{Halloween Exclusive Fiction} Gourd-Man By J.A. Sullivan

Gourd-Man

Halloween Fiction By J.A. Sullivan

An evil witch’s cackle echoed through the small house at the end of Ravenwood Court. From his recliner in the living room, Gordon peered through the gloom of the front hallway. “Damn,” he muttered, watching shadows sway in the orange light through the door’s frosted glass side pane. He was sure he’d switched the porch light off half an hour ago when the last trick-or-treaters had visited.

The novelty doorbell cackled again. “Hold your horses, I’m coming,” he bellowed, hefting himself out of his chair. Candy wrappers rained down to the floor from the folds of the large man’s beer belly.

By the time Gordon shuffled to the door he realised he’d left the Halloween candy beside the plastic take-away container of spaghetti and meatballs. Not wanting to give away the last of his goodies, he instead reached for the glass dish on the entryway table. His mother had always kept a small hoard of assorted hard candies ready to pop into her purse before running errands, and Gordon had never been able to let that tradition go.

He opened the door to see three teenaged girls wearing black gothic-style dresses. “What are you supposed to be?” Gordon asked, shoving a handful of candy into the closest girl’s drawstring purse. Her face was painted stark white with dark make-up around her eyes, probably trying to look like a ghost.

“We are children of the night,” the centre girl said with a wicked grin. She had false vampire teeth and dribbles of fake blood dabbed into the corners of her mouth.

Gordon grunted, dropping another handful of goodies into the vampire girl’s red lace sack. The rest of the candy he poured into the last teen’s upside-down witch hat. He could feel the vampire glaring at him with the weight of disapproval he hadn’t felt since his mother was around.

“Don’t you have any good candy?” she asked.

“You should have been here earlier. I ran out of chocolate half an hour ago.”

She smiled and stared at the corner of his lips. Instinctively, Gordon wiped his mouth and felt crumbles of peanut butter cups dance down his chin.

“Are you sure you don’t have any chocolate left? It’s our favourite,” the witch girl said, batting her eyes and trying to look innocent.

“Get out of here, you ungrateful brats! It’s nearly ten o’clock and you’re lucky I even opened my door to give yous anything.”

The three hung their heads, whispering something under their breath. Vampire girl lifted her gaze. “Last chance to do the right thing,” she said.

“I said scram.”

“Have it your way,” the vampire said, nodding to the other two girls.

Simultaneously, all three looked directly at Gordon, shouted “Gourd-Man,” and spat at him. Three crimson globs splattered against his shirt, trailing down over his stomach. He lunged forward but all three jumped back out of his grasp. They turned as one, giggling and fleeing from the porch, but not before the witch girl picked up his small pumpkin.

In the middle of the driveway, she stopped and smashed the jack-o’-lantern into the interlocking bricks. “Samhain,” she yelled and gave him the finger before running to catch up with her friends.

Gordon slammed the door shut, locked it, and switched the porch light off, gritting his teeth. Next year he’d be sure to turn out his lights by nine before the asshole teenagers started to patrol the neighbourhood.

He was about to walk back to his recliner when he was hit by an urgent need to vomit. His stomach lurched, pushing contents up his throat, his mouth filling with saliva.

As his foot crossed the threshold of the dark bathroom, his stomach erupted, spewing undigested pasta nearly everywhere except the toilet he’d hoped to reach. He leaned against the doorframe, waiting to see if that was it or if more was to come. Liquid seeped into his wool socks, and the thoughts of what he was standing in made Gordon’s stomach flip again. After a few deep breaths, the gurgling stopped. He reached down, removed each sock, and stepped back into the hallway, which had escaped the splatter.

Gordon walked to the kitchen, grabbed the mop and bucket, bleach, and yellow vinyl gloves. He paused when he got back to the bathroom door, unsure if he really wanted to flick the light on. As the smell of tomato sauce and sulphur engulfed his nose, he opted to leave the light off.

Snapping the gloves on, he lowered himself to his knees. Reaching into the darkness, he felt along the floor, scraping the biggest chunks of vomit into a single pile. Once or twice the slick goop squelched through his fingers, sploshing back across the floor before he could deposit it into the bucket. His mother would have taunted him, were she still alive. “Disgusting boy,” she’d say. “That’s exactly what little piggies deserve.”

Flicking the light on, Gordon’s battle with his gag reflex was enough to push thoughts of his mother far away.

The scent of bleach burned through his nostrils by the time his accident was fully cleaned away. But as he reached to switch off the light, an orange string dangling over the side of the toilet caught his eye.

Gas gurgled through Gordon’s stomach as he stared at the strand which was most definitely not spaghetti. Belching he could taste pumpkin, and as he stared at the orange string hanging on the toilet seat, he realised what it was – a strand of pumpkin innards. Plucking a square of toilet paper to wipe away the orange string, he only then noticed a white pumpkin seed clung to the end of the anomalous strand. He flushed it away, perplexed.

Not only had Gordon not eaten pumpkin, he despised the seeds. His mother used to make him eat them and he remembered the way they stuck in his teeth and jabbed his tender gums. The thought of consuming anything made his guts quiver again.

He washed his hands and walked to his bedroom to retrieve the bottle of Pepto-Bismol from his nightstand. A couple of chugs and his stomach seemed to settle. Chucking his foul-smelling shirt into the laundry hamper, his mind was still trying to figure out where the seed had come from when he heard candy wrappers rustling on the floor of the living room.

