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The Cornfield Collector

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Looking out the window, I can smell the freshest country air. Memories flow in as I take in the sweet scent, Counting ladybugs in the house, riding bikes in the backyard, chasing groundhogs. My dad picking me up on his shoulders, walking me up the cornfield hill beside grandma's house. He told me he would rather him get bit by a snake then me, as he heroically lifted me above, leading me up to the top of the hill.

In fact. I think that was my favorite spot. Me and my cousin Hayleigh would always walk up there, sit and watch the sunset, and talk about silly secrets. You know, girl stuff. We’d ponder on the meaning of life, and look out by the old tree at the top of the hill above all the corn. I loved going up there. Well, at least I did… Not so much anymore, after what we saw that night.

One afternoon, me and Hayleigh decided to go up to our favorite spot on top of the cornfield. I secretly felt vulnerable when I wasn’t on my dad’s shoulders, and would imagine snakes waiting for me in the grasses below. Me and Hayleigh reached the top of the hill and sat down by our tree. The sunset was always gorgeous at this time. I believe it was about six o’clock, right when the sky would turn a pretty purple and orange color. You could see 3 different state lines from that hill, West Virginia (where we were), Pennsylvania, and Ohio. We sat there and started eating our lunch.

When it got darker out, we decided to tell each other scary stories… We were young so our stories weren’t that great, but at the time it scared us shitless. We talk about the urban legends we came across on the internet, which were only the typical things such as El Chupacabra, Bigfoot, walking skeleton ghosts, things like that. Hayleigh would tell me stories about the ghosts that haunted the local Spookhouse, a cheap Halloween attraction in our town.

Stupid, I know, but believe me, by the time it got darker out and you could see the stars, we were seriously spooked. We never admitted it, because there was a stigma of looking like a “scaredy cat” and getting teased. Soon the slightest of noises would creep us out and we decided to turn back and start walking home. Halfway down I noticed that I forgot the lunchbag. When I asked Hayleigh to go with me, she told me to do it myself. “Unless you’re too scared…” she would say.

I lashed back out at her, “I’m not! I’ll prove it!” and I ran up the hill as fast as I could, ignoring the complete darkness and the bugs flying in my face. When I got to the top of the hill I was out of breath. I looked around for the bag. I couldn’t find it. I kept searching and searching, all around the tree. “I could have sworn I left it. Right there!” I said to myself. I called Hayleigh’s name.

No answer. I called again, no answer. I started to panic. I bolted down the hill and forgot about the bag. I was yelling Hayleigh’s name, bawling, swallowing the hot tears running down my face. I tripped. I was alone. I was on my knees, crying for her to stop and just come out already.

It was nearly ten minutes now and I was alone. Hayleigh had the flashlight and I couldn’t see the trail down. All of a sudden I felt something squeeze my shoulders. I jumped and cried out in pure fear. Turning around I noticed something I wasn’t expecting… It was Hayleigh. And she was laughing at me.

“Oh my God Hannah! You should have seen your face! You were really, REALLY scared!” She mocked me. I wiped the tears from my face.

“It WASN’T funny. I was YELLING for you!” I cried. I punched her leg. She stumbled back.

“Ow… Come on Hannah. You have to admit that was even just a little bit hilarious!” “Maybe for you! WHY would you DO that?!” I screamed.

“I just wanted to see the look on your face while you were running around crying like a baby!” I got up and took the flashlight out of her hand. “Let’s just go” I said.

We started walking down the trail. Hayleigh kept teasing me, as I expected. “Shut up!” I told her. “You’re SO mean!”

She ignored me and kept going and I tried not to cry. We swerved around more and more trees, occasionally getting poked by pinecones. I stopped hearing her footsteps and turned around. She was frozen, and shaking.

“Hannah… Do you see that it’s right over there.” I didn’t believe a word she said. “Stop trying to scare me! It isn’t going to work this time.” “No, really, shhh... don’t move.” I kept walking.

She begged for me to stay. “I’m not stopping for you! Not after what you did! And even if you’re telling the truth. I HOPE IT GETS YOU!”

I ran away from her. I didn't care. I hoped she was scared. I wanted her to feel the fear that I felt. I kept running down the trail, as my hand was shaking the flashlight was bouncing with my step. Then I heard a scream. But it wasn't the kind of scream that you ever hear.

Ever. It was horrible, not like it was coming from your mouth. But a scream that escaped from the bellows of your stomach... Pure. Fear. I turned around. I saw Hayleigh behind me, running, screaming. She grabbed my hand and pulled me. "Hannah, please, we have to go now!"

She was in a panic, hyperventilating. "What is WRONG with you?!" I said. She was paralyzed again. I turned around.

That's when I saw it. That thing, tall... very tall but it slouched. And his skin was tainted by the dark surrounding us. It's eyes. I could see them glowing. They were white eyes like a humans, but it was definitely, definitely not human. It had huge pupils that were enveloped inside the eye. It was so... vivid... hypnotizing... It's hands were sharp. It's hands were like knives.

I was crying now. It was only a split second but I noticed everything. It was dark but I managed to shine the light on it for a second. And that's when I saw it. it was the lunchbag, ripped and hung around one of its sharp limbs, and there was something inside the bag that looked alive, and I'm sure it wasn't our food because, well, food just doesn't move like that. It also had on a hat, looking like an old toboggan, tattered and torn.

Various bracelets were around his arm, some valuable looking while others were plastic... And he was wearing a locket and what appeared to be a Saint Patrick's Day clover necklace. It was walking towards us now. It smiled wide. It had no teeth, just empty space... Which I still believe scared me more than sharp teeth ever could...

That's when I grabbed Hayleigh and ran. She was screaming and crying. "I DON'T WANT TO DIE!" She was saying through snot and tears. I didn't either. That's why we ran. I didn't pay attention to the flashlight I just kept running downhill dragging Hayleigh with me. I knew we were close because I felt solid ground, and I didn't dare look back. I knew it was still there because I felt it's awful presence following us. Don't ask how... I just felt it.

Soon we saw grandma's house. I didn't feel safe yet. In fact, I don't think I'll feel safe ever again. We ran inside and locked all of the doors. Completely out of breath, we ran into the bedroom and got under the covers. I hugged her.

We cried. We knew it was going to be a sleepless night. We decided we would tell grandma in the morning... We didn't want her to go out there to check, and then be taken by that awful thing... For the rest of the time we just layed there restless for what seemed like hours. Then all of a sudden Hayleigh spoke up.

"Hannah." she whispered. She still had a quiver in her voice. "What?" I replied. "Before I saw it... Before you heard me scream... That thing. It spoke to me..." At first I didn't believe her. How could something like that talk?! It wasn't human. It was the farthest thing from human.

Still... I listened. "What did it say Hayliegh?" She hesitated. Then she started to shake. I tried to calm her down. She started crying again, which in turn made me do the same. Finally I got an answer through her silent sobs that I won't ever forget.

"It said... It told me..." she whispered those next words as if it was listening. "I'M TIRED... OF COLLECTING... THE SIMPLE THINGS..."

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