Actions

Work Header

Pompon is...Pompon!

Chapter Text

Pumpkin Pie lived behind the Witch’s house.

Every day, she woke up at the crack of dusk to watch her cart out the scraps from a heavy day’s baking.

The pile was usually dumped into a hole behind the old oak tree. The oldest tree the Witch had grown, so old it was that its branches were beginning to bare, its bark beginning to brittle. Fungus snapped at the roots buried deep within the soil, black soil dampened by centuries of rotting magic and sugar that had festered since long before Pumpkin Pie had ever come into existence.

Its magnificent crown extended far beyond the the Witch’s garden. Far beyond those who grew under its cool, shady gaze. Far beyond most of the other trees that grew beneath it, far enough that most of them did not know what kind of sky lied above those dark leaves. So far that it almost reached the Witch’s house, a place which Pumpkin Pie did not dare to go back to but which the trees watching with grumbling bellies.

Those silly trees. They all thought of themselves as high and mighty, as deserving of being as tall as skyscrapers and towering over the rest of creation, despite the fact they were barely taller than twice the Witch’s height.

Pumpkin Pie had made it a hobby of hers listening to their chatter as the Witch disposed of the daily drivel. She listened to their lips, every day, every dusky morning she woke up. Often it was all you could hear out in the silent field, besides the wind rustling through your hair.

Those poor trees...they so desperately begged the oak for light. They begged it to die, to with, to give up its hold on the earth. Their leaves were growing dark because of it, growing sinister and sharp dripping with a kind of sickly magic that smelled of licorice and iron. A kind of magic that stuck to your fingers and stained your clothes.

The oak simply stood silent. It simply accepted the Witch’s offerings, the magic from failed pastries and the sugar from lifeless bodies. It nourished the roots regardless. The other trees grumbled, gnashing their teeth and discussing to themselves ways upon which to turn the earth against their stalwart panopticon.

Pumpkin Pie just watched them. Every day. Without fail.

Always with those big orange eyes of hers. Eyes that looked like fresh flowers, soft and sweet.

Every day, she said hello to the oak tree as she got up.

And every night, she bid it good sleep.

It never responded.

But she felt it anyway. She could never stop feeling the eyes that danced upon the back of those dark leaves, leaves that shaded her from the harsh, saccharine light that would have faded her colors and soured her hair.

Trees were always so confusing to her. She never understood why they rejected the darkness, the gentle comfort of night. Night was when the insects came out. When the owls fluttered around and the mycelium began to pulse. Many a time she found much more to talk about with what grew beneath the tree’s roots than she did ever talking to their branches. Their inane branches, with inane leaves, all with minds that only craved light, only craved to grow taller, only craved to outgrow the one next to it.

Tonight was a good night. She found a moist truffle growing beneath the soil, soft and pale, pungent and earthy. Its fat little body begged for someone to dig it out, begged for someone to take it far away and crush it beneath another tree where the cycle would begin once again.

Pumpkin Pie whispered to keep its nervous mind at ease. Wait for the Witch, she said. Soon, your flesh will be ready to multiply, she cooed. She spoke of long slumbering trees, of trees hazily passing life by, to the truffle as it silently calmed in the moist dirt.

When dawn began to break, with its orange hues flittering down from above the trees, she said goodbye to her new friend. Said goodbye with a pat of a gloved hand into the dirt and a small, precious smile.

This was a friend she knew she would not see in a few months time.

But she had accepted this fact of life long ago.

 

 

Another day, another dusk.

Another pile of scraps.

Pumpkin Pie was visiting the Witch’s flowerbed today. She had decided that she hadn’t seen them in a while, that they deserved to be looked at. Deserved to be admired even, their monstrous blooms wide open beneath a dark starry-night sky.

They did not acknowledge her passing. Her gentle footsteps, her hushed gasps.

Her curious stares.

They were all so delicate as to be made of air, the same still air that permeated the flower bed and crept between each leaf and petal like a thick blanket.

