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Corn Demon Field Investigation

August 4, 2012 - Carmi, IL near Maple Ridge Cemetery - Off County Road 1000

The Vicar decided to leave the old wizard tower last weekend and actually go In Search Of... since it's hardly proper for a sorcerer to fail to undertake a good adventure. For good measure, he took along an adequate guide - here called Sam - because the man knows the terrain, the migrant workers who tell these tales, Mexican and Guatemalan Spanish... and because he reported to me one helluva story.

Cemetery and adjacent corn field - Carmi, IL
The Vicar's contacts undertake social services work for migrant laborers in the Midwest, in part because raising the standard of living and access to relevant community resources for these people means that they are more on par with American workers. In other words, improving the lot of migrants leads to a more competitive labor market overall.

That's the Vicar's sociopolitical commentary for the day.

My primary contact Sam reported to me that two of his colleagues were told of a recent hair-raising experience at night on the outskirts of Carmi, IL. He provided several pictures, some of which are included here. We decided to travel to the location and attempt to interview local migrant workers, but they had cleared out - whether because the drought is killing the need for labor or because the Corn Demon is killing the laborers is hard to tell.

The social services representatives recounted via a phone conversation on site that four migrants were crossing a corn field around 11 PM, headed back to their camp after walking to the CVS on Main Street to purchase various basic needs. As they emerged from the edge of the corn and were about to travel alongside the Maple Ridge Cemetery, one of the unnamed men realized he had dropped a rolled up piece of plastic sheeting that was evidently of some importance. He turned back, and headed into the drought-battered corn only to return seconds later at a run - with something dark, silent and utterly unnatural hot on his heels.

The social services workers insisted that there was no specific or detailed description of the thing that pursued the men to the edge of the cemetery. The men claimed that after they got in among the headstones, the thing broke off pursuit, apparently disappearing around the corner of a nearby brick house. They were totally prepared to write the story off, except for a few compelling details.

First, the men claimed that they had scaled a chain link fence in an effort to get away from the creature, and that the thing had promptly pulled down several sections in order to continue pursuit. That struck me as unlikely, so I asked to see the location.

As evidenced, the chain link fence was positively mangled. The question remains as to what actually did this, however.

What struck me immediately was that the corn in the corner by the fence was torn up and dislodged as though the story were true: Men having run frantically through the area pursued by - for lack of a better term - a Corn Demon. But if it is such a creature that tore down this section of fence, it is something possessed of astonishing strength.

I thought at once that perhaps the fence line had been destroyed by something more pedestrian, like a tree. The only problem with that theory is the fact that no tree is in the immediate vicinity, and there is nothing remotely like tree-related debris that one would expect to be there. The site is reasonably far from any kind of serviceable road, and there is nothing to immediately suggest that a vehicle or heavy earth moving equipment was on site. The Vicar has done honest work in his life, and the fact is that the ground would be chaos if someone had brought a backhoe through there. Moreover, I've installed fence in my day, and this is the sort where the posts are set in concrete. Yet two of them are significantly shifted and almost have been uprooted.

A different view of the fence, facing the cemetery, shows how odd this damage really is; it really does look as though something over eight feet tall reached up and pulled the chain link fence over in order to get across.

But the story didn't begin to get really creepy until we came across this at the far end of the field where the men were said to have initially doubled back: A plastic tarpaulin or piece of sheeting, bundled for carrying, had apparently been cast down in this odd location - just as the migrants had said. Or so it was reported to us. Were these casual artifacts - fence and plastic bundle - somehow observed by the social services workers and then artfully spun into a compelling story? And if so, what pulled down the fence?

Furthermore, note the long, fairly straight but slightly sinuous path in the image. It doesn't quite look like the result of machinery, given that the edges of the track seem wavy, as though something perhaps serpentine crossed the ground here. And there is only one track, whereas farm machinery typically has more than one wheel...

A close look at the soil in the suspicious track or path reveals an odd, rippled pattern in the soil that makes little sense in the absence of rain over the past several weeks. The United States is currently experiencing the worst drought it has seen in a 56-year period. On a side note, those of you with Hermetic awareness will no doubt identify that this is a numerological 11, and we are in the 11th year after the 9-11 event. But I digress...

A wider view of the soil in the track area shows what seems to be wave-like patterns - pointed up by my expert photo editing wherein I have inserted a red rectangle. The two facts taken together - mottled, rippled soil in a wavelike pattern - seems to suggest a reptilian skin and an undulating motion... Assuming we weren't just being put on by some social workers who found some random weirdness and were having a slow week.

But the Vicar and Sam weren't quite done. We looked around the edges of the corn field and the cemetery, and located a brick house. Our information was of course second hand at best, and Southern Illinois communities are well known for brick construction - just ask Ray Bradbury via seance, since this story felt like it came from his typewriter. But the migrants had claimed the creature disappeared around the corner of a brick house, and we looked for any signs that might suggest something had happened in the immediate area. We found this:

Visible between the slats that protect the underside of the porch was a large burrow-like hole. These are not uncommon under porches and are usually the work of large rodents like raccoons or badgers. But Sam was not to be put off and he snapped this photo. About this time, we realized we had attracted the attention of a representative of the White County Sheriff's Department as he pulled his cruiser up near us on the edge of County Road 1000.

Once it was established that we were not up to some nefarious business, the officer - who prefers to remain nameless - told us that the story "Sounds like a bunch of bullshit, to be honest." We were informed that migrant labor is scarce in White County - a claim which Sam politely declined to contest directly to the officer's face. The officer further informed us that the handful of migrants around were "almost always drunk", and that there was no legend of anything in the corn. Any such legend would be the result of acute intoxication. He then stated that Carmi is in fact a nice town with a golf course and a college.

The Sheriff's Deputy turned to go, but I had one more question. I pointed to the damaged fence. "What do you think brought that down?" I asked.

The deputy eyed the fence and then looked me over once as though to be sure I wasn't an attorney or a legitimate journalist of some sort. "The wind," he replied with a shrug. And then he drove away.

His answer sounded like "a bunch of bullshit" too, for the record. The things I note as significant in this investigation are as follows:

  • The incident is supposed to have occurred in and near a cornfield, which lies close by a cemetery.
  • There is immediate physical evidence in the form of a downed section of chain link fence.
  • A piece of bundled sheet plastic was actually still on site, and this was supposedly dropped by one of the migrant workers.
  • A suggestive burrow is in the immediate vicinity of where the creature was said to have disappeared, although how it got under that porch would be a whole other story. We were not able to continue our examination of the house because we were not able to obtain permission... And we had thoroughly annoyed a local Sheriff's Deputy.
  • There is not rational or clear explanation of what brought down the fence or of what left the curious track in the field.
None of this is particularly ideal in terms of evidence. I'd far rather have the body of Cecrops to put on display, but alas, it isn't so. El Diablo Del Maiz may have eluded us last weekend. But this is in part because we didn't really look for him all that hard. Once the Vicar saw the fence, I began to think discretion might be the better part of valor in monster hunting as well as in all other things.