The lanes lay sprawled in front of me coiled and curling, with the rusty; garish artifices of forced whimsy taking on an eerie phantasmal quality. This probably wasn't the place I went to sleep in last night.
No, no it wasn't. One minute I was sleeping in a box on the curb, the next I woke up in this... place. Like a rusty amusement park, where colorful structures that seemed to once have been intended to look whimsical and endearing, but had fallen into decay, rust and fiberglass flaking everywhere. It was incredibly elaborate too, almost as if some, with the detailed decorations, and the little; unnecessary details they added to the decor, or the "nice" (well, I assume they were once nice) additions to the faculties.
But everything was still running. The lights were on; flickering though they may be, the water was on; even though it was dripping from the rusty pipes that ran like snakes along the road, and everything was stocked and running; despite there being no staff.
There was another thing that was off too, or at least one thing that was most obvious amongst many: the skeletons. Lining the roads of the garish park, were human skeletons, slumped over in various states of disrepair. The bones looked weathered and splintered, some of them were covered in grafitti or had, and all of them were held together by what looked like some combination of bubble gum, aged sugar residue, and general filth. Their heads were all positioned staring out into the alleyway.
They certainly didn't make it any easier or less creepy for me to walk around here, around these gaudy corridors. I'd been trying for hours to find an exit, but there's always more of the park to look around. I tried to make my own map with a promotional pen and a burger wrapper, but it didn't make any sense, the same paths kept leading to different parts and eventually I just gave the fuck up.
Currently I was walking down the alley where they held the games, the lights god-awfully bright when they weren't flickering dimly, leering faces from cartoons that've been off the air around 30-40 years spray-painted on their panelled sides in minute yet ludicrously off-model detail, the twitching meat near them making god-awful splorching sounds.
These were not normal carnival games, by the way. The one I mentioned before was called "ShoOt a MEEt?" sponsored by some burger place whose name was written in these weird foreign letters, with cartoonishly oversized tommy-guns to shoot these quivering pieces of god-knows-what hanging off meathooks. There was another one that said "cRankk LevAr", with several rows of these pink mannequins with televisions in their chests and and a specially mounted lever right on the crotch. There was another called "FOOD" with what looked like a sessile garbage disposal made of meat behind several criss-crossed lengths of barbed wire, and with a bowl of eyeballs the size of softballs (presumably to throw at it).
And then there was that one that just said "DO IT" with that thing that looked like a cross between a car, a dead squid and a...
Well I'm getting sidetracked. I could keep going on with this all day, the weird shit in the game lane, but I have a lot more ground to cover. Let's just end this digression by mentioning the prizes were just as deranged as the games, usually weird; fleshy mushrooms, metal scrap that looked vaguely like machine parts, and cheap; knock-off game consoles filled with hot wax.
Oh yeah, there were also cheap; foam-filled plushes of the park's mascot, or at least who I presume was the park's mascot. You could always see pictures of him in some form or another, whether it be on signs, on trash cans, on TV screens, on he was always there, master of the park.
But, as I grabbed one from the latest game I was walking past to look at its tag, no sane amusement park would have this bastard as their mascot. That calm, pleasant, almost fatherly smile he had just made him more unnerving.
It looked like a cartoonish anthropomorphised sheep in a suit. An anthropomorphized sheep with three eyes and a slit throat, gibbets of neckmeat hanging down like some demented parody of a tie. Like I said, no sane fucking amusement park would have this thing as their mascot.
I looked at the tag. My hope was maybe I could look where the hell this thing was from, to get an idea who the fuck ran this terrorshow. I looked on the tag where the copyright information should've been. All it said "Made In Zone Mechahedonia, Noisy Tenant Copyripe 200lemon." God dammit.
I put the doll back in the booth of the game, which seemed to involve using hooks to try and skewer what looked like chunks of meat off of a grid of electrically heated spikes, and kept walking. The way the stupid thing wound, combined with the garish; nauseatingly bright colors on the booths and the speakers with mister creepy sheep-mascot on them, made me feel a little ill, not helped by the sight of the grimy food trailer with someone moving inside and a god awful stink...
