Old Man Grier was a cankerous old pumpkin farmer. He was the town’s recluse and miser. Like most memorable misers, he lived alone. Never taking a wife because of fear that any woman’s grace or charms would cloud his one true love and inspiration; Wealth. As a young man only the glint of gold ever keep his thoughts for long and as he grew older this feeling only multiplied.
Indeed, he only owned a pair of tattered blue overalls with a dirty sweat stained shirt underneath, worn brown boots and a red handkerchief shoved unceremoniously into one worn pocket. His hands were rough and calloused and his back bent from years of tending gardens and pumpkin patch.
The rough living and sun weathering gave an almost grisly skeletal look to his face and head, which sat upon an equally malnourished body. His eyes were sunken and his nose was lean. They only served to highlight a scraggly unkempt white beard. Grier always walked with a slight limp in his right leg. He injured himself with loose axe head years ago, but refused to go to the doctor simply because of the cost.
He held the mantle of recluse with pride born of stubbornness. He even refused to go to the weekly dances held at the church or to visit with the other farmers in the area. He did, however, enjoy the one repast given to his miserly personality. He loved counting his money. He spent hours at an old rickety farmhouse table in his kitchen and count. He knew by heart every fold in every bill and all the nicks and dents in any of his coins.
His house was much like that rickety worn counting table. It was a simple 4-room farmhouse near the dark foreboding Pennsylvania woods. Built in the 1800’s with cracked windows panes and an old whitewashed coating of paint slowly peeling, the broad wooden structure showed signs of stresses and warping that comes from years of neglect.
One dark day, Old Man Grier sat at his kitchen table looking out the dirty window at the sight before him. An old molding cemetery sat on the very edge of his property. For over 150 years the rotting headstones told stories of the past glories and daily lives of settlers long forgotten. Over the long decades the weeds, and forest started to reclaim the crumbling headstones and the stony field was disappearing into disuse.
Sipping a morning cup of weakened tea after counting late into the night, Greir thought of a way to get more money. A growing grin pulled his thin lips to expose a row of yellow stained blackening teeth. He figured that if he moved the cemetery to just the other side of the property fence, only a couple 100 feet away, and then perhaps the locals wouldn’t suspect anything was different. As that no one visited his home no one would realize his deception and he would gain the extra rich land to grow pumpkins to sell in town.
He decided that in order to save money and protect himself from any local busybodies from finding out his plan, he’d just leave the bodies where they were and move the headstones. No one would be the wiser and he’d be able to grow more pumpkins at the market. The rotting bodies would even make decent fertilizer. It was a perfect plan.
For the next few nights Old man Grier walked cautiously through the old musty cemetery with a wheelbarrow, shovel and crow bar, removing the headstones and placing them in neat rows on the other side of his fence.
Every once in a while he would shoot a startled glance over his shoulder. He just couldn’t shake the feeling of eyes been set upon him. He also thought he heard faint whispering upon the cool breeze when it caressed the trees. Upon finishing the gruesome work he saw with cold-hearted satisfaction that no one would notice the ruse. The plan would work.
A week later while planting pumpkin seeds an unexpected visitor appeared at the farmhouse. A bent old gray haired lady with wrinkled face and hands, leaning on a strangely carved staff had come up to his door. The old woman projected an odd feeling of unnatural power about her. Her dark blue shawl and aged dress was plain and uninspired.
Her eyes burnt with the power of one who has a strong will and would not easily be defeated in a battle of wits. The dirty wrinkled face and knotted black hair showed the long years of her life. Her scarred chin and slightly crooked nose, brought forth long forgotten memories of crones and hexes and dark masses of bloodied rituals to unknown deities.
She knocked on the door with her carved hardwood staff with a force that threatened to collapse the old farmhouse itself. The boom seemingly echoing not only in this world but perhaps others as well. When Grier answered the door, she introduced herself as Rache the Witch. She exclaimed in an unearthly cackle that the spirits of dead were angry and he needed to fix what he had done and pay compensation to the spirits or suffer the horrible consequences.
