Crime Funny Horror

This story contains themes or mentions of physical violence, gore, or abuse.

A rap at the front door.

"Who's there?" Beads of sweat were already trickling down my spine. Had someone heard something?

"It's me, Ella. Stan. Is Cedric there? I need to borrow the pumpkin knife."

"He's resting." This was technically true. I couldn't lie straight in bed. Best to stick to at least half truths. "I'll get the knife for you."

I rushed back to the kitchen. The knife was in the sink, pinkish liquid still dripping, despite my scrubbing. I wiped it carefully and carried it out to Stan, wrapped in a clean tea towel.

"Watch out, it's incredibly sharp," I said, squeezing the parcel through the crack in the doorway.

"Exactly what I need. Carving a pumpkin for the grandkids. Couldn't manage with my old knife. Cutting through pumpkin skin is like cutting through flesh and bone, sometimes I really.."

"Bye Stan." I shut the door and locked it. He would have been there for hours, boasting about his grandkids or his pumpkin-carving skills or his seat-of-your-pants cliff-hanger win at the last Giant Pumpkin growing competition, when his Goliath the Gourd had just edged out my Cedric's Big Berth the Third for the winner's trophy.

I was putrid, covered with bits of orange, red and green junk. The bathtub was now Cedric's pumpkin seedling nursery. Dozens of tiny potted plants bursting out of their seedpods in the steamy bathroom air, pushing their little faces up to the light. How many times, after helping Cedric all day in the garden, had I wished I could take a bath? A shower it would have to be.

I put my stained clothes in the laundry tub. Cedric had turned the laundry into a spa for baby pumpkins. Still in their pots, those fledgling seedlings which showed promise, but seemed a little off colour, were put in front of the dryer, turned to low, where they received a dose of sauna-like moist heated air to revive them. This was followed by a soak in the laundry tub with a few capfuls of Cedric's special seaweed tonic. I couldn't remember when I last did the wash without falling over bags of fertilizer or accidentally stepping on a precious newcomer.

It's thirty years since Cedric first showed me this little house with its huge level backyard "For all the kids we're going to have". Then, I alone was his beloved Pumpkin. As the years went by, and no babies came, our lives felt increasingly empty. Everything was turned around when Stan, our neighbour from three doors up the street, came by on day to show us a newspaper article.

There was Stan's wide grinning face above a monstrous orange gourd, sashed like a beauty queen with a blue and gold satin ribbon. He was gripping a trophy with one hand and shaking hands with the Mayor with the other. A tour of Stan's backyard followed. It was fully of enormous swollen vegetables, swathed in vines as thick as rope with tendrils like giants' corkscrews. The golden egg was that elusive prize, a first in the state's annual Festival of the Biggest Pumpkin.

Cedric was never the same again. He wanted that prize. He turned the backyard of to the gourds. Dug up my prized roses and unceremoniously shredded them in his new, very expensive chipper.

Front loaders delivered mounds of compost made from unwanted fish by-products and the blood and bones left over from slaughter houses. We made excursions to the zoo, not to enjoy the animals, but to collect the free elephant poo. Cedric loved to experiment with the effectiveness of various types of poo. Earthworms thrived in the rich earth and fungi grew when it rained. It was worse than living next to the cemetery or the sewerage works.

With each small success in pumpkin growing competitions, Cedric's obsession was fuelled.

Cedric sold our comfortable family sedan to fund the purchase of a small truck. Only two seats in the front for the passengers, the large back tray given over to the exclusive province of fertilizer and pumpkin transport. On the side Cedric had painted "Go Big or Gourd Home."

I was Cinderella in reverse. My carriage had turned into a pumpkin and my prince was long gone.

Some wives are golf widows, at least on weekends. Some are widowed by the demands of a husband's career. I was widowed by an obsession with pumpkins.

I tried, I really did. One evening, when sitting together at dinner, shivering because the heaters were all in the nursery and spa, I tried to amuse Cedric with some pumpkin jokes. Cedric loved a pun.

"What's a pumpkin's favourite sport?"


"Squash." I beamed.

"What do you call it when a massive pumpkin falls on your head?"

No reaction.

"Gourd to death" I chortled.

Cedric was absorbed in "The Squash Growers' Monthly" magazine.

Once it had become clear there were not going to be any babies of the human kind, Cedric had just stopped trying. As the only things growing in the backyard were pumpkins, there was a lack of bees to pollinate the flowers which produced the pumpkin fruit. The ants helped, but there were a lot of baby pumpkins needed before the weaker ones were cruelly discarded to help the burgeoning giants grow as large as possible. Cedirc had to help fertilise the pumpkins by hand-pollinating the female flowers with the male. In spring, on moonlit nights, Cedric would quip "I'm just going outside to have sex with the pumpkins." Perhaps it wasn't meant as a joke. The pumpkin patch equivalent of a Roman orgy took him several hours and he always returned looking rather spent.

I thought I could tempt him with a risque joke.

