The Stalk Stalks Back – Alan Dale Dalby







It had been his first Halloween without becoming a Jack-o-Lantern and Gordy was a sad sight to see.  An old rotting pumpkin that had been passed by and kicked around by the rowdy children picking their choice canvases out.  Entire busloads came and went yet Gordy remained in his cold dark corner of the world.  He could see the setting sun and knew it was all over.  Halloween night was upon the world and this meant Gordy would soon be gone forever.  He sagged at the thought, his tough skin far more squishy than anyone else’s.

“Look at this sorry bunch of basketballs will ya?”  Gordy spotted the tall stalks of corn looming over the pumpkin patch.  The one speaking was the tallest and had the biggest mouth.

“Shouldn’t you all be dead and crispy by now?”  Bob the Pumpkin snapped at the pushy corn and rolled away from the fence.

“Look who’s talking.”  The tall corn chuckled and her followers followed her lead.

“Go pick on someone with your own IQ lady.”  Jeffy the Pumpkin managed to slap some soil up into the air with his vine but it didn’t come close to reaching the corn stalks.  “Stupid frozen ground.”  He moped.

Something whisked through the pumpkin patch and a scream grabbed Gordy by the throat that he didn’t have.  It shook him violently into consciousness.  He looked all over, constantly having to throw his top back as his squishy middle was causing him to sag.  He spotted Bob who was now two halves of a pumpkin.

“My insides!  Somebody please put them back!”  Bob cried out but no pumpkin would dare go near him.

“I can’t feel my legs!”  Cried out Sam the Pumpkin.

“Nothing even happened to you!”  Bob screamed.

“Oh.”  Sam whistled and rolled away.

“None of us has legs Sam!”  Jeffy yelled.

Gordy looked up at the smirking corn stalks and noticed that fear was in their kernels.  He knew they were the ones who would be taking the blame, until a scream came from their side of the fence.

“It was a werewolf!”  Screamed one of the stalks as it looked down at its friend who had just been cut down.  Half a stalk stood as if it had been decapitated.

“No it wasn’t Francine.”  Said the tallest stalk.

“How do you know that exactly Barbra?”  Francine seemed to squint.

“There is no such thing for a start.”  Barbra looked up and shook her cob.  “The moon is nowhere near full either.”

“It was those stupid pumpkins!”  Yelled another stalk.

“You may just be onto something there Mary.”  Barbra leaned over the fence as far as she could.  “They may have killed that pumpkin just to make us think it wasn’t them.  I thought they were low before.”

The arguing exploded between the pumpkins and the corn.  Slowly Gordy forced his tired old pumpkin body to roll over to Bob.  He looked down at the two halves of the pumpkin and examined the innards.

“Get away from me squishy pumpkin.”  Bob’s voice trembled.

“I’m trying to help Bob.”  Gordy said.

“Bob doesn’t want your help Gordy.”  Jeffy rolled over and bumped hard into Gordy’s soft shell.  “Why don’t you go back to rotting in the corner or something?”

“Yeah!”  The entire pumpkin patch said in unison.

“This wasn’t a werewolf guys.”  Gordy shook his top half back and forth.

“He’s absolutely right.”  A very large pumpkin rolled over and stopped by Gordy.  They both looked down at Bob and there was silence throughout the farm.  “This was obviously the work of those shady corn stalks.”

“You better watch your mouth pumpkin.”  Barbra scolded.

“Do you have a better explanation?”  The large pumpkin asked.

“For all we know it was you.”  The stalks all started talking at once but seemed to be in agreement that the mobile pumpkins were the obvious suspects.  “If I could move I’d come over there and show ya!”

“We all need to calm down here.”  Gordy said.  “There is a very simple explanation for all of this and I think I know what it is.”

“Oh please do tell us you rotting pile of pie filling.”  Barbra’s jab made the other stalks laugh.  The one stalk who didn’t was Sally.  Sally caught Gordy’s attention and made him feel slightly squishier as they smiled at one another.

“What’s with the smirk?  Is this a funny situation to you here?”  Jeffy pushed Gordy who rolled away out of control.

