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Mike Philbin

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Overtime at the PUmpkin Factory
By Mike Philbin
Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Rated "PG13" by the Author.

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It was a horror tale in the purest sense of the word, but not one youíll have heard before. Let me begin some time after the deed has been done. Halloween has been murdered. Yeah, think of that. Well, it happened one year and this is the story of the lingering aftermath.

It was a production line like youíve never seen.

On the factory wall was an imposing industrial clock with huge lamp black hands; mechanical, not digital Ė something that harked back to Edwardian times, an exhibition piece in a refurbished mainline station perhaps. It ticked faster than a normal clock, more than one click per second. There were screams too.

Screams of little children.

Thatís what happens when you kill Halloween, isnít it? The children suffer? The universe must be kept in balance. Thatís what was happening now, whether you believe it or not.

All down the length of the factory, and it was a big one, their axes chopped, chopped, chopped. The factory smelled of faeces and vomit and urine and other bodily secretions Ė a damp vapour of choking dread and terrified anguish hung at crotch level. Day and night the slaughter of the innocents continued. It was a bizarre chorus line of killers Ė peroxide-blonde cheerleaders from Hell in their high-cut tank tops and their summer hot-pants. But they worked as one well-oiled machine chop, chop, chopping in perfect synchrony with their hefty axes the line of pumpkins that passed them by on the conveyor belt.

I watched them for in quiet contemplation. Each screaming pumpkin they smashed with their axes added a one to the clock. Tick went the tocking mechanism, tock tock tocking madness chop chop chopping time and flesh into a million succulent seed-spilling slices. A river of blood poured off the stainless steel conveyor belt. Picture this cutaway of dainty white plimsolls with a team logo on the ankle. Picture droplets of blood spattering the white cotton fabric. Picture assorted chopped-off bits of screaming children crushed underfoot. Picture the arms of these chopping girls, pure mechanical muscle, built for one purpose. Picture the dead look of a job that has to be done. Picture the little grin on my mischievous boy face.

Picture then, finally, the conveyor belt.

Picture the trembling pumpkins all-quivering in their single file. On their ridged, orange-striped exteriors, the freshly-peeled faces of screaming children. I know a lot of them by name, theyíre kids at my school after all. This is after all my factory of Halloween Murder. Why did I do it? Well, there are many deep, personal reasons why someone like me would do something as heinous as that but I donít want to go into them right now, obviously. Better to show than to tell. I hop onto the conveyor belt and stick my nose up again the trembling cold-sweating face of Mathew Burnley. He tries to back away, I can see him flinch. But, as heís a pumpkin, he donít move a jot. His eyes erupt with fires of terror.

I take a 2H pencil from the selection of pencils crammed into the top pocket of my factory jacket and push it into Mathew Burnleyís eye. The pencil wonít go in at first, his eyelidís too tightly shut Ė maybe I should have chosen a sharper one. I can hear him whimpering with the strain, grinding his back teeth to raw shards of nerve and enamel. But I know Iíll win. Itís inevitable that heíll unscrew his eyelid even just a fraction and the tip of my pencil will penetrate the transparent membrane of his eyeball. As soon as it does, Iíll push that pencil so far into his eye socket...

What a nasty piece of work that Mathew Burnleyís dad is Ė gets him all the best things for Halloween. All the latest lamb-bleating chest cavity games, vampire-shrieking skulls, zombie-groaning animatronic mascots of all kinds from his toyshop across from where our school used to stand; that businessman and his terrible wicked money-grabbing ways. This is all his urine-dribbling offspring deserves. And the rest of those screaming little runts, for that matter.

ďAll of you!Ē I stand up on the moving conveyor belt like an action hero; my feet spread, my fists pressed into my hips, my chin jutting proudly. Eyes turn to me in terror as the conveyor belt screeches to a halt. I loose my footing momentarily but resume my composure. The arms of the hatchet girls crank back with steel-sprung precision, all arms are cocked, ready for chopping.

ďYouíre all for the chop!Ē

And the heavily-muscled cheerleader arms begin to crank up more macabre tocks from the rapidly-ticking clock. I dance about like a demon in the rain, tiptoeing through the lethal blades as pumpkin heads are cleaved in twain. These children come from all over America; their Halloween fantasies destroyed by this brutal culling. It has to be done, though. Thatís what commerce is, no? A demand supplied?

The dissected pumpkin meat tumbles off the end of the gory steel conveyor belt to feed the Devilís minions. For, donít they say an army marches on its stomach? Well, I sold my soul for the price of a Halloween mask just two years hence. And it gave me no joy. Made me no more popular with my peers. But I did learn hate. I did learn revenge. And I swore, this year, that I would be the Halloween nightmare none of them would forget.

But I didnít see her. Abigail, donít know her surname. She doesnít go to our school anymore. In more fortunate circumstances we could have been an oddball item, she and I. I didnít see her creep into the factory under cover of night. I didnít see her hand reach for the emergency button as I danced on the edge of the abyss. Didnít realise how painful the fall into hell would be. And when I landed, how the slowly the demons would feast on my flesh.

THE END

       Web Site: Mike Philbin Online

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Reviewed by Sandra Mushi 5/3/2006
Excellent captivating write, Mike!

God bless,

Sandie.



Dust Carried on the Wind Book 2 Continuum by Fern Lutkins

It centers around the three headed dog Cult Ceberus and ritual sacrificing...  
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