By Audrey W.
The crew of Station 51’s A-shift was gathered around the table in the dayroom, each with a small pumpkin in front of him. It was Halloween evening, and thus far the holiday had been like any other slow day. That allowed for the men to have a pumpkin carving contest they’d decided to pass the time with. The winner would be decided the following day by Joanne DeSoto and Carol Stanley.
Mike Stoker grimaced as he pulled the seeds and pulp out of his. He shook the slimy substance off in a nearby bowl.
Chet and Marco were drawing the facial features on their pumpkins with pens, each just having hollowed the orange vegetables out; Johnny, Roy and Captain Stanley were already to the task of carving.
“C’mon, Roy, it’s Halloween,” Johnny said as he glanced at his partner’s work. “This is a contest for the scariest face, not the cutest.”
The senior paramedic shrugged. “We don’t wanna scare the kids at home, so I guess I’m just used to cute.”
“Won’t matter. Mine’s gonna out do anything any of you guys could come up with anyway.”
Marco shook his head. “Don’t be so sure, Chet. I’m pretty good at this myself.”
“Has everyone forgotten the captain always wins the contests with his crew?”
Five pairs of surprised eyes fell on Hank Stanley.
“Kidding, guys. Just kidding.”
Suddenly the klaxons sounded, interrupting the conversation. “Squad 51, unknown type rescue, 2023 North Sinclair Street, two zero two three North Sinclair Street, time out 20:14.”
“No sabotaging our pumpkins!” Johnny called over his shoulder as he and Roy hurried to the squad. Mike quickly wiped off his hands and followed closely behind to acknowledge the call, and write down the information for the paramedics.
Roy brought the squad to a stop at the address given by Dispatch. He and Johnny climbed out and opened the compartments on the passenger side.
“Unknown rescue on Halloween. Whataya wanna bet it’s a prank like last year,” Johnny commented. “Remember the teenagers who called us, and when we got there told us a friend had been bitten by a vampire bat? And he had the red spots painted on his neck?”
“Yeah, I remember. Let’s just hope people are a little more sensible this year.”
The men turned and trotted toward the house, Johnny with the biophone and drug box in his hands; Roy with the oxygen and trauma box. As they headed up the sidewalk, a group of trick-or-treaters came rushing by, eager to get ahead of the paramedics. Johnny scowled as Roy just shook his head.
When no one answered the door after several seconds, the costumed kids stomped off mumbling amongst each other.
“Serves ‘em right for being so greedy,” the younger man said.
“That was nothin’. You should see what some kids do when a person does answer the door and the candy’s about to be handed out. I swear some would rather just take the whole bowl and run, leaving their friends behind.”
Johnny set down the biophone and rang the doorbell. As he and Roy waited for an answer, two children, one dressed as a clown, the other a cowboy, approached the house. “Hey! You’re too old to trick-or-treat!”
Roy looked over his shoulder. “Don’t worry. They aren’t giving anything away anyway.”
The cowboy and clown ran on to the next house.
In the meantime Johnny tried once more to get an answer. When none came, he tried the knob and opened the unlocked door. “Hello? Fire department!” he called out, stepping inside after picking up the biophone.
The paramedics exchanged glances, then quickly made their way to the source of the voice.
When they stepped into the room, Roy and Johnny saw a woman who appeared to be in her late twenties talking soothingly to a young school-aged boy with a blanket draped over his shoulders. The lady was holding a dish rag wrapped around ice cubes against the back of his right hand.
“Oh, thank God you’re here,” she said. “Sorry I didn't answer the door, but I couldn’t leave him alone.” The woman indicated the boy.
Roy was the first to speak. “That’s okay. What happened?”
The paramedics walked over and set down their equipment, both squatting near the boy as she answered.
“We got back early from trick-or-treating and my son was in here alone sorting out his candy.” She eyed him as she continued. “I heard him yell and when I came in, he was like this. . .wide-eyed and shaking from head to toe. I asked him what was wrong and he said the pumpkin bit him.”
“The pumpkin?” Roy wondered.
