I entered the writersweekly.com fall 24 hour short story contest. You can check out the winners here:
I didn’t win anything substantial, just a door prize. Here’s the story I wrote, based on a neighborhood myth we all grew up believing.
(And Googling “Melonheads” I discovered there is a band by that name).
There are also theories that the term “Melonheads” is a corruption of the word Melungeon, describing an ethnic group from East Tennessee:
(must not exceed 950 words)
Their small sacks heavy with apples, they huddled on the cobblestone path, not sure if they could make it back in time. Bright orange and yellow leaves rushed across their shoes and they shivered, their cloaks no match for the approaching dusk. Their eyes widened as the town’s striking clock began to issue its warning. . .
© copyright 2012 by Sara Jacobelli
They carried the apples home, in time to make candy apples for the Halloween party. They knew they would be punished if they got home late. They wanted to go trick or treating without the adults, but their parents complained it was too dangerous these days and insisted on an afternoon party at home. Gina loved stuff like that. Jordan wore his costume but considered both the school party and the home party lame, and began plotting his escape. He was going to sneak out late at night, still in costume, and wander the dark streets with the big kids. He had one goal, to see the Melonheads. They were super geniuses, the opposite of retarded. They had giant heads because their brains were so big. They only came out once a year, on Halloween. Jordan knew he had to be very sneaky, and quiet, or his dad would whip him with his belt. He could not let Blabbermouth Gina know he was sneaking out.
Jordan felt this year was special, 1970. This would be the year he would see them. He planned for months, choosing his costume carefully. He decided on Dracula, with jeans underneath his cape for pockets. He chose it because it was dark and hard to see. He thought of Spiderman, but the neighbors were likely to notice a bright red and blue Spiderman crawling out of the second story window, down the maple tree, into the alley and out into the street. He was tall for a nine year old, so once outside; he would blend in with the throngs of big kids wandering the streets. He would bring a flashlight and his Swiss Army knife for protection.
His plan worked. With his parents snoring to Johnny Carson, and Gina conked out like a baby clutching Paddington Bear, he was able to escape and join a pack of boisterous thirteen year olds wandering East Main Street. He eyed every costume, hoping to spy some with suspiciously huge heads.
“Hey Dracula, come ride with us.” Jordan found himself stuffed into a rusty car with a bunch of teenagers, none of them wearing costumes, older than the first crowd he encountered. They passed beers and joints and blasted Zeppelin on the radio and Jordan was excited and scared at the same time. “Did you guys ever see the Melonheads?” he finally got up the nerve to ask. He knew they would laugh at him, but he had to take the chance.
“They go home at midnight, we gotta go visit them,” Tony said. He was the ringleader, the one all the girls had crushes on. “They live in the old Remington Arms factory on Barnum Avenue. That’s where they conduct secret government experiments and make all kinds of inventions.”
“Yeah,” this pimply guy Mike chimed in. “They take them away from their parents when they’re born, and they never come out, except on Halloween. Cuz of the big, big heads. Kind of like you,” Everyone but Jordan laughed. “The rest of the year, they spy on us,” Mike added. “They climb on the roof and watch us with telescopes and binoculars.” The teenagers laughed louder and louder and Jordan realized he was scared. Whether it was of the drunken teenagers or the Melonheads, he wasn’t sure.
“You guys better let me out here. Um, you can’t tell because of my costume, and I’m so tall, but I’m only nine. I want to go home now.”
“He wants to go home?” Danny, the ugly redheaded driver, careened around the corner. “Too bad, little baby.”
Jordan thought about jumping out at a red light or stop sign, until he realized Danny wasn’t stopping for anything. Jordan sniffled and tried really hard not to cry. He didn’t even care if his father whipped him for this one. He just wanted to go home.
Danny pulled up in front of the deserted Remington Arms. “Here crybaby punk Dracula,” he said, pushing him out the door. “Maybe the Melonheads will experiment on you,” Danny drove off, and Jordan could hear their evil laughter echoing down the empty street. He was standing in front of the abandoned factory, known to every East Side kid to be both haunted and home to the Melonheads. He fingered the knife in his pocket.
Jordan was scared. He wasn’t sure what to do. If he tried to walk home, the teenagers might grab him and torture him. If he stayed here, he could be attacked by zombies or monsters or eaten by rats. Maybe the Melonheads would kill him. But maybe, just maybe, the Melonheads were nice. Jordan absorbed that thought for awhile, tossed the possibility around in his head. Maybe the Melonheads wanted to be friends, maybe they were lonely. Maybe they would help him get home, if only he would be their friend.
Jordan got up his nerve to scale the chain link fence. The buildings were empty, the windows broken. The only sound was made by old metal doors creaking in the wind. “Come out, come out, Melonheads, I want to see you. I want to be your friend,” Jordan called out, first softly, then louder. “I’m here, I’m here, where are you?” Jordan decided he would wait for them, no matter how long it took. Wandering through the crumbling buildings, kicking trash away, he found a few odd items. He shined his flashlight on the strange treasures: old glass baby bottles, a pair of heavy black binoculars with missing lenses, and a strange typewriter looking contraption marked “IBM 5100.” Scattered on the grounds were remnants of Halloween costumes and masks, the costumes tattered and moldy, the masks smashed and lonely.
Photo Credits: CC ShareAlike License, “Halloween,” by gaudiramone
“Haunted factory,” NonCommercial Deriv, by retorta_net, Flickr.
“Their small sacks heavy with apples. . .” Fall Writing Prompt property of writersweekly.com