Finding some solace in the giant dagger he grasped tightly within his right hand, Jack rushed through the open door and entered the Haunted Funhouse. The stygian darkness enveloped him like a crashing glove. Already, he wondered why any normal person would have continued, but this question became quickly answered when the iron doors slammed shut behind him with a loud echoing clang.

“No way but forward now,” he whispered under his breath.

Within a few yards, the darkness was lanced with glowing bones. Skulls and shattered human rib cages hung and slowly spiraled in the void of black. They had the luminance of children’s toys, but appeared wet and dripped whatever created their glowing property. Small pools of bruised green splattered onto the unseen floor to create small pools.

Soon, the smattering of hanging bones grew thicker. Before long, Jack was forced to shoulder his way through them. The clinging glowing liquid, they had perhaps been dipped into, came away on his hair and clothes. A splash hit the back of his hand and sizzled the hairs off his wrist. “Son of a…” His jacket began to smoke and Jack found himself ducking lower as he hurried through the swarm of bones.

That was when something connected with his ankles and his body pitched forward. Despite his wishes, the unexpected fall caused him to lose the grip on his dagger and he plummeted into some sort of black pit.

His fall was halted by hundreds of round objects and it took him a few seconds to realize he had fallen into a pile of plastic balls not unlike those designed for kids to enjoy in children oriented restaurants and the like. As soon as he had hit the balls, a swirling cluster of multi-colored lights had erupted over his head. Blues and reds mixed with dark greens and deep purples.

Jack’s first thought became concern over his missing dagger. Dropping lower, his hand tried to fish under the balls for his lost weapon. In order to reach the bottom, he was required to dip his head below the chest high pile of balls. He found this unsettling. The lights were also disturbing. They seemed to make his eyes blur and his scalp tingled like two dozen spiders dancing there.

So far his search for the dagger had proved useless. He considered leaving it there, but his weapon supply was already so minimal that he had no wish to give up too easily.

The searching grew more frantic. He turned in circles scrambling for his war dagger of Yig. As he searched, he thought he heard the sound of scraping behind him. It grew in volume and part of him didn’t want to look, as though if he didn’t look he wouldn’t have to be forced to admit something lurked there.

Instead, he drew a throwing knife and whipped around. A shape rose out of the pile of filthy balls. At first it looked like nothing more than a pyramid of balls collected over the top of the pile, but these began to topple away revealing a jagged faced clown. It had small pig eyes buried within a sea of thick creamy makeup. Red lips formed a humorless smile, which contradicted the sick laughter that started to pour out of the horrid thing. A torn rainbow of colors followed as its oversized polyester outfit could be seen. Seconds later, he raised his hand and Jack saw the thing held his war dagger.

 

“Lucky thing I don’t have a clown phobia,” Jack said, while he struck a battle pose. When the laughter continued, he added, “So it looks like you’ll get to be the first one of your kind to die tonight.”

Then it was on.

The clown lunged at him with his dagger in the murder poison. The creature loomed large and came at him like a runaway train. Jack tried to move to the side, but the balls made normal maneuvers almost impossible. He managed to dodge the swipe of the dagger, but the air was smashed from his lungs by the Xemmoni crashing into him.

Jack lost his footing and when down. The balls covered over his face and he had the sensation of drowning as one of the clowns hands held him under, while the other stabbed down at him again and again.

For once the balls helped him for the first two stabs impaled the balls instead of his flesh, but the third slashed Jack in the shoulder. His jacket took the blunt of the blow, but a red line of pain tore down his left arm.

“Screw this,” he said and dragged the edge of his throwing dagger across the freak’s left wrist like he was training him on how to become a border-line.

The clown drew his hand away, even if it did keep laughing.

Instead of fighting the thing, Jacket went low, almost like he was swimming along the bottom of a pond. His left hand grabbed a fistful of the Xemmoni’s costume and he hamstrung the villain a second later.

It still laughed.

As it toppled back into the balls, Jack hamstrung the other ankle for good measure. He gasped in frustration when the clown pulled away and he lost his grip. Jack hurried to stand up, but like a man seeking a crocodile under water in the darkness, of the evil clown there was no sign, until his own dagger was stabbed deep into the back of his left calf. Jack cried out as he spied a doorway to his right.

He hurried toward it as the manic clown crawled after him. Disturbed balls rolled in odd patterns and the clown remained on his heels as he struggled through the spheres. The thing stabbed him two more times, but he was finally able to fight his way free of the balls.

