Lucy wondered, for a moment, if this was some sort of new security system that the farmer had installed, before reminding herself of just how absurd that thought was. She’d never seen the corn do anything like this; nobody had ever seen corn act this way, she was pretty certain. It almost seemed like the corn was growing before her eyes, getting taller and taller the longer she stood there.
She stared up at the sky, shivering, its dark color and almost green clouds making her feel uncomfortable now, despite the bright rainbow still blazing through them. Something was definitely wrong, but she had no idea what it was, or how she could fix it, if it was even something that could be repaired. Mostly, she just wanted to get away from it all, but she couldn’t get back to her house now.
So, instead, she gathered her courage and stepped forward into the corn maze. She heard a scratching sound behind her and spun around to see more corn had sprung up, sealing her inside. She shivered, skin crawling at the sight, confirming, once and for all, that this was no ordinary field, as if there could have been any doubt about that. Even stranger, there was a doll hanging on the new cornstalks, arms splayed wide like a tiny scarecrow, though she doubted it would scare anyone. It was pretty normal sized for a doll, with golden hair and a cute, frilly pink dress, so short that it left the diaper underneath perfectly visible. The only thing disturbing about it was the beady, black eyes – and the fact that it had apparently appeared out of nowhere, without a speck of dirt on it.
“H-Hello?” she called out, not sure if she really wanted an answer or not. She doubted the farmer would be happy to find her walking through his field, even if it had gone crazy, but at the same time, she didn’t really want to have to go into this thing blind… If there was somebody else in there, maybe they could tell her which way was the right one… But there was no answer.
She walked forward towards the paths branching out from the entryway, peeking around the corners to see if there was any indication of where they might lead. She was still feeling apprehensive, and moving slowly; that was very fortunate for her, since it gave her time to notice when her velcro shoe was being tugged on and pull back before stepping with full force.
She looked down to see the puddle of mud she’d half stepped in stretch up with her foot before letting go and splashing back to the ground. She jumped back, heart pounding, almost wondering if it was a monster of some kind in disguise. Turning and running away sounded like a good plan, however, there wasn’t really anywhere to go, and for all she knew, there were more of these things in the maze.
She turned to one of the walls and, with some effort, ripped off one of the longer leaves, then knelt down, gently placing it into the puddle. Almost immediately, the leaf began to sink as if it weighed a ton, instead of virtually nothing, like it was being yanked into the mud. In the few seconds Lucy spent watching in horror as it was swallowed up completely, the corn stalk had grown back its leaf.
Was it quicksand? Lucy was pretty sure that didn’t happen around here… Did it happen at all anymore? It looked a little thicker than what she was used to on TV, but that was television, not real life. Not that this felt like real life… Either way, no matter what it was, she was determined to watch her step from here on in.
The puddle actually made her choice a little easier, since it stretched across almost the whole width of the path, limiting her access to just two paths. She could probably squeeze past it and get to the passageways she saw beyond, but at this point, the two she could get to were just as good as any of those. If they both led her to dead ends, she could worry about getting to the others; for the moment, she chose to go to the right. She seemed to remember hearing something once about running one of your hands along one of the walls in a maze to find the way out, but she couldn’t remember which wall, or which hand… Maybe she should have paid more attention; she’d never actually expected to find herself somewhere that sort of knowledge would come in handy. Instead, she just had to make a choice.
She glanced behind herself at the doll hanging there in the corn, part of her wanting to go grab it to have some sort of companionship on this journey, the rest of her thinking alternately of how strange this all was, that doll’s appearance very much included. Besides, she was an adult… She didn’t need some stupid doll to keep her company.
She marched forward, keeping her eyes down on the ground to look for any other mud puddles so she could be sure to avoid them. The path rounded a corner almost immediately, then went straight for a very long time, almost far enough to make Lucy wonder if she’d chosen right the first time, and this was taking her straight through the field and to the forest. After a while, however, there was a sharp turn back into the heart of the field, then another, and then a dead end.
She stopped in her tracks as soon as she saw the solid wall of corn stalks in front of her, a wave of disappointment washing over her. Disappointment and… something else… Her mind swam for a moment as she stumbled backwards, legs tangling up in each other, nearly making her fall flat on her backside. As soon as her brain stopped shaking, she scrambled away, her pace quickening as she ran back down the long corridor to the entryway.
