Pamela K. Kinney
Judy Linnea watched as her husband set down the jack-o-lantern on the front porch. He stood up and stretched, then sauntered back inside the house. Peter took his dark hooded sweatshirt out of the hall closet and slipped it on. He turned to her. She saw nothing on his face but a blank page, a few wrinkles and a graying five-o’clock shadow the only thing written on it.
“Heading out again, Peter?” she asked sarcastically. “You never stay home with me anymore.”
A strange little grin flitted across his lips. For a minute a chill raced up her spine, burt she shook it off. No way the man would hurt her.
“What’s the matter, Judy? Do you think I seeing another woman or something?”
She snorted. “You? Magic would be a more real possibility, then your lazy butt cheating on me!”
The strange smile grew wider, as if only he got the joke. Not even pausing to give her a kiss on the cheek, he stepped past her and went outside. The door slammed shut with a loud bang.
Judy stared at the door, shocked. Least he’s always gave me a kiss before. What’s the matter with him these days?
Actually, he’d been acting strange ever since he had brought home that pumpkin the day before Halloween a week ago, carved a face on it and set it out on the porch on Halloween, all lit up. Funny thing, he removed it the day after, and didn’t throw it in the trash as usual, but took it indoors. Until today when he put it back out. Very strange behavior, even for him.
Well, whatever’s up his butt will have to be puzzled out later.
She had cookies to bake.
Just before she could head to the kitchen a woman’s giggle came to her ears. The sound came from outside, just outside the front door, if she thought about it. Frowning, Judy opened the door and stared through the screen door.
Empty. Only the porch furniture and the damned pumpkin. Judy was about to shut the door when someone giggled again.
“What the . . .”
Puzzled, she realized the sound came from the top of the porch steps. Except no one stood there, only the pumpkin. Judy shoved the screen door open and stepped out.
She stood next to the jack-o-lantern, staring down at its face that Peter had carved into it. Eyes like mirthful crescents, the nose, an upside down triangle, and the mouth was a slash so malignant that for a moment she shivered and took a step back.
Another giggle filled the air.
In dawning horror, she realized that it came from the jack-o-lantern. Something slithered up one side, long and black-green.
“Oh God, a snake!” Where was freaking Peter when she needed him? She hated snakes.
Judy tripped over her feet and landed on her butt. Her face was close to the slithering thing that curled around the orange flesh of the jack-o-lantern. She noticed that the ‘snake’ had tiny red horns that rose from the top of its head and as its yellow eyes stared into hers, a tiny red flame issued from its opened maw.
She screamed, trying to scramble to her feet and failing. The creature hissed, more flames filling the air along with the sound—the thud-thud of something pounding from inside the pumpkin.
The jack-o-lantern split apart, and pieces fell onto the top porch step in front of it. A miniscule body, dressed in a tattered crop top, denim shorts and green sandals staggered out, a tiny sledgehammer gripped in her minute hands. I was a woman with orange eyes and blonde hair, all in a Barbie doll face. She gazed up at Judy.
“What the hell are you?” asked Judy, unable to move a muscle. Had this creature hypnotized her?
The woman gave a nasty smile.
“I’m Peter’s new wife.”
“Peter realized that your software program that came with the package of tomato seeds he had bought last spring was defective. But the seller on eBay who sold him this pumpkin said to carve it and insert the new software program, then right-click, and I would come alive. I’m to replace you.”
“Come on, we have to hurry, as Peter is expecting a dinner of steak and mashed potatoes with home baked pumpkin pie tonight when he gets home. I need to get to the store.”
Judy’s vision wavered and she tried to stand, but found that her legs wobbled like rubber. Her vision dimmed but she saw another odd thing about the jack-o-lantern that she hadn’t noticed before. A long, white line attached to a two-button computer mouse snaked from behind the jack-o-lantern.
That’s when she fell into a long dark corridor of nothingness.
Judy regained consciousness and found herself lying on something red. In fact, everything looked red from top to bottom and side to side. The whole room seemed circular and empty of furniture. She stood, her legs still shaky.
To her horror, she saw a giant, feminine face with pumpkin orange eyes staring at her through a large, gaping hole in the red wall in front of her.
“Oh God, where am I?” screamed Judy.
“Why, in the jack-o-lantern, of course!” said the face in a booming voice.
The face vanished when Judy heard the thunderous footsteps of some giant.
“Peter! It worked!” The female voice.
“It did?” Peter’s voice roared like a sonic boom.
The next moment his dove-gray eyes peering through the hole at her.
“Comfy?” he said. “Good.”
She ran to the hole and poked her head out to look up at him towering over her like a skyscraper. “What’s that suppose to mean?”
He didn’t answer, but he leaned over to pick up the mouse she had seen earlier, only now it was way bigger. “I have to save you into the program.”
He right-clicked the mouse and all went blank for Judy..
Peter took the CD and shoved it into a drawer full of other CDs, each with a woman’s name on it. He turned to his new wife.
“The program better work right this time, or I’ll not be buying any more programmable wife software off eBay. Understand?”
His new wife smiled, touched her hair with a shaking hand before she leaned over to give him a kiss.