Authors: Tawny Stokes,Michael J Lee
Tags: #boxed set, #survival, #teen thriller, #post-apocalyptic, #teen horror, #action adventure, #horror
Carnival World Boxed Set (Episodes 1-3)
by Tawny Stokes and Michael J Lee
Published by Tawny Stokes, 2013.
This is a work of fiction. Similarities to real people, places, or events are entirely coincidental.
CARNIVAL WORLD BOXED SET (EPISODES 1-3)
First edition. November 28, 2013.
Copyright © 2013 Tawny Stokes and Michael J Lee.
Written by Tawny Stokes and Michael J Lee.
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Copyright 2013 – Michael J Lee and Tawny Stokes
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher
tep right up! Step right up!”
The carnival barker wore a red-and-white striped jacket despite the hot muggy night. There wasn’t a single bead of sweat beneath the brim of his straw hat. The cane twirled in his gloved hands and then pointed to the spinning wheel behind him.
“There’s a winner every time,” he promised.
“Chance, beautiful chance awaits. And tonight fair lady fate could be yours. What do you wish for? What do you dream? What do you need? It is all within your grasp. But be warned. Only the brave and the fearless should follow this path.”
The wheel spun and clicked.
“You see before you a poor representation of magnificent fortune. The true wheel of fate has an infinite number of slots, an infinite number of prizes and an infinite number of penalties. Infinite, I say. Don’t believe those who put limits on this world or others. No sooner does man scratch out a limitation than a new frontier is discovered just beyond the next horizon. So I ask you, ladies and gentlemen, who is brave enough to step forward and put their hands in fate? Who among you is willing to take a step into the unknown? Who is willing to journey past the horizon that we know?”
he sickly sweet smell of pink and blue candy floss wafted to Summer’s nose as she stood in line to ride the caterpillar. Her little brother, Sam, had a look of pure bliss on his face as he stared at the candy floss vendor. Drool had gathered at the corner of his little mouth.
“Can I get some after the ride?” he asked, his gaze never straying from the colorful cart.
“Depends on how much it is. Mom only gave me twenty bucks, and we haven’t had lunch yet.”
“That can be lunch.”
“No, it can’t, doofus.” She knocked him in the head gently. “You need real food or you’ll get a headache.”
He rubbed the back of his skull where she tapped him. “You’re giving me one already.”
She laughed, then nudged him forward as the line crept along.
It was only eleven-thirty and already the fairgrounds were crowded. Summer predicted that nearly half the town of Crooks was at the carnival. The other half would arrive later on, once most of the businesses shut down for the day. It was a yearly summer event that no one liked to miss. And the first day was always the most exciting.
At least she was really excited. After another four hours of looking after her brother—Mom had to work at the café until four—then she was free to hang with her friends and go on all the big scary rides like the loop-de-loop rollercoaster. Sam was too small to go on the ride. Besides that, he had a queasy stomach. He even had to watch the foods he ate. Some foods would make him sick for hours.
The line was moving pretty fast. A lot of people could fit on the ride at once. Although the caterpillar was an old ride, Summer liked it. The metal cars spun backwards fast while the canvas top came overhead, encasing the riders in the dark. The canvas was green so when you looked at it from a distance, it did indeed resemble a giant caterpillar spinning in a non-ending circle. To Summer it looked like it was eating its own tail.
“When is it our turn?” Sam whined as he leaned against the ropes that constructed the line-up.
“Pretty quick.” The people in front of them shuffled forward. “See? We’re almost at the front.”
“Hey, isn’t that Darien Burton over there?”
Heart hammering, Summer swung around to look where Sam was pointing, her long blonde braid nearly whipping him in the face. About ten people behind them in line stood Summer’s high school crush, Darien Burton. He was tall, dark-haired, and had a killer smile. He was the Crooks High star quarterback and had taken the team to the state championship this year. Not only was he athletic and looked drool-worthy in his tight football pants, he was also an honor student.
Summer had been crushing on him for her whole freshman year. But she’d never gotten up the nerve to talk to him. She had tons of reasons; his family had money, hers barely got by, he was gorgeous, she was barely cute. But the number-one reason was standing right next to him in a pair of short shorts and a halter top, her long, tanned and skinny arm clinging to his buff one—Nicole Pratt, a fellow freshman and the bane of Summer’s existence.
Nicole met her gaze and lifted her pink cupid-bow lips up into an ugly sneer. Summer swung back around and grabbed Sam’s pointing finger. “Don’t point at people. It’s not nice.”
“It’s him, isn’t it?”
“Shh. You don’t have to speak so loud.” She looked around to see if anyone was eavesdropping on their conversation. “Yeah, it’s him.”
“He’s awesome. Did you see his last throw at the Barnaby game?” Sam backed up and raised his arm like he was going to rifle a football one hundred yards. Sam was crazy about football. He’d even begged their mom to buy him a football-shaped bed. The best he got though was football sheets and a pillowcase.
“Yeah. I was there with you, remember?” She nudged him forward again as the line moved.
“When I’m in high school, I’m going to play ball just like Darien.”
“You have to survive middle school first, doofus.”
“I know that.” He screwed up his face like he couldn’t believe what she’d just said. “I’m just saying. is all.”