She stared at their large, vibrant petals and their sharp, shiny teeth that pulsed with a dark red liquid.

They bickered to themselves watching the Witch return to her kitchen. Whining to each about the trees getting more scraps in a day than they did in a month. They snapped at each other, at soft green flesh, and at the air, at the potential flies annoying them. Annoyed that the flesh meals had run out, save for the stray moths and mosquitos.

Pumpkin Pie watched the sky. The stars were glimmering tonight. Brighter than usual, for the moon had decided to hide her face.

She liked nights like this. Every time a new moon shined, it made her think of home. The dark little pit she was grown in, as a pumpkin grown tender without the difficulties of a sunlit life.

It was also safer like this. Safer to wander around when you couldn’t be sensed. Couldn’t be seen. Couldn’t be told apart from the grass.

No wonder so many wonderful creatures came out when night fell.

So many insects, so many birds.

So many spirits and bats and stray words.

She hoped she could see them all one day.

Hoped she could see the whole world one day, underneath the beautiful, transient cover of night.

She turned back to the flowers. Their thick bodies were rustling now, some of them hissing, others chattering. All of them drooling with thick, wet spit that leaked from the corners of their mouths.

Pumpkin Pie just smiled, clutching an orange piece of cloth she had picked up from the Witch earlier. She squeezed it gently as she watched the plants‘ eyes follow a dangling spider. The spider just laughed as it watched them froth, rocking back and forth on the silk it hung from.

The plants began spitting at it, trying to knock it off balance. It didn’t work.

At least for a little while.

It was a good spider. Pumpkin Pie watched it, looking for its mottled colors in the faint dark. The fragile silk it hung upon shined like a faint piece of silver.

She liked spiders. They were cute. Good friends. Good conversationalists when they were in the mood.

She watched one of the plants take pinpoint aim. The spider laughed for one more second until a lily and finally cut its lifeline with a single sizzling hiss.

She turned away as she heard the body fall. The plants screeched in delight as they all stretched their jaws out for it. She was far, far away before she ever heard them finish, before she heard their wet noises of satisfaction, their thick drooling mouth crackling with a rusty energy that always made her head spin.

She found herself by the old tree again. Clinging to her piece of orange cloth. Shaking, on her knees, but trying not to pay attention to anything.

She looked up at its towering presence and hoped the spiders were safe up there.

 

 

Another day, another dusk.

The Witch went to the garden first this time.

She dumped a purple slurry into the soil, along bright red markers that looked like something alive. Pumpkin Pie would not have been surprised if they were at this point—the Witch was capable of many things, capable of growing any kind of creature she wished. She defied the laws of nature with magic, with sugar, with flour, butter and yeast—all things composed of the basic building blocks soil could break down and eat.

Pumpkin Pie always felt glad she wasn’t one of those Cookies that failed to wake up. She remembered coming out of the oven, on a cold baking tray, being left out overnight next to some warm cinnamon candles. She was the only one that stirred, the only one who awoke of thirteen beautiful Cookies, all wearing beautiful, pretty clothes.

None of them were quite as beautiful as her though. Some had misshaped dresses, others had melted eyes. Most has messy hair, and one even had a burnt arm.

She had always wondered what happened to them as she slid off the Witch’s counter and out her front door into the dead of night.

Clutching a piece of bread for comfort as she was met with the big outside world.

...So she never doubted the Witch. If she wanted to create a creature whose sole purpose was to die, then so be it. That was just how its life was meant to be at that point.

Pumpkin Pie was just glad that was not the fate she was intended for.

She watched the slurry jiggle and twitch as it was it absorbed into the soil. Giant roses bending down to drink it like cattle, monstrous lilies smearing their face in cold, sticky goo.

The Witch watched. She watched the plants and quickly walked off, leaving them with their monthly meal.

The flowers whined. Pumpkin Pie relaxed, continuing to watch them eat.

But the Witch returned sooner than everyone expected.

