Posted in Blog, Creative Writing, Spooky Season, Writing

Pumpkins – Part One

They all come to the midnight screening to see him. One by one. Every night. I always watch them, watching him, but I’d never have the guts to go and see him for myself. I never look at the screen.

That’s the mistake they all make. They look at the screen.

The funny thing about people is that they have no patience. They always want to know the ending before they’re even half way through.

They call him Pumpkins. It sounds weird, because it is. Nobody ever found out his name, and he wears a mask, so nobody knows his face, just his piercing, eerie orange eyes. Everybody just calls him Pumpkins, because he always has a pumpkin with him. Nobody knows why. He doesn’t carve it. He doesn’t eat it. He just carries it around. Like I said, it sounds weird, because it is.

When I first started working at the cinema, someone told me about him, and I thought it was a joke, but the first time I worked the midnight showing, he was waiting in the projection room. I didn’t know whether to laugh or run away screaming, but he just pointed to the empty seat next to him and waited in silence. I stared for a little but then I sat beside him. That sounds like a stupid thing to do, but everything I knew about him so far was that he wouldn’t hurt you if you did as you were told, so it seemed the only option.

Everybody who worked in the cinema knew about him, it turned out, and everyone just seemed to accept it. You’d go to start the midnight show, and you’d put on something for Pumpkins first, instead of the trailers. The ticket holder he’d selected would watch, and then the screen would fill up for the actual film. Pumpkins would be gone, until the next night, and you said nothing about it to anyone on the outside.

It’s messed up, but at first, it made me feel cool (once I’d got over the fright), because we were all in this secret little club, sharing this experience, never telling another soul, but I can’t pretend that it’s fun anymore.

Something really bad is happening, and talking about it is my only hope of keeping people alive.

He was always there, when I went to the projection room for the midnight show. It didn’t matter what film was supposed to be showing, one of his movies would be on first, always unadvertised, and always a screening for one person. He’d hand me the reel, and I’d put it on without question. I didn’t know what would happen if I didn’t, but I didn’t think it would be something enjoyable, so I just played along.

He only ever said one thing as I set up the movie.

“Don’t look.”

I heard that the movies would give people a glimpse into their futures, and I guess that was the appeal, so the instruction not to look was confusing at first, but as time went on, I began to understand.

People always looked, no matter how much I’d ask them not to. Pumpkins would tell them once. Only once, but I would be in the aisles, begging, pleading, trying to push their faces away from the screen. It never made a difference. They always looked. I guess their curiosity got the better of them.

You might wonder why I was so insistent, or why I cared at all, and the answer is simple (to me, I guess), but you might not believe me. I’ll tell you anyway, you just have to promise not to look, when Pumpkins finds you, and gives you your ticket. He will, by the way. He’s working his way through and one day, it will be your turn.

I didn’t notice anything strange at first, because I shut my eyes, really tight, the second he told me not to look. As the projector whirred into life, there was the sound of distant thunder, followed by nothing but the faint, busy melody of the projector. That was all I heard as his film played. It didn’t seem to last long, just a minute or two, and then the lights flickered into life and the projector fell silent. The bright ceiling lights poked through my eyelids, and I opened them, staring around the now empty projector room.

He was gone. The reel was gone too. There was no trace of Pumpkins, and the screen below was beginning to fill up with customers, so I tried to focus on my work.

It wasn’t until the fifth time that I dared to open my eyes a little early. I could still hear the projector beside me, and I figured it did no harm to take a little peek, as long as I didn’t look at the screen. I took my hands down from my eyes and gazed down to the front row, where the lucky ticket holder was sat. That was when I knew something was wrong.

They were levitating from the seat. Crazy, I know, but there they were, high above the seat, a blanket of orange light surrounding their lifeless body, and Pumpkins stood beneath them, his arms in the air, pointing to the fire exit, like he was signalling an aeroplane. There was blood all around the ticket holder, and their skin was pale and ghostly. The blood seemed to float in the air, dancing around them in a circle, and their mouth looked like it was trying, so desperately to scream, but nothing was coming out.

Lightning suddenly flashed, high above their body, and that’s when I saw them. Little creatures in the corner of the screen, right by the fire exit. They had bright orange eyes, long straggly hair, and masks just like Pumpkins. In their hands were little pumpkins, carved and lit up, horrifying little jack-o’-lantern’s, with that same orange light within them.

I locked eyes with one of them and it held the lantern high above it’s head, pointing a finger in my direction. I ducked behind the desk and covered my eyes, hoping that nobody else had noticed, and within seconds, the ceiling lights were back on and the room was silent.

I sat for a moment, trying to figure out if it was safe to come out, or to even open my eyes. There was a hand on my shoulder, and I jumped, my eyes opening.

“Don’t look.” It was Pumpkins. I stared up at him, unable to speak. He snatched the reel from the projector and with a snap of his fingers, he was gone.