Maybe it had been nothing… Maybe it was just her imagination, or frustration at having chosen the wrong path, and gone so far before realizing that. It felt like something more than that, however… She wasn’t sure how to describe it, but it still made her shiver to think about it as she stepped back into that first corn ‘room’. It was oddly comforting, looking around to see that same mud puddle, that other path on the opposite wall, that doll, with its yellow dress hanging there, watching her…
She furrowed her brow as she took a second look at it, feeling like something was different, although she couldn’t quite put her finger on it. Perhaps it looked a little bigger? No, it had to be her mind playing tricks on her… Again, she felt a brief desire to go grab the doll and take it with her, only to brush it off and head for the other path. Surely this one would take her further in… Or, if not, she was going to have to squeeze past that puddle after all.
She took it as a good sign that, after one turn, she was faced with another pair of pathways to choose from. Obviously, that didn’t mean that either of these would take her to the exit, but it wasn’t a dead end. It was the left path that had brought her here, so perhaps she ought to stick with that, and go with the left at this branch as well… Then again, that could be a trap, and this choice might require her to go right.
Just like before, what she could see of both looked basically the same, so she decided to go left – why not stick with what had worked so far? After the initial turn, the path became much curvier than any of the others she had been down, almost as if it were leading her in a spiral, or circle, rather than the mostly straight lines she’d seen so far. That was probably good, right?
The curve ended in an abrupt right angle, and then an opening onto what looked like a pretty large room, another fissure in the wall of corn almost straight ahead, on the other side of the room. It seemed familiar… Then again, it was all just corn, so the whole place looked quite similar. She hesitated anyway, her stomach twisting with the sense that something was wrong. She could always go back and take the other path where she’d branched off… But she could do that even if she went into this room first. There could be some sort of a hint here, or potentially even the exit itself…
So, she stepped out of the doorway, and immediately gasped, feeling that same sensation she had when she’d hit the dead end. She put her head in her hands with a whimper, standing perfectly still there for a few moments before she could look up, glad that there hadn’t been anything, or anyone, here to attack her while she’d been standing there, incapacitated.
She was feeling a little queasy even before she saw the room. On her right, the room stretched onwards, a few openings in the corn visible, although she’d have to pass a large mud puddle, taking up almost the whole width of the area, to get to them. Straight ahead of her was the path she had seen even before stepping into the room… And on the left, she saw the doll.
She was sure it was the same, despite something not looking quite the same. Could it be bigger? She shook her head, which was feeling a bit fuzzy. She’d thought the same thing last time… The doll had its brown hair, its short yellow dress – or was it meant to be a shirt? It was so tiny it could have been either, she supposed – and pink diaper cover. That was what it had always been wearing… Wasn’t it?
As she was staring at it, she could have sworn she saw it start to shake. She backed away, trying to tell herself it was just the wind, despite not feeling any breeze. It had to have been her imagination, then… She made herself turn away from the doll, looking at the rest of the room instead.
This was the place she’d started, she was certain of that. She hadn’t seen the path she’d taken converge with the original one, yet somehow she’d gotten turned around anyway. This place was even more confusing than she’d thought… She turned around to head back in, knowing now that she had to take the right path when she hit the split, only to stop to survey her surroundings again.
She was back on the right side of the room… She shook her head, turning around in a circle, hoping to spot something that would tell her otherwise, but nothing had changed. How could that be possible? The hall she’d just come from was nothing like the one she’d seen when she’d gone to the right the first time…
She’d known there was something different, strange, off about this place from the beginning, but now she was starting to think she had underestimated all of that. Could these paths lead somewhere different every time? Normally, the answer would be ‘Of course not’, but now…
On one hand, the idea was disheartening, since it meant there was no real solution, that she’d just have to keep trying and trying until she got lucky; on the other, it also meant she wouldn’t have to worry about getting past the mud. She had two doors to choose from, and either one could potentially be correct.
To test her theory, she went back down the path she’d just come from. There was a turn, and then a very long, very straight corridor that looked a lot like it had the first time she’d explored this way. “What is going on?!” she stomped her foot in frustration.