In her gnarled, gloved hands she held a silver platter.

So polished and clean that you could see every writhing limb stacked upon it.

...Cookie limbs?

...No. Pumpkin Pie clutched her cloth, but she was sure it was not...that.

She inched forward from behind the tree she was watching from. She didn’t want to, but her heart was pounding. And her head was spinning.

...She was right. Thank goodness. It was just a mass of crumbled cake monsters, with bits and pieces of other creatures thrown in. Half melted jelly frogs, the wings of sugar butterflies, the legs of a few licorice beetles and the remains of charred candied lizards. Among many others.

All writhing for freedom in the still, unmoving night.

“You will have to accept my apologies, little plants,” the Witch cooed softly. “I am working on something with the big oak tree, and have had little spare for you all. But do not worry.”

She picked up a half-crumbled cakehound and pressed it against a white lily’s lips.

“Mother is here now. I promise tonight will be a good feast. I have not forgotten you, my precious little buds~”

The plants cheered. Their stems wiggled like worms, their leaves like dry teeth across meat. They all slobbered with glee as the Witch began to portion out the fallen creatures, first to the roses, then to the lilies, next to the azaleas and finally, to the begonias.

Pumpkin Pie watched, her body stone cold. Her wife orange eyes unable to peel away from the little creatures falling into the dirt.

When the Witch finally finished scraping off the last leg, she laughed. She laughed, dusting her hands off, and patting down her floral apron stained with kitchen grease. She bent down to the flower and let some of them lick the plate clean before returning to her hut with a big smile on her face.

Pumpkin Pie shivered.

The night was silent again except for the murmuring of the trees.

And the wet slurping of the monstrous flower garden.

...Did she want to look this time?

She had been through this song and dance for a while now. She was no stranger to the Witch feeding the discards of splattered creatures to her flocks, but it...never failed to unnerve her.

It never failed to prick tears into her eyes.

Was it the way they still moved? The way the still ambled, tried to walk, tried to anything at all except sit still.

As if they were begging for something. Begging for the sky to mercy on them. For some greater power to take pity on them. As if they knew they could say nothing of either matter and would be locked out of their words for the rest of their eternity.

Trapped in a fragile little body. Soft, mushy. Easily splattered.

With no understanding of up or down, whether it was day or night, rain or shine.

Tumbling, tumbling, tumbling far, tumbling far away from the place they last considered to be happy.

The only thing they could comprehend in their little world was that they weren’t whole anymore.

And that they were alone.

Tears began to fall from Pumpkin Pie’s eyes.

She sniffled as she watched the flowers rip and teared into the bodies. As if the creatures poured before them were just food. Sugar and flour, icing and jelly. As if they were just another meal, another meal they so rightfully deserved.

She could hear the remnants of the souls within those little scraps. She watched them fade away into the night when the plants were done, often pitying the ones that took longer to get there. Either because they were splattered against some monster’s face or because they were left at the bottom of the pile, uneaten. Their fate to rot away slowly, to become one with the dirt as the ants and fungus slowly turned your world of cold darkness into one of empty nothingness.

It was a fate worse than crumbling. At least in her mind.

The darkness was comforting, after all, but only when you had a friend. Only when the trees spoke to you, when the grass twitched and talked about the flowers they were going to bloom in the summer. Only when the caterpillars spoke of becoming big moths, when the flies spoke of hazy dreams they had while they slept. Dreams of finally managing to fly to the top of the oak tree just to see what was up there. Just to maybe see the sun for the first time, for the oak was so big that most did not dare to think they could travel beyond it in their lifetimes.

She sighed, thinking of Mr. Fly.

...The garden had just lost him recently.

It was losing all of her friends, actually.

The caterpillars didn’t come around anymore.

The wasps weren’t buzzing about their kids anymore.

The honeybees no longer spoke to her. In fact, she was no longer allowed near their hives lest the begin to mount an offensive.

And the grass...the trees...

The big oak tree was dying.

