Welcome to another stop for the second annual YASpooktacular, hosted by Frenzy of Noise and Wicked Awesome Books!
This year, we are lucky enough to three great stories written by some of our favorite authors. Each story is a choose your adventure kind of story, which mean YOU decide the path the characters will take.
There are also TRICKS of TREATS hidden throughout the story, which gives you a chance to win some awesome prizes! Also, the prize pack for the Story #3 will be posted tomorrow, here!! On October 31st, the grand prize pack will be posted. You can click on the banner to see the full list of prizes.
THE CORN STALKER
I paused and looked behind me toward the path marked TO SAFETY. That poem about two roads and a yellow wood? Yeah, I was understanding that now. The whistling started again, and I swear I saw something move behind the corn stalks just as something hit my shoulder. “You can’t be serious. You’re really thinking about leaving me?” Kara said.
I turned back to her, toward her stained orange hoodie, toward her hand on hip. To say she wasn’t happy would be an understatement. “I saw something--” “I don’t care. I’m getting out here,” she said. “This is the exit.” She pointed down the straight stretch, as if to remind me, then she turned and marched off toward the path that said TO DANGER.
I called her name and chased after her. I couldn’t leave her now, not when I was the one who got her into this in the first place. Not when the exit was right there. Kara and I walked down the path and with each step the car in the lot seemed to get closer. The walls of corn furrowed up around us, making it impossible to go any other direction. “You are buying me dinner every day for the rest of our lives,” Kara said.
Everything was oddly still around us. I looked at the cornstalks when we walked by and they weren’t moving. There were no other people. No sounds except our feet crunching into the ground. No movement. Even the wind was still, like those moments in movies right before all hell breaks lose. “Look--we’re almost there!” Kara said.
Sure enough, the parking lot was only a few feet away. She poked me in the chest. “You owe me a new hoodie--and a new pair of shoes to make up for the stress. And I get to veto five of your movie choices.” “Five?” I said. “Five is too many. Two.” “Three,” she said. I sighed in submission and she smiled. Kara sprinted toward the edge of the cornfield and the parking lot. I looked around again.
Something wasn’t right. Kara stood on the edge of the cornfield, her arms outstretched and her back toward the lot. She said my name, but the look on her face said more. “What’s wrong?” “It’s not real...” I don’t know how I managed to move, but there I was--touching the painting of a parking lot. It looked real. So real. It stretched as far as I could see in both directions. I pounded my fist into the fake parking lot just as the whistling pierced the air. It was followed by Kara’s screams.
I looked over and Kara wasn’t beside me. She was gone, screaming. The stalks were broken from where someone grabbed her, bent down as if they drug her out. “Kara!” I yelled. I tried to listen for more screams. Beyond the whistle it was nearly impossible. I bent down to inspect the fallen stalks. They were bloody. I followed the broken stalks and the trail of blood back through the maze. It took me a different way than how I got here: a couple turns deeper into the maze, past the TO SAFETY sign.
I looked for her orange hoodie but it was impossible to see ahead in the darkness, even with the broken cornstalks revealing her path to me. The whistling ceased and I followed her screams as closely as I could. The broken stalks lead back to a path. Four paths. Four directions I could go. I cursed to myself before I saw it--blood. I ran down the path and there was more blood. I followed it, hoping it would lead me toward her, like it was her very own version of breadcrumbs. I made two lefts and a right.
If swore to myself if I found out who was responsible for this place, I would end them. They probably thought they were so clever. All I wanted was to find Kara. She had been right about not coming here. The path ended. I was surrounded by a corn wall, trapped in the middle of the maze with no escape except the way I came in. I heard Kara screaming, and somehow I couldn't see her. Couldn't get to her.
I turned around to go back through the entrance, but there was a row of corn trapping me inside. Where did that come from? It wasn't there before! I started to panic. How can a wall of corn grow up out of nothing in seconds? It doesn't make sense. This place is wrong. I tried to push my way between the stalks, but they're fake. Painted to look 3-D and plastic.
