The Pumpkin Killer
Is winning really worth the murder?
“AND THE WINNER OF THE GIANT PUMPKIN CHAMPIONSHIP ISSSS….” the emcee tantalized.
“For your sake, I hope it’s not Mrs. Hart”, Leia turned to look at Renata.
“I swear to God, if that hag wins again, I will –”
“MRS. HART FOR HER 1,722 POUNDS PUMPKIN!” the emcee revealed.
“– kill her”, finished Renata.
Leia’s eye widened, “Now, now, Reny, you don’t want to do that. Why don’t you try asking what kind of fertilizer she’s been using? Renata ignored her.
DON’T BE SHY NOW, MRS. HART! PLEASE COME TO THE STAGE TO COLLECT YOUR PRIZE!” the emcee searched the crowd for Mrs. Hart.
A sweet old lady was walking towards the stage. She looked nothing like a hag as Renata described her.
Mrs. Hart was handed a cheque prize and was invited to give a speech. She nervously glanced at all the people who were looking at her awestruck but failed to realize that a pair of eyes was shooting her looks of jealousy and hatred.
“Hello, everyone! I’m so happy to have won the Giant Pumpkin Championship for the seventeenth time in a row. I’d like to thank the sun, the rain, the carbon dioxide in the air, the soil, my water sprinklers, and my fertilizer. I’m sorry, I’m not very good at speeches”, Mrs. Hart gave a sheepish smile.
The crowd went crazy with applause and laughter, except for Renata. If looks could kill, Mrs. Hart would have already been dead.
Renata was pacing back and forth in Leia’s living room. Leia sat on her couch observing her frenzied neighbour. This wasn’t the first time Renata behaved like this. It happened every time the winner of the Giant Pumpkin Championship was announced to be Mrs. Hart.
No matter what kind of gardening tips and tricks Renata tried, Mrs. Hart would always win the Championship.
There was once Mrs. Hart let slip that she makes her fertilizer with a secret ingredient but no matter how many times Renata asked, she would never reveal it.
“Renata dearie, if I tell you the secret ingredient, then it would defeat the purpose of me entering the Championship!” Mrs. Hart laughed during Renata’s last attempt to coax her.
Leia’s only daughter had just moved away for college and her husband passed away six years ago. So she’s always home alone. Although she enjoyed Renata’s company, she knew Renata’s kids would be waiting for her.
“Renata, it’s almost dinner time –” Leia didn’t manage to finish her sentence as Renata abruptly stopped pacing and sat down beside her.
Obviously following her train of thought and not having heard what Leia said, Renata began explaining her plan, “Tonight after I put my kids to sleep, I’ll walk over to Mrs. Hart’s house to ask her again what her secret ingredient is.”
“That’s great! I’m so glad you’re going to try again. I truly admire your perseverance!” Leia said.
“What? No! That would be my excuse when she opens her door, sees me and asks ‘Oh! Renata sweetie, to what do I owe this pleasure?’ in her stupid sweet voice!”
Leia was confused, “Then what do you actually want to meet her for?”
“To kill her, of course! Didn’t you hear the first time I said it?” Renata was frustrated.
If Leia was confused before, it was nothing to what she was feeling now. There was more confusion, shock and fear added to her initial confusion.
Renata continued, “So I’ll go into Mrs. Hart’s house and she obviously would want to make tea for me and in her stupid voice would say ‘Dearie, I’ll make some chamomile tea for you, it’ll help you sleep better!'”
Leia laughed at Renata’s attempt at mimicking Mrs. Hart’s voice. She then voiced her concern, “Reny, you’re not thinking straight. Please don’t do anything rash in haste.”
Renata ignored her, “Then while she’s making tea for me, I’ll creep up behind her and bonk her on her head!”
Leia gasped but Renata continued, “Don’t be so dramatic, Leia! I’ll need to find something in Mrs. Hart’s house to bonk her head with. I must make sure that it would be death due to blunt force trauma. So the police –”
“THE POLICE?!” shouted Leia.
