The Pumpkin Carver

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: The Dark And Suspenseful

Making sure you have the best pumpkin, can be a killer.

All it took was one look at the ugly misshapen thing and his heart sank, if it was left up to himself, he would have preferred to have just ignored the occasion altogether. However, the smile on old Mrs. Graham's face persuaded him from making any comment; instead, he did his best to muster up a grateful smile. The fact that the smile looked more like a grimace appeared lost to the old woman, and this made him feel worse. After all, the kindly old lady was just trying to do him an act of kindness, an act of charity as she saw it. That was the story of Timmy’s life; Timmy Smyth the local charity case. “Here you go Timmy, you need to take it home, and get working on it, most of the rest of the kids in town are already well ahead of you.” Wasn’t that the stone-cold truth, a little voice in his head reminded him. Timmy reached out and took it from her, doing his best to look grateful and appreciative. His first instinct was to throw the object over the first hedgerow he met, but when he looked over his shoulder old Poly Graham was still standing at the gate smiling fit to burst. She waved at him and he waved back, calling out his thanks once again, this pleased her no end. A wave of guilt washed over him now, and he thought about his mother. “Always be grateful for even the smallest of mercies, because, there is always someone worse off than you.” She would repeat these words to him regularly, and he sometimes wondered whether she was just trying to console herself. Life had not shown many mercies to Margret Smyth, a life of poverty with a drunken abusive husband, until cancer finally took her. Timmy felt the tears welling up in his eyes, it always happened when he thought about his mother. How he wished it was his father cancer had got and not her; but, as his father was fond of saying. “Wish in one hand and shit in the other.” He was almost home when the thing he had been dreading happened. Donnie Flynn and a group of his mates appeared at the end of the street, they whispered to one another as they watched him approach. Timmy thought about turning around and going the long way home, but his old man would be angry if he was too late getting home. “What have you got under your arm Timmy, is it a turnip?” One of them quipped. “Or maybe he has been to the cemetery, and dug up his dead mother’s head, to put on the porch for Halloween.” Donnie quickly added, and they all broke into howls of laughter. The fear that had been building inside him changed suddenly, and it was replaced by burning anger. A red mist settled over him at the cruel words about his mother, the misshapen pumpkin left his hands with a force he did not think he was capable of. The very instant he had thrown it he was sorry, the fear came flooding back and he stood rooted to the spot. Everything suddenly went into slow motion, and the sound of their laughter became distorted. He watched the small pumpkin turning as it flew through the air, like a basketball heading for the hoop. It appeared to take an eternity to travel the short distance to its target; then, there was a hollow thunk as it struck Donnie Flynn square in the face. The pumpkin seemed to explode and so did Donnie’s nose, he staggered back landing in a heap on the wet leaves piled up in the gutter. Timmy looked in horror as blood spouted from Donnie’s nose and mixed with the pumpkin seeds on his face. Donnie’s fancy clothes were covered in wet leaves, and he looked like a multi-colored scarecrow. There was a deathly silence as everyone’s eyes were glued to the prone figure; the silence was broken by a strange animal-like sound issuing from Donnie’s mouth. For that split second Timmy had a window of opportunity, he could have run but he was paralyzed with fear. After a while he just lay there curled up in a fetal position, he could no longer feel the kicks raining down on his body. His mind simply fled, leaving his unfeeling body to be kicked like a football. He had once heard someone say that when you are dying your soul deserts your body and Timmy thought that perhaps his time had come. His mind brought him back to a Halloween long ago, when his father was serving a three-month sentence for a drunken assault. There was just him and his mother at home, and it had been the happiest time of his life. She had even gotten the money somewhere for a shop-bought pumpkin, and she had carved the best Jack-O-Lantern in the town, much better than the one the rich kids had. The memory faded and he realized they had tired from kicking him, he was sore all over but he was still alive. Then he felt the stream of hot urine on his head. “Trick or treat, Smyth”. Donnie’s voice sounded weird with his broken nose, and their laughter sounded hollow now. It took him a long time to get home, every step was agony and he was finding it difficult to breathe. His vision was blurred and he had to stop twice to be sick, even though he had eaten very little that day. The old man was snoring in the armchair when he got home, a mostly empty bottle of cheap booze on the floor next to the chair. Timmy was glad of this and went straight to his room, he lay on the bed fully clothed and drifted off to sleep. It was a troubled sleep in which people with carved pumpkins instead of heads pursued him, the pounding of their feet on the road behind him echoing in his head. Just when they were about to catch him, he awoke with a start. Timmy sat up gingerly, each breath felt as if a knife was plunged into his side, and he knew he was awake, but the pounding of their feet still sounded loud in his head. It took him a while to discover that the pounding was someone knocking on the door, below him he heard his old man stirring. Timmy listened on the darkened landing as his father shuffled to the door cursing beneath