Wait, what was that? I looked to the side. In the window of a nearby stand shaped like a half-eaten fried drumstick, there I indeed saw the vague silhouette of a person moving around. I put down the stupid doll and rushed off to the stupid thing. Asymmetrical, rusty and smelling of rot it may have been, but holy crap this was the first time in ages I'd seen actual honest-to-god people here, and I was NOT going to waste the opportunity.
I ran up and rang the bell. A moment later, I regretted that decision.
The woman who came up to the window was incredibly fat but, far more disturbingly, seemed to have a deep-fat fryer in the place of her head, sunken deep into her fleshy folds and filled with sizzling grease. A bit of burbling came from the fryer, and she picked up the frying cage very slowly. Inside the cage I could make out what looked like the head of a cartoon pig, deep-fat fried from the overly-happy smile to the gender-identifying eyelashes.
"You early!" she said, a god-awful stink of rancid grease coming from her maw as she spoke.
"You come for show, yes?"
"What show, ma'am?" I responded, trying to humour the abomination at the window apparently trying to chat me up.
"You all am who come early for show, no ride am all for show." She laughed a wheezing burbling laugh. Apparently this was her version of a joke. "So, you want Crawchy Nidlets or Frosh Legg?"
"C-craw-chy-Nid-lets?" I said hesitatingly, trying to play along and pick the less disgusting-sounding of the two.
She gave me what apparently was Crawchy Nidlets and something called "POrk Sod@". Given that the former was twitching and covered in slime and the latter smelled like rotten meat and grease as I opened the can, I threw it away after she left as I walked off.
"Thank you, and have an bettered life!" she said, as she tottered off to a kitchen that, from what I could see of it, would cause a health inspector to go into seisures. Oh well, best try to get out of this janky-ass park. This janky-ass, monstrosity filled survival-horror park.
But, as I was walking, I heard something. It was what sounded like a cheap version of "The Merry Go-Round Broke Down", played on an off-key sythesizer and just barely altered to avoid lawsuits. I looked up to see where it was coming from. It was from the faces of that sheep-thing, the ones with the loudspeaker in it dotting the park. The stare from them was STILL fucking creepy no matter how many times I saw it.
After the music finished, a voice came on. It was soft, soothing, and almost a little like Mr. Rogers, albeit in an androgynous sort of way. Given the surroundings, it was more disturbing than comforting. "Hide-there-ho-there boys and girls, it's Marty, telling you that the park is now preparing to open. Today's a very special day for us, as today's the day we hold the fireworks show-show! But then again, every day's a special day, because every day we hold the fireworks show-show. Remember Parkateers, give your regards to Mr. Kite, or he'll have to do the bad-bad thing to you." Then the music stopped
Marty. Marty the Slaughtered Lamb. Ha ha ha. But, as I groaned at the stupid pun, something else was happening.
The skeletons. They were getting up, all of them. They were getting up and walking, the more damaged ones being slower to move than others, scattering in all sorts of directions, some getting into booths near me. As they walked, I noticed something. All those skeletons, height-wise, were around the size of children...
I kept moving just to keep up and avoid notice. After a while moving with the crowd, I heard the ear-splitting sound of ringing bells, and I looked up. The clock tower had struck 9 AM.
Well, it wasn't quite a clock tower. Because, when I was talking about the place earlier, I forgot to mention something. At the center of the park (no matter where you moved it was always at the center) was a huge inflatable, humanoid donkey in overalls. Well, it looked sort of like a donkey. It had the large barrel chest and thin, lanky limbs of one, but there were too many arms on it, flapping and wobbling in a nonexistent breeze. And its head with those large flapping ears and that far-too-wide mouth full of blunt, glistening teeth, and that clock lodged in its left sagging eye, looked like something out of one of my childhood nightmares. Even with that clock, I could feel the damn thing staring at me as I walked. Fuck this place.
