Carnival of Blood, part II
June 3, 2013
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!