his breath, a wave of terror washed over Timmy and he wished his father would ignore whoever was knocking. The hallway was lit up with flashing lights the moment his old man opened the door, and Timmy instinctively knew there was trouble coming his way. The cop on the doorstep spoke softly and Timmy found it hard to follow what he was saying, but the few words he heard were enough. He heard Donnie Flynn’s name being mention and the word assault. Even from where he knelt on the landing, Timmy could feel the anger growing inside his father. Terrifying images of what his father’s wrath would mean for him cascaded through his mind, and an involuntary whining sound issued from Timmy. His father was a cruel and vindictive man, having to stand listening to the policeman would enrage him and Timmy would pay dearly for this. He was already weak and hurting from the run-in with Donnie and his mates, and he did not think he would survive a beating from the old man. The ground looked to be an impossible distance below him, yet he knew it could be no more than four feet. The climb through the tree from his bedroom window had been agony, and the thought of dropping to the ground below the lowest branch was terrifying. The slightest movement caused him pain, and he could only imagine what the four-foot drop would do to him. The longer he dallied on the branch, the more fearful he became, and he toyed with the idea of trying to make his way back to the bedroom window. That was until he heard the pounding of his old man’s feet on the stairs and the bellows of rage issuing from him. “You have done it now Timmy, you ungrateful little bastard. I am going to make you sorry you are not lying in the cemetery with your no-good mother.” He winced at the reference to his mother as if he had been physically hit, and it was those hateful words that finally gave him the courage. Just as his father entered the room above, Timmy closed his eyes and dropped to the ground. The short drop to the grass below felt as if it was from a great height, the ground was soft from the recent rain but the jolt still made him moan in pain. For one frightening moment, he felt as if he would pass out, the pain in his ribs brought a wave of nausea over him. He felt exhausted now and just wanted to lie on the wet grass and sleep, but the bellowing rage of his father as he entered the bedroom above, spurned Timmy into action. He got up and staggered into the darkness with the screams of abuse from his father following him. He had no idea where he was going and just concentrated on putting one foot ahead of the other. All he knew was that he needed to get as far as possible from the house and keep moving until he left the town far behind. On the brow of the hill above the town Timmy paused to look back, it was raining heavily now and the wind drove the cold rain into his face. The lights from the town below looked blurred and he did not know whether it was because of the rain, or the tears in his eyes. Taking one last look at a town he had never left before, Timmy promised himself that if he ever returned things would be different. He did not have any idea how long he had been walking but it seemed like a very long time, he was soaked through and had never felt as cold in his life. Every step was a momentous effort now as he grew weaker, a voice in his head told him that he needed to find shelter or he would die here on the dark road. Up ahead he spotted an area of darker shadow that marked the edge of the woods, there might be shelter under those trees he thought and he forced himself forward. When he reached the woods he spotted a faint light among the trees and he made his way towards it. Timmy had often heard stories of cabins in the woods, and they usually ended badly for someone. However, he had two choices, die here from exposure or seek shelter. Timmy finally made it to the source of the faint light, but it was not a cabin. An old man sat by a campfire in the shade of a canvas awning, the awning was fixed to a brightly painted horse-drawn wagon. The last thing Timmy remembered was thinking that he was hallucinating, the old gypsy smiled at him and then everything went dark. Donald Flynn grabbed Donnie Jnr by his plump wrist and propelled him forward to the head of the queue. The protests from the other parents and their offspring did not seem to bother him in the least, and when one woman attempted to stand her ground; Donald pushed his enormous belly against her and stared her down. This was typical of Donald Flynn; he had grown from a child bully to an adult bully. The obese child at his side turned and sneered at the people watching on in shock, Donnie Flynn Jnr was used to getting whatever he wanted. Young Donnie launched himself on the pile of pumpkins pulling and dragging at them, several of the fruits fell to the floor. By the time the spoilt child had chosen which one he wanted, the floor of the shop was littered with damaged pumpkins. By the time they left, there was little choice for the other customers, and the father and son were grinning from ear to ear. “You see Donnie; I told you that we would have the best pumpkin display in the town” Donnie Snr patted the head of the sneering child. The child drew back his leg and kicked the pumpkin off the porch, the other one he jumped on, his considerable bulk smashing it to a pulp. Donnie watched on in frustration, he had spent hours carving those fruits and now his darling son had just destroyed them. “You promised me the best pumpkin display in the town. These are rubbish; even the poor kids have a better display”. The whining cries of Donnie Jnr wormed their way inside his head until he felt like screaming, he tried to pacify the child but he was inconsolable. The sound of the front door opening added even more anxiety to the situation, as Donnie’s mother arrived on the scene. “Donnie my love what is the matter?” That was all he