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After Dark

By , Sidney, NE

Okay, before I start this story, I would just like to say something in our defense. How were we supposed to know the place was haunted? It’s not like we were warned or anything! There we were, Halloween night. The full moon frowned down upon us as we climbed over the admission gates. My adrenaline was spiked high and I kept glancing around for movement. If anyone caught us, we’d be in big trouble. But that was okay! Since none of us had plans to go trick-or-treating, we figured we might as well have fun somewhere else. Runele, Elbow, Butterfly, and I were breaking into the amusement park.


“Sam,”Elbow started hesitantly,“ I don’t think we should be here.I’m pretty sure this is illegal.”


I shrugged her concern off. As long as we didn’t get caught, we’d be safe. We were just going to look around and eat frozen yogurt or something. It’s not like we were going to graffiti on the rollercoaster. And besides... “You’re already inside, though.”


“Yeah, Elbow,” Runele elbows her sister. “Quit whining.”


“Oh, okay.” Elbow looks around fearfully, unconsciously forcing Sock to put her arm around her in comfort. Okay, confession time! Those weren’t our real names. They were only nicknames. How we got them is a whole other story, but this one is about the amusement park.


We walked around, look at the place. Leaves littered the ground and a few places were in dire need of repair, but there wasn’t anybody around to tend to them. After the place shuts down for the winter, all the workers get different jobs and nobody but the security guard is left behind. But we know the guy. His name was William, but we liked to call him Bill for our own personal jokes. We’re tight with him.


That’s a lie. We didn’t know him personally, ha.


We walked about the relatively big park. There were only about ten rides but three of them were underground and there was only one rollercoaster. The rest of the rides were under roofs. I took in every detail, since I’d never been here after dark. None of us had. The rollercoaster  arcs into the sky, majestically framed by the full moon. I can see the light reflecting off of the House of Mirrors in the near distance. The Silver Spark, a short, quick rollercoaster type of ride, was the closest to us. We’ve all rode that one, so we weren’t too interested in it. The performance stage is dead center, able to be seen from all sides. The silhouettes of Willy the Wolf and Rudy the Rhino can easily be seen standing there. The full moon continues to glare at us for trespassing.

Whatever, I thought to it. I was excited to start messing around and see what mischief we could get into! I met the eyes of each of my friends with a crazy glint. “Let’s go mess with Willy and Rudy.”


Runele scoffed. Elbow hummed indecisively. Butterfly shrugged and said, “Yeah, why not?”


“What?” Elbow looked at her incredulously. “You’re agreeing with her? This is madness!”


My mind answered, Madness? This! Is! Sparta! I didn’t say it aloud, of course.


Butterfly shrugged. “I don’t see why we can’t. I mean, no one’s going to catch us.”


Runele said, “But we shouldn’t go messing with animatronics. You’ve all heard the stories.”


I shuddered, but tried to hide it. We’d all heard the stories of the ghosts of the animatronics in neighboring towns doing things they weren’t supposed to. Truth be told, those stories scared me, but I wasn’t about to show it! Besides, what’s the fun in doing something if there’s no risk involved? So, instead of backing down, I said, “No one believes them anyway. There’s nothing to be afraid of.” No one moved. “Well, regardless of what you cowards do, I’m going up there.” I marched away from the huddle of friendship. Butterfly waited to see what Elbow would do.


Runele huffed. “Well, you’re not going anywhere without me, Sam. You know that.”


I grinned to myself. Yeah, I knew that, I thought smugly. She was predictable sometimes.


