Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Circus Part Two

“I guess we’ll take three toys, a strand of garlic and a silver cross.” David said, running a hand through his short hair. The bearded man merely smiled and accepted David’s money before handing over the items in a burlap sack, the cross being the largest item amidst the entirety of the bag.

“I’ll pay for some of the meat as well,” Monica said, fishing out a few dollars.
“The meat will be worth its weight in gold little lady. Some of the hungrier creatures in there wouldn’t mind taking a bite out of a morsel like you!” The man said, flirting with Monica a tad as he palmed a handful of chopped beef cubes into a plastic bag. “Just be certain that if you feed them by hand to hold your hand flat. Their teeth are ground sharp and can take a chunk out of you if you’re not careful.”
“So this ride is dangerous?” Monica asked, her voice cracking a bit.
The man smiled, revealing brown and grey teeth. “Who said it was a ride? What it is is a chance to walk through a despoiled garden of creatures long forgotten and feared since their discovery. While we have had some accidents, the creatures are mostly benign, assuming you stay on the path and don’t go in unprepared.”
“Do you think we have enough?” Monica asked, earning a snort from David.
The man looked at David, confusion in his eyes. “What?”
“Of course you’re going to try and sell us more useless crap, listen, I know how this works. You have people dressed up in there that’ll jump out at us and scare us, and run off if we toss an item at them. It’s a haunted house, I’ve gone to a dozen of these.”
The man smiled, shaking his head. “Not like this one, you haven’t.”
The man waddled towards the gate, the light drizzle falling on his top hat and coat as he unlocked the gate leading to a wooden bridge crossing a river. “Over there, cross the Blessed River; that is where you start your journey.”
“In that giant building?” Monica asked, looking at the former factory with some trepidation.
“It’s a maze now, one we set up to appease the spirits of the clowns that died in that awful fire all those years ago. Beware the smoking clown, as he’d the most degenerate of the lot.”
“How so?”
“Let’s just say I can’t sell little boys or girls for you to throw at him to take his attention away from you, and leave it at that.” The man said grimly. He pointed along the river. “The trek curves around the maze, through a forest and then a house. Once you exit the house you have a pumpkin patch and a bridge leading back over the river, where you’ll be safe.”
“What happens if we want to leave early?” Monica asked, clutching at David’s arm possessively.
The man smiled. “Then you hurry.”
-*-
Once the man had opened the gate, Monica and David had walked hand-in-hand together towards the bridge leading across the blessed river. The bridge was old and worn, with loose boards and rotting shingles, paint peeling from the wood in ways that made it appear, in dim lighting, as if spiders were emerging from the very wood itself. With flashlights on and moving from wall to wall, stretching out across the bridge to make sure it was safe, Monica and David slowly made their way across the rickety bridge.
Once across, they stood in front of a factory with no doors, a large stuffed clown with a cigar in its mouth and beady red eyes staring out blankly at them, his colorful costume puffy and moth-eaten.
“I don’t like this place,” Monica said, eyeing the clown.
“Aw, c’mon. You can’t tell me that this clown is gonna scare you, are you?” David said, walking up to the clown and knocking on its plaster head. “See, nothing to be afraid of. Hey, take my picture with it!”
“I don’t want to…” Monica trailed off, still taking her camera out of her purse. “Are you sure?”
“Yeah, I’ll make it my new desktop background.”
“You’re sick,” Monica said as she raised the camera up, turning it on. Once it powered on, she stared through the lens, about to tell David to say cheese when she noticed something odd.
The clown was slowly turning its head to stare directly at the camera, its ear-to-ear grin seemingly getting wider as David threw an arm around the clowns shoulders, a wide smile on his face as he threw up the peace sign.
“D-D-David…”
“C’mon babe, just take the picture so we can move on, the night is still young!” David said.
The clown on the small virtual screen of the camera nodded slowly, raising and arm to loop over David’s shoulders for the picture, its other hand coming up to pull the cigar from its mouth. A puff of smoke exited the clowns mouth in a wide plume, causing Monica to jerk and take the photo in shock, the flash going off in a single instant. Looking at the camera frame once more, she saw the clown was back to its original position, sitting back and facing off kilter towards the hall leading deeper into the maze.
David got up, clapping his hands together, “Alright, let me take a look at the photo to make sure I didn’t blink or anything.”
“Um, sure…” Monica said, thrusting the camera into his hands.
He stared at the camera, flicking through a few shots before settling on the clown, smoke puffing from it as it and David embraced in a one armed hug. David looked back up at the plaster clown, then back down at the monitor.
“That’s impossible.” David uttered low and slow.
“That’s what I was thinking when you were hurrying me along to take a photo with it!” Monica growled, pointing over towards the dummy. “I saw it moving and you were just being a dork asking me to take a picture with it. Well there you go, a picture with a haunted clown doll!”
“I don’t know if I want this anymore-hey, where did the clown go?” David asked, looking up from the camera before furrowing his brow.

Monica looked over her shoulder to where the clown had been seated. All that was there now was a red barrel, along with a small stuffed bear, both eyes removed to the point where stuffing was coming out of the holes.

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