Welcome to story 3 - The Corn Stalker - of the YA Spooktacular. This stop is a few installments into the story, but if you click The Corn Stalker banner below, you'll be brought to Page Turners, who are hosting the first piece of the story by Nick James.
Kara hesitated, her grip tightening. “Let’s get out of here,” she insisted, taking a step backward, already dragging me away from that eerie whistling, the one that had nothing at all to do with the wind. The one that was completely out of place in the middle of a cornfield.
I chuckled, but it was an uneasy sound. “Isn’t that what we’ve been trying to do?”
Even in the dark, I could feel the glare she shot my way. “Not funny, Josh.” But her voice was barely a whisper this time.
She was right, it wasn’t funny now. I let her pull me along, hating the way sweat prickled across my forehead despite the crisp breeze.
I had no idea if she knew where she was going—I doubted it—or if she had a plan at all. But I followed anyway, guessing that her sense of direction was as good as mine at this point.
When the whistling came again, this time closer, almost at our backs, her nails dug into my skin.
“I don’t know,” I tried to sound calm, but my throat was constricting and it came out on a wheeze. For the first time in months, maybe years, I wished I’d brought my inhaler. Honestly, I couldn’t even remember the last time I’d needed the stupid thing. Yet here I was, stranded in the middle of a corn maze, my airways collapsing in on themselves.
“It’s okay,” Kara assured me, recognizing the panic in my voice—and what it meant. “We’re almost there, I know it.”
Somehow her words—lies or not—made me feel better, and my breathing came easier.
That was when we heard the other sound…the scream. Only this time it didn’t sound like one of those fake, pre-recorded soundtracks. It wasn’t all static-y, or playing on a repeating loop.
This one was real.
“Run!” I insisted, and now I was dragging her, as branches from the cornstalks whipped at us from both sides, stinging and slicing us.
It was impossible to see where we were going, and more than once we ran smack into a thick stand of the corn shoots, only to have to turn around and go back, feeling our way around. We were awkward and clumsy.
I almost didn’t notice when Kara fell. I almost didn’t realize her fingers had slipped from mine.
I froze, panting as I turned to face her.
“What is this?” she whimpered.
I took a step closer, reaching for the cell phone in my pocket. I already knew we didn’t have service all the way out here, but I held it up anyway, using the LED screen to find her in the darkness.
She was holding her hands out to me, holding them up for me to see.
The leaves around us rustled as the wind kicked up, and somewhere, not so far away, something snapped—a twig or a branch.
“I slipped in it. It—it’s so…sticky,” she said more quietly this time, the last word nearly lost on the breeze.
As I came closer, she was illuminated by the light from my phone. She gasped at the same time I did.
Her hands were covered in something red…and sticky.
To continue the story, go to Portrait of a Book.
The Body Finder was Kim’s debut, followed by Desires of the Dead and the third book in the series, The Last Echo, will be released in April 2012. Kim’s short story, ‘Skin Contact’, can be found in the anthology Enthralled and The Pledge, a new dystopian book, will be coming out this November from Margaret K. McElderry Books.
*Bio paraphrased from Kim's website
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