It’s been a while since I posted anything, so I thought I would give you a short story for the Halloween season, inspired by the image below. Enjoy!
Caleb led the three men through the woods to the pumpkin patch. It was late at night and the lanterns carried by the men shone in the cold October air, but they brought no warmth or comfort. Barren, twisted trees reached forth from the earth like dead things trying to rise to the light of the cloud-obscured moon.
Thirteen children had gone missing the night before, and they had yet to be found. Some blamed it on British loyalists within the colony; others blamed it on radical Patriots trying to teach the British a lesson. Tempers were flaring on both sides, and many felt that war was coming. The fact was, however, that children of both sides had disappeared.
The patch ended at the edge of the cornfield, its brown husks whispering in the cold breeze. There was unease about the three men, as if something unseen and unheard had spooked them. The town seemed far away. Lights from its windows were small squares promising safety, but providing none out here in the dark field. The men pulled their collars tight to block the cold chill that had nothing to do with the air.
“Over there,” pointed Caleb, “I saw the children heading there.”
The three men moved in the direction Caleb had pointed. A massive pumpkin had grown up inside the patch, dwarfing even the next largest. Its vines had reached out, wrapping itself around a large tree as if to pull itself, screaming and deformed, out of the mud.
One of the men noted a cat lapping up a dark puddle near the base of the monstrous gourd. He held up the light.
“What is that?”
The second man drew his knife and the three moved closer to the cat, which ran off into the night, complaining about being interrupted in the middle of its dark meal.
The man with the knife knelt down while the other two held up their lanterns. He touched his fingers to the puddle then examined it in the lantern light. His fingers had come away wet and red.
He looked at the side of the pumpkin and saw that the red was flowing slowly from the bulging side of the thing. He glanced at the others and they all seemed to share the same horrible thought.
Caleb’s heart began pounding as he watched the man sink his knife into the side of the pumpkin. He began cutting a hole in the side of the massive, deformed gourd, and the flow of blood increased. When the hole was wide enough, the man reached in and felt around. A sickening, wet noise emanated from inside.
“Some light,” he said.
The men with the lanterns moved closer and shone light inside the hole. All of them drew away quickly at the sight of writhing tentacles. The tentacles reached outside the hole, the pale color of death pulling away the side of the pumpkin. Cold black eyes peered out at the men as the thing began to emerge.
Bodies of two children fell to the ground as the thing pulled itself into the weak moonlight. The men caught a glimpse of more children’s bodies inside and madness overtook them. They tried to scream, but no sound came out; tried to run, but could not move.
Caleb smiled as his Dark Lord took the three men.