Flashback – Baby Face

There’s something wrong with my girlfriend. Don’t tell me that you don’t believe me, because nobody will believe me. I get it, but I don’t need to hear it. What I need is help.

She hasn’t been the same since the farm. Something happened to her at the farm, and now, I don’t think anything will be the same again.

I probably sound like a delusional teenager, and maybe I am, but Allie and I have been together since Primary School, so I know her, inside out, and now, she’s been so different that I can barely put it into words.

She was always shy, it was one of the first things I noticed about her. Everyone else was running around, screaming and shouting, but she was sitting quietly by the coat rack, sucking her thumb, and glancing around the room with her big, brown eyes.

I know that toddlers can’t fall in love, but I’m convinced that it was love at first sight for me, and we’ve been inseparable ever since. I even flunked the Eleven Plus exam to make sure my parents couldn’t send me to the grammar school and separate us. It was just my Allie and me, from four until eighteen, but now, something has changed, and I don’t know what to do.

We went on a school trip to a farm yesterday, and that was where it all started. It sounds like a bit of a boring trip for a bunch of eighteen year olds, but the owner was one of the school governors, and if he was being honest, it was a soft recruitment day, to try and convince those of us close to school leaving age to take a job there. There weren’t many options in the village, so many often signed up for a life of hard labour after the obligatory end of year trip to the farm, but Allie and I were determined not to.

We’d both applied to the same university, Greenwich, in London. She was doing film making and I was doing journalism. We were going to tour the world, making movies and telling stories. She’d be behind the camera, taking it all in with her beautiful eyes, and I’d be my usual, loud, ridiculous self on the other side, but now, I’m looking over at her, and our future just seems to have vanished, because, there’s something wrong with her, something I can’t quite explain.

She seemed fine at the farm. We kept to ourselves, wandering around, just behind the group, our hands tightly clasped together as we made faces at each other to stave of the boredom. Everything was fine, until she needed to go to the toilet.

She didn’t want to ask, but I could tell something was wrong, and after a bit of coaxing, I managed to get it out of her, and asked our teacher, as discreetly as I could, if she could be excused.

There was a bit of tutting from Mr Andrews, and a lecture about how she should have gone when we’d had lunch, but eventually, he relented and let her go. I watched her head into the tall fields of corn and up towards the farm house, as the group carried on, trudging in the opposite direction.

For a second I waited for her, but Mr Andrews grabbed me by the collar and pulled me back to the rest of the class.

“Don’t act like a lovesick puppy Lewis, she’ll be back in a minute.” He scolded. He was wrong. We walked on, but after a few minutes, I noticed she wasn’t behind us, and after a few more minutes passed, with several looks behind me, I began to worry. Once it had been fifteen minutes, I stopped walking with the others and called out to Mr Andrews.

“Sir, Allie isn’t back yet.”

He sighed, turning round, as if my concern for a missing student was a massive inconvenience, but after a little coaxing from me, and some of the other students, he agreed to wait a few minutes for her to catch up.

She didn’t catch up. We waited another ten minutes, but she was nowhere to be seen. I tried to call her mobile but there was no signal, and as the seconds turned to minutes, my mind was racing with panic.

The class gathered round me, and despite Mr Andrews protestations, we agreed to split up and search the area for her. My heart was pounding as we wandered the farmland in pairs, calling out to Allie. Every minute that went by without a response, I couldn’t stop imagining the worst.

Allie was lost, and my heart sank further with every second. As I stepped into the shadowy maze of the cornfields and called out her name, I prayed silently that she would appear, and was instantly disappointed.

Inside the fields was nothing but darkness. I tried to stick with my classmate but we were quickly separated, and suddenly, just like Allie, I was lost.

I pushed past masses of corn, desperately calling out her name, and it felt so hopeless, until at last, I heard her voice. I began to run towards it, but as I got closer, and could hear her more clearly, I stopped, chills running through my body as she spoke.

“I will gather the children at the gate.” The warmth of her voice had vanished, and there was a cold, calculating chant that filled the air. “The guards will be free to feast.” I crept closer, peaking through the corn to see her skipping in a circle, alone, her eyes, glazed and glassy as she spoke. “My people will take all of their…” She snapped into stillness, her eyes meeting mine as she fell silent. “Hi Lewis.” She smiled sweetly, and it made my skin crawl. There was something unnatural about it, but I tried to smile back, happy that she was safe, but confused, and a little scared at what I’d seen.