The entire farm was left in chaos as the arguing became shouting and a full-on riot was about to begin.  Suddenly the big pumpkin screamed as a flash of black swooped down and through him leaving a rather large hole on both sides of his head.  Innards spilled out left and right and bigger pumpkins tried to avert the little pumpkins’ eyes from such horror.  The thing flew into the blackened sky and came rushing back down to rip the cob from one of the stalks.

“Angie no!”  Cried Sally.

“That does it!  We have got to do something before the werewolf murders us all!”  Bob said.

“It already got you though.”  Jeffy said to Bob.

“I know.  I just wanted to be part of something.”  Bob sniffled.

“If anyone has anything good to offer I suggest they offer it now.”  Barbra glared at both pumpkin and corn waiting for a confession.  The silence that was leftover made Gordy want to slap himself.

“It’s a crow.”  Gordy said.

“Oh sure!  A crow just swooped down and through your friend there then ripped the head off of one of mine.”  Barbra scoffed.

“Look if we all work together on this I think I can save the rest of the farm from getting killed.  If anybody is interested in keeping their body just as it is then we should give my idea a try.”  Gordy waited for some kind of reply, but only more arguing broke out and he could not yell over them all.  He remembered that there was a small hand shovel over by his dark corner of the pumpkin patch and he rolled over to it.

“Don’t do it Gordy!  Life is too short as it is!”  Bob yelled as Gordy poised himself in front of the hand shovel and aimed his forehead for the sharp tip.  As he slammed himself against the shovel he heard Bob screaming.  “Oh what a world, what a world!

“Shut up Bob!”  The entire farm shouted.  Gordy realized that he was limber enough to scoop himself out, and so he did.  It took a lot of time and nobody could bring themselves to watch it.

Sally watched him.  She was the only one there who did and she would have clapped had she control over her own leaves.  When he was finished Gordy put his top on and rolled over to the other pumpkins with the shovel clenched in his squishy center.

“Who wants to make me look handsome?”  Gordy dropped the shovel but all the other pumpkins backed away.  Gordy shook his stem which was barely attached and sighed.  “Then I guess we all just wait our turns.”

“Do you really think that the werewolf will come back?”  Bob asked nervously.

“Yes Bob.  I do in fact think that it will be back and either we can be ready or we can just lay down and rot right here, right now.”

“I’ll do it!”  Sally flew from her stalk before anyone could stop here and the little cob that landed on the frozen ground took off in a mad dash for the fence.  She skillfully slid under it and went for the shovel.  Jeffy rolled into her path and blocked her.

“Now isn’t this an interesting development?  The corn can walk!”  Jeffy turned to his fellow pumpkins and moved himself on top of the shovel.  “I say that we haven’t yet ruled them out as…”

A black blur tore the top of Jeffy’s pumpkin body off by the stem and vanished into the darkness with it.  Jeffy slowly rolled onto his side and his innards began to spill out.

“Jeffy!”  Gordy hovered over the latest victim.

“Jeffy wants to hear a story.”  Jeffy said.  “Jeffy fears nutmeg!”  He sobbed wildly and rolled onto his face.  The sobs were muted but still audible.

There was a long pause before Gordy looked around and nodded at corn and pumpkin alike.

“Draw me a nice big smile Sally.”  Gordy looked at her as she began to carve away and felt something almost beating in his hollow chest.  Sally grunted and strained but she never quit carving.  She collapsed finally and one of her leaves was now bent but she had done it.  All who looked at Gordy’s face now felt fear gripping them.

“It’s not quite how I imagined it but it will have to do.”  Sally’s tired voice was fading.

“You’re going to be okay Sally.”  Gordy was assuring himself more than anything.  “I swear it to you.”  He looked up at Barbra with his new grinning face and saw her shaking.  “Can I get a boost?”

The time passed by so very slowly for the pumpkin patch and the corn stalks.

Then the beast returned.

Gordy was perched on top of Barbra’s sturdy stalk and ready.  The beast aimed itself directly at Gordy and swooped down.

