Final installment in the orgy folks, and it’s about time. I’m absolutely soaked in pumpkin goo, and my girl’s giving me a look of horror that no amount of cuddling is going to erase.
Sorry for the typos today, by the way. I post these as I finish them, and don’t get around to posting the revisions until several days later, usually as edits to the original posts. So the misspellings aren’t from dyslexia, don’t worry. I’m just a sloppy drunk with access to a computer.
Happy Halloween, folks. It’s been real. I’ve had fun. Hopefully we can do this again next year. All three of us.
Except you, Brad. God, I hate you so much.
Anyway, I’m off to eat candy and work on the first installment of The Midnight Special. It should be a blast, writing my spooky thoughts down by the light of the pumpkin’s glare…
© Copyright 2011
Old Ted swept the pumpkin guts off the bare wood porch. The chunks had gathered in a sticky mountain by his feet, and they left a weird wet stain where they’d soaked into the wood.
It almost looked like a smile.
From the first light of the first day of October, Ted had carved.
He did it the same as he’d done it for thirty years. Sitting in the rocker that leaned in a new direction every time he sat down, using an old iron steak knife with a handle of corded leather.
Beside him, sitting in a patch of grass that would somehow survive the month, a hill of pumpkins taller than his tractor.
The rest he sold, paying for his land another year. He had ten square orange acres that would empty out by September, given out at three dollars a pop. The ones from his garden, he gave to the cool nights and the breezes in the trees.
He had boxes of candles, irregular, molten candles. Tall, squat, pink, fused, tea lights, scented; hundreds of dollars in candles.
And when he’d cut a new smirk or leer, in they went. He lit long furnace matches, dipped them in, and made them lanterns.
His cottage was an orange temple come Hell Night.
The truck’s suspension was taller than the cab itself. The pallet of pumpkins at the end of Ted’s drive exploded like pulpy bombs, spewing veins and combusting candle vapor.
They’d only meant to take out his mailbox. It was a dented, unloved thing, and Ted never cared when he found it knocked over in the morning. But they had been in the way, and they’d paid for it.
The gore of spilled seeds proved addictive.
“Let’s do it again!” The Girl behind him pleaded. “Please?”
The Boy behind the wheel looked back, threw the truck in reverse. “Why the hell not?” he called out the window, gunning the motor nearly losing traction on the slick chunks he flattened as he went.
The Other Boy laughed in a choking giggle, swigged a bottle with wax along the neck. “Fuck yeah!” he hollered, throwing the bottle in the face of a pumpkin standing over fourteen inches. The monolithic jack o’lantern burned bright as the alcohol washed over its candle.
Other Girl stuck her arm out, took a picture with a tiny camera. She cackled like she wanted to draw crows, tossed blond hair brittle as straw over her shoulder.
The Boy driving craned the wheel, took Ted’s driveway with half his truck in the grass. Pumpkins blew like balloons, bounced and cracked like rotted basketballs.
In a quarter mile they’d reached Ted’s porch. He stood in the doorway, staring through thick rimmed glasses, his skin dark from days wiled away in fields and porch swings.
“Trick or Treat!” the Other Girl yelled, a day early, sacrilegiously. She waved in stupid, banal rebellion.
The Boy didn’t want Ted catching his license plate, and threw his truck in reverse. He juked the wheel, careful to get every pumpkin on the other side as he retreated.
Ted watched peaceably until they’d left, shut the screen door as he went back inside.
The Boy listened to the Girl whisper sweet, private things through the music, when he clipped something heavy and slid in the wet grass. A stump caught the undercarriage, jacking the truck’s ass off the ground even higher than it already was.
He gunned the motor, spinning the tires.
They got out, crouched to see where it was caught. The Girl started screaming.
The Boy fell over when she nearly clipped him with a flaming arm.
She dropped to late to do any good. She thrashed around, but not enough to suffocate the fire. Her skin caught, the oils in her body bubbled. She hissing, whining sounds as she screamed.
The fire burned long and slow before the Boy thought to take off his jacket and throw it over her.
Her breath hitched, her joints made a burned, snapping sound when the fire was out.
She coughed, building herself to “D-D-Docto-…” when she was snatched from the road and pulled into the brush.
She came alive enough to try to scream. There was a choked, gurgling sound, and that was all.
There was a flash of orange and yellow, a cataclysmic blast of thunder as steel gave in to a superior force. The Boy and the Other Girl thought they heard tree branches breaking.
The great orange mass bounced off the truck. The Other Boy’s shattered body sagged against the truck, glued too strongly in place by its own greu to fall into the dirt.
His flattened head reminded the Boy of the annihilated pumpkins. Especially the rounded chunks of shattered skull.
It was a tall, heavy thing, trailing a mass of writing vines that twirled behind it. It spun, its eyes chaotically festive, its maw zealously hungry.
The Pumpking drooled molten wax, thick layers of it caking the corners of its mouth. A candle wick burned big as a bonfire, the excess wax bubbling in a chunky pool laced with outreached arms and kicking legs.
The Other Girl shielded herself as the Pumpking belched a stream of fire. Her straw hair burned the fastest.
The Boy ran, stumbling on the jagged slabs of broken asphalt. The road shattered under the Pumpking’s weight.
He stumbled, veering to the side and plunging between trees growing close together. But the old pines parted for his pursuer, pleased at seeing their ancient friend.
The Boy was crying, heaving for breath and shitting his shorts. He prayed to a God he always hoped had favored him.
Thick ropes of twisting wood snatched his legs from under him. His chest spasmed like it had been shocked when he slammed onto the ground, and he found he couldn’t breathe, much less fight back.
He slid along the ground, splashed into the warm, stiffening river of wax.
He was stuffed inside. He reached out, and the Pumpking closed his fangs on his arm. The points were soft, painless, but definite.
He sank in the wax. It was warm in some places, stinging in others. He thrashed, fought to swim upstream. His head broke the surface, and he gasped for air.
The torch atop the mound burned bright. The scowling image of a skull leered from within the flame.
The Boy swam, splashing his way through the chunks of wax and the bodies tangled within. He stepped down on the Girl’s ashen face, reached for the flame.
If he could snuff it out, if he could kill it…
The candlelight started swirling, growing, pregnant with power.
The Pumpking, triumphant, opened its great, horrible mouth, and roared.
The flame of the candle was all. It melted, it scorched, it obliterated.
It trailed out of the Pumpking, casting a flaming face into the night. A deadly torch to light the way.
Ted sat stolidly, busily rebuilding his children with clumping fistfuls of sticky wax.
They were tired and broken, but they only needed to stand their post for one more night.
He’d already repaired so many, and they shone their loving light on his work.
It would be a long night, but Ted led by example. The little ones did not abandon their guards. Ted would not abandon his.
His basement window glowed a deep, dull orange. Inside something burned with a force of life so great even the dead cowered in its light.
Ted took the life’s wax and sealed a ragged gash on the side of another lantern’s face. He had to work diligently; by tomorrow’s moon, they would be needed to give light to a long, dark path.
He was their dutiful ward. They were the shepherds of a deeper night.