Children Of The Corn is a short story by Stephen King, published in 1978 in the compilation Night Shift.
It was first published in the March 1977 issue of Penthouse magazine.
While driving in rural Nebraska
, a couple, Burt and Vicky Robeson, on their way across America to California in an attempt to save their marriage, run over the body of a young boy who was killed and thrown onto the road. Looking for the authorities, they take the body on to the next spot on the map; Gatlin, a small, isolated town that seems to be abandoned. Too late, Burt learns that years previously the town's children murdered everyone after embracing the bloody pseudo-Christian cult
of an evil being that lurks in the corn
fields: "He Who Walks Behind the Rows". The wife is captured by the children and the husband barely manages to escape into the cornfields surrounding the town. After running some distance, he believes that he has lost the children that had been following him but instead discovers the body of his wife, the town's minister, and a police chief. All three have been sacrificed to "He Who Walks Behind the Rows." It is then that he realizes that he is on the holy grounds of "He Who Walks Behind the Rows" and that an enormous being with glowing red eyes is slowly approaching.
The next morning, a group of children from Gatlin arrive at the sacrificial place, looking at the bodies of the two recently killed adults. A nine-year-old boy, Isaac, who is known as a "seer" by the inhabitants, tells them that "He Who Walks Behind the Rows" is displeased with their most recent sacrifice and lowers the sacrificial age from nineteen to eighteen. The story ends with the eighteen-year-olds in the town walking stoically into the corn.
Connections to other books
Gatlin was mentioned in It
Hemingford, a neighboring town to Gatlin, was also the town where Mother Abigail
lived and rounded up the good survivors of the super flu in The Stand
. Also in The Stand
, "He who walks behind the rows" is implied to be Randal Flagg.
Film, TV or theatrical adaptations
The story was first adapted into film as Disciples of the Crow
. A year later, the story was adapted into a bigger-budget film under the same name as the original story, starring Linda Hamilton
. This version ended with the husband setting the corn field on fire, destroying He-Who-Walks-Behind-The-Rows (temporarily, at least). Several sequels and quasi-remakes followed; King has often tried to disassociate himself from these movies, due to their perceived low quality. Charlize Theron
, Naomi Watts
and Eva Mendes
have all appeared in one of the sequels. Other well known actors who have made sequel appearances include Nancy Allen
, Stacy Keach
, Ahmet Zappa
, Karen Black
, David Carradine
, Fred Williamson
and Michael Ironside