept the light down to avoid tripping over any unseen obstacles. Her footfalls echoed over the stilled landscape, the crunch of pebbles and dry dirt growing louder with each step.

Where was the laughter, the shouts… where was everyone?

Panning her light to the left, Jacey caught splatters of red over brown stalks. A few more steps and she reached the entrance.

The maze was setup like a demonic cemetery. Styrofoam tombstones and bloody body parts littered the ground leading up to a metal gate. Two large goblin statues stood like sentinels on either side. The gate itself held an array of Halloween decorations–cobwebs, pentagrams, and impaled plastic crows.

Jacey checked the life of her phone battery—forty-five percent. She was hesitant to enter without the overhead spot-lights, but decided she wasn’t going to chicken out. As she stepped across the threshold the generators roared back to life.

The maze lit up like a four-acre Christmas tree. Comforted by the restored light, Jacey put her phone away and entered the corn field.

Once inside her confidence waned. The overhead lights created long shadows. Some areas of the maze were dark voids. She stumbled twice over the thick power cords that snaked across the narrow trails. The first two turns she made resulted in dead ends. Repeated backtracking and several near falls had her cursing her friends under her breath.

This is officially the worst corn maze, ever!

Deeper into the maze, she passed several displays of torture and gore, all obviously fake and commercially gruesome. Then she came upon one so realistic she nearly gagged. A body lay on the ground—its head completely flattened. Somehow they’d even managed to incorporate the smell of death into the exhibit: a sickening sweet odor.

The biology major in her was perplexed by the thick chunks of bone and brain matter. Jacey leaned over to get a better look. What materials did they use to make it so lifelike?

Jacey’s fingers were about to grab a piece of bone when she was tackled to the ground, and hauled into the stalks of corn. Before she could cry out, a large calloused hand clamped over her mouth. Her head smashed against the chest of the person that held her tight. She struggled to get away and then he whispered, “Shhh… it’s still out there.”

Collin!

After a moment, Jacey relaxed into familiar arms. So, this was another one of Amy’s elaborate schemes. She should have known. Yet somehow, the way he trembled, made her wonder if he was legitimately afraid.

Caught up in the moment, perhaps…

It had been one of the best scares of her life.

A rustling came from the right passage of the maze, then an odd clucking noise. Collin stiffened. The clucking grew louder, as did the scraggly scrapes of something being dragged along the dry, cracked ground.

Then Jacey saw the cause–a fully costumed clown.

The long face was covered in white pancake make-up with perfect red triangles painted above and below vacant black eyes. The mouth was wider than normal and the teeth were strange, thin and pointy. As the clown moved forward, the clucking intensified, more guttural. She could see the muscles in its neck working in rhythm to the sound. In the clown’s left hand was a large mallet. Not the carnival variety, but the primitive wooden kind that could smash the hell out of someone’s head.

Collin wasn’t the only one shaking now. This was real. The body she almost touched had been alive at some point. It was probably still warm. Could have even been one of the friends she was meeting tonight.

After the clown shuffled past, Jacey removed Collin’s hand from her mouth. “What happened? Is there anyone left?” she whispered.

A strangled cry sounded close to her ear and then Collin’s arms were crushing around her once more. “Some hid in the barn, but I don’t think anyone’s alive.”

“We have to get out of here. My car’s close,” she murmured.

Collin helped Jacey get to her feet. Keeping hold of her hand, he placed his lips to her forehead. “Don’t let go.”

Jacey shivered as they crept back onto the path that would lead them out of the maze. When they arrived at the entrance, the gate was blocked by a wall of hay bales seven feet high. Collin had pulled Jacey back into the corn to go around the barricade, when she stopped him short. Part of a ‘step here’ pad was sticking out from underneath a pile of corn husks. The pad had been purposely moved off the path. Looking around, Jacey pointed to the animatronics ghost it activated. One wrong move and they’d give their position away.

Collin sighed and squeezed her hand. At the same time, Jacey felt a slight tug on her costume. Like the tail had snagged against a stalk of corn. Not again. Reaching around, she gave the tail a quick yank. The tail didn’t release. Instead it tugged back. Then she was dragged away from Collin.

Jacey shrieked. Twisting and turning, she attempted to break free from the clown. When that didn’t work, she tried to anchor herself to the ground. She planted her feet and seized hold of nearby cornstalks, but the killer was too strong, and so was that damn tail.

Jacey threw her bag. “Collin, get to the car. Call 9-1-1!”

Collin fumbled his effort to catch the flying purse. The bag upended, spilling its contents. Jacey’s car keys landed near his feet, while her cell phone skittered closer to the path. Collin snatched the keys and ran. Jacey lunged for the phone. On hands and knees, she gained some ground. Straining her outstretched arm, she fought against the clown’s herculean strength.

Her fingers brushed the edge of the phone. The tip of her middle finger moved it closer. She almost had…

Jacey screamed.

Agony exploded over her hand and sped up to her shoulder. She looked down the length of her arm. A wooden mallet was embedded deep in earth, where her hand should have been. Jacey swayed. Black specs invaded her vision. There’d be no escaping, if she passed out now. She bit her bottom lip until she tasted blood.

The clown shook its head and made its throaty clucks, as it bent down and pulled the mallet out of the ground. Jacey rocked forward with another anguished cry. The bloody pile of mush at the end of her arm was unrecognizable as a hand.

There’d be no way to save it. No way to save herself.

Positioning the mallet like a baseball bat, the grisly clown was preparing to swing at her head. The horrid clucking grew louder, faster.

I’m dead.

The mallet rose higher. Her killer flashed a gruesomely wide smile.

Something moved in the corn. A snap.

The clown paused mid-swing. Its smile turned to a sneer as it whipped around.

Collin rushed forward, stabbing a pitchfork through the clown’s gut.

As the clown slumped forward, the guttural clucking slowly came to a stop. Pushing the motionless body aside, Collin darted over to Jacey, “Oh my god, are you okay?”

Jacey groaned and then coughed. Her response stuck in her throat. She’d thought he’d abandoned her, but Collin had come back. He’d saved her. Eventually, she found the strength to nod.

“Your hand!” Collin slipped-off his shirt and quickly bandaged what was left of her hand. “Let’s get you to the hospital.”

Collin grabbed Jacey’s good arm and threw it over his shoulder, helping her up a second time. Despite the pain, Jacey felt a surge of relief. She glanced over her shoulder one last time to confirm the killer was dead.

A dark shadow moved.

Pulling away from Collin, she turned to get a better look. The shadow was spreading, moving forward. Backpedalling, Jacey realized it wasn’t over. She bumped into Collin, her ankle turned and she fell to the ground hard.

****

Jacey woke to gentle hands caressing her arms, stomach, legs… It felt good. But then a tingling in her arm turned to a stabbing pain and traveled down to her hand. A heavy weight landed on her chest, suffocating her.

She bolted upright. The sun was shining, but she was still in the maze. “Collin!”

Cluck.

The clown wasn’t dead.

Jacey twisted around. Collin was lying next to her, his head turned to the side. Eyes open, blood trickling from his lips. The pitchfork was buried deep in his bare chest.

“NO!”

Cluck.

She couldn’t see the clown. But she could hear its sinister call. It was so close. Climbing to her feet, she noticed her hand. It was whole again. She also noticed her costume…a bloodied clown suit.

Jacey screamed.

Cluck.

© Sandra R. Campbell – story and graphics

scary clown

 

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