Flash Frenzy Round 39

Posted: October 11, 2014 in Flash Frenzy Weekend Flash Challenge
Tags: , , , ,

Welcome to Flash Frenzy Round 39! I’d like to take just a moment to thank Jacki Donnellan for stepping up to judge this weekend.

Before we get started, here’s a brief reminder of the rules.

Deadline: Sunday at 6:00pm MST. You all have 36 hours to create your best work of up to 360 words (exclusive of title) and post it into the comments below. Please include your word count (required) and Twitter handle if applicable. For complete rules, click here. 

The winning author and their story will be featured as Wednesday’s Hump-Day Quickie, receive a winner’s page, and be crowned Flash Master of the Week.

Here is your prompt.

Photo courtesy of Ashwin Rao

Photo courtesy of Ashwin Rao

  1. joshbertetta says:

    Josh Bertetta
    349 words

    “Happy Columbus Day”

    The loons, they made for such a soft pillow on the limitless blue waters and they called, as only loons can, for all the other animals to come see, come see the one who fell from the sky.

    First the turtle, then the others in the water came to see her and decided it best she live on land. But there was no land, not yet and it was turtle who suggested they dive down to the bottom and return with them some earth.

    First went beaver, then muskrat. Others too sought out the earth, but stayed down too long and died. Those who returned from the depths turtle looked inside their mouths, disappointed.

    Toad then went and though gone so long that the others stirred with fear, he did return, belly up and exhausted.

    Turtle peeked inside toad’s mouth and smiled.

    The woman took the earth, and grateful for the turtle, put what little earth toad found and spread it on his shell.

    That was the beginning.

    The woman had two boys different as night and day. There was the good son. There was the bad son. One was born as all children are born. The other tore through his mother’s side. Their mother, the one who fell from the hole in the sky, died.

    And when she died she was buried and all the plants that are needed for life sprouted from the ground under which her body lay.

    The corn came from her chest. Beans from her legs. And the pumpkin from her head.

    The woman from above the sky is our mother and she loved her sons, the good and the bad.

    The woman who fell from the sky is the corn. She is the bean. She is the pumpkin. She is the seeds and the fruit. She is ability to create out of that which has been created. She is this land.

    Then others came to this land and took. They took from the pumpkin, took from our mother and hollowed her out. They stole. And out of the pumpkin they make scary faces.

  2. *The Gardener and the Squirrel*

    Early one spring, a gardener sowed some pumpkin seeds in her freshly-hoed vegetable patch, and while she was dreaming of the pies she would cook with that autumn’s harvest, she heard a small voice speaking to her from above.

    ‘Hello,’ said a squirrel from where he was perched on the roof of her shed. ‘It has been a long, cold winter, and I am ever so hungry. Please may I have one of your seeds to eat?’

    The gardener frowned. ‘Why should I give you one of my seeds?’ she exclaimed. ‘It’s not my fault you didn’t collect enough last year. Let this be a lesson to you, and perhaps this winter you’ll be better prepared.’ And she flapped her arms at him until he ran away.

    Every day, throughout spring and summer, the gardener went into her garden to check on her vegetable patch. After a few weeks, she saw tiny, pale shoots poking through the soil. After another few weeks, she saw broad, flat leaves unfurling in the sun. After another few weeks, she saw bright, yellow flowers shrivelling into small, green pods. And, finally, as the days began to grow shorter and the air began to grow cooler, she saw that the small, green pods had swollen into fat, orange pumpkins.

    Laughing aloud, the gardener picked the fattest pumpkin in her crop and weighed it in her hands. ‘How odd,’ she said, her laughter fading. ‘This pumpkin feels rather light.’ With a frown, she turned it over and saw, in the other side, a hole as wide as her fist, and peering into the hole, she saw, to her horror, that the pumpkin was hollow – not a single seed or ounce of flesh remained. Dropping the pumpkin, she grabbed another and another and another, but it was no use; each and every pumpkin had a hole in it and was completely and utterly empty.

    317 words

  3. @Rtayaket
    360 words

    Daddy always took us to the pumpkin patch on the weekend before Halloween, the one down the street outside the grocery store. My sister Nina and I watched out the big picture window, our hands making smudges on the clear glass.

    “I’m going to pick the biggest pumpkin!” I said.

    “Not if I find it first!” Nina said. But I was ten and she was only six, so I knew I’d find it first.
    We tussled on the couch playfully keeping our eyes on the window while Mommy was washing dishes in the kitchen. I grabbed a blanket to make a fort on the couch where we could still see out the window. Blanket forts were Nina’s favorite, and as her older brother it was my job to make them with her sometimes. I told her she was lucky to have a big brother as cool as me.

    It felt like a million years but Daddy’s red pickup truck pulled up the driveway and Nina squealed. We ran out to greet him and he bundled us both up into his arms.

    “Looks like you two are excited!” he said.

    “They’ve been waiting all afternoon at the window,” said Mommy, opening the screen door through which Nina and I had just barreled through. Daddy carried us to the kitchen, told us to grab some jackets. He put his arms around Mommy’s waist and kissed her. I thought it was gross but he got mad at me last time I said something about it, so I shielded my eyes and went to get my coat.
    Coat on, I peeked into the kitchen to make sure Daddy wasn’t kissing Mommy.

    “Are you sure, David” I heard Mommy say.

    “Absolutely! I’ll pick up a few extra shifts next month.” I could see him smile and Mommy mirrored him.

    “If you’re sure. Money is tight, I’m sure the kids will understand.”

    “Nah, I want this for them.” Said Daddy, as Nina ran past me into the kitchen.

    “Ready, kiddo?” said Mommy lifting her up. I followed into the kitchen and Daddy winked at me. Ok maybe I’ll get the second biggest pumpkin from the patch.

  4. Rebekah Postupak says:

    The Pumpkin Eater

    He won my eyes with pumpkin crème brulee, but the night he made pumpkin ravioli, he conquered my naïve heart.

    It’s not like I hadn’t been warned, especially by mother, who knew my obsessions best.

    “Be careful, my hungry darling,” she had said after he first asked me to dinner. “You know what happened with the apples. And the porridge.”

    We’d all read the gruesome headlines last year. One apple-poisoned girl survived thanks to a passerby with a kiss fetish, but another dozen weren’t so lucky. Then just two months ago a girl half a block down, invited to an oatmeal breakfast as a pretext, had been mauled by bears.

    But my story would be different, right? Things like that don’t happen to smart girls like me.

    And for a long while it’d felt like a dream. Pumpkin curry? Perfection with a dash of heat. Pumpkin chili? To die for (its flavors so subtle!).

    Pumpkin risotto!

    Pumpkin fudge!

    Pumpkin waffles, with tiny, so-light whipped puffs of caramel… crowned by a delicate diamond ring. How could I have said no?

