– Realms of Fantasy, June 2003
You’ve never had a pumpkin for a head, have you?
No, I didn’t think so.
It’s an odd sensation. Think about when you make a jack-o-lantern. You take a large knife and cut deep into the pumpkin’s flat-topped dome, wrenching the blade back and forth as you carve a jagged circle–one clumsy slice after another. Then you seize the stump of stem at its base and you tug. With a great crack the whole thing comes loose, pulling with it–
A stringy mess of orange pulp and hard, white seeds. Then you reach down into the pumpkin, with your bare hands, and pull out great handfuls of the stuff. It makes kind of a popping, tearing sound as it comes free. Your hands are wet and dripping–you have to wipe them off, but no matter how much you wipe, your skin is still sticky and tingly. You make a pile of all those pumpkin innards. You look at it and think it’s gross.
Well that’s what was inside my head.
A pumpkin makes a lousy head. The Horseman just wants his old head back. The schoolmaster has his own ideas. Ever wonder what really happened that night in Sleepy Hollow? Here’s your chance to find out.
This issue of Realms of Fantasy was edited by Shawna McCarthy. This issue also includes fiction by Bruce Holland Rogers, Christopher Barzak, Robert Silverberg, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Karen Traviss, and Gabriel Edson.
Illustration by Scott Goto for Realms of Fantasy. Used with permission.
“A clever, amusing take on the legend of sleepy hollow. The ending…makes a second read worthwhile.”