George sauntered away from his brother as soon as he had the chance. When Richard had bent down to examine something, George had tiptoed away. When he was far enough he picked up to a run through the corn. As he ran, George shoved his hands in his pockets and wrapped his fingers around the fresh batteries from Richard’s flash light. Their mother had told them to change the batteries in the lights, and George did just that. Richard hadn’t realized his batteries wouldn’t last the night. Served the brat right for playing in his room while George was away. The sight of his brother’s light flickering in the night sky gave George a reason to pause. Now he could head back and rescue his brother. That was the plan at least.
George realized that he had no idea which path he had come up. Three paths stretched and wound like snakes in the direction he came. George peered up each path and frowned. He closed his eyes trying to remember how he had reached this intersection. When he opened them he felt his jaw drop. He was certain that he hadn’t moved and yet none of the four paths were in the same place. He shook his head, there had only been three paths when he closed his eyes. Yet before him stood four different paths. Before George could decide which path he would go on, a smell reached his nose.
The smell was sweet like sugar and George turned to follow it. He wandered down a path as the scent grew stronger and stronger. The smell grew and grew until he reached a clearing with a man. The man wore a black cloak and gold epaulettes. His head hung over a cauldron, so all George could see was his pale yellow hair. The man held a long spoon and stirred the cauldron slowly. The smell overflowed from the black cauldron and filled George. George began to walk near when the man reached up and plucked a head of corn off the maze. George looked around and saw a sign that had been snapped and thrown aside. Similar signs were scattered all through out the maze, but this one felt different. Most of the signs read: “DO NOT PICK THE CORN!” In bright red letters on a white sign that had been hammered in the ground. This sign though, had been snapped. The post was still in the ground, but the sign lay face up in the dirt. The sign wasn’t the usual white with red letters, but green with gold letters. It read “do not eat this corn.” No capital letters. No exclamation point. In fact the letters had been written in ornate and careful cursive, rather than printed in bold and thick letters. Unlike all the rest of the signs, this one had a signature at the bottom. In the same stately writing it read: “The Grower.” The only capital letters on the sign. George felt that he mustn’t eat that corn. The other signs had demanded, almost threatened, obedience. This one asked, or perhaps warned, George not to eat.
“Would you like some kettle corn?” The man at the cauldron asked. His voice deep and resonant. George stepped forward and looked at the sign.
“The sign says you aren’t supposed to eat that.” George replied. He stepped forward as the man tipped the cauldron toward him and more of the delicious smell came pouring out.
“Oh, and do you know who wrote that sign?” The man asked George. George stepped forward, he was just going to smell. There was no rule against smelling.
“The Grower.” George read off the sign. As he looked he felt the urge to run. To flee the man and the smell and the cauldron and the…
“Yes.” Snarled the man. “The grower wrote that sign.” He calmed a little and George looked away from the sign towards the man. “Do you know what else the grower did?” The man seemed to seethe as he spoke. If George hadn’t been so mesmerized by the voice and the smell, he would have seen that the man was having difficulty keeping his rage in check. A head of corn snapped in his crushing grip. “He grew this whole field. Don’t you think he has more than enough corn for anyone?”
“I suppose He does.” George didn’t know quite why he had emphasized the word “He” but it seemed to make the stirring man stir a little harder.
“Yes, and he says you and I can’t have any.” The man spat in the mud. George paused at this. The sign hadn’t said that. It said not to eat this corn. There was certainly other corn he could eat. Yet the man didn’t think so. “Isn’t that unfair?” The man said. He scooped some of the kettle corn from his cauldron and poured it in a bag. The smell was delightful, it was warm and sugary. George again stepped nearer, and as he did so he stepped on the sign. He looked down at it and felt that he should just leave. The sound of the crunching of kettle corn. George looked up. The man chewed slowly on the corn, savoring it.
“Is it good?” George stepped nearer.
“Delicious.” The man held out the bag.
“It is good?” George drew closer.
“Just try a bite.” The man grinned. His one visible eye glowing a ghastly blue.
“You’re sure it’s good?” George shoved a hand in the bag.
“I’m sure you’ll enjoy this.” The man said as George threw a handful in his mouth. Instantly George snatched the bag away. The man let him. The man watched as George gorged himself on the corn. Within moments the bag was gone and George sat in the ground licking his fingers.
“More.” The boy whispered.
“I have to make more.” The man said rising. “Next time, George, bring your brother, and your sister.” George nodded. He’d bring them, but they wouldn’t eat. It was his corn. His corn. His corn! HIS CORN!!!
“How do I find you?”
“Oh we will find you George. You only need to bring your siblings when the time comes.” The man began to prepare to vanish when an orange bolt of light shot past him. The Penumbra agent aimed again and unleashed a barrage of orange energy from her rifle. The dark man fought the urge to engage, tonight he had won. He waved his hand and all the field and people vanished. The lights in the sky disappeared as well, though he and George hadn’t noticed them at all. He was left in dream space and the maze returned to the real world. His master stood before him and he knelt.
“A most prudent investment Baron Von Todersfurcht. I applaud that. I, for one feel certain it will yield well on the return.” CEO declared.
Projected: T minus 69 days