Most days I have my choice of two paths to take on my way home from the gym. The long route takes me around town, I tell people that freeway driving is more efficient however the truth is, I'm scared. Maybe you think I should take the short way home, after all, it takes less time, that route takes me past prettier places however on three separate occasions I've had bad experiences on that last stretch of road where all you see is row after row of dry rustling genetically modified corn.
Winter driving in Wisconsin can be hazardous, that corner especially so. After encoutering a slick of black ice my car slid into the ditch and no one I know believes me but there was a guy wearing ratty dungarees and a short sleeved t-shirt in the dead of winter walking past as I crashed into the cornfield. The scar over my eye healed fairly quickly but it was a long time before I felt like driving past the cornfields or the antique crabapple tree that marks the scene of the accident.
The gnarled fruit bearing trees are almost all gone since the family that owned them figured they could make more money developing their land. There isn't any other way to get to McIntosh Lane except for driving past the two cornfields. I thought I'd be okay if I had someone else in the car with me but before I rounded the corner a flock of wild turkeys ran out in front of us.
My daughter is a hard core nature lover so I sat there watching thirty some Thanksgiving birds dine reflecting that we could have ended up much worse off.
Recently the road I normally take home from the gym has been under construction so I've had no choice but to start driving through the cornfields again. The other day my girls wanted pancakes for breakfast but we didn't have all the ingredients. My cell phone started ringing as three fleet footed deer ran out in front of my car. I slammed on my brakes to avoid hitting the baby Bambi. I swore I wasn't going to drive past the cornfields again but the bridge was out, I had milk, butter and bacon to get home so I took a deep breath and prayed that my luck would hold.
To keep my mind busy I tried to concentrating on how autumn had changed this familiar landscape. Various waterfowl were flying low through the fresh country air. Slowly I passed over the stream, I waved to a jogger and I was almost past the cornfield tunnel when I saw a small blonde girl walking down the road. Instantly my mind raced home to my two daughters snuggled under cozy layers of thick warm bedding. Unbelievably the girl on the gravel was wearing a thin summer dress and nothing else, not even shoes.
I wouldn't normally stop for someone on the side of the road but I couldn't believe this girl was out at quarter after six in the morning. Automatically I wondered if there had been trouble at home or possibly an accident.
Before I could come to a complete stop a raccoon darted into the road. Gently I applied pressure to the brakes hoping my eggs and the coon would be okay. For a young child the girl across the road was moving swiftly. My ankle is never that reliable but I wanted to see if I could call for assistance or at the very least make sure she arrived at home safely.
Frozen air crept under my coat, I was wearing gloves and a hat but my bare legs objected to the deep freeze. Compared to the skin I finally touched my body was warm, pulsing with blood and life.
Naturally I couldn't take a zombie girl home regardless of how bad I felt about her circumstances. It took some time but finally I got her into some warmer clothes. My sweatshirt hung on her skinny frame but she wound my magic woolen scarf around her bony neck while she showed me the pothole she used to create the black ice trap.
Her carefully strewn trail of corn lured hungry deer from one cornfield to another and what the deer didn't eat the turkeys cleaned up.
Fewer people drive through the twin cornfields nowadays, that's why the girl and her brother sabotaged the freeway bridge. I wasn't sure I was going to get away with my brain and eggs intact, the girl was scrawny but wiry muscle lay beneath translucent skin. If I had a hairbrush I could have combed the tangles out of her hair. Snarls had trapped bits and pieces of who knew what in her nest of dirty blonde hair.
Her speech was slurry, a strange light flickered in her eyes when I ran to my car, turned the key and almost hit the little girl's brother.
So far my seventy year old neighbor is the only person buying my version of why I was late that morning. People in my family know I have an overly active imagination and everyone else knows that I can barely hobble on my bad foot much less run from a ten year old girl.
What people in the extended community thought used to bother me however that was before I discovered that the rumored disappearance of a young blonde girl drives the curious to the road on that goes between the two cornfields near the edge of town. Stupid people have let their brains shrink and calcify, those we give those to Emily's brother. The tightly curled fresh brains are cause for celebration. We've been trying to save up for the lean winter months but the life of the undead is challenging because as you know, a good brain is hard to find.