This story is appropriate for all ages.
Image: Pumpkin patch by Julian Coulton. Wikimedia Commons.
Don’t you wish it was Halloween every day, boys and girls? Well, in Hallows Valley, surrounded by mountains where the trees were always in the Autumn colors of yellow, orange, and gold, and the air blew with a chill wind, it was always Halloween.
Everyone loved Halloween. Every evening the people would dress up in their costumes and go and get treats. Ah, but perhaps you’re thinking that they got their doors by trick or treating from door to door. Would you be surprised if I told you that it wasn’t the case in Hallows Valley? You see, the town didn’t have a local mayor or governor, seeing as they are too much trouble (you’ll understand when you’re older), but a witch. Witch Moonlight Mist was her name, and she made all the decisions in Hallows Valley. But she was a good witch, and every night she left out a magic cauldron in the town square that would fill itself magically with candy. Candy corn, chocolates, chocolates full of peanut butter or caramel, fruit candies, you name it, overflowed out of a cauldron in a flood of sickly sweets. Well, not all candies…. not caramel apples.
Speaking of apples, our story takes place in an apple orchard where a young boy by the name of Toby Longsocks worked picking apples. He loved his job. He would always take a few apples home with him, to dip into hot caramel or to juice into hot apple cider. Since it was always cold in Hallow’s Valley, anything hot apple, including pie, was the best.
Toby was climbing up each of the apple trees, and shaking their branches to where apples would fall in a basket padded with blankets down below. Trailing behind him was Kitty Pumpkin, a fat round pumpkin with the carving of a grinning cat face with two fangs. On his head were two big cat ears. Below his pumpkin body were four fat paws that he hopped along on (Kitty Pumpkin doesn’t have legs), and trailing behind him was a fat orange tabby tail.
“MEOW!,” said Kitty Pumpkin, below the tree Toby was picking apples.
“Do you want an apple?” said Toby in the tree branches.
“MEOW!” said Kitty Pumpkin happily.
Toby threw down an apple and Kitty Pumpkin jumped up, catching it in the air. Munch, munch, crunch, crunch! Gulp! It was delicious. That lazy cat curled up and snoozed while Toby picked the rest of the apples.
When Toby had a basket full of apples, he put it in his wagon and he pulled it into town, with Kitty Pumpkin up on his back with his feet in the air, snoring. What did you expect? Cats can be lazy. Door to door, Toby delivered apples.
When he was tired of delivering apples, he sat at the caramel fountain, dipping a couple of his own apples in the caramel. While snacking, it was always fun watching people come and go, some of them driving their skeleton horse-drawn carriages, and sometimes ghosts of residents past just floating around like flying bed-sheets. The sun was setting, and the jack-o-lanterns that hung from the poles were swinging from the brisk breeze. The shingles atop the brick buildings creaked under the wind, and a piles of golden leaves swirled on past Toby Longsocks and Kitty Pumpkin.
Mmm…. Toby never got tired of eating caramel apples. All he needed was a nice cup of hot chocolate to go along with it. He was just in luck as the Roscoe was the Rotten, a plump ghost (rumor had it that he died of eating too many buckets full of candy corn) of a see-through light blue color came wheeling his old, rickety wooden drink cart.
“Hot chocolate or hot apple cider!” boomed the ghost. “Come and get – hey what was that for?”
“Sorry,” snickered Toby, who had just punched through Roscoe, his hand going through the portly ghost like it was going through air. “I just think it’s funny that there is so much of you, but so little of you.”
“Humph!” said Roscoe, twirling his thick black mustache that stood out in contrast to his blue form. “Well, what do you want to drink?”
“Hot chocolate, please!”
Roscoe got out a pewter of hot chocolate, the steam rising up like a new ghost coming out of the grave. Leaves fluttered past him, and he accidentally spilled the hot chocolate.
Toby didn’t know what made him laugh more, the fact that the leaves startled Rosco or that the plump ghost was now checking his ghostly apron to make sure that it didn’t have stains. It didn’t.
For a while, Toby just enjoyed the cool evening, drinking his hot chocolate.
But boy, was he in for a rude awakening when Kitty Pumpkin woke up. Meoooow, hoowwl! The orange ball was not happy in the least that he missed out on getting his own pewter of hot chocolate.
“What was I supposed to do?” shrugged Toby, taking another sip out of his pewter. “You were asleep, and I know you hate being woken up.”
Meeeeooooow! hollered Kitty Pumpkin.
“Okay, okay,” said Toby, putting his pewter, which was still halfway full of hot chocolate on the rim of the fountain, “you can have the rest of mine. Goodness!”
Happily, Kitty Pumpkin clutched the pewter in his fat, stubby front paws, and on his back, started drinking the sweet chocolate down, purring. When he finished, he let out a loud belch.
