Rating: T - Suitable for teens, 13 years and older, with some violence, minor coarse language, and minor suggestive adult themes.  I'm switching over to these Fiction Ratings.

Disclaimer: The Magnificent Seven is owned by Trilogy, Mirish and MGM. No money is being made. This fanfic is purely for entertainment purposes. The movie Pumpkinhead belongs to Stan Winston, De Laurentis Entertainment Group and Lion Films. The poem is by Ed Justin.

Author's Notes: Thanks to Phyllis for the great beta. I watched the movie Pumpkinhead again and the story really struck me. I wanted to write a story for Halloween, and this is it.

 

Pumpkinhead

By: Ruby

"What's the strangest thing you ever seen, Vin?" JD asked the sharpshooter, who sat with Buck and JD at a table in the saloon.

Vin glanced at JD and then over at Buck. He looked down at the table, a cool, unreadable look crossing his face. After a moment, he looked up, catching JD with his dark gaze. "When I was a kid, right before my mama died, I saw something..." he paused, shrugging. "Something was pounding on our door late, late one night. Mama hid us under the bed, told me not to open that door, not to go outside, not to move from where we lay. But, after she fell asleep, I got up and I went to the window. And I looked outside. There was something out there. It was off in the distance, silver in the moonlight and mist. But I know what I saw." He stared at both of them. "It was Pumpkinhead."

JD gulped. "Pumpkinhead? Who's... that?"

"JD?" Buck leaned forward, looking serious. "You've never heard of Pumpkinhead?"

"Ha, ha, Buck. Funny." JD laughed, glancing over at Buck and then back at Vin. He shifted uneasily when Vin just stared at him, his look grim. JD blinked a few times.

"Folks where I grew up used to have a saying, it went like this: Keep away from Pumpkinhead, unless you're tired of livin'. His enemies are mostly dead, he's mean and unforgivin',"  Vin's rhythmic voice chanted. "Bolted doors and windows barred, guard dogs prowlin' in the yard, won't protect you in your bed. Nothing will, from Pumpkinhead."

JD shuddered. "That's... creepy, Vin."

Vin nodded. "They say some witch up in the mountains conjures Pumpkinhead up if someone's been wronged. Pumpkinhead rights that wrong. Relentless, devious, uncaring - he just does." Vin cocked his head to the side, watching JD.

"And..." JD laughed awkwardly before his mouth pulled down into a frown. "Wh... what's this man do?"

Vin shook his head sharply. "It's not a man, JD. Least, I don't think it is. Or, not anymore, anyway. It's a... thing. And what it does is kill. Unstopping. Unrelenting. Until whoever did the wrong is wiped out. Don't matter if it's one person, or a hundred. It's vengeance, pure and simple." He lowered his voice, "They say it's a demon from Hell."

"A demon?" Catholic-raised, JD's young voice squeaked in alarm. He gulped, leaning forward, whispering, "You saw it, Vin. What's it look like?"

Goosebumps rose on Vin's arms. "I only saw it off in the distance." He shuddered. "It looked like... like..." he swallowed, letting out a shaky breath. "Well, can't rightly say, it was so..." His voice drifted off, his eyes clouding over. He shook his head forcefully. "I can tell you what people say it looks like. It's huge, ten, eleven feet tall. Sort of a gangly lizard looking body, out of proportion, with a large misshapen head. Big milky white eyes. A huge mouth full of sharp, wet fangs. It has long lizard arms, and hands with long spindly fingers, twice the length they should be that end in razor like claws. He walks upright, on jointed dog legs. And he has a long tail that ends in a devil's fork."

JD was shaking his head through the entire description, his eyes wide, his mouth open. After a moment, he snapped his mouth shut and narrowed his eyes. "Nuh uh!" he breathed out.

Buck nodded. "It's true, JD."

"He might be a demon." Vin looked at both men. "But, some say he *was* a man at one time, maybe deformed, maybe not. Maybe the form he's in now was what his soul looked like before." Vin shrugged. "Now he's walking, stalking, killing revenge."

"So how do you call him off?" JD glanced from one man to the other. 

"You don't." Vin shook his head. "Once someone's gone to the old witch for revenge and Pumpkinhead's conjured up, it can't be stopped. And it can't be killed."

"Yep," Buck agreed. 

