Which Way is Witch Way?
A Gordy the Pumpkin Adventure
Alan Dale Dalby
"There are some nights when the wolves are silent and only the moon howls."
- George Carlin
The tall thin stranger was careful not to cause any creases in his finely pressed suit as he bent over what appeared to be an old orange sack discarded on the side of the twisting Wretched Road. He had walked this road within the Wretched Woods for a long time and knew it like the engraved initials inside of his pocket watch. He never bothered to wind the thing as time no longer seemed to have any meaning to him. He brushed his fluffy growth of soft red beard down, trying to hide the unkempt tangles curling into squid like tentacles upon his unshaven chin. The stranger reached out and picked up the orange sack to find it was a soft patchwork pumpkin with a flaccid green stem atop it and two felt leaves that seemed to serve as arms of a sort. He turned the pumpkin around to find a face of black smiling stitches complete with two eyes and a triangular nose staring up at him.
The dead leaves crackled beneath his feet as he took each step forward, returning to his endless stroll down the Wretched Road. Something stirred inside of the pumpkin as the stranger's artfully polished shoes reflected the one small pin of sunlight that had forced its way through the cloudy grey ceiling above. The sky of blue was taking the day off as usual. Tall steep inclines walled the stranger and his new traveling companion in on both sides of the road. High atop them sat an army of trees that littered the gravel road with endless clusters of gold and amber leaves. A voice came from the patchwork pumpkin as he gained his wits, his stitched face grinning up at the stranger.
"Pardon me good sir but I seem to be very lost. May I ask you where we are?" The pumpkin felt something akin to a yawn escape him. It seemed as if he had just woken from a very long and very deep slumber.
"We are on our way my little orange friend. That is where we are at the present." The stranger's tone was weary but warm. The little pumpkin noticed a small but sturdy locked case clutched in the hand that was not currently cradling him. The stranger's long lanky fingers looked glued to it.
"May I ask your name? I apologize in advance for having nothing to offer back. I know I was given a name once but I can't seem to remember it at all now. It's quite an embarrassing predicament."
"Names are only good for holding our brief place in one existence." The stranger never looked directly at the pumpkin. He was always focused on the road they were traveling. He seemed to be searching for something. "They are no more permanent than the green in the leaves, and pass just as quickly as the breeze that fells them from the trees." As they passed underneath the never ending shower of red and gold, the little pumpkin thought for a moment that the long twisted branches high atop the hills on either side of the road were reaching out for him, trying to curl their thin sharp fingers around him and pluck him from the stranger's grasp.
"I can see your point." The patchwork pumpkin took his mind off of the trees and rolled a thought around in his stuffed brain. "They do make it much easier to remember the people you meet along the journey of our present existence though, or so I would imagine." The stranger stopped dead and searched the hill to his right. There was something there, a beaten path and a tunnel that he was certain had never been in that spot before. He grinned and pointed to it.
"Do you see that my little friend?" He asked of the patchwork pumpkin. "Unlike the road we travel, it has no name. It is simply known as a shortcut. Yet while the Wretched Road leads us nowhere, the shortcut will take us to our destination. It has no name, yet is of far greater value than the road to us both."
"What is our destination if you don't mind me asking?"
"You are going where anyone goes when they are lost. You are going home little pumpkin." The ground covering crackled and popped in the otherwise silent evening. The sun had never been present, but it was setting now nonetheless. The little pumpkin yawned and rolled another thought around in his stuffed brains.
"Where is home, how do I find it if I don't remember who I am?" The stranger ignored the little patchwork pumpkin and laid him on the ground. The leaves had stopped cracking under the stranger's feet. They were damp here, soaking the poor little pumpkin's bottom as the stranger caught his bearings along the short cut. During his long lonely slumber by the side of the Wretched Road the patchwork pumpkin had not felt any sensation from the world. No warmth, no breeze, no rainfall, no darkness or light. Now he had become fully aware of every sense and along with being quite damp, he was feeling rather cold. There was a stirring in his stuffed guts, as if a fire were attempting to ignite itself to warm him. It was a pleasant thought but fire would surely devour his stitched felt skin and inner stuffing rather quickly. He was not keen on ending his existence before he figured out who he was. He watched and waited as the stranger surveyed their surroundings. "Is this the wrong short cut sir?"