    He carried me laughingly over a pumpkin threshold. Not a real pumpkin, of course, but close enough: he’d painted the exterior a sparkling marigold and the chimney forest green. Our love was grand enough to construct the rest. Or so I imagined.

    At first it seemed sweet, the way he wanted me home all the time.

    “I just love you too much to let you out,” he’d say, showering me with kisses.

    After a few months the kisses flicker out like a candle naked in a thunderstorm.

    “You don’t need to go anywhere,” says my husband, stone-faced. “What do you need that I can’t provide?”

    The fire in his eyes devours any thought of escape.

    Now I watch through tangerine tinted windows, where he is arguing with Fairy Godmother. He motions expansively to the house. To me. She throws her head back and laughs; money changes hands. I can hear her cackling voice through the glass.

    “Peter, Peter,” she says, shaking her head. “Thought you could keep her well here, eh?”

    For the first time in my life, my appetite fails.

    360 words

  5. streetej says:

    A Simple Wish
    359 words

    Merryweather stood surrounded by my pumpkins. Their rows stretched as long as the wishlists of teenaged girls.

    She waved a device at me. “Look, Rowan! It’s a new kind of apple! I can accept wishes by text.

    I glanced skeptically at the box labeled iPhone6. “You’re better off with your Gravensteins.”

    “But this will help me compete with plastic surgery. I can grant more complicated wishes.”

    Merry’s business had slacked off. She specialized in physical appearance wishes, and modern girls had so many other options. Merry flitted back to her own bower.

    My requests—I did carriages and transport—arrived as pumpkins. No new apple contraptions for me.

    Such exorbitant desires nowadays! Nobody wished for a carriage-and-four, a velocipede, or even roller-skates. Now the girls wanted Porsches or Teslas. Teslas! Someone should turn Elon Musk into a frog.

    “Bibbity bobbity,” I muttered, rejecting a pumpkin requesting a BMW-M1 and an Icon Sheen motorcycle.

    A tiny, forlorn pumpkin sat at the row’s end. I flicked my wand to hear its wish.

    “Please, I need a bicycle. Papaji heard the boys Eve-teasing me on the way to school, and he will ban me from school or marry me off if I cannot make them stop. I need a bicycle to ride away from them. Thank you from Anjali in South Delhi.”

    A bicycle! Lovely!

    I arranged two pumpkins side by side.

    “Bibbity bicycle!” Sparks shot from my wand, cascading over the pumpkins. Their stems grew, intertwining to form frame, handlebars, pedals, crankset, drive train. The pumpkins became wheels with thick tires lest the roads Anjali traversed were rough.


    I perched in the Delhi slum, waiting. Anjali emerged with her school bag, checking both shoulders for taunting boys. She froze when she saw the green bicycle with its fat orange tires. She pulled at the tag on its handlebars.

    “For Anjali, so that she may ride safely to school,” she read aloud. “And leave those boys in the dust.” Tears of joy spilled down her face.

    I tucked my wand behind my ear. Merryweather could keep her new-fangled magic and her complicated wishes. The simplest wishes were often the most important.

  6. drmagoo says:

    I set the arrow in place and pulled it back. Breathing deep, I willed my hands to steady, and sighted in on my target. Lumpy and orange, the pumpkin wasn’t a threat –but there were real threats not that far away. The thump of the arrow told me my aim had been true, and I walked across the field to retrieve my kill.

    “Make sure you clean that arrow, Wil,” Robin called, “and then come help me break this down. We’ll have pumpkin stew for dinner.”

    I had the job of protecting what was left of our family, but Robin’s job was probably the harder one. Our mother had tried to teach her how to cook and take care of us, but there just wasn’t enough time. And now we three were on our own.

    The stew was ready by the time I’d cleaned and sharpened my arrows, and Robin was trying to get Little John to eat some of it. He was just one, and adjusting to food other than goat’s milk, so there was an awful lot of orange goo flying through the air. Robin grimaced. “I’m never going to get this out of my hair, Wil.”

    Her eyes were sad, and I knew she was talking about a lot more than the pumpkin. “It won’t be much longer, Robin. We’ll be sleeping in beds and wearing warm clothes before the snow starts to fall.” I gave her what I hoped was a gentle smile. “And you’ll have your hood up tonight, so no one will make fun of your hair.”

    We’d timed it right, and Robin and John were in the middle of the road just as the carriage was coming around the bend. If they recognized her, they’d run her over, but that’s what her hood was for. And, if everything worked out, they just needed to stop for a minute.

    Up in a tree on the side of the road, I set an arrow in place and sighted in on my target. This one was a threat, but if I didn’t think about it too much, I could pretend his head was just a pumpkin.

    360 words

  7. […] Prompt: https://theangryhourglass.wordpress.com/2014/10/11/flash-frenzy-round-39/ […]

  8. “Yearly Pumpkins”
    356 Words

    There were grey feathers at the base of the pumpkin and it was still warm to Tessa’s touch. The farmer didn’t see Mildred around, but she knew this pumpkin had been selected for the year. Tessa fetched the stakes and rope and went about cordoning off the pumpkin for whenever Mildred chose to return.

    The farmer had dozens of seasonal workers that she could have delegated this task to every year, but Tessa felt obligated to do this herself. Mildred was a vestige of her ill-conceived attempt to section off part of her pumpkin patch for raising ostriches. With no family of her own to shape her priorities, Tessa had taken to these wild hairs. She’d picked Mildred up as a chick as a trial run more or less. She wanted to see what it took to keep her and feed her as a yearling before committing to a flock.

    Somewhere in that first year, she lost the heart to harvest the bird. The only revenue she’d ever made from the bird was in selling her eggs to curious visitors at the farm stand on the front of her property. It was an impulse purchase from out-of-towners and she never had repeat customers. It was barely worth the money and not worth the maudlin behavior of the bird when Mildred hunting for the eggs in the weeks after Tessa had removed them.

    One morning, weeks before the seasonal help came on to help operate the patch, Tessa found Mildred alone in the field. Sitting. The farmer approached, yet kept a safe distance. The bird pecked and preened at the bed skirt of feathers beneath it and Tessa caught a glimpse of the pumpkin she was incubating.

    Tessa sectioned off the pumpkin. In restricting the Mildred’s nest, it inadvertently became the main attraction of her patch. In the crisp air that swept in the autumn year after year, Tessa always considered the bird and its nest. After the gourd rotted away and the ground froze, the bird never hunted for her lost chick. The farmer continued to question what the two of them were trying to harvest.

  9. Shirl says:

    Pumpkin Heart

    We met one hallowe’en, a wizard and a ghost. He breathed hot air down the back of my neck.

    “I’ll bring you back to life,” he said.

