• April Aasheim

New Story Coming!

A Dark Root Cozy: The Pumpkin Problem

Ruth Anne stared at the small pumpkin sprouting up from the moist earth at the corner of the field. “What…nah…hmm… where the hell did that come from?” Her thoughts fumbled out of her mouth as disjointed words, as she tried to make sense of her discovery.

It was well past dusk, but the radiant moon and the river of stars overhead offered more than enough illumination to see the mysterious new gourd. And just to be sure it wasn’t a phantom, she kicked it softly with the heel of her steel-toed boot. Solid as a rock, but much more squishy. “You should not be here, my friend,” she said, squatting low beside it. She took out the notebook and pen she always carried, and sketched the pumpkin, making note of any special characteristics, though it had none. It’s only oddity was appearing in a place it should not be, and so suddenly. She had been at this very spot only two hours before and this pumpkin had definitely not been there. Setting the notebook on the ground, she pulled her cellphone from the pocket of her baggy jeans, making use of its flashlight function. But when she cast the light over the pumpkin, she blinked in surprise, nearly falling backwards onto her bottom. “What? No…How?”

The pumpkin appeared to have grown, ever so slightly, when she had briefly looked away. She wiped her hands on her jeans, squinted her eyes beneath her square glasses, clicked her flashlight off and on, and inspected it again. It was the size of a ball of yarn, with dark, leafy vines and a thick stem. It was small, but hardy….and she was sure it had not been there this morning. And nearly as sure, that it was a little bit larger than it was only minutes before.

“Okay, then…looks like we got ourselves a haunted pumpkin.” Ruth Anne stood, clenched her teeth and scratched her neck, kept hold of her phone and grabbed a flask hidden inside her jacket. After two heavy drinks, she shook her head, pinched her cheeks, returned the flask and stepped forward again. Click.She cast the flashlight. “What the…” Ruth Anne jumped backwards, wind-milling her arms to keep steady. Moments ago the pumpkin had hardly been larger than her fist, but now it was the size of her foot, if her foot was pumpkin-shaped. She clenched her teeth again, shaking her head. It was either the alcohol, or she was losing her mind. Or maybe magick.

That thought came reluctantly, but honestly. Magick was always a possibility, and a problem, in Dark Root, where it’s very essence bubbled up from the earth, was steeped in the trees, and drizzled down again the endless rains. One of the last bastions of magick on earth, the idea could certainly not be ruled out. “Deity Damnit!” Ruth Anne said, not wanting to insult one god or another.

*** Read the entire story in the Pumpkins and Potions Paranormal Cozy Anthology, featuring Best-selling authors. Preorder for Sept 1 release for just .99c!

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