Roger Roget stepped back from the control panel and threw a switch. There were sparks and a satisfying hum of high voltage. The allotment was secure. Locked down. Nobody would be messing with Roger Roget’s pumpkins. Tomorrow he would move them, somehow. It had been a carefully planned logistical operation, because this year he was going bigger than the Cheshire Show, bigger than Chelsea. Oh yes. This year, Roger Roget was going to Ohio, for the Circleville pumpkin show. He was going to blow the socks off the Americans on their own turf. That had been the plan, until this morning, and that phone call from his carrier.
“I’m sorry, Mr Roget. We’ve, er... we’ve gone into liquidation.”
But he would find a way. He had to find a way.
Because he had Old William. The biggest pumpkin in the world.
For weeks he’d kept guard each night. This was Fortress Roget. No person, animal, or feckless hoodie, would be getting anywhere near his pumpkin patch.
Any who tried would be fried. That was his motto.
He took a last walk around the plot then settled into his red-striped lawn-chair, his Weihrauch .20 calibre air rifle cocked and balanced on his lap, the maximum fire-power that UK law would permit.
Nobody gets at Roger Roget’s pumpkins.
“Hello,” said a soft voice.
Roget spasmed upright, instantly awake. He grabbed for the gun, but the chair collapsed flat beneath him, sending him sprawling amongst his cabbages.
There was a woman, dressed in a ridiculous frilly number standing over him. She was of a certain age, quite attractive, and Roget was instantly nervous and thumbs. He was intimidated by attractive, confident women. And this woman was inside his defensive perimeter, both actually and metaphorically.
“Who are..? How did..?” Words were difficult.
The woman lifted her hand. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I didn’t mean to startle you.”
Roget saw how the moonlight reflected from her. And there was no moon. He decided he must be dreaming, which worried him even more. If he was dreaming then all manner of brigands might, this very moment, be laying waste to his crop.
“I’ve come for a pumpkin,” said the woman. “I’m told yours are the best.”
“Right, yes,” said Roget. “But they’re not for sale.”
“I only want one,” she said. “That one.” She pointed at Old William, the biggest pumpkin in the world.
Roget had a choking fit.
“I have a... client,” she continued, “Who is in the market for a big pumpkin.”
“No, no, no,” said Roget. “Not Old William. Not any. We’re off to Ohio.”
“Only need it until midnight.”
“Won’t harm it.”
“I can deliver it when I’m done. To... Ohio?”
“Ah, well then.”
Best in show. Roger Roget had never felt so proud. The Americans had been, as hoped, blown sockless.
Roger didn’t even mind that Old William now sported gold and silver trim, windows, and wheels.
It was, officially, the biggest, and best, pumpkin in the world.
Mjke is a winner of Writers of the Future, and the Jim Baen Memorial contest. His flash story, Call Me Murph, appeared in Short-Story.Me in September 2012. Other recent publications include Lamplight, Abyss and Apex and Kasma SF.
Mjke plays jazz saxophone in a Big Band and by day works as a Management Accountant. He lives on the Wirral, in the UK, with his wife, Sarah, a botanical artist.
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