    It was one of those parties that never flew. A circle of witches kept counsel with a clowder of cats, a skeleton smooched with a horned devil. The monster host – my boss – doubled up as a dreadful DJ and pumped dry ice into the living room.

    Two pumpkins glowed at the entrance, tiny hearts carved into the flesh where faces should have been, as if one occasion was confused with another. He was never going to break into the circle, who’d magicked away the only comfy chairs in the apartment. So, he wandered into the kitchen and found me, looking for a punch refill and thinking about going home.

    The kiss was clumsy and not unexpected and we headed back to mine. He stirred a glimmer in a place I thought was pulped from the time before.

    When I woke the next morning, not even the trace of his aftershave lingered between fitted sheet and duvet.

    I never untangled how he got in that night. No one knew who he was. And it must have been the punch, but they couldn’t even recall a wizard stopping by the party.

    217 words

  10. Mark A. King says:

    A Prayer on All Hallows Eve

    @Making_Fiction #FlashDog

    355 words

    I am but a man of weakness, frailty and betrayal.

    I kneel before Him, my cassock rumpled up as a sea of fabric against the shore of my weekend knees. I adjust my dog-collar with my rosary beads hanging off my clasped hands, like a modern-day rapper’s bling.

    I’ve finished the decades. As I pray the Hail, Holy Queen, and breathe in the miasmic mist of the dissipating incense, my mind conjures unholy thoughts.

    It is the worst time of year. The pumpkins line the rows of supermarkets; they are not consumed – they are gutted and made into grotesques. Our harvests gathered by the tortured hands of migrant workers from distant lands.

    Signs that tell us to buy, buy, buy. Buy Halloween masks and ignore the true meaning of All Hallows Eve, the feast of the saints, the celebration of our brothers and sisters that have gone before us. Then it is the national celebration of the torture of a Catholic whose people were persecuted, his pudgy effigy burning on autumnal pyres. Then…we have the three-month scramble to exploit and commercialise Christmas.

    I pray, oh how I pray. The tears well in my eyes and I grasp the rosary beads so tightly that blood drizzles from fingernails embedded in palms. I pray that the saints will return. That they will come, marching in. That on All Hallows Eve, they will smite this world of excess and false gods.

    I awake on Halloween morning to the sounds of emergency sirens wailing, calling and screeching like territorial tomcats. I look out of my windows – the world is on fire.

    The TV plays low-resolution images of men and women on horses ripping through the aisles of the supermarkets. They pulverise pumpkins with their maces. They burn the BOGOF signs with their torches. They stab the gaudy Halloween costumes with their knives.

    I look on, horrified.

    In my desperation, I have forgotten that these were ordinary men and woman who were survivors, who believed so passionately that their faith was stronger than any government or army.

    And I find myself kneeling ‘neath the crucifix again, praying.

  11. Marie McKay says:

    Fancy Dress
    (227 words)

    I admire the lights that dangle either side of the pathway leading up to your house, little orange smudges welcoming me through the dark. I’ve dressed up, and I can’t wait for you to see me. But when you open up the door, I can tell that underneath your mask, underneath your breath- you swear. You seem to straighten, and we are awkward.
    ‘Come in,’ you say through your stiff as card lips, and I do.

    You offer me a Bloody Mary and leave me in a corner while you stride off to Frankenstein’s monster. I can tell you’re whispering about me to the freak. I know he swivels inside the box he’s wearing for a head to have a covert look at me. His whole body snaps round when he sees me, though. Red liquid spills onto your beige carpet as he knocks against some guest’s bent elbow while lurching towards me.

    ‘You trying to scare her, Mate? Is that what this is?’ he shouts.

    I don’t expect him to understand; but, I thought, you would, for this is my billet-doux. I went to all the right stores. I practised the stance, the walk, the voice. I want you to see my devotion. I want you to see how much I care reflected in the hours I’ve spent replicating your clothes, your face, your hair.

  12. Sal Page says:

    Billy’s Boys

    Finally. Clare had given in to Billy’s week of pestering: calls, texts, emails, direct messages, mentions to her mum and aunt in the pub, six post cards with green ink sketches of Gary Barlow and a pink cupcake left on her doorstep with ‘please’ piped on the top. She’d decided she could trust him. His boys could stay over. And on Halloween too.
    Billy spent all afternoon hacking away at those pumpkins, gradually realising his knife skills were rubbish. The kitchen floor was decorated with slimy slithers of pumpkin flesh and lumps of seeds slung together with orange string. It was too late to clean up again. He kicked them under the table. Jack and Charlie wouldn’t care. The pumpkin faces hadn’t turned out as well as they’d looked in Billy’s head before he started. They grinned at him.
    He put out the snacks on the table. All their favourites. Pepperoni and pineapple pizza, cheese footballs, chocolate nut popcorn and bottles of day-glow orange and florescent lime pop. He put the apples in the bowl of water and the jelly-tots in the tub of flour for messy games after tea.
    He found the candles and lit the two pumpkin lanterns at the bedroom window. They’d be here in half an hour. He lay on the bed, thinking about how deliciously creepy those glowing orange grimaces would look when the boys arrived. He was tired after preparing everything and felt himself drifting off to sleep. The pumpkin faces whirled inside his head, laughing manically at him.
    The doorbell rang. Waking with a start, Billy rushed to the window. He opened it to call down but knocked the pumpkins out in his haste. He ran downstairs and, sliding about on pumpkin slime, flung the door open.
    Jack and Charlie were lying amongst the smashed pumpkin pieces on the front lawn. Billy laughed. Today was getting better and better. His boys were playing a Halloween trick on him.
    ‘Ok, you can get up now.’
    They were keeping very still. Clever boys.
    Clare was running from the car. ‘Jack … Charlie!’
    Billy grinned. They’d got him good and proper. They’d even brought fake blood.


    360 words

  13. davidshakes says:

    “Sometimes it’s not the ‘how’ or ‘why’, just the horror of the ‘what’.”

    David Shakes
    360 words
    Another good harvest to make Ethan miserable. It was bad enough he had to tend the crop; protecting it from the cold and damp – now he’d have to endure soups, pies and the stench of rotting jack-o-lanterns all month.

    He cut five of the riper pumpkins and loaded them unceremoniously onto his cart. Carelessly, he began to heave them up the rutted track to the farmhouse. They jostled, giving hollow thuds of complaint each time they jumped a rut.

    Sweating, Ethan heaved them into the kitchen. Even the feel of their scarred, orange flesh filled him with revulsion. The spiderweb of beige stretchmarks made the pumpkins look diseased.

    Ethan’s sisters were on the swing in the yard. Next year their own chores would begin – let them play whilst they could. His mother was pegging clean linen that wasn’t their’s; it brought some extra money in.

    Tired, Ethan climbed the stairs. Loud snores from his parents’ room told him Father was resting before his evening job. Ethan thought he’d do the same.