I heard once that you’re never supposed to know the future, because it drives you mad, and at first, I thought that was the reason for telling people not to look, but as time went on, I realised that the films were just bait. Pumpkins wanted to draw people in, show them what was possible, and then snatch it away. Maybe it was a test? Maybe it was a game? The films might not even be their futures, just what people wanted to see, just enough to lure them in, and make them go quietly. Go where? I still don’t know.

Every night since, when he tells them not to look, I join in the calls, never looking at the screen, never looking at the fire exit where those… things wait, but nobody ever listens. Everybody looks.

Not me though, I never look, and I never will. I don’t know where Pumpkins takes them, or what those creatures want, but I’ve been given a ticket for tonight’s show. I won’t look, because I don’t want to know.

Hopefully, I’ll see you on the other side.

Posted in Blog, Creative Writing, Spooky Season, Writing

Wheelchair – Part Three

He was glaring now. His smile still present but his eyes told the truth of his rage. As he advanced, I gripped my chair, unsure of what else I could really do. It was time to play. I heard him behind me, his fingernails rapping against the handles of the wheelchair.

“Time to play.” I nodded, knowing there was no other choice. He began wheeling me forward, blood, presumably from his mouth dripping on my shoulders. Drip. Drip. Drip. A hypnotic, haunting melody. I didn’t have the time to be disgusted, because I had to have a plan.

The world began whizzing past, the sky falling into darkness as the air flew into my face, hot and suffocating. I could hear all these voices, so much pain, so much sadness.

Soon, it was just him and I, the world beside us, a blur, the sky, an endless stream of darkness, all the stars had gone out and the droning of the pained voices around us was the only sound I could hear.

“I’m rooting for you, even if they aren’t.” There were hands all over me, more and more appearing as the seconds spun by and the world became a little clearer. There was a black car up ahead, a hearse, unmistakeable, floral tributes to me lined the window. All the pain. The grief. The sorrow.

I closed my eyes, gripping my hands on the rear wheels, and pushed as hard as I could, trying with all my might to turn to the left. The hands grasped onto me desperately, my hands burning with the pressure, but I breathed, in, out, in, out, taking everything I had, and then, then there was nothing. No sounds. No lights. No stars. No people. No cars.

My breath began to calm and I looked around, anxious but trying to relax so I could figure out what to do.

He stepped out from behind me, smiling and jovial. He had balloons in his hand, and his eyes seemed to have a peace that I hadn’t seen before.

“You won!” He leant across me, tying the balloons to the handles of the chair. “You clever girl.” He stood back, staring, as if he was admiring me. “Now, close your eyes.”

I was reluctant but I closed them anyway, in the hopes that he’d stick to his own rules and let me go.

“Off you go clever girl.” He whispered. “Time to go home.”

Everything was normal. The bustling streets had returned. People went about their business as if nothing had happened. I was back at the top of the hill, wondering if it had all been a dream, except… the balloons. I turned to look at the back of my chair, and there they were, tied to the handles. He was gone, but I could feel him lingering as the balloons danced in the wind, and the air began to fill with the haunting aroma of popcorn.

Posted in Blog, Creative Writing, Spooky Season, Writing

Wheelchair – Part Two

There I was, face to face with the clown. He never stopped smiling. His beady little eyes bore into me and his grip was tight on the chair. It was like he had just teleported in front of me, this otherworldly thing, this evil, terrifying thing.

“Are you ready to play?” He asked, a drop of blood falling from his lips to my lap as he spoke. “The rules are very simple.” He nodded as he spoke, drumming his filthy fingernails against the chair. “If you can kill the car, you win!” I looked at him, silent, trying to take it all in. His eyes examined me with a gleeful brightness, blood dripping from his smile and staining the denim of my jeans. “You and the car crash into each other, and whoever lives wins!”

“But… why?” His grip tightened on the chair and he leant closer, giving off a surprising aroma, something nostalgic, popcorn and candy floss, like he had carried the scent of the circus with him when he escaped. It was a strange contrast. A man who was seemingly dripping in the blood of… something, also had a hypnotic quality about him. “Why me?”

“Because you’re so much fun!” He smiled wickedly. I certainly didn’t feel fun. I wanted to live. I had friends. I had a tinder match that things were going pretty well with. I had half of a box of fondant fancies in my office drawer that I’d been thinking about finishing all bloody day. I know it sounds insane that I was thinking about this as a horrible clown had control of my wheelchair and could very well murder me, but none of us gets to choose how our life flashes before our eyes, and flash mine did.

“What if I don’t want to?” I had noticed a man walking behind him, tall and the right side of muscular, with a comically small little sausage dog. If I could keep this Poundland Pennywise talking long enough, I could distract him, and hopefully, Mister Muscle and his tiny companion could help me.

“No?” This turned out to be a mistake. It’s something I will always regret as long as I live. “Don’t worry, we’ll have fun.” He moved so quickly. I heard the dog yelping, bones breaking, chomping, a sickening slurp as blood ran down the pavement, spilling into the gutter. The man was strewn across the pavement, his dog, somewhere in the distance, bolting as fast as his teeny, tiny legs could carry him.

I had no choice but to play.