I tried to send “No Contest” to a competition but there was a problem with paying so I decided it should get read anyway for FREE and I doubt it would have won. So here it is. Enjoy.
He turned quickly on hearing a crash and found the pumpkin staring at him. It was still wearing the face he’d just carved, but the expression was altered, and it was not alone. It seemed that every pumpkin in the patch had arrived at his door.
“How in the Devil’s name…” he began then stopped.
In the devil’s name… His words echoed back.
The door of his Last-a-Lifetime Security Shed had been ripped off its hinges. Kit automatically reached for one of his tools from the bench behind him. Instead of the sturdy wooden handle, his hand touched something wet and grainy.
“Ugh!” He shuddered. Looking down he saw the cold innards and seeds, the open womb of a pumpkin, but it smelled like blood. Hastily he wiped his hand on his apron.
In the lurid evening light he saw pumpkin faces. He recognised them, every single one, going back years. Competition after competition won. This shed had for years been his trophy house for countless certificates and rosettes, Best Fiery Face, five Bronze and Silver Pumpkin Medallions, The Golden Grin Pumpkin Award and the prestigious Gold Glow. The hobby had become an obsession, the obsession an addiction and the addiction a curse. He had to win and he’d sacrifice anything. He’d put his very soul into growing the best, and attaining the top prize. He tolerated no rivals.
The voice, mellow and dark, somehow familiar, chilled him, transfixed him. He turned, this time slowly. It couldn’t be.
“Hello, Kit. I see you’ve not changed a bit.”
Kit squinted in the diminishing light. It was indeed his former friend and one time arch rival, Jim but his head was a pumpkin head, the very same Kit had stolen from him, the award winning Golden Grin, now crowned with a halo of candlelight.
“Did I make a good mulch, Kit?” The pumpkin eyes scanned the trophies. God knows how many Kit had cheated him out of before the confrontation that final, fateful Hallows’ Eve. “Seems you did fairly well out of your bargain with Beelzebub. Hope it was worth it.”
It was dark except for glinting eyes that flickered all around.
“Pumpkindred,” said Jim in declamatory tone, “Members of the Patch, behold our tormentor! Kit Karver.”
A clamour of voices chorused, high and low, remonstrating, hissing, jeering. And Kit realised, in that moment, where his tools had gone. They were in the hands of those he’d fed, cared for, nurtured, killed and mutilated over decades. Medium saws, fine tooth saws, razor-edged scoops, small, medium and large carving loops for peeling rind, double sided sculpting tools, pokers, wheels and sharp, heavy duty drills, hole and circle punchers. Kit was a professional. He knew their use only too well.
“In the Devil’s name, Kit?”
Kit opened his mouth but found his voice would make no sound but a high squeak.
“Very well, pumpkins, let’s to work!”
His vocal chords were the first thing they cut.
I was very surprised 10 years ago to win a Horror Prize when I’d never written a Horror before, and was new to microfiction. But I love it! And I went on to win three years in a row. Unfortunately that story is no longer extant except in my livingroom.
Have a Happy Hallowe’en everyone. Stay Spooky!