By Jon Moray
This story appeared online for The Horror Tree’s Trembling With Fear anthology in October 2019. This is the second horror story I have written, although I consider this piece more in the Fantasy realm; I am not much of a horror fan. A teenager revisits a pumpkin patch on Halloween night in search of a medallion left by his lost friend a year earlier. Enjoy!
It was on Halloween night a year ago, that Conrad lost his best friend, Cecil, in the community pumpkin patch. On a dare between teenage friends, Cecil ventured into the dark wooded area while Conrad and another friend, Tommy, waited for him a short distance away. They heard his annoying laugh as he ventured further in, and then a sharp shriek, followed by deafening screams. And then heart dropping silence. The kind of silence that made you wish you could instantly relive the moment and do things differently.
A two-week manhunt followed, with many neighbors joining the search to no avail. Cecil was never found. Adventurous teenage kids was the common explanation from the townsfolk for their trek to the pumpkin patch that night.
It was in search of Cecil’s medallion that led Conrad back to the patch on this Halloween night. The medallion was sterling silver, three inches in diameter, with a winged angel adorning the front, and an inscription in Latin on the back. The medallion hung from a long, dark blue lanyard that Cecil wore everyday.
The huge full moon with passing clouds did little to illuminate the deep black pumpkin patch. Conrad pounded his chest to get his courage up, drew a deep breath, and stepped in. The only sounds heard were his feet crunching the autumn leaves. He passed the first row of pumpkins confidently, until trees bristled behind him. He turned and saw fog slinking about that emitted an eerie moan. With an elevated heartbeat and sweat beading his forehead, he turned back toward the trail where he was greeted by a long, lanky, smoky figure with yellow, glowing, marble eyes.
“You shouldn’t have come here, especially on this night,” the ghoul murmured, in a soft but spooky tone, as its jagged arms flared slowly about. As Conrad felt the gloom of doom, a group of pumpkins illuminated simultaneously and began spinning on the ground, tossing loose dirt about. The lighted pumpkins suddenly began rolling towards Conrad, rapidly picking up speed.
Conrad turned to run, but the shadowy figure extended its arm out and swooped up his body. With its other limb he swatted the pumpkins away into the forest trees; the impact smashing them to pieces.
Conrad looked closely at the figure and noticed the somber look in its eyes.
“Who are you?” Conrad stammered, looking up at its towering, flowing frame that exceeded eight feet in height.
Before the spirit could answer, a quartet of spinning pumpkins, much larger than the first group, with sharp talons protruding from its heads, zeroed in on them. Their twirling produced a whirlwind that knocked Conrad back several yards and into a tree, rendering him dizzy. The protective spirit whipped into action, shielding Conrad from harm, as flames spiraled from its eyes, melting the pumpkins one by one, reducing them to pits. As Conrad staggered back to his feet, the one remaining pumpkin slashed within inches of his face before the spirit whipped it away with its outstretched limb.
“We are only about thirty yards from the end of the patch, but we may encounter one more challenge,” alerted the spirit.
Suddenly, a deep, intimidating, baritone deep sound came near the end of the patch. Conrad’s eyes grew twice its size, as a massive pumpkin spun towards them. So massive that it flattened trees on each side of the trail. The spirit was dwarflike in comparison to the orange ball of fury. The night owls took shelter in the undamaged oaks, setting the final battle scene with harmonious ‘hooing’ and looking on with bulging eyes.
“Who dares to penetrate the Patch of Spinning Pumpkins on this Halloween night?” bellowed the Imperial Pumpkin, with an echo that shook the trees and trembled the earth. The spirit spied the medallion glistening from the pumpkin’s stem, stretched out its arms around two large trees and slammed them down on the massive pumpkin, briefly startling the enemy. The spirit then clutched Conrad and put him high up on a tree branch, temporarily keeping him safe.
The Imperial Pumpkin continued its progress and spun on top of the spirit, gradually intensifying its speed. The spirit’s eyes dimmed as the pumpkin reduced it’s rotation to let its weight bury Conrad’s protector into the ground.
Hope waned until Conrad impulsively jumped on top of the pumpkin and held on to the stem for dear life. He managed to grab the medallion and use the lanyard to choke the stem. His actions were potent as the pumpkin began to spin away out of suffocating desperation. The momentum rolled it off of the spirit as Conrad tightened the choke hold.
The spirit recovered enough to wrap its arms around the pumpkin and slow its motion. Their teamwork overwhelmed the evil patch dweller, as the Imperial Pumpkin finally succumbed to defeat, rolling over to its side and to a complete stop. Conrad slid off of the pumpkin and into the spirit’s waiting arms
Conrad slowly caught his breath as they came to the end of the patch. As they stepped across the threshold, the spirit morphed into Cecil.
“The evil spirits consumed me last year on Halloween night,” Cecil said, and went on to explain he only takes the shape of a tall, gruesome ghoul on to defend people against the devilish spirits that inhabit the Patch of the Spinning Pumpkins.
Conrad apologized for the dare, but Cecil waved it away.
“One of us was going into the patch that night, if it wasn’t me it would’ve been you,” Cecil responded.
Conrad sadly nodded with eyes focused on the medallion.
“The medallion is now yours. It is a symbol of our friendship and the experience we had in this pumpkin patch,” Cecil said.
“ Do you mean the Patch of the Spinning Pumpkins?” Conrad asked.
“Only if you enter it on Halloween night,” Cecil answered, and slowly faded away.