"Cedric, what's the difference between sex and pumpkin carving?"

"Give up? In pumpkin carving you're trying to get all the seeds out.'

Cedric grunted and went outside.

In our early, days, child and pumpkin free, weekends with Cedric involved a trip to the country, where we stayed in lovely inns and spent our time hiking. Sometimes we found an isolated swimming hold where we flung off our clothes and dove in. There were picnics with cheese and red wine in proper glasses, followed by a sleep in the sun. We held hands, and sometimes, such a distant memory now, kissed passionately like teenagers, rolling around on the picnic blanket.

Now, our only outings were to pumpkin fairs. Cedric insisted we sleep in the truck, in case someone came in the night and sabotaged our pumpkin. Still, there were good times, when Cedric's pumpkin won. He was so happy and proud and would shout me a glass of champagne and a take-out meal.

After our marriage, our wedding photos and the framed photos of our ramblings took pride of place on the sideboard. On our bedside table was a gilt-framed photo of our wedding. Me, in my long white lacy gown, face pretty with love and glowing with hope for our future. Cedric, angled protectively towards me, youthful and handsome.

Gradually, Cedric replaced all the photos with those of the life of Big Bertha the First, from her babyhood to her famed win at the State fair. There was Cedric pointing to a baby Bertha, nursed in his palm, attached to her mother vine and barely the size of a pincushion. Next, Bertha cradled in Cedric's arms, still an infant in pumpkin years but already the size of a fully grown adult. His face had that incredulous, surprised look of the father of a newborn baby. Last, Bertha fully grown, sashed in glory, Cedric diminished in size against her, holding the trophy aloft.

What caused me to crack? It was nothing specific. It just happened.

Cedric was out. I had taken the truck to the supermarket, ignoring as usual the bemused onlookers in the parking lot. Cedric had added another sign to the truck. "Oh My Gourd" it read. Back to the kitchen to cook dinner. The slow cooker was out on the kitchen bench and I thought, perhaps Cedric is making a casserole for dinner? I opened the lid hoping for the wafting fragrance of a beef stew. It was a plant tonic. Mushroom compost, peat, banana peels, and very dead fish.

I went out to the shed, picking up the pumpkin knife. Stainless steel, razor sharp, it was imported from Japan, Cedric had said, from the people who made Samurai swords. It cost more than the chainsaw, he told me, but feels oh so good in the hand.

Outside, into the knee-deep mass of greenery, where I started slashing. So satisfying. Pumpkin shells cracking like walnuts, pumpkin goop flying, vines reduced to green slime. The knife so sharp even the seeds were sliced clean into tiny pieces. I whirled around and around like a Dervish in a blender - slash, crack, squish - surprised at my own strength.

An unearthly scream. Cedric was here.

"What are you doing? What are you doing?" He charged towards me. I kept slashing. I had reached Big Bertha the Fourth and was ready to reduce her to pumpkin soup.

Cedric threw himself on top of her, his back to me. It was too late. The knife was on its downward swing. It sliced right through Cedric, impaling him onto Bertha.

Strange, I felt coolly clinical. What to do? I made a list in my head. Wash the knife in the sink, bleach for bloodstains. Fire up the chipper. Drag Cedric into the shed. Unfortunately, I was going to have to use the chainsaw to get the pieces small enough for the chipper. The knife was just a little too personal.

Shower now or after the chipper? Definitely, after the chipper. Pull out the damaged vines. Empty the chipper onto the ground. Rake over the chipper contents. Dig them in well. Maybe plant a couple of roses, but mostly, lots and lots of new pumpkins.

Cedric would like that.

October 26, 2022 01:12

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Moira Nolan
04:42 Nov 17, 2022

Loved the story, I got quite carried away with the fertilising of pumpkins and then the slashing and bloody mayhem of the protagonist "losing it". Well set up too, the disappointments and unravelling as pumpkins took over and then Cedric meeting his grim but somehow ecstatic end.


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Gill Chalmers
09:55 Nov 02, 2022

This writer has a great imagination plus a sense of humour. What a combination!


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Jan Turner
04:20 Nov 02, 2022

Great story, fabulous ending. Well written, humorous but tense.


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Morgan Blake
23:30 Oct 30, 2022

I loved this! Lots of laughs, plenty of tongue-in-cheek pumpkin jokes, and (excuse the pun) the but you carved out the characters very well! By the end of it I was waiting to see what the protagonist would do! Fantastic


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Rebecca Miles
21:39 Oct 30, 2022

This must be the best written and most unusual take on a slasher story! Spot on pumpkin jokes, perfect motive for a crime with all those foul tonics and Big Bertha squashing her out of the marriage, and a cathartic frenzy of Halloween inspired vengeance at the close: what's not to love? Well done!


Marilyn Filewood
21:55 Oct 30, 2022

Thankyou so much Rebecca! So great to receive positive feedback. Halloween has only just become a "thing" in Australia, so its an American/Aussie hybrid, I'm hoping.


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