But then, as I thought of how much I hated that stupid fucking donkey-thing, I saw it. The end of the corridor. "Finally, now maybe I can get somewhere!" I thought, quickening my stride within the large crowd of skeletons. And then I saw what was at the end of the corridor.
A ferris wheel, painted bright pink, with meathooks hanging on the bars instead of cars. Hanging on the end of the meathooks were horses, or at least, horselike things, with heavy, constantly moving mechanical parts studded and threaded into their bleeding; twitching bodies. The mechanical parts were also painted bright pink.
That stupid jingle started playing from another one of those speakers, and that unnervingly smooth voice piped in and said, "Due to budget cutbacks, we have had to consolidate the Merry-Go-Round and the Ferris Wheel into one. I hope this is not too inconvenient for all my favorite little Amuse-mens!"
Anyway, I continued on this path, which seemed to transition slowly from games to rides, and holy shit who the fuck designed these rides? The Gravitron, that spinny thingy that pushes you in the walls, usually called like "Starship 2000" or whatever? Well, this one was covered in glass, so you could see through it.
Just to see what happened, I tossed a spare "POrk Sod@" can I found lying around inside. Turns out it sucks things inward, into this sucking... thing. Something like a bad angle to nowhere. When the thing finished and spit it out, it was filled with something twitching and dusty. I did not go in there.
And all of them were like this. The requisite Splash Mountain ripoff? Filled with horrifying scenes of anthropmorphic trees being sawn limb from limb, heading towards a pit of sawblades at the final drop. The Tilt-A-Whirl? Well, I walked away pretty damned quick from it when some of the seats, which looked like flowers and designed to open and close as the ride spun, started spitting out big gobs of what I think was egg white. I started running when I saw those big bird... fetus... things flopping out.
I didn't even fucking TRY the main roller coaster. The fact that it was titled "This Ride Will Straight Up Murder You With Sharp Things" and that the end was made up of an ever-growing pile of carts impaled on huge spikes painted bright, primary colours should tell you why.
I remember one thing in particular that happened when I was looking about. The Bumper Cars. Yeah, I know, going into the bumper cars in an evil amusement park, terrible idea, blah blah blah. But, I saw one of the skeleton workers, one with paper stuffed in his eyes and ribcage, trapped in there, foot caught in some giant cover that had slammed shut. The damned things hadn't done anything to hurt me. They'd just kept running the rides and games, getting injured by said rides and games, and generally minding their own business. They were kind of pitiable in a way, limping along the way, almost as if they were in pain.
So I went in, hopped the fence, and tried to push the aperture open. It barely budged, but I managed. The little thing yanked its foot out of the thing, losing a small phalange in the process but otherwise no worse for wear. It nodded at me, and then ran out, jumping over the fence. Then all the spotlights turned on.
Another one of those god-forsaken lamb's speakers started up, playing that jingle yet again. "This is Marty here," it said in that same unpleasantly-calm voice, "reminding parkgoers that breaking THE RULES is forbidden, especially in the case of the Skeleton Crew, and rulebreaking is to be punished by bloodshed most immediate and swift. Thank you for listening fellow guest-guests, and don't forget about the big fireworks show-show tonight!" Then the voice turned off.
I felt an immediate movement in the cover of the pit, twitching back almost immediately as it opened. Almost too late to avoid falling into what I could see what was an active lava pit. And almost too late to notice that door opening in the back.
I looked there, and heard an electric crackle, and the sound of the snapping and gnashing of teeth. I started backing away.
And, almost as if in response to this, the door flew open with a whir and a snap. Imagine an Ed Roth pinup, a beautiful female form in a bumper car, but with two long, gangly, gnarled arms on a steering wheel, and bulging, veined eyes, and you'll have an idea of what was behind that door. Only, she didn't have a mouth. Or rather, she didn't have one on her face.
I looked down to the body of the car. There, was a huge, toothsome mouth, with a great lolling tongue, and a great revving howl coming out of it.
