It was nearly evening when I spotted the first body in the corn.
I had walked along the country road west from town since midmorning, letting me mind wander the whole time. I didn’t need to be back at work for three whole days, so a good tramp along prairie pathways seemed like a good start to my mini vacation.
I figured I still had light to go a couple more miles before I picked out a place to spend the night, so I sat down on a roadside log to rest for five minutes or so. Looking across at the field on the north side of the road, I immediately saw the human skeleton stretched out face down along a row amongst the scant knee-high corn. The thing was intact, with the skin still clinging to the soles of the feet. It looked as if it might have had a thin covering of dirt thrown over it at one point, but not very effectively. I was trying to figure out how it could have been skeletized without animals disturbing the bones when I saw the next one, about twenty feet back to the east. Same condition, also with the soles of the feet still hanging on.
I walked back along the road to look closer, and now I could see the line of bodies stretching back the length of the field. There seemed to be others, too, not human, farther back in the corn, in earlier stages of decomposition. The whole scene had suddenly taken on a The Cell-meets-The Exorcist vibe that I wasn’t liking. The sunset lighting had switched to a greenish-gray gloaming, and the air felt heavy, wet and electric. I tried to dial 911 on my cell, but somehow I was not getting any service here. I wasn’t that far out of town. When I had stopped to rest this had been barely a dip in the prairie; now it seemed I was standing in the bottom of a fairly steep valley, and the horizon had become indistinct, a dark haze beyond the increasingly vague cornfields.
Then a family of four came walking across the field: man, woman, two little girls maybe 8 and 10 years old. They didn’t seem to notice any of the bodies, but walked right past them and up onto the road. I started to ask them if they had a phone, if they could help me alert the authorities to whatever the hell was going on here, but then I noticed their eyes. As in, they didn’t have any. Just dark, empty sockets. They walked right past me without any acknowledgment and headed west, the way I had been headed but was certainly not going anymore. It was time to get the heck out of here, if I even could. The way things were going, maybe it would be simpler just to wake up.