Halloween Story: Jack Is Back

Long ago a clever thief named Jack tricked the Devil, trapping him until he agreed to make a deal: not to take Jack’s soul to Hell when he died. Well, eventually the day of Jack’s death came, but the guardians of Heaven refused to let him in since he had done so many bad things.  Jack tried Hell, but the Devil reminded him of their deal. Jack realized that he would have to wander the world in darkness. The Devil felt a little sorry for him and gave him an ember from Hell that provided a light that would never go out. Jack carved a face into a turnip and placed the ember inside. From then on he has been known as Jack of the Lantern…

After long years of wandering, Jack of the Lantern has become bored.  So he decides to play a trick on the Grim Reaper—Death.

“What if I made his scythe stop working?” Jack thinks.  “I have a plan!”

Jack finds the Grim Reaper at a hospital, taking someone’s soul. Tapping Death on the shoulder, Jack says, “Hey.  I want to switch my turnip for a pumpkin.  May I?”

The Grim Reaper, irritated, says, “Why are you asking me? Why don’t you steal one like you steal everything else?”

“Okay, fine,” Jack replies. He runs to a nearby pumpkin patch and picks a medium-sized one. When he returns, the Grim Reaper is still there.  Lots of people are dying tonight.

“What do you want now?” Death demands.  “Make it quick before I slice your head off like the Headless Horseman.”

“Can I use your scythe to carve it?”

The Grim Reaper sighs.  “If I lend it to you, will you leave me alone already?  This job is depressing enough as it is.  Do you have to make it annoying?”

“Okay, I promise.”

When Jack is carving, he pulls out a little bag of salt and rubs it on the scythe.

“Here you go,” he says, handing it back to Death.  “Hee hee hee!”

“Oh, darn it, Jack!” the Grim Reaper yells.  “Now it’s useless.  I can’t take souls with a salted scythe!”

“I know,” laughs Jack.  “That’s the point.”

So the Grim Reaper goes to Heaven to get a new staff and to Hell to get a new blade.  The Devil and God give him the pieces, but they say he has to clean his mess up.

“What mess?” asks the Grim Reaper.

But that’s the funny part, since two months on Earth is two minutes in Heaven and Hell.  He gets back to Earth and finds Jack sitting on top of a building, shooting zombies with a slingshot.

“What the heck, Jack? There’s zombies all over the freaking place!”

“Well, yeah. You see, all the souls are trapped in the bodies of the dead, so there’s zombies.  And you have to get every single little soul in the gigantic world…the ones that are trapped and the ones that are dying. Have fun!”

Jack laughs.

The Grim Reaper stares at him, infuriated.  Finally, Death lifts his scythe. “Well, Jack, at least you carved yourself a pumpkin head. You’ll be needing it.”

—Angelo Bowles

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