|Ferrill sighed and knelt down next to her pumpkins. It was the first day of the Month of Collecting, and she had hoped that her pumpkins would be well on their way to being large enough to be carved out into splendid lanterns.
Unfortunately, they were still too small for any proper, intricate carving to be done.
"Why?" the Kougra lamented, throwing up her paws. "I did everything right, just like every year!" She frowned and poked one of her pumpkins; it was not even bigger than her head. "They'll never grow in time for Halloween!"
"Sure, they will."
Ferrill looked up from where she was lamenting her pumpkin patch and saw her next-door neighbour, Terrence. The Uni was leaning against the fence that separated his thriving vegetable garden from Ferrill's pitiful patch.
"Easy for you to say," the Kougra replied sulkily as she stood up to admire the tomatoes, cabbages and pumpkins - huge, healthy pumpkins - that Terrence managed to grow. "Your garden's doing really well."
Terrence gestured for her to approach him, winking. "I've got a secret weapon, actually. And I'm willing to share it with you. 'Course, you may not like it..."
Date: Sep 27th
"Secret weapon?" Ferrill frowned, unsure of the sly grin on the Uni's face. Despite her hesitance, she approached her neighbour.
Terrence reached a hoof inside his satchel and pulled out a glowing blue jar. He held it just above the fence so that Ferrill could see, but she would be blocking the view of most onlookers.
"What is that?" the Kougra asked. She reached out a paw to touch the jar, but the Uni snatched it away.
Terrence glanced from side to side, making sure there were no witnesses, and then leaned in to whisper in the Kougra's ear...
Date: Sep 28th
"That's for me to know, and you to find out." The Uni cackled, and put the glowing jar back in his satchel. "You honestly thought it was going to be that easy?"
The Kougra lowered her ears as her nose scrunched up in frustration. "Not funny." She spoke.
"Strange, King Skarl says otherwise." He smirked.
She obviously wasn't amused by his quirky nature, so he finally gave in and spoke once more. "Okay, okay. I DID say I'd share it with you, but....it's gonna cost ya!"
"What?!!" Her voice raised. "You didn't mention that in the beginning."
"Yeah, well..." His eyes narrowed, and he lightly patted the satchel. "Stuff like this is quite rare. If you want it, you'll have to pay...."
"Rare, you say?" She raised a brow, her interest still piqued. "Okay, fine. What do you want in return?"
Date: Sep 29th
"Oh, not much, really," said Terrence, eyes wandering over the unsatisfactory pumpkin patch. "I'd say...one pumpkin."
"...One pumpkin?" echoed Ferrill. "But you have as many as you could need already."
"Ah, ah, ah!" Terrence waved a cheeky hoof at her. "Not just ANY pumpkin. I want one of the pumpkins you have NOW, and I want you to carve it for me."
"They aren't really big enough to carve well, though," she said, and rolled her eyes. "That's why I need this glowing nonsense of yours to begin with."
Terrence gave her a level look, serious for the first time since he appeared. "That's my price, Ferrill. One carved pumpkin. I'll give you three days, and then we'll trade." He leaned in again, grin back in place, and added, "I promise, you'll be glad you did."
Ferrill bit her lip. Such gravity from Terrence was almost unsettling. She peered over the fence at his garden again...
"Alright," she said. "Three days."
How will this story end?
Date: Sep 30th
Three evenings later, Terrence was tending to his cabbages when he heard the sound of footsteps on the other side of his fence. “Alright, come on over, Terrence! I’ve got your pumpkin here, and I’m ready to make this trade.”
She grumbled as Terrence made his way over. “It took me a whole day to cut the vine, and another one to hollow out properly, and I spent all afternoon carving it. I told you, it was too small to really carve very well…” She presented the pumpkin, its face contorted with two narrow eyes and a wide, gaping mouth. “By the time I cut out the mouth, I didn’t have very much space left for the eyes.”
Terrence couldn’t help but guffaw. “Oh, what a goofy expression! That pumpkin really is TOO small!”
“This glowing stuff you have better by worth it,” Ferrill said with a scowl, as she handed him the pumpkin.
“Trust me — it will be!” Terrence pulled the jar out of his satchel, unscrewed the lid, and in one swift motion poured its contents into the jack-o-lantern.
Immediately, the pumpkin started to shake as the strange mixture fizzled and frothed from the holes cut into it. Before Ferrill could ask what was was happening, Terrence cried “Here, catch!” and tossed it back over the fence.
“Ack, gross!” Ferrill fumbled for control the pumpkin, as the concoction within continued to gush quickly out of its mouth. “It’s getting out all over my garden!” It tumbled out of her paws, and she dove after it, the foam spilling onto her gardening boots and the rest of her pumpkin patch.
Ferrill finally managed to wrest the pumpkin under control, and turned back to face Terrence, who was laughing. “What’s the meaning of this? My pumpkin patch is in shambles!”
“Your pumpkin patch is saved,” he said, and pointed at the pumpkin in her hands. She looked down, and sure enough — the pumpkin in her hands was already larger than before, and growing by the second. The other pumpkins in her garden were expanding in size as well. “It’s a special potion that I brew,” he explained, handing her another small jar that glowed in just the same way.
Ferrill looked at the jar, and back at Terrence “Wow, you’ve really saved me. But I do have one question — why did you need me to carve this one?”
Terrence stifled a giggle. “That part was just a prank.”
Ferrill frowned as her neighbour continued to laugh, but her scowl softened as she looked back over her garden. In spite of Terrence’s practical joke, her pumpkins were thriving — and they would be perfect for folks to carve during Halloween.
Date: Oct 1st