She nodded again. “That’s what Robert said. That it asked for a piece of candy, he put one in through the mouth and it bit him. . .wouldn’t let go at first.” She lifted the ice pack, revealing his very bruised and swollen hand.
Johnny reached out. “Okay, Robert. I’m John Gage and this is my partner Roy DeSoto. We’re here to help you. I just need to look at your hand. . .”
The boy didn’t respond, but rather stared straight ahead, his body still noticeably trembling.
Johnny examined the injury, noting that Robert’s expression never changed as he gently touched the discolored hand. “I’d say it’s definitely fractured.” He furrowed his brow at the odd pattern of some of the bruises. That’s strange. . .
While Gage checked out the wound, Roy took Robert’s left wrist and held it as he looked at his watch to get a pulse reading. “How long has he been like this?”
“I’d say about thirty minutes. It took me awhile to get him to let go of my hand so I could call for help.”
The senior paramedic quickly set up the biophone and contacted Rampart. The doorbell could be heard as more ignored trick-or-treaters came by.
Johnny tried to reassure Robert as he went on to take a BP reading. “See? I’m not gonna hurt ya. A little pressure. . . and that’s it.” He gave the reading to DeSoto and then asked the next logical question as he carefully placed a splint that supported both the hand and part of Robert’s arm, and secured it with gauze. “Where is the pumpkin?”
“In the cupboard over the toaster. I had to get it out of Robert’s sight.”
Having given the boy’s vital signs and overall appearance to Doctor Brackett, Roy next gave a description of the specific injury.
“Rampart, the boy suffered a bite to the right hand. Severe bruising and swelling is apparent.” He then tried to think of a way to answer the question he was sure would be next.
“51, do you know what bit him?”
“Affirmative, Rampart. He says it was a pumpkin.”
Johnny looked at his partner with that being said and the other shrugged.
“A what?” Brackett wondered. "51, could you repeat thatt?"
“Rampart, he told his mom the pumpkin did it.”
“Does he have a history of making stuff up?” Johnny asked the mom as the doctor continued to question the circumstances with Roy
“No. No more than any other eight-year-old boy.”
“Can I see the pumpkin?”
“Sure. Just please don’t bring it into Robert’s view.”
“Right.” Johnny trotted over to the cupboard and opened it. He reached up and brought the orange vegetable down, setting it on the counter and blocking any view of it with his body. Robert’s back was turned toward him, but the dark-haired paramedic didn’t want to take any chances of a slip up. He leaned over to look closer at the grinning mouth with three upper and three lower carved teeth. They were cut so that they were directly in line from one another.
Roy glanced at his partner across the room after he finished his transmission with Rampart and hung up the receiver to the biophone. Another doorbell ring sounded as he stood up and quickly made his way over to Gage.
“Yeah. I guess so. See that middle upper tooth and the one to the left of it?” He whispered.
Roy peered closer and nodded. Keeping his voice low also, he replied, “They look like they’re kind of squished.”
“Look at the ones below ‘em. And there’s creases at the corners of the mouth.”
“The four teeth look like something pressed against them.”
“Or that they pressed against something.”
“Except we know that’s impossible.”
“I keep tellin’ myself that. But, Roy, some of the bruises look like they could’ve been caused by somethin’ the shape of these teeth and blunt pressure against his skin.”
“So you’re saying you think this pumpkin did bite the kid?”
“No. But right now, I can’t think of what else could’ve done that to his hand.”
Both men looked to the doorway as a police officer entered.
“What’ve we got?”
Roy walked over to explain the situation as Johnny took one more look at the pumpkin. This time he noticed a yellow M&M inside next to a small orange unlit candle.
Soon the ambulance arrived and Robert was readied for transport. The little boy was starting to respond more, but still kept a look of terror in his eyes. His mother was getting ready to leave in her own car after giving all the necessary information to the policeman for a report. However, the officer was struggling on how to word the details of the call and not sound like he was out of his mind.
After helping to place Robert in the ambulance, Johnny turned to Roy. “I’ll go in with him.”
