With Halloween less than 24 hours away, I thought I'd get the party started a tad early with a little horror story to set the mood. Just a little flash fiction to get you in the mood for some truly scary movies for tomorrow night. Hope you enjoy this creepy little snippet.
The cold rain streamed down her dress, plastering the fabric to moist skin. She blinked at the unfamiliar surroundings in dismay. She should never have gotten out of his car, not in this neighborhood. But when his hand crept up her thigh, crossing the hem of her skirt, Sierra had panicked. It wasn’t until he’d squealed his tires around the corner, after accusing her of being a tease, she realized she’d left her purse on the floorboard.
Few streetlights illuminated the area, the tall, imposing warehouses draped in shadow. She was lost, saw no signs to give her a clue to her whereabouts, no people to plead to for help. The sound of her footfalls echoed lonely and hollow between the close-set buildings.
Turning the corner, she spotted a soft light through the downpour and her heart leapt. Someone, at least, still thrived in the old district. A warning bell sounded in the recesses of her mind, begging her to keep walking, to flag down a car and get far away. But the cold had seeped into her bones. She was desperate.
A wooden fence loomed out of the darkness, a narrow walkway leading to the beckoning glow beyond. A weathered sign tacked to the entrance proclaimed in peeling paint: McMillian’s Carnival. Twenty-Four Hour Delights 362 Days a Year.
No rope or gate blocked the entrance, no “closed” sign. Assuming it must be open, with an employee and access to a phone somewhere, Sierra crossed the threshold. Peeking around corners and over the thin railings that encircled the attractions, she followed the winding path through the theme park slowly. The rides were still, the only sound the “plink, plink” of rain on metal and fiberglass. Game booths and gift huts stood shuttered and dark, windows glaring back at her empty and hostile.
Sierra headed towards the glow: a thin string of bare bulbs lighting a worn carousel. The once cheerfully painted and majestic horses had withered, the saddles worn bare from thousands of riders, the stirrups dented from too many feet. The eroded paint gave their faces a distorted, malicious expression, the traces of bright blues and pinks highlighting creases and hollows in a macabre manner.
Sierra stopped several feet from the edge of the platform, craning her neck in search of an employee of any kind.
Her voice sounded hollow in the empty air. The string of lights flickered and crackled as if in response, sending a chill down Sierra’s spine.
It wasn’t an echo. This voice was masculine, faint. Relief flooded through her. Someone was here.
“Hi. Do you have a public phone?”
She walked around the platform towards the sound of the voice, mud sucking at her heels.
The voice didn’t reply and she called again, hugging her arms around her middle for warmth and security against the sudden unease forming in her belly.
A flicker of movement caught her eye and she turned, gasping at the startled face staring back at her from the middle of the carousel. A heartbeat later, she recognized it as her own face, cast back from the row of mirrors at the center of the carousel. She sighed as her shoulders relaxed, blinking raindrops from her lashes and looked up again.
No, it wasn’t her reflection. It was a man, thin and gaunt with dark hair that fell in lank waves, staring at her from a small window within the carousel’s central gear room.
Sierra stepped up on the platform, walking over to speak to him.
“You startled me. Do you have a cellphone I can use?”
He stared silently with a blank expression, his eyes so dark no light reflected in them. Sierra shied away from that steady glare, noticing the scene behind him. He wasn’t in a room of gears and mechanisms, but a carousel. It was the mirror-image of the one she stood on, yet darker.
The paint had faded to hues of grey, the decorative molding on the horses chipped away until they were only vaguely horse-shaped. Children sat hunched in the saddles, faces pale and sickly. Behind them, the scenery changed with the rotation of the platform, spinning past an eerie backdrop. A little boy turned to look at her, empty holes where his eyes should have been.
Sierra screamed, stepping back from the strange man, the frightening stare of the children. Her heart thudded in her chest painfully as she gasped for breath, fear sending her mind into a panicked frenzy. She turned to run,-
The platform was gone, replaced by faded paneling with only one small window. Beyond the glass, a lighted and colorful carousel spun lazily against a heavy drizzle. She banged on the glass, screaming for help, but there was no one to hear her. She turned towards the man, his hollow eyes boring into her with an oppressive sadness. He touched her shoulder softly, comfortingly, and a wave of crushing hopelessness rolled over her. His flesh was as cold as ice, cold as her own flesh.
“It’s only a reflection.”