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Faces in the Pumpkins

Faces in the pumpkins


Estimated reading time — 21 minutes

“She was right again.”

Old Farmer Bill threw one more load of hay in the trailer.
“I thought I’d be able to finish it today. Agnes knew what she was talking about when she said I was overdoing myself. Almost fifty years of marriage and she’s been right every single time.”

He was really hoping to finish moving the massive pile of hay from the field to his barn, but based on the amount of it left, he still had a few more hours of work to do before that became a reality. The sun was setting, and Agnes would be finishing dinner soon. He had to get back home before it got dark, especially since the headlights on his pick-up truck burned out earlier this week. He meant to get it into the shop, but he’d just been too busy. It was harvest season after all, and that usually sucks up all of his time.

Bill walked up to the front of the trailer to make sure it was hitched to his truck, and then proceeded to climb in the vehicle. It was an older, beat-up truck, but he’d been able to depend on it for the past twenty years so he wasn’t too worried about it totally breaking down anytime soon. He turned the ignition key, and the engine roared to life.

Bill licked his lips. “It’s soup tonight!” He gently lowered his foot onto the gas pedal and the pick-up heaved forward. He looked at the still enormous pile of hay in the rearview mirror, regretful he couldn’t finish moving it today. It slowly got smaller and smaller as his distance from it increased. He took his eyes away from the mirror and looked out the windshield. He was now passing by what used to be a cornfield. All that remained were the base of the dry stalks. The rest of the corn plants had been ripped to shreds in the harvester.

The cornfield came and went, and he was now passing his pumpkin patch. It was a modest sized crop, and it certainly seemed small when compared to his neighbor’s. But the pumpkins were his favorite. He had fond memories of carving jack-o’ lanterns with his kids. That was oh so long ago… how he wished they’d all be little again. The pumpkins always reminded him of them. He had almost lost most of his pumpkins to an infestation this year. He tried several treatments, but none of them seemed to work. Finally he decided to let this new pesticide company test a product on his crop. They said it might make things around harvest time messy, but that it should be okay.

Harvest time was now! Bill had been too busy with his corn and moving hay the past few days to check on them. He pulled his truck over and put it in park. He looked over at the crimson sunset. The sun had nearly dipped below the horizon, but he figured he had a few minutes before there was only the light of the moon. He threw his door open and jumped from his perch behind the wheel. The pumpkins looked like they were doing okay, but he needed to get a closer look to be sure. The pesticide company told him to look for black spots near or on the stem, and it was too dark to see any of these blotches from ten feet away.

He began walking toward the pumpkins, nervous as to what he might find. He kneeled in the dirt next to the pumpkin closest to his truck. He wrapped his fingers around the pumpkin and lifted it to his face. He squinted in an attempt to see in the waning light. No spots.

“Phew.” His heart rate slowed a bit. “No spots. Looks like their product might be a success!” He went to stand, but something caught his eye. He looked to his right. In the dimming light, he could see something off with one of the pumpkins. From the angle he was at it looked like it was… dented? He got up and walked toward it. As he neared, he could tell it wasn’t a dent, but rather a chunk of it was missing. He turned the pumpkin around to reveal that it had a carving.

“What the?” Staring back at him was a face carved into the fruit. Its expression was one of exhaustion. It looked like it had just done hours of hard manual labor. It was really an impressive carving though. Bill would’ve commended whoever did it had they not done so without permission.

“Stupid teenagers,” he grumbled. “They’re always messin’ with my stuff around this time of year. Halloween seems to get it in their head it’s okay to trespass and vandalize!” Last year a group of high school kids had cut a corn maze into his crop. That cost him a lot of corn. He had a legal fight with their parents afterwards, but he couldn’t prove anything and lost. If they were back again carving his pumpkins, he’d get them. He did wonder though why they’d take so much time to carve such an intricate face into his pumpkin, and then just leave it there. They didn’t even take it off the vine.

He was too tired to care right now. He’d take care of it in the morning. He walked back over to his car and hopped in. A good night’s rest after dinner would help him think this out more thoroughly. He shut the door and pushed down the gas. His truck lurched forward toward his house. The kitchen window was open, and Bill could smell the soup from here. Agnes always made the best soup. Bill was ready to crash. His expression was one of exhaustion, as he had just done hours of hard manual labor.

