C’mon Kelly, don’t be a chickenshit!” David said as the trio of teens hopped the wall of the church yard. “You want a pumpkin don’t you?”
“Yeah, but I thought we could just buy one, y’know, like normal people.” Kelly said, hopping up to scramble over the brick wall.
“Well I think it’s a great idea! This is the church that grew that huge pumpkin, remember?” Erin said, dropping down from where she’d been sitting on the wall. Dressed in jeans and a thick jacket, her red hair done up in a bun, she still made Kelly’s heart skip a beat every time he looked at her.
“Yeah, but stealing from a church, ain’t that kind of low?” Kelly said, trying to dissuade his friends from doing what they were planning on doing. “Besides, how are we going to get the pumpkins over the wall once we each have one?”
“We’ll pass them up and over, one person on each side with a third sitting on the wall.” David explained as he pulled out his flashlight, tapping the side of it to get the beam of light to flicker on, illuminating the dried brambles they’d all landed near. If you looked closely, just at the outer fringes of the light, you could see the orange gourds growing in their patch.
“Well let’s be quick about this then,” Kelly finally relented, moving forward.
“That’s the spirit Kelly!” Erin smiled, moving up next to David. “Just gonna have to plough through the undergrowth I guess.”
“Yeah, none of us have any knives big enough to deal with this.” David said, squatting low while flipping open his butterfly knife. Idly cutting a bramble at the root, he frowned at the veritable sea of crunchy dead plant life that stood between him and his pumpkin.
“Alright,” he said, standing back up and folding his knife closed. “Let’s go. I’ll try and forge a path, Kelly you help crush anything I don’t get and Erin you follow Kelly.”
They assembled in their marching order and moved into the thicket, crunching over the thick curly brambles, the thorns catching at their jeans as they moved. David was pointedly lifting his boot clad feet and crushing the thick branches of dead wood, while Kelly was stomping on the curly bits of wood still reaching to the moonless sky. Erin admired how the path, while narrow, was effectively clear for her to pass. David’s greater weight and height, combined with Kelly’s sharp vision, gave her a wonderful path to cross through with little to no resistance.
Once David had cleared the thicket, he walked out beneath the stars into the pumpkin patch. Great rows of pumpkins grew here, with a ponderous boulder of a pumpkin sitting near the middle of the patch, vines running from its stem all around it. A single scarecrow sat upon a wooden cross The community had come out earlier to view the gigantic thing, and to celebrate Halloween a little early with carving contests and bobbing for apples, along with healthy dose of hard apple cider. Father Maxwell of the church, a rosy cheeked man with glasses at the tip of his nose, had been in especially good spirits as his pumpkin had been declared the record holder for the state. He’d even poured a healthy dose of apple cider into the roots of the great pumpkin, to celebrate its record-breaking achievement.
Now the three teens stood in the patch, turning pumpkins over, looking for the prime ones for their own carving contests. Erin was looking for a small one, so long as it was spherical, whereas Kelly wanted a large one with a flat face to carve out a face from one of his video games. David, however, wanted as large a pumpkin as he could carry, and was turning over pumpkin after pumpkin, gourd after gourd, tearing through the patch in search of one large enough to satiate his desire.
“Here’s a cute one!” Erin called out, holding up a small pumpkin, perhaps five pounds, that looked like a lumpy basketball.
David walked over, flipping open his knife to cut the vine from the stem for her. But as the blade touched the vine, the plant quivered and retracted, pulling away as if it had a mind of its own. This action, of course, startled Erin who let go, dropping the miniature pumpkin to the dirty path below where it burst open like a water balloon, silvery fluid streaming out from the crushed pulp, spattering Erin and David’s jeans with the surprisingly warm fluid.
“What in the world…?” David said, still holding the knife out. Kelly, who was in the middle of the patch, looked over and stared at the silvery black fluid coating his friends legs.
“Are one of you all hurt?” He asked aloud, moving forward and pushing pas a vine that was in his way.
“No, the pumpkin just burst open, spraying us with this nasty gunk.” Erin whined, moving back and looking down at her legs. “What is it?”
“It’s blood,” Kelly said, slightly in awe. “I go hunting with my Dad and whenever we kill a buck when its dark, the blood looks like that.”
“Why would a pumpkin be full of blood?” David asked, staring at the patch in a mixture of disgust and horror.
The entire patch, the vines and stems, all began to writhe as one, undulating in one smooth movement to drag themselves closer to the teens. Kelly found himself kicking away vines that were tangling at his feet, with increasing difficulty as the pumpkins seemed to be pulled into his path, preventing him from maintaining balance. He fell down, one hand bursting through a gourd as he broke his fall; an immediate stench of rotting meat and clotted blood wafted out from the orange gourd, maggots and mealworms writhing about on Kelly’s hand.
David and Erin moved towards the thicket, David pushing her as she moved to go back for Kelly. David, half carrying her, saw no point. “Something is wrong here and we need to go, now!”
“But what about Kelly?” She hissed, scratching at David’s back. “He didn’t even want to come here in the first place, we can’t just leave him!”
“We have no choice!” David said, cursing as he dropped his knife, an errant vine having looped around his ankle and tripping him up. Stomping on the vine, David ignored the squelching noise that came up from the tendril and continued on down the narrow path they’d carved before, which was rapidly closing up with thicker brambles than before. They barely made it to the wall before the thicket had closed up, thorns sharper than ever.
David helped Erin up onto the wall before pulling himself up. From the wall, they could look over the thicket at the pumpkin patch, where their friend Kelly was being hauled up by his arms, hanging midair, as another tendril wrapped around his midsection.
“No!” Erin cried out, holding out a hand. “We have to save him!”
“We will! We’ll go get the cops and bring them here, show them what this place really is. C’mon!” David said, hopping down onto the other side of the wall. Erin followed, the two of them running to their waiting vehicle, climbing inside and slamming doors as if there were the hounds of hell nipping at their heels.