The run through that place seemed minutes longer than my slow walk to the centre of the field, almost stretching before me as the Bumper-Bitch came, plowing through the seemingly endless cars, tongue flapping like a banner, more and more pits moving open under my feet as I desperately dashed against the howling, drooling thing. But I somehow managed, running to the fence and making a flying leap. As I ran off, I swore I could see her shaking her fist at me.
You might think that this was the worst of them, the rides I mean. And I can see why. But, that's because you haven't seen the House of Horrors. It was that fucking House of Horrors that gave me pause. Like, really, gave me pause. Even more than that horrible clock, which still stared at me with that disquieting gaze through this whole ordeal.
I walked in along the side-track as the door opened. Because, there was no way I was getting in one of those carts, god knows where those carts were going to go in the end. As I walked in, there was no narration, no spooky noises, none of the stuff that these things usually do. All I heard was noise, white noise, down a blank black hallway, with a sign and a black curtain at the end. The sign said simply "YOU POTENTIAL FUTURENOW". As I walked through the curtain, nothing could prepare me for what I saw in there.
It was an office. An ordinary, dull, middle-of the road white-collar office with cart tracks in the central aisle. There were even animatronics, rubber puppet office workers that kept on doing whatever inane task their likely batshit insane programmers had programmed them for. They were wedged in the ass-end of the uncanny valley, their actions almost a parody of what a child thought office life was like, like "feeding" a PC Tower Coffee, or placing staple after staple into a stack of blank paper. And, weirdly enough, there were quite a few of them in areas that I swear I couldn't have possibly seen them in full if I was stupid enough to be riding the cart.
There was a sign at the end of the track, with another black curtain. The sign said "YOU GOOD FUTURENOW". It made me wonder, what would the psychopaths behind this park call their "good" future. Stupid fucking curiosity.
So, I stepped through. Holy fuck, it was like a nightmarescape, like one of those fucked up Italian cannibal films had been made on the set of Office Space. It was the same scene as before, but turned into a massacre. The office worker dummies were mutilated, mangled to show their made-to-look-real guts in any way possible. Impaled on chairs, scissors stuffed into eyes and ears, stomachs filled with staples to bursting, heads wedged in computer monitors, I could go on, but I'm making myself sick already. But that wasn't the worst part.
It was the children. Several lines of animatronic children were walking towards the end of the ride over the broken and collapsed cubicles, their puppets looking far better than the other ones. And that stupid fucking sheep was there, in animatronic form, looking with three gentle eyes and a throat leaking bloody giblets, saying "Good boys, good girls, good boys, good girls" over and over on that horribly gentle voice as he gestured towards the hole at the end of the ride. The hole that led into what looked like would happen if you hired Dr. Seuss to design an industrial meat grinder. The hole filled with grinding, whirring, chopping blades. And that same stupid fucking jingle was playing through all of this. I couldn't get out of there fast enough.
As I ran, some of the things I'd seen in the park came flooding back to me, as their implications became more and more awful. Like how the rides tended to operate on this strange pace, running as if people were getting on and off despite nobody being there. Like how I'd sometimes hear voices from what sounded like far away. Voices of children. And how I saw tiny footprints in the dirt sometimes, whenever there was dirt there.
All of these were what I was thinking about when I got out of the house. The clock-thing staring down at me was more terrible than ever, like the eyes of a blind; idiotic-yet-malevolent god. Almost disturbing enough to make me not notice that I did not get out in the same part of the park that I went in, even though I left through the same door. Such as it was.
I looked around some more. The rides were still continuing with their calvacade of crazy and horrible, more of the same that I won't annoy you with. I did see a "House of the Future", which I went into. It looked like a pool of tang, with great, white plastic crosses impaled in a pattern around it, with two dolls (one strangling the other) in an island on the center. By now I expected that.
There was also another restaurant, something shaped like a giant hamburger, with the logo being a winking hamburger with googly eyes in a chef's hat with some crazy foreign gibberish I couldn't read, like that one game I visited earlier back. But it was thoroughly vandalized, covered in holes seemingly bashed in with a sledgehammer and covered in thick gobs of what looked like sticky, gross chicken breading. On the side there was grafitti in the shape of a half-eaten drumstick, with more incomprehensible gibberish next to it. Seems like Frier Yuck didn't like herself some competition.