“Jesus, Leia, calm down! Yes, I would be the one calling the police tomorrow morning. I would say that I went over to Mrs. Hart’s house to pass her some extra breakfast that I made but no one answered the door. So, I would ask their help to check if she’s okay because she’s really old and I don’t want to break into her house.”
“Let me get this straight. So you would go to Mrs. Hart’s house tonight and tomorrow morning?”
“No, I wouldn’t actually go to Mrs. Hart’s house tomorrow morning. But I’ll call the police and tell them that story.”
Renata paused to see if Leia understood before she continued, “So when the police find Mrs. Hart, it’ll look like she fell, hit her head and died instantly. The autopsy result would reveal the blunt force trauma on her head which they would connect to her falling and hitting her head.”
“Well, Mrs. Hart is old so you could get away with that”, reasoned Leia.
“Exactly my point! Mrs. Hart has no enemies because everybody loves her. Except for me, of course, but they don’t know that. So the police wouldn’t have any reason to suspect foul play”, Renata was proud of her meticulous planning.
“Do what you want, Reny, but don’t come to me crying if something goes wrong”, Leia warned.
Renata rolled her eyes and glanced at her watch, “Oh no! Thank God Tyler went on a business trip. He hates it when I don’t get dinner ready on time. And I’m half an hour behind schedule to breastfeed Julie. I guess I’ll just give Tommy some cereal for dinner. Gotta go, bye!
Leia watched as Renata dashed out her door. She had a very bad feeling about this. She couldn’t believe her neighbour would resort to murder as a solution to her problem.
She knew it was no use trying to talk Renata out of it because she’s really stubborn. She let out an audible sigh and hoped to God that Renata would change her mind.
It was close to 11.00 p.m. when Renata knocked on Mrs. Hart’s front door. After a few unanswered knocks, she began to wonder if Mrs. Hart had already gone to bed. Just as she was about to knock again, the door flung open.
“Renata darling, to what do I owe the pleasure?” asked Mrs. Hart pleasantly surprised.
Renata struggled to not let Mrs. Hart see her cringe, “Can I come inside, Mrs. Hart? I just wanted to talk to you about the fertilizer.”
“Why, yes dear, please come in! I should warn you though. I’m not going to give away my secret but I’m more than happy to give you tips!” Mrs. Hart stepped aside to let Renata enter.
“Have a seat, dearie and make yourself at home. I’ll prepare some chamomile tea for us to have while we chat. It really changes the quality of your sleep!” Mrs. Hart smiled while she walked to her kitchen.
Renata cringed again and started to look around for something to hit Mrs. Hart with. She found a watering can and a shovel in the spandrel closet.
She was afraid the edges of the watering can might cause external injuries. So she chose the shovel and decided to use the back of it to hit Mrs. Hart repeatedly.
Mrs. Hart had her back to Renata as she entered the kitchen. She was humming a tune Renata didn’t recognize.
Renata was careful not to make a sound. She took her aim, ready to strike.
Wham! Wham! Wham! WHAM!
The fourth strike did it.
Perched at her window, Leia saw two policemen walk towards Mrs. Hart’s front door. She would miss Mrs. Hart. They were not very close but Mrs. Hart had always been nothing but nice to her.
Two years back, when Mrs. Hart won the Giant Pumpkin Championship, she offered to split the prize money with Leia because she knew Leia was going through a lot of financial struggles. Leia was deeply touched by this gesture but she declined.
She couldn’t believe Mrs. Hart was no more. Renata would win the next Giant Pumpkin Championship for sure as she was always the first runner-up.
Renata got what she wanted but Leia felt like she was an accomplice to murder now. She felt really guilty. She thought she’d better confess everything to the two policemen who were now knocking on Mrs. Hart’s front door.
But the thought of four-year-old Tommy and five-month old Julie stopped her. She didn’t want to leave the two innocent kids without a mother and for Tyler to be a single dad to them.