Bill used a pitchfork to scoop up the rest of the hay. He lifted the load over his head and spun around so it was precariously dangling over the trailer of his truck. He turned the tool upside down and watched the hay become one with the rest of the pile. He threw the pitchfork in and brushed his hands on his pants. It was gratifying to finish what he couldn’t yesterday.

“Just need to load it in the barn. The horses’ll eat good today.” Bill opened the driver’s door and hopped in. He swatted at a fly as he twisted the key ninety degrees. The truck lunged backward. “Oop – better put her in drive.” He pushed the stick backward and was on his way. The empty cornfield went past in a blurr, but he did notice the lone scarecrow. He looked just a tad goofy out there all alone. It was about time to take him down. Noted, he thought. He had always kept the scarecrow up through harvest time. Even though that created an inconvenience while harvesting, it was worth it. The birds always liked to pick at his crops while he harvested, so this way ensured they’d leave them alone.

As he continued on route to his house, he came to his prized pumpkin patch. He smiled as he drove past the orange fruits. As the pumpkins passed his window, however, he saw something… off.

The truck kicked up dirt as he slammed on the breaks. He put it into reverse and slowly backed up, looking out the left window the whole time. A pumpkin that stood out from the rest slowly came into view. Its prominence was attributed to the angry expression carved on its face. Its brows were angled downward and his mouth was drawn into a frown of disgust.
“Darn you vandals!” Bill shouted at the top of his lungs. “That’s it. I’m making some phone calls. You’ll learn one of these days!” Bill clenched the steering wheel, whitening his knuckles. He drove off so fast he didn’t have time to notice the black blotches near the stem of the angered pumpkin.

He pulled his truck up next to his doorstep and climbed out. He stomped up the stairs to the door and threw it open.

“Agnes!” He hollered as he tromped through his home. “Agnes! Where are you?”

Light footsteps could be heard coming from the stairwell. “I’m coming! I’m coming!” Agnes came around the corner with a frantic look. “What’s going on Bill?”

“Those idiot teenagers vandalized another one of our pumpkins!”

Agnes rolled her eyes. “Bill, how many have they carved? Two? We sell almost three hundred each year. Two pumpkins won’t make that big of a difference.”

“It’s the principle of the thing,” he huffed back.

“Just put up a warning sign. That’s what my parents always did. It worked well.”

“Psh. Kids these days don’t care about nobody but them dang selves. A sign won’t work.”

“Bill, I get that my surgery has you stressed out about our financial situation. But two pumpkins won’t make a huge difference.”

“You don’t know that.”

“What do we sell an average pumpkin for… five dollars? Ten dollars worth of pumpkins won’t make a difference.”

“Okay, fine. But it’s just the principle of the thing! Those kids need to learn harming other folks’ property is wrong.”

“Why don’t you just pick all the pumpkins? Bring them into the barn? They won’t come in the barn.”

“I can’t pick the pumpkins yet. It’s not close enough to Halloween. They’ll start rotting before anyone gets a chance to carve them.”

“Then what do you suggest we do?”

“Well… I.. uh….”

“Come back when you have an answer, Bill. I have a headache. I was trying to sleep it off. Just take a deep breath and relax about it, okay? And based off of your description of the pumpkin from last night these teenagers have quite the talent. You could sell them for extra instead.”

Bill sighed. “Okay.”

“So what was its expression this time, anyways?”

“It was… angry.”

“Hm. Just like you. You should really relax about this.”

He sighed again. “Alright.”

“Thank you. I love you, honey,” Agnes said as she turned back toward the stairs. Her hand was gripping her head. Bill felt a tinge of pain realizing he’d just made her headache worse. He turned around himself to get back to his truck. Once he was out of the house, he began mumbling again. His brows were angled downward and his mouth was drawn into a frown of disgust.

“Stupid teenagers,” he muttered as he climbed into his truck. He turned the key and was back on his way to the barn to unload the hay.