"You sense my confusion and fear as you struggle with your own yet you hide it from me." The stranger smiled down at the little wet pumpkin. He picked it back up with the hand not toting the small locked case and hugged the pumpkin to the warmth of his chest, covering his patchwork companion with his long flowing cape. "I see a fine quality in you that I've yet to see in any other in my travels along the Wretched Road little pumpkin."
"What quality sir?" The pumpkin became very curious. The stranger held the pumpkin out at arm's length and smiled as he met the lively gaze of the pumpkin's stitched eyes. They had been sewn with great care from the finest, blackest of thread and seemed to nearly jump off of his soft felt face. The stranger thought the contrast in colors, the different shades of orange that had come together to make the pumpkin's soft skin was beyond brilliant.
"You own the virtue of selflessness my little friend." The stranger's beard adjusted to his ever-widening smile. "You hide your own troubles from the world so that you may help others with their own. You shall have your name again once we get you home, but I already know exactly who you are." The patchwork pumpkin took comfort in the folds of the stranger's cape and they were on the move once again.
Their journey took them slowly and cautiously through the darkness of the tunnel. The stranger seemed to have rather impressive night vision to be able to glide through the dank moss-coated passageway without tripping or bumping against the walls. It was very narrow. Even for the slender stranger the tunnel was a tight squeeze. Then a faint glow appeared. The light at the end of the tunnel did not seem very welcoming. The glow grew brighter as the motley duo neared the end of the short cut. A trio of inaudible voices entered the air as they exited the tunnel, the cool breeze blowing crisp leaves against the stranger's shins. His shoes that were polished with such great care had vanished beneath the leaves. The stranger marched through them and felt the resistance. The voices now became much clearer as that eerie glow lit up the night around them adding a bit of trepidation to the stranger's stride.
"It's unwise to travel the Wretched Road at night stranger." The first ghost said as all three ceased their yammering and looked this weary traveler and his companion over. All three stopped and stared intensely when they noticed the locked case he held onto firmly. "Those who cannot see the path ahead of them often stumble onto this place by mistake."
"I can assure you that I have come upon this place by no mistake my friends. I also promise that my companion and I are friendly, harmless travelers that do not mean to cause a quarrel." The stranger struggled to swallow the lump in his throat as the three ghosts floated closer and closer toward him. The little pumpkin moved his eyes from one ghost to the next and found each to be more repulsive than the last. This thought troubled him. It seemed quite presumptuous, not to mention judgmental and rude. His thoughts were interrupted by a strange sound emanating from the stranger's case. Thump after thump was heard and even felt by the patchwork pumpkin, and the thumps were coming faster as the ghosts drew closer.
"I see you stranger. I see so much of you." The second ghost said with a flat expressionless expression. The third ghost covered his mouth with his stubby luminescent hands to muffle his giggling. The second ghost peered deep into the stranger's eyes. "I see through you completely. I can see your very soul." The second ghost scowled at him, then glanced down at the locked case clenched in the stranger's hand.
"This is not your path stranger. Men only pass this way once." The first ghost said with crossed arms. The second and third ghost joined the first in moving in and invading the stranger's personal space. The case he held onto thumped ever louder. The vibrations from the sounds caused it to sway back and forth of its own accord. The first and second ghosts had their arms crossed, as did the third now. He had stopped giggling and affected a fiendish smirk. "Once you have made your one and only trip there is no going back, no going back to anything. You more than anyone should know that."
"He is doing this as a favor to me." The little pumpkin spoke up. Immediately the second ghost raised an effervescent brow and met his hollow sunken sockets with the stitched on eyes of the stranger's patchwork hitchhiker.
"It takes heart to pass this way little one." He scoffed while the first ghost poked at the soft felt skin of the pumpkin's face. The third ghost gave it a try and erupted into a fit of cackling that caused him to flip around completely, holding his sides with stubby fingerless hands. His head swung down to the ground, his misty tail vaporizing as it moved through the crisp night air, then he returned to floating upright. The second ghost glared at the third, which only served to ignite his laughter all over again.
"I believe I do have heart sir." The little pumpkin said.