The wall to my left was real corn---and I pushed my way between the stalks as that whistle blew through the air in a steady pitch. I kept going, pushing through until I came out on the other side. I rested my hands on my legs and looked up. The sign was in front of me again: TO DANGER or TO SAFETY. What was going on here? How long have we been out here? I don't know because they made us leave our cell phones at the entrance so we didn't "disturb" others. What if there were no others? That was crap.
Of course there were others. They're all just going the other direction. I told myself before I started running toward the sign marked TO DANGER.
I ran and ran, yelling out Kara's name--not that she would've heard me over the whistling. I watched for flashes of orange. For her. For someone else. There was nothing. Silence filled the air abruptly.
I looked around and my hot breath made smoke puffs in the chilly air. The end of this path was near. I yelled for Kara one more time. She didn't answer. She was probably already outside, waiting for me and pissed as hell. Yea, she was outside and I would go meet her there. I run the rest of the way to the sign marked EXIT. That was it. I was free. She was free. I'd leave and never come back. Only there was no exit. There was a wall of more fake corn. I tried to push my way though it. To move it or make it budge. To climb it.
Nothing. This was a set-up. There was no way out. I would find one. I would find one. I just had to turn around and go back. I must have missed something. This time when I ran, I saw the gleam of the Corn Stalker's sickle in the moonlight. I thought I was dreaming, but it was real. He had an orange hoodie in his hand and he was following me. I ran harder. I would find a way out.
Or I would die trying
* * *
One year later I give some innocent girl back her change, smile. "Have fun," I say. I was her once. Smiling and giggling and all over some boy’s arm. I want to scream. To tell them to go away and keep the twenty bucks. That would make me a bad employee, though, and I need this job. My mom says I don't. My shrink says I'm being not dealing with the truth. They're both wrong. This is the truth. "Lunch break," Carl says to me.
He exhales and scratches his belly as he takes my spot on the stool. I look at the corn maze. "You spending your break in there again?" "Probably," I say. I hear him mutter about me under his breath. I don't care. He's wrong and they're wrong. There's something weird about this place. I can feel it. I know it. Last year I was in the maze--and now my life is a mess. I went in happy, laughing, pretending to be scared for Josh's sake--but now.
Now I can't pretend, not when I know the facts. Fact: Someone pulled me away from him when we found the fake wall with car paintings. Fact: I woke up in the parking lot without my hoodie., blood dripping down my arm. I don't know who it was. I don't know why they did it. I don't know how I got there. Fact: Josh and I went into the corn maze a year ago. I came out and he didn't. No one has seen him since. I take a step inside the maze. Another. Another. A flash of something metallic shines through the corn stalks.
I know it's the stalker. He doesn't come out unless he's found a victim--that's what the story says. He finds someone worthy of joining him forever and takes them. The wind rustles the leves around me. I hear the whistle blow from inside the corn maze. Carl doesn't hear it--he never hears it. But I do. Every night I hear it. There's a scream--so familiar and foreign it freezes me. It's Josh. It's Josh!
And I run.
You should run back to the beginning and try this story again.
Danielle Elisson is like Batman (or Princess Fiona from Shrek): by day she is one thing and by night she is another. By day, Danielle spends her hours slaving away as the admin for a physical therapy office. By night, she spends her hours slaving away at homework for her MFA program and (when she’s lucky) her WIP. Amidst all the crazy, she still finds time to blog (in two places), obsess over her favorite TV shows on tumblr (her favorite new show is New Girl) and learn to cook healthy foods with her roommates (or eat unhealthy ones). She’s the co-host/creator of the YA Spooktacular and the most important piece of information you could ever know about her: she’s all over the place all the time. (And couldn’t imagine living any other way—even if she wanted to.) You can find Danielle on Twitter, on Tumblr, on her YA book blog or at her writing blog.
YA blog: http://www.frenzyofnoise.net
One person will randomly be selected to win Damage by Anya Parrish and Low Red Moon by Ivy Devlin.
Tweet using an author, line, character name or murder weapon in THE CORN STALKER. Use the #YASpooktacular hashtag.
Then, fill the form HERE!
This ends October 31st.