“Alrighty buddy,” Bill said as he lifted the scarecrow over his head. “Time to go away for the winter!” He threw him into the bed of his truck, denting the walls. “Thanks for all your work keeping the crows away.” The stuffed humanoid stared blankly off into space, his smile of thread motionless. Bill chuckled to himself. “You don’t have to be so rude. You can respond.”

The scarecrow just kept on smiling. “I wish I had your attitude. Smiling all day seems like a ton of fun.” He mosied over to the door at the driver’s seat and climbed in his vehicle.
He halted. All of the sudden an eerie feeling washed over him, like he was being watched. He slowly turned his head, but the only humanoid thing he saw was his scarecrow. He huffed. “Funny how things like scarecrows and mannequins will do that.” He shook the feeling off and turned the key.

The engine sputtered to life and the truck began moving forward. He drove past the boundaries of the cornfield and was on his way. He bounced in his seat as the truck hit bumps in the dirt wayside. He peered out his window, scowling. He was coming up on the pumpkin patch. His knuckles turned white as rage filled his veins. If those no-good teenagers had messed with it again….

He pulled the truck over and got out.

“Let’s see if someone trespassed on my property again.” He walked over to the patch and started marching up and down the aisles. His head frantically swung from side to side. His eyes scanned the fruits for any discrepancies.

There seemed to be nothing there today. He felt the anger flushing from his body. It was over.

Then he saw it. Fifteen feet away was another carved pumpkin. It was carved in the same style as the others, with an intricate face showing an emotion. This pumpkin seemed to be breathing a sigh of relief, as if he felt a burden just taken off his shoulders.

Bill threw his head back and yelled. This was the third day in a row, and was three too many.
“Gosh! Darn! Stupid!” He thrust his foot through the vandalized fruit. The thing shattered as he growled. “I’ll get you teens,” he muttered. “You’ll be done for when I get through with you.” He kicked the shards of pumpkin across the field as he tromped back to his truck. He crushed the black-spotted stem without batting an eye as he leapt into the vehicle.

The truck’s wheels screeched and dust flew ten feet into the air as Bill sped off. He glowered as his abode came into a clearer view. His truck jerked as he slammed on the breaks and the scarecrow flew into the back window. He swung his door open and trudged up to his front door.

“Agnes!” he shouted as the front door pounded into the wall. “Agnes! They did it again!”

Agnes looked up from the pot she had on the stove. She continued stirring as the two made eye contact.

“Settle down Bill.”

“No! I will not settle down! They’ve done it again and-”

“Bill!”

“What?”

“Listen for just a second!”

“What?” he snapped.

“I called the Sheriff today.”

His curiosity peaked as he raised an eyebrow. “And?”

“He said if it happened again he’d send a deputy out to catch them.”

Bill breathed a sigh of relief. It felt as if a burden had just been taken off his shoulders. “Thank goodness,” he said.

“I’ll call him again and there’ll be a deputy over tomorrow.”

Bill nodded. “Okay. Thank you.” He turned to get back to work, then stopped. He slowly turned his body, feeling a little embarrassed. “I’m sorry… Agnes. I’m sorry for letting myself get so out of control.”

“It’s okay, Bill. I get it. It’s frustrating when people don’t respect your property.”

He nodded. “Yeah. Well, I best get back to business.”

“Okay. I love you.”

“Love you too.”

Bill turned to leave again. As he was headed out he noticed the hole he’d put in the wall with the door handle during his rampage. A little spackle would fix that. He’d have to get to it tomorrow. And he knew he’d be apologizing to Agnes the whole time he was mending it.
He walked up to his truck and climbed in. He sunk down in the seat, relieved that this vandal problem would be taken care of. Relieved, he thought. Relieved. Just like that pumpkin.

“Now just need to let it dry,” Bill said as he stood up. His spackle job was only half-decent, but he was a farmer – not a contractor. “Just be careful when you open the door.”

“I’m not the one that needs to be careful,” Agnes smiled. Bill blushed.

“Yeah, well, I’ll be more careful too.”

“Okay. See you later honey.”

Bill nodded. “I’ll be back around lunch time. I’m excited for whatever you’re makin’.”

She laughed. “Go out and work. We need money to buy the ingredients.”

“Right,” he said winking.

“See you later.”

“See you.”

