Randall K. Rogers

“The Corn (has gone bananas)” By Randall K Rogers

“The Corn has Gone Bananas” Chapter One

He was shopping when I first espied him. Six foot three, broad of shoulder, square of jaw. Handsome is the word. Noble, aquiline, well-dressed, sleek. Black hair atop a head sculpted seemingly by gods.

He was purchasing corn. Sweet corn, the season’s first; looking over the green non-shucked ears at a roadside stand. The man, a blue-blood he had to be, spoke harshly to the seller. The seller was Jim Polastic, from Iowa Springs, Iowa, USA. He’d grown the corn – First Nations folk call it ‘maize’ – organically, for special sale. Jim set up his stall with two bales of hay, a sign on two poles announcing his wares, a chair and small cash-coin box. Sweet Corn – three for a dollar, the sign read in hand scrawled letters.

The corn – the maize – ears covered in green plant covering with corn silk coming out at the top. These ears needed shucking, for the delicious golden young tender kernels beneath, to be eaten. Boiled grilled or eaten raw, a tremendous prairie foodstuff chocked full of fiber.

Jim, this day, had eaten his fill. Corn, golden niblits of it, percolated in his digesting belly. He felt movement. Spry, at eighty years, Jim eyed what cover there was. He thought he might have to loosen his dungarees, find cover, squat and dump. He’d done it before, sometimes not so successfully, soiling himself, and his boots.

That was pre-season. Now, he had the golden kernels in him. Their outer husk, the inner nucleus starchy goodness, bulked his intestines. “Coming through, like a sluggish freight train!” Jim’s belly ripened. Jim could almost hear his intestines inching the bolus through. He could certainly smell it.

Farts rang out pure and crisp. Or deadened and silent with a viscous saturated perforating wafting smell.

“I love life!” Jim crowed. He was eighty. He ate well, though. His belly was always taut. Full of cellulose, gymnosperm goodness. Stiff with starch he sometimes limbered his old bones, unfurled them around a campfire. Eatin’ corn, fartin’ and philosophizin’. These were a few of Jim’s favorite things. Just like Julie Andrews.

Jim farted pure. He knew the golden kernel goodness, transformed by his own belly juice, distilled. Blasted forth from a belching anus, this heavy airy nectar, wafted throughout farmland. Farmers, at this time of the year went about, their noses in the air, sniffing.

“Ambrosia!” the farmers all cried. They smelled monetary success, and good eatin’, in each lusty anal blast. “Ill winds don’t blow here! And we don’t blame the dog!” Were the area’s by-words.

It was the day. The day the consciousness spoke. Jim was lounging by his stand, which was his sign, the bales of hay, and the back of his pick-up filled with green clad, corn-silk topped, single ears of corn. About a thousand of them, three for a dollar. Good price for good corn, Jim thought. He was eager to sell.

Well soon enough down the old gravel road waddled an old pick-up truck. It cam toward Jim and his stand, all rusty jiggling bolts and barely on metal sides. When its chugging neared Jim’s stand it stopped.

Jim gazed at the halted truck. He could not see into the cab. When the beat up old vehicle revved, Jim called out: “This isn’t Speilberg’s first film “Duel” Mr. Weaver! (meaning the actor Dennis Weaver, none other than “McCloud”).

It was then the driver pulled forward. Even with the corn selling Jim, Jim first eyed the driver. Astonished, he passed gas that then swirled up and about his head. For the driver of this old, rusty, dilapidated vehicle, seated in the cab, looking at him, was none other than a six foot ear of corn.

It was driving. In all his eighty years he’d seen nothing like this. Jim thought of the Children of the Corn; of Malachai and ‘he who walks between the rows’. A shiver went down his spine, and a rumbling in his belly. Cellulose bulk incremental movement, thought Jim, and, then, in relation to the largish animated corn ear driving before him – must be some kind of Wizard of OZ fantastical manifestation! Of corn!

Jim rejoiced. Then he really took a gander at the anthropomorphous un-shucked vegetable ear before him. It was uncanny.

It wore an impish grin. Long ear of corn body, green, of course, due it being freshly picked, head face and arms of dark brown and yellow corn silk. The organization of the corn silk, fashioned into a face, was mesmerizing. It grinned, the eyebrows arched in surprise, then furrowed in disdain. It was the smirk, however, that was most annoying. That vegetable smirk.

Jim felt his bowels move. Corn, he thought, what a vegetable. Before he could un-startle the corn silk vegetable fashioned face spoke.

With Jim staring in corn silk brown-fashioned eyes, the big hunk of corn said, “I’ll have one.”

Jim blinked. He could smell the corn syrup in this ear’s green. Eyes atwitter, Jim stammered, “One what?” He made a quizzical face, as if the world had turned upside down, inside out.

“Why, one of you,” said the huge green corn ear.

Jim wondered what the huge ear was using for feet. With what was it working the gas pedal and brake, a single cut stalk? “What, you want to buy one of me?”

“I do,” said the giant green ear. The corn silk face was perfectly formed. The multiple hues of the yellow, miraculously swirled into creased face, crinkly eyes, wry mouth. The very image of Gabby Hayes, cackling.