    He was sweating even more as he stepped out of his dungarees. As his head hit the pillow, Ethan wondered if perhaps he was coming down with a fever?

    He awoke from a deep, troubled sleep, bedsheets soaked through.

    Downstairs, he could hear the bustling of mealtime. The sickly-sweet smell of pumpkin flesh wafted up from the kitchen.

    Something wasn’t right.

    The clink of cutlery sounded too rhythmic, the chink of porcelain too regular.

    There was no conversation.

    Descending, he saw the detritus from pumpkin carving – crude triangular chunks and scooped out goo all over the hall.

    Mother wouldn’t allow that?

    The family were gathered around the table. His sisters were cutting at thin air, knives scraping empty plates in unison. His mother lifted her china cup and placed it back down without drinking. His father sat immobile.

    Each wore a crudely fashioned jack-o-lantern over their heads. Sticky juices stained his father’s starched collar.

    Deep behind a triangle of orange flesh he could just make out his father’s tear-filled eyes.

    Father lifted his hand, a gooey finger pointing to the jack-o-lantern waiting expectantly in Ethan’s place.

  14. @stellakateT
    360 words


    “It’s a pumpkin” yelled Sophie


    Jack adjusted his position in the bath. He really needed to add some more hot water but the tank had probably been exhausted and he was loathe to chance it in case freezing water cascaded on his feet. He still couldn’t believe he’d agreed to move into this fleapit. What’s the saying ‘being lead by your trousers’? Sophie was the most amazingly beautiful girl, a bit dense at times but her wealthy parents cushioned that. Why she wanted to live in this area was beyond him.

    “Left on the doorstep”

    Attached to the pumpkin was a hand written note it said ‘At midnight this pumpkin will change into a VW Beetle and it will drive you to your heart’s desire. Be Ready!” Sophie tore the note off and slipped it into her pocket. She smiled Jack wasn’t normally this romantic and he drove a Merc.

    “I’m off now Soph, not sure what time I’ll be home, clients dinner remember”

    The door slammed shut, no goodbye kiss, no loving hug but Sophie smiled, at midnight he’d be back.

    The strident tones of the theme from ‘Jaws’ woke Sophie from her nap on the couch; it was her dad’s joke that she should always be aware of dangers on the doorstep. Slipping the safety chain on, she peered around the door. Standing there in a vision of illuminated goodness was her Godmother Ophelia; she hadn’t seen her for years.

    “Let me in then girl or my wings will get wet” Another of the family’s in jokes

    Ophelia had a Louis Vuitton handbag that could easily double up for a suitcase. Her motto had always been be prepared or chaos will reign. She delved into the depths and found some stick thing that she tapped Sophie on the head with. A vision appeared in front of Sophie of Jack in a bar surrounded by girls having a whale of a time.

    Jack might think Sophie dim but Ophelia knew the answer to the next question

    “Well my girl do you want to keep kissing that Prince? Or go to the ball and kiss a load more frogs?”

  15. pamjplumb says:

    359 words

    Nancy breathes in an autumn breath. Fading, decaying red and gold leaves lie on the still-warm soil surrounding the pumpkins. In the distant field a family of rabbits play. The sunlight picks out their white tails from the green shadow of the trees.

    She kneels on the damp earth. In her small hands she pulls up fists of compost, brings them close to her face, inhales again. Ancient richness fills her head with images of autumns past, times where she could have gone. This time, this autumn, in her ninetieth year, is her chance to do what she’d dreamed of since a little girl. Halloween 1931 was when her dream began. To some it may have been a nightmare, but to Nancy it was the start of a life-long yearning.

    In the shadows of the outhouse, she had watched her grandmother kneel down, in the same pumpkin patch, reach for the same soil. In the late afternoon sunshine, the glint of a knife made Nancy draw in her breath.

    Now Nancy feels the eyes of her own granddaughter watching her. She doesn’t turn but reaches for the same knife that served her grandmother all those years ago. Once again the sun flashes off the blade. It is sharp, with a curve where it is worn with age, the converse of Nancy’s bent back.

    With steady strong hands, Nancy slices into the pumpkin’s flesh. A gentle hiss as air enters the gash. The sweet smell of the pumpkin makes Nancy smile. She leans forward, cutting through the orange skin, pocked marked in places. It takes a few draws of the knife. She pulls the seeds out in long stringy clumps and lays them on the ground. Once dried they will be sown for next year’s crop.

    Her knees crack as she gets up and slips off her shoes. Her smile widens as she sees the hard skin of the pumpkin start to glow. With a sense of completeness that had escaped her all her life, Nancy steps through the side of the pumpkin and into the orange flesh. After only a few seconds she is absorbed into the orange orb.

  16. @avalina_kreska
    359 words

    The Halloween Holiday Package That Strangely Had No Reviews

    ‘We take this seriously, it’s our time of year, how are your ‘pumps?’ George said, tucking into his pumpkin pancakes.
    The lodger felt somewhat uneasy. It was strange walking down to breakfast in the pumpkin shoes, they were a little like wearing squidgy, warm clogs.
    When the advert said ‘Come for Halloween Fun’ he thought it sounded harmless enough. But when he woke in the morning and realised all his clothes were gone, one particular film played out in his mind.
    ‘Er, what happened to my clothes?’ the Lodger said, the thick shell rubbing against his chest, he could barely move his arms to reach the cup.
    ‘Hang-on, someone’s cut this wrong,’ George said leaping to his feet brandishing a knife. The Lodger moved back into his chair as far as he could.
    ‘Oh no, nothing like that! Oh yeah, I forgot it’s Halloween,’ he brandished the knife over his head, moving it in a downward Norman Bates like motion. The lodger politely laughed with him. Expertly, George made a quick cut both sides, pulling out two pieces of pumpkin.
    ‘There, does that feel better?’ he said.
    The Lodger leaned forward, now able to reach his cup, ‘Oh yes, much better.’ The Lodger knew it was best to play along with them, at least until he was able to look around for his clothes and an open window.

    ‘We’ve quite an itinerary lined up. First, we all welcome the harvested ‘pumps’ – there’s rituals and things but you can just observe, then we have the lighting of the ‘kins’ – this is carried out by the village children…’ The Lodger looked across at the small child seated opposite him, it smiled hideously.
    ‘Then we have the main showdown where the fun really begins.’ George leered at the Lodger, orange saliva dripping down his chin.

    ‘Can I use your loo for a moment?’ The Lodger said, getting up awkwardly.
    ‘Sure, to the left of the kitchen. Don’t bother pulling the chain.’
    The Lodger cautiously went to the left, switching on the light he took a sharp intake of breath at the piled up turds in the enormous pumpkin on the floor.

