Welcome to our Horrible Harvest challenge.
Write every two months on a prompt with Write Edit Publish and the Insecure Writers’ Support Group.
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Nick Wilford– Judge
Trick or Treat
‘ On Halloween night, the Great Pumpkin will rise from the worthiest pumpkin patch’, declared Linus. ‘ Do you think he’ll choose yours this year ?’ asked Charlie Brown.’ ‘I sure hope so.’
‘ Mum, do you think there really is a Great Pumpkin ? ‘ asked Paul, wide-eyed, sliding down under the covers.
‘ It’s just a story darling. Go to sleep now.’
Paul rang the doorbell. ‘ Can Tim come out to play, Mrs Vandhoren ? ‘ ‘ Tim ! Paul’s out front ! ‘ She left the door ajar. Paul edged in and stumbled over the galoshes in the entrance. Tim appeared, hair spiky and tumbled down the stairs while sticking his arms in his jacket. ‘ Want to hang out in my pumpkin garden ? ‘ ‘ OK, have to be back by nightfall though. ‘
The autumn breeze ruffled the leathery leaves of the gourds. Terry had joined them earlier. ‘ Still sitting with the pumpkins, I see,’ she had sneered in way of a greeting. ‘ Shut up Teresa. What are you doing here if you’re so high and mighty ? ‘ challenged Tim.
The three of them gazed at the birthing stars. The light was waning. The last fiery clouds were clearing, the phantom sun but a memory. ‘ Have to go home soon or else my mum will yell at me,’ Tim ventured tentatively. ‘ Let’s wait till it’s really dark, only a few more minutes.’
The stars popped up brighter, the heavens a dark blue blanket. ‘ Heh, look.’ ‘ What,Terry.’ ‘ That huge pumpkin by the fence, it’s glowing. Have you already put a candle in it Paul ? ‘ ‘ No.’ ‘ Creepy,’ shuddered Tim.’ ‘ It’s pulsing, like a heartbeat.’
They stepped gingerly over, mesmerised. The orange, bulbous radiance illuminated their spell-bound faces. There was a very faint sound like a high-strung whistle at every pulse. An owl hooted and they snapped out of their trance. ‘ Aaah ! ‘ Tim, Teresa and Paul chorused. Stumbling over roots and squashing lesser pumpkins, they skeedaddled out of there and raced home.
‘ What was that ? ‘ Teresa panicked in front of Tim’s house.
‘ Mum, Mum ! ‘ Mrs Vanhoren who was lurking behind the door, at the ready to hide her late son, threw open the door.
‘ I said sundown. Get in here. ‘
‘ But Mum, you have to come and see. There’s a live pumpkin in Paul’s vegetable garden.’
‘ What are you talking about ? In, now.’
‘ Bye Paul, bye Teresa, see you tomorrow.’
‘ It’s hatched ‘, Teresa was fingering the exploded mulch.
‘ Do you really think something actually came out of that pumpkin and is roaming around somewhere ? You’re crazy Terry.’
‘ Maybe not, ‘ mused Paul.
The last week in October snaked on. At school everyone was comparing costumes, boasting about their decorations. Every single student seemed to have acquired the biggest pumpkin ever.
‘ Ours is huge. It spans from the porch column to the doorknob. We’re going to make a feast of pumpkin soup.’
All over the country, pumpkins were being harvested, shipped to cities, sold on the markets, in garden centres, even on street corners. The fruit seemed to be exceptionally enormous this year. A report came over the radio that a farmer in Ohio had found ten burst, one morning.
‘ As if they were too ripe,’ he had stated.’ Never seen anything like it my entire life.’
Tim glanced sideways at Paul. They were sitting in Teresa’s living-room on the battered old brown couch listening. It was Friday the thirty first, and they hadn’t gone back to the Pumpkin patch since Monday.
‘ You see, I’m not crazy. It’s happened elsewhere. For all we know, it’s happened all over the country, even all over the World.’
‘ They don’t have pumpkins in other countries.’
‘Of course they do. Halloween is an Irish holiday, so they sure celebrate it there, and probably all over Europe and Asia by now too.’
‘ Here are some cookies and milk,’ Robert, Teresa’s dad had just shuffled into the room, wearing a weathered robe and sheepskin loafers.They lived in a shanty house at the end of the dirt track leading to the wood. Teresa’s mother had left when she was two.
‘ We just heard a guy in Ohio who has ten pumpkins that have hatched.’
‘ Oh, that’s curious. Isn’t that what happened in your garden Paul ?’
‘ Yeah, we’re scared to go back.’
‘ I’ll come with you. we have to get to the bottom of this.’
When they arrived at the patch, they found, amazed, the gutted pumpkins strewn across the leaves and roots. Their edges were chiselled as if something had cut them open from the inside, or bitten their way out.
The bush at the far corner rustled and a shape rushed out towards the meadow.
‘ Let’s follow it,’ ejaculated Robert excitedly.
It sped into the lush grass. They kept up as best they could, trying to soak in the details of this strange being. It was dark blue, shiny, as though star-studded. It raced along on six members, four more beating the air like an eagle’s wings. Its head was a large oval, bizarrely translucent. You could see streaks of silver messages shooting to and from the core.
‘ Keep up or we’ll lose it,’ Robert called breathlessly.
Suddenly it darted into the wood leaving a mist of dust and slashed branches in its wake. They followed the beaten path to a clearing. The full moon spotlighted the scene.
A dozen of these outlandish creatures sat cross-limbed in a star-shaped circle. In the centre, a pulsing, glowing, orange what-looked-like-a boulder. They were chanting.
A faint, unworldly symphony composed of sighs, whistles and furtive bellows rose from their midst.
Paul, Tim, Teresa and Robert were crouched behind a thick-trunked pine peering at the spectacle, their jaws dropped, their eyes popping, speechless.
The melody gained in strength and intensity. Wave upon wave of sound hit the stone, accelerating its pulse.
In a burst of intense light and deafening sound, the rock fissured and freed a shower of tiny fiery pods, the size of peas, bearing a myriad of silver wings. The pods darted to and fro for a second, sped towards each apex of the star circle, paused, received a streak of light, then swelled in unison with the bellows, hovered an instant below the moon.
The newly-born cloud flew out of the clearing, above the pines and disappeared into the night.
Our bewildered onlookers, once their senses recovered, opened their eyes to a deserted, seared patch of grass, and wondered if they were awakening from a dream or a nightmare…
(..to be concluded…in December’s WEP challenge Footprints)
FCA Full Critique Acceptable
for details on the critique go here
The Peanuts, Halloween Special
It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, Theme music. go here
It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, animated movie, 1966, extracts
Halloween Songs from the 60’s, go here
Thank you for visited. Please feel free to comment or leave an FCA, that would be so helpful. And I will be sure to reply.
Have an inspiring Halloween.