Jim smelled the ear, it was so close. Sitting behind the wheel of the old pick-up truck, corn husk fingers upon the wheel, hat-less, the ear wore a mocking, self-important, though humorous expression.

“But it’s corn I sell…” stammered Jim, “three for a dollar, fresh.”

“I hardly need corn,” said corn Gabby.

“If he had a corn-cob pipe,” thought Jim, “he’d be a dead ringer.”

But the large ear became curt, all business. “Go on now,” it said, “bag yourself and get in the back of the truck. Go on now! Hurry up!”

Jim was transfixed. He obeyed unhesitatingly. There was something about that big green ear. The corn silk swirled face, the winking eyes, so life-like. Gabby Hayes face grimacing-smiling atop giant ear of corn. Jim forgot about how the big grinning ear worked the pedals. He grabbed a large burlap, pulled it over him. Another he climbed into, cinched it at his waist. Covered in this manner, with burlap, he hopped sightless into the back of the pick-up truck.

In the open back of the truck, Jim lay down. Jim laying in the back, covered head to toe by two large sacks of burlap. The bags had been used to carry Jim’s supply of sweet corn. Jim smelled the burlap and corn smell of the bags. He sneezed. The truck, with the big corn ear driving, took off down the road. Gravel shot from behind the back tires.

Soon the big ear was barreling through a path in the woods. Bursting out of the pines the rusty old truck, bolts shuddering, rambled. Over corduroy roads, dirt roads, gravel. Jim bounced as the truck quick turned into a cornfield. Down a path through the high thick green yellow-brown bearded corn ears, the lush green leaves and tough fibrous stalks the pick-up bounced.

Jim felt his bowels move. For so long, Jim’s life had been corn. He ate it, lived among it. At night, even, naked in the moonlight, arms outstretched, he prayed to the moon for it. As Jim had grown older, so much corn, kernels, giblets, fritters, pone, cracking corn! So much corn, thought Jim, sucking on some fructose, I must be in heaven.

Jim’s head, in time, had begun to sprout. Such things happen with age.

Perhaps that was why Corn Silk Face, the large single ear driving now, had bought him. The big corn fellow driving said he didn’t want to buy any corn. Just him, Jim! Good choice, too, thought Jim, lying prone in two large burlap sacks, cinched at the waist, bouncing in the back of the pick-up truck. Jim was steeped in corn.

The truck proceeded. Through the high plants they drove. On two simple tire tracks weaving through the high corn. For it was early September. Harvest time was near. The farmers were nervous, lest it rain too much and soak their crops. Jim began to sneeze, bouncing around un-tethered in the open back of the pick-up truck. He was in the two burlap sacks. He could not see and he held on, for dear life.

The truck came to a halt. Jim sat up, he pulled the top burlap sack off. What his eyes saw still disturbs to this day. It was a bunker, more or less. In the middle of a corn field, in western Nebraska. Surrounded by the ten-twelve foot high stalks. One could smell, and hear, the corn grow. Yet the bunker was nothing. For around the entrance to the bunker, stood the oddest two fellows.

These were members of the corn family, Pop and Blue. Sitting up in the back of the truck, in the bed, Jim eyed the big green ear’s cob relatives. He noticed right away they appeared uncouth, lowborn. Jim had no doubt, like Pancho Sanchez, soon they’d be wanting an insula. Immediately, as any farmer would be, of animated giant sized former food crops, Jim was concerned. Tables turning was never good, in any context, involving one’s former charges. Now, the odds were stacking against Jim.

Pop and Blue, slouching loose veggie spines against the bunker door, called out. “Whatcha got there White? A corn farmer!!??” and both plants broke out laughing. Convulsing, it was Pop first got the guffaws. When Jim stood up and jumped out of the bottom burlap sack, Pop crowed. “Get him inside, White, we are about ready to begin.” Blue, standing there, grinned.

“They’re going to genetically dismember me,” Jim’s brain registered. “Some kind of “cellulose reorganization. The corn…has gone bananas!!” Nevertheless, Jim did as the overgrown stalks said. Thru the bunker’s entrance he went. He only thought the entrance called for an “Arbeit Macht Du Frei” sign for a fuller effect.

Pop, White, and Blue followed. The Corns. Going down once again, into the underworld, the world of roots. Down there already was Yellow and Multicolored, seated around a large wall screen. In a corner, was Hull-less, similarly seated, a new power and a force to be reckoned with among the small seed grains, fifty percent of all food eaten on earth.

For a while, Jim let his bottom do the talking. He was full of corn. Fried, sauteed, mashed boiled, farted, the Corns didn’t mind. They pushed him into a seat facing the wall screen. Suddenly, the wall screen came alive.

It was as Jim had suspected. A video game engineering the world. Video program, would be the better word choice. For this was no game. Jim realized right away this was serious. Inspired seriousness. Just the way Artificial Intelligence liked it.


