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Authors: John Everson

The Pumpkin Man

BOOK: The Pumpkin Man
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PRAISE FOR JOHN EVERSON!

THE PUMPKIN MAN

“With
The Pumpkin Man
, John Everson carves his name into the list of great horror writers. This is a deliciously creepy novel!”

—Jonathan Maberry, multiple Bram Stoker Award–winning author of
The Wolfman

“John Everson's
The Pumpkin Man
is a fresh look at one of my favorite subjects, urban legends. Fast-paced, gory fun that is perfect for a chilly autumn night.”

—James A. Moore, author of
Blood Red

“Robert Bloch lives! John Everson's
The Pumpkin Man
is a lean, mean, supernatural thriller in the best tradition of Bloch and Matheson. The story of a grieving daughter prying open the shriveled gourds of her past, Everson's book yanks the reader along by the nape of the neck—and also, unexpectedly, by the heart—into a dark territory best traveled in a well-lighted room, with a guard on duty. Great stuff!”

—Jay Bonansinga, National Bestselling Author of
Perfect Victim

“John Everson brings something new and edgy to the genre. It's like reading a killer rock record.”

—Paperback Horror

“A creepy, sharply written grisly tale that will make you think twice about the jack-o-lanterns you see in your neighborhood this coming Halloween.”

—
Famous Monsters of Filmland

“. . . One of the best horror writers that is out there.”

—The Horror Review

“Everson consistently offers creepy, gothic settings, disturbing kill scenes, plenty of thrills, and writing that's more addictive than crack.”

—Horror Fiction Review

“John Everson has guts, and clearly likes to explore and tamper with boundaries. He is a good enough writer that he can get away with murder, as well as multitudes of morbid mayhem.”

—Hellnotes

SIREN

“. . . A richly lyrical and melancholic meditation on loss and desperate yearning. Also a superbly effective exercise in soul-ripping terror. Modern horror doesn't get much better than this.”

—Bryan Smith, author of
The Dark Ones

“John Everson hits one out of the park and into deep water!
Siren
is as wicked a tale of intense sexual obsession as any you're likely to read, and it'll definitely make you afraid—very afraid—of the water.”

—W. D. Gagliani, Author of
Wolf's Gambit

“. . . A twisted fable of lust and obsession—with a very salty finish.”

—Amber Benson, author of
Death's Daughter

“John Everson went to the darkest part of the subconscious to create a tale of terror that will leave you haunted, days after the last page is read.”

—Brian Yount,
Doorways

Scream Queens love Siren, too!

“A thoroughly engaging tale . . . Everson's excellent prose and vivid storytelling riff on the depths of obsession and sexual addiction.”

—Brinke Stevens, horror movie actress

“Tautly sensual, obsessively dangerous, this siren will get under your skin . . . with her teeth!”

—Christa Campbell, actress

“It was as if I was under a siren's call myself. I had to read John Everson's
Siren
in one sitting to get to the unexpected, chilling ending.”

—Amy Lynn Best, director and star of
Splatter Movie: The Director's Cut

THE FACE WITHIN

The knives were relentless. Always the carver dipped his knife into the model, sampling the essence of the man with his blade, drawing something of him into his tool. Then he moved his fingers to the pumpkin and slid the wet blade into the hard shell, carving the image of the man into the gourd with the man's blood as lubricant and his lost soul as the bridge between flesh and portrait. The carver cut first with a long, curved edge, outlining the form, marking the way. Then he set the opener to the side and refined the incision with a tiny wire-thin implement: a shaper. His hands moved back and forth from pumpkin to knife kit in a blur. Time was short.

Some blades were hooked, with edges on both sides. Others stabbed. Still others shaved. But they all worked together to reveal the face beneath the surface. Piece by piece, the face of the victim took shape.

Other books by John Everson:

Covenant

Sacrifice

The 13th

Siren

THE PUMPKIN MAN

John Everson

Dorchester
Publishing

For Shaun, who loves to help me carve the pumpkins.

DORCHESTER PUBLISHING

Published by

Dorchester Publishing Co., Inc.
200 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10016

Copyright © 2011 by John Everson

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, without the written permission of the publisher, except where permitted by law. The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author's rights is appreciated.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Trade ISBN: 978-1-4285-1212-2
E-book ISBN: 978-1-4285-1194-1

First Dorchester Publishing, Co., Inc. edition: October 2011

The “DP” logo is the property of Dorchester Publishing Co., Inc.

Printed in the United States of America.

Visit us online at
www.dorchesterpub.com
.