The clown emerged a few seconds later. “I’m ready for you now, you bastard,” Jack yelled before driving his throwing knife deep into the crawling fiend’s eye. Leaving his knife there, Jack snatched up his war dagger and stumbled away from the dying clown.

 

 

To be continued next Monday

 

 

Find out how Jack’s Adventures Started Here!

As Jack walked into the frigid carnival some of his fears lessened if only slightly. Men huddled in the back of their booths like any normal human would on such a bitter night. Jackets were hugged tighter over narrow frames and hats pulled lower as another strong breeze blew through the mobile amusement park.

One of Jack’s fonder memories of his deceased father was when he had taken him to carnivals like this. But everything here seemed to be backwards. Jack had always run through the day from ride to ride as the warm sun blessed the summer afternoons. Here, his boots crunched over hard sheets of ice and if it weren’t for the brightly swirling lights, the abandoned parking lot would have been plunged into complete darkness.

No one seemed to eye him as he passed like Xemmoni tended to do with a Stalwart in there midst. The carnival didn’t seem more decrepit that any one the other dozen of its kind Jack had seen. Maybe this is a normal carnival, he thought to himself. It could be they’re from further north and are just trying to raise some gas money as they head south into warmer climes. Still, as another blast of icy wind tore at him he couldn’t help but wonder if there was something dark lingering under the surface.

On a whim, he sent out his Detect Darkening ability. A low lever of taint lingered, but this could usually be expected at any place like this that harbored criminals and outcasts. Jack didn’t have to time to hunt down everyone on the run from the cops or delinquent in their child care payments. His thoughts returned to his empty wallet. From the looks of things, these folks wouldn’t have much cash to spare, but even twenty dollars should be enough to get him to the next town, which would hopefully accept his debit card.

His meandering took him closer to the Haunted Funhouse. He figured he should check it out before he started looking around for the owner—just in case. Right away, he noticed something different about the carnie standing outside of the gloomy place. Unlike the others, he didn’t cower from the cold. Quite the opposite, this man only wore a maroon smoking jacket and an old felt top hat. His thin face was graced with an even thinner goatee. The man regarded Jack as he drew near.

If anyone is Darkened, it will be this guy, Jack thought as he neared the man.

Behind the man, the Haunted Funhouse stretched to almost impossible heights. Jack guessed that it must have been nearly five stories high. The shadow covered greys mixed with blacks on its surface that was designed to look like a house built into the side of a rocky mountain. Only the blaring red neon illuminated any part of it, while also bathing the area before it in a sea of dull reds.

“Care to test your bravery?” The man asked with a wolfish grin.

“That’s about the only thing in the world, I don’t need to do.” Jack brought up his Detect Darkening again, but for some reason it wasn’t functioning, which created a red flag for him about the size of Texas.

“Don’t tell me a Stalwart would be afraid,” then man said and then laughed.

“Who are you?”

“Who I am is of little importance to you compared to how many innocents I’ve fed to the Funhouse, I’d think.” The man wasn’t smiling now. Instead his eyes glowed the same dull red that covered the area around them.

“You son of a bitch.”

“My ancestry is also of little import. If I were you, I’d attempt to save what innocents you can before the ride devours them.” As the carnie spoke, the door to the Haunted Funhouse opened with a long loud crack. The insides of the place looked jet black.

“Maybe I’m just knock the teeth out of your head first…” Jack began, but as his eyes moved from the gapping doorway, he discovered the man had disappeared. Seconds later, a shrill scream sounded from above. Jack gazed up just in time to have drops of blood paint his face. He stepped back quickly as something thudded on the ground only feet before him.

It made a wet smack and then bounced two times before rolling to a stop near where the carnie has so recently stood. The red lights flooded the scene with a thick scarlet haze, but Jack could still make out that it was a severed female head that lay before him. Her once blonde hair spidered out in blood soaked dreadlocks and her eyes held unspeakable horror.

He patted his jacket finding some solace in feeling his extra throwing knives and the small hatchet he had stashed there. “Didn’t even bring any bigger weapons,” he grumbled, as he drew his war dagger from his belt. Another shriek sounded. “Screw it,” he cursed and than after a final glance as the nearly deserted carnival, he rushed through the open door of the Haunted Funhouse and plunged into the darkness.

To be Continued Next Monday!

Learn more about how Jack’s Adventures Started Here!