Ray Bradbury 52 stories 52 w Week 13. The Time of Grandfather Halloween

10/23/22 This one was actually harder to get done. It kept talking. lol

When it finally happened, I saw it coming. I want to be a scientist in my own right. I have been a laughingstock to them. No matter what experiment I try, it all flops. Now, I am a farmer foremost. This science stuff is a side hustle for now. Though, I should have thought it through first before doing that experiment on a four-day-old watermelon. But now there is more water than melons. I ended up paying for damages to the neighbors after my entire crop of four hundred-plus melons suddenly sprung a leak. The neighbors dubbed it the great orange flood of nineteen-sixty-seven. The weirder part is that folks swear to the scent of baked pie afterward. Some also blame me for ruining Halloween for some small ones, since none of them have wanted to go trick-or-treating since the incident. I don’t see how it’s fair to blame me. No! No, this is not the incident about the springing of the orange sea. This one is quite different. I wanted to give a sense of what it can be like having a scientist or wanna be a scientist in a family of farmers. Now, in the middle of October, close to Halloween. I decide whether to try an experiment again on my old Punkin patch. Well, if anyone knows me as well as they think. Then you know what is going to happen. I worked day and night on this project to make them grow faster for many things. But it is what I was aiming to do. Until I think something or someone tampers with them. I can’t prove it with no evidence to be found to the contrary. Of course, I went to bed at ten and snored away through the night, annoying my loved one. Hours later, awakened by the louder-than-usual clock in the downstairs hallway, the clock strangely didn’t wake my wife. Mrs must be so used to my snores that nothing wakes her. I peek down both ways through the hallway to the stairs. I see nothing strange even as I tiptoe down each step slowly and steadily. Until I shined my flashlight toward the kitchen, then up toward the Grandfather clock. Which seems to have damage from what appears to be something huge. There is a bright orange flower in the shape of a pumpkin lying nearby, almost as if it’s torn from someone’s fancy suit. How did it get here? I thought to myself? 

Thoughts raced through my mind as I noticed the brown and green vines protruding from the kitchen through the back door that was ajar, swinging back and forth in the breeze. I can almost taste and smell the pumpkin and soil floating in the air. When he~it appears from within a poof of greenish-orange, sparkly mist. I say he or she, as I am not sure if I should call it humanoid or not when something comes out of the fog. It’s dressed from head to toe in a green tuxedo with an orange bow tie and a tear from where the orange pumpkin flower had been. That isn’t even half of it. Our phone rings off the hook as friends, family, and strangers all go missing. I head outside soon after waking my wife up. I started searching the grounds around the country road, checking on our neighbors. So far, nobody we know is missing. I continued into town to check on things even though the police arrived shortly after because I got a strange feeling, like it’s got something to do with my experiment. As I drove through the town, strange lights were now over the square. Three pumpkin heads, with various faces, follow/roll along behind it/him. I’m still not sure who or what they seem to be. When they spoke, its face lit up like there was a candle inside it. Through some telepathy thing. He/it is telling me they’re Grandfather Halloween. I have some experience with my experiment. By accidentally bringing it to this realm, I’ve altered something when I did this potion, elixir, or what have you. But how can it? I asked. Imagery floods my mind at a rate I cannot fathom as I fidget and run my hands through my messy auburn hair. I feel as though I’m suddenly going into insanity and that’s when I realized I had created it. Now I must figure out how to stop it from destroying the town. It grew taller and taller exponentially even as the vines wither; they seem to melt into the ground for the next four hours. Pumpkin monster wreaks havoc on the town. More people go missing. No one knows where they take them. All they know is everyone disappears when looking into its eyes. As soon as the sun’s rose disappears into the pumpkin patch as if nothing ever happened.

