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Rated: E · Short Story · Horror/Scary · #1612136
There's something sinister about the pumpkin on the front porch of an abandoned home.
Pumpkin Eater

It has two eyes, a nose, and depending on its disposition, a scowl or a smile.  When the Danver boys, eleven-year-old Roger and nine-year-old Steven, found one sitting on the front patio wall of the Castle house, they found it rather odd.  Now, it was two days before Halloween, so it certainly was the season for it.  What was so strange about its presence was that the Castle house had been abandoned and boarded up for years.

Neither boy liked the look of the new visitor.  His eyes were slanted in anger and his menacing grin was complete with four long, sharp fangs.  The skin was beginning to wrinkle and rot, as if he had been sitting there for some time, although neither boy had noticed it before.  He was quite large, too, weighing what had to be close to fifty pounds.  Since there was a baseball game waiting for them, the boys had no choice but to continue on.  But the pumpkin did not leave Roger’s mind.  It even creeped in during the game and caused him to miss a few fly balls and strike out twice.

At bedtime, Roger tossed and turned and tugged at his blanket.  Sleep would not come easy tonight as his thoughts continually drifted back to the pumpkin.  He sat up in bed and slowly pulled the curtains away from the window.  His eyes focused on the Castle porch.  Roger rubbed at both eyes and focused again.  There it sat, almost looking in his direction, as if expecting him to be at the window.  Roger's eyes widened as he noticed there was something different about the pumpkin now.  He immediately turned away and sunk back into bed.  Oh, but he had to have another look just to be sure he saw what he thought he did.  So he slid up in his bed again and peeked through a sliver in the drapes.  Sure enough he saw what had frightened him so.  There was a glow coming from inside the pumpkin!

Roger's curiosity had gotten the better of him, as it does with most children.  He trembled with fear as he quietly left his room, tiptoed downstairs and snuck out of the house.  As he walked, he wished he had gotten Steven out of bed so that he could have somebody along with him.  But Steven would surely wake up Mom and Dad.  And even if he didn't, he would tattle in the morning just as he always did when Roger did something he thought was wrong.  Roger's legs felt like jello as he crossed the street and his mind raced with questions.  How did the pumpkin get there?  Was this some sort of prank?  Who put the light inside of this creepy and dying pumpkin?  Why didn't they just put it out of its misery? 

Roger now stood about four feet from the Castle porch.  The pumpkin glared at him.  Why was he so afraid of this particular pumpkin?  Every Halloween, he, along with each member of his family would carve a pumpkin of their very own to sit outside.  It was tradition.  But now the sight of this pumpkin made him cringe.  Should he attempt to get closer and have a look?  Or should he run back home, jump into bed and pull the covers over his head? 

Roger mustered up all the courage he could and managed to get within a foot of the pumpkin.  The smell of decay burned his nostrils and brought tears to his eyes.  He inched closer hoping to see what was causing that flickering glow.  Roger examined the darkened skin of the pumpkin, which was beginning to sink inward.  As he looked into the pumpkin's eyes and mouth, a brilliant flash of light emanated out through the pumpkin's eyes, nose and mouth.  The flash illuminated half the neighborhood block.  The light was so bright it blinded Roger and enveloped him in whiteness.

The next morning, Roger was the only one missing from Sunday breakfast.  This was rather unusual for him, as he couldn't resist his mother's blueberry pancakes.  So Mr. Danver sent Steven up to Roger's room to wake him up.  When Steven opened the door, his brother was not in his bed.  After a search under the bed and in the closet and coming up empty, Steven hustled downstairs.  The frantic family searched the house from top to bottom, but they did not find Roger.  Mrs. Danver got on the phone while Mr. Danver and Steven went outside to search the neighborhood.

As father and son walked past the Castle house, Steven's attention went to the pumpkin.  While Mr. Danver stopped to talk with a neighbor, Steven glanced back to the porch.  He thought he could hear a faint haunting laugh coming from the pumpkin.  There was something else that caught his eye, the pumpkin was no longer aged but as new as one just plucked from the patch.  And did it appear to have gotten larger?  It was a good thing for Steven that he did not attempt to get any closer to the pumpkin.  For he may have noticed that there was blood on all four fangs.  Steven shivered, turned away and grabbed a little tighter onto his father’s arm. 

In the hours that followed, Mr. and Mrs. Danver talked with neighbors and friends.  No one knew of Roger's whereabouts.  No one mentioned the bright light from the past night, either.  The police were called and a search party sent out, but Roger had vanished into thin air.  It was as if the earth, or maybe a giant pumpkin, had swallowed him whole.

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