  17. The Pumpkin Patch

    Lucy pulled on heavy boots, shrugged a coat over her nightdress and clumped slowly to the door. The cold iron bolt didn’t want to move, the door jammed, but she knew all their tricks and lifted it slightly, wedging her toe into the gap beneath. Her arthritis burned as she pulled at the door, but it gave at last. Tendrils of icy mist drifted in. Lucy shivered, took the axe from its hook and set out for the pumpkin patch, following their soft mewling.

    The mist filled the hollow and she peered at each bulbous orange swelling carefully. She wanted to destroy them all; she hated them even more than the children they drew to the farm. But Tom liked the kids, said it made up for not bringing any of their own to term, so she crept out each morning to smash the tainted ones. Sensing her, knowing her, they fell silent, barely twitching a root, but she found them anyway.

    She knew where the bodies were buried.

    The first went silently, shattered by the gleaming axe, spraying thick orange sinew and slimy seeds across its neighbours. They woke fully then, and began to scream. Those with eyes watched helplessly as the old woman towered over them, bare legs spattered with juice and rind fragments, swinging the axe again and again.

    Reaching the far end of the patch, breathing heavily, Lucy barked a laugh. She’d put them in the ground to begin with, and she’d damn well make sure they stayed there…

    She didn’t notice the long root snaking behind her, not until it was too late, when it snared her boot and sent her crashing into an icy puddle. There was a harsh snap as the surface shattered, but when she tried to stand, she knew it was not only the ice that had broken. She screamed, but the thing standing over her only laughed.

    She didn’t know how long it had been hidden beneath the bushes, swelling, losing its orange tint, but the ribs of the pumpkin were almost smooth, the eyes almost human.

    With fingers that were almost straight, only slightly green, it raised the axe.

    360 words


    Brian S Creek
    355 words

    One cold October night Wynona Itch gave birth to a pumpkin.

    She did not make it to the hospital in time so instead of a bed she lay on a bright red booth in a road side café and instead of a nurse as her medical assistant she had Brenda the waitress.

    Wynona was strong, both of body and mind, but the ordeal was too much. Before she passed she made Brenda promise to take care of her child.
    “Child?” proclaimed Brenda. “Your offspring is fit only for Jack-o’-lanterns or pies. There is no infant to care for.”
    But Wynona Itch looked Brenda in the eye and made her promise with her dying breath. “You must take care of my son Timothy.”
    And everyone knows you can’t refuse a promise like that.

    So Brenda the waitress took Timothy the pumpkin home. Her husband was confused and told her she was crazy but she explained it had been the woman’s dying wish and God would frown upon her if she ignored it. Brenda looked after the vegetable as if it was her own child; reading to it, rocking it and tucking it in for bed.

    Autumn turned to winter and winter turned to spring. Brenda the waitress began to take the pumpkin to work with her where it would sit on the counter so she could keep an eye on it. Of course Brenda did have to put a sign up that read NOT FOR CONSUMPTION but people in the town soon learned.

    The pumpkin began to take its toll on the couple and Brenda’s husband threatened to leave. In fact his packed suitcase was at the bottom of the stairs one night when they both heard a thud from Timothy’s room.

    Brenda ran upstairs fearing the worst. When her husband finally joined her at the door to the bedroom his tears joined hers. The pumpkin had fallen from its bed and split into a hundred pieces that lay scattered upon the floor.

    In the centre of the mess was a beautiful baby boy who wanted nothing more than love.

    And that’s exactly what Timothy got.

  19. zevonesque says:

    by A J Walker

    Stephen’s breathing was hesitant as he tried to listen out for each sound, focusing on each creak and groan, trying to work out where Pumpkinhead was; to hear if was coming upstairs for him. Pumpkinhead, the soul-eater, the shadow-mover, always came for the children in the deep of the night and he was downstairs now.

    In the next room his father’s snoring continued unabated, adults didn’t fear the night like children, Pumpkinhead came only for the young. His father had told Stephen the stories of escaping him in his childhood like it was a rite of passage.

    After a sleepless night Stephen headed for the fields kicking stones and playing with his homemade sword. In the day the children could play with abandon knowing there was no reason to be afraid, Pumpkinhead lived only in shadows. He needed revenge and day time was his.

    In the centre of old Mr Applethorpe’s farm, in the soft autumn sunshine was Pumpkinhead looking harmless enough, but Stephen wasn’t deceived. His long coat swayed in the stiff breeze every so often flapping with a loud clap. His arms stood out level pointing east and west in an old pair of gloves and his back was straight as a pole; because it was.

    His head was a pumpkin with deep incised eyes which did seem to follow Stephen as he walked around, at a safe distance, from the scarecrow. He stooped to pick up some sharp stones hefting them with professional zeal to find the right weight.

    For half an hour he chucked and span the rocks through the air, peppering the scarecrow with missiles. Some hit the coat leaving Pumpkinhead unharmed, one almost took his glove off, but best of all two shots scored direct hits to head, leaving deep scars on its face.

    As his revenge continued though he saw the shadows lengthening and knew with each passing minute it was getting closer to the night, when Pumpkinhead could return in the shadows. With his fresh weeping scars he would be more frightening than ever tonight, if he came. But perhaps tonight he would not come for Stephen.

    (357 words)


  20. voimaoy says:

    October Earth
    360 words

    The colors were glorious this year, he thought, watching the falling leaves. How many months had he been home? It was late spring when he started the garden. The neighbors still call him Captain. Now they ask about the garden, not how long he will be back this time.

    Everyone called him Captain, except for his sister Elaine and his nephews, and Sam, his best and oldest friend. He will always be the same old Jim to them, even if he has seen things, done things, they can only imagine.

    On the station, he had seen the sun rise over and over, seen clouds marbling the Earth.

    Elaine had redecorated the house. Too much brown and avocado green, she said. She hung a picture in the hallway, a medicine buddha, saffron orange and indigo blue. Maybe it has been more helpful than the pills he takes every day, he thinks so.

    Every morning he weeds the vegetable garden. It has been a good summer. Tomatoes and green beans, zucchini and peppers. The garden was almost done for the season, still some green tomatoes, a few red peppers ripening. There was a chill in the mornings, now. The ground was cold , but warming in the sun. There had been frost warnings overnight.

    His nephews want spider webs and ghosts on the front porch. They want a pumpkin, too. It’s the first year they are really old enough to know about Halloween. Their excitement is something to see.

    “I wanna be a spaceman, like you, Uncle Jim!” Charlie said.

    “Can I be an alien?’ Danny said. “Uncle Jim, did you ever see an alien?”

    Maybe I have, he thought.

    “Reporting for duty, Captain.”

    “Hey, Sam, right on time.”

    “What are friends, for?” They headed to the back of the garden. “So, have you told Elaine yet? ”

    “No, I wanted to surprise her. I think she suspects, though. All the phone calls lately.”