“Love you.”

“Love you too.”

“Bye.” He closed the door behind him and grabbed his coat. He didn’t move. He looked to his right, where the barn was, and then to his left, scanning the horizon for someone – something out there, that was looking back at him. He shuddered, a little disturbed he’d felt the eyes of another being on him, only to look and see no one there. He chose to ignore it and put his coat on. It was getting colder. That meant it was almost time to harvest the pumpkins. Then they’d never get carved on again by those vandals. He hopped in his truck and took off toward the pumpkins. The deputy had gotten there last evening just before it got dark. Bill had checked every pumpkin for carvings then, and none had them. It was daylight now so he could let the deputy go. After all, no one would be dumb enough to commit a crime in broad daylight. The deputy would come back tonight, and it’d all be okay.
He pulled up next to the pumpkin patch. The deputy was sitting in a folding chair amongst the fruits reading a book. Bill jumped down from his seat and walked toward the law enforcement officer.

“Howdy howdy,” the deputy said as he put his bookmark in. “How’s it goin’?”

“Good, now that you’re here. Thank you so much for coming.” Bill extended his hand. The officer grabbed it.

“Deputy Lewis,” he said as he jerked Bill’s hand. “But you can call me Steven.”

“Bill,” he replied.

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“Well,” Steven said as he dropped his hand to his side. “Nobody came around last night.”

“And you didn’t fall asleep?”

“Bill, I could stay awake for a year without yawning. I checked my watch every ten minutes to make sure I wasn’t dozing off.”

“I’m just gonna take a look around to make sure.”

“I can guarantee you won’t find anything.”

“That’s good to know.” Bill began marching up and down the aisles, scanning for any disturbances.

He stopped in his tracks. He bent over and picked up one of the orange fruits as his rage started to build up. An expression of deep regret is what covered the face of this pumpkin. It looked as if it was at the very bottom of the abyss of despair. The vandals had still gotten here, even though there was a deputy there the entire time!

“Get out of here,” Bill muttered.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t hear-”

“I said get out of here!” Bill held up the jack-o’ lantern. “You see this? You did fall asleep on the job! You didn’t do anything!”

“What? No! I was up all night. I checked my watch every ten minutes. I never fell asleep. That must’ve been there before-”

“I checked the patch before. It wasn’t here. You’re just a terrible deputy.”

“No. I swear. I don’t know how that got there!”

“Get out of here. I said get the heck out!” Bill launched the pumpkin at the deputy, hitting him in the head. He fell to the floor with shattered pumpkin all over his face. Blood dribbled from his lips and ran from his nostrils, but this was the only motion coming from Lewis.
Bill’s heart stopped. What had he done?

“No… no. No. No. No!” Bill sprinted to his truck. “No, no, no, no, no….” He turned the key and the truck sputtered to life. He slammed on the gas and steadied the car into the direction of his house.

Agnes stood on the doorstep. Bill swung the door open and came bolting toward her. She smiled at him as he came closer.

“Lunch is-”

“Call an ambulance.”

“What?”

“Just do it!”

“What’s going on?”

Bill threw the door to the hall closet to the side and grabbed onto their first-aid kit. “Have them meet me in the pumpkin patch.”

“Bill, what happened?”

“Hurry. He might have a concussion.”

“Bill?”

He ignored his wife and sprinted back to his pick-up. He revved the engine and floored it. In his frantic rush he neglected the closing of the car door, but the wind did that for him. The pumpkin patch came into view and he stomped on the breaks, which almost flung him through the beat-up windshield of his ride. He clutched the first aid kit as he ran to the deputy, who he couldn’t get to fast enough. He slid in the dirt and would’ve made a comment about baseball to himself had the gravity of the situation not been so heavy.

“No no no no no no no no,” he sputtered as he flung open the first aid kit’s lid. The deputy had blood streaming from his nose. A simple band-aid wouldn’t help. Bill didn’t know how to treat a concussion, either. His heart sank lower and lower as he began to realize that he was utterly useless in this situation.

The blaring of sirens became more apparent as the ambulance approached. The vehicle turned into Bill’s empty cornfield, its lights flashing. Bill hung his head as the ambulance came to a stop and the doors swung open.

