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Children of the Corn

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"Children of the Corn" is a short story written by Stephen King. The story was originally published in the March 1977 issue of Penthouse, and was later included in King's own 1978 collection Night Shift.


Burt and Vicky, a bickering couple who is trying to save their marriage, are driving to California for a vacation. As they're driving through Nebraska, they accidentally run over a young boy who ran into the road. They get out of the car and look at the body. They discover that the boy's throat had been slit and he was almost dead when he was hit. They decide to report this to the police and place the body in their car's trunk. They decide to go to Gatlin (a small, isolated community which is right down the road) and look for help. When they get there, they discover that the town is abandonded. There are no people anywhere. They soon discover that the town is inhabited by a group of children who murder adults and sacrifice them to a demonic entity named He Who Walks Behind the Rows, who lives in the local cornfields. The children attack Burt and Vicky and manage to destroy their car. They kidnap Vicky, drag her into the cornfield, kill her and hang her on a cross. Burt, however, manages to escape and runs away from the children. They chase him, but he manages to outrun them. He runs into the cornfield and wanders around until he reaches a circle of empty ground in the middle of it, where he finds Vicky's body. He also finds the skeletons of Gatlin's minister and police chief, who have also been crucified. Before Burt can escape, He Who Walks Behind the Rows shows up and kills him. The next evening, the children gather in the cornfield. A 9-year-old boy named Isaac, who is the cult's leader, tells them that He Who Walk Behind the Rows is displeased with their sacrifice because they were unable to also catch and kill Burt. As a punishment, the age limit for sacrifices is lowered from 19 years old to 18. That night, all of the 18 year olds in Gatlin walk into the cornfield and offer themselves to He Who Walks Behind the Rows. The story ends by saying that the corn surrounding Gatlin is pleased.


The story was adapted into a film in 1984 (leading to a series of movies), and was later remade in 2009.

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