Author Topic: Pseudopod 305: Pumpkinhead  (Read 3769 times)

Bdoomed

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Pseudopod 305: Pumpkinhead
« on: October 26, 2012, 01:07:18 PM »
Pseudopod 305: Pumpkinhead

by Rajan Khanna “Pumpkinhead” first appeared in the anthology, SHADOWS OF THE EMERALD CITY which came out in 2009 and is based on the L. Frank Baum Oz books.

Rajan Khanna is a writer, narrator and blogger. His website is RajanKhanna.com. He has a story in the forthcoming YA dystopian anthology DIVERSE ENERGIES.

Your reader this week is her supreme majesty The Word Whore, whose own podcast is AIR OUT MY SHORTS is a model of hard-working, sultry efficiency.



“Mr. P sat at the table, his sagging head leaning against one gloved hand. It was tilted slightly to the side and he was waving the free fingers of his other hand in the air.

‘Mr. P?’ I said.

He tilted his head toward me. ‘Call me Jack,’ he said, for the hundredth time. But I couldn’t. He was my employer, but more than that, he was a celebrity, and a close personal friend of the queen. In fact, if it weren’t for his imminent need, she would be the one about to carve this pumpkin for him. He was basically part of the royal family.

He held out his hands and I placed the pumpkin into them. His arms, which he kept covered at all times, were little more than wooden sticks, like broom handles, but they were strong and sturdy and he pulled the pumpkin closer, cradling it for a second before placing it on the table in front of him.

Fascinated, I longed to watch as he carved it, to see how it was done, but it was such an intimate act, so very personal, and I couldn’t bear to intrude upon it. As the knife penetrated the rind and into the tender inner flesh, I turned and left the house and returned to the field where I belonged.’



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Kaa

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Re: Pseudopod 305: Pumpkinhead
« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2012, 01:57:05 PM »
Wow. That was . . . wow. I may have to go and read all the Oz books, now, just so I'll have a greater appreciation for this story.

In spite of the fact that I figured out what was going on as soon as Mr. P. told his story, I loved hearing it unfold in all its gruesome, awful detail.

I have a feeling that if I had already read the Oz books, I might be curled into a tiny ball in a corner wondering how Mr. Khanna could have done that to the beloved character . . . but that makes me enjoy this story all the more. I'm strange that way. :)

A most excellent selection for our October enjoyment.
« Last Edit: October 29, 2012, 10:01:15 AM by Kaa »
I invent imaginary people and make them have conversations in my head. I also write.

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Unblinking

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Re: Pseudopod 305: Pumpkinhead
« Reply #2 on: October 29, 2012, 09:18:59 AM »
I haven't read this story since I got my contributor's copy for Shadows of the Emerald City a few years ago, so it was fun to rediscover it--I'd completely forgotten how the story ended up.  I really felt for both Jack and our protagonist, and the struggles that they had to go through.  Sagging, rotting jack-o'-lanterns always make me sad, like withered versions of the form they'd taken the day before, a stark reminder of my own mortality when the day before they had been such a fun Halloween activity.  So the progressively deteriorating face really creeped me out in the best way possible.  When he decided to replace her head, I had felt like that was coming for a while, but was still pretty scared for her sake.  All well done, Rajan.

A link to the antho for anyone who'd like to read the other 18 Oz horror stories.
http://northernfrightspublishing.webs.com/apps/webstore/products/show/974924

(I would really, really like to submit my story from the antho to Pseudopod, but it's 9700 words, too long to be allowed in the Pseudopod slush.  Wilson Fowlie did a superb reading of it for Beam Me Up podcast/radio show)

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Re: Pseudopod 305: Pumpkinhead
« Reply #3 on: October 31, 2012, 09:53:07 PM »
AHHH! AAAAAHH! Return to Oz flashbacks! I spent most of the story waiting for the horrible biker-things to show up. Or someone to steal her face. And even when it ended I half thought that there'd be a line about electroshock therapy.

This was lovely and subtle, and it made me clutch my arm in sympathetic pain. I think I'll have to go read the rest of the collection -- thanks for posting the link, Unblinking!
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Re: Pseudopod 305: Pumpkinhead
« Reply #4 on: November 01, 2012, 03:45:16 AM »
For anyone who's interested? The answers to this year's Halloween parade WILL be going up in a few days:)

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Re: Pseudopod 305: Pumpkinhead
« Reply #5 on: November 01, 2012, 08:30:04 AM »
For anyone who's interested? The answers to this year's Halloween parade WILL be going up in a few days:)

I completely failed to guess any of them.  I like listening to the parade every year, like dipping my feet in a river of horror and somehow not getting my feet eaten by the piranhas.  But I'm terrible at guessing--I think last year I guessed 1 or 2.

