What follows is a pieces of Flash Fiction. Enjoy the ride

 

Life’s A Carnival

By Dave Benneman

Chase’s cash reserves were thinning faster than the crowd on the midway. Barkers called half-heartedly from their games. Vicky clutched an immense stuffed panda he’d won popping balloons with darts. It cost him a small fortune. He was good at darts, a relatively easy skill he’d honed in his fathers basement, but the crooked men who ran those games counted on that. They had tricks Chase would never learn. He steered Vicky between the Wheel of Fortune and the Shooting Gallery toward the rides.

Screams battled for room in the night air while ‘Layla’ leapt from the tortured speakers at the Bob Sled. Fried food, and cotton candy scented the summer air that clung close to his skin. A fat man on a stool at the entrance to The Tunnel of Love leered and winked as he took Chase’s money. Vicky’s look of dread hit him square on.

“It’s not scary, it’s a boat ride in the dark.”

“I’m not scared, it’s just…they’re kinda creepy.” Vicky nodded toward the fat man and the assistant in his greasy wife beater t-shirt who steadied the boat. When she stepped up, he smiled showing three or four crooked teeth.

Chase stepped between her and the carney with a false show of bravado. He took the panda and helped Vicky sit. Once he settled next to her, he nodded.

“Enjoy the ride.” With a sinister laugh he pushed off the boat.

The temperature dropped when they bumped through the heart-shaped tunnel entrance. Chase pulled Vicky close. Water dripped from the dark. The heavy air smelled stagnant. . Ominous music played from everywhere at once. It was a short loop or stuck, he wasn’t sure which, but the repetitive melody made his muscles bunch.

“Something’s off,” she whispered. “Can you smell that?”

He sniffed. An odor gathered under the dampness. Road kill. Something died in here. Probably a rat, not something he’d share with Vicky. She was freaking already. “Yeah, it’s that guy’s body odor.”

She pulled away from him.

“Relax, we’ll be out soon.”

The weird music got louder. The stench got worse. The boat bumped along in the endless darkness.

“I’m cold.”

“Me too.” Again, he pulled her close. “Better?”

No reply.

They should be out by now. He reached out to insure they were moving. The wall recoiled at his touch as if it were alive. He swallowed back vomit and jerked his hand away. “ Sorry. Cramp.”

No response.

“Vicky? You okay?”

Nothing. He gently shook her. “Vicky.” He turned and grabbed her shoulders. “Vicky!”

She slumped forward. Cold, she was too cold. He lifted her chin as if to kiss her. Her flesh fell off in his hand. The stench of death filled his nose as her decomposing flesh dripped from her face.. “How long have we been here?” His scream lifted from his throat like a rocket searing through the atmosphere.

The boat bumped along. The music played. Chase screamed.

 

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