At the Illinois-Wisconsin border, fifteen miles west of I-94, lies the town of Spring Grove. To a city boy, the journey there is epic indeed. From interstate highways to state routes to small country roads, a driver finds himself plunging deeper into the unknown with every exit taken. The population thins and suburbs yield to small towns and fields as the sky darkens and the autumn chill descends. Halfway, roadhouses begin to dot the road, adorned with Pabst Blue Ribbon signs. Here, PBR is not hipster beer; it’s simply beer.
When we neared Spring Grove, faith in MapQuest had been lost. We were supposed to stay on Route 12 for twenty-six miles but, after thirty had passed, there was still no sign of Blivin Road. When it appeared, gasoline was running low, and Blivin seemed just another road to nothing. At last, an illuminated sign on the side of the road restored our hope-the Richardson Farm, home of the world’s largest corn maze.
Daytime visitors come to Richardson Farm in autumn for the twelve-mile maze, and in the winter for the Christmas Tree Farm. This Halloween evening, we came investigating a rumor that their smaller maze, cut in the shape of Chief Illiniwek, was haunted. But riding on the bed of a truck to the maze, the air was still and we felt at peace, at one with creation far from the city.
The roar of a chainsaw over our heads shattered our peace. We leapt up, fleeing the cacophony of roaring and shrill screaming. Behind us, Gene Simmons brandished a chainsaw, waving it menacingly in the air. A boy wearing a Slipknot t-shirt had the courage to approach, and Gene effortlessly decapitated him. Entrails soared over our heads in every direction and blood rained from the sky.
Ghastly terrors haunted the maze, from pudgy zombie children to zombie corn people. Somewhere, a Halloween soundtrack was playing. Fear was reaching unbearable levels until, thinking back upon my computer gaming days, I had an idea. When zombie corn man next approached I didn’t run. Summoning all my courage, I opened my cell phone, casting its blue glow upon him. He ran away. I sighed in relief; we were going to survive.