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Carnival Daze

My mind was full of sharp pain, on the very edge of my consciousness. It roared like a horrid beast, then faded.
When I opened my eyes, all I could see were bold neon letters and flashing lights dominating the night sky. The air smelled strongly of popcorn and cotton candy, and scattered conversations filled my ears, muffled by my hoodie. Presently, I was leaning against the wall of what seemed to be a funhouse.


“My head hurts,” I said, though I didn’t quite know who I was talking to. I rubbed the back of my head and sat up. The real thing I wanted to say was where are we, but it would never do to say something so typical out loud. Anyway, I already had a basic idea. It was a carnival of some sort, and a big one at that.


My best friend, Evie was on her feet next to me, looking contrastingly giddy compared to me. “Who cares? This place is awesome!” I looked at her, for the first time realizing she was there. It was a scary moment before I recognized her, but I remembered well enough. It took another couple of seconds to process what she had said.


I looked around at the scene before me. “Speak for yourself.” Despite its flashy appeal, the place seemed eerie and grim to me. It seemed as though the huge rides loomed over me with a malicious leery mass. I could hardly understand how all the people around me could stand such a place.


Evie grabbed my wrist and pulled, hard, pulling me out of my thoughts. “Where do we go first? They all seem pretty cool.” She looked around hesitantly at each ride, indecisive as to which one to first use.


I shook her off my arm. “Do we have to?” If I knew anything about Evie, it was that voicing my opinion about this place right now was a bad idea. The last thing I wanted to put her down, but I resisted all the same.
Evie’s insistence started to lose momentum. “Okay, well what if we go on one of the calmer rides first, like the Ferris wheel?”


“You know I hate heights.”


“Ferris wheel it is, then!”


Sometimes I wonder if she ever listens.


We waited ten minutes to get onto the ride, and though it was relatively calm, it did nothing to soothe my nerves. I couldn’t help but feel jumpy, though whether it was from my surroundings or the thought of climbing slowly through the air, I didn’t know.


When we reached the head of the line, I turned to Evie in a last attempt to reason with her. “You don't have any money for admission, do you?”


She only shrugged and walked over to the gondola.  As it turned out, admission was free for not only the Ferris wheel, but all the rides.


Great.


I went over to the gondola seat, my heart sinking as I did so. It was one of those open seats, without anything but a bar at your waist to keep you from hurtling to the ground at top speed. I left my stomach behind as the ride lurched and we rose off the ground. I shut my eyes tight, trying to ignore the world.


I felt the wind whipping face, blowing my hair every which way, despite my hood. I clutched the bar, my knuckles turning white and my nails pressing hard against the rusted metal. My legs dangled precariously I front of me, resting only on thin air. My heart pounded in my ears.


Evie seemed to enjoy the ride. Somewhere around the peak of the wheel, she turned to me and whispered, “Come on, Sierra! Open your eyes!”


I opened my eyes for a second, and the vertigo rushed back. As my vision cleared, I could see flashing lights stretching out to the horizon. When I couldn’t stand it, I closed my eyes again, my mind now racing as much as my heart.


Why was a place like this so big?


We slowed as we neared the bottom, but the wheel stopped as we were right above the ground. The riders in front of us got off, and then the ride continued for another round of absolute fright.
I want to get out of here. I want this to end.


My head started spinning as we left the ground. I think I blacked out, because the next thing I knew our gondola was at the ground, and Evie was poking me awake. I got up and looked her squarely in the eye.
“Never again.”


As soon as we walked off the ride, Evie started to look for another ride.


“There are way better things to do than this, you know,” I said, feeling around in my pockets and found my pen and notepad. I pulled them out and looked at my watch, only to discover it was gone. “What time is it?”
“Nighttime.”


“Very funny.”


I took my pen and pad and flipped through the pages. I did this sometimes, to calm myself. I couldn’t remember much of the previous entries, and when I looked for them, they weren’t there. I wasn’t sure why, but surely it wasn’t a big deal.


Day 1- Night


I don’t have any clue why I’m here. This place is really creepy. We rode the Ferris wheel, but it obviously sucked. I can’t find my watch anywhere. I’ll have to see if I can get another way to tell time.


“What are you doing?” Evie said, trying to crane her neck so she could see my page. I snapped the notepad shut before she could see.


“Nothing.”


My stomach rumbled, long, low, and loud. For the first time, I realized how hungry I was. How could I ever forget something like that?


I looked at Evie. “Got anything to eat?”


“Why would I? We can just go to the food court.”


“There's a food court?” I asked, slightly incredulous.


“There's a food court.”


While we walked over to the food court, I wondered how I hadn't noticed it beforehand. I also felt slightly distrustful of any people or food to be found there.


I was expecting a great many things, but an empty counter was not one of them. There was no staff or attendant there, so anyone could take any food without being held back. 


Honestly, I found that was not only a hazard for theft, but also an upset stomach. After all, food in places like these isn't particularly healthy.