“Well Bill, I never thought I’d have to read you Miranda but…”

Bill nodded. He felt deep regret, as if he was at the very bottom of the abyss of despair.
“I never meant for this to happen. I’m… so…”

“I get it Bill. I’m sorry I have to do this. We’ve been friends since grade school. But the law is the law, and I can’t make exceptions. Even for life-long friends,” the Sheriff gave Bill a look of pity as he spoke. Bill swallowed, holding back tears.

“Do you think he’ll be okay?”

“Oh, Deputy Lewis could recover from an injury requiring a full-body cast in just a day. He’s a tough one. That’s why I hired him on the force. He’ll get over a concussion and shattered nose. And he’s got a good dentist, so his smile will be taken care of just fine.”

Bill sniffed again. “I don’t want to go to prison, Dan.”

The Sheriff nodded. “Not many people usually do.”

“I can’t afford a lawyer, Dan. Agnes’s surgery… Agnes. Agnes! How do you think she’d take all this?”

“Don’t worry about the lawyer, Bill. One will be provided for you. I’m sure Agnes can forgive you. You’ve been married for nearly five decades, after all.”

“I’m scared Dan.”

“I know.” The Sheriff took a deep sigh. “Tell you what. We’ll take you down to the office to get booked, and then I’ll help you pay the bail.”

Bill looked at the Sheriff through blurred vision. “Thank you,” he exhaled as a tear rolled down his cheek and dropped to the dirt ground. The Sheriff nodded. He put his hand on Bill’s shoulder.

“Come on.” The two casually stepped over a shard of pumpkin dotted with tiny, black blotches.

Bill tossed and turned on the couch. He couldn’t get to sleep. It’s not that their couch wasn’t comfortable – it was a very comfortable couch. One of the best ones in town. No, Bill was restless because Agnes hadn’t talked to him since he got home from the county jail. He wished he’d taken Agnes’s advice and went through that anger management class. Once again, the love of his life was correct.

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Bill sat up and rubbed his sleepless eyes. Perhaps a walk would help. He went for his coat and grabbed a flashlight. It was just after one, but the outside still offered a little light with the autumn fair just a few miles off. Bill turned on the flashlight and headed out the door. He didn’t have a particular endpoint to his midnight escapade in mind, he just began walking and didn’t stop. The regret that hallowed up his mind was too much to bear. He’s just ruined the rest of his life. He’d spend it in prison on assault charges. Why would he have done such a thing?

These questions racked his mind as he walked past the pumpkin patch. He was swinging the flashlight around when the beam coming from this device illuminated another face on a pumpkin.

“What? No, not again,” Bill said. This pumpkin seemed to have a tear streaking down its cheek. It looked sad, almost depressed. Bill noted he felt terrible now, but the intricate face on this pumpkin seemed to have it even worse than he did.

Bill spun around and waved the flashlight from side to side. He swore he’d just heard someone move past him. His eyes scanned the view before him, but nothing was there. He turned again to look back at his pumpkin patch, feeling the eyes of some unidentified creature staring at him. His hands shook and he wanted to run, but his body wouldn’t obey his mind. The only thing that could move were his eyes, still looking for whatever was peering at him from the dark.

“Who – who’s there?” His voice quivered. He felt the presence move around back behind him. Right at that moment he broke into a full sprint back to the safety of his house. In his frantic bolt he nearly dropped his flashlight, but was able to save it by the skin of his teeth. It seemed as if whatever was watching him was on his tail, but when he turned to look behind there was nothing but a vast black expanse void of light.

His heart seemed to beat in his throat. His feet propelled him forward with strength he didn’t know he had. His house was just a hundred yards away… ninety… eighty… seventy….
He tripped and rolled through the dead grass, making several rotations before getting back up. He lost his flashlight this time, but he didn’t dare go back for it. The thing was gaining.
His hand reached out to the doorknob and twisted it. He flung the door into the wall and almost as fast as he’d opened it it was closed again. Bill flipped on all the lights that could be activated by the switch next to his front door. He stayed leaned up against the door for a few moments, catching his breath. He wanted to look out the front window, but was terrified of what he might see. Slowly, his head began to turn around. His eyes were as wide as saucers and he looked out the window, trembling. Nothing.