    “You think?” Sam bent over the compost pile.

    “I’ll be back,” he said. “I always come back.” He felt the warm earth, like someone’s hand. A vine was growing in the compost, and orange pumpkins as round as the moon.

  21. Last Harvest

    He was young and defiant once. She was young and suspicious once. Sixty years ago he first glimpsed her at the pumpkin festival in Louisville. They formed a bond spitting pumpkin seeds and strengthened it later relaxing by the lake talking about everything and nothing. The moon would replace the sun, but they stayed out there, awash in the flame of first love and lost inside the melting of time.

    The house was too quiet now. He missed the clinking of her teacup when she gently placed it on the saucer, and the way she fake coughed when she wanted his attention. The creak of the rocking chair when she swayed casually on the front porch. Nowadays, Hal would loudly root through the cooking pans or crank the volume on her favorite gospel channel just to make some noise. Her noise.

    She loved pumpkins. The house was littered with them in various forms: Paintings, refrigerator magnets, dish cloths, figurines, place mats, and sweaters. He used to chide her about this perplexing adoration, but whenever he was in town at the flea market, he always searched the booths for a pumpkin knickknack for her. He missed that too, the searching.

    Hal stepped outside to inhale some fresh air and check on the crops. His eyes were greeted by a tidal wave of orange. They kept growing bigger and bigger. He allowed himself a tiny grin and marveled at the row after row of enormous pumpkins, orange boulders as mammoth as a two-story home. He wished she could see this, Alice would be aglow with joy, he thought. She’d probably have him hollow one out so she could take a nap inside its comforting walls.

    He shuffled between the rows, arms outstretched, and lightly stroked the flesh of his wife’s beloved gourds and, by extension, maybe her own delicate skin too. He had mixed her ashes with the soil when she passed, as she requested.

    He was old and compliant now. In the morning, when the sun replaced the moon, he will still be out there with those massive pumpkins, thinking of the girl who had caught his eye long ago.

    Chris Milam @Blukris
    359 words

  22. milambc says:

    The Gentleman and the Damsel (360 words)

    The goo and guts of the pumpkins were scattered all over the roadside.

    Charlie hit a deer. Darkness had suffocated the back roads, even the moonlight had a hard time penetrating it. Those back roads had long been the graveyard for many a deer.

    She transported hay bales and pumpkins to farms throughout Idaho. It was the kinda work that made its home under your nails and in your bones.

    That’s why she liked it, the grime and the grind. But ever since she’d gotten the job, men had been trying to do her work, thinking her pretty nails were more suited to typing than toiling.

    The damsel in distress that all men fantasized about saving and which they pictured her as felt like a constant corset on her mind and body.

    One of the hay bales had tumbled out the back end of the truck. Luckily, the rope held.

    As she wrapped her hands around the rope to hoist the hay bale back into the truck, headlights played over her face.

    The car stopped next to her and from the driver’s window a voice with sandpaper quality said, “Pumpkin, need a little help with that there hay?”

    The sandpaper voice said pumpkin more like “punkin.”

    “No, I’ve got it,” she said. She didn’t hold back the bite in her voice.

    He was out of his car. The moonlight hit him just right to display a large man in dirty overalls with black boots and a crater-like face of indents and wrinkles.

    “Come on, miss pumpkin, I’s only tryin’ to help,” the man said.

    In one quick motion, the man grabbed Charlie around the waist and hoisted her off the ground toward his car. He drove her head against the side of it and then stuffed her in the backseat.

    “You one of the cuter pumpkins I seen,” the man said.

    Charlie always kept a switchblade in her back pocket.

    From the backseat, groggy but gritty, she plunged the switchblade into the side of his neck causing a river of blood to gush out the open car window.

    She slid out of the now-casket on wheels and vomited.

    “Pumpkin alright.”

  23. C Connolly says:

    The Hallowe’en Missive of We

    We wisps of foolish fire stalk Samhain’s spirited festivities,
    Crafted into creation, one hollow grimace at a time.
    Our innards carved, discarded careless, unneeded – no more – for twilight’s task at hand.
    – So said, shrewd Stingy Jack knew well our worth; if wise, now bidden, you, too, shall see.

    From Gourdish roots, passed Punkie Night, our faces staved off mischief makers,
    On All Soul’s Day, Jack o’ the Lantern held fast with intermediate faith.
    Tradition tells our lamp lit journey from uncertain beginnings, through burgeoning belief.

    From ancient custom, Hoberdy’s humble turnip gave fright to unwary travellers,
    We played havoc with Polperro pixie Joan the Wad,
    Fixed grins transforming from simple guiding guiser to world renown.

    Numbers growing yearly in our candlelit vigil,
    We live whilst flickering flames heat us, within the length and width of wick.
    Though whimsy seeks yet to control us – our lore’s display speaks silent; let it be without shadow of doubt.

    (157 words)


  24. C Connolly says:

    Wifely Wisdom

    All Hallows Eve was the night Will lost his head. Literally. Fortunately, his wife had some insight, being versed in witchcraft, as she was.

    “Not to worry, darling,” she said, as the body crawled over the threshold, “though you might want to wait there for a minute whilst we work something out – the blood’s staining the floors and I don’t want to have to worry about castings on top of this one. We need the energies.” The stump assented, as far as Cara could tell. At least, it was dipping and swaying the right way.

    “D’we know where and when you lost it?” she asked. “A point in the general direction would save time in the searching, that’s all.” Will’s finger hit the air aimlessly. “I’ll take that as no,” Cara surmised. “Guess that’s not so surprising, considering.”

    Cara sighed. “You know we’ll have to work quickly, given we don’t know where to look yet?” Her husband’s neck waggled at her. “No need to get tetchy!” Cara exclaimed. “I’m not the one who got careless with my bodily bits on my travels. Plus, I’m doing my best here, under pressure I might add!” The stump subsided in its movements.

    “Better. Now, we need a substitute ‘til we find the real one. I know just the thing. Have it here. Lucky it’s still intact. Hadn’t gotten around to carving it.” Cara moved towards the stove, placing both hands on the rounded orange object on the work surface. “Might be a bit heavy,” she said, doubtfully. “We’ll have to see. Bend down, there’s a dear.” Will’s body obliged, stumbling to kneeling. “There we go!”

    Cara thought for a moment, whilst the newly assembled body remained motionless. “Nose and eyes,” she said, decisively. “This might sting,” she warned, as she inserted the knife’s point into the pumpkin’s surface. “Stay still.” Will did, as she carved. “Mouth will have to wait,” she said, after. “I can only do so much magic at once and shedloads went into animating the head. You can wait ‘til tomorrow, sweetheart, can’t you?”

    There was a pause before Will body moved violently. “That’s a yes, then,” Cara responded, placid.

