A rain of crisp dead leaves drifted from the balding oak canopies, falling to the ground like faint embers. Pumpkin sat in divet of cold, cracked soil, his small lumpy body and pale yellow skin surrounded by much more robust and stately pumpkins. He envied the plump ridges and deep, fiery skin of his brothers and sisters, but he assumed that life in the foreground was a bit more suited for him.
A thin grey sky loomed overhead, but bits of light snaked through patches overcast. It was long after the sporadic monsoons of summer and before the first frost, so the blanket of cloud was little more than a reminder of the fast approaching winter. A soft breeze blew westward, rustling up a wave of leaves and depositing them across the field, covering Pumpkin so that little more than his stalk stuck out. He found it to be quite pleasant. Maybe he could just lay there out of sight and just relax until winter came and went. He always wondered what was on the other side of the cold days, but nobody around him seemed to know the answer.
A banshee’s shriek pierced the air. Oh god, what was that? Pumpkin tried to poke out from under the brush to see what was happening. He could see swarms of creatures clumsily plodding through the aisles of the patch on their hind legs, their fluff-wrapped limbs flailing wildly. One of the creatures plodded along, coming closer and closer until it stopped right in front of Pumpkin. It spun around in untame circles, surveying its surroundings. It’s froze. Gazing straight at Pumpkin, it pounced. The creature wrapped itself around the pumpkin right next to Pumpkin. Smacking, gnawing, screeching. The creature rolled around on the ground, uprooting the pumpkin and sending it rolling across the ground. The pumpkin was powerless to defend itself, completely at the mercy of the wailing hellion.
“Thisun! Iwan thisun!” said the creature through its toothless maw. “Daddy! Daddy daddy daddy!”
“Calm down right now or you aren’t going home with anything,” said a taller, more slender creature with moss covering its face. It was calmer on the surface, but it was the same savage beneath the surface. It pulled out a shard of glistening metal and sliced the poor pumpkin from its vine, hiking it up on its shoulder and walking back the way it came, its brood following closely behind.
Pumpkin couldn’t believe what he just saw but, after the shock had subsided, all he could feel was thankful that it wasn’t him. These things, they seemed drawn to the stronger, prettier members of the patch. He looked around and saw the other pumpkins. So smooth. So orange. The same fate awaited them. But not Pumpkin. Pumpkin curled up into his divet of cold, cracked soil and waited.