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“Maize Runner”

Since finally selling her house and officially moving closer to work, Betsy Collins only came back into town on special occasions. Though she hand many friends and family in the hills that would always be home, she worked long hours and didn’t like the drive.

But the season had finally turned to fall, and the cool, crisp autumn air had already begun to ring in what was Betsy’s favorite time of year. The haunting hour was upon her eastern Kentucky home, and with it haunted houses, spooky trail rides, and—best of all—corn mazes.

Yes, there was nothing like a good jump scare to break in the season, and one of her favorite corn mazes was set to open the coming weekend.

Betsy happened to have the weekend off, so she texted her friend and fellow maze runner Sandy and they set the date and time. When the Friday finally came she drove herself happily to their designated meeting spot, where they’d both hop into her car and hit the road.

Walmart, where she used to work and where her friend still did, was a welcoming little store, with many of her formal coworkers still employed there.

“Well, hey Betsy!” Crystal shouted from an isle over. She came around the corner suddenly, giving Betsy an unintentional scare. “Oop. Sorry!”

Betsy smiled, “It’s okay. How you been?”

“I’m good! Even better since I’m about to clock out!” Crystal gave her a thumbs up. “What are you doing back in town?”

“Meeting Sandy,” she said, were going to the corn maze! “Have you seen her?”

“Actually no, I haven’t. I could page her for ya. Bet she’d love that!”

“Ha, she would. But I’ll just text her, I’m sure she’s on her way. I’ll see you later!”

They said their goodbyes and Crystal walked off toward clock out glory, while Betsy pulled out her phone. She typed up a quick message telling her where she was and hit send. She walked around the store making unconscious comparisons as she waited for her friend to respond.

After a few minutes, her cell dinged and she pulled it back out of her pocket. “I’m walking in now!” It read.

Betsy responded with “I’ll meet you on the front end.”

A moment later they both walked out the front exit chatting happily about the evenings plans.

When they finally arrived at the corn maze, the place was crowded. The lights were bright enough to hide the fact that the sun was just starting to set. There was a distinct clamor of voices as groups of people walked through the field that was turned into a grassy parking lot during the season. It was obvious that it was the first night and this maze was a big deal.

“You think we should have waited until the new wore off?” Sandy asked? “It kind of reminds me of the first of the month.”

“Nah,” Betsy shrugged. “More people to help us find our way out if we get turned around.” She laughed. They never got lost. Besides the fact that maps were handed out at the beginning “only if you need them”, they both were pretty good with finding their way.

The lines were long but conversation was good. Betsy and Sandy talked about the usual things—work and kids—and they got pulled into conversation about past turns around the maze. “They say this year is supposed to be bigger and scarier!” Someone said.

“I don’t really need scarier,” Betsy said. “I just need something interesting! These things are never boring!”

“That’s true,” the gentleman said. “But this one has always been my favorite! They do an awesome job, every year!” Many in line agreed, and conversation continued as the line moved in.

It was quite a wait, as always at the start of the season, but it was usually well worth it. When they finally reached the ticket booth, the people in line grew quiet in anticipation as small groups were allowed in five or six at a time. Betsy and Sandy paid for their tickets and got their maps, which they both folded up neatly and places in pockets. They would use them unless they had too.

Finally, after watching a group go before them, they were next in line and waited anxiously. Betsy checked her cell, putting it on silent—she didn’t want to get distracted and lost—and put it deep into her pocket so it didn’t slip out.

Finally after waiting for what seemed to be forever, the attendant removed the chain from the entrance and motioned them through. Being adults, it would look childish for the two of them to rush in, grinning and giggling like gleeful children. So they fought back the desire and stepped over what Betsy imagined as the threshold between worlds.

It was Sandy, Betsy, and four of the people in line behind them, who’d they’d been talking to while waiting. Though they became friendly, they didn’t stop to linger. It was now every man for himself. Betsy and Sandy went off in the same direction, while the rest went their own ways. While they hoped to stay together, neither lady would be offended by separation.

Excited and scared—but just the right amount of scared—Betsy walked the maze carefully and cautiously looking around the corners expected to be surprised by one cleverly placed sight or another. Knowing full well the operators of the Autumn attraction were good at scaring people, she was expecting something to pop out at her at any moment.