Bill let out a sigh of relief. It was gone. It was gone.

Clonk.

Bill jumped back to his feet, his guard was now up higher than it had ever been before. He again felt eyes staring upon him from the unknown. He began to back into the kitchen, as that was the opposite direction the feeling was coming from. His shaking hand groped around in an attempt to switch on the lights in the room he was stepping into now. He felt the piece of plastic extending from the wall and flipped it upward. His fingers were now trying to feel for the drawer where they kept the kitchen knives. He felt a handle, and slowly pulled the drawer open, afraid if he did it too fast it’d startle the creature watching him. His fingers curled around one of the knives and he brought it out in front of him.

“I’m warning you! Stay away!” Nothing. “I’m telling you! You’d better stay away!” Again no noise hinted any sort of acknowledgement.

He felt the shadow of whatever was looking at him move. It was no longer in front of him, but in the room to his right. Bill turned his head as slowly as his fight response would let him. Beads of cold sweat dribbled down his face and neck. He raised the knife above his shoulder.

“I’m warning you!” The silence of the darkness seemed to tease him.

Bill flung the knife into the blackness of the unknown. Its blade spun, reflecting the light from the kitchen as it vanished into the darkness of the next room.

Thud.

Then, as quickly as it had come, the feeling was gone. Bill sunk down into the corner and curled up into a ball. He gently rocked back and forth as he tried to warm himself up. He didn’t dare go into the living room to grab a blanket, nor would he ever contemplate turning the lights off so he could sleep. No, poor Bill rocked in the corner of the kitchen, the time draining away.

The rooster crowed and Bill was startled awake. Natural light now flooded his home, and with this natural light he could see the landing point of the knife he’d thrown. It landed on an old black-and-white photo of him and Agnes on their wedding day. The knife had gone right through young Bill’s chest, right through the heart.

Footsteps.

Agnes came down the stairs carrying two zipped-up suitcases.

“Agnes?”

“Bill.”

“Agnes, look.”

“No Bill you look! Look at what you’ve done! You’ve let your anger get out of hand! You’ve committed a crime!” She looked into the room adjacent to the kitchen and scowled. “And for Pete’s sake Bill you’ve thrown a knife into our wedding photo? You are not well, Bill. You are not well and I can’t be here when you’re like this. I’m going to my sister’s house for a few days until you can get yourself together!”

“Agnes…”

“Don’t Agnes me!” She took a deep breath. “No, okay? Just… no. I’m leaving and won’t be back until after Halloween. I hope that that’s enough time for you to fix yourself.”

The spouts holding back the tears couldn’t anymore. Bill began to cry. “Agnes…”

“Your lawyer called this morning. He’ll be here by this afternoon. I hope you can get your act together for him. It’s unfortunate you can’t for me.” She set down her bags and opened the door. “Goodbye, Bill. I really, truly, sincerely hope this passes.” She stepped outside and slammed the door behind her.

Bill broke down into tears. He bawled like a newborn child. What was happening? He felt as if he was going into… depression. Depression. Depression, depression, depression! That’s what the pumpkin’s face was last night. It seemed to be more than coincidental that the pumpkin had predicted his emotions perfectly. But it was just one time, right?

The memory of the pumpkin before that came to him. The one he’d thrown at the deputy. That one had a feeling of regret, just as he had after he threw it. Then the one before that… the one that was relieved. That was the day Agnes told him a deputy would come out and keep an eye on the pumpkin patch. Upon that news he immediately felt… relief.

Panic filled Bill as he realized that every time the pumpkins had known what his emotions would be later that day. What his expressions would look like. But how? How did they know… every time? And why was this even happening in the first place?

Bill’s heart started to race. Maybe he should go out and see what the pumpkins said today? No, that was a bad idea. That’d only get him into more trouble. He couldn’t. Besides, it was just those darn teenagers anyhow, right? There was no such thing as magic or witches! It was just a freaky coincidence. A coincidence created by those rotten teenagers. He needed to get them off his property, once and for all, and then they’d stop causing so much trouble for him. It was all their fault he was being charged with a crime. All their fault Agnes left. All their fault!