Quickly losing my appetite, I took a large cup and filled it to the brim with soda, then grabbed a bag of chips. Evie opted for an ice cream sundae instead.


I watched her skeptically as she flooded the dish with fudge sauce.


“Wow. That's very healthy.”


Evie crossed her eyes and stuck out her tongue. “Like you're one to talk! Look at that!” She motioned to my cup, which was spewing root beer in a frothy brown explosion of bubbles.


“It's only a little bit of sugar...”


“Yeah. Sure.”


We sat down at one of the table, and as I sipped my root beer, I watched people pass by. Soon enough, despite the sugar, my dread returned.


“Isn’t this place great?” Evie was reaching for the caramel, but I stopped her and pulled the sundae toppings away before she could add any more artificial fluid content.


I chose my words carefully. “I don’t think so. It's kind of... creepy, I guess.”


She looked up at me, confused. “What do you mean?”


“I don't know. It doesn't feel right. I don't want to be here.”


Evie paused to think about this for a second, then put her hand to her head, grimacing. “Ow.”


“Brain freeze?” I asked, before realizing she hadn't even taken a single bite yet.


She grimaced. “Not that. My head hurts.”


I didn't know what to do, so I sat there, watching her. Soon enough she had calmed down and was fine.
“So... what were we talking about?”


“No clue.”


In those few seconds, I had entirely forgotten our previous conversation, and so had Evie, it seemed. This place was creepier than I had first thought.


Evie seemed set on going somewhere else, so we left the food court, root beer and ice cream nearly untouched. I took my notebook out and scrawled out a few words:


We got some food and drinks. Something just happened, something neither of us can remember. I don’t know what to do, we need to get ou—


Without really knowing why, I stopped writing.


Evie pulled me along into a funhouse with a cracked neon sign reading “Kid’s Laughter House”. She kept on insisting, no matter what I said, so as we reached the first attraction, I put my notepad away.


I looked at the barrel. “Quick question: Why?”


She shrugged and walked through, beckoning for me to follow. I tried, but first I tripped and fell face first, then I stood up and lost my balance again.


“This. Sucks.”


Evie walked ahead and stared into the mirrors, somehow mystified. I, being somewhat bored, took my notepad and continued to write.


We've gone into the funhouse. I've tripped twice already. I hate it. These mirrors are lame.


I looked up from my notepad, to see myself in a mirror, distorted to make me look really tiny. I glared at it, then turned around to follow Evie. She wasn’t there.


I suddenly had goosebumps on my arm. I shoved my hands into my pockets. “Evie? Where'd you go?” I figured that she might be some way ahead, seeing as though she’d been following the hall of mirrors. I walked further down, looking around cautiously in the dim light, but all I saw were distorted reflections of myself.


My forehead began to throb. I put my hand to my temples and closed my eyes, but somehow it was even brighter behind my eyelids.


My head pounded in a rhythmic pattern. I fell to the ground, my notebook falling, unheeded, out the window. Then I felt my consciousness slip away, and I entered silent oblivion.


*****


My mind was full of sharp pain, on the very edge of my consciousness. It roared like a horrid beast, then faded.
When I opened my eyes, all I could see were bold neon letters and flashing lights dominating the night sky. The air smelled strongly of popcorn and cotton candy, and scattered conversations filled my ears, muffled by my hoodie. Presently, I was leaning against the wall of what seemed to be a funhouse.


“My head hurts,” I said, though I didn’t quite know who I was talking to. I rubbed the back of my head and sat up. The real thing I wanted to say was where are we, but it would never do to say something so typical out loud. Anyway, I already had a basic idea. It was a carnival of some sort, and a big one at that.


My best friend, Evie was on her feet next to me, looking contrastingly giddy compared to me. “Who cares? This place is awesome!” I looked at her, for the first time realizing she was there. It was a scary moment before I recognized her, but I remembered well enough. It took another couple of seconds to process what she had said.


I looked around at the scene before me. “Speak for yourself.” Despite its flashy appeal, the place seemed eerie and grim to me. I stood up a little shakily and walked a few paces, before noticing a discarded object at my feet. It was a notebook, empty except for the first page. Some of the words were smudged, but I could read this:


Day 1- Night


I don’t have any clue why I’m here. This place is really creepy. We rode the Ferris wheel, but it obviously sucked. I can’t find my watch anywhere. I’ll have to see if I can get another way to tell time.
We got some food and drinks. Something just happened, something neither of us can remember.
We've gone into the funhouse. I've tripped twice already. I hate it. These mirrors are lame. 
There was something else beneath it, but the words had been scrawled in a rush, and were now smudged and illegible.


I stuck the notebook into my pocket to look at later. It felt familiar, reassuring somehow. Something about it nagged me at the back of my mind, but I shoved the thought aside. Evie dragged me to the Ferris wheel as I checked my watch. It was missing.


An inexplicable weariness filled me, and I looked up into the bright, starless sky. “I have a feeling this is going to be a long night.”






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