Her legs swung back and forth as she quietly read the large book that sat on her lap. She sighed softly as she turned another page, encyclopedias weren't particularly interesting, but it was the only thing at the orphanage she hadn't already read. With a headache starting to pound away at her skull, she closed the book hard enough for dust particles to fly out from the old, unused pages. She groaned and flopped down onto her back.
Sitting up again, she pushed herself up and off her creaky mattress. The girl looked longingly out the window, towards a park filled with happy families. Something she never had. She’d be allowed to leave the orphanage within a few months; to start life in the big world on her own. She was nervous, but it wouldn’t be too hard for her. The young girl could bat her large blue eyes at anyone and they’d succumb to her will. Prying her gaze away from the playground, she glanced down at the front gate; a black car was parked out front. That means...
"Christina!" She smiled at the small voices that called her down stairs, Joseph Brooks was here, a rich man who used to be a resident at the very orphanage the young blonde currently called home. He visited often, to bring gifts and stories because he knew how it felt to never be wanted. She rushed down the stairs to greet him. She jumped down the last few steps and slowed her pace as she made her way closer to the entrance. Joseph was already surrounded by a horde of the younger kids, laughing as he handed the lot of them a few new toys and puzzles.
"Hello, Mr. Joseph," she said, catching his attention. He smiled lightly, gently shooing the children out of the entryway.
"You've cut your hair again," he noted, motioning to her new chin length hair cut. Christina nodded, lifting her hand to play with ends. Joseph smiled, "Anyway, I've got a special present for you this time. I've already gotten permission as well, I'm going to take you to the carnival!"
The blonde's smile grew, excitement filling her body. "Really!?" She giggled, thanking him.
"Mhm. Let's go!" he exclaimed as he held open the door for her. She skipped down the steps towards the front gate, Joseph following close behind and chuckling at the teen’s behavior. Oh, she was so oblivious. Like the gentleman he was, he opens the car door for her and shuts it behind her and slips into his seat behind the wheel.
Christina wiggled around in her seat watching the scenery pass by them and unbeknownst to her, the man beside her smirked widely. The young girl hummed softly as she watched the streets pass by. Almost there... There it is! She saw the big tents and rides of the carnival on the next street, but to her confusion they didn't stop. Her brows furrowed as she turned to the man beside her.
"The carnival was back there, we passed it. Where are we going?"
He smirked and looked at her in such a way that she felt as if she was with a complete stranger. He laughed, "Oh, we're not going to that carnival. We'll be at... my carnival."
She mouthed an 'o' before turning her back to him and looking out the window. The trip dragged on, Christina noticing that the houses were starting to spread out, the distances in between them getting larger and larger before they seemed to completely disappear altogether. When they turned down almost invisible forest road, she began to feel uneasy and she shook unconsciously, the air becoming cold. A ripped up, old, dirty carnival tent became more and more apparent the longer they drove on the dirt road.
Joseph was greeted as soon as he opened the door and he chatted a little with the woman before him. Occasionally, they'd glance over at the girl in the front seat, though she’d pretend not to notice. She sat quietly, waiting to be told to do something. The woman he was talking to walked over to Christina's side and opened the door for her as Joseph walked into the tent. The woman gently pried Christina out of the car, leading her to the tent with a soft, "Come on sweetie, you'll be alright."
Christina entered the back of the tent; cages and clothes covered every inch of the ground. But, the cages didn't hold animals. The blonde gasped, as her eyes met with those of children who were grotesquely mutilated. Her gaze was broken as she was surrounded by a bunch of women who began to undress her and then redress her, into a dark bodysuit and a tutu-like skirt. After finishing up, they (not so gently) pushed her into one of the open cages.
"Wait! No! What are you doing?" she asked frantically, tears welling up in her eyes as she pushed against the bars holding her captive. Her breathing was ragged as she backed herself into a corner wrapped her arms around herself. She could feel them. The eyes. The darkened hopeless eyes of children around her and the low grumbling sounds they made. It was as if they weren’t capable of human speech. She rocked back and forth, listening as others were taken from their cages, some of them came back and others didn't. She only looked up when she heard the door of her cage open, and one of the women from before pulled her out and gripped her shoulders harshly. Christina was dragged out into a small ring.
The light blinded her and she flinched when a familiar figured stood beside her. The once kind voice of Joseph was almost mocking as he, The Ringleader, announced the next act. Christina Wythers, the Contortionist. "But, Mr. Joseph I'm no-"
She was cut off as her grabbed her pushed her towards a small box in the middle of the ring. People cheered, but she couldn't see them, the glare of the lights was too much. She walked closer until she could peer down into the box. She contemplated attempting to fit in, but shook her head and stepped back, it didn’t even have air holes! Hitting her back against The Ringleader, she looked up at him, gently she spoke "I-I can't fit."
A wicked smile stretched across his face as he turned to address the audience. "You hear that? She can't!" He laughed before continuing. "Well then, I'll have to make you fit!" He threw his hands out and the crowd cheered, laughing and encouraging him. He pulled something from his coat and showed the crowd, they cheered louder. When he turned around, Christina let out a shriek; in his hand was a butcher’s knife. The girl tried to run but two men grabbed her from behind, immobilizing her.
Her face was pushed down into the dirt, a foot pressing on her back. Her breathing picked up and she struggled even more, she wasn't going to let this happen. Tears fell into the ground below her as a strong hand gripped her foot and pinned it down. She tensed up, anticipating what