Under the costume of Percival the Pumpkin sweat beaded down Kristopher’s back. His hair was a mop of sweat. And, he was a bit hungry.

He chuckled. This thievery was on a dare from his friends. Sure, he saw Lisa chicken out and return the Gudrun the Ghost costume - not him. They wouldn’t catch him.

Nope!

Kristopher ducked into an alley and headed toward his house. Brick buildings climbed the sky, hiding his plump frame as he hurried along. Dumpsters that reeked of rotten food sat here, sat there. A rat scurried out in front of him, squealing, startled at his presence, quickly running off.

Time passed. The alley seemed to stretch farther and farther away from Kristopher’s destination. Clouds blocked out the warm sun overhead and the fear that he may very well be lost grabbed his hand. Not a whiff of a noise came from the busy streets.

Everything had grown quiet, like the inside of a buried coffin.Kristopher continued on, running further, finally having to stop. He was worn out. The damn costume was like an oven. No doubt he would have to take it off. When he attempted to do so, it wouldn’t budge.

Something wasn’t right; maybe there was a trick to it, he wondered, as he fumbled for a zipper that was not there.
While struggling to break free there was a noise behind him, added with a voice: “There he is!”

Christopher turned to face a small group of men sitting on black horses, wearing black cloaks, their faces hidden under the hoods. One man held a white flag with a large carving knife displayed on it. At the blade’s tip a drop of blood fell.

“Do not move, Percival!”

Taking no chances, Kristopher rocketed away with their voices chasing: “Get him!”

Rounding a corner brought Kristopher to a dead end. He was trapped.

One horseman caught up to him and slipped off his horse, grabbing a cleaver out of its leather sheath. “Come on, Percival. The King will need to see you. Pumpkin pie is a delicacy at the Castle.”

Something shifted behind Kristopher, like the scraping of bones. Twisting around, he saw a girl in a white dress standing in a doorway.

“Come with me! Hurry!” she demanded.

Kristopher did not think twice. Off he went, slipping through the brick doorway swallowed in darkness, eluding his pursuers.

“Hurry!” the girl’s voice drifted out of the dark, ahead of him. His vision was blinded. If he stumbled and fell, he wasn’t so sure he could rise back up, stuck inside this small furnace.

A light sparkled above, bathing the lawn in a moon’s glow, as he hurried along - until abruptly slide to a stop.

He nearly slipped over the edge of a cliff. Two pinwheels for arms and hands, he caught himself, and stepped back breathing heavily.

Below was a large splash of darkness. His heart beat rapidly, like the beating of a man’s fists against the inside of a coffin.

“Where are we going? Where to no-?” Kristopher’s words were severed as two hands pushed him forward. As his body tumbled end over end, he saw the girl’s face peek over. The flesh on her face peeled away like strips of wallpaper as if some invisible blade worked its magic, revealing a dark crimson shade, and her mouth gaped open in a sinister cackle.

When he hit the ground his body split apart. Slivers and bits and pieces of Kristopher scattered like roaches under a kitchen light. Slowly, each sunk into the earth.

Below ground lay a conveyer belt where bits of Kristopher fell. Each piece of him - a right eye, a left eye, the tip of a finger, a little toe - traveled along on a conveyer belt through a metallic tunnel until a huge pot with a crackling flame underneath came into view.

When Kristopher’s eyes saw this, they watered and twitched with life. Slowly, each piece of Kristopher slipped into the pot and began to boil with a gurgled scream in tow. A slat grew out of the side and three small pumpkin pies began to emerge.

Soon, they were picked up by reptilian hands from under the long sleeves of a robe and carried to where a short, pudgy King with a long white beard sat snoring away on his throne.

Someone cleared their throat.

“Huh, er, what?” the King woke up, startled. Using the back of his hand he wiped saliva from his mouth.

“Your pies, Sire.”

“Oh. Yeah. Sure.” The King cleared his own throat and coughed.

“Bring me one.”

Before the King bit into the first pie, ignoring the muffled screams under the brown layer, he said under his breath: “Lookout tummy! Lookout gums! Poor, poor Percival, you have always been on the run!”
"Percival the Pumpkin"
Copyright: © 2009 Brick Marlin
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Brick Marlin is married to a woman who keeps him chained up in a room so he won't try and escape from home and turn his fiction into reality, Brick Marlin resides in the Ohio Valley. Brick has written and published numerous short stories and novels. His books include The Darkened Image, Raising Riley, Saturated and Crimson, and his most recent Dark Places of Rest. Next year two of his books, Sectors (Whiskey Creek Press) and An Ensanguined Path (Double Dragon Publishing), will be released.

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