The Tao of Jacko

There was darkness all around it. The blackness was suffocating it. Abruptly there a smooth liquid poured around it, and it craved for the luscious juice, so it reached out and drunk deeply of the sweet water. Time passed, and again and again the revitalizing water poured into its void, until it felt the tendrils of growth spur it in a direction it had never been. A final push through the crumbling dirt revealed a bright light and life! The newly sprouted pumpkin plant delighted in the sun's awesome warmth and energy. It marveled at and basked in the golden orb's radiance, and prayed that it would live forever like this. All of that day the newly sprouted pumpkin rejoiced and gave no thought to anything other than the shining miracle that was the sun.

Towards the end of that day the sun dimmed and so did the pumpkin's novelty for it, for watching the same slowly moving spot for hours on end can grow quite tedious. When the softly glowing sphere dropped below the horizon, the Pumpkin turned away from it and suffered a severe shock. There were other pumpkins here! Small ones like it, medium sized ones, and huge ones at least ten times bigger than it was patched the landscape behind the tiny pumpkin. Before it could completely recover from the surprise, one of the larger ones beside it leaned down and said, "Welcome to the Patch, young Jack."

From there Jack went on to know of the traditions and the people of the Patch. The Patch was all, and all was the Patch. Jack grew through what felt like months but was only two weeks, learning all of what he could from Jackson, the large pumpkin who welcomed Jack into the Patch. Jackson was an elder, meaning that he had been around for at least seven months, and if he lived for another three weeks he would be proclaimed the eldest living pumping in the history of the Patch. Jackson was as close a father to young Jack during the period of his education, and all day they would talk about many things, but one thing they did not talk about, the one thing that nobody in the whole Patch ever talked about, but everyone knew about.

This thing was what the pumpkins of long ago had dubbed "He Who Walks Through the Patch". An alien of uncountable and unnecessary extremities, who, they say, would come about every time he was spoken of, there being the lack of chitchat. They say, that every time he comes around he takes at least one pumpkin from the Patch. Sometimes whole families would be abducted to the mysterious "Beyond the Patch", a place where none would dare to venture even if they could breach the wall that confined "Beyond the Patch".

Finally on Jack's fourth "sprout day", one month after it sprouted, the time came when Jack would be given its full name, for all pumpkin's were called Jack for the first month. Jack hoped that the name the Patch gave it, and the seven others that sprouted on the same day as it, would be a name that could live in the heart of the Patch forever. After much conference a name was chosen, Jacko. It was a simple name, but Jacko accepted it as a symbol of humbleness, and servility to the Patch. Another week passed and Jacko became obsessed with philosophy, which was unusual for an adolescent pumpkin. Usually Jack-youths would be fixating on blemishes and physical appearances, or even the forbidden topic of "He Who Walks Through the Patch". True, Jacko was an unusual pumpkin but that didn't make it immune to emotion, and when Jackson died three days after it had passed the death date of Old Jackmount, Jacko spent the next week of his life grieving over the rotting husk of its best friend.

Eventually, convinced by other close friends in the Patch, Jacko ceased it's weeping, and returned to the intriguing subject of philosophy. It started debates with its peers on the meaning of life, the stars, and everything else they could think of. Every week, in irregular patterns, "He Who Walks Through the Patch" would appear seemingly from nowhere and snatch his unwilling sacrifices. Steadily Jacko matured, and when it was three months old it was voted "Jack the Unblemished" for his bizarre lack of any scar flawing its perfect burnt orange hide.

Three days passed and then came the fateful day it would never forget. "He Who Walks Through the Patch" made his weekly foray into the Patch during a lively debate on what supernatural presence the constellation Ursa Minor had within our Patch. A faint odor of mildew penetrated the discussion, but none looked up until a cry of dismay from one debater pausing to look into the sky. The most wretched looking face Jacko had ever seen was brandishing a wicked pair of shears Jacko had ever seen. It was more frightened than it had ever been in its whole life. A corrupt appendage reached forth and abused its perfect hide. Lifting it up into the night sky Jacko heard a sharp, drawn-out snip and its life as it knew it ended. It had been severed. You'd never expect it to happen to you but it did happen to Jacko, and the Patch wept for the loss of one of the finest pumpkins they had ever produced.

Jacko lay on his side on a cushion of some sort; he could not be sure. The room he was in had a roof and two windows at either side. Crushed velvet rubbed his bare hide and he shivered in his soul. A half an hour later, an invisible force jerked his whole body forwards a couple inches. A wall opened up to become a door and the nightmarish face descended into to view as "He Who Walks Through the Patch" reached for him a second time and bore him to the house.

Jacko knew from the time that it was split from the Patch that it was doomed to die. It only hoped that its death wouldn't be drawn out, or very painful. Walking up to the house the man yelled a few nasal grunts that it guessed must pass for a basic speech between this savage race. Inside, "He Who Walks Through the Patch" set Jacko down on the table, where another monstrosity ran up to it. This was a miniature version of the grotesque man , and reminded Jacko of the young Jacks in the Patch. Silvery knives were wielded and pain blossomed throughout Jacko that evening, for its crown had been carved into and his insides removed, so that Jacko could only hang onto his life by a thread. And by that thread he was forced to watch as they proceeded to carve a rough visage of themselves on Jacko's, now flawed, final torture and humiliation was set. There Jacko sat on the fencepost before the front door, burning from the inside out, it stood a gruesome warning to any who traveled near. The candle in its belly grew dim. One last flicker and the lantern, formerly known as Jacko, departed this plane.

…and Jacko's open soul wept and fled back to the Patch from whence it came. It wandered the Patch until it found a spot in the darkness, a yearning of life. The soul welcomed the life with a fond embrace and an abrupt liquid sensation poured over it. It grew…