DeSoto hesitantly agreed. He knew that meant he had to drive with the pumpkin in the squad with him. When they’d updated on Robert’s condition, Brackett requested the jack-o-lantern be brought in.
Johnny could tell his partner wasn’t thrilled with his passenger. “Just put it up on the back of the squad where it won’t fall off.”
The older man shook his head. No way was he going to let a vegetable get the best of him. “I’ll keep it in on the seat. It’s just a pumpkin.”
“Yeah, you’re right. That’s all it is.”
Gage climbed up into the ambulance. With the doors soon closed and secured, Roy gave them two customary slaps to let the others know it was okay to transport. As the ambulance drove away, he trotted over to the squad and climbed inside. Following behind the ambulance, he couldn’t help but glance periodically at the pumpkin on the seat.
After an initial examination of Robert, Kel Brackett called for x-ray to get a picture of the boy’s hand so that he could see exactly what the injury entailed.
As he came out of the treatment room, he found Dixie McCall near the base station, directing one of the other nurses in regard to an errand. The doctor stepped over to the women, immediately getting the head nurse’s attention as the younger one left.
“Dix, do you know if Johnny and Roy are still around?”
“Yes, I do and they’re in the lounge. I think they were hoping to talk to you.”
The paramedics both looked to the doorway from their seats at the table as the doctor entered.
“How’s Robert?” Roy wondered.
“He’s scared. . .still insists the pumpkin bit him.”
“You shoulda seen ‘im when we first got there,” Johnny offered. “It was like he was in another world.”
“His parents are divorced and his dad lives up north. I’m wondering if this might be an attention ploy to do with that.”
Roy shrugged. “Could be. . .”
“Is that the pumpkin?” Brackett indicated a jack-o-lantern on the counter in the corner of the room.
“Uh yeah. . .” Johnny blushed slightly. “We. . .uh. . .didn’t wanna hang out too close to it.”
The doctor couldn’t help but grin at the honest answer. He then grew serious again. “Was there anything else you guys can think of that he might’ve used to break his hand like that? His mother can’t. But she doesn’t believe his story either.”
Both men shrugged as Roy answered. “We were thinking he could have accidentally shut it in a drawer he wasn’t supposed to be into, but it would’ve had to really slam shut hard.”
“We can't think of anything that would leave that pattern of bruising though,” Johnny added.
The doctor sighed. “I guess we may never figure it out unless he decides to tell the truth.”
“Unless he is,” Gage mumbled to himself.
Brackett walked over to the pumpkin to get a closer look at the mouth.
“One thing,” Johnny began.
“I did find an M n M inside of it.”
The doctor peered through the round eye holes. “Where’d you put it?”
“I left it in there.”
“Well, it must’ve fallen out. It’s gone now.”
“But the candle’s still in there.”
All three had to shake away a shiver. They knew the
likelihood of one M&M falling out of a pumpkin while a candle stayed upright
inside was virtually impossible.
Johnny tried to lighten the mood, even if only for his own benefit. “You know the slogan. . .M n Ms melt in your mouth. . .”
After having smashed and disposed of Robert’s pumpkin in a dumpster several blocks away from Rampart at Brackett’s request, Johnny and Roy returned to the station. As they entered the dayroom, they saw four small completed jack-o-lanterns sitting on the table near their unfinished ones. The various scary expressions of the four stared back at them. The engine crew was gathered around the television watching an old B-horror movie, ‘Attack of the Killer Pumpkins’.
“You thinkin’ what I’m thinkin’?” Johnny wondered.
“I think so.”
The two turned and made a beeline for the squad.
“Hey, where’re you guys goin’?” Chet called out.
“Yeah, you haven’t finished your pumpkins!” Marco added.
“That’s alright!” Came Johnny’s voice. “Two of you guys can go ahead and enter the contest twice!”
Once they were in the truck, Johnny shifted to face his partner. “Where’re we gonna go?”
“Anywhere that doesn’t involve pumpkins.”
Thanks to Becca for some medical advice. Any errors are mine.
*Click above to send Audrey feedback
Halloween Stories Stories Page