needed was a whinging child and bitching wife, his day had just gone from bad to worse. The scene continued without abating until his bitch of a wife demanded him go and find more pumpkins. Donnie drove around town from shop to shop; the initial anger had abated now but it had been replaced by a growing apprehension. There wasn’t a pumpkin to be found anywhere in the town, in desperation he drove towards the outskirts, in the hope that some of the local farms would have some. He was just passing the old Smyth house when he got the urge to stop; it had been years since he was out this way. The old man had died a few years back and the place was derelict, and for the first time in over twenty years, Donnie Flynn thought of little Timmy Smyth. Donnie ran his hand along the crooked line of his nose, and for a brief moment, he felt the impact of the pumpkin that had broken his nose. He vaguely wondered whether Timmy had survived the kicking he and his mates had given him, a cold shiver ran down his spine at the thought of that day and he started the car and drove off. For some reason, the memory of Timmy Smyth had made him even more distressed than the tantrum young Donnie had just thrown. Just beyond the brow of the hill, Donnie came across the horse-drawn wagon parked by the side of the road. A table had been set up with the most amazing carved Pumpkins that Donnie had ever seen, things of strange beauty and somehow terrifying at the same time. The carvings depicted horrifying faces of the most intricate design, faces that could have been drawn from the depths of hell itself. Donnie stood mesmerized by the carvings and more than a little horrified, he had never seen the likes of them before. He reached out with a trembling hand to pick one up, he just had to bring one back to his son. “Don’t touch the merchandise unless you are willing to purchase it.” The soft voice behind him almost made him yelp with fright. Anger immediately flared inside him, no one spoke to him like that if they knew what was good for them. He spun around to see a tall figure in a hooded coat standing behind him; the cowl-like hood hid all the stranger’s features. Donnie was just about to give him a piece of his mind when a strange nervousness came over him. Donnie parked the car and carefully removed the carved pumpkin from the passenger seat, even handling the thing sent a cold shiver down his spine. The stranger had struck a hard bargain; the pumpkin had cost Donnie dearly. He had wanted to buy more than one but the stranger refused him, normally he would have intimated anyone to get his way, but something about the stranger made him wary. Not only was he allowed just one but there were conditions attached, he could only let his son have the pumpkin on Halloween. He had no intention of following these instructions, but now as he stared at the thing something told him to abide by the conditions. The next couple of days were a living nightmare for him, Donnie Jnr was driving him insane and his wife was an utter bitch to him. He continuously reiterated the fact that the pumpkin was to be a surprise, but the child would not be consoled. To his great relief Halloween finally arrived and Donnie retrieved the pumpkin from its hiding place in the garage, if anything the fruit looked even more frightening. He hurried to the porch and placed it on the stand, a sense of relief came over him once it left his hands. The look of wonder on young Donnie’s face at the sight of it was almost surpassed by the terrified expression on his mother’s face as she stared wide-eyed at it. For the first time since meeting the stranger Donnie finally felt relaxed, he had kept his promise to Donnie Jnr. Everything was good in the Flynn household again, at least for a while. He was comfortable in his favorite chair with a cool beer, the kid had gone outside to light the candle in the pumpkin and his wife was in the kitchen. He had just raised the beer to his lips when the scream echoed around the house; it took him a moment to realize it had come from the porch. By the time he managed to get his huge bulk from the chair, his wife was on the porch and the bitch was screaming too. The sound of his enormous bulk hitting the porch floor sounded like a clap of thunder, he had rushed out and slipped on something wet on the floor. The kid had stopped screaming now and had taken to whimpering like a wounded animal, his wife stood like a statue as if paralyzed on the spot. He got to his feet to find the pale figure of his son whimpering in front of him. “It bit me, Daddy, it bit me bad.” The arm that Donnie Jnr held up finished in a bloody stump where his hand should have been. That abomination of a pumpkin seemed to be staring at him, blood ran from its carved teeth. In what seemed like slow motion the thing left its perch and launched at his face, a memory from many years ago came back to him, and he thought this will be more than a broken nose. The last thing he saw was the stranger standing below the porch. “Trick or treat Flynn.” The stranger whispered as the thing began to rip at his face with needle-like teeth.


Submitted: October 31, 2020

© Copyright 2020 Patrick G Moloney. All rights reserved.

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Comments

Celtic-Scribe63

A great, chilling tale for Halloween, Patrick.
Told in a stark, foreboding style, which brings your writing alive.
The violence is visceral, the beating is brutal, but brings the scene to bloody life.

The tension building toward the grim finale is done so subtly and perfectly.
Your style of thrilling writing is always a pleasure to read.

I don't know if it's the way the piece just downloaded, but I would recommend, breaking it up into smaller paragraph blocks. For an easier read.
Apart from that, It is another fine read from you.
Best Wishes.
CS63

Mon, November 2nd, 2020 8:55am

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