"Do you now?" The second ghost frowned. All three turned their attention to the locked case that was now vibrating out of control in the stranger's hand.
"It may just be my stuffing, but it is in there sir. If you feel the need to test me, I will accept any challenge you wish to offer. As for my companion, he is not the one who is lost. He is helping me find my home, and to find my name. I ask that no harm come to him. He is along for the journey but the journey is mine. So do what you must but leave this kind traveler be."
The second ghost smirked and looked to the others. The first seemed slightly impressed but quickly hid it from the second. The third had both hands over his mouth stifling his laughter. The second ghost gave him a nod of permission. The third ghost moved his stubby hands and flew back several feet from the force of his glee. The patchwork pumpkin never broke eye contact with the sunken sockets of the second ghost. His resolve began to annoy the second ghost, and the pumpkin could see it in his face.
"You lack the heart required to pass this way pumpkin." The first ghost said with a sigh. "Go back to the Wretched Road and find a new journey.
"My friend is free to leave, but I'm not going anywhere." The pumpkin said. "Please stranger, head back and leave me to fight my way through these ruffians alone." All three ghosts laughed and mocked the little patchwork pumpkin. A strong vibration shattered their merriment as the stranger extended his arm and held the locked case he carried out within reach of the three ghosts.
"You say that my companion here lacks heart." The stranger suddenly commanded a strong tone with only a hint of fear left in it. "I offer up my own heart as payment for his passage."
"You have been cursed stranger." The first ghost said. "You are doomed to travel the Wretched Road and that is the end of that."
"So the curse says, until the day comes when I can finally put my black heart to good use." His beard twitched along with the corner of his mouth as a smile fought to break through his trepidation. The vibration of the case slowed to a strong steady beat. The third ghost began dancing to it but stopped when the second ghost slapped him. His stubby hand hit the back of the third ghost's head, passing clean through, leaving a mess of vapor where the third ghost's face had just been.
"So be it stranger." The first ghost nodded. "You have sealed this deal and your fate as well."
"I'm well aware of the fine print gentle…" The stranger was at a loss as he looked the three ghosts over. The first ghost frowned at the dropping of men from gentle, and snatched the beating case away from the stranger in a very ungentle manor. The second ghost seemed to growl as he folded his arms. The third ghost stopped laughing for the first time as his face returned to normal, still grinning like the Comedy half of twin masks.
"I don't understand." The little pumpkin said softly. The stranger placed him gently down in the leaves and knelt in front of the little pumpkin with all the warmth he had in him bringing his smile back to life. The ghosts began to spin around, following each other in a small circle, moving faster and faster. The leaves beneath them began to shake and swirl as if they were being mixed in a large bowl. A brilliant blue light emerged and coated the swirling leaves that continued to move and glow after the ghosts had floated away from them. The stranger looked over to that spot and a single tear ran down his cheek.
"You have helped me find my way little pumpkin. I wish you the best of luck in finding your own."
"You can come with me." The little pumpkin said. "We still have not found my name yet, and without it you will have a harder time remembering me."
"My dear little pumpkin, I can assure you that I will never forget you." He winked and tipped his hat as he stood. The three ghosts watched with folded arms as the stranger stepped over to the swirling leaves and stuck one foot into them. As quickly as the wink he had given the pumpkin passed, the stranger was gone. The swirling leaves that had devoured him lost their glow and stopped moving. It was as if the stranger had never existed.
"I guess it's time for you to go home now little pumpkin." The second ghost floated over to him with a mean look, miming popping his knuckles though he no longer had fingers, but vaporous stubs in their place. Those stubs still managed to pick the pumpkin up off the ground and carry him over to the edge of a steep drop. He spotted an ancient stone house at the bottom of the drop off. It was surrounded by odd black creatures that appeared to be made from the same kind of material as him.
"It remains a solid truth that men only pass this way once pumpkin." The first ghost said as he and the third ghost joined them at the edge of the drop. "Be very thankful you are not a mere man."
"What am I exactly?" The little pumpkin felt a great amount of fear as he looked down to the crumbling stone house, thinking of the plummet he was surely about to endure in order to reach it. He had little faith that any of the three ghosts would be as kind as the stranger and escort him the rest of the way. "Am I more like you?"
