In the dark place, beyond the garden fence, it was perfectly concealed. It hid among tall grasses and low hanging branches, and rested against the cold, flat stone. It suffered little in its exile.
As summer days ticked by, on the good side of the pickets, the others grew and matured. It lagged slightly behind its kin, but when the others reached their apex, it continued to even greater proportions.
Lack of sunlight deprived it of the opportunity to change hue as it should. Instead of the expected orange, it remained an immature green. That is, until “something” beneath the soil gave it a push in the other direction. Shades of green took on a deeper tone, until finally it resembled onyx. Blackness suited the wayward gourd.
Unlike the others, leisuring beneath flouncy foliage, it rebelled against an unblemished countenance. At first it favored random bumps and dimples. Unable to stop there, it grew larger protrusion until there was no hint of the earlier smooth complexion. It was a warty one.
Before it depleted all the sustenance the withering vine could provide, it stole from the others. They unwillingly gave up their fair share of nourishment that was left. When that was no longer enough, it was given its first taste of something even more satisfying.
The small gray mouse rejoiced in it’s good fortune. It eagerly gnawed at the blistered flesh, ignoring the peculiar taste. Promise of tender seeds inside seduced it to press on. When it breached the pulpy barrier, it wriggled inside to what was sure to be a sumptuous feast.
The bright eyed rodent found the going harder than anticipated. The mass of stringy sinew supporting those scrumptious seeds, stuck to its small feet and fur until it became so mired it could go no further and could not retreat. The little heart beat in triple time. Panic set in.
The more it struggled for freedom, the more entangled it became. Eventually, the thready flesh took it over, wrapping up the twitching body, like a spider bundling its prey. The hapless mouse was completely cocooned, crushed and then devoured. The outcast savored the essence it absorbed. It throbbed with stolen life. And it wanted more.
It had an idea, if that was possible for a squash. Choosing a most tempting seed, it wriggled the connecting strands until it was able to push it out into the open. There it might entice another scavenging creature. It didn’t have to wait long.
A sparrow, hunting for ripened berries in the surrounding bramble, took the bait. A peck to test whether the item was edible. Then it snatched up the seed and prepared to fly away with it. Ordinarily it would have split it open, savored the tender center on the spot. Something about the place made its tiny brain tingle with warning.
Before it could take to the air, it felt a tug on the seed. Reluctant to let a meal go, the bird held tight. A stronger yank and the sparrow slammed up against the hole in the pumpkin shell. Mustard colored tentacles fluttered out and enveloped the feathered body. There was a single peep, a series of snaps. The tangled corpse was then reeled inside and eagerly consumed.
That was how things went in the final weeks leading up to Halloween. The pumpkin ate, and grew, and waited. The thing beneath the soil, the one long buried and forgotten, whispered and promised. “The day is coming.”
The pumpkin moaned with anticipation. Or was it hunger?
I hope you enjoyed the first entry in my month long series of short fiction celebrating autumn and Halloween. Please leave you comments to let me know your thoughts. See you in a week, with entry number two!