Ghouls of the Corn


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Driving down a dark, winding highway to a hardly visible turnoff surrounded by cornfields, my arrival at Field of Screams could not have been more ominous or cliché. Exiting the car, the crunch of leaves and corn husks under the full Moon added to the foreboding atmosphere, making it nearly impossible not to feel the Halloween mood in the air.

Paying the friendly clerk and taking a place in line, the scares already began as a menacing, masked man brandishing a knife lurked behind me, traveling slowly forward. Pushing the figure to the back of my mind and looking around, I noted people in line taking photos, smiling and having fun. In sharp contrast, piercing shrieks could be heard from in the cornfield, splitting the calm night and disrupting the chats of those in line. With all in high spirits and anxiously awaiting their turn, the anticipation was building, carrying me right on through to the front of the line.

As I took my first steps into the maze, my heart was pounding and I was terrified, knowing something would happen soon. Because no one jumped out, I began to relax, until I looked back toward my friend and noticed a cloaked figure slowly following directly behind her. Like the scaredy-cat I am, I immediately screamed and grabbed my friend’s hand. This initial start proved to be the basis for nearly every scary moment.

Throughout the maze, the most frightening people were not the volunteers who ran at me or yelled to my group, but those who stood hidden among the tall, dark stalks of corn, waiting and watching.

Their slight movements in their hiding place at the exact moment I passed rustled the dry stalks, forcing me to jerk my head around to ensure a murderer was not about to descend. Their eyes, just barely visible, seemed to flash and follow. While the volunteers were not all that scary, throwing myself into the experience and letting the anticipation overtake me helped tremendously.

The anticipation was, without a doubt, the most frightening part of the maze. Scanning every inch of corn as I passed, I searched for anyone who could startle me. For what felt like large spans of time, there was nothing, which only increased my feeling that something big must be coming. My own breath, visible in the cool air, combined with the fog swirling around, blocked my vision and made it impossible to believe something menacing was not headed my way. Even when what happened next was not overtly frightening, the anticipation made it feel so much worse.

The only instance this anticipation let me down was the very end of the maze. As the exit came into sight, my friends and I began slowing, feeling something horrifying had to happen at the close of the maze. Treading lightly, as if that would somehow help me avoid whatever monster loomed ahead, I was a bit disappointed when we were able to casually stroll through the last row of cornstalks. It was a bit anticlimactic.

Ending aside, the experience was certainly enjoyable. While it was not an incredibly frightening experience, it was fun to put myself in a Halloween-theme situation and just enjoy the perfect autumn night.

The younger children seemed scared, but the majority of the patrons were older and seemed to enjoy the experience. It would be easy to go in, remain stoic, and not be scared at all by the “monsters” you know to be volunteers in costumes. But if you recede into being a little kid afraid of what lurks behind corners, it truly is easy to fear every turn in the seemingly endless rows of tall, eerie corn.

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