The Last Bite of Pumpkin Pie

Submitted into Contest #59 in response to: Set your story in a small town where everyone is suspicious of newcomers.... view prompt

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Holiday Thriller

Seeing as I’m a Halloween fanatic, thought I’d try a quick story with Lesbians and Paranormal Horror.


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“Nadine dear, can you pull off at the next exit? I think that coffee is doing a number on me.”


Nadine checked her GPS and saw there was an exit only three miles ahead. She quirked an eyebrow. “Sure, honey, there’s a place just a few minutes up the road.”


Milly noticed the curious look on her wife’s face. “What is it?”


“The town’s called - ‘Blessed.’” She shook her head, ruefully. “They sure come up with some unique names for towns out here in the Midwest.”


They were on their way home from a lovely vacation in Denver, Colorado. They’d decided to drive instead of fly this time around to enjoy a bit of roadside America. Exploring it to its full extent in an RV was something they hoped to do when their two teenage children graduated from high school, which was only a few years away. They surmised it would be a little taste test of their up and coming ‘empty-nester’ freedom.


Nadine exited the ramp, and they pulled onto the main street, which looked like they’d just drove onto the set of The Andy Griffith Show. The façade had a lovely quintessential postcard panorama of picket fences, perfectly manicured maple trees, and old-timey architecture.


However, as they drove along, Milly had a sinking feeling in her gut. An irrational fear welled up inside, contradictory to the quaint scenery before her. She scanned the street, looking for a modern gas station or convenience store; no Flying J’s or Walgreen’s in this town.


They were coming up on a gas station that looked like a blast from the 50s past. Next to it was a diner, and a general store— Wait, did that actually say ‘Five and Dime?’


Milly shuddered as she stared out the window, and the locals stared back. The folks walking down the street stopped dead in their tracks and stared at the newcomers with blank faces. The behavior of the town residence was odd, to say the least.


Something felt off.


“Uh, Milly…” Nadine said slowly.


“I know Nadine, but I have to pee so bad. I hate that men can pee in a bottle,” she grumbled. “Just pull in up there at the gas station. I’m sure they have a restroom.”


As they pulled their Prius into the station, a man dressed in gray slacks, a button-up shirt, and a matching cap came out and stood expectantly by the window. Nadine rolled it down.


“The works?” The young man said pleasantly enough, but there was a stiffness in his smile and his demeanor.


Nadine and Milly gawked at the young man for a moment in disbelief. Milly’s bladder throbbed, and the pain brought her out of her stupor. She leaned across her wife. “I just need to use your restroom.”


“Sorry, we don’t have one accessible to the public. But next door is Georgie’s Diner, and The Five and Dime has one as well.” He flashed a smiled that seemed forced.


Milly sighed. “Thank you.”


Nadine pulled the car out of the gas station and maneuvered a u-turn into the parking lot of Georgie’s Diner. As they drove past the front, each customer in the window booths turned to look at them. Their lackluster faces stared with an intensity that gave Milly pause.


“Maybe I should just hold it?” She suggested.


Nadine tried to bring up the GPS on her phone, but the signal had dropped. She frowned. “I don’t know how long before we arrive at the next town. Do you think you can?”


Milly groaned with frustration. “Honestly, I don’t know. Would you come in with me? I can’t lie. This place is creeping me out.”


Nadine laughed. “I’m sure there’s nothing to worry about.” Then she glanced out the window at the other cars. Not a single one seemed to have been manufactured before 1950. Then Nadine’s eyes flitted to the diners in the window. She now noticed their dark eyes staring intensely at them. “On second thought…” She let that hang. “Can you hold it?”


“I wish I didn’t have bad knees. At this point, I’d pee in the bushes along the highway,” Milly hissed as they made their way up to the diner’s front door.


Nadine sighed. “I’m sure it will be fine. We’re probably over-reacting. Small towns can be wary of outsiders.”


They both got out and walked briskly to the front door. When they opened the door, old bells chimed, announcing their arrival. Not that it was needed. All patrons in the nearly filled dining room were stone cold silent. They each turned and stared at the two women.


They startled when a robust woman, wearing a nostalgic waitress outfit and overly permed, blue-gray hair, chirped, “Two for lunch?”