What happened next, I remember with crystal clarity. I heard the sounds of a bullwhip cracking and a "YAR, YAHAR!" going on, and more dialogue that I couldn't make out in what sounded like a very thick Cockney accent. I ran off to take a look.
It took me surprisingly little time to get there, even with making sure none of them saw me. Yes, them. There was a crowd of those skeletons there, circled around one of their brethren, staring in silent judegment. I looked a bit closer. It was that one I had saved, I could tell from the missing phalange. And above them all, on a seat made up of more skeletons, an entirely different monstrosity was barking orders at them.
It looked like a man-sized Jenny Hanniver, but with glass eyes placed into its "sockets" and dried monkey's paws sown onto its "limbs". Its mouth was filled with old wooden teeth and it wore a ratty old stovepipe hat on its head. It brandished a whip, which looked as if it was made of playing cards and barbed wire. It cut a gash into the solid bone as it whipped past, one of many it had inflicted on the poor creature from what I could tell.
"OI YEH BLOIZARRD FADDOW! YE DON' NACKLE DA RULES LOIKE DAT!" it said in a thick, almost cartoonish Cockney accent. "YE KNOWS THE BIG BROIVAH DUN' LOIKE IT WHEN YE BROIKE'S DA SNIMBLES AND SCOPPS!"
Call me insane, but I don't think that that was real Cockney slang.
It continue, "YE KNOW WHAT WE DOES TO SCOFFLAWS AND PIZZLEWUMPS!" It made a gesture, and another skeleton came in from the side with a large bucket of something bright and pink, almost like cotton candy. " 'ENDERSONS, DO DA BAD-BAD THING TO THIS FALLYDAW!" And I watched with horror as, at the command of what I assumed to be the previously-mentioned Mr. Kite, they poured the "cotton candy" on him. It ran almost like liquid cotton, suffocating and engulfing it even as it strangled and tangled it. Two more skeletons picked him up and carried him, and I followed close and quietly behind.
I don't know how long it took for them to carry him, but I know I was out of breath when they got to their destination: The Tunnel of Love. The Tunnel of Love which currently happened to be on fire as they threw him in one of the heart-shaped boats. I ran after the poor thing, as the waters of the tunnel ran and ran and ran into a space far longer than should have fit in there, and that was still wreathed in shadowy gloom even as the fires raged on.
And as I ran, I noticed a few things. The fires never spread beyond where they were, even though they kept burning brightly. They just stayed there, as if another force liked them the way they were and were holding them there with sheer stubbornness. And the dummies, seemed mostly content to stay melted at a consistent point, wax flowing down but always coming back. They appeared to made mostly of wax and to have once have been of lovers in nauseatingly corny Norman Rockwell-esque scenarios, like having a malt together at the local drugstore; going ice-skating together; asking each other's hand in marriage, and so-on. But melted, they looked bizarre, almost carnal, as if both of the subjects in each scenario were joining together in some grotesque molten coitus of burbling flesh. And I could swear I saw something moving in the shadows.
Maybe if I'd spent less attention on noticing those things and more on running towards that boat I could have saved him. I doubt it though.
I caught up to him at the end, a whirlpool near what seemed to have once been a depiction of a large prom slow dance, but now looked like an orgy of degenerate monstrosities, and reached out my hand. He was still flailing, but I swear for a moment that he reached out his hand back to me before what happened next.
That thing stalking in the shadows stalked out, like a grotesque hybrid of man and cat made out of pure; sucking darkness, flames licking across its body like tiger's stripes, and it looked at us with its bright; white-hot eyes. And suddenly, without warning, the skeleton burst into flames. It was a manner of seconds before he turned to ash. It was around a minute before his boat fell into the large hole at the centre of the whirlpool. I craned my head over, short of breath, shocked at what had just gone on. I wanted to see where this ash was going. I vomited a little when I finally saw.
