Farmer Landon plunged the knife deep into the flesh and sawed a clumsy circle. He pulled the make-shift lid off and twisted his face a bit when the pungent odor reached his nose. He never could get used to the smell of the sweet ripeness.

He reached inside and felt the cold mess squish between his fingers. He pulled at the tendrils and shaved away the membranes until the inside walls were smooth and clean.

Then he wiped his grimy hands on his jeans and began to carve a face – triangle eyes, a jagged smile – perfect for the season. He loved to decorate his pumpkins for Halloween.


“I can’t watch this any longer!” Gordy said as he threw up a mess of seeds.

“Pull yourself together! You’ll watch and you’ll see why we have to act NOW!” demanded Jack. “The stories that were handed down from generation to generation are true, as you can see. The madman will stop at nothing to grow us for his own twisted amusement. Once he finds us to be suitable, he carves us into disgusting, twisted caricatures. No more, I say!”

Jack, the commander of the pumpkin patch, had led his pumpkin brethren to the back porch step to bear witness the meticulous slaughter of a former friend. What they witnessed, in their view, was the grotesque sense of humor by a megalomaniac farmer.

“Tonight!” shouted Jack. “Tonight, we begin Phase One!”

“Tonight!” the thousand or so other pumpkins cheered in unison.


“Here’s a house!”

Soft thudding footfalls came across the grass as a half-dozen children ran to the front door.

They made is as far as the porch before the first child screamed. On the porch was Farmer Landon’s head, hollowed and alight by a single candle. The children screamed and ran back to the driveway.

The children giggled as they got back into their family van. Though they got no candy, the thrill of such a realistic gag was plenty good enough for them.


“They have found the lantern!” Gordy murmured. “Yours is far more frightening than any that Farmer Landon could ever create in a thousand growing seasons!”

“Quiet! Let the children scurry and tell the other humans of our existence.” Jack smiled smugly. “Yes. Children are easily frightened by scary lanterns. They are like putty in my vines.”

“So now what do we do?”

“Phase One has set in motion a chain of complex events. Phase Two is coming soon. You just wait.”

Gordy sat silent for a moment, not sure if he should question his leader. But he felt it to be his duty to the other pumpkins to speak up. “What do you mean by ‘you just wait’?”

“That’s, that’s what I mean. You just wait. I said it very plain.”

“Do you know what Phase Two entails?”

“Well, of course I do! Do you think I’m a fool? Don’t you think I have a full understanding of the nature of our enemies? Did I not rally a thousand of our kind to defeat the evil Farmer Landon? Do you think I did that just so that we would not have a Phase Two? Jeez, I know Phase Two like the back of my stem.”

“I’m sorry, sir. Do you have an idea as to when Phase Two will be set into motion?”

“, you just wait. Seriously, I mean it. It’ll be glorious, man.”

And so they did wait. They waited and waited and waited. It wasn’t until another few weeks later that a local grocer, angry over lack of promised deliveries from Farmer Landon, visited the Landon residence.

It was then that he found a shriveled, rotting lantern made from Landon’s head. Torrents of maggots dribbled from Landon’s raison lips. The grocer went inside to call the police and found thousands of rotten pumpkins in the Landon home. It appeared as if one had been nailed to a wall before it rotted enough to fall to the ground again.


Next year’s brood of pumpkins offered conflicting stories to their children. The relatives of Jack argued that a glorious revolution was thwarted by a treasonous Gordy.

Gordy’s camp argued that Jack was a complete imbecile who hadn’t enough foresight to prepare for a real uprising and invasion. They praised Gordy for the mutiny that served as a symbol for the higher order of pumpkinkind.

Arguments went on for nearly the whole growing season. Now the fields are quiet. There seems to be an uneasy calm. Perhaps a pumpkin civil war is imminent.

"Phase Two"

Copyright: © 2010 Brian Barnett


Brian Barnett lives with his wife, Stephanie, and son, Michael, in Frankfort, Kentucky.

He has appeared in over twenty-five publications, online and in print, including several anthologies.

He was co-editor of the anthologies “Toe Tags: 21 Spine-Tingling Tales from the Best New Authors of Horror” and “Long Live The New Flesh: Year One” with William Pauley III and has published a collection of horror stories titled “State of the Dark”.

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