Who Wants to Be a Pumpkin?
By Alisha Bose
INT. A LARGE AUDITORIUM
The camera is focused on a darkened stage. Three podiums are set up in the middle, with a large screen directly behind them. The lights come on. We can hear the audience going crazy.
Cut to the audience—a sea full of… pumpkin-heads? They appear to primarily be made up of men in dark suits with pumpkins sat squarely on top of their heads. The eyes and mouth are cleverly carved in order to allow them to see. Perhaps if we go in a little closer, we’ll be able to see the spit flying out of their mouths as they excitedly holler. Is it damp within the pumpkin-head? We may never know… unless we become one of them.
CHRIS, a charismatic man in his early forties walks onto stage. A spotlight falls on him. The crowd quiets down. The show is about to begin.
Welcome to Who Wants to Be a Pumpkin, the most popular game show in America! Good evening folks, I’m your host Christopher Perry, and tonight, we have players from all over the country! Players, care to introduce yourself?
A short girl with a head full of curls comes out from the wings. The audience goes wild. A pumpkin-head slaps another squarely on his pumpkin in his excitement. This girl is named SANDY, and it is her first time on the show.
Hey all! I’m Sandy! I own a bakery in Miami, Florida—
(she pauses to let the Floridians in the crowd cheer)
—and I love to make cakes! Unfortunately though, my bakery was shut down due to a bug infestation.
(a depressed aww track plays)
Gordon Ramsay visited my bakery and called it an “infested menace to bakeries all around the world that not even a criminal in hospice would eat at.” Isn’t that rude?
(the crowd boos—nobody seems to
like Gordon Ramsay here.)
But I’m so glad I have the opportunity to be on this show! Y’know, I work a lot with pumpkins around Halloween. Pumpkin pie, pumpkin cake, pumpkin sausage, you name it. And when you work with something for that long, you start to love it!
(she blushes and the audience laughs)
Now, I want to show my true devotion to every pumpkin in the world! If I win, I will make you all proud, I promise!
The audience cheers. They are all taken in by her story; one pumpkin-head attempts to wipe his tears through the eye hole. When he fails, he lifts up the pumpkin—bad move. We see a hint of skin and a flash of a beard before men in scream masks tackle him to the floor. His pumpkin goes rolling away. Bounces down the stairs once. Twice. Thrice. On the last step, it breaks into tiny pieces. The camera quickly cuts away, back to the stage.
Thanks Sandy! Orangea?
ORANGEA rushes out onto the stage. The audience titters. She evidently forgot her cue. But all is forgiven because who could blame someone named Orangea? Not the pumpkin-heads, and certainly not when they see that she has bright orange hair with bright orange contacts. This is a woman who truly lives up to her name.
Hey there! Thanks for having me. Usually, I go by Gia, but today, I’d like you all to call me Orangea!
She clears her throat, brings out a couple of notecards, pushes up her glasses. They are in the wrong order. She fumbles with them for a second, then starts to speak.
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single
woman must be in want of a pumpkin at all times. These
are famous words quoted from our first ever pumpkin
queen, Jane Auspumpkinen. And these are words I live
by. My college education was unfulfilling. In my time
at Harvard, I found that no one had the same
aspirations as I did. Harvard will say they kicked me out for not coming to classes, but truly, it was I who left them!
(she throws down her flashcards)
But soft! These scholars, what are they studying? Ask any student and they will tell you their major. Mechanical engineering, computer science, psychology,
comparative literature, fine arts, graphic design—what
do those words even mean? Ask them what they intend to
do in the future, and they’ll give even stranger
responses! “I want to change the world, I want to stop
climate change, I want to create technology, I want to
lead our country.” Now, how will any of these goals
help us? Who is climate change, and why do they want
to stop him? Have we asked for the consent of technology to be created?
And lead our country? What? Like a dog on a leash,
they intend to enslave our beloved land and lead it? Where are they taking it? No doubt off the edge of the Earth, where we will fade into oblivion! WE MUST NOT ALLOW THAT!
THE PUMPKIN-HEADS ARE SCREAMING! THEY ARE WILD! THEY HAVE GONE CRAZY! WHO IS ORANGEA, AND HOW IS SHE SO WELL-SPOKEN? EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEIR WORRIES HAVE BEEN VOICED! THEY DO NOT KNOW WHO CLIMATE CHANGE IS EITHER, BUT THEY ARE READY TO BEAT HIM UP! WHO IS TRYING TO LEASH THE COUNTRY? NO SIR! NO ONE CAN CAGE IN THE PATRIOTS!
Pumpkins… that’s all that truly matters. And those who
do not see that do not deserve a role in our country.
If elected as your pumpkin queen, I’ll focus on what
The audience is still cheering. SANDY looks uncertain. ORANGEA takes her place at her podium.
What an explosive entrance from Orangea! Thanks
Orangea! Now… last, but certainly not least, Girl!
The girl named… GIRL sulkily makes her entrance. She glares at the pumpkin-heads.
I was forced into this. My name isn’t girl. Please
don’t vote for me.
The pumpkin-heads mutter amongst themselves. A few hesitant, polite claps ring out. GIRL is certainly strange, but no matter. The actual show is about to begin!
I trust you all know how this works, so let’s get
right into it, shall we? Once I start the music, each pumpkin queen nominee must start their act. Wow the audience enough and they will vote for you to become the next pumpkin queen! Ready, girls?
SANDY nods enthusiastically. ORANGEA makes a fist, drawing excited cheers from the audience. GIRL just nods.