She had accepted this a long time ago.

It was the only way to hear the voices of the plants. It was through its magic, flowing through the soil, that she could hear the thoughts of those who did not possess mouths.

Pumpkin Pie cried. She cried softly in the grass, clutching her orange piece of cloth. The night was receding its once friendly hand, a hand which once gave her so many friends. So many faces to talk to.

...Why now? she thought.

Why was it all going away now?

Did she do something wrong?

Did the Witch think she was weird for talking to everyone like she did?

...Was she going to get in trouble soon?

The plants finished their meal. The night was dead, at its darkest. Pumpkin Pie watched them all rub their stems in content, staved off from devouring each other for at least another month.

She watched sugary entrails drip from their mouth as they all began to yawn. One by one, they all opened their hideous maws, revealing rows upon rows of yellow teeth finally baring themselves in the pale orange lantern light.

She recoiled. She couldn’t look at those teeth anymore.

She watched the light dim from behind her sleeve as they fell asleep slowly. One by one, glowing yellow eyes fluttering shut.

She wiped her own as she watched the flowers descend into the same darkness as the rest of the garden. Still, unmoving, succumbing to the night just like nature had intended all along.

She clutched her orange cloth, ready to go back to the old oak tree. Ready to hide in her hole until the next dusk came, when she would get up again and wonder where all her friends were going.

...But she heard something.

She heard something in the deep within the leaves of those wretched plants.

Pumpkin Pie got up and wiped the dirt off her dress. She hugged the cloth harder, listening for that small sound again as she had heard before.

...

...There.

Deep within the flowerbed, something had survived.

She paused as she listened to the whimper die in the night air. It just kept coming and coming, the flowers too deep into exhausted digestion to notice.

It had no words, but she knew exactly what it wanted to say.

She turned around.

This...wasn’t something she should try to change.

This...was just...a part of life.

Things just died sometimes. And they had to, for life to keep on living.

Even if you didn’t like the way they died, you shouldn’t try to stop it. Stopping a fly from descending into a spider’s web was the same thing as killing the spider. Who knew when it would have been able to eat again?

It was the same as telling the cicada to hide from the wasp. She only wanted a warm body to nurse her babies in. A fresh start for them to emerge into the world, a world they would have been born into starving and helpless otherwise.

Pumpkin Pie took a step towards the oak tree until she heard the cry again.

Tears formed in her eyes. She wiped them, again, this time on the orange cloth.

Forget about it, the trees whispered to her. It’s not worth it.

...But she didn’t listen this time.

She clutched the orange cloth harder than she ever had and raced down to the garden.

Her little legs screeched to a grinding halt when faced against those plants again. Those towering plants, ten times her size with some even towering beyond that. Their teeth still glimmered in the faint starlight, their flowery faces illuminated with pale veins.

She held her breath.

They didn’t stir.

She let go and plunged into the mass of stems, quickly muffling her footsteps by walking on tiptoes as fast as she could.

The night was still.

The monstrous flowers snored. They were too deep in dreams of engorging jelly frogs to notice that there was another fresh body among them.

Not like they had ever noticed her before.

But Pumpkin Pie did not feel confident in whatever protected her back then. Tonight was the first night she ever felt the true weight of their wretched souls, souls trapped within immobile bodies that would never see beyond the patch they were planted in.

Those were the kinds of souls that rotted the fastest, their morality quickly devolving into carnal behavior once birthed.

...The sound was getting quieter now.

But wasn’t she was getting closer?

...There it was again. Fainter.

She took another step.

...There it was once more. But she could hardly hear it.

...

.......

..................

Eventually, it stopped.

Pumpkin Pie froze.

She swore she could hear that wet lip smacking again.

But the sound came one last time. Fragile, like fresh, thin glass.

Now, she could finally hear what it wanted to say.

Please, make the pain stop.

From a small little marshmallow rabbit with fur as white as snow.