Elbow and Butterfly soon followed close behind. In a matter of seconds, we were all standing on the stage, up close and personal with the animatronics. Willy the Wolf was enormous, and Rudy was no pushover, either. They were both at least a head taller than we were. Willy had red and white markings on his fur and a shirt that read Adequate Amusement Park, the name of the park. His fur was a little matted from expose to the weather and the shirt was cruder up close. His yellow eyes shone brilliantly, however, reflecting the moonlight perfectly. They almost seemed to glow with an inward energy. Rudy was another story. His dark gray skin looked and felt rubbery. It seemed a lot more tacky than the work put into Willy. His shorts seemed like they were about to fall off. His horn was hard, though, like that was the last thing they thought to put real effort into. His orange eyes seemed to almost glow red under the moonlight. These animatronics were bolted to the stage, so they didn’t roam around the stage.


“Look at them,” I breathed. It felt surreal to be so close to the things. I stroked Willy’s fur. My finger came away clean, as if someone still cared for them. “I thought they locked them up for the winter.”
“Guess you were wrong,” Runele said through clenched teeth. “Now can we go?”


“Ugh,” I groaned. “Fine, we can-”


The animatronic jerked suddenly under my hand. Its head snapped around to stare at me with those glowing yellow eyes. I stumbled backwards as my friends behind me cried out in shock. A whirring, high-pitched voice emanated from within the robot. “G-go? Go?! Why would you want to leave the amusement park? You h-haven’t gone on all-ll of the ri-i-ides!”


I stared at them in horror and stammered, “They’re not.. They’re not p-programmed to say anything close to that! I know all of their lines and they never said that!”


Willy’s ears twitched up and down wildly and its eyes whirled around, taking all of us in at once. “Fantastic! T-time for the p-party to begi-i-i-i-in! Come wi-wi-with me!”


Elbow’s voice cut through the madness. “Runele, we need to go. Now.”


A deep, silly voice resounded from Rudy as it activated itself. “Y-you’re not go-going anywhere, sillies.”
We all cried out in terror and ran as a loud cruuuunch! resulted from Willy ripping its foot from the bolts holding it down. With uncharacteristic speed for such an old animatronic, it started chasing us. Elbow pulled Butterfly with her while I covered Runele’s back. We were lagging, but as long as I kept Runele from getting hurt then we were okay. I didn’t dare look back, but I heard a similar sound as Rudy snapped from its stand. Its thundering steps neared ever closer as I tried to help Runele along faster. Psychotic laughter startled me from behind and I missed a step. That vital step allows Willy to get just close enough to grab me with a clawed paw and pull me back. I shrieked, “Runele! Help!”


She pulled to a halt, looking back at me with desperation. I could feel Willy’s claws digging into my shoulder as it pulls me back with supernatural strength. Elbow and Butterfly stopped, too, and now Elbow was running back towards me. Tears stung my eyes as I looked at Willy. Its head jerked this way and that, but its glowing yellow eyes were fixed on me. A strange, thick black substance leaked from them, as well as from its mouth. My heart pounded and I found that I was unable to tear myself away from the gaze. Time seemed to slow and a wicked little girl’s voice entered my head. You should not have come here tonight! I will make you pay the price!
I felt a sharp stabbing pain in my head. It was white-hot, like someone was taking a fire stoker and jamming it into my temple. I went limp, nearly passing out from it. Then time seemed to start up again and Runele, Elbow, and Butterfly were pulling me away from Willy. Rudy was standing nearby, leaking the same black substance from his eyes. Both were frozen still, as if they were deactivated once again. My breath billowed out in front of me as I tried to regain my wits.


My mouth seemed to move on its own accord. “Let’s get out of this place, and never come back.”


My friends all nodded. “Agreed.”


We made a beeline for the exit, ignoring any aches or pains we had. That place was just too creepy to ever think about it the same again. Ugh, just think of what Bill’d think when he finds the animatronics like that. Well, at least we didn’t get caught…


Once we were outside, Runele pulled me over and stared straight into my eyes with a furious look. “Never, ever do that again, okay Sam?” Her gaze narrowed with an expression I couldn’t read.


What? I feel like asking, but my mouth doesn’t do what I want it to. Instead, it curls up into a knowing grin and says, “Never again, my friend. We’re out now, anyways.”






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