As I got closer to her house, I could smell the spicy aroma of pumpkin pie and warm apple cider. My mouth began to water. Granny’s pumpkin pie was county-fair favorite in our small Southern town.
As I ran up to the front door, eager for some pie, I tripped over a gardening shovel. To my dismay, I realized that Granny had been working in her garden, in spite of her doctor’s strict orders not to. Walking into the warm house, I yelled “Granny!” I went to give her a big hug and said, “You’re not supposed to be working in the garden!” to which she replied, “Oh sugar, I just can’t resist gardening in October!”
She then went into the kitchen, sliced me a big piece of pumpkin pie and poured a steaming cup of apple cider. With our treats in hand, we settled in close to the crackling fire, and Granny began to tell a story from long ago.
“It was a cold day in October, almost exactly like this one. I had just finished school for the day and was on my way home. I knew my mother would have warm pumpkin pie ready when I got there. So I decided to take the shortcut.
“I followed a meandering path full of leaves. Bushes and thorns scraped my legs, but I pushed on like an Olympian, the pumpkin pie like a gold medal. It was getting darker, and I wasn’t sure I could find my way home. I saw a light in the distance, and followed it to an old cottage.
“There was a plump old woman working in her garden. She was groaning with every move she made. I wondered why she kept on if she was in such pain. Just then she noticed me. Frightened, I ran off. Somehow I made it back home, but I couldn’t keep that old woman out of my head.
“It was finally Halloween night! I had waited all of October to dress up and trick-or-treat with my friends, but for some reason, I couldn’t help but go back to that old house I had seen days before.
“When I got to the house, I saw smoke rising from the ground. I hid behind a tree. I saw the old woman hobble out of her house; she stared in my direction. Chills ran down my spine. I could feel my palms sweating. My heart was racing. She knew I was there, but how? I could hear her chanting. I saw her moving her arms in the air. Then ghouls rose from the ground. Every creature that I had been told didn’t exist was headed straight toward me….”
I stopped her. “But … Granny … aren’t you gardening in October?”
In that moment, smoke rose from the ground.