She found its head in the center of the flowerbed. Its chocolate eyes melted, its white stuffing stained with red drool. Even its mouth had been licked off, probably by a flower too full to commit to taking the full bite.

It didn’t move.

Pumpkin Pie sighed. Tears pricked her eyes again. They fell into the dirt besides the rabbit, slowly fading into the black soil.

She bent down and covered its little head in the orange cloth she carried, wrapping it so gently that not a single decoration smudged. Her large eyes looked down, pouring ever crevice over, the poor thing shivering as her warmth invigorated something back into it.

...How cold its world must have been.

She held ever closer, wrapping the cloth around it ever more.

Its delicate chocolate was threatening to run. She she wiped its eyes clean and smiled, glad it couldn’t see the tears streaking down her face. She held it close to her chest as she began the trip back home, careful not to let the flowers smell the sugar wafting from it and careful not to rustle its tiny little body more than it already was.

When they made it out, she unfurled the cloth. The moon shone dimly tonight, and in it she could finally see the full extent of the carnage wrecked upon this little creature.

...

The night had never heard such a loud wail before.

Pumpkin Pie sobbed.

She sobbed harder than she ever remembered sobbing, sobbing with hot tears falling down her face as she shook profusely, so much so that it was hard for her to stand and not fall knees first into the grass.

This poor rabbit.

It was broken.

It was...destroyed.

Someone killed it.

Someone...wanted this to die.

No one would subject such a gentle creature to such a cruel fate, would they?

After all, even the spiders didn’t play with their food. Pumpkin Pie watched them. She watched them catch insects...and suck out their innards...and it wasn’t...it wasn’t painful at all...wasn’t painful at all unlike what this sweet...this sweet little bunny...

Its frosting dripped into the grass.

In the moonlight, her tears looked like cold stars.

Was it just...born mangled then? Torn, half made. Destined for the garbage, to be made into compost.

Surely, if it was born like this...someone should have helped it...the creatures the Witch made were full of kindness, full of joy, capable of feelings...

Why didn’t any of them stop this...?!

She sobbed again, this time really falling into the dirt.

She took extra care not to damage it.

But its little body was so fragile that she had a hard time believing it survived at all. In her hands, in the fresh light of distant stars, she could hardly register its weight at all. It weighed less than a marshmallow should, as if someone had whipped too much air into it and came out with bubble foam instead of a sweet candy.

She just kept sobbing.

It was all she could think to do now.

Her chest felt like something was piercing it. Piercing it with iron, as if her heart had been smashed and someone was scalding it in a violent, acidic way.

She hoped it did not hear her cries.

But it had ears.

And they twitched.

Its orange icing was almost completely runny now. Orange icing, orange like a fresh squash. It’s ears twitched with every cry she gave out, every tender, piercing cry that she gave out with her whole chest.

The cool night air hit its face as the tears dried. It whined weakly, and Pumpkin Pie covered it back up. She sniffled, trying to compose herself now as to not worry it, for she did not want its last moments to be fraught with sadness.

When she covered it up, it twitched again. Rolled it head around, as hard it could manage.

It wanted it to see her. It whined weakly again, as a child did for its mother straight out of the womb.

She held it close to her heart and snuggled it. Her tears still fell upon the orange cloth, and with every drop, it twitched.

It twitched, twitched for her, twitched to try and comfort her, for even in its slowly fading world, it could not bear to see her so sad. To see her so lost, to see her crying like it had been when it was first born.

When it was born unable to move, unable hardly able to see. With the world only existing as violent, flashing colors that resisted the shape of friend and foe.

Did it know the world was safe now?

Pumpkin Pie wondered about that as she listened to its gasping whimpers.

...

Its time was coming.

It was getting weaker by the second. The longer she listened to it, the quieter it got.

Minutes passed as she watched it twitch and writhe, making small noises under the cloth until eventually they faded into the ambience of the night.

She wiped more tears as she picked herself up and headed back to the old oak tree.