Contents

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Tweleve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-one

Chapter Twenty-two

Chapter Twenty-three

Chapter Twenty-four

Chapter Twenty-five

Chapter Twenty-six

Chapter Twenty-seven

Chapter Twenty-eight

Chapter Twenty-nine

Chapter Thirty

Chapter Thirty-one

Chapter Thirty-two

Chapter Thirty-three

Chapter Thirty-four

Chapter Thirty-five

Chapter Thirty-six

Chapter Thirty-seven

Chapter Thirty-eight

Chapter Thirty-nine

Chapter Fourty

Chapter Fourty-one

Chapter Fourty-two

Chapter Fourty-three

Chapter Fourty-four

Chapter Fourty-five

Chapter Fourty-six

Chapter Fourty-seven

Chapter Fourty-eight

Chapter Fourty-nine

Chapter Fifty

Chapter Fifty-one

About the Author

Acknowledgments

There's something about those old urban legends that you hear in grammar school that stick with you for life—like the slumber party dare of repeating “Bloody Mary” three times in front of a dark mirror to tempt the evil Mary Worth to appear and scratch out your eyes.
The Pumpkin Man
began as an original short story of the same name about kids who come face-to-face with just such an urban legend. (Thanks to Mort Castle for publishing it in
Doorways
magazine!) The tale set the stage for a very different novel a few years later about events set a couple decades in the future. But both takes on
The Pumpkin Man
were inspired by those spooky stories that haunt your childhood dreams.

The novel owes its setting to my continuing love affair with the Northern California coast. I was lucky enough to spend quite a few days there right at the start of writing it, thanks to a couple business trips I took to San Francisco. Some of the landscape behind
The Pumpkin Man
comes from a late 2009 drive I took up to Jenner and a brief stay at the Rio Villa Beach Resort in nearby Guerneville.

As always, music was my constant writing companion, and during this novel I leaned heavily on La Floa Maldita.

There are a thousand people I'd love to acknowledge for their support, and I can't possibly list them all here, but I have to thank my wife, Geri, and my son, Shaun, for letting me disappear into dark places for hours on end, and my editors Shane Ryan Staley, Don D'Auria, Chris Keeslar, Dave Barnett, Roy Robbins and Mateusz Bandurski, who have all supported and issued editions of my novels.

Thanks also to my first readers: Paul Legerski, Martel Sardina, Erik Smith and Rhonda Wilson, for fixing so many of my fact and grammar gaffes in this manuscript. And a special thanks to some great people who have really gone beyond the call to support my work over the past couple years: Meli Denton, Colum McKnight, Jason R. Davis, P. S. Gifford, Lon Czarnecki, Dave Benton, W. D. Gagliani, Peter D. Schwotzer, Sarah Ham, Jamey Webb, Raymond Brown, Stephen McDornell, John Funderburg, Jonathan Maberry, Bryan Smith, Kresby, Jay Ford, Sheila Halterman, Deb Kuhn, Chris and Angie Fulbright, Damian Maffei, Mike Rankin, Lincoln Crisler, Peg Phillips and Sheila Mallec. You guys make all those long hours of trying to squeeze blood from a stone worth it.

THE PUMPKIN MAN

P
ROLOGUE

Meredith took the man's hand in hers and gave it a reassuring squeeze. She'd worked a long time to bring him here. His palms were clammy; she could smell his fear. He had every reason to be afraid. But she needed him for this; she couldn't afford for him to back out now. And he owed her too much to leave. Not when she was this close. Not on this night. She would
not
wait another year until it came around again.

Candles flickered and smoked all around them; the room smelled of beeswax and sage. Before he arrived she had lit six candles and placed them in a line to the north, and then six more to the south, and then finally six more to the east: a perfect number in an imperfect shape. They formed a U around the small table in her living room. The opening pointed toward the door. An entry point. She did not intend for there to be an exit.

“Put your fingers on the wood,” she urged her unwilling accomplice. His eyes looked glossy and wet in the wavering orange light. He might have been about to cry, or it could have just been the thickness of his glasses that magnified the light. “Gently,” she said. “Just the tips. Next to mine.”

Together they touched the edges of the planchette, and Meredith looked at George's clothes laid out next to the table inside the U. They were the last things her husband had worn, and the rents in the shirt were still stained with his blood. She looked at his carving knives, rusting now with disuse. She
remembered the day she had given them to him, the joy that had sparked in his eyes, and then the guilt. How could they afford them? he'd wondered. Meredith smiled at the distant memory. She'd saved for months and secretly driven all the way to San Francisco to buy them. Then she had anointed them with dark words and the contents of one of the secret family jars tucked away in the basement. For a long time they had brought him happiness, before the magic turned dark.

“Don't speak,” she cautioned. “Don't take your fingers away from the wood. Just let it work through you.”

BOOK: The Pumpkin Man
12.8Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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