Bill clenched his fists. He headed out to his truck, and now had a headache from sobbing so much. But he’d never have to sob again once he took care of those vandals. He climbed into his pick-up and drove off to the pumpkin patch. His fists were white, but even though he knew that this couldn’t possibly be supernatural, they still trembled. At least… he was pretty sure. Bill climbed from out of his truck and walked through the pumpkin patch. He looked at where the pumpkin had shattered yesterday, but there was no remnant of it now. They had taken it all as evidence. He swallowed at the sight of it, mortified that he had behaved in such a way. He looked out across the patch for any new carvings, but saw something much more disturbing. In front of him was not a carved pumpkin, but rather a destroyed one.

hards of the fruit lay strewn across an area about the size of a square yard.

The pumpkins keep predicting… Bill thought. No, they weren’t. It was a coincidence. That was all.

He felt the eyes again. Bill didn’t even bother to look behind him, but instead ran to his truck. He did everything he could to avoid looking into the rear-view mirror, afraid of what he’d see. He sped off to his barn. That’s where he kept his shotgun. He was going to get rid of this thing once and for all. He couldn’t have it watching him anymore.

He came up to the barn. He jumped from his car and ran inside the structure to fetch his weapon. He could still feel its eyes glaring at him. His gun was just behind the hay bailer. Then he could take out the beast.

Suddenly his foot rammed into something. Everything seemed to go into slow motion as he fell forward. He flapped his arms around in a frantic attempt to regain his balance. The ground was getting closer and closer to his face. He suddenly felt something hit his right arm, and then an engine blared to life. It took him a split second to realize it was the switch to the hay bailer. Bill grabbed hold of one of the sides of the hay bailer in an attempt to hold himself away from the speeding metal blades just below him. The things seemed to be as teeth of a wicked and hungry creature getting its feed, constantly moving up and down, ready to receive its victim.

Bill’s fingers curled around the edge of the bailer. He tried to reach for the other side to catch himself, but to no avail. His one arm would have to do. He clenched the edge but continued to fall forward, spinning him around. As his body rotated into the metal teeth he was able to see what he tripped over. It was a pumpkin, but the expression of this pumpkin didn’t match his like all the other ones. No, this did not mirror his face even in the slightest. This one had a furrowed brow. And his eyes… it had no pupils like all of the previous pumpkins. Just blank, angry eyes. No, they weren’t angry. They only seemed angry when viewed separate from the mouth. The mouth was curled into a menacing grin that stretched across a third of the pumpkin’s circumference. The sickening smile was full of pointed teeth that added to the unsettling feeling one felt when looking at the thing. A sickening feeling, like it was watching him. Watching and laughing.

Bill’s fingers slipped, and suddenly the memory of the shattered pumpkin he’d seen just sixty seconds ago came rushing back to him. The pumpkins kept predicting, and it looked like they were still right. He felt the metal teeth of the bailer begin to slice across his back, shooting agony through his spine and out to the rest of his body. He watched in slow motion as red fluid sprang out in front of him, landing in drops across the hay-covered floor. He felt the daggers of the bailer begin to shred through his bone, making a horrid crunching noise that stung Bill’s ears like fingers on a chalkboard. The red liquid was being flung from the speedy metal teeth all across the barn. A drop landed on the cackling pumpkin that sat before him, and the thing seemed to enjoy the blood-bath. It just stared at Bill, and Bill could only stare back. He felt the teeth shred through his arteries, splashing blood farther and farther. Bill wanted to scream, but it all happened so fast he didn’t have time to. The pumpkin knew this, and it seemed to please it even more.

Suddenly Bill spotted something he hadn’t noticed. Something that gave him an even bigger pit in his soon-to-be shredded stomach. There, near the stem of the pumpkin, were little black spots. The top of the fruit was full of them. All of the sudden everything seemed to some together, but at the same time brought up even more questions. Bill had one more thought as he waved his arms in a frantic and vain attempt to save his doomed self. One more thought before he was grated into a pile of shredded flesh. One last thought that ended his seven-decade life. One more, simple thought, that finished it.

The pesticide company said something weird might happen around harvest.

Credit: The Quiet One

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