Just as Leia was about to move away from her window, she saw Mrs. Hart’s front door open! Thinking that Renata spent the night there for weird some reason, she squinted to see the short figure at the door.
It wasn’t Renata. It was Mrs. Hart!
“Good morning, ma’am! Are you Mrs. Aurelia Hart?” asked the taller of the policemen while going through her mail.
“Why, yes, I am. Is there something wrong? I’ve never had a policeman at my door before”, Mrs. Hart sounded very worried and scared.
“Mrs. Hart, I’m Officer Randall and this is Officer Anderson. We got a call from Mrs. Renata Denver’s little son, Tommy, that she was nowhere to be found since he woke up. We decided to start the investigation by questioning all the neighbours.”
“Oh dear, that’s terrible! That poor child! She also has a six-month-old baby! Please tell me what I can do to help?” asked Mrs. Hart desperately.
“Yes, you can help by telling everything that you know about Mrs. Denver that would help find her. If you don’t mind, may we please come in?” asked Officer Anderson.
“Yes, please come on in, officers. I’ll tell you everything I know”, said Mrs. Hart.
Leia was freaking out because she didn’t understand what was happening. If Renata did what she wanted to do, how is Mrs. Hart still alive?
So if Mrs. Hart was still alive, that means either Renata didn’t go over last night to her house or she did go over but didn’t manage to bonk her as she planned.
Leia quickly dialed Renata’s landline. Tommy answered the phone. “Hi Tommy, this is Mrs. Tilly from next door. May I please speak to your mommy?”
Tommy started crying and began talking so fast. Leia couldn’t exactly make out every word he said but she understood that Renata was missing and he called 911. “Tommy, sweetie, please don’t cry. I’m coming over to your house now, okay?
“Okay, Mrs. Tilly”, Tommy hung up.
Leia was so confused. She had no idea what the hell was happening. It wasn’t like Renata to leave her kids alone at home without a babysitter, especially when Tyler wasn’t around.
On her way over to Renata’s house, she saw that the police car was still parked in front of Mrs. Hart’s house.
“Renata is a stay-at-home-mom. Her husband, Tyler is on a business trip but I’m afraid that I don’t know where. Renata loves her children very much and is an amazing mother!” said Mrs. Hart who was now sobbing.
“May we have Mr. Denver’s phone number? He needs to come back here for his children and to be questioned”, asked Officer Randall.
“I’m sorry, I don’t have his number but Leia Tilly in the house opposite mine might have. Leia and Renata are very close”, said Mrs. Hart in between sobs.
“Okay, thank you for that ma’am. When was the last time you saw Mrs. Denver?” questioned Officer Randall.
“Last night”, said Mrs. Hart.
“Last night?! When were you going to tell us that?! What other information have you been withholding?!” demanded Officer Anderson angrily.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to hide anything!” Mrs. Hart began crying hysterically.
“Officer Anderson, calm down! You’re making her more distressed than she already is! She’s old! Be gentle!” roared Officer Randall.
Officer Anderson apologised to Mrs. Hart, “I’m sorry ma’am for shouting at you. Around what time did Mrs. Denver come over last night?”
“It’s okay, officer. She came over around 11.00 p.m. I made chamomile tea for both of us and we chatted for a while about my fertilizer. She left before midnight”, said Mrs. Hart.
“Was there anything weird or suspicious about her behaviour? Did she have any problems at home? Or is there anything else you feel that we should know?” questioned Officer Randall.
Mrs. Hart closed her eyes for a moment and tried to recollect her memory, “No, officer, she seemed normal to me last night. As far as I’m aware, she doesn’t have any problems at home.”
She stayed quiet for a few seconds before adding, “I’m afraid that’s all I know about Renata. We only ever talk about fertilizer.”
“Alright then, if there’s nothing more to add, we’ll make a move. Please be informed that you are not to leave town for the time being and are requested to cooperate in any further questioning”, said Officer Randall as he walked out the front door.
