Revenge of the Jack-o-Lantern (Complete Short Story)

A short story I wrote back in 2011. It is horror with the comedic twist. Love it or hate it, you can read it here free. But please respect my copyright.  The Michelle in question is my beloved Michelle Vasquez who is an incredible woman.

Revenge of the Jack-O-Lantern

By Joel M. Andre

© 2011 All Rights Reserved

For Michelle

The soft golden glow of the ending day painted the desert sky. Acting as a backdrop, the majestic purple mountains rolled along the Arizona desert.  It was a stunning ending to a perfect day. Holly Specter pushed her back against the post on her front porch.

It was these perfect endings that made her love the desert even more. As she scanned her hazel eyes across the land, a warm summer breeze rattled through her hair tossing it around. Taking a moment, she enjoyed as it pushed hard against her body.

As a former Miami resident, she had decided to pack things up and to explore the Southwest. Not that she was completely new to this area. Every spring since she was a little girl, her family would make the venture out to the Grand Canyon for a chance to explore its ever growing beauty. The marvelous drops and vast landscape had always left her wanting more. She loved the donkeys that could be ridden through the canyon and marveled at even the slightest things like the tiny scorpions that she was able to kick up from under rocks.

The only thing that she couldn’t quite pinpoint is why the family always came out here, without fail. The Specter’s didn’t have any family out in the area and for most people, seeing the Grand Canyon once was good enough. There were certainly people who came to study the area for scientific research, but from what Holly could understand, there was no reason for an executive in a paint making company to make the trek out here with his homemaker wife and two little kids.

Opening her eyes, she returned her gaze to the setting sun. Like clockwork, she would ensure that she was here every time that it went down and to welcome the night. There wasn’t much that she looked forward to and the setting sun was one of those things. The power and the beauty that it held really left an impact on her and it gave her a reason to push forward and continue to make it through a regular day as well.

Smiling to herself, she turned and made her way back inside of her home. It was a fairly small establishment, but it worked for her and her cat, Gary. The old rickety front porch could use a new coat of paint and even a few nails where some boards had started to come loose. However, it wasn’t something that she felt was terribly needed. After all, there were never guests to impress and Gary seemed to be okay with just having a roof over his head.

Stepping through the front door, she looked around the living room before her. A simple yellow couch with flower prints was laid out in the middle of the room. Avocado green carpet was spilled beneath it with a bright red shag rug. While it seemed like something out a bad decorating job in the 1970s, it was furniture that came with the place. At some point, when she could afford it, there would be some updating.

Gary rushed over to her and instantly smacked his head against her leg and he tried to tangle his body up with hers. Laughing out loud, she lowered her thin frame to pick him up. With a single scoop, she stood back up and had the ratty tabby in her hands. His green eyes burned into hers as he moaned in hunger.

“So it wasn’t even a truthful welcome home.” She laughed. “You are interested in something in your dish. Well, let’s see what mama can come up with.”

Kissing him on his head, she lowered him back down to the floor and began to make her way to the kitchen. As she passed the couch, she could smell the faintest scent of smoke coming from it. Taking a look at it, she stopped.

Never a smoker herself, she thought it was odd that the smell would be coming out of her couch now. Since Gary wasn’t likely a smoker himself, she wondered where it had come from. Shaking her head she gave it a smile and made her way into the kitchen.

As she turned the tiny corner, she was welcomed to a sink full of dishes. Next to the sink was the old dishwasher that had finally given up the fight and was nothing more than a decoration now. It was just another item in the series of repairs that would have to be addressed at some point. But for now, she just wanted to feed Gary and grab something for herself.

In the corner of the room, she noticed something shuffling around and turned to look at it. Gary was anxiously hopping around and prancing as he played with a tiny scorpion that had made its way into her home.

“Gary, leave it alone.” A smile crossed her face. The absolute innocence of her pet enjoying what he thought was a simple game was relaxing to a point.

Getting on her knees, she took a look at the hideous yellow tiles that made the floor in the kitchen. Part of her wondered if she could easily paint over it and cover up the dreary color, while another part just wanted to let the thoughts of the house go.