“Excuse you,” said Toby.
Toby patted Kitty Pumpkin on his belly.
With Kitty Pumpkin placed back in the wagon, the two of them were about ready to head back to their shack at the edge of town, when Natalie Nightshade, a little witch, came zooming down the cobblestone road on her broom.
“Toby, Toby, and Kitty Pumpkin, come quick!”
“What’s going on, Natalie?” said Toby.
“Oh, it’s terrible,” the little witch said, dropping her wide-brimmed black hat as she spoke hectically. Kitty Pumpkin, despite all his faults, was enough of a gentleman to pick up her hat and hand it back to her. Natalie brushed off the dirt, and made sure the huge tip was sticking up in the air again as she continued to talk. “Moonlight Mist told me to find you. It’s urgent.”
She looked at Toby and Kitty Pumpkin in a look like the moon had just crashed onto the earth, as she slowly said, “The – cauldron – is – not – giving – candy.”
Toby had plenty of bad days, but this was a disaster. Little did he know how worse things were about to get, after all, the night was still young.
Note: I have changed Natalie into a cat. I will eventually rewrite the first chapter to where she is a cat.
Moonlight Mist lived in a giant pumpkin in between the gnarled branches of a crown of a grove of leafless black trees. It was like a treehouse, but one made from a carved pumpkin instead of wood. The jack-o-lantern home also glowed green instead of orange.
Natalie made a sharp turn on her broom to enter the large grinning mouth of the jack-o-lantern, which almost made poor Pumpkin Kitty fall off. He would have had not Toby grabbed him by his tail.
“Hiss!” said Pumpkin Kitty.
Landing softy in the jack-o-lantern, Natalie hopped daintily off her broom to go and cuddle with Moonlight Mist while Kitty Pumpkin tried to find a corner (fat chance as pumpkins don’t have corners) to sulk in. He had to hide under a huge pile of white sheets instead, his orange tail sticking out.
In the middle of the room, standing over a boiling cauldron full of some sort of bubbling green brew, was Moonlight Mist, an old barn bowl with a monocle over one eye. A large brimmed witch’s hat sat on her head and she wore black robe.
“Welcome, Toby,” said the owl, a large feather wing waved out of her sleeve for him to come forward.
“Hiya Misty, how’s it going?” said Toby, rather flippantly.
“IT’S MOONLIGHT MIST!” shrieked the owl, almost causing poor Nataly to fly off her shoulder.
“But Misty sounds better. Can I at least call you Misty Moon?”
“No, you may not,” said Moonlight Mist, regaining her dignity and straightening her monocle. “Now, you’ve probably wondered why I’ve called you here.”
This was true. Toby was very much wondering why he was called here. Because to be honest only once had he been to the old owl’s abode, and that was years ago when he first got Kitty Pumpkin.
Kitty Pumpkin was a failed magical spell on Moonlight Mist’s part. She had been meaning to summon the spirit of a mighty tiger into a pumpkin to guard her home. She had been putting, what she thought, were all the right ingredients in the cauldron; leaves for the silence they make when they fall, the sound of the breeze for the hiss of a cat, ambers from the fire for sight in the dark, and a pumpkin for the body, and so forth. But she had been duped by a traveling merchant, who, claiming to have a jar of tiger whiskers, had only had a jar of his orange tabby’s whiskers. So when Moonlight Mist mixed all the ingredient together and chanted the spell, she got a lazy pumpkin cat instead of a tiger.
Pumpkin Kitty was so lazy that he had refused to go to the town-square so that she could give him away. But Moonlight Mist was too crafty to let his dissuade her. She had enchanted some paper flyers to turn into paper birds and fly into town. When a paper bird landed in Toby’s hand and he unfolded it, he just knew that Kitty Pumpkin was meant to be his. Don’t ask me how. There are just some things, children, that you just know.
“I was told the candy cauldron is no longer giving candy,” said Toby. “Is this true?”
“Sadly, yes, my child, this is true,” sighed the old owl.
“But, but,” Toby couldn’t get the words of his mouth. No candy cauldron meant no more chocolate bars or peanut butter candies, some of his favorites. What was the point of living day to day without candy?
“I understand,” said Moonlight Mist, gently touching his shoulder – which was more like being brushed by a feather duster – with her wing. “A growing boy like you needs his candy so he can grow up big and strong.”
“What if we can’t get candy?” Toby said.
“Then we’ll be forced to leafy greens.”
“NO!” yelled Toby, waking up Kitty Pumpkin and causing him to leap in the air, who was not very disgruntled. “It’s okay,” Toby said calmly, more to himself than poor Kitty Pumpkin. “We still have the caramel fountain.”
Moonlight Mist gave Toby a sad look behind her specs.