    (360 words)


  25. Pick Me

    I’ve been waiting all my life for someone to pick me.

    I know I’m far from perfect. All my life, people have pointed out my shortcomings. I’ve always been too short, small, or round. Some have even dared to call me misshapen. Cuts and scars bruise my skin. It’s not a smooth and radiant orange most people desire. Everyone seems to be too caught up in my imperfections to notice the beauty I hold within.

    I never held out hope for anyone to love or want me. I’m too undesirable. I watched handsome strangers whisk all my friends away to exotic places. Soon there was nothing but us ugly ducklings left in the pumpkin patch. Only a desperate fool would pick us up.

    At least that’s what I thought until I saw you. Yes you. Your smile lit up the pumpkin patch and your voice was like silk. Your eyes were kind and the moment we laid eyes on each other, I knew you would treat me with kindness and respect.

    Your friends didn’t seem to think I deserved it. They laughed at me. They said you were too good to pick a monstrosity like me. But you let it roll off your shoulders. You smiled and told them I was special. You picked me up and took me home with you.

    The moments I spent with you were the happiest of my life. You took such care as you worked to make me look as beautiful as my personality. Before you I couldn’t smile. Once I was transformed by your hands, it was all I did.

    I will never forget your kindness and your love. Thank you for finally picking me.

    283 words

  26. In The Dirt

    I slide off my heels and tip-toe toward the back stairs. I struggle to bend and grasp the hem of gown as I begin my descent; my corset is laced tight to create the perfect posture I was raised without.
    I exit the stairs and can see the first bars of sunlight and smell the sweet hay and fresh dirt of the gardens beyond. A hear a voice from behind me, “Excuse me, your highness, he’ll not like you being out there.”
    I drop my gown into place and turn and see one of the older kitchen-maids resting a moment outside the store room entrance.
    “I know,” I reply.
    She nods. We both know the little histories of this place and its people.
    I turn away and walk as fast as I can into the garden, dirt and damp blackening the bottom of my stockings. I take as deep a breath as my dress will allow and turn my face to the sun. Soon I am picking errant weeds from the gardens. A mouse pauses in his run to stare at me and I nod hello. He turns quickly away.
    “Cordelia!” I hear the sharp crack of his voice across the gardens and freeze.
    I look up to see my husband standing on one of the balconies.
    “Get back in here immediately,” he calls down.
    I stand and slowly begin walking back.
    I should have known that a man does not send a search party after a girl he truly loves after a single night of dancing together. The man who does that is not used to being turned away, run away from. I was a prize to be collected. Or when I was found wanting, a prize to be remade, molded into his preferred ways of being.
    He will not even call me by my real name, saying that it makes him feel dirty and poor just saying it.
    I walk past the pumpkins and wonder how many tears I have to cry over them to make one turn into a carriage once more and take me away from here.

    353 words

  27. Carlos Orozco says:

    Pumpkin Stems

    “Don’t break the pumpkins’ stems off,” She would say. “They don’t last as long if you do.” We needed to preserve our pumpkins because we couldn’t afford to let them decay, and to even consider carving them was blasphemy. We ate them when Halloween was over. This is why we didn’t buy pumpkins until mid-October, and by then all the good ones were taken. We were always left with either the tiny ones, or the ones so lopsided and deformed that we had to hide them behind things. They reminded me of little Quasimodos, hiding in the shadows.

    Halloween was her second favorite holiday, behind only Christmas. It was the one time she could be someone else, or rather anyone but herself and that fact alone made it worthwhile. She would buy her costumes the day after Halloween of the prior year to get them on clearance. This worked great for her, but not so great for me. Some years I outgrew the costumes, and the tops would fit like midriffs, the pants like capris. I would go trick-or-treating looking like an extremely fabulous Spiderman or a super sassy Power Ranger. But it didn’t bother me much because she took me all over town while the other kids only trick-or-treated around the block. They only gave tootsie rolls on that block.

    On her last Halloween she dressed up as a vampire which was ironic in that vampires are supposed to be immortal, but she died a couple of weeks after Halloween. The only thing I kept thinking was that God must have broken her stem off. It’s why she didn’t last that long.

    Every Halloween since then she has dressed as a ghost, languidly drifting through my thoughts. I can afford to carve pumpkins now, and I do it every chance I get. I’ve learned it’s better to enjoy things, no matter how fleeting they are. But occasionally I will leave a pumpkin whole, stem and all. It’s always the smallest or most lopsided one.

    335 words

  28. Amy Wood says:

    360 words

    Jack o’the Lantern

    “That one!” The child’s shriek made Jack wince.

    “It’s great,” the brat’s mother gushed, eyeing the pumpkin her offspring wanted. “That’ll make a cool Jack o’Lantern, huh?”

    “Jack-a-lanta,” the child beamed.

    “Wonder where the name comes from,” the woman muttered, hefting the pumpkin into her shopping cart. “Must be some old legend.”

    With the little boy now demanding sweets, she tottered off down the aisle.

    Jack smiled and shook his head. ‘Some old legend’ indeed. If only people knew.

    Jack o’Lantern was more than legend. Once upon a time he’d been flesh and blood. Just another boy in unrequited love.

    Young Jack had nothing in the way of riches, wore rags for robes and stole chickens for banquets. His castle was a hovel and his wits his most prized possession. A clever lad was Jack. But an unlucky one.

    “Where are the prawns?” a bald man shattered Jack’s musings, shaking his shopping list urgently.

    Directing him to the seafood section, Jack slipped back into daydreams.

    Moira was beautiful; but callous and cruel. She thought Jack beneath her and sneered at his wild flower bouquets.

    So one Samhain, Jack carved unflattering likenesses of her on every turnip he found. Townsfolk saw them and laughed at the haggard face with its missing teeth and wall eye and crooked nose.

    Unfortunately for Jack, Moira’s mother was a powerful sorceress. Outraged by the slight to her daughter, she cursed the lad. The spirit of Samhain he’d exploited, so the spirit of Samhain he became.

    Jack o’the Lantern was seen each October thereafter, running wild across the hills, a blazing turnip in each hand, shrieking like a banshee. Never would he die, never would he be free of the curse.

    It was almost closing time. The store would be quiet soon, another Halloween beginning in earnest.

    His throat tightened as the curse made itself felt. Pumpkins were easier to find than turnips now.

    Once more he’d wend his lonely way, racing the moon and shrieking at the stars.

    Mocking laughter echoed in his ears as he grasped the flickering pumpkins. Jack o’the Lantern would never die. What foolish things men do for love.

    • milambc says:

      I love a juicy “myth” story or urban legend. Wonderfully told and paced. Love the last line, too. “What foolish things men do for love.” Indeed, haha.

