The Pumpkinman . . .

a children's story (was a draft)

by Toni Donelow Stewart 1961-2004









Written & Illustrated by Toni Donelow Stewart


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 Indiana Jones!

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? 

I thought no more of it as I returned home, ate dinner and got re-dressed in my ‘costume’ of choice. 

My 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.

It 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.

I heard myself scream, nearly speechless otherwise.

“Help me, Scotty!” my sister screeched.

He 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.

I felt myself shudder as his voice roared again.

“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.

Pumpkin pie?” I asked. “This is Halloween, not Thanksgiving, maybe you should come back then!” I yelled back.

He 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.

He 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 vegetable.

I 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 holding us!

            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 everything.

            “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 question.

            “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 human?

            “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 as cutting.

            “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 last year.

            “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 Kingdom.”

            “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, after all.

            “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 or treating.”

            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 rights reserved.
Revised: 12/19/09.

Please note:  This was an in-process story so most of the illustrations were never finished by Toni before she died.   

Rip and friend by Toni Donelow Stewart

 CLICK on image to Return 
to main page for Toni