When we rejoined the group, she just said that she’d got lost in the fields. I thought about asking her to explain the strange things I’d heard her saying, but she complained of a headache before I’d had the chance, so I didn’t want to push her.

I couldn’t get it out of my mind. That night, I dreamt of the field, and I could see her, skipping and chanting, but she wasn’t alone. Surrounding her were these shadows, rushing around her, so quickly, whispering and hissing the same chants as before. The dream followed me this morning, and as I headed to school, there was a small part of me that dreaded having to see Allie.

She found me immediately. Within seconds of me walking through the school gates, she leapt into my arms, her stare, once soft was steel, locked onto my eyes as she pushed her lips hurriedly into mine. I shuddered as she pulled away from the kiss and placed her gently on the floor, stepping back, but again, within seconds, she had wrapped her arms around my neck and pulled me close.

The day went on, and she didn’t leave my side. Her eyes never left mine, and she kept her hand tightly over mine under the table. We were always affectionate, but never to this extent. My cheeks glowed red as people stared and snickered behind their hands as we walked past, her glued to my side with a wide, otherworldly smile.

After school, she insisted on coming to my house, and that is where things got even weirder. It was then that I realised that there was something seriously wrong with her. Before, I could rationalise it, and tell myself that she was just a little off, after the incident at the farm, or that maybe I’d misheard all the things that she’d said, but tonight, it has become clear that the only truth is what I’ve seen and heard. I don’t want to believe reality, but I have no choice.

My parents were still at work, so I let us in, and left her in the living room, while I grabbed some snacks and drinks. I tried not to think about how strange she had been, but it still played on my mind as I loaded up a tray with biscuits and glasses, and as I poured the juice, to my horror, I could hear her, again, her voice so cold.

“I will gather the children at the gate.” I almost dropped the juice, placing it down and rushing to the living room, but as I approached the door, I felt a knot in my stomach. I knew that there was something going on behind the door, and I knew that I didn’t want to see it. “The guards be free to feast.” Ice ran through my body as she continued. “My people will take all of their children.” I placed my hand on the door knob, my whole body shaking as I turned it slowly. “And then we will take their realm.” She laughed, the sound, hollow and horrifying, and as I slowly edged the door open, my jaw dropped.

“The human boy will be the first to die.” She seemed to almost sing it. I stared up through a crack in the ajar door, holding my hand over my mouth to suppress a scream as I watched her, floating in the air, above the coffee table, her body rising higher with every moment. “The blood of the children will flow like a river.” She cackled again, her laughter beginning to fill the room. “The gate will open and we will be free.” I could see the same eyes I fell in love with, the soft brown curls that always framed her pretty face, but all through her was a darkness, something inhuman, and profoundly horrifying.

I could barely move, only just able to stumble back towards the kitchen, terror puncturing each inch of my body as I fell behind the kitchen counter, covering my eyes with my hands as if I could make it go away.

“Lewis!” I heard her call from the living room and froze in fear, keeping my eyes tightly shut. “Lewis, I’m so hungry!” She laughed a wicked laugh, and in that moment, I knew, without a shadow of doubt that she was something else, something evil, something so horrible that I might not even make it out alive.

I sat still, listening out for footsteps, when I felt my phone vibrate in my pocket. I pulled it out and had to stop myself from dropping it in shock. It was a text from Allie.

“Help. Monster in field. Looks like me. Looks like you. So confused. Help. Why did you leave? HELP!”

Whatever it is, that thing in my living room, it isn’t Allie. Whatever came home from the farm stole her and tricked us all, and now, I only have one chance to save her.

I ran. I ran right out of the house and I kept running until I could see the farm in the distance. I could hear her behind me, and it was impossible to lose her. She didn’t run, she just walked, with a smirk that said “I’ll get you, eventually.” and I think that she will. I can see her now, a few metres behind me, so I’m still running. I can see the cornfields up ahead, and I’m not sure if I’ll even make it in there to try and find Allie, the real Allie, but I know I have to try.

If this is all I have, if this is my only chance to say it, I want you to know that something took my girlfriend. I’m not making it up. It’s real. The cornfields on Mr Johnson’s farm, there is something in there that took my Allie. It took her face, her body, almost everything about her, and most people couldn’t tell, but I could. There are more of them. It will take me too. It’s coming for you, for your kids. You have to get out of this town, and get away from these fields.

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