Pushing Gary aside, she grabbed a spatula and smacked the scorpion hard with it. The cat glared at her and flinched as the spatula smack sent a sharp sound through the kitchen, among the crunching of the body of the tiny creature.

“He could have killed you.” Her words were harsh at the cat. “You should be happy I saw him and came to your rescue.”

Gary stared back at the woman. His look wasn’t amused and he turned his attention back to his dinner dish. Noticing it was empty, he began to moan uncontrollably. Scooping up the remains of the scorpion and sighing heavily, Holly stood to her feet and shook her head.

Walking past the sink, she dumped the tiny corpse into the garbage disposal and then opened up a cabinet door. The soft oak of the door felt heavy and  was impressive for a home she was otherwise not too invested in emotionally. But the overall price and the beautiful cabinets certainly were huge points on her list of reasons why she should give this location a chance.

Looking through the cans, she picked up a tiny blue can that had a mixture of fish in it and smiled at her cat. “I think tonight is a seafood night!”

Gary gave her a look that let her know he really didn’t care what was going to end up in his dish, but if she continued to wait, his claws would be meeting her flesh. Getting down to the cat’s face level, Holly kissed his head and dumped the can into his dish. Gary shoved past her and began to nibble on the food in his dish.

Standing up, Holly decided the best thing to do now was to wash up before making dinner. Work required her to drive 45 minutes one way and it proved to be a bear at times, but she wasn’t able to move any closer, because of her financial restraints. But, she had picked it up at a point where it was a buyer’s market and her $450 monthly payments certainly helped to offset the cost of gas each week.

Heading into the bathroom, she stopped briefly in the bedroom and grabbed a clean towel from the linen closet. She looked over at her bed, the fluffy white comforter was tossed off to the side and there was a patch of Gary’s hair on the pillow. Knowing that she should be more diligent to clean things up, she figured this was all her fault.

Walking over to the bed, she was just straightening the sheets when she heard Gary scream shrilly. Jumping around at the sound, she expected to hear the cat scurry in through the room. Instead, there was nothing more than silence. Curious, she began to walk through the home and peer into each of the rooms. As she entered the kitchen, she noticed the cat’s food dish was tossed aside and there was food on the wall.

Holly wondered if it was another scorpion in the home that ended up giving him a quick sting. Panic struck her and she anxiously began to walk around the home, looking under the couch and going through the cat’s favorite hiding places.

“Gary?” She called out.

There was no response and she could feel her heart racing. What if something had happened to him and he was already dead? Tears began to well up in her eyes as she anxiously searched for her beloved pet. Turning her head to look out the window, she noticed the lifeless body of the cat lying on the ground.

“No!” She screamed and pushed hard on the floor as she began to make her way across the house. Hitting the front door, she shoved it open and burst out into the cool summer night. Turning to the side of the house, she hit the stairs and lost her footing. Falling to the ground, she tried to adjust herself and hit against the ground hard on her side.

With the wind knocked out of her, she began to slowly blink her eyes and started to push up off the ground. As she adjusted herself she felt the hard slamming of a boot hit her chest. Looking up, she saw a set of red glowing eyes looking down at her.

“Who are you?” She groaned as she tried to keep the air in her lungs. “Please, my cat needs my help. If you could let me up?”

As Holly tried to push herself back up, she could feel the man slam his boot down hard on her chest. The sickening sound a cracking bone caused her to throw open her eyes and gasp loudly in pain. Coughing suddenly in fits, she pushed hard against the legs of the man above her and scurried back. Breathing hard, she could feel the soft trickle of blood coming from the side of her lips.

Trying to get to her feet, she could feel the man grab her hair and pulled her to her feet. Closing her eyes, tears stung her eyes as Holly tried to pray away the pain.

“There’s money in my purse. Take all of it. I really don’t care.” She pleaded; the digging pain in her lungs was making it difficult to speak.

“You’re money has no value to me.” His words were cold.

“Then what is it you want?” She pleaded.

“I’ve come for revenge.” His words were even and cold.

“What have I done to you?” Holly asked as she stumbled back.