 Even the destruction disappears as the missing people reappear inside their homes. Just as they had no memory of anything that happened. It is almost as if they are suffering from amnesia. How is it even possible since I have only ever seen it with alien abductions? I, we couldn’t have dreamed it! Could we’ve gone through all this? How can I be the only one to hold any memory of the event? I’m in my basement laboratory I try to forget and move on from the previous night’s fiasco but at least they did no harm to the community and we’ve put everything back in place, as if the incident hadn’t happened my wife, per usual, is begging me not to do any more oddball experiments. Of course, I do not pay attention again as I continue with a grand idea that’s just come to me. To her dismay, I spent hours until the late afternoon, just before the sunset. Nothing happens earlier in the evening or just before bed. We retire to sleep as usual. It isn’t until the same time again that a strange being appears once more. The being continues to communicate with me by telepathy, this time taunting me repeatedly. You can’t put me back inside the portal now. It’s closed permanently! Haha! You won’t be able to open it back up. I’ve made sure of it. Since you have created me, I believe I’ll stick around with you forever. I will ensure that by destroying your little gadgets once and for all. Sweat beads down my pale face as frightening feelings pulse through me and with a split decision to call its bluff, daring it to do it. It laughs maniacally as I leap forward towards the small device he’s hovering by and I grab it, jumping away and out of the basement, not even sure of what I will do once reaching the pumpkin patch first. I was hoping to find a clue somewhere inside it of how to send it back and just my luck. My grand patch now looks like one of those mazes. I bolt inside the jack-o’-lantern maze when I see the orange aurora in the skies that I can only estimate are about two miles from me. It appears to be heading the opposite direction, I must act fast before it starts again or finds me as I fumble nervously as I try to activate the device hoping whatever I did before can happen again but this time sending it back through to the other realm. 

When a cold hand touches my shoulder as the other grabs my mouth. Shh, say nothing. I’m here to help you relax. He whispers as I turn, meeting his hazel eyes. Look, I know the whole town hasn’t liked all your gadgetry and stuff. I do and I wanna help you get rid of that thing if we can. Gimme that thing. Let me see what I can do? Mr. Britburger said. Do you remember what you’d done before when this thing abracadabra into our life? No, that’s what I’ve been trying to figure out—-no wait, it’s the potion that’s what did this. At first, I thought it was this device. I created a potion that is supposed to make our pumpkins grow bigger, meatier for pumpkin carving. If it worked, I was going to show it off near Halloween. Only it shows up early and shows off now I take it? 

Yes! I said. 

Ok, since this thing is heading in the other way, my house is in the other direction. I have some stuff there we can use to recreate the potion, this time doing it right. If that old, old noggin of yours can remember. He said. Now, look here. I’m not that much older than you. No need to get like that, especially at a time like this. I mean, I could decide not to help you! But I won’t do that! I shrieked as warm air now hovers over us as I peer up, seeing a now massive pumpkin man lean down just above us as its eyes glowed yellow. Mr. Britburger grabs a few tall stalks, throwing it at the creature’s eyes, subduing it just long enough to get out of the area before it regains its sight. Luckily, he knew of a soft spot to tear through. We make our way to his place faster than you can even blink. I’m not sure how we did it but, make it there in under thirty minutes. Hey, we could be pizza delivery guys. Mr. Britburger jokes as the front door swings open as I bolt inside past him without even thinking. How rude of me. I turn to apologize when he grabs my arm. No time for any kind, for any kind of pleasant or unpleasantries. We have a drink to mix. It’s now fifteen minutes until the sunrise when we finally did it. 

Race out of the house in search of a fire station where we borrow one of the truck’s speed through the town, searching for this massive thing, only realizing it’s right behind our truck as yellowish eyes look at us through the side mirror. Slam on the breaks as we swerved to a halt. as we can feel the heartbeat to our skulls.  Britburger and I take a deep breath before we plunge out of the truck, quick to grab the hose as I pour the stuff down inside the take. He cranks it full blast toward it, knocking it to the ground as it soaks down deep into its pale sherbert flesh. As we thought, how do we get the portal back down to send it back through? This is the one thing we hadn’t thought of as we continue our assault on it. When it finally dawns on me as it’s looking down at my pocket… where I put the formula while we are running around. 

He wants the formula! I yell. Mr. Pumpkin’s man tried reaching for it, but I kept dodging it, giving me time to figure out why. That is when it reveals why. 

Give me that incantation now! he said. I will not let you send me back. 

My wife yells from behind me. When you read it out loud to me, you somehow turned it into some sort of dumb spell, you idiot! That’s the last I’m ever asking you about anything about that stuff. Also, read the dang thing out of order again. It might get rid of it! I did just what the Mrs tells me and read as fast as I can as my new friend here keeps on sprayin it and just as the sun peaks over the horizon a silver as it  disappears once and for all. All the mess we’d made vanished for good this time around. After all settled down she makes me rip it up and use it as fire starter for good measure that I won’t ever use accidentally. I’ve also got rid of all my gadgets and doo hickies, as this experience has taught me one thing. Don’t mess with things you know nothing about or you’ll end up being chased by a giant pumpkin man in a fancy suit.

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