It was a garden, filled with beautiful flowers, in the shape of a heart, and at the center of it was a woman, silent and still. No, not a woman, I thought as the ashes poured over her like poisoned snow. She was like a bizarre hybrid of woman and carnival, tracks like a roller coaster threading in and out of her porcelain-white skin, pods like a tilt-a-whirl hanging off like polyps. And, in the place of a head, was a miniature ferris wheel, with two unblinking eyes threaded through it and attached to a still wet neck.
There was a sign on the side, embossed in brass. It said, “In Memorial of Youth”.
I looked up. The cat-man-shadow-thing was looking at me. It was pointing at me. It was laughing at me, a halting, wheezy laugh. "Hee. Heee. Hee." I ran out of there as fast as my busted legs could carry me, panicking, thinking, "Please, anybody, somebody, let me find a way out." Imagine my surprise when I found exactly that.
In front of me was the gate, made of crude iron painted bright pretty pastels. It said, "FuNnlanD! PleaSe enduRe ur staay!" And when I did see it my heart leapt with joy. Even that stupid clock, that ugly clock, that horrible, monster clock couldn't bring me down. But what I saw when I looked through the gate sure could.
It was a parking lot. An endless parking lot, plunging off towards what I could see was an endless drop from inside. It was only occupied by animal-drawn coaches, nobody I could flag for help. Just black, old-fashioned coaches, with cloth dummies wrapped in fleshy cloaks (or perhaps fleshy cloaks wrapped in cloth dummies) as the drivers, and horses made of steel, thin assemblies' jointed poles with a normal horse's skull on the end. I banged on the bars once, twice, three times, saying "No. No. No no no nonononononono" faster and faster as if my denial could change the course of fate.
And then, that's when I saw through it. Or, could see through it anyway. I saw a normal park for a moment, with mascots that weren't abominations and rides that weren't murderous or gornographic, where the games weren't disgusting or insane, something I could have had fond memories of as a kid. Something I may have had fond memories of as a kid, and maybe others did too. Because the place I saw had visitors. Many, many visitors.
But then I saw the sheep. The three-eyed slit-throated cartoon sheep staring at me. And just, very calmly, very cooly, smiling at me. And it all snapped back. But I could still see the footprints on the ground, and still see them being made as they walked.
I think I saw his lure that occasion, that ruse where he got what he wanted from our world. How could I have been so blind, how could I not have known, that the only reason, the only fucking reason I saw this place as it was was because I entered through the wrong way? That would explain what I saw on a stage in front of me, and I heard the bells on that horrible monster clock ring.
There, in front of a stage, was a bubble of that lie, and as the speakers said "Time for the fireworks show-show!" in that horrible, calm voice, I saw it fill up. With children. I looked on at that bubble, surrounded by the skeletal workers, no the skeletal victims, as the lamb spoke to them in mumbled tones and preposterous gestures. I didn't dare come forward. How could I? There was no way I could save them from the whimsical; awful machine, crawling and scampering like brainwashed lambs to the slaughter.
I saw the rockets fire as the machine whirred, spitting out white, freshly polished skeletons as the children kept scampering in. They climbed into the sky and burst, in a shower of what looked like raw hamburger. And that stupid fucking jingle was playing the whole time. Ha ha.
When one of them fired, I felt something flake down on me. Something that wasn't meat. I looked at it. It was deep, dark purple, the size of my palm. I looked up. There was a blank spot on the sky. The paint that looked so real, chipped off, to reveal the endless canopy of plaster that lay above me.
And after the last child had climbed in, after the last one of them had been "processed", the lamb stepped off the stage. He looked like a cartoon character given real form, bulbous eyes and stylized curves translated into soft fleece and pudgy flesh in a way that would have been endearing had it been any circumstance but this. The gory gibbets gleamed with red as he spoke.
He simply said to me, in that soft; gentle voice, still smiling that controlling smile, "You've been a very, very naughty girl," and then he pointed up with a four-fingered hand.
There. That clock tower, began to look down on me. I could see it licking its pliable, inflatable lips. I could see it chomping its hard, enamel teeth.
Written by Tbok1992