Old man Grier reacted, as one would expect of an old miser whose wealth is threatened . With an evil burning glare he spoke with angry force for her to leave his property at once or he was going to call the sheriff. Rache the Witch turned with a cackle and an evil laugh and just walked away with an ominous “We’ll see my pet.” We’ll see.”
Grier wasn’t scared of that old wrinkled crone. He figured she was one of those religious nuts that come a knock ‘in trying to get your soul and coin. He wasn’t going to be scared off by her. Even if she somehow knew about his nefarious deed, she couldn’t prove anything.
The weeks flew by without any incidents, until the first pumpkins started to show themselves in that dark plot of grisly soil. Greir kept a close eye on his patch. As he watched the seedling sprout and take root, he noticed the strange sounds of whisperings on the wind again. He only heard them in the newest section of his pumpkin patch were the richly fertilized soil of the grave nourished those dark seedlings. Other incidents did not escape notice either. His eyes would see tricks of moving shadows and strange ethereal mists in the pumpkin patch with out a seeming cause. These incidents Greir happily contributed to the nerves of an old man and pushed them from his mind.
It was soon after the pumpkin blooms turned into the gourds that Grier faced his decision. A moonlit night and lack of a cool fall breeze saw Old Man Grier knee-deep in a strange glowing wispy mist. He stood on the defiled blackened earth surrounded by strange monstrous shadows and stared open-mouthed at the incredible visage before him. The pumpkins, his precious pumpkins, were of a strange otherworldly color. A frightening shade of white, a ghostly white, the very color of bleached bones assaulted his sight.
Old Man Grier stood in the patch aghast. Was it a fungus? Mold? His senses could not agree with what they were telling him. Pumpkins are not white! And yet his eyes were aware of their lack of color even in the pale light of a full harvest moon. He needed to inspect the pumpkins for any sort of rot or pest that could have caused it.
As he stepped toward a pumpkin panic began to gnaw at his gut. Nothing like this had ever happened to his pumpkins and he worried he wouldn’t be able to sell the ghost pumpkins for his precious money. Muttering to himself, he kneeled to get a closer look at the solid white shape of a pumpkin in front of him. Ignoring a fresh smell of decay and turned earth he turned the pumpkin over in his hands to inspect the underside. So intent on the unusual sight before him and the recollection of reason to his feverishly panicked brain, he never felt the grasping clutches of the pumpkin vine behind him mysteriously start to wrap their moonlit pale green coils around his feet and ankles.
At last with senses returning to normal and panic being flushed from his mind he became convinced of no issues with the pumpkin, other than it’s unusual color. Old Man Grier went to stand and the pumpkin plant clutched his ankle in a frighteningly strong iron grip yanking him to the ground with much force. He landed face down into the dank soft earth with a curse and in an angry panic tried to fight against the now entwining vines wrapping around his legs, arms and then finally his throat. As he hopelessly struggled against the tenuous horror, he could feel the vines grow tighter and tighter in their grip like a snake having caught the field mouse refusing to let go until breath long leaves it’s hapless victim. Finally, as the tendrils of vine around his neck choked him to his dying breath, he noticed Rache the Witch cackling with inhumane laughter and dancing gleefully and gracefully through out the pumpkin patch. With blood pounding in his ears he could make out her singing:
“Cursed, Cursed, are ye! To wander the earth eternally! Return ghostly seeds to graveyards born, so ye may quench spirits wrath and scorn.”
The sheriff never found Old Man Greir. Townsfolk assumed that the crazy old man became lost wandering in the woods and after a couple of days they called off the search . Eventually, the pumpkin farm with its dilapidated building sold at an auction to a pumpkin seed manufacturing company. No one has ever found the missing graves, or ever realized that the pumpkin patch now sat on the old graveyard. The only remaining mystery was the strange appearance of those ghostly colored pumpkins. None of that mattered to the new owners though. They began to sell the ghostly white pumpkin seeds to farmers all over the world.
So friends, if you collect your ghost pumpkin seeds and leave them on your doorstep, maybe, just maybe, you’ll get to see the ghostly image of Old Man Grier begging for your seeds. Pleading with the mortal world to help him get the pumpkin seeds back to the old cemetery so he can eternally rest.
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