Written & Illustrated by Toni Donelow
You said want to know about fright? I
can tell you about fright! It
was last Halloween – I thought it might be
THE last Halloween. In fact,
most of us thought we would never see
daylight again or life as we knew it after
that night. But there was really not time
to think about it.
Everything was normal for a holiday where
you dress up and look silly or funny or
creepy so you can take in the crispy
(sometimes frosty) autumn night air . . .
and let’s not forget the candy! Even school
was a blast, with the class Halloween party
and . . . all that candy. Otherwise
though, I was not really “into” Halloween
this time, so just dressed like a hobo
except that I should have been
After school, I walked home alone along the
far road, passed by the pumpkin patch and
noticed nothing greatly unusual as I went
by. All that was left were the smallest
pumpkins and some rotten larger pumpkins
scattered over the bumpy field -- I did
notice a strange glowing light over the hill
but I figured it was someone out there
picking out a pumpkin at the last minute, as
it was growing dark and nearly time to go
trick or treating too, but who knows? Some
people just have to have a pumpkin, huh?
thought no more of it as I returned home,
ate dinner and got re-dressed in my
‘costume’ of choice.
sister, who was dressed in her hiking
outfit, was going as a hiker, so wearing
jeans and t-shirt. I guess neither one of
us was very imaginative last year.
was time to start Trick or Treating: We had
no sooner gotten out the front door and
reached the sidewalk, when it happened.
My sister and I stopped short at the
driveway; we merely looked at each other,
sensing it, since we didn’t see it yet.
There was a very loud rustling sound and a
strange clicking sound, and my sister and I
looked at each other again. Our faces both
became a bloodless pale white color and I
could see the fright on Shannon’s face. No
sooner had we turned our heads to look
around, than were suddenly being lifted into
the air by a great leafy hand, and shunted
upward toward the face of the ugliest
creature I had ever seen.
“What!!!!” He yelled.
heard myself scream, nearly speechless
“Help me, Scotty!” my sister screeched.
had a leafy body and the largely oversized
head of a pumpkin that had been carved into
a jack-o-lantern. His leafy green body
rustled when he walked.
felt myself shudder as his voice roared
“Yes?” I asked somewhat more calmly,
thinking that leaves couldn’t hold us for
long. But . . . I was wrong . . . these
leaves were covering vines that gripped us
tighter, the longer he held us.
“How much do you like pumpkin pie?” It
asked. Shannon was now wiping tears from
her eyes, she was so afraid.
pie?” I asked. “This is
Halloween, not Thanksgiving, maybe you
should come back then!” I yelled back.
walked us passed the houses in the
neighborhood, and I remember hearing screams
below but not of whom. He stopped at Carl
Hope’s house, and peered in through the
window at poor Carl, who had been home in
bed for a month with mononucleosis. We were
merely along for the ride, wondering what he
would do with us.
dragged his leafy viney feet along the
ground holding us in his grip with his
“hands.” I wondered how he came about and
what the big deal was about pumpkin pie when
poor pumpkins were slaughtered all over the
place to make jack-o-lanterns every
Halloween, and they were discarded
afterward, not made useful and eaten like
the pie pumpkins. They weren’t animals for
crying out loud, a pumpkin is a
reminded myself of that when I looked up at
the sinister pumpkin face, that had glowing
red eyes and seemed deeply misinformed about
the importance of pumpkins as food for
humans and animals alike.
He walked as quietly back to the
pumpkin patch, and it occurred to me that
the glow of light I had seen earlier might
have been his awakening. He stumbled into
the patch over the rotted pumpkins and did
not notice the quiet crowd of people that
had followed him there, because he was
Once in the patch, he walked to
the far end of it, and set us down. Two
other carved pumpkin heads tied us up with
pumpkin vines. I felt we were just
dreaming! I looked around and more faces
began to peer out of the darkness, all
glowing the same bright glow from behind
their vegetable eyes. We were the center of
“What is it?” The mighty
pumpkinhead asked again, with his low,
rumbling voice, that echoed across the field
and made us tremble. All the people that
had followed us there were hiding quietly
around the fences, waiting, and watching, I
noticed. I figured that even evil
vegetables were still vegetables and was
finding that I was humoring the pumpkin man.
“What is what?” I replied in
“What is it about pumpkin pie?
Do you realize that you are eating one of us
with every bite?” He asked.
“Who said I even liked pumpkin
pie, Sir?” I wondered. (I didn’t care for
pumpkin pie at all, and I still don’t!)
“I think you are barking up the
wrong tree, Mister!” Shannon smarted back.
“He doesn’t like it and neither do I. So we
are the wrong people to ask!” She snapped.
The pumpkin man scratched his
great head. We were being held captive,
tied and bound to a post in the center of
the pumpkin patch, and quite tightly I must
say, and we were smarting off to our captors
– who was the vegetable and who was the
“I am growing annoyed with you,
human children!” He roared, not liking that
he was being mocked. The smaller pumpkin
heads, who had a variety of faces, were
dancing around us as he sat down in front of
us, then stood back up, and his face came
dangerously close to mine. If he had a
breath in his body, it would have been in my
face too, but instead there was a chill in
his physical presence.
“Did you carve your pumpkins
this year, CHILDREN?” He
roared again. He was enjoying his own
power. His voice was razor sharp and just
“No, I didn’t have time to get
one this year.” I announced. And it was
true, my sister and I really weren’t into it
“You really are NO fun at
all are you?” He smirked. “In that case, I
shall still hold you as representatives of
the mortal creatures that deface the mild
inhabitants of the Pumpkin Kingdom – MY
“And what shall you do to us?” I
asked, I could feel my teeth chattering. I
was not mocking him now.
I guess the people watching
could stand no more because suddenly there
was an onslaught of police officers and
town’s people behind them, crossing the
pumpkin patch, heading toward us, with guns
out, pointed at the pumpkin man. What
good would guns do? I wondered.
These are magical creatures; they
can’t be stopped with guns!
With a little luck, perhaps
reasoning with the communicative
creature could make him disappear back into
his own realm. It was certainly better than
getting him further bent out of shape (so to
speak) by shooting bullets into him and his
subjects. He was King of the pumpkins,
“Well Sir, I’m not sure what
good we can be to you, I would hope you
would release us.” I stated, looking deeply
into the fireball eyes.
“We haven’t even gone Trick or
Treating yet, YOU should be ashamed!”
Shannon screeched at the pumpkin man,
pointing her finger right straight between
his big hollow, glowing red fireball eyes,
scolding him like he was any one of us.
At the sound of this, the
pumpkin man shuddered and the ground rumbled
beneath us. It was true, I thought, we
hadn’t even gotten to go Trick or Treating.
The approaching policemen halted and held
their guns in a frozen position as we all
watched the pumpkin man withering and
rotting, crumbling to the ground. His
subjects followed him into the ground of the
pumpkin patch. He was still no more than an
enchanted jack-o-lantern on a leafy body,
with a grudge about pumpkin pie. He could
not prevent children from trick or treating
on Halloween night.
“Is there still time?” Shannon
asked, not realizing that her words had
stopped the most frightening creature the
world had ever known, right in his tracks.
“Time for what?” I asked.
“Trick or Treating!” Shannon
smiled, pulling the loose vines off us both.
I looked half-hazardly at my
watch. “Yes there is still time for trick
Then we all walked home. (It
will be years before anyone within miles of
here carves another pumpkin – but they do
love their pumpkin pie!)
Copyright © 2003 [Toni Donelow
Stewart Illustrations]. All
note: This was an
in-process story so most of the
illustrations were never
finished by Toni before she
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