Walking slowly around corners, hand hovering over the pocket where she’d stashed her copy of the maze map, Betsy turned right, glanced down a dead end, then walked on. A few steps past, she paused, then back tracked to look down the isle. “Hmm. I thought I saw,” she said aloud, then shook her head.

“Betsy!” She jumped when she heard Sandy call out her name. Her friend came around the corner and saw her standing there. “Keep up!”

“I thought I saw someone standing down there.” She glanced down the narrow dead end then looked back at Sandy. “I think my mind is trying to scare itself.” Betsy laughed and the two walked on.

A few minutes later, the two got separated again, as Betsy checked every corner looking for something to jump out at her. It seemed a little odd to her that nothing had happened yet. She turned a corner and finally got what she had be waiting for. Around a corner and almost in the path through the maze stood a eight foot tall grizzly looking scarecrow, complete with fake crows—wings outstretched as if about to take flight—staring at her with their fake black eyes. Betsy and Sandy both jumped and screamed in surprised, laughing it off as they caught their breath. They continued on, more on their toes than ever.

Walking on, they passed a long narrow corridor that ended in another dead end. But as they passed, Betsy did a double take. She stopped, turned back, and looked down the corridor again. There was something at the end. Glancing back to see Sandy rounding a corner and disappearing, she shrugged as her curiosity got the best of her. She walked down the corridor, pulling her phone out of her pocket. Turning on the flashlight feature, she looked up and shined its light toward the dead end.

What she saw there gave her a scare she wasn’t expecting. The tall masked man, head rising almost above the height of the maze, stood perfectly motionless, holding what appeared to be a machete. Black holes where his eyes should have been were empty and cold. Betsy stopped the scream that threatened to escape her throat and laughed at her surprise. “They really like to scare people!” She laughed again and backed out of the corridor, putting her phone back in her pocket as she did so.

Realizing she’d lost track of Sandy, she shrugged, and moved on, knowing she’d catch up to her eventually, or meet her at the end.

Passing a floating sheet hung to look like a ghost here, a gauze wrapped mannequin meant to be a mummy there, along with other sights meant to frighten, Betsy began to enjoy her trip through the corn maze. Until she began to think that she’d been there a little longer than she should have been. “There’s gotta be an end here somewhere.” She told herself. She put her hand in the pocket that held the map, not willing to admit defeat just yet, but willing to use the cheat sheet if necessary. She turned a corner and came face to face with a giant spider. It was made out of a haystack and foam pool noodles painted black. More frustrated that scared, the sight surprised her, and she groaned.

Pulling the map out of her pocket, she unfolded it and looked it over. She looked up from the sheet and looked around, trying to find her place. She spun around to see what she could see. She turned a full circle and looked back down at the map. When she looked back up she nearly jumped out of her skin. There stood, once again. The masked figure, machete still in hand. “What the—“ she whispered to herself.

Betsy backed up slowly, not letting her eyes leave the figure with the empty black eyes. She backed up until she came to a corner and turned around it. This time she ran. Ducking and dodging around corners and walls of corn maze and awkwardly placed scarecrows and jack-o-lantern headed frights. Finally she stopped to take a breath, panting, thinking. “These things are never live action.” She told herself. “Maybe they’re really trying to outdo themselves.” She opened up her hand, where she’d crumpled the map up in a death grip. Flattening it out as best she could she looked over it to try, once more to get her bearings.

She looked behind herself, placed a maze wall to her back—hoping to not be surprised again—and looked around at her surroundings and the map in her hand. The maze on the paper had been left unsolved on purpose, that was the fun of it. So she attempted to solve it herself, so she would know her way out when the time came. She then looked to see where she might be on it.

Getting frustrated and confused—she couldn’t seem to find her location—she sighed and pulled out her phone. “Best call for assistance.” She unlocked her phone and searched for Sandy’s number in her contacts list. She tapped the name and hit the dial button. It connected within moments—she paid for good service—and was ringing. She listened as it rang, and rang, and rang. She looked up when she realized she was hearing the actual phone ring, and not the sound coming from her own phone. The ringing was getting closer when it stopped.

“Please be Sandy.” Betsy whispered. Watching in the direction the sound had been coming from, she started to scream when out stepped the empty eyed masked man.