“You don’t mean to say we are going to lose the caramel fountain, do you?”
“I’m afraid it’s drying up, and I have something else to show you. You aren’t going to like it.”
Aside from the moon giving a little bit of light, it was dark out when Toby and Kitty Pumpkin rode with Natalie on her broom, following Moonlight Mist who was flying. There were other glimpses of light. Processions of witches and wizards could be seen on the trail among the forests that surrounded Hallow Valley, carrying jack-o-lanterns that lit up the golden and yellow leaves.
Toby, Kitty Pumpkin, and Natalie landed on a large hill, covered in graves. Toby got off the broom well enough and Natalie gracefully lept off, but poor Kitty Pumpkin, he rolled off again, but this time he almost rolled won the hill. He probably would have gone crashing down, had not Toby grabbed him by the trail. MEOWWW!
“Sorry, buddy,” said Toby, as Kitty Pumpkin grumpily walked away from him on his fat little paws.
“If only you were a real cat, you could land gracefully,” said Natalie smugly.
“Hiss!” replied Kitty Pumpkin, baring his orange fangs – which wasn’t saying much, considering they were always barred.
Large tombstones towered above them. In the moonlight, engraving could be made out on the stones of human faces of those who died. Looking down at Toby and Kitty Pumpkin were statues of angels, gargoyles, or symbols of crosses.
Scary? Maybe to most people, but you would be wrong to think it scared Toby. The graveyard on the hill was one of Toby’s favorite places. He and Kitty Pumpkin used to play hide and seek there all the time. The problem was, when Toby was to be hiding, Kitty Pumpkin would often fall asleep (the lazy loafer).
The three of them followed Moonlight Mist through rows of twisted and cracked tombstones, many of which had ghosts out and about, spirits without human form, arising out of their graves to their nightly walks – if you could call it a walk; more like nightly floats – to the moonlight, waving their arms above their sheet-like forms, a pair of black eyes on their heads. Some of the ghosts were okay just swerving quickly around the graves.
One ghost brush right up against Toby. It felt cold. Ghosts always felt cold.
Past the graves, they came to a row of old, decrepit crypts. A bonfire was burning in the middle, and around it were a group of dancing skeletons. Some of them were beating their sternums like drums, whereas others had strings attached to their ribcages in which they plucked them like a guitar. Not every skeleton was joining on the music and the dancing though, after all, that wouldn’t be realistic. You see, like you and me, skeletons are individuals. Some of them were sitting by their tombs, playing games of dice and cards. One was even standing on one leg. He taken the femur bone out of the other and was using it to play fetch with his skeleton bulldog. He was having a great time until a pair of rogue skeletons came to the back of him, detached his skul and yelled “FETCH,” tossing it for his dog.
“Ha ha, very funny you guys,” said the skeleton angrily to the other two, as his dutiful dog returned his skull to his – well I can’t say body so I guess I’ll just say – to the rest of his frame.
“We’re sorry,” one of the skeleton rogues said. “We won’t do it again.”
“Hey, what about that big orange ball,” pointed the other Rogue to Kitty Pumpkin. “We could kick it around.”
Kitty Pumpkin growled at them while Toby felt guilty for laughing.
“Not now you two,” said Moonlight Mist in a huff. “We have an important errand and I have no mood for your tom foolery. “Don’t make me hex you.”
Toby, Kitty Pumpkin, and Nataly followed them further up the hill, until they came to something cold and wet beneath their feet.
“What are we standing in?” asked Toby. He could see what it was, that wasn’t the problem. It was white and it crunched beneath his feet. But he didn’t’ know what it was. Kitty Pumpkin was having a very hard time with it chilling his delicate little toe beans, so he leapt up into Toby’s arms, knocking the wind out of him.
“I don’t know what it is,” said the Moonlight Mist. “But it has been falling off and on throughout the days. And that’s not the worst of it. Follow me a little further up.”
It was heavy carrying Kitty Pumpkin up the slope.
“Come on!” said Toby to him. “You have feet. Surely you can walk.”
“Meow,” said Kitty Pumpkin in protest.
Nest they came to an area where there was no white stuff, but it felt strangely warm, like being inside a huge jack-o-lantern.
Moonlight Mist waved her wings and chanted “Liticus Illuminus,”
A soft green light came out, lighting up the immediate landscape. On the slopes could be seen grass. But it wasn’t the dull yellow or springy grass. This grass was green and spongy. And there were plants growing out of it with colorful crowns, some red, some blue.
“Meow”…… said Kitty Pumpkin, confused, and since he was a cat and we all know that cats like routine, being unnerved at the change.
“What’s going on?” asked Toby.
“I do not know,” said Moonlight Mist. “But there is a prophecy that states when danger comes from the east, head to the west to bring back what can save Hallow Valley.”
