Walls painted orange from the light splashed upon them soon morphed and changed as shadows began to dance along their surface. The noises of drunken laughter and conversation filled the air as a group of students, all in hoodies, marched their way through the campus. It was October, and it seemed that everyone had gotten into the spirit of the month with decorations and preparations for the faithful 31th. Though some had gotten into the spirit of things in a more malicious fashion as these boys were on a mission, and filled with liquid courage, they were going to see it through.
No decorations survived that night, signs, posters, lanterns, etc. Anything the boys could reach they destroyed and there were only a few more stops left, one of them being in front of the botany lab. Now the lab itself was extremely challenging to break into, and with their drunken minds it would be a task quite impossible. So instead the boys set their targets on the easier goals of the normal, non-decorated pumpkins in the little patch planted in front of the lab entrance. No mercy was given as metal bats swung down with drunken strength, shattering the pumpkins to pieces. Pumpkin juice dripping off metal, pumpkin entrails scattered everywhere, it was another victory in the boys’ minds that was if not for the hidden security camera which over looked the patch.
Illuminated only by the light of the computer monitor, a pair of clenched teeth held back yells of rage as clenched fists demanded a victim. But soon the expression of rage began to soften and a look of determination crossed the viewer’s face as she had spotted the thing she had been waiting for this entire time; the sole reason those pumpkins needed to be sacrificed. Immediately her mind started to plan and she was making mental notes of everything she would need as she took a snapshot of the camera feed and let the image sit on the monitor. As she got up from her chair to make all the arrangements, the sole image of one of the boy’s faces sat on the screen, as he had removed his hoodie to bask in the night air.
Jeffery Tanner was an average college student; he was majoring in graphic design, went to the occasional school event, and had modest grades. Like any other student he had his drinking nights and pub crawls, but every year he and his buddies made sure to keep the tradition of decoration smashing alive and well in their school. They were rather careful though, making sure to wear completely identical clothing, hoodies to cover most of their head, and an exit strategy in cause campus security had ever stumbled across them. But like most young men their age, arrogance would be their down fall as seeing that it was their last year at the school the boys had decided to get a drink before they went on their crusade.
Now there are times when you get black out drunk, and then there are times where most people would consider you clinically dead. The type of passed out drunk that you wouldn’t notice someone breaking into your dorm room, drugging you, dragging you out of your room, placing you on an operating table, and then beginning the procedure. And then there is the lovely morning after where you wake up with a killer headache, numbness, impaired vision, and in the body of a pumpkin. Well maybe the last part doesn’t usually happen, but for Jeffery Tanner, this was the case.
Now… technically, as a pumpkin, one does not simple wake up. One does not have a killer headache; one does not have a feeling of numbness, or impaired vision or vision at all for that matter. No, as a pumpkin one simply exists. As is the state of Jeffery Tanner, your average college pumpkin, who sat at the desk of a rather emotionally compromised Botany professor. A long sigh masks the burning fury held within the professor as she took a seat and stared at the pumpkin. Her eyes looked over its form, a small hint of pride on her face for the successful procedure as she observed the orange sphere.
“Good Morning Mr. Tanner. You might not know who I am, but I can confidently say I know who you are… or rather were. You see, I’m Professor Jones, the botanist teacher here on campus and for the last four years I’ve been planting nice happy pumpkins in front of my lab in an effort to pretend to care about this rather ridiculous holiday. But for those last four years… I’ve found myself discovering the remains of my poor defenseless pumpkins. For four years… I have stumbled upon the murders of my beloved children.”
The professor’s once calm demeanor was slowly starting to fade as her hands started to ball up into fists, looking at the sphere. “And until now… I have been unable to bring justice to those who had butchered my children. But now that I have you, some justice can be served, oh and don’t you worry, your friends will not go unpunished as well. No… they will all get a visit from me at some point… but let’s focus on you right now shall we?”
Slowly, the professor’s fingers slid down the side of the pumpkin, feeling every grove and imperfection. And while Jeffery could move, he could still feel; her touch, her skin, the vibrations of her words that let him understand what she said. Somehow, deep within, there was some piece of Jeffery Tanner left, but only a piece, just enough to be completely aware of what was happening and nothing more. “You know Mr. Tanner; many people often forget that plants, just like people, can feel. And while a plant doesn’t have a way of conveying it, it can feel pain just like any of us. That means anything as gentle as rubs… to as violent as a stab… can be felt…”
Her hands wandered into her desk and slowly she retrieved the sharp shining metal, the knife’s handle held firmly in her grasp. “So Mr. Tanner, as a teacher I must teach you a lesson, with this lesson being about justice…” With mild hesitation merely due to the appearance of the pumpkin, Professor Jones plunged the knife deep into the former student and began to crave. “It always pains me to see people crave up poor little pumpkins, slicing into their defenseless bodies and then pulling out their insides, only so they can cut out stupid faces and stick a fire in them… but for you Mr. Tanner, I will make an exception since you are after all… not a real pumpkin. No Mr. Tanner… I know what you are all too well… and like every other filthy… pathetic… idiotic creature, you see plants as nothing more but something you can destroy.”
He felt everything, every slice, every cut, and all the anger that lay within them. Sharp cold pain that wouldn’t dull with time. It never stopped, the intensity of the pain as well as her fury, as he could do nothing to stop the professor from dismembering him and then reaching inside his form to tear out his insides and hollow him out, but not completely though. No… she was precise, even in her anger, she knew what she was doing and left the part of him that registered what was happening. His suffering was not over…
The glow of orange light brightens the world from the darkening night, shadows in the distances dancing along the walls of the campus buildings. As the noises of rowdy college boys drew closer to the lab, a lone pumpkin sat at its entrance, a crud craving placed upon in and a small candle housed inside, lit and very slightly cooking the remaining piece of Jeffery Tanner. The boy, or pumpkin if you would, received no mercy as the candle burned all day, the heat shearing his nerves and bringing unrelenting pain throughout the day.
The wounds he had received earlier had not dulled in their pain as well as every single breeze of wind sent sharp pains through his form. But now he knew the end was arriving as he could ‘hear’ his comrades approaching. His friends had wondered where he had gone that day, but seeing as it had only been one day it hadn’t been a truly alarming matter yet. Soon, they arrived at the lab, its lone decoration being the only thing in sight.
The boys had a laugh as they joked that the teacher must have been running out of funds or was simply growing tired of trying to compete with the boys to keep putting out new decorations. All the while they remained unaware of their friend’s plea to end it all, the pain, the constant pain being too much to endure. Jeffery prayed, prayed that his friends would finally save him and free him from this nightmare. Unknowingly, his friends would save him, as his instrument of freedom was a metal bat, being swung full force, which would paint the walls with his insides.
All the while, behind a computer monitor, Professor Jones grinned wickedly as she began to plan out what to do with the rest of the boys. In the back of her lab, the former body of Jeffery Tanner was slowly being consumed to provide nourishment for the latest patch of pumpkins.