He walked slowly closer, and Betsy realized she’d backed herself into a corner. The only way out of the corner was past the man with the machete. He was walking slowly, but that didn’t mean he wouldn’t chase her. But she couldn’t stay there. His slow pace was unnerving, and she had to do something.

She dropped her phone, took a deep breath, and darted out of the corner, seeing the nearest exit to his right, and, intending to give him a wide berth, she dove around him. But she wasn’t quick enough. His large hand darted out, grasping her by the shoulder, slamming her on the ground. She hit hard on her back knocking the breath out of her. She huffed and puffed, trying to get her breath back as she backed away from the man standing over her. She’d made little progress when he stepped over her, his figure blocking out the light from the risen moon. The expressionless mask with dark empty eyes looked down at her. She began to scream when he raised the machete over his head and swung down, quick and hard.

Sandy had waited long enough at the end of the maze when she finally pulled the attendant over. “My friend is still in there.” She told him.

“How long has it been? How long has she been in there?” He asked, reaching for the radio on his hip.

“Since we went in? I don’t know, an hour? More? She’s usually pretty good at these. She’s never gotten lost.” She checked her pocket, meaning to call Betsy and help her find her way out. But she patted the pocket in vain. “I must have dropped my phone…” She trailed off all the more nervous.

The attendant said nothing more to her. Instead he radioed out to an unknown person, “Someone’s lost.” Was all he said. Within minutes a group of people had gathered, maps in hand and and flashlights at the ready. Sandy insisted on following as they searched the maze.

A few minutes in, Sandy found her phone dirty with a cracked screen, in the middle of a path leading to a dead end. Despite the crack, she could see a missed call from Betsy, and she quickly called the number back. It only rang.

Ten minutes in, with Sandy repeatedly calling Betsy’s unanswered phone, the leader of the group stopped. “Do you hear that?” He asked. It was a ringing sound.

“It’s her phone!” Sandy called out. She redialed the number when it went to voicemail, knowing Betsy was rarely without her phone. The group followed the sound as it grew closer and closer.

When the group stopped suddenly, someone said, “Was… Was that there before?” They each looked up to see a masked figure hanging from a pole, black empty eyes crying tears of blood.

If Words Could Kill Ep3

Since finally selling her house and officially moving closer to work, Betsy Collins only came back into town on special occasions. Though she hand many friends and family in the hills that would always be home, she worked long hours and didn’t like the drive.

But the season had finally turned to fall, and the cool, crisp autumn air had already begun to ring in what was Betsy’s favorite time of year. The haunting hour was upon her eastern Kentucky home, and with it haunted houses, spooky trail rides, and—best of all—corn mazes.

Yes, there was nothing like a good jump scare to break in the season, and one of her favorite corn mazes was set to open the coming weekend.

Betsy happened to have the weekend off, so she texted her friend and fellow maze runner Sandy and they set the date and time. When the Friday finally came she drove herself happily to their designated meeting spot, where they’d both hop into her car and hit the road.

Walmart, where she used to work and where her friend still did, was a welcoming little store, with many of her formal coworkers still employed there.

“Well, hey Betsy!” Crystal shouted from an isle over. She came around the corner suddenly, giving Betsy an unintentional scare. “Oop. Sorry!”

Betsy smiled, “It’s okay. How you been?”

“I’m good! Even better since I’m about to clock out!” Crystal gave her a thumbs up. “What are you doing back in town?”

“Meeting Sandy,” she said, were going to the corn maze! “Have you seen her?”

“Actually no, I haven’t. I could page her for ya. Bet she’d love that!”

“Ha, she would. But I’ll just text her, I’m sure she’s on her way. I’ll see you later!”

They said their goodbyes and Crystal walked off toward clock out glory, while Betsy pulled out her phone. She typed up a quick message telling her where she was and hit send. She walked around the store making unconscious comparisons as she waited for her friend to respond.

After a few minutes, her cell dinged and she pulled it back out of her pocket. “I’m walking in now!” It read.

Betsy responded with “I’ll meet you on the front end.”

A moment later they both walked out the front exit chatting happily about the evenings plans.

When they finally arrived at the corn maze, the place was crowded. The lights were bright enough to hide the fact that the sun was just starting to set. There was a distinct clamor of voices as groups of people walked through the field that was turned into a grassy parking lot during the season. It was obvious that it was the first night and this maze was a big deal.