"It'll kill everyone it's after and anyone that gets in the way." Vin swallowed hard. "When it's after someone, you can't help them, JD, even if they come bangin' on your door at three in the morning."

BANG! Buck hit the table with his open palm and then laughed uproariously when JD jumped a foot.

"You can't let those people in, JD," Vin continued, leaning forward, ignoring Buck's laughter. "You can only listen to them scream while Pumpkinhead kills them. And it's not pretty. Pumpkinhead doesn't kill easy. No. He... likes to have some fun." He winced. "Cause as much pain and terror as he can. I think it's what *he* gets out of the bargain. He plays with the people, like a cat does a mouse; sometimes keeping 'em alive for hours until they're screaming at him to just finish it. And then he does. Breaks bones, disembowels, beheads," Vin shrugged. "There's no end to the horrors."

Buck glanced from JD to Vin, grinning wryly behind the hand he was rubbing his mustache with.

Vin looked around conspiratorially and then leaned forward, drawing both men towards him. "Late at night, you're on the trail," he spoke softly, his voice raspy. "The firelight's making odd looking shadows. Everyone else is asleep but you." Vin stared down at the table, the brim of his hat covering most of his face, his eyes reflecting light, making him look demonic. "And..." he looked up at JD. "You hear something that startles you. You're looking around, trying to figure out what it is. And then you see it, the eyes watching you. Sends a shiver down your spine, like someone's just walked over your grave. That's Pumpkinhead, seein' if you're the one he's after. Sometimes he just sits and watches, other times he moves on. But if you make the wrong move, look threatening, he'll think you're tryin' to stop him and he'll take you out. There's nothing you can do to save yourself."

JD gulped loudly. He shook his head. "I ain't never heard of anything like that, Vin," he whispered. "It don't seem right possible." He cleared his throat, his voice louder. "What kind of a name is Pumpkinhead, anyway?"

Vin shrugged. "They say he's buried in a pumpkin patch in an old graveyard, that's how he got his name," he answered. "The person wanting revenge has to go in there in the middle of the night and dig him up and take his body to the witch. She brings Pumpkinhead back to life. And," he shrugged, "the rest is written in blood."

Swallowing hard, JD shivered. "Yeah."

The batwing doors opened and Chris walked in. Buck and JD both jumped. 

"JD," Chris said, walking towards them. "I need you to ride to Eagle Bend. I know it's late, but I need you there first thing tomorrow. You'll have to camp out tonight."

JD squeaked, bolting up in his chair, staring at Chris with eyes the size of saucers. "But..." he glanced at Vin and then Buck, his eyes getting bigger. "I... I..." he looked up at Chris, who had a no-nonsense look on his face. The 'can't' died on his lips. Swallowing hard, he grabbed up his hat and shoved it on his head before slowly standing. He looked like a man condemned as he glared at Vin, gave a sad-eyed look to Buck, and then trudged past Chris and out of the saloon.

Chris walked over, sitting down in the seat JD had just vacated. "What the hell was that all about?"

Buck grinned. "Vin's just tellin' boogeyman stories, is all. He's got the kid a mite nervous." His eyes lit up. "Hey, Vin, how 'bout taking a little ride with me tonight." He bobbed his eyebrows. "Maybe catch the kid a little before dawn, scare him right out of his pants."

Vin smiled, shaking his head. 

Chris leaned back in his chair, watching both men.

Buck slapped the table. "Hell of a story, Vin. It was fun to go along with it, thought maybe we were going on a snipe hunt." He laughed. "The look on JD's face, priceless." Chortling, Buck shook his head at Vin. "How'd you make up a story like that?"

His face ominous, Vin glanced up at him as he cocked his head and raised an eyebrow. "Who said it was made up, Buck?"

The silence was deadly. No one moved. No one made a sound.  

Finally, Buck blinked a few times, gaping at Vin foolishly. 

The corner of his mouth turning up, Vin glanced at Chris and then back at Buck. "Who says there ain't vengeance demons?"

Then, slowly, both men looked over at Larabee.

Chris stared at them blankly and then scowled. "What?"

August 20, 2005

"Keep away from Pumpkinhead,

Unless you're tired of living,

His enemies are mostly dead,

He's mean and unforgiving,

Bolted doors and windows barred,

Guard dogs prowling in the yard,

Won't protect you in your bed,

Nothing will, from Pumpkinhead."

~ Ed Justin

 

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