"More like us?" The second ghost made no attempt to hide the offense he felt from the very notion. The third ghost finally began to laugh again. Oddly, the little pumpkin was happy for him. "You bribe your way home at the cost of your only friend in the world, and then have the nerve to insult us with such a comparison?"
"Keep your eyes open and your wits about you little pumpkin." The first ghost said as he hurled the stranger's locked case over the edge. "One of those down there is not one of them." He nodded at the ancient house and its dark guardians. The pumpkin was too slow to ask any further questions. The second ghost hurled him down the drop off, his terrifying tumble set to the fading music of the third ghost's laughter.
Sharp twigs jabbed into the poor little pumpkin as he hit the side of the hill, so steep that it was better labeled a cliff. He collected leaves and dried pine needles as he continued to tumble faster and faster toward the ancient house below. Before he could gather any sort of wits at all the little pumpkin found he had landed at the side of the house. The pain of his soft skin being ripped then then slammed against the stone siding of this structure did not whisper but rather it roared. The locked case was nearby, but the vibrations had ceased. All sound but the distant winds had faded into a dreadful silence. The patchwork pumpkin was all alone again with no means of transporting himself. He wondered how long he would lay there before he was found again, and fretted over whom or what would discover him next.
"I suppose she will be pleased as punch that you have somehow managed to find your way back here." A slinky voice slithered in between the larger patchwork black cats that seemed to have been set out as some sort of protection all around the small stone structure. There was little room to call a yard surrounding the house. Mostly the pumpkin could see the cliff sides that seemed to completely encase the house. It was no small wonder that men only made this journey once. How they ever managed to leave, how the pumpkin managed to find himself by the side of the Wretched Road, all of it was a mystery. A small lanky shadow appeared, but it wasn't a shadow at all. She was the one the first ghost had spoken of. A real flesh, blood, and fur cat with the brightest of yellows filling her large eyes. They were glued to the pumpkin as she paced around him. She was stealthy and slick, and unfortunately not a friend the little pumpkin gathered. "I'm guessing you are just as pleased as punch with yourself as well."
"I'm sorry madam but you must be mistaking me for someone else. I have no memory of you or of this place. In fact I seem to be lacking my memory entirely."
"That's because she forgot to put a brain in that soft and very scratch-able gourd of yours." The black cat quickly sat and stuck out a paw. Razor like claws shot out of each pad. She smiled with her wide yellow eyes and licked her paw as her claws retracted. She washed herself and purred.
"You know me then?" The pumpkin asked with hope in his voice.
"It would be impossible to forget mommy's little favorite." The black cat stopped washing and glared at the pumpkin. Her yellow eyes burned into his black stitched face.
"I have to tell you that this is a very confusing time in my life." The pumpkin said.
"If you dared to show your face here again then I don't doubt you are very confused," she unleashed all of her claws and slunk toward him. "Very confused indeed."
"I was brought here by a kind stranger who traveled the Wretched Road. He gave me that parcel, sacrificed himself to a very grumpy trio of unfriendly ghosts, all to make sure I found my way home. I have no ill intent madam. I just want to find my name. I want to be sure that the stranger did not do all he did for me only to see me fester by the side of this house in this awful place."
"Awful? Well, what a thing to say about your own home little pumpkin." The black cat stuck her claws into the soft felt stem atop the pumpkin's head and lifted him off the ground. "We don't like you pumpkin, and we don't want you here. If our mother does happen to discover you here, your visit will be cut very short I can assure you." She held the claws on her other front paw under the pumpkin and tickled him with the deadly tips. "And this time, your leave of absence will be far more permanent."
"Oh Miss Abigail, you've found him!" A voice filled with joy came along with a sudden rain of dead leaves sent by the wind from high above. Abigail quickly retracted her claws causing the pumpkin to fall back to the ground. She affected an innocent face with the skill of a great actress and began to purr. She slunk over and rubbed her soft fur against the legs of the old woman who now towered over the patchwork pumpkin. She looked exactly like what one would assume a witch would look like the pumpkin concluded, yet he had no idea what one would imagine a witch would look like so he concluded that he had reached no conclusion at all.
"I'm a very confused pumpkin madam." He said to the witch. "Please do excuse my behavior if it seems impolite."
