Children of the Corn: Short Story
Gatlin, the self-proclaimed "Nicest little town in Nebraska- or anywhere else!" was just another small town deep in the middle of Nebraska, a farming country for most of its history. Its population was 4,531 as of August 1964. Burt observed the following features in the town:
- Businesses: Gatlin Lumber & Hardware ("You Breakum, We Fixum"), 76 gas station, Gatlin Bar and Grill, Gatlin Ice Cream Shoppe, Bijou Theater
- Government Offices: Gatlin Municipal Center
- Streets: Elm Street, Birch Street, Maple Street, Pleasant Street, Main Street
The exact reason and process of the religious revolution that swept the town is unknown, but Burt Stanton theorized that the isolated nature of the town, possibly combined with a drought and a series of bad harvests, may have led someone–a child-to look for and find a different answer to the town's problems. Late in the summer of 1964, Gatlin's children killed all of the adults in town. All modern machines and conveniences were left abandoned as the children reverted to a simpler, strictly-governed way of life. While the Municipal Center and businesses collected dust and slowly decayed, the former Grace Baptist Church was remade into the center of life for Gatlin's children. Records were kept of the names and date of birth and (when applicable) death of each resident, none of whom lived past the age of nineteen. Children born before the uprising changed their names if they were not taken from the Bible, and children born after were given Biblical names only. Children reaching age nineteen walked into the corn at night, never to be seen again.
By the time the intruders-Burt and Vicky Baxter-arrived in the summer of 1976, the power in Gatlin had been off for years. No one had come looking for friends or relatives who had ceased all contact with the world outside Gatlin, and the Nebraska State Police never came through while patrolling the highways. The brief interruption in the quiet, spartan life of Gatlin's children did not make any difference in their lives, except one. Although the children caught Vicky and offered her up as sacrifice to He Who Walks Behind the Rows, Burt escaped into the corn and the deity was forced to finish the job himself. As punishment, the "Age of Favor" was lowered from nineteen to eighteen. Gatlin remained in the hands of its children and their god, He Who Walks Behind the Rows.