As soon as he came around the hallway corner frigid air slapped against him. Beyond his recliner, the patio doors were open. The wrappers caught in the draft rushed toward his feet like fallen leaves.

Gordon crossed over to the door quickly, snapping on the back-porch light. He could see nothing beyond the glow of the dim bulb. “You little fuckers better take off, or I’m calling the cops,” he shouted. There was no response and no movement.

He slid the door closed and locked it, leaving the light on just in case those teens tried to play another trick on him. But turning around to face the living room fear tightened coils around his chest. He was already too late. They were inside, helping themselves to the few treats he’d left beside his chair.

“Thought you said you didn’t have anything left,” the ghost girl said, shoving a chocolate marshmallow in her mouth.

“Told you he was lying,” the witch girl said, directing an icy glare at Gordon.

The vampire girl stood closest to Gordon. A wicked grin revealed more fangs than normally found in the cheap plastic costume teeth. “Wasn’t very nice of you, was it, Gourd-Man?”

“I’m sorry,” Gordon stuttered, feet shuffling back to the edge of the patio door. “Take what you want, just don’t hurt me.” His hand fumbled behind his back, trying to release the door lock.

“That tickles,” a giggling voice said in Gordon’s ear. As he turned toward the sound, he was face to face with the ghost girl, his hand still visible, but plunged directly through her middle. “Boo,” she shouted, followed by ripples of laughter, as Gordon hurtled toward the front door.

Fingers clamped around his arms as the witch and vampire caught him and tossed him into his chair as though he weighed nothing. Before he could find his footing, bands of yellow Halloween caution tape flew out of the witch’s sleeves, wrapping around Gordon’s chest and tying him to the chair.

“Oh, we’ll take what we want alright,” the vampire girl said with a chuckle. Looking down at him she eyed his potbelly. “Looks just the right size, don’t you think?”

The witch girl moved forward, chanting, and placed her hands on Gordon’s stomach. He could feel his skin stretch and harden. In moments, his belly had transformed into a plump pumpkin. Knocking on the orange shell, the witch delighted in the hollow sound that reverberated through Gordon’s entire body.

“Now we just need to carve it,” the vampire girl said and sank her fangs into the flesh above his belly button on his right side.

He screamed as the teeth ripped away. The vampire girl spat an orange triangle onto the floor before biting into his left side.

“Can I carve the mouth?” the ghost girl asked, retrieving a large chef’s knife from her purse.

The vampire took a step back, wiping orange-red juices from the sides of her mouth. “Of course, my dear.”

Gordon prayed for the pain to knock him out, but he felt every incision as the knife sawed through the tissue of his lower abdomen. The ghost tossed a jagged crescent on the floor and the three girls stood admiring their handy work.

In the reflection of the blank television screen, Gordon could see a smiling jack-o’-lantern carved into his stomach, his belly button where the nose would be.

“What should we do with his head?” the vampire asked, tilting her head from side to side.

“We could cut it off,” the ghost girl suggested, still brandishing the knife.

“I’ve got a better idea,” the witch said, taking a step closer to Gordon. “Eventually you’ll thank us for this.” She placed her hands on either side of his head, whispering another strange chant.

As she stepped away, Gordon could feel the skin on his face stiffen as though it was being coated in plastic and his skull compacted. He stared at his reflection as his face changed and dwindled until it resembled a shrunken head. The sounds of his screams shrank along with his head until they sounded little more than a squeaking rodent.

“Brilliant,” the vampire said, clapping her hands. The ghost reluctantly put the knife back in her purse and nodded in agreement.

“One last touch,” the witch said, drawing a sewing needle with thick orange string from the rim of her black hat. “Here,” she said to the ghost, “you do the honours.”

With a groan of delight, the ghost snatched the needle and floated toward Gordon’s face. “Don’t worry,” she said. “It’ll hurt a lot, but then you’ll be perfect.” She squeezed his tiny lips between her fingers and in a flash had sewn his entire mouth closed.

“Our very own Gourd-Man,” the vampire sighed. “Just what we’ve always wanted.”

Through his tiny eyes Gordon watched as the girls divided the rest of the candy between them.

Whether it was because his brain was now too small, or the nerves of his skin had been changed, the pain he’d initially felt was gone without even a dull ache remaining.

“Come, Gourd-Man,” the witch said, extending her fingers in the air.

The caution tape released itself from the recliner, but not from Gordon, and the loose ends wound themselves into a kind of leash, which danced through the air to the witch’s outreached hand. Gordon fought against his twitching muscles, trying to will himself to stay seated, but his body acted with a mind of its own, standing erect.

Tugging on the leash, the witch and the others walked to the front door, Gordon’s body pacing behind like a reluctant puppy. They led him into the dark October night, where he remained at their heels in their annual search for sweets for all of eternity.

J.A. Sullivan

J.A. Sullivan is a horror writer and paranormal enthusiast, based in Brantford, ON, Canada. Attracted to everything non-horror folks consider strange, she’s spent years as a paranormal investigator, has an insatiable appetite for serial killer information, and would live inside a library if she could.

Her latest short story can be found in Don’t Open the Door: A Horror Anthology (out July 26, 2019), and other spooky tales can be found on her blog. She’s currently writing more short stories, a novel, and reading as many dark works as she can find.

You can follow J. A. on Twitter @ScaryJASullivan

Check out her blog https://writingscaredblog.wordpress.com

Find her on Instagram www.instagram.com/j.a_sullivan

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  1. {Halloween Exclusive Fiction} Gourd-Man By J.A. Sullivan — Together Let’s Promote Horror | MKW Publishing

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