"You needn't fear any such nonsense my beautiful child." The witch swept the debris off of the pumpkin as she gently picked him up. "I've been waiting so long for the time when you would return home to me." She placed a rough but soothing kiss on the spot where Abigail's claws had just punctured his stem. "And my beloved Gordy has come home just in time."
Abigail waited until the only attention being paid to her came from the patchwork pumpkin. She quickly extended a single claw and swiped it threateningly across her own neck. The little pumpkin was still confused, but not so confused that this gesture's intent was anything but sparkling clear. The shiny black cat followed the witch into the house.
"Gordy madam?" The little pumpkin asked of the witch as she placed him on a sturdy wooden table in the center of the tiny stone house.
"You must not recall anything at all my poor sweet dear." She patted his head and looked into his stitched eyes. "You are Gordy the Pumpkin. I gave that name to you after I finished stitching you together."
"I feel simply terrible not being able to remember my own mother. Is that right? Are you my mother?"
"You could say that." The witch smiled. "In fact, I like the thought of being a mother. I've made many children out of fabric that fell from above, no doubt the work of the man who walks the Wretched Road." Gordy's stuffing sank as she spoke of the kind stranger with such fondness. "When I found the orange suit I just loved the idea that popped into my head. A pumpkin with a kind smile to match his kind heart. Unfortunately, you were taken from me before I had a chance to put the finishing touches on."
"You mean my heart? The stranger who brought me here gave me his." Gordy felt a sting as the witch listened closely. "It's in the case outside, next to where I landed."
"You truly are my greatest gift to the world Gordy." A single tear rolled down her withered cheek. "He was a good man. He knew how important you were to me and to this night."
"He gave himself to those awful ghosts to get me here. I don't feel good at all about that. I don't understand how I can be any more important than anyone else."
"That is exactly why you are so vital Gordy." The witch began to gather items that seemed to have been hidden around the house, most likely hidden from Abigail as there was no one other than the witch and the black cat living in this place. "The spell I needed to cast in order to see you completed required a strong heart to spark the flames of life hiding deep in your gentle soul. You are the key to my freedom. You are so much more, but tonight you will help me escape from this prison at long last."
"That seems like an awful lot to take in if you don't mind me saying so madam." Gordy felt a great pressure upon him that seemed to cause his body to sink.
"It seems that way right now my child." The witch continued to place items on the table in front of Gordy. "Once the fire inside of you ignites, all of your fears will melt away. There is just one more ingredient that I need to add and the spell will be complete at last."
The witch danced away and Abigail seized the opportunity, leaping onto the table. Gordy could not speak. Her wide yellow eyes were set upon him. She raised her paw and unsheathed her claws. Gordy knew what she intended to do to him. If she succeeded then he would not be able to help free the witch from this place that she had called home as a lie, and a prison in confidence. Gordy was not going to allow Abigail to stop him from fulfilling his destiny.
"It's time to carve the pumpkin." She sneered. She swung with great determination, her claws aimed at his soft felt skin. When her blow landed however, it crashed against something very sturdy and solid. Abigail backed up to look at Gordy's face. It was the same as it had been; only now it was carved into the flesh of a real pumpkin.
"I'm beginning to remember a few things now Abigail." Gordy announced. His voice was full confidence and fully devoid of fear. "You drug me up the side of the cliff and handed me off to the Three Ghastly Ghosts. You were the key to keeping our mother locked in this prison all along. The ghosts left me by the side of the Wretched Road with high hopes that spiriting me away would prevent our mother from ever completing the spell to bring me to life. You wanted me to remain lifeless."
"Well, if at first you don't succeed…" Abigail drew her sharp claws back for a second swing. The yellow had left her eyes and she felt something she had never felt before in all of her nine lives. She felt fear.
"You never even realized that you kept the final ingredient safe all along. It was you Abigail. You who set out only to do harm that held the fire needed to bring me to life."
"You lie!" Abigail hissed. Her tail fluffed and her spine curved her body, leaving her balancing atop her sharp claws. She noticed a spark inside of his hollowed pumpkin body, then a bright yellow flam roared to life and filled his smile, his nose, and his eyes. A scream rang out into the night and echoed against the cliffs. Abigail fled the table and vanished forever. The witch emerged with her cape and hat on clutching a handmade broom.
