Trouble with a capital C! The tale begins when a car stops and a body is tossed into the Corn. But this is not just any crop. It is the battleground of a legendary creature who haunts fields along desolate highways, only when stalks are tall and the blood of brothers has been spilled in the soil — rising above the Corn like a burly Scarecrow.
A novelette of betrayal and retribution, “Cornstalker” pits a female truckdriver and a man with blood on his hands against a mythical beast summoned by a band of men wearing feathers and paint.
Jane is searching for her younger brother, who disappeared along a highway bordered by many ears. The last message on a sputtering cellphone had been something about a monster. So she took over his rig, coincidentally called “The Monster”, a heavy-duty black beast with a long snout, double chrome stacks and a reinforced grill. Anxiously prowling the roads of The Cornbelt, she picks up a stranger who could be dangerous. Our heroine may need to unleash her own demons to emerge from the Corn once she goes in.
First appearing in the 2014 anthology Dead Harvest, “Cornstalker” is part of Lori’s Spooktacular Tales collection.
“Waves of green parted like the ocean in a storm — an unhallowed turbulence frothing with chaotic passion, spawning the infernal. A creature stomped out of the frenzy, and sturdy woven limbs planted squarely in the middle of the lane.”
The man was flung. Rolling into vegetation, a murderer lay as still as the corpse he had recently discarded.
~ from Cornstalker
“The hat you’d be wearing if you were cool!” Jane smirked. “I’m kidding. Hats don’t fit everyone. And if everyone wore them, I’d be less cool.”
~ from Cornstalker
The body was dumped from a car idling on a highway between fields of genetic mutations, also known as Maize. The driver opened his trunk and slid a drooping form out of the interior, then hauled the corpse into tall dense rows.
Clapping his hands as if to remove any blood or germs, a killer ambled to the Sedan and drove off, swinging a U-Turn. He didn’t get far.
Waves of green parted like the ocean in a storm — an unhallowed turbulence frothing with chaotic passion, spawning the infernal. A creature stomped out of the frenzy, and sturdy woven limbs planted squarely in the middle of the lane.
What? The man’s first impression was disbelief. The road had seemed desolate, paved over a prostrate terrain crushed by stark alabaster sky. Nothing but asphalt, dirt, and corn.
Sunlight dazzling the hood and windshield blinded him. Static disrupted the radio. Sweat beaded a guilty brow.
Wringing the steering-wheel, Grayson Duckweed instinctively squealed to a halt. The thing towered, a hulking beast, fluctuating in a heat mirage. Maybe that was all it was, he surmised. A mirage.