“Oh, no, my wi— my friend just needs to use your restroom.”


The waitress scrutinized the two women for a moment. “The John’s only for paying customers she deadpanned.”


Milly’s eyes flitted to Nadine, and she could practically hear her wife’s thoughts - For fuck’s sake… Nadine rolled her eyes.


Nadine grabbed a menu, scanned it quickly, and slammed it shut. “Fine, I’ll have a piece of the pumpkin pie to go then.”


The woman suppressed a smirk and said, “Sorry, we don’t do takeout.”


Milly could tell her wife was about to explode as she turned and gave her a look that said, ‘You’re choice. What should we do?’


“Um, sure. We’ll just grab a quick bite. It’s nearly lunchtime.” Milly said uncertainly.


The hostess smiled, but it was devoid of warmth. “This way. The restroom is in the back, down that hall.” The hostess seated them in the middle of the room. The patrons continued to gawk as if a pair of middle-aged women traveling together was a disdainful spectacle to behold.


The waitress placed a menu in at each setting, as Milly hurried off to the bathroom.


She hopped from one foot to the next, struggling to get her pants down before she wet herself. The relief was unbelievable.


As she sat on the toilet, she couldn’t help but notice the fixtures—all antique porcelain which appeared to be circa 1800s. The striped ivory wallpaper was peppered with tiny roses, and the room had a cloying fragrance that matched. It reminded her of her grandmother’s perfume. Unfortunately, her sour old Grammy that most of the family didn’t particularly love spending time with.


Milly washed her hands and returned to find Nadine sitting with her menu closed. She leaned across the table and whispered to Milly as quietly as she could. “Let’s just order some pie, and we’ll split.”


Milly nodded once.


The waitress returned and raised an eyebrow questioningly that said - What’y’all hav’in?


“Pie. Two pieces of pumpkin.” Nadine said curtly and thrust the menu’s back at the waitress.


The lady smiled with saccharine sweetness. “We’re famous for our pumpkin’s here in Blessed. You won’t be disappointed.” The woman winked. “Y'all want whip on that?”


“Yes, please,” Milly ground out with forced politeness.


A bit of conversation in hushed whispers began to rise and ebb in the dining room. It was too hard to make out the particulars of what they were saying, but it was unmistakable that newcomers were their subject of discussion.


Milly and Nadine waited, and Milly couldn’t help but feel it was taking an inordinately extensive amount of time to serve them two simple slices of pie. Milly felt a sense of dread wash over her. Warning bells were going off in her head that she and Nadine should get up and walk out. Or better yet, run.


She was about to lean over and suggest just that when the woman returned and set down two enormous slices of pie.


The moment the plate was set before her, the fight-or-flight anxiety ebbed. The aroma of sweet pumpkin and spice wafted up and hit her nostrils with near physical force. Her tense shoulders relaxed, and a new emotion overtook her – a ravenous and irrational hunger for pie.


She picked up her fork and broke off that first heavenly bite of flaky golden crust and soft pillowy filling. She slid the smooth orange texture into her mouth and closed her lips around the fork. Flavor combinations of pumpkin and cream, with hints of cinnamon and allspice, burst on her pallet like nothing she’d ever experienced before. There was no doubt about it. This was the best pumpkin pie she’d ever had.


Distantly a thought still niggled at her brain - a warning of some sort. She felt she should even be aware of someone else with her, but her attention was rapt on the pastry in front of her. She savored each decadent bite and marveled at how one piece of pie could make her feel so gluttonously full – and yet still be craving more!


When she had eaten the last crumb, her eyelids became impossibly difficult to keep open. She felt so tired. She knew there was a reason she needed to force her chin up and look across the table. She had to will her body to do this. It took every bit of her willpower to accomplish it, seeing as she couldn’t remember why.


At last, she looked up from her plate and noticed Nadine. Nadine! - who she’d forgotten about, had a strange dreamy look on her face, and a fleeting thought told her that she probably looked the same.


She wanted to comment about the glorious pie. Ask her wife if they could stay a while longer - have one more piece - what could it hurt?


