Three things happened to me all at once. I got laid off from my job, my girlfriend dumped me, and my roommate said he was getting married. Now, I was happy that my roommate was getting married, don’t get me wrong. But he was also moving in with his girlfriend, which meant I’d either have to get another roommate, or find another place to live.
And I don’t know if you’ve been apartment shopping, but if you turn in an application, and you don’t have any income, it generally doesn’t end up with a handshake and signed contract. So I decided to do something I’d never done before.
Become a nomad.
Well, not really a nomad. I wasn’t going to buy a camel and wear blue like the famous Tuareg of the African desert. But I did feel like cruising around for a while. I did get quite a nice layoff package, since I’d been there more than six years. And my boss was pretty clear in saying he’d do anything to help me land a new gig, so I figured I might take a couple of months off.
So I bought an open ended bus ticket. It’s kind of like the Eurorail pass, except for white trash unemployed people like me. One ticket, and you can go anywhere Greyhound goes for two months. I figured I’d just zigzag my way across the country. Maybe go on some adventure or something.
Of course, you know the joke about making God laugh, right? Tell him your plans. Meaning I thought maybe I’d meet some interesting people, stay in a bunch of cheap motels, and maybe even get laid in some country western bar somewhere in the Midwest. But none of that happened.
Except for the cheap hotels part. But they weren’t that cheap. In fact, they were pretty fricking expensive. So much I was going through my cash a lot quicker than I’d planned. I wasn’t even going out. I was just buying food and booze at the store and watching lame TV in my hotel room.
So when these guys asked me if I wanted some part time work, I agreed. I hadn’t planned on being a farm hand (or whatever they wanted me to do) but I figured if it meant a little money coming in instead of a massive flow out, why not?
It turned out that it was more of an inventory job than anything else. When this part time offer came around, I was deep into corn country. I don’t know if you’ve been following the news, or politics, or whoever else has a hand in this stuff, but corn is big. Not for eating, but for ethanol. This huge corporations in the Midwest get tons of money to grow corn to make ethanol.
One of the guys I was working with told me it was a giant scam,and explained how complicated it was, but I don’t remember any of it. I just remember that our job, the six of us, was to spend two weeks going through these endless rows of corn to count them.
Not every single one, but we would take these rows at random, and then go through and check which percentage had these marks on them. They said it was some kind of result of the GMO stuff they’ve been doing.
Turns out there’s all kinds of noise about GMO food, but if you’re growing corn for ethanol, then GMO is just dandy. But some of the corn gets these deformities. The stalks are slightly thinner than normal, and the corn itself kind of droops over.
At first it was pretty cool. We’d split up, we’d each take a number and that number would determine how many rows up or down we’d go. Then we’d go back and forth, from one end of the property to the other, just counting the number of messed up stalks. We would loop back and forth seven times, and by then it would be quitting time.
The best part was that we’d just camp out in the middle of all the corn. We’d push down a bunch of stalks and make a large circle. Build a fire and get really hammered. And smoke a lot of weed. Once I jokingly took a piece of corn off the stalk and started to eat it, but they told me not to.
They explained that the GMO stuff they were doing on the ethanol corn made it really sketchy, and there were rumors of what would happen if you ate it. So I threw it in the fire, hoping to get an explosion of popcorn, but nothing happened. I guess it’s supposed to be dried out.
That’s when the really messed up stuff started happening.
The next morning, we woke up, and one of the guys was gone. His stuff was still there, but he wasn’t. We figured he went off to take a leak or something, and got lost. We called on his cell, and there was no answer.
So we just kept on counting, which was kind of weird. I didn’t really know any of these guys really well, and they didn’t seem too concerned about finding him. Since we weren’t going to get paid until we were done, I just started counting. They said that would be the best way to find him anyway, so we just did that.
But we didn’t find him. We went back and forth like we were supposed to, and no sign of him. We moved our spot, and brought his stuff in case he found us. But then that night, somebody else vanished.
Same situation. His stuff was there, but he was gone. And the other guys, who were not only three, said we had to keep counting or we wouldn’t get paid.
So we counted, and looked for two guys, but didn’t find them. That night I was pretty freaked out. I didn’t drink and I didn’t smoke. The other guys, they did. A lot. They passed out pretty quickly, and I just laid there.
Then I heard them. These footsteps, sounded like a lot of them. Coming through the corn. I tried to wake the other guys up, but they were too drunk. Finally I just sunk into my sleeping bag. What else was I going to do?
I didn’t have even a knife. And these footsteps were coming closer. I could hear them, but they weren’t talking. Breathing hard. Grunting. It sounded like a language, as they would pause, and make a bunch of sounds, and then come a little bit closer.
Finally they were right on top of us. I briefly opened my eyes, and they looked like people. But not really. They were leaning over one of the drunk guys. One guy was choking him, until he stopped snoring. Then they quickly picked him up and carried him away.
In the morning, after a long night of no sleep, the other guy finally woke up. I didn’t know if I should tell him. I wanted to leave, but he had all our GPS stuff, and I had no idea where we were. I just followed his instructions every morning.
He said we had to finish, even if it was only the two of us. I tried to ask about the others, and he just said if they wanted to bail, that was on them.
After one more day of counting, we made camp again. And he drank a lot, and very quickly. Within twenty minutes of making camp, he was out cold. I knew those things were coming back, and I didn’t want them to take me, but I had no idea how to prevent it.
So I stayed awake, despite how tired I was. And I heard them. They came. And I watched them choke him. Kill him. Carry him away. Even though I knew it was the worst possible thing to do, I followed them.
The moon was out and it was pretty easy to see. They left a clear trail, as they traveled crossways through the corn. Until they stopped. I was about twenty yards behind them, so I went slowly. And when I found there camp, I saw.
They were eating him. They’d ripped his arms and legs off, and were just sitting around on their haunches eating him raw. They had a fire, but they didn’t cook him. That’s I could see them, but they couldn’t see me. And there was also a very large pile of bones.
That’s when I decided it was time for me to leave. It took me a while, but I finally made it back to the highway. It wasn’t until past noon the next day. And I juts kept walking until a Greyhound bus passed by.
I showed the driver my pass, and he let me on. I stopped at the first motel I came to and started drinking. Hoping to forget what I’d seen.
But every time I close my eyes, I see those things. And hear that horrid sound.
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A boomtown on the edge of economic liftoff. An evil lawyer with inescapably psychotic power. When Marcus Canfield, an underachieving bartender realizes his gift has been reawakened, only to have the girl of his dreams snatched away, he knows he must stop the horrific threat to both her and the entire United States before it's too late.