Eventually they were all seated. Wicker chairs, painted white. How fitting, thought Jim. It was a smallish octagonal farmhouse, stuck hidden in a small cleared patch of the towering corn. Invisible to all but those in the air. Besides, the floor to ceiling windows, old windows, were painted black. The place smelled of old musk and photosynthesis

They all faced the screen, in a semicircle. Jim sat in a lesser wicker chair behind the family. Obviously, he was an interloper. He was human, and these…these were walking corn. “When Stalks Ruled the World,” Jim remembered the films of his youth. That repeated motif of the beanstalk, growing bananas! Jim thought, presaged his current dilemma. Obviously, A.I. had created a sentient race, of vegetable.

I know, just what I was thinking. Like they weren’t sentient before? To that question I respond not in this new way. Refining the idea further, I say, not in the sense that they’re video planning the future of the planet!

And that’s what they were doing. These Corn Creatures sat in their great white wicker wide armrest chairs, and debated the world.

“I want famine,” Blue said. “In sickness and health I want sickness,” Blue said. “And I’m willing to shock a lot of roots to get it. Wipe out the whole West Coast if I have to.” Blue was endemic, to unhappiness.

Pop, Pop Corn, that old salt, piped up. He sprawled beady kernel head, in old maid fashion, upon bulging un-popped pressure-bursting body. Old Pop was always ready to go off. To blast corn into a new dimension. Fluffy, cloud white blooming flavor expansion bango! in an instant. Pop could change the conversation, in an instant, by demanding salt, and a thorough buttering. “I want wheat gone,” said Pop.

Hull-less was new. “Crikey,” his corn mouth blasted, gymnosperm-less. Hull-less was without the corn exoskeleton. Often described by botanists as the octopus of corn, Hull-less, a free-spirited corn – a snail without a shell – had new ideas about the world. “We must grow. Share our bodies, as foodstuffs, feed the entire world, and make corn syrup, for candy,” said Hull-less. This was a strain of kernel that was non-traditional, never serious, except for a base desire for exquisite candy production. Indeed, Hull-less considered the confectioner’s the highest of all the vegetable arts.

“In cellulose we trust!” This the mantra of the twins, Yellow and White. Strong hulls, bursting fluffy white flavor, salted or buttered, these kernels had class. The world was in good ears, stalks strong with gorgeous, uniform white or yellow kernels. Juicy kernels virtually begging ingestion whether by cow, kid, or fat-livered French goose. Patton’s goose, or a relative.

Not so Multi-colored. Freckle speckle eared Multi-colored. Surely, a world-beat corn. Ravishing in a famine. Fresh to roasting in any fire. A wild corn, not easily run with. It was these bipedal stalks, with swirled and drifting corn silk yellow brown faces, winking gentian vegetable cellulose starch lysine wisdom, staring. They looked toward…DNA and disease structures available to inflict it.

“I just love the well-fed…in famine!” erupted Blue Corn. Pop exploded, right there. His body transformed, to sweet white. Pop grinned like a peacock. He’d popped alright, and now he preened for all to see. His mounds of melty tasty sweet corn transformed and transfixed delicious fiber. It was as if Pop, by popping right there, right then, granted his prodigy control of agriculture, and earth’s culinary future.

The boll weevil. Sent by a different crop, but the same. That era the cotton legume, this era the wheat. Playing the game. The Shiva game. The food crops anthropomorphize, come together, and figure out how best to exterminate the human race. Been going on for eons before Atlantis. This eon, this era it was corn – maize’s – turn. Hence our corn fellows, anthropomorphic one and all, sitting around the video screen trying to best plan for blight. These six foot mostly ear (unshucked, green), corn entities sat, enthroned in wide armchair white painted wicker chairs. Jim, eighty, sat just behind, White Corn, the ear that had picked him up. The ear with the Gabby Hays corn silk swirl, brown and yellow face. Winking face so life like.

Jim took especially keen interest when Hull-less spoke. For he popped free, without the undue burden of an evolutionary thickened keratin husk, i.e. said hull, impeding corn of the popping sort enjoyment. Hull-less spoke of atoms and stacking molecules. Hull-less spoke of the verity of building popcorn from the ground up. Indeed, building the pop, became a challenge for an entire five cohorts of physics students and their professors. Like a workable nuclear fission, however, the pop, when lab created, could not be controlled. Imagine, the very atoms themselves, and the molecules into which they are built, atoms/molecules of corn, popping corn.

This, indeed, was what occurred. The gathered anthropomorphic ears of corn, six feet tall in jackets of lush green, with corn silk swirl faces and winking eyes, their corn silk fingers and corn silk swirl hands, chose explosion. There and then, in the fortress like farm bunker house in the middle of the fifteen foot high cornfield plants, the Corn family programmed Pop into the world. On Shiva’s orders exploding corn originating atoms and molecules were to saturate all matter. In this realm of Earth, this universe, the deadly corn genome was taking over, and exploding. It is in this manner, Shiva, and in this eon corn – maize – the corn DNA – was out to destroy the world, and every humanoid in it, no matter gender or age, class, status, or power. A.I. initiated the move.

It was into this world Jim was silently ushered. He was eighty. Six o’clock shadow. “I knew they’d get around to the dismantling of normality, sooner or later,” Jim shrugged.

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