Without seeming too obvious, Summer rubbed her chin on her shoulder and peeked over at Darien again. She nearly choked when she realized that he was staring right back.
yan glared at everyone from behind his black sunglasses. He didn’t know why he bothered to come to the carnival. He hated the crowds, hated people in general. The food always sucked, loaded with so much MSG and other chemical additives that he imagined everyone glowing like toxic waste by the end of the day. But he came anyway, because of the rides.
He reveled in the sensation of soaring free through the air on the big swings, the flipping sensation in his gut when he went upside down on the rollercoaster, and the rush of going fast. He got high on the exhilaration of it. Not that he’d share that fact with anyone. Even if he had someone to share it with.
The line to the ride shuffled forward and he shuffled with it, still glaring at the meandering crowd. Like cattle, he thought. That’s what these people reminded him of. Especially people like Darien Burton and Nicole Pratt, who stood ahead of him in the line. A bull and a cow, and the cow was in heat. Not a charitable thing to say and his mother would admonish him for saying it; that was, if she ever took the time to listen to what he had to say. But it was the truth, especially with the way Nicole was rubbing up against Darien’s body.
It was disgusting how she flagrantly flaunted her ample body parts. Her halter top barely contained her boobs and her shorts hardly covered her ass. Despite his disgust with her vulgar display, Ryan had had his fair share of hot dreams about Nicole. It was hard not to think about her in that way when her actions clearly revealed her willingness to have sex. It was no secret that she’d lost her virginity on the fifty yard line of the school’s football field. He’d also heard that someone filmed it with their cell phone. He’d yet to see the video though, although he’d checked YouTube frequently enough.
Then there was Summer Vaughn, standing even farther back in line. She, he liked, somewhat. She was quiet, studious, and kept mainly to herself. She had a few friends, and thankfully didn’t run with the wild bunch at school. He liked the look of her, too. Simple, pretty in an uncomplicated way. No heavy makeup or loads of hair products on her. It was just too bad she ignored him just like everyone else at Crooks High.
Sometimes he had to wonder if he even existed at all.
addie slid in next to her brother Justin on the ride. He managed to untangle the seatbelt and pull it across their laps to secure it to the clip on the ride’s car.
“I hate this ride,” she announced as Justin readjusted the belt to make sure it was tight and secure.
“Why? It doesn’t go too fast.”
“It goes backwards. I don’t like not seeing where I’m going.”
“Mad, we’re going in a circle. What could you possibly want to see?”
Justin was right, of course. Justin was always right. Such was the plight of having a perfect brother. Everyone thought he was perfect. Mom. Dad. Now Gran, who they were staying with over the summer. Didn’t she just say to Maddie before they came to the carnival how she thought Justin was so damn perfect and asked why Maddie couldn’t be more like him? Well, she might not have said those words exactly, but Maddie knew she was thinking them. Such was the life of having a perfect twin brother. The comparisons were endless.
“What did Mom say when she called?” she asked as they waited for the rest of the cars to be loaded.
“Did she say when she was coming back?”
“Did she say how Dad was doing?”
“Well what did she say?”
“I told you, nothing much.”
Sighing, Maddie watched the other riders get on. It had been over three years since she and Justin had spent any significant time in Crooks, yet she wondered if any of the kids would remember her. She did experience her first real kiss with a boy from Crooks. A dark-haired boy with serious eyes. She couldn’t remember his name but she was sure she’d recognize him if she saw him again. A boy with longish black hair walked past to get into the car behind them. She followed his progress. Could that be him? She couldn’t tell because of the dark sunglasses he wore. Maybe she’d find out after the ride was over.
“Is she going to call back tonight?” she asked her brother, who was busy fingering the green canvas scrunched up next to the car.
“I don’t know. She didn’t say.”
“Well if she does, I want to talk to her.”
“Yeah, sure, whatever.”
“I’m going to find out what the hell is going on.”
“Maddie, don’t. You know she’d tell us if it was going to happen.” He sighed. “If they’re getting a divorce, we’ll know.”
“Like hell we will. The kids are always the last to know. You know my friend Tanya? When her parents got divorced she didn’t know until her dad packed his car with his stuff and drove away. Now she only sees him like once a month.”
“Can we just chill and enjoy this ride, please?”
“Fine.” She crossed her arms over her chest.
There was some clinking and clanking going on underneath the ride platform as the ride conductor pushed the little buttons on the console. Maddie flinched when the little metal car lurched into action.
“Hold my hand.”
Justin smirked. “No way.”
“Please.” She grabbed Justin’s arm as the ride started to kick into gear.
He clutched her hand in his and held it tight. And Maddie relaxed a little. Because she knew that despite all their differences and their little squabbles, her brother would never let anything bad happen to her. They were siblings but more importantly, they were twins and they shared a special bond that transcended anything ordinary.
icole’s hand was in his lap. The ride was in full swing now, speeding along backwards, cresting rises and dipping down, and Nicole was rubbing his crotch. Maybe he was odd for a guy, but Darien really didn’t want her rubbing up on him all the time. It was actually getting lame. The novelty of it, the fact that he had a good looking girl that liked sex and wanted it all the time, was wearing thin.
Sure Nicole was pretty and built real well and her family knew his, but after that there wasn’t really anything interesting about her. Beyond everyday school stuff, they didn’t talk about much. And lately he’d been finding excuses not to be with her. But now that it was summer and he didn’t have homework to do and exams to study for, it was harder to find reasons to stay away from her. Maybe he’d ask for more hours at the hardware store.