“You think we should have waited until the new wore off?” Sandy asked? “It kind of reminds me of the first of the month.”

“Nah,” Betsy shrugged. “More people to help us find our way out if we get turned around.” She laughed. They never got lost. Besides the fact that maps were handed out at the beginning “only if you need them”, they both were pretty good with finding their way.

The lines were long but conversation was good. Betsy and Sandy talked about the usual things—work and kids—and they got pulled into conversation about past turns around the maze. “They say this year is supposed to be bigger and scarier!” Someone said.

“I don’t really need scarier,” Betsy said. “I just need something interesting! These things are never boring!”

“That’s true,” the gentleman said. “But this one has always been my favorite! They do an awesome job, every year!” Many in line agreed, and conversation continued as the line moved in.

It was quite a wait, as always at the start of the season, but it was usually well worth it. When they finally reached the ticket booth, the people in line grew quiet in anticipation as small groups were allowed in five or six at a time. Betsy and Sandy paid for their tickets and got their maps, which they both folded up neatly and places in pockets. They would use them unless they had too.

Finally, after watching a group go before them, they were next in line and waited anxiously. Betsy checked her cell, putting it on silent—she didn’t want to get distracted and lost—and put it deep into her pocket so it didn’t slip out.

Finally after waiting for what seemed to be forever, the attendant removed the chain from the entrance and motioned them through. Being adults, it would look childish for the two of them to rush in, grinning and giggling like gleeful children. So they fought back the desire and stepped over what Betsy imagined as the threshold between worlds.

It was Sandy, Betsy, and four of the people in line behind them, who’d they’d been talking to while waiting. Though they became friendly, they didn’t stop to linger. It was now every man for himself. Betsy and Sandy went off in the same direction, while the rest went their own ways. While they hoped to stay together, neither lady would be offended by separation.

Excited and scared—but just the right amount of scared—Betsy walked the maze carefully and cautiously looking around the corners expected to be surprised by one cleverly placed sight or another. Knowing full well the operators of the Autumn attraction were good at scaring people, she was expecting something to pop out at her at any moment.

Walking slowly around corners, hand hovering over the pocket where she’d stashed her copy of the maze map, Betsy turned right, glanced down a dead end, then walked on. A few steps past, she paused, then back tracked to look down the isle. “Hmm. I thought I saw,” she said aloud, then shook her head.

“Betsy!” She jumped when she heard Sandy call out her name. Her friend came around the corner and saw her standing there. “Keep up!”

“I thought I saw someone standing down there.” She glanced down the narrow dead end then looked back at Sandy. “I think my mind is trying to scare itself.” Betsy laughed and the two walked on.

A few minutes later, the two got separated again, as Betsy checked every corner looking for something to jump out at her. It seemed a little odd to her that nothing had happened yet. She turned a corner and finally got what she had be waiting for. Around a corner and almost in the path through the maze stood a eight foot tall grizzly looking scarecrow, complete with fake crows—wings outstretched as if about to take flight—staring at her with their fake black eyes. Betsy and Sandy both jumped and screamed in surprised, laughing it off as they caught their breath. They continued on, more on their toes than ever.

Walking on, they passed a long narrow corridor that ended in another dead end. But as they passed, Betsy did a double take. She stopped, turned back, and looked down the corridor again. There was something at the end. Glancing back to see Sandy rounding a corner and disappearing, she shrugged as her curiosity got the best of her. She walked down the corridor, pulling her phone out of her pocket. Turning on the flashlight feature, she looked up and shined its light toward the dead end.

What she saw there gave her a scare she wasn’t expecting. The tall masked man, head rising almost above the height of the maze, stood perfectly motionless, holding what appeared to be a machete. Black holes where his eyes should have been were empty and cold. Betsy stopped the scream that threatened to escape her throat and laughed at her surprise. “They really like to scare people!” She laughed again and backed out of the corridor, putting her phone back in her pocket as she did so.

Realizing she’d lost track of Sandy, she shrugged, and moved on, knowing she’d catch up to her eventually, or meet her at the end.

