Categories > Original > Fantasy > Tradewinds 09 - "The Building is Hungry!"


by shadesmaclean 0 reviews

George and the phantom carnival

Category: Fantasy - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Fantasy,Horror,Sci-fi - Published: 2009-03-17 - Updated: 2009-03-17 - 1383 words - Complete

The one his companions called George continued to prowl the outskirts of the thirty-foot-high perimeter wall that seemed to surround him on all sides, looking for a way to proceed.

Bounded on all sides by this massive wall was a carnival. Ordinarily, he would consider this a good thing, but the whole thing stood empty, deserted, defunct. And he wasn’t sure what it made him feel more, sad or spooked. The dormant bulbs, dim, muted colors, dirt and garbage strewn everywhere, the sense of utter abandonment, haunted him.

Though increasingly uncomfortable in this bizarre place, George still looked out at it with those same staring brown eyes, that same dull expression, that caused most people to conclude that he was retarded or something. As with Chase, Kato had been right on the mark. Just an inch or two taller than Justin, with short, uncombed brown hair. He was indeed unable to speak, for whatever else had happened in his childhood, the one thing anyone knew for sure was that somebody had cut out his tongue to keep him from talking about it.

While Chase dressed with melodramatic flair, George dressed rather plain, in jeans and a dark blue windbreaker. The only thing on his person that would stand out was the “armtop” computer that currently hung slung over his shoulder. Ordinarily strapped to his right arm, for he was a southpaw, it was the tool of his trade. His most prized possession, the only thing he had that the others didn’t mess with. After he sabotaged both Chase and Kato’s attempts to play video games on it, at any rate. But primarily because he was the only one who could really put it to good use. The compact, fold-up unit was a little heavy, but George had long since grown used to it.

After Chase wandered off, he had waited for a while, but had felt more and more insecure in that quiet lobby the longer he stood there, wondering vaguely when his friend was coming back for him. Eventually, he decided he couldn’t take that ill-at-ease, nervous feeling anymore, and went off looking for Chase. And quickly discovered his friend was wrong when he scoffed at the man he made that bet with about the Harken Building only hours before.

Very wrong.

Of course, George had seen the exterior of the place when they entered, and it was getting to him even more than his nerves in the lobby. Had tried to tell Chase not to leave him there, just as he had tried to tell him not to blow the money Kato left them on that bet. But his companion only seemed to understand him when he felt like it. In the meantime, he had wandered through blocks and blocks’ worth of empty rooms.

Had only been a little hungry when they went to the café earlier, where Chase failed to score them a free bite with his usual diplomacy. When the snooty waiter started talking back, George had beaten Chase to the punch and gave him the finger, much to his friend’s amusement. Now he was really getting hungry.

When he wandered into this place, the door slammed behind him. Much to his dismay, the door he pushed open had no knob or latch on this side, so he couldn’t get it open again. Couldn’t go back. So now all he could do was walk the edges of this eerie walled carnival trying to find another way out.

As he walked along, George wondered what this run-down fair might be like if somebody fixed it up and got it going again. Kicking scraps of trash and litter aside, and hearing that was the only sound to be heard, he sought to calm himself by picturing all three of them at a real carnival. Though he knew Chase would sneer and Kato would try to act like she was too old for such things, he was sure they would all have fun once they were all there together.

So lost in his visions of cotton candy and carnival rides was he, that when loud, lilting carnival music started blaring from the far side of the grounds, he turned and almost ran right into the wall. Dark clouds were slowly gathering around the area, such that he didn’t realize how much dimmer it had gotten until he turned back and saw the many-colored lights dancing in and out of sight behind a couple rides. Even as he tried to figure out what was happening, more lights came on near the first set, and a moment later another, adding their movements to the growing dance of lights at the far end of the enclosure. Adding their own blaring music to what was fast becoming a carnival cacophony of jumbled notes and chords.

And underneath it all, the rumble of long-dormant machines waking up.

After a moment, George realized that the rides and other attractions were turning on in two’s and three’s. Starting at the far side of the field, and moving toward his end. In the midst of all of this, though, he was dismayed to see no one in sight.

Even before this picture of events had fully formed in his mind, he was already moving in the opposite direction as fast as his feet would carry him, scrambling along against the wall. No matter how fast he ran, though, the mass of awakening machinery was spreading toward him even closer. Every time he looked back, he could see it advancing on him, and even though he had no idea what he thought was going to happen if it did catch up, he ran on anyway.

When it finally overtook him, he veered a little farther over, grinding and stumbling against the wall with a barely audible exhaled grunt as he nearly fell.

George leaned against the wall, huffing and puffing as he took a frantic look around. Only moments before he was wishing he could see all of this running, now he took it back, every thought. Though everything had ground back into motion, it was still all dirty and grimy, weirdly aged, and, worst of all, he could see that every single ride was empty.

Somehow, it was all even creepier than before.

George fled along the wall, frequently glancing warily at this reanimated carnival. He thought he was looking for a way out, but would later realize that if he hadn’t banged his hand against the handle, he would have run right past the door without even seeing it. Though it stung like a sonofabitch, he reached out with that same hand and turned the handle.

He pushed, but the door wouldn’t budge. Unlike the door he came in through, at least this one had an outside handle, and he was sure it must open. But when he threw his full, if not exactly hefty, weight against it, it wouldn’t give an inch. The more if refused to move, the more frantic he got.

It was only when he rebounded from his hardest effort yet, hand still gripping the handle, and the door flew wide open, that George realized the reason for his previous difficulties.

Sheepish, yet hardly unmindful of the unnerving spectacle unfolding behind him, he ducked through the door, pulling it shut behind him. Even with his heart thumping madly in his ears, he could still faintly hear that inane, lilting jumble of tunes back there. The thought of all those deserted rides just going their merry way outside was enough to set him back in motion. When that chirpy yet hollow racket began to increase its already manic tempo, he got the sense of everything going faster, probably faster than any of it was made to go, and quickened his own pace in time.

Before him was a long hallway with double-doors at the end. Much to his relief, those doors opened without any fuss, and he proceeded into the next section of what appeared to be another nest of hallways and corridors. With every step he took, the musical babble of the ghost carnival grew fainter until he could no longer hear it anymore.

And he finally allowed himself to relax.
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