    • I’m a sucker for stories reassigning mythic origins and really enjoyed this one. I particularly like that Jack has a mundane little job these days. Note: I’m sure glad pumpkins replaced turnips (turnip pie, turnip bread–shudder!)

  29. Homework

    Night in the pumpkin patch. The girl rolls, leaps to her feet, and yanks a hand-lettered sign from the ground. Her assailant rushes forward, but the girl sweeps his feet from underneath him before plunging the wooden stake into his chest.

    “Are you watching that silly show again?” Mrs. Williams stands in the doorway.

    Maddie rolls her eyes. “Yeah, so?” She slides the notebook and pencil under the dog’s blanket.

    Mrs. Williams shakes her head. “Homework, young lady.” She turns the tv off. “Upstairs. Now.”

    Maddie stomps up the stairs, clutching the notebook and pencil. She slams the door and flings herself onto her bed. After a short sulk, she opens her notebook. Know your environment!!! Anything can be a weapon!!!! Use your size!!!! She whispers these notes to herself. Then she writes Sometimes it’s going to hurt.

    Maddie looks at the clock. Only 8:00. Too early to sneak out, though the sun set hours ago. She hops up to do her exercises. Pushups. Squats. Hundreds, which she learned from a Pilates DVD. She has no watcher to guide her. No friends to help her.

    “Are you doing your homework?” Mrs. Williams’ voice carries up the stairs.

    “Yes!” Maddie wipes sweat from her forehead.

    At 9:00, a soft tap sounds on her door.

    “Come in,” Maddie, tucked into her bed, replies.

    Mrs. Williams enters. “You’re in bed?” Her voice softens. “Are you okay?”

    “I’m just tired. It’s been a long week.”

    “I know, sweetheart.” Mrs. Williams sits next to Maddie, stroking her hair. “It will get better. I promise.”

    Maddie clenches her fists under the covers. “You can’t know that!”

    “No, I suppose you’re right. I wish there was something I could—”

    “I just want to sleep, Mom.”

    Mrs. Williams nods, leans forward, and kisses Maddie on the forehead. “Sweet dreams.”

    When Maddie is sure her mother has gone to bed, she gets up. She’s dressed warmly for the October night. She pulls the backpack out of her closet, checking its contents and slinging it onto her back. She eases the window open and climbs down to the silent, empty street.

    “Sometimes it’s going to hurt,” she whispers.

    359 words

  30. Trudy’s Carer

    “Another piece of pumpkin pie sweetie?”
    “Lay it on me.”

    John sat on the edge of the bed next to Trudy. He took the last slice of pie from the plate and held it while Trudy devoured half the slice in one mouthful. John licked his own lips.

    “That’s real nice.”
    “Yeah, it is.”

    John popped the tab on a Coke and tipped it into Trudy’s mouth. He wiped her lips with a napkin. He looked at her beautiful face and her gorgeous body and was amazed with the progress they’d made. Only two years and she’d done so well.

    “Sponge bath honey?”
    “Oh yeah. I am sweating like a pee eye gee.”

    John reached into one of the buckets by the bed and retrieved a wash cloth from the tepid water. He wrung it out then began wiping down Trudy’s body, prising apart the folds of flesh and wiping out the sweat and grime.

    “That feels real good.”
    “Yeah, it does.”

    They’d had some trouble with bedsores. Angry, weeping wounds that made the air smell of cheese even when it wasn’t cheese night. Now John was careful to turn Trudy regularly and make sure her skin was dry and moisturized.

    “Ready for a turnin’ dumplin’?”
    “Sure am. Getting a little hot on my lower back.”

    John slipped his hands under her side and buried them deep under her body. He was amazed and thrilled at the weight bearing down on his arms. He started a little rocking motion.

    “You roll with me angel cake, I can’t do this on my own.”
    “Sure thing.”

    When she was lying on her side, John wiped down her back with the washcloth, dried her with a towel and rubbed emollient into the skin. He adored her skin, so soft and warm.

    “You in the mood baby pie?”
    “I am if you are.”

    John began to undress, all the time eying Trudy’s body hungrily. She must be 420 pounds, maybe even 430. It won’t be long till we reach that magic 500.

    338 words

  31. Carving out a Space

    Arms laden with runty pumpkins, Tannon clambers up the porch steps.

    “Harvest!” he announces and I try not to wince. Born here on Copiae, he’s never known a real harvest.

    Beyond him, the waning glow from the primary oozes maple syrup light over griddlecake hills. A bloated moon that sees us through the ridiculously long nights on Copiae—only we’re the satellite in its orbital coil.

    I corral the fist-sized gourds in the center of the table. I long for one that would yield a whole pie. “Nothing bigger,” I muse aloud.

    Tannon’s brow furrows like I asked for a slice of the sky.

    “These are lovely,” I say polishing one with the hem of my tunic. What a pathetic jack-o-lantern this would make.

    He’s not fooled. “I’m gonna go with Amber to get some more.”

    I roll the pumpkin in my palms and watch the glow strips on his coat skip along the furrows. Without a proper summer, the gourds never swell to a satisfying plumpness.

    I’m not the only parent who has abandoned the holidays of Earth. With no frost to glaze Yuletide windows, no awakening crocuses to welcome Ostara, no sun-dewed grasses to tickle the feet of Litha dancers, seasonal celebrations don’t stir the soul.

    I teeter with the rest of my generation on the threshold between the memories of Earth and the hopes for this place. Stuck like Copiae itself, in its eternal autumn. It’s not fair to Tannon. Human bodies evolved with the rhythms of a tilting planet.

    Samhain isn’t the only fall festival, I tell myself. It’s been a decade since I’ve made one, but I set to carving anyway until five puny jack-o-lanterns glower back at me. They’re supposed to keep spirits away, but I’m still haunted by the dead.

    Tannon returns as I start on a sixth.

    “What did you do to them?” he asks, wary.

    “It’s an earth custom. For harvest.”

    His tentative smile bolsters my resolve. Maybe we’ll make tarts later.

    “Can you get the candles?”

    He sprints for the pantry.

    I line up the pumpkins. Behind the hollow grins, I know there’s room enough for the spirit of thanksgiving.

    160 words

  32. Some beautiful imagery here: maple syrup light over griddlecake hills, Tannon’s brow furrows like I asked for a slice of the sky. Lovely writing and really intriguing situation.

  33. […] entry in the latest Angry Hourglass Flash Frenzy contest. The photo below was your inspiration and the word count maximum was 360. I […]

  34. […] The following is a piece of flash based on the photo prompt from The Angry Hourglass. […]

  35. […] my entry to Flash Frenzy Round 39. The photo prompt was a pumpkin. That’s it. I thought out outside the box a little for this […]

  36. […] Flash Frenzy – Round 39 – a weekly Flash Fiction Competition over The Angry Hourglass […]

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