Author's Note: I wrote this about four years back and have unfortunately forgotten my old email address. I tried to contact but alas, nothing. Anyway, got a new penname and I decided to tune it up a tad. Sorry to those who enjoyed it all those years ago; I promise I will finish it now. An ending is in sight! Enjoy.
Prologue: The Outlanders were sacrificed to He Who Walks Behind the Rows as commanded. Isaac kept his reign through his connection to Him, Malachi still his enforcer, more passive and not as mutinous. The continual sacrifices were stopped abruptly when Rachel brought to their attention their society was dwindling. Isaac spent six days in solitude and returned with a simple command from Him, 'That when the brothers and sisters come to age, they shall find their Other Beloved and continue the lineage of the Children of the Corn.'
Isaac watched her; his deep-seeded infatuation passed of as dedication to all of His children. The year of the Outlander's invasion, her fifteenth year, is when he truly noticed her. Curves that pressed against the seams of her simple cotton smock; her face begun to thin, her milky complexion cleared and grew rosy. He would inquire daily with Him about whom she was meant to commit fornication with, who would become her Other Beloved. He had yet to receive a reply, but his faith was strong in Him. Isaac believed his loyalty and heart's desire would be rewarded.
Rosalyn set out deeper in the field. She was unaware of his intentions, who devotion belonging to Malachi despite his seemingly indifference to her. She knew he was good; less than a year from her coming of age, all she wished was that he would become her Other Beloved. She ignored the pair of intense eyes and pushed deep into the corn field, towards the outskirts where the concrete road lay. The basket resting on her hip was partially filled, mostly because the fields of Gatlin had been stripped. They never attempted the outskirts, Isaac said He forbade it.
Malachi was quiet, his footsteps light. He watched her push through, a knuckle white grip on her woven basket. He watched as she broke out onto the main road,, 21 miles west was Hemingford and 2 miles east was Gatlin.
She hummed softly, old tunes her father had played before Isaac and the Deliverance. Her fingertips brushed along the leaves of the tall stalks, stopping occasionally to pluck a husk and drop it into her basket. Her mind wandered; she thought about little Sarah and Job and wished for their conversion, not that she truly believed but for their survival. They were sweet but stubborn children and as they grew older, their rebellion seemed more apparent. Isaac would eventually lose his patience. She thought of Isaac and the lustful gaze she ignored, knowing he would eventually try to pass it off as His will.
She thought of Malachi, a passionate boy growing into a broken man. She remembered the kiss they had shared. After the Outlanders had been sacrificed in His name, she found him sitting, leaned up against the barn wall, staring absently into the fields. She walked up, cautious, and laid a hand on his shoulder. She had always admired him and more recently realized that she loved him. He looked up at her and squatted down next to him. 'You did what was wanted by Him.'
He looked at her, his expression empty. She dropped in front of him, her legs curled up underneath her. Her hands lifted and rested on both sides of his face and she leaned in, letting her lips brush up against his own. His expression remained empty, his eyes darting back and forth between hers before grabbing the back of her head and kissing her back.
They had not kissed again since that night, but her devotion was undaunted. He was of age but He had not picked out an Other Beloved for him yet. She mussed over her ideas for a present for his eighteenth year. Gifts were not forbidden, but not condoled either. If given, it was kept to one's self.
The only other hinted affection from him had been in the beginning of her sixteenth year. Malachi had given her a locket he found amongst the Unmentionables and had polished back to its original gilded shine. She placed her hand on the bulge it caused under the collar of her dress. She was halfway through a flannel shirt, but wanted something more personal to give him.
Down the road she heard the simultaneous roars of Harley Davidsons. FLH 1200 Super Glide, 1970. Her father had worked on one for months, a gift for her brother's return from Vietnam. They received a letter declaring his MIA and the Deliverance fell through several days later. Her brother never came home.
The engines thunder dulled to a low rumble and then nothing. The man was large and bearded like his friends; he kicked the peg stand and swung a leg over, moving towards Rosalyn. 'What's a pretty thing like you doing out here all by yourself?'
She pulled the basket to her chest and stepped back to his step forward. 'I am gathering this year's harvest for my brothers and my sisters.'
He looked around, 'Any of them near by?'
She kept his gaze. 'Yes,' she lied.
He grinned. The other two men dismounted as well and began to crowd her. 'You have a boyfriend there, Miss Thing?'
She shook her head, her backside pressing up the wall of stalks of corn. 'Soon I will have an Other Beloved. I am not of age yet.'
'But your age is fine for other things,' he reached out and clamped down her arm. She tried to twist from his grasp, her basket tipped spilling corn heads onto the road. They surrounded her, pulling at her dress. There was the rip of fabric and she screamed. One doubled over, a knife buried into his back so deep there was no blade showing. They retreated from Rosalyn, pulling out their own switch blades, eyes darting around. Malachi moved out from the stalks and reached over to retrieve his knife.
The shock of the teenage murderer startled them for a moment; then the first one lunged at him, the other following pattern. A clash of blades and blows swapped, a deep throated scream, then an echo of another, left only Malachi standing, balance wavering, his knife red and held limply. She faced him, her mouth gaping for words. 'You're bleeding,' was all she managed.
He glanced down at his soaked shirt. 'It is their blood,' he gestured to the bodies.
She moved towards him, her hand resting on his stomach; Malachi flinched at her touch. Her fingers trailed a gash about four inches long but shallow. 'That is yours,' she dropped to her knees, tearing at her hem and blotting it gently. 'We must get you to AID,' her attention fell to another gash, deeper, on his left forearm.
He pulled Rosalyn to her feet. 'Tell Isaac of the Outlands. He will send others to dispose of them.' They began to move back through the field towards the clearing, Malachi leading.
'How fortunate I am that you managed to be so close by,' she called to him, raising her eyebrow.
He did not turn around. 'Yes. Fortunate.'
She stumbled and pitched pass him; he caught her around the waist, wincing in pain. Rosalyn spun around in his arms, his hands resting lightly on her hips. 'You okay? You strained yourself, didn't you? Let me fall, Malachi.'
His grip tightened, 'Rosalyn—'
'What has happened?' A voice cried out.
They tore apart and turned to see Rachel running towards them, her skirt hiked up her to her knees. 'Malachi! Are you bleeding?' She called over her shoulder, 'Someone, fetch Isaac! Malachi is hurt!' Thirteen year old James, a recent addition from a tourist family passing through, turned heel and ran towards the church.
Rosalyn looked at Malachi who stared unabashedly back. She swallowed hard and tore after him.