“Okay then, what can save Hallow Valley? This warmth feels awful.”
“I have an idea,” said Moonlight Mist. “But I’m not for certain. Still, are you willing to take the adventure?”
“If it means saving my valley and candy, then I sure am,” said Toby.
Toby Longsocks wasted no time in leaving. Kitty Pumpkin had been reluctant. He wouldn’t go until Toby made a nice little bed for him in the wagon. Could the cat be any more spoiled?
At first Toby wondered why he had been called on this adventure, but according to the old owl witch, the prophecy had also said that a young boy and a freak of nature would save Hallow Valley. Needless to say, Kitty Pumpkin hated being called a freak of nature.
So here Toby was, pulling Kitty Pumpkin behind in a wagon through the forests and hills that surrounded Hallow Valley, making their way west. It was a pleasant night. The moon gave the orange, red, and golden leaves of the twisting gnarled trees a soft glow.
Aside from Kitty Pumpkin in the wagon was food; some potatoes and turnips, a bushel of apples, and a flask of water. There was also a large bag, for before Moonlight Mist had sent them out, she had a vision that the best way to save Hallow Valley would be to stop in the other lands to ask for treats. Her vision told her that refilling the cauldron will candy would renew the magic spell. If only people hadn’t of eaten all their candy the night before, they could have just put it back in the cauldron.
Oh well. There was no sense in complaining. What’s done is done. At least the curse wasn’t coming from the west, so Toby and Kitty Pumpkin didn’t have to worry about walking in that cold white stuff that froze their toes or dealing with that hot air that made them sweat. It was the perfect brisk weather.
Later that night Toby and Kitty Pumpkin came to a stop. Out from right-hand pocket of Toby’s trousers, was what looked like a small purse that the old witch had given him. Ah… but looks can be deceiving and things aren’t always what they appear to be. For this was magic.
Toby threw it the sack into the air and it landed softly on the ground as a three person tent, complete with rolls of bedding and pillows inside. Not only was Moonlight Mist intelligent came it came to magic, but she also knew that two person tents could feel more like a one person tents, and though Kitty Pumpkin wasn’t as big as a human, he was still a bed hog.
That night the both of them slept soundly under the moonlight, in soft bedding, with Kitty Pumpkin snoring.
The next day they continued their journey. They, meaning Toby, walked through the forest until Toby’s feet were sore. The journey went well, more or less. Sometimes Kitty Pumpkin yowled angrily at Toby if the wagon rattled over rocks, roots, and other bumps.
When the sun was setting and night was near, they were out of the forest and the hills. Below them, stretched like a black and orange quilted blanket was Parnickle’s Pumpkin Patch. It glowed as far as the eye could see with jack-o-lanterns. There were a hundred pumpkins. No, hundreds of pumpkins. No, thousands of pumpkins, no hundreds of thousands of pumpkins. Either way, there were a lot of pumpkins. Enough to make enough pumpkin pies to feed a whole city with.
“Is this your family?” Toby said to Kitty Pumpkin, who had been fast asleep in the wagon.
Kitty Pumpkin looked at him, yawned and went back to sleep.
Toby was tired, and for a brief naughty moment, he thought of pushing the wagon down the hill, giving Kitty Pumpkin a ride he would never forget. But he decided against it.
At the bottom of the hill, at the edge of the pumpkin patch, the two of them heard a loud “HALT!”
It was from one of the jack-o-lanterns. His mouth glowed warm with fire, even hotter than the fire within Kitty Pumpkin. Tons of pumpkins were looking at them, for all were living, breathing jack-o-lanterns, all of them still attached to their vines.
“What brings you here?” the same pumpkin asked. It had a a crooked smile and a triangular eyes and nose.
“We have come to collect candy,” said Toby. “Do you have any?”
“We have none,” said another pumpkin, this one with a round eyes and a round mouth, an overall surprised expression. “Doesn’t Hallow Valley have enough?”
“I’m afraid our candy fountain has stopped working, so Kitty Pumpkin and I are on an adventure to get more candy, in hopes to bring back the magic and to save not just Hallow Valley but all of Hallow World.”
“Well, we don’t’ have any candy,” said a third pumpkin, this one skinny and oval, with goofy buck teeth and wide eyes.
“So be off,” added the one who originally addressed them.
“Well, can we at least cross through your patch?” said Toby.
“Absolutely not!” said a forth pumpkin, with rows of jagged teeth and sharp eyes. “If you try it, we’ll all breathe fire out to burn you, or we’ll choke you with our vines.”
“Meow!” said Kitty Pumpkin, worriedly to Toby.
“If you want to get through, then you’ll to answer our riddles,” said the third pumpkin.
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