For some reason, its body was heavier now. Every step took longer than it should have, every breath laden with more weight than she knew herself capable of possessing.

Orange began to peek at the horizon as she neared the darkness of the oak.

Dawn was coming.

She would have to hide soon, lest her eyes burn up in the sun and her delicate body burn to a crisp.

The trees fell silent as she stumbled past their trunks. Heart full of bleeding holes infested with woody thorns. What inane banter they had before was now replaced with heavy stares.

Branches twitched as they watched. Watched her trip over herself, over dirt, over rocks, over bits of splinters she had seen just the other day.

Her eyes resisted tears. But they could not stop them from coming, even with a million eyes watching her.

All of the trees were silent. Some tried to form words, tried to comfort her, for even in the darkness they could all sense the little one she had in her arms.

Others wanted to spit at her. Spit at her for despairing over what was just the natural cycle of life, something sacred that should not be messed with.

She ignored them. Ignored them all. She marched past columns of cellulose and rhytidome, her eyes fixated upon the one she knew she could always go to.

When she came to the big oak tree, she laid down the rabbit and finally gave in. She fell to her knees, sobbing loudly, louder than she ever before, her voice echoing through the grove like a church bell.

All of the trees bristled as the wail struck their bark, the peaks of the sound clawing its way into their bodies like wood-boring beetles.

She shook, falling completely into the grass belly down as flecks of light began to flash against her dress. Smoke sizzled, but she just kept crying, because that sad little face was all she could think about now. She couldn’t think of anything else except that face and horrible it must have been to die like that. To die a merciless, messy, and wanton death.

Its soft little head didn’t move anymore.

Still wrapped in that orange cloth.

Pumpkin Pie tried to mouth something in her sorrow. Tried to mouth something in this hole she was falling into—some request, some call, some plea to the massive tree.

There were no words but somehow she managed to say everything at once.

The oak stood still.

It silently bore down on her as her tears fell against rough grass.

More light flickered down from above its leaves. Dawn was breaking heavy today.

Eventually, it fully emerged. Bright orange rays fluttered down from dark leaves like sharp, uncaring diamonds. Pumpkin Pie sniffled, trying to find a patch of black to keep herself safe in.

Eventually, it began to close in on her. The light, it seared her dress, seared her skin, burned her like a hot oven. It scorched her wherever it crawl up, and she yelped with panic as the smoke began to flood her nose.

She tried to reach for the bundle but that was the first thing the morning claimed. It glowed in the fresh light of day, the orange like a sweet flower now instead of a horrible shade of off-color flesh.

She sniffled, clutching her chest.

She waved goodbye to it before she ran.

Ran from the light, from the oppressive scourge of day’s coming. Back to the trusty hole in the oak’s base where she slept. Back to the hole where she knew darkness was her friend, where it wouldn’t hurt anyone.

The other trees looked to the oak.

The oak paused, looking down at the entirety of those beneath its crown.

Day finally broke as Pumpkin Pie slipped into the hole, forcing herself into a trouble sleep as soon as she found her bed.

As the garden was flooded with light, everything began to buzz again. Sweet insects came to life, and curious lizards emerged from their rocks to inspect the world and the brand new opportunities put before them.

Even though the buzz was less than what it used to be, all of the trees relaxed.

They began to chatter among themselves again, their heads filled with petty, empty thoughts. Their leaves bristled in the warm breeze day provided for them, their bark as strong as it ever was.

The oak stood silent among all of them, watching the sun rise high in the sky.

It began to glow with a dim light, a light so dim that in the oppressive sun it barely registered as light.

It glowed orange, slow and soft, so soft that not even the other trees noticed it had awoken for the first time in decades.

At its peak, that wretched noon, when Pumpkin Pie was lost in deep sleep...

The light cascaded down the old oak’s bark.

Slowly, like a snail across a branch.

But when the oak’s light was gone...

The garden fell to a still.

For they all watched in silence as something began to move.

The cloth writhed like a worm, ready to see the night again.