Suddenly, she felt beyond exhausted. She had to close her eyes. It was ridiculous to take a nap here, but she couldn’t keep her eyelids open a second longer. She’d just rest her eyes. Just a moment…


*****


Consciousness was returning slowly. Milly blinked rapidly, trying to stave off the drowsiness. It began to occur to her with rising alarm, that she’d been drugged.


Oh my god, Nadine!


She looked around frantically and saw Nadine was on a stone altar to her left, still passed out asleep. Milly realized she was bound and lying on a stone altar as well.


She opened her mouth and screamed for Nadine to wake up. Milly was still groggy and weak from whatever they’d drugged her with. Disappointingly her cry of dismay came out as a croak.


She squirmed frantically to escape her bonds. She tried to sit up, but her limbs were bound too tight. She tried to move her head to look around the room, and dizziness engulfed her. She felt nauseous, yet strained to focus all the same. She saw she was in a large room - a barn? A community room? Hooded figures encircled them, yet stood at a distance holding candles. She became aware of a low thrumming chant emanating from the individuals.


A hooded figure stepped forward, hovered over her, and removed their hood. The hostess from the restaurant! She wore a look of pity.


Milly tried to speak, and then tears began to flow down her cheeks. She was so distraught, only sputters of syllables emerged from her lips.


So foggy... Can’t think…


“I’m truly sorry about this.” The waitress said with sickly kindness. “But, it’s better if you don’t struggle.”


Milly finally spat out the words. “It b’cuz w’r gay. Ca’n’t b’lieve dis,” she sobbed.


“On the contrary, my dear. This isn’t the hate crime it appears to be. Lord Azealphule could care less about your sexual preferences. Human blood from a couple united through the bonds of love is all He requires, and as such, we are kept safe and blessed yearly. Our town flourishes and prospers. Hence the name.” She laughed heartily. “There were bets to be sure.” She wagged a finger at Milly as if scolding her. “Some were uncertain you were even a couple. But then we looked through your phones and saw the beautiful pictures from your vacation. It was irrefutable how in love you both are.”


“Wh— Wh— da y’ rug us wit?” Milly stammered. She could barely form rational thoughts. She felt a sense that she had to keep the woman talking. Allot her time for the drugs to wear off, so she could think better.


“Something not of this world,” the waitress said in a sing-song voice. “We are unsure how it works, and we don’t question it. Merely, that He provides a means to


His ends. Each year a glowing white pumpkin sprouts from the bountiful harvest, which, when cooked and consumed, produces a powerful enchantment. It’s very unusual you woke up, but it does happen from time to time…” The woman mused and looked off thoughtfully.


Milly was panting heavily. She felt as if she were going to sick.


The woman chuckled to herself as if something just occurred to her. She tightened the bonds and spoke amicably. “Ya, know the one thing that always gets me?”


Milly’s eyes were wide with terror. She didn’t have a chance to respond as the waitress kept talking.


“You tourists always fall for the same ploy. Every item on your menu says ‘pumpkin pie,’ in one variation or another, and yet you all fall for it!” She laughed louder this time, and Milly could hear the others softly laughing as well. The waitress shook her head with disbelief, as the laughter died down.


Milly was sobbing.


“There, there, my dear,” the lady smoothed the loose tendrils of hair from her forehead. “You shouldn’t have even woken. You’re a particularly feisty one.”


Milly suddenly felt she could finally scream. She inhaled deeply, opened her mouth to protest again, but was unable to release the sound. Another cloaked figure had stepped forward and shoved a massive bite of pumpkin pie into her mouth.


Before she could spit it out, a hand clamped down over her mouth and nose, and she was forced to swallow the last bite of pumpkin pie.

September 18, 2020 22:57

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1 comment

Yolanda Wu
01:13 Sep 26, 2020

I'm so glad you posted again! Of course, I'm there for the lesbian couple, and their subtle and normalised relationship. At first the story seemed relatively normal and I was wondering what direction you were going to take, and wow that twist at the end was just delightful and so well-written. And I love how they weren't targeted because the people were homophobic, but because they were in love, as gruesome as the ending is, I love how you highlighted that. The dialogue and interactions between the characters were done so well. That last sen...

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