Saturday, October 30, 2010
THE CURSED PUMPKIN
A ’76 Ford Pinto barreled down a dirt road. Leaves swirled and tumble chasing after the creaky, rust bucket. James held his head out the window to escape the exhaust fumes that stung his eyes. The waning sun didn’t help either.
“Damn it! I know it’s up here somewhere.” He muttered, squinting down the road.
A white Victorian house on the right hand side came into his line of vision. James slowed down and reconnoitered. No one was in sight. He passed the driveway.
“All right! They didn’t sell them all yet.”
He parked the car thirty yards down the road, and left it running. The door opened without a sound. He had oiled it earlier that day.
Sweat saturated his flannel shirt, despite the chilly air. Heart quickened as he stole up the road. His eyes darted from left to right. There was exhilaration; a liveliness that coursed throughout his body; a thrill that hadn’t been experienced since days of adolescents.
The house was before him. Not a flicker of light or sound of body betrayed the desolate abode. James studied the edifice from behind the tree. An unusual pentagram was painted upon the door. Usually, you couldn’t quite see the design from the road; but, at this distance, it could clearly be discerned. Many designs of similar fashion were painted on the barns or other buildings in the area. None were like this.
A number of pumpkins lay on the ground. They were at least ten yards away. James pinpointed on the closest one. He darted across the lawn. Grabbing it, he ran as fast as his legs could possibly go, the burdensome cargo held tightly to his abdomen.
Tossing the pumpkin on the passenger seat, he slammed the door shut, jammed the car into gear, and stepped on the accelerator. The Pinto squirted grave; fish-tailed; then straightened on the deserted road.
Adrenaline rendered a hysterical laugh. The theft raced through his mind. A stop sign flashed by, barely catching the corner of his eye. “Whoa, I’ve got to slow down. Concentrate man…concentrate.” He said looking in the rearview mirror. “I can’t believe I just did that. This if fucking crazy.” He slowed down to the speed limit, and crept across town to home.
The Pinto creaked into the driveway. Pulling into a parking spot, the car was shut off. James looked around. The coast was clear. He jumped out of his car, quietly shut the door, and rounded the back end. The passenger door creaked open. James cringed. “Damn, I should have oiled this too.” He thought.
The pumpkin was stealthily tucked under his arm. Climbing the stairs, he fumbled through the keys. Opening the door to the efficiency apartment, he shot inside and shut it. The safe haven reached, he placed the pilfered cargo onto a pile of newspapers that littered the floor.
James sat on the bed. It was the only piece of furniture, besides a desk, a chair, and a dresser that occupied the place, and he didn’t even own that; the landlord did.
“That was too easy. I can’t believe nobody saw me. Somebody had to see me. That was too easy.” He muttered, getting up pacing the room.
A siren whined in the distance. James ran to the window. It came closer, until it seemed almost upon him; then passed. He let out a deep breath. “Who in the hell is going to report a stolen pumpkin anyway. I’m letting my imagination get away from me. I can just see it now in the papers: James Carlton arrested for stealing a pumpkin. Boy wouldn’t my parents be proud; a new low. Just when they thought I couldn’t sink any further, now they can say at the next family reunion my son is a pumpkin thief.”
Relieved, he strode into the small kitchen and retrieved a hunting knife. Kneeling before the pumpkin, he positioned the knife above it and plunged.
A horrifying scream came from nowhere, yet everywhere.
“What in the hell was that?” James gasped. He ran towards the window, pulled the blinds to one side, and peered out. A couple of kids walked down the road pushing on another; then ran.
James’s brow furrowed. He shook his head and laughed. Those kids must have screamed and the wind amplified it, he thought. Any other explanation would defy logic.
He finished carving and cleaning the pumpkin; discarding the guts into a plastic bag. He laid out a newspaper on top of the dresser and placed the pumpkin on top. Sniffing the inside, the senses arrested the pungent aroma. How he loved Halloween.
The sun disappeared into the horizon. James placed a lit candle inside the pumpkin. Its eyes, nose and mouth emitted an orange hue.
The lights were turned off in order take in the whole effect. James laid on the bed, listening to the radio. The pumpkins orifices beamed upon the adjacent wall. The shadowy nuance added character to the mood; a celebration of the macabre; the unknown
James glanced from the pumpkin to the wall, measuring the caricature’s effect. On the wall, the pumpkin’s eyes blinked. James stared in disbelief. Did I just see what I thought I saw, he asked himself? Looking back onto the pumpkin its eyes gazed back in a steady stare. James shook his head, dismissing the incident; then on the wall it happened again.
“That’s enough. My eyes are tired. I’m seeing things.” He concluded. Leaping from the bed, he blew out the candle and lay back down.
The candescent glow again appeared. James gasped in disbelief. The pumpkin’s mouth moved, moaning. James lay paralyzed; his limbs frozen. The hairs stood on end from every pore, head to foot. Sweat ran down his legs and arms, aching to move, but he dared not to lest he attract the attention of this abomination.
The pumpkin levitated off of the dresser, floating to the middle of the room. A body began to manifest; first as a shadow until it became physical. A black shroud covered the six foot demon from neck to floor. A sinewy, skeletal hand accusatively pointed.
“Thief…thief…thief!” the pumpkin’s mouth contorted, forming the hollow, cryptic words. Its eyes pinched into a malicious disdain. The light intensified, searching for an object.
James knew what it was looking for. His mind demanded his body move, but it would not comply. The pumpkin began to search. Its candescent orifice beamed over the room. It floated into the kitchen and found the hunting knife. Wielding it, the pumpkin shrieked charging for the bed.
James screamed, leaping onto the floor. There was nowhere to run. He had to meet the challenge or die. The pumpkin slashed. James caught the ghoulish arm, stopping the knife from penetrating into his skull. The pumpkin gripped him around the throat, squeezing and choking. Its mouth gnashed, and snarled. James gasped from the death hold, and putrid breath that emitted from this monstrous aberration.
“Die! Die!” The pumpkin screamed, sensing success.
James desperately groped; pushing the pumpkin’s brow back. His thumb and fingers searched, until they penetrated the pumpkin’s eyes. The demon screamed, releasing James’s neck, trying to extract the intrusive hand. James pulled on the bridge between the eyes. He could feel it give.
“AAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!” They both screamed.
The bridge ripped off of the pumpkin and flew across the room, hitting the wall. An orangish, red liquid streamed from the gaping hole down into the pumpkin’s wailing mouth; spitting onto James and the floor. The pumpkin dropped the knife. Both its hands covered the open wound.
“Die motherfucker!! Die!!” James screamed, pummeling and stomping the pumpkins head, until it became nothing more than a moist pulp onto the wooden floor. The pumpkin’s body twitched in its final death throes and slowly disappeared, leaving not a trace.
James stopped. His breath was harsh and irregular. His heart pounded. Picking up the knife, he sat down on the chair. Both arms and legs heavy from the struggle, quivered. He stared at the remains, until it incoherently suffused into an orangish blob.
“I can’t believe this. Did this just happen? This must be some nightmare. I’m actually living a nightmare.” He thought aloud. “No…this didn’t happen. It didn’t happen at all. I imagined the whole damn thing.” A shaky laugh escaped his lips.
He glanced up on the wall. The pumpkins candescent gaze again illuminated. James gasped. It flickered and waned; flickered and waned; flickered and waned; then died