“Sure, officer. I’ll do whatever I can to help with this investigation. Oh, those poor kids of Renata”, Mrs. Hart started crying again.
She stood at her front door as she watched Leia running towards the policemen from Renata’s house. She decided to go inside as she was feeling light-headed and overwhelmed from the events of that morning.
“Officers, I’m Leia Tilly, Renata’s neighbour! Do you know where Renata is? Did Mrs. Hart tell you that Renata might have visited her last night? What I mean is, that Renata told me she would go over to Mrs. Hart’s house last night but I’m not sure if she did. But regardless of that, how did she go missing? I mean where could she have gone to?” Leia was losing it.
“Mrs. Tilly, please calm down. I’m Officer Randall and this is Officer Anderson. We are investigating that and would appreciate it if you would cooperate to answer some questions.”
“I’m sorry, I just don’t understand what is happening. I’ll do anything to help find her. Is it okay if we head inside Renata’s house? Her children are alone”, requested Leia.
“Lead the way, Mrs. Tilly”, said Officer Randall.
Mrs. Hart had two slices of toasted bread with homemade strawberry jam and a mug of coffee. After taking her morning medications, she sat down on her rocking chair.
She rocked back and forth until her light-headedness reduced.
She then decided to work on a new batch of fertilizer for the upcoming Giant Pumpkin Championship and headed down the stairs to her basement.
Mrs. Hart felt so happy looking at her secret ingredient. It was fresh and she was able to procure it without too much hassle.
“Renata dearie, you so badly wanted to know my secret ingredient. Now, I give you the honour of being my secret ingredient” Mrs. Hart smiled sweetly.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. If you liked my writing, please subscribe and click the little heart below this piece or near my name, at the top of this page.
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About the Creator
Dharrsheena Raja Segarran
My mental health decline brought along a lot of Darkness and I embraced it. This Darkness flows out in the form of Horror Stories and Dark Poetry 🖤
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Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!
Original narrative & well developed characters
Compelling and original writing
Creative use of language & vocab
Easy to read and follow
Well-structured & engaging content
Heartfelt and relatable
The story invoked strong personal emotions
Zero grammar & spelling mistakes
Niche topic & fresh perspectives
Expert insights and opinions
Arguments were carefully researched and presented
On-point and relevant
Writing reflected the title & theme
And the moral of the story is: never trust a sweet little old lady!
I love this! I love the secret ingredient! 😍 very good!
Well done as always.
A few minor tweeks to the language and structure would help but it flows well enough. This story reminds me very much of Roald Dahl's (can I say that in 2023?) "Lamb to the Slaughter".
Ahhhhh! A Dhar original? So very well done.
I enjoyed this story a lot. I loved the character Mrs. Hart. I was routing for her the entire time. Glad she survived, even though her secret ingredient turned out to be unsavory and wrong. lol
really good, plenty of humour to go with the darkness . . . got so into it I even had to look up and check what a spandrel closet is :D
Sweet old lady killer,Mrs.Hart. Great storyline. The old lady innocent look get away old the time. Renata got what she deserve.
Ah crap! I knew you were going to scare me with this one!! Loved the twisted twist. Well done ;)
Okay, I refuse to go to any more old lady houses! Nice scare! Be sure to share this one for Halloween every year (if you don't already).
I invite you to read my stories thanks
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It's a nice touch that she doesn't have to seek out the ingredient, it comes to her! 🎃
This was great. Very well done.
that was an excellent story
Nice job my friend. Keep up the good work.👍
Overall a good story...
Such a fun story - I loved the acceptance speech at the beginning!
Great dialogue! Good one.
Ha, it reminds me of a Midsomer Murders plot or something. I realised what was happening, but it was a really fun read.
Subscribed!😊Splendid horror story! 💖💕
Didn't see the twist; but it DID seem like the girl hit the old woman four times with the shovel.
Oh dear , oh dear , I loved it
I like the twist at the end. Well done!