AND THEY ARE OFF! Doing what exactly, though? The music is a sped-up version of Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now… is this all we’re going to hear for the next ten minutes of the performance? The camera zooms in on SANDY, who has somehow obtained glass bottles and is doing an elaborate juggling routine. ORANGEA runs offstage then comes back on with dozens of mini pumpkins. She whips out a large knife and starts to carve furiously. GIRL simply stands at her podium and stares.
On our right, Sandy amazes us with her juggling
skills! Here we have Orangea, making a statement with
the pumpkins she is carving! And now we have Girl who
is… well, who is doing girl stuff! Look at these girls
go! Pumpkin-heads, let’s give them some encouragement!
The pumpkin-heads roar their approval. Never before have they seen a show quite so charged! SANDY, obviously emboldened by their cheers, throws her bottles out into the audience. It shatters on their heads, drawing another cheer.
Not to be outdone, ORANGEA shakes out her hair and picks up an uncarved pumpkin. She hurls the pumpkin across the stage, picks up her knife, throws, and—there! SHE NAILS IT RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE! THE AUDIENCE HAS NO WORDS! WHAT AN AIM! WHAT A GIRL!
GIRL is still standing at her podium.
THIS IS CRAZY! Girls, we have one minute left! What’s your last move?
SANDY takes center-stage and does a triple back-flip entendre handstand chicken wings backspring pumpkin lady bottle double spin jump or whatever it’s called. THE AUDIENCE SCREAMS ITS APPROVAL! ORANGEA triumphantly displays all of her carved pumpkins. Together, they spell out TAX THE UNBELIEVERS! What a strong statement! GIRL flashes a peace sign. THE CROWD CANNOT BELIEVE THEIR LUCK! THE PUMPKIN-HEADS GO WILD!
AND TIME IS UP!
The crowd is so excited that it takes at least a minute for the crowd to settle down enough for CHRIS to be able to regain control of the situation. The girls are all panting hard, besides GIRL, after having the performance of their lives.
That was amazing! Now, pumpkin-heads, you know the drill! Scan the QR code on the projector to vote for who you think did the best!
The auditorium is silent as every pumpkin-head pulls out their phone and votes. The projector tallies up the votes as they come in. The girls (besides GIRL) are watching anxiously.
Oh? What’s this? What a twist!
The last few votes are still coming in, but it is already obvious who won.
GIRL looks up. Her mouth drops open.
Everyone applaud our new pumpkin queen!
The audience yells as the other two girls clap sadly. SANDY turns her face to the side to hide her sob while ORANGEA just glares at GIRL through her glasses.
And now, for the official crowning of our pumpkin
queen, we bring out the pumpkinator!
A strange tube is revealed through a spotlight. The door to it opens with a dramatic flourish of smoke. GIRL looks terrified.
Give ORANGEA the title! I don’t want it, I don’t—
Her mic is cut off. CHRIS remains smiling and grabs her, kicking and flailing to the door.
SHE IS THROWN IN! A few seconds later, the machine beeps. The door opens with an even bigger flourish of smoke and out steps… GIRL WITH HER VERY OWN, REAL PUMPKIN-HEAD!
As you all know, the pumpkin heads you have on come
off, and must be given to the guards before you leave.
The advantage of being pumpkin queen, though, is that
it never comes off! The pumpkin replaces your head forever! Girl, how do you feel as our new pumpkin queen?
CHRIS has forgotten that GIRL does not have a mic, though she wouldn’t be able to answer anyways because she starts flailing around then runs straight at the audience. She miscalculates her step, is unable to stop herself, and flies straight off of the side of the stage. SPLAT! Her head—now her only head—meets a rather unfortunate fate.
Well. Let’s cut away from that, shall we? CUT TO CHRIS!
Thank you for coming out to another show of WHO WANTS
TO BE A PUMPKIN! I’m Chris Perry, signing out for the night! Goodnight everyone!
INT. A DARKENED LIVING ROOM.
A TV is playing softly in the background, while an elderly woman stoops down to pick up the leftovers of a meal. The door opens as she walks into the neighboring kitchen to reveal an old man in a suit, his cheeks pink from the cold.
Welcome home, honey! Did you and Paul have a nice night? Did you win poker?
I had a great night. I’ll be keeping that poker champion title till I die.
The TV interrupts their conversation as the commercials are replaced by a terribly loud and catchy theme song. Dozens of pumpkins flash on the screen, then give way to the large print of “WHO WANTS TO BE A PUMPKIN?” The OLD WOMAN scoffs.
That show should be cancelled. Can you imagine those
young girls volunteer to do that? It must be so disgraceful to their family. A pumpkin queen as their daughter! If Elle, god forbid, ever did something like that, I would pass away out of shame.
These girls didn’t even give life a chance! Some of those pumpkin wannabes have no respect for themselves. Mark my words, we’ll have all these pumpkin queens wandering the streets, begging for money a few years from now. Who’s gonna hire them? Not me.
The camera cuts to a close-up of a pumpkin-head on the TV. He’s wearing a blue button up. His hands are splayed out in front of him as he adjusts his pants. A ring with a silver engraving of a moon rests on his ring finger.
Cut back to the OLD WOMAN and OLD MAN. The OLD WOMAN shakes her head in disgust.
Such a shame. Such disgusting girls.
The OLD MAN turns away from the TV. His fingers come up to loosen the collar on his blue button up. The same wedding ring is on his finger.