Passing a floating sheet hung to look like a ghost here, a gauze wrapped mannequin meant to be a mummy there, along with other sights meant to frighten, Betsy began to enjoy her trip through the corn maze. Until she began to think that she’d been there a little longer than she should have been. “There’s gotta be an end here somewhere.” She told herself. She put her hand in the pocket that held the map, not willing to admit defeat just yet, but willing to use the cheat sheet if necessary. She turned a corner and came face to face with a giant spider. It was made out of a haystack and foam pool noodles painted black. More frustrated that scared, the sight surprised her, and she groaned.

Pulling the map out of her pocket, she unfolded it and looked it over. She looked up from the sheet and looked around, trying to find her place. She spun around to see what she could see. She turned a full circle and looked back down at the map. When she looked back up she nearly jumped out of her skin. There stood, once again. The masked figure, machete still in hand. “What the—“ she whispered to herself.

Betsy backed up slowly, not letting her eyes leave the figure with the empty black eyes. She backed up until she came to a corner and turned around it. This time she ran. Ducking and dodging around corners and walls of corn maze and awkwardly placed scarecrows and jack-o-lantern headed frights. Finally she stopped to take a breath, panting, thinking. “These things are never live action.” She told herself. “Maybe they’re really trying to outdo themselves.” She opened up her hand, where she’d crumpled the map up in a death grip. Flattening it out as best she could she looked over it to try, once more to get her bearings.

She looked behind herself, placed a maze wall to her back—hoping to not be surprised again—and looked around at her surroundings and the map in her hand. The maze on the paper had been left unsolved on purpose, that was the fun of it. So she attempted to solve it herself, so she would know her way out when the time came. She then looked to see where she might be on it.

Getting frustrated and confused—she couldn’t seem to find her location—she sighed and pulled out her phone. “Best call for assistance.” She unlocked her phone and searched for Sandy’s number in her contacts list. She tapped the name and hit the dial button. It connected within moments—she paid for good service—and was ringing. She listened as it rang, and rang, and rang. She looked up when she realized she was hearing the actual phone ring, and not the sound coming from her own phone. The ringing was getting closer when it stopped.

“Please be Sandy.” Betsy whispered. Watching in the direction the sound had been coming from, she started to scream when out stepped the empty eyed masked man.

He walked slowly closer, and Betsy realized she’d backed herself into a corner. The only way out of the corner was past the man with the machete. He was walking slowly, but that didn’t mean he wouldn’t chase her. But she couldn’t stay there. His slow pace was unnerving, and she had to do something.

She dropped her phone, took a deep breath, and darted out of the corner, seeing the nearest exit to his right, and, intending to give him a wide berth, she dove around him. But she wasn’t quick enough. His large hand darted out, grasping her by the shoulder, slamming her on the ground. She hit hard on her back knocking the breath out of her. She huffed and puffed, trying to get her breath back as she backed away from the man standing over her. She’d made little progress when he stepped over her, his figure blocking out the light from the risen moon. The expressionless mask with dark empty eyes looked down at her. She began to scream when he raised the machete over his head and swung down, quick and hard.

Sandy had waited long enough at the end of the maze when she finally pulled the attendant over. “My friend is still in there.” She told him.

“How long has it been? How long has she been in there?” He asked, reaching for the radio on his hip.

“Since we went in? I don’t know, an hour? More? She’s usually pretty good at these. She’s never gotten lost.” She checked her pocket, meaning to call Betsy and help her find her way out. But she patted the pocket in vain. “I must have dropped my phone…” She trailed off all the more nervous.

The attendant said nothing more to her. Instead he radioed out to an unknown person, “Someone’s lost.” Was all he said. Within minutes a group of people had gathered, maps in hand and and flashlights at the ready. Sandy insisted on following as they searched the maze.

A few minutes in, Sandy found her phone dirty with a cracked screen, in the middle of a path leading to a dead end. Despite the crack, she could see a missed call from Betsy, and she quickly called the number back. It only rang.

Ten minutes in, with Sandy repeatedly calling Betsy’s unanswered phone, the leader of the group stopped. “Do you hear that?” He asked. It was a ringing sound.

“It’s her phone!” Sandy called out. She redialed the number when it went to voicemail, knowing Betsy was rarely without her phone. The group followed the sound as it grew closer and closer.

When the group stopped suddenly, someone said, “Was… Was that there before?” They each looked up to see a masked figure hanging from a pole, black empty eyes crying tears of blood.

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