Still, she had no way of knowing, for sure, that this was exactly the same, not without going a little further. She trudged on, and on, until she finally had to take a corner. A short ways ahead of her, she saw another turn, and as soon as she saw it, she knew, for sure, that there was nothing but a dead end beyond it, just like the first time.
She spun around, half angry at herself for wasting all that time, half desperate to get away from that wall of corn she knew lurked just a few feet away, even though she couldn’t see it. As soon as she took a step back down the corridor in the other way, however, the feeling hit her anyway, making her fall to her knees with a yelp.
She stayed down for a few moments, before she could, at last, find the strength to push herself back up onto her feet. For a moment, she turned back and forth blankly, unsure which way she was supposed to go, before her memory cleared up. She almost ran her way back to the first room, although there was only so fast she could go with the bulky diaper brushing against her thighs and pushing them apart. She sank to the ground once she was back, panting for air, tears burning her eyes. Was she ever going to find her way out of here?!
She noticed the sound almost right away, although it didn’t register with her for a few moments, and it took a few more before she realized it was a voice. At first, she pulled her knees up to her chest, trying to hide, not wanting anyone to see her like this, but then she remembered that – embarrassing outfit or not – she had wanted to find someone else, someone to help her find her way out. There was safety in numbers, and maybe whoever else it was knew their way around better than her.
“H-Hello?” She lifted her head, slowly getting to her feet. “Where are you?!”
“Wight hewe!” the other voice squeaked. “Hewp!”
Lucy’s heart sank a little. If this other person wanted help, she doubted they would be able to provide much for her… She looked around, trying to figure out where the voice was coming from, but all she saw was the doll.
It definitely hadn’t been that big before, she was pretty sure of that… It looked about half her size, if not bigger. It was still shaking, though now the movement seemed different somehow, more deliberate, it’s black hair – the same as Lucy’s – shifting back and forth as if the doll was shaking its head. Lucy squinted, wondering how she’d ever mistaken the pink shorts it was wearing for a diaper cover… They were small, sure, but it was obvious what they were meant to be, and she wasn’t really in the position to say much about the length of shorts, considering her own weren’t doing much to mask her diaper. She also hadn’t noticed that the picture of the puppy on the doll’s shirt was exactly the same as the one on her’s. How could she have missed that?
Lucy jumped back as she saw the doll’s mouth move, its head turning towards her, black, beady eyes staring straight at her. No… This couldn’t be happening… It was a doll! “I-I can’t!” she stammered, feeling a brief spray of wetness dribble its way into her diaper at the sight as she dashed for the other side of the room. “S-Sorry!” All she had to do was go in there, and then go the other way at the fork, and surely that would lead her out… Or at least further in, where she wouldn’t have to come back to this room again…
She stopped in her tracks just outside the door. She just had to choose the other path… But which one was that? It hadn’t been that long ago, so she ought to remember, and yet, when she thought about it, all she could see was fog. She didn’t want to go in there without being certain, or else she might take the wrong doorway again, or if she turned back early, this place might punish her again…
“Come on,” she whimpered, bouncing on her toes as she struggled to force herself to remember. She’d taken the left path to get to the branch, and then she’d either gone left again, since that had worked out, or right, assuming that the maze wasn’t so easy that she could just keep going the same way each time… But which was it?!
“No,” she heard the doll behind her. “Sowwy, I-I didn’t say it wight… I want to hewp you!”
“Huh?” Lucy sniffled, chewing on her bottom lip as she turned back to the doll. “What was that?”
“I want to hewp you!” the doll repeated, wriggling in place. “Pwease, hewp me down!”
Lucy saw now that the leaves from the corn stalks had grown around the doll’s limbs, and that was what was keeping it hanging there. The thing still gave her the creeps a little, but it looked like it was as much a victim of this place as she was, though… “I-I thought you said you were going to help me…”
“I will,” the doll nodded. “You just hafta get me down fiwst…”
Lucy knew she should help – it was always good to help – though she couldn’t help but wonder, “How can you help?”
“I know the way out of hewe! Pwease, wet me hewp, ow you’ww be stuck hewe fowevew!”
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