Wednesday, August 1, 2012

July Short Story Contest - Third Place

I entered the July Short Story contest in the "Writers" group on LinkedIn.  The results were announced today.  I tied for third place, which was gratifying but not truly satisfying for some reason ... I think I'm going to have to try again in the August contest!

I thought some of you might enjoy the change of pace from the JAFF Regency Romance I've been writing lately.  If not, well, there's more JAFF coming.

The Korne Field
by Diana Oaks

The tires on the ancient Ford Falcon crunched the gravel as they passed the sign that read “Danny’s Korne Maize.”

“That’s lame.” Yvonne giggled from the back seat.  “They spelled corn wrong.”

“Shut up.” Isabelle glanced over her shoulder.  “It’s their name, idiot.  Isn’t that right, Bradley?”

Bradley Korne smiled.  “Uncle Danny thinks it’s funny.  He likes the puns, ya know?  Maize for maze was his idea too.  Just tell him you think it’s corny and he’ll love you forever.”

“It is corny,” Yvonne rolled her eyes and turned to look out the window at the golden stalks that lined the road.

“Corny is his specialty.  He’ll probably make some crack about seeing double when he spots you two.  Just laugh.”  Bradley laughed and swung the car under the shade of a lone tree in the parking area.  “That cornfield is his pride and joy, and his maze is a goodun too.  It’s gonna be fun.”

They approached the entrance, which was marked by some stacked bales of hay and pumpkins.   Isabelle hung onto Bradley’s arm possessively as they stepped across the threshold.

“I dunno about this.” Yvonne peered into the labyrinth of corn plants as she instinctively grabbed his free arm.  “It’s kinda creepy.”

“Nah,” He flexed slightly.  “It’s just a corn maze.  I’ve been through it a thousand times.”
“Yikes!” Yvonne jumped and squealed, clinging tighter to his arm while her feet danced in place.  “That was a snake!”

“Crap Vonn, grow up whydoncha. It was just a garter snake.” 

“Turn left,” Bradley instructed.  “I said left!” He repeated when Isabelle veered to the right. 

“Keep your eyes open girls.  I lost my dad’s ring out here last year.  It would be freaking awesome if we found it.”

“You should get one of those metal detectors.”  Yvonne suggested.  “I think my dad has one you could borrow.”

“Get a clue, Vonny,”  Isabelle snorted a little. “They plow these fields under before they plant ‘em.  Ain’t no way some silly ring’s gonna turn up like magic.  It’s gone.”  She looked sympathetically at Bradley and squeezed his arm.  “Sorry.”

They pressed deeper into the maze, their conversation continuing much the same.  Yvonne released her hold on Bradley’s arm, and she fell back, watching silently as her twin flirted and teased the tall, athletic farm-boy who’d brought them here.  He looked over his shoulder once, to make sure she was still there, and smiled and winked at her as though he could read her jealous thoughts.

She allowed the distance to grow, daydreaming in the warmth of the October sun, grateful that they had not come at night.  Then she realized that Isabelle and Bradley were gone.  She listened for their voices, but only heard the sound of rustling around her.  In a panic, she started to run, calling their names, turning blindly down corridors of cornstalks in a desperate attempt to find her way.  She was forced to stop abruptly when she turned a corner and faced a dead-end.  She spun and fell, a board in the ground shaking beneath her in a puff of dust when she landed.

Brushing some dirt aside, she found an old, hinged, plywood door.  A handle formed of a metal ring was centered along the edge, and hesitantly, Yvonne lifted it, shifting her weight to gain leverage until the door crashed open.  Stairs led downward, and with a hesitant look over her shoulder, she descended into the dank, dark room beneath the corn maze, battling a cobweb and flinging the spider who lived in it from off her arm.

A lone beam of sunlight pierced the room from the hatch, providing enough illumination for her to see that the walls were lined with thick shelves laden down with mason jars, all of which contained a clear liquid.

“Yikes!” She whispered in astonishment, and with a shiver, turned to go back up the stairs. In her haste, she stumbled, and as she caught herself, her fingers wrapped around a tiny artifact embedded in the dirt on the step.  She groped for the cold, hard thing, and found herself in possession of a man’s gold ring, which quickly found its way to her pocket.

Thirty minutes later, she emerged from the maze to find Isabelle and Bradley waiting by the car with mutually reddened lips.

“Where you been?” Isabelle demanded.

“I’ve been to the dark side of the cornfield,” she grinned at Bradley as she fished in her pocket, “where the moon shines. I found this.” She handed him the ring. “And I think I understand now, why your uncle loves his corn.”

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