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Re: Pseudopod 305: Pumpkinhead
« Reply #6 on: November 01, 2012, 09:24:49 AM »
I really enjoyed this -- one an Oz-esque Bride of Frankenstein. But a carved up Jack O Lantern just makes everything so much more festive. Very smooth reading to match Rajan's prose, as well.

This made me want to rewatch Return to Oz too, which scared the bejeezus out of me when I was a kid.

 
For anyone who's interested? The answers to this year's Halloween parade WILL be going up in a few days:)

I completely failed to guess any of them.  I like listening to the parade every year, like dipping my feet in a river of horror and somehow not getting my feet eaten by the piranhas.  But I'm terrible at guessing--I think last year I guessed 1 or 2.

I got a few of them, but only a few (and I think most of the ones I did get carried over from last year or two - Winchester Bros., John Constantine - he has a wife now? Geez, I'm out of it!).

I know I'm behind in my horror TV/movie watching - Looking forward to seeing what I'm missing :)

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Re: Pseudopod 305: Pumpkinhead
« Reply #7 on: November 08, 2012, 03:00:39 PM »
I enjoyed this one a lot.  I'm only slightly familiar with Oz characters outside of the usual cast.  Is Mr. P supposed to be a more refined version of the pumpkin man from Return to Oz?

Anyway, my scientific side loved how she was going about testing head quality.  I loved the creepiness of burying each head after it had rotted.  I was thinking that they had somehow slipped into reality where pumpkins aren't supposed to last more that a few weeks, so the evil twist got me.

I'll be checking out the other Dark Oz stories.  Thanks Unblinking.

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Re: Pseudopod 305: Pumpkinhead
« Reply #8 on: November 08, 2012, 05:31:31 PM »
I enjoyed this one a lot.  I'm only slightly familiar with Oz characters outside of the usual cast.  Is Mr. P supposed to be a more refined version of the pumpkin man from Return to Oz?

They share the same source material. He's introduced in The Land of Oz (Book 2) and this story is generally set shortly after The Road to Oz (Book 5). The geography and style are very reminiscent of Baum's.

The movie Return to Oz is generally based on Books 2 & 3.

The books written by L. Frank Baum are excellent and in the public domain. There's a lot of them in audio on Libravox.
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Re: Pseudopod 305: Pumpkinhead
« Reply #9 on: November 09, 2012, 06:22:11 AM »
I enjoyed this one a lot.  I'm only slightly familiar with Oz characters outside of the usual cast.  Is Mr. P supposed to be a more refined version of the pumpkin man from Return to Oz?

They share the same source material. He's introduced in The Land of Oz (Book 2) and this story is generally set shortly after The Road to Oz (Book 5). The geography and style are very reminiscent of Baum's.

The movie Return to Oz is generally based on Books 2 & 3.

The books written by L. Frank Baum are excellent and in the public domain. There's a lot of them in audio on Libravox.


Thank you

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Re: Pseudopod 305: Pumpkinhead
« Reply #10 on: November 09, 2012, 10:33:45 AM »

The books written by L. Frank Baum are excellent and in the public domain. There's a lot of them in audio on Libravox.


I really need to go read those again.  I read them all as a kid, but I don't remember a great deal other than a desert that turns you into sand if you touch it (so I would pretend that the carpet of my house was like that sometimes and would strew pillows and chairs to get from room to room).  I re-read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz a couple years ago, so i should read the others too.

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Re: Pseudopod 305: Pumpkinhead
« Reply #11 on: November 09, 2012, 01:00:27 PM »
I only ever read the first two books; my parents bought me a volume that contained them both, and I really loved them when I was little, reading them over and over. I wasn't aware that there were further books until much later, though. Thanks to Fenrix, though, I just downloaded a collection for my kindle.

As for the story itself - I thought it was really good. My one nitpick is that I figured out the nature of the decay long before the characters did - not its origin, but the fact that it's coming from Jack's body rather than the pumpkins. I mean, his body was the one thing constant during all the experimentation. I was rather frustrated as to how it never even occurred to either character until the ending - though, in retrospect, Jack was going mad and the narrator, whose name I can't recall, was a farmer, not a doctor. But then again, neither am I, and it still occurred to me.

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Re: Pseudopod 305: Pumpkinhead
« Reply #12 on: November 09, 2012, 03:44:42 PM »
I love the Oz books and most reimaginings, but this story didn't hold my attention. I gave it a shot, but it didn't take. Sorry.
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