“As if you didn’t recall.” His words were a snarl. “You hideous humans are all alike.” Even in the fading light, she began to notice something was off. His face was orange and cracking. Shaking her head she let her eyes adjust slightly and gasped in horror.

“But you aren’t a man.” She whimpered.

“Well aren’t you a quick one.” The figure stepped back and howled with laughter. “Yes, I am what remains of a Jack-O-Lantern.”

The triangle eye slots grew in redness as the beast stepped back and howled. Holly cringed as the evil pumpkin face backed up to get a better look of her. From her angle, she looked up at the hideous rotting face of the creature. One side of the pumpkin had begun to rot and was turning black. The mouth hanging open slightly was lined with snakelike teeth and rancid juice dripped from the side.

“You need to get some medical help for your face.” Holly pleaded. “We can go together. I’ll just tell the doctors I fell. You don’t need to kill me. Maybe I could help you?”

“Because a doctor can fix a rotting pumpkin.” The pumpkin responded. “Oh, you are a brilliant one darling. Maybe that’s why you are stuck in the broken home with a cat.”

“Or maybe I just like being alone.” She suggested. “You don’t even know my story. Do you even care?”

“Not so much.” The pumpkin answered. “Even if I remotely gave a damn, I wouldn’t want to take the time to learn your backstory.”

“But I was once different like you.” She smiled and reached out her hand.

The pumpkin knocked it aside, slightly annoyed. “I sincerely doubt you were a vegetable that someone brutally slaughtered for a holiday and then tossed aside on the road. I wasn’t even made into pie. Do you get how offensive that is? It was like my insides weren’t good enough to be baked into something special.”

“It’s probably a little too late for that now.” Holly offered. “You could become compost. Then your life could’ve served some form of purpose.”

Giving her a disapproving look, the pumpkin turned from her.

“You don’t get me.” Turning its back to her, it stepped away silently.

Pushing herself up off the ground, Holly walked over to him. Placing a hand on his shoulder, the pumpkin turned to her and their eyes met.

“Holly,” his words were soft and sensitive.

“Yes?” She asked cautiously.

“Do you like to play with your food?” His voice howled in laughter and he embraced her lips.

Holly closed her eyes and forced back the urge to vomit as the slimy tongue of the pumpkin slid around in her mouth. Pushing back, she wiped the rancid juice that slid down her mouth.

“What’s wrong with you?” Holly snapped and backed up. Trembling, she shook her head and tried to choke back the tears.

“I’m treating you like the disposable trash you turned me into. I was fine in the pumpkin patch. I had no concerns, no issues. Then you drew your knife and slashed this horrific face on me.” The words came out angry and short. “I was torn away from my family and friends for a single night of pleasure.”

“But Halloween was last night.” Holly replied. “It’s over and in the past. Couldn’t we just move on?”

“We could, but I only have one day for my revenge.” He whispered. “November 1, my hateful soul has the chance to avenge my broken shell and deliver my vengeance. Most pumpkins just move on to the afterlife, but not all of us. Instead, we come back and we take revenge against those who have brutally attacked us.”

“So, you have come back to attack me, because I didn’t turn you into a pumpkin pie and made you into a killer Jack-o-Lantern?”

“Well my dear, you did just that.” Shoving her to the ground, the pumpkin pinned Holly to the ground.  “Any last words my dear?”

As she began to mouth the word ‘why’ with tears sliding down her face providing long needed moisture to the ground, the glimmer of the hammer caught her eye. Not wanting to see what was about to happen and praying it was all a bad dream, she closed her eyes and the heavy metal slammed into her face.

In her final moments, she shivered from the pain that she was feeling and thrust her arms around, trying to remain safe. But with each blow, she slowly became weaker and her thrusts soon became soft slaps against the firm body of the being.

As her broken and bloody body lay in the front of her yard, she could hear the pumpkin light up a cigarette. The soft and acidic smell of smoke slowly crossed her nose as she began to slowly fade into the darkness of death.

In the morning, the local police found the body of Holly Specter. Her eyes, nose and mouth had been gouged out and her brains had been removed. Behind the broken teeth that remained was a single tea candle that had long since burned out in the night.

 

 

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