"I've always been more of a dog person to tell you the truth." She cackled. Gordy felt himself leave the table as she picked him up. The broom floated freely. The witch mounted it as she held on tight to Gordy. "That commotion will have the Ghastly Ghosts on high alert. It's time to go my child." The witch burst through the door and swung around to grab the stranger's heart which was still locked up inside of its sturdy case by the side of the ancient house. Then the angle became quite sharp and Gordy saw the brilliant night sky grow closer and closer as the witch flew up and out of her prison. "Never look back Gordy. From this point on you only look forward."
"Forward is pretty much all I have at this point madam. I will gladly take it." Gordy said.
Atop the cliff the glow from the Three Ghastly Ghosts intensified and began to form a wall. Higher and higher it grew, and so higher and higher the witch flew until finally she had flown over it. The ghosts were not happy with her, but she was far less happy with them. Gordy landed first and smiled up at them from a spot very close to the leaves that had devoured the stranger. The Ghastly Ghosts stood their ground and kept on intensifying their glow. Gordy accepted the challenge and intensified his flames. He met eyes with the second ghost and burned his flames deep into the second ghost's dark hollow sockets.
"I see so much of you ghost. I see right through you. I see your very soul, and I promise that it will never again terrorize this or any other world." The leaves beneath the second ghost began to swirl and swallowed him before he had a chance to think about fleeing. The first and third ghosts looked upon Gordy's fiery grin with great fear. "As for you two, I think a nice long stroll down the Wretched Road would suit you well, unless you want to take your leave the same way your friend did."
"We'll just be on our way then." The first ghost said as he used his stubby hands to drag the third ghost away with him. The witch landed soon after and kissed Gordy just above his glowing yellow eyes.
"Our powers are great my child, but never as great as they are each year on this very night." She set the case containing the stranger's heart down at her feet and took a chain from around her neck into her leathery hand. "Those such as Abigail and the Three Ghastly Ghosts also have power on this night. They have the power to walk amongst the innocent as freely as they please, following any ill intent that may be on their evil minds." She produced a small key from the silver chain she had worn and knelt down by the locked case. She opened it and produced the stranger's still-beating heart, looking it over lovingly and handling it with care. "We are all creatures of the night, but where others want only darkness, we provide the light."
With that said she laid the heart down in the center of the exact circle of leaves that had swallowed the stranger. They swirled and gave off a brilliant blue glow once more. The heart sank into them. Gordy felt a sorrow that quickly passed as a burlap visage of the stranger's bearded face began to grow out of the leaves, complete with his hat and suit, his cape, even his carefully polished shoes. All were stuffed with straw and tied to a tall pair of sticks that crossed near the top of the longest and held this scarecrow version of the stranger in place.
"The best thing about fate is that you do have the power to change it Gordy." The witch said.
"Anyone does my child. If it is possible to better your fate, that would a change would it not?"
"I suppose." Gordy agreed.
"Well I've just made my old dear friend's fate a bit better." The witch smiled. "That gives me hope for the future."
"Only look forward." Gordy repeated her earlier request.
"I see that you found your way home little pumpkin." The scarecrow said in the stranger's voice. It was in fact the stranger himself. "We meet again only you are true pumpkin flesh and I am a stuffed memory of the man I once was. Do you see how silly a thing a name is now?"
"I found my name my friend. It is Gordy. I have a feeling you already knew that though." Gordy seemed to raise his inanimate brow. The scarecrow stranger replied simply with a smirk.
"You gave up your heart to save me my love." The witch touched her fingertips gently to the burlap cheek of the scarecrow's face.
"If I had two hearts to give up for you I'd do it all over again."
"On this night when my magic is at its most powerful, I will use it all to bring you back to life again my love. That is my promise to you."
"No. You must save your magic if you hope to find the end of the Wretched Road. Your escape is not complete yet. You must keep going."
"I have our guardian now love." The witch pleaded. "He will lead us both to the very end of the Wretched Road and beyond. I will not spend one more moment without you."
"Gordy has the heart but not the magic and you know it. There is only one choice you can make my love." He saw the choice she had made, saw it in her eyes, but she had gone through with her final spell before he could object.