“Oh kill it!  Kill it as fast as you can!”  Barbra pleaded.  She was shaking so hard Gordy nearly fell.  The black blur closed in and opened its beak.  “We’re all going to die!

The entire farm screamed in terror and the pumpkins rolled about with no place to go.

The light inside of Gordy started out faint.  He looked down at Sally and it nearly burned out.

“You can do it Gordy.”  Sally managed to whisper loud enough for him to hear as he blocked out all the other noises.

“Get off of my farm you ugly buzzard.”  Gordy growled.  There were three clicks, three very loud clicks that emerged from inside of Gordy.  Just as the crow was about to knock him down to his doom a fire roared to life and flames of brilliant orange and gold blasted through the eyes, nose, and mouth that Sally had carved.

A loud squawk and a desperate attempt to avoid the flames sent the crow upward and back for a second try.  Gordy waited patiently.  The crow came back quickly and was headed straight for him once again, but it could not avoid its fear of his sinister smile.  Gordy spotted that fear in its beady eyes and let one more burst of flames erupt from his core.

The crow flew away in a panic and never returned.

The farm applauded and cheered as Barbra gently lowered Gordy down, the entire pumpkin patch waiting to carry him on their shoulders.  Jeffy and Barbra met glances and nodded.  Gordy was lowered down next to Sally.  The rest of the pumpkins slowly rolled back affording him plenty of room for privacy.

“You did it Gordy.”  Sally’s voice was weak.  “You did it.”

“I couldn’t have done anything without a spirit as strong as yours Sally.”  Gordy bent in half to hold her but he broke at the center and his top half fell next to Sally.  “The ground is quite cold.”

“It is indeed.”  Sally managed to touch a leaf to Gordy’s soft pumpkin flesh as the two of them faded away.  The other pumpkins and corn had gone silent save for a few sniffles here and there.

“What happens next?”  Sally asked.

“You’re going to love it Sally.”  Gordy said.  “That’s really all I know.”

Both in good spirits, Gordy and Sally departed together and left the farm to mourn them.

“This is winter so I mean, we’re pretty much all doomed anyways you know.”  Bob said.

In unison the entire farm replied “Shut up Bob!


Time passed by and the farm changed as farms are known to do.  On one particularly cold night two voices found themselves speaking to one another inside of the farmer’s house.  A fire was going and the house was full of people all gathering around a large meal that was being set out on a large table for them.

“I’d make a better pie than Jeffy.”  Gordy said.

“Aw shucks, I’d make way better bread than Barbra.”  Sally giggled.

The two of them found homes inside of plastic bodies, a decoration for some other holiday that Gordy had never heard of.  They started to give thanks for this and that.  Gordy caught the spirit and thanked Sally.

“Thanks for what?”  Sally asked.

“I guess thanks for everything that you do, including just being you.”  Gordy pushed his little plastic pumpkin body up to Sally’s plastic corn body and felt happy, but something was missing.

The dinner being held was suddenly interrupted as the farmer began to contort and howl.  He tore his coveralls off and the old man began to grow thick brown fur all over his pale body.

“I totally called werewolf!”  A voice gleefully exclaimed from a plate of freshly baked pumpkin seeds.  Barbra the cornbread and Jeffy the pumpkin pie shouted “Shut up Bob!” in perfect harmony.

Gordy and Sally laughed as the dinner guests fled the house and farm in total panic.

“I’ve always been destined to only return on Halloween but I realized something this year.”  Gordy said.

“What is that my dear Gordy Pumpkin?”  Sally was still laughing at the ongoing chaos.

“That every single day has a little bit of Halloween spirit.”

So Gordy and Sally made a pact to always be together no matter what form that particular together might take, or what time of the year it was.

The only condition was that once a year on Halloween Gordy got to go out and do his thing.

“Now that’s the spirit, my lovely little pumpkin.”

And as the sounds of Bob, Jeffy, and Barbra screaming joined the howls of the farmer who probably didn’t have any idea that he was in all actuality the darned animal who kept destroying his kitchen, Sally and Gordy fell asleep and dreamed together of all the wonderful possibilities that awaited them.