Inside the maze, I had lost my sense of scale, only understanding that it was huge and I was but a human. Down the eastern edge, I meandered still down that wavy corridor. It had been a few minutes since I’d seen another person and the isolation pricked at my nerves slightly. Almost, I regretted saying good-bye to Otto, except that I knew my assigned area was near. I had passed a couple of new trails. My map showed a turn up ahead.
When I walked past four waves of stalks, I was pleased that, just as my map showed, I was greeted by a set of two halls at right angles to one another. I felt utterly alone. But then I asked myself what else had I expected. My area was located near the middle and finding it meant taking longer than the others. They’d probably already left. I was not so well-oriented. Neither were there gleeful sounds of speech reaching my ears. It was eerie until I remembered my perspective; I was in a six-acre corn maze on the Gottlieb farm and that’s all there was to it.
My map showed that I was now entering my assigned area, a space filled with box-shaped rows. Without the map, one would enter this location and not see how the right angles were interconnected, making them decide between numerous left and right turns, which would be interesting. Briskly, I followed the halls by keeping on the right, eager to learn the limits of my assigned area. From the start through a set of six boxes was mine to roam. So I thought to myself about the route I’d taken to get this far, which was simple enough to remember. I just needed to see where the boxes ended and learn why the fifth box was penciled in. So I traveled at right angles of the same length, all interwoven together. I wondered how anyone might hack it in the dark, thinking that one final turn would get oneself out of this entanglement.
Quite unexpectedly, I turned left and was met by the sight of one box shape that was entirely void of corn stalks. Instead of being composed of halls, it was an entire square area which had been hollowed out and its only interruption was a scarecrow propped up by a sickle. This was the fifth square. Being amused by this curious sight, I couldn’t help but move in for a closer look. The sickle, whose sole purpose was to keep the scarecrow upright, was partially buried into the ground. The blade, whose serrated edge glinted in the sunshine, was up and across its chest. Overalls and a white shirt had been stuffed with hay to the point where it was stiff enough to be straight. A pair of old boots, long in of themselves, further helped to keep it erect. The arms had then been secured to the sickle. The most curious part was its head. Of all things, it was a small watermelon, which the Gottlieb family did grow, and an ugly face had been carved into it. Because it was carved, I could see the inside and that it had been emptied of its contents or else it wouldn’t have balanced itself on the neck so well. Surely, the watermelon idea had been the whimsical concoction of little Otto. The thought of Old Heinrich fulfilling one of Otto’s requests made me smile. Heinrich must have had fun stuffing it. The scarecrow’s face was certainly sinister-looking. In the dark, it would look extra spooky. Thank God for my little heart that I’d learned about it in advance.
Amy Muniz (2013-08-06T15:31:28.870953+00:00). Midnight Guests and Other Weird Stories (Kindle Locations 1144-1168). Kindle Edition.
There is something to be said about the things that we don’t understand, the noises in the dark, and the feelings of dread that are impossible to explain. Author Amy Michelle Mosier brings us her collection of short stories and poems about the things that go bump in the night; more specifically the things that go bump in the night in Arizona. This is not a book of blood and guts and slasher horror, but it is filled with good old fashioned scary stories that are filled with a southwestern flavor.
I am a fan of short stories and I think they are a great medium for stories of suspense and the supernatural, and this book plays right into that. The stories vary in length and subject matter, but all take place in Arizona. Having grown up in Arizona, it was interesting to read about some of the different locations that the author places the stories and recognizing the details that make those locations unique. The stories have a very Lovecraftian style to them, where the fear laced into the story has more to do with the unknown and uncertainty than it does with death and dismemberment. I am not a very good judge of poetry, so there is little of substance that I can offer in regards to them, but their narrative is well done and not distracting from the rest of the book.
It might be unfair of me to compare the author’s work to H. P. Lovecraft, but since I did above, I must do so here as well. I understand the intent of the stories, and the author comes close to pulling it off, but there is a little something lacking in the execution. The sense of the unknown is there. The discomforting possibilities are present. Elements of the supernatural and dread are laced throughout the stories. Still, there is a little something lacking that keeps the hairs on the back of your neck from standing up on end. I think the fact that the protagonists of the stories are less terrified by the events that happen around them than maybe they should be, and if they are not scared, why should the reader be?
This is a lovely little collection of stories. If you enjoy ghost stories, the south west, or both, then this book would be a nice one to add to your collection. I definitely look forward to seeing what Amy Michelle Mosier has in store for us next.
Visit the author’s website HERE.
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