Gordy felt himself growing and changing. He looked down to find that he was not pumpkin flesh and flame anymore. He was a flesh and blood man standing very naked and very cold in the damp woods. At the feet of the scarecrow that held the stranger's heart sat a patchwork pumpkin that bore the witch's face. She smiled up at her beloved, then turned her attention to Gordy.
"You're shivering child." She noted.
"Take my cape Gordy." The scarecrow said. "You're going to need it for your journey.
"I don't understand." Gordy said with confusion once again taking hold of him.
"I've passed my magic into you my child. Now you have everything you need to find the end of the Wretched Road and get out of this place forever.
"What about you two?" Gordy asked as he slowly took the scarecrow's cape and covered his bare skin from the biting cold.
"We have what we wanted all along my friend." The scarecrow said. "We are together again."
"This is a night when anyone can be anything they wish to be Gordy." The patchwork pumpkin said in the witch's voice. "We want to be together forever, in any form."
"What about me?" Gordy sniffed. "I want to stay with you too."
"You must go where you are needed Gordy. Take my magic and find your path to the world outside of this place. That is your fate my child."
"I don't suppose I can change my fate can I?"
"You can always make it better." The scarecrow assured him. "You will always be that same humble little pumpkin I found by the side of the Wretched Road. On this night each year you will be able to take any form you choose, but you will have to earn it."
"Guide those who need guidance." The witch said from her kindly patchwork smile. "Protect those who need protection. Give to others of yourself and your reward will be eternal."
"You must go now Gordy. The night is moving fast. You have a long trek ahead of you."
"Thank you for giving me my fate mother." Gordy said with a sad tremble in his voice. He looked to the patchwork pumpkin, then to the scarecrow. "And thank you both for making it better."
"Have a safe journey Gordy." The scarecrow said. Gordy nodded and turned to leave.
"Oh and Gordy," the witch's voice called out to him one last time, "Happy Halloween."
Gordy traveled out of the shortcut, through the tunnel, and down the Wretched Road with the stranger's cape wrapped tightly around him. He felt something leaving his mind, a burden being lifted as he continued to travel, but was unaware of the spell that the witch had placed upon him before he left her and the stranger behind. He had completely forgotten them by the time he had battled his way through countless perils and found himself at the end of the Wretched Road. With no idea what awaited him beyond it, Gordy took his first step into the outside world.
"Well aren't you a curious thing?" A lively drunken voice woke Gordy from his slumber. A young man lifted him up, Gordy now having returned to his pumpkin form. The new stranger was in awe of the face carved into this pumpkin, and the magical glow that it emitted. "I'm quite out of sorts and trying to find my way home in this awful darkness. I don't suppose you'd be willing to help me?"
"It would be a great pleasure friend." Gordy said. The young man toted him off without any alarm at the sound of a talking pumpkin. Gordy noticed the smell of very earthbound spirits that explained this man's casual reaction to him.
"Do you have a name friend?"
"Names come and go." Gordy felt as if he were repeating something he had heard before, but shook off the faint thought.
"Fair enough my friend. My name is Jack and I am pleased to make your acquaintance."
Jack carried Gordy all the way home, using the bright brilliant light to guide him. He set the pumpkin on the front step before passing out next to him. Gordy's flame burned on until the night had come to an end, watching over Jack until he woke in the morning and managed to carry himself to bed.
As Gordy's light left him and he drifted off into another deep slumber, he began to dream about returning the following year on that special night when he could be anything he wanted to be. He saw the sun as it rose; saw its light from the inside of his pumpkin shell. For the first time he knew exactly what he looked like to everyone else. It was so wonderful. His carved face grinning as the light glowed through his eyes, warming him and awakening his imagination and delight. In that moment, just before his magic left the pumpkin to go the way all pumpkins eventually do, Gordy knew exactly what he wanted to be the next, and every year to come after. There was something in his name after all. Gordy the Pumpkin, and upon each return he would find his way back to this marvelous form. Content with his fate, a fate made better with each passing thought, he went to sleep with a smile that could not be seen, but could be felt throughout the land.
HAPPY HALLOWEEN FROM GORDY THE PUMPKIN!