A banner, posted on the wooden archway gate, hung in faded glory over an abandoned farm.
“Walden Farm Pumpkin Patch: Mazes, Hayrides, and the Pumpkin King,” it read. The font a faded orange upon a time-stained white background.
The Walden Patch was a county-wide event, and often lasted for several days. The pumpkin patches on the property were expansive, so as to always have at least one pumpkin for everyone that came.
But that was years ago, now. The Walden’s vanished from the area, reportedly selling the property to a new owner and leaving everything to them. No one knows who owns it now.
The farm has begun to rot from pests and pestilence, reeking of the glory days and carries with it a dismal atmosphere. Becoming a spot for teenagers, with many coming to drink in secret or daring each other to walk through the corn fields at night, an obsession has spread throughout the county about a local item.
Near the corn field is the Pumpkin King Scarecrow. It is just as aged and eroded as the property, now standing there since the very first Patch. The Pumpkin King was almost a funny kind of honor. A child would be picked from a raffle to be crowned, and the Scarecrow would be created to resemble the child. A photograph and name of the child would be put in the Patchbook, which would be on display for all to look at during the Event. That book has long been misplaced, likely taken by the Waldens.
The head of the Scarecrow was always the largest pumpkin from the patch, hollowed out to be a sort of helmet over the hay that was stuffed inside to fill up the space. This was what, the Waldens would always joke, made the Scarecrow heavier than usual—often as they struggled to tie it to the post.
The King Scarecrow, named Joseph after the child who had been the last Pumpkin King, reaches its arms out as a welcome—or a warning. The hay that fills it, reeking of water rot and spoiled pumpkin, has now been dyed brown from the years.
I remember being a child and, with my brother, coming to the Patch. It was always fun, never boring. You get so turned around with the autumnal colors and the sweet cider, you lose track of time. Never did I realize this more than when--after my brother had been announced as the King--I went home without him.
When the police were called to the farm, the Waldens swore that they had seen Joseph leave. A week and a warrant later, an acrid smell brought us to find Joseph tied to the post near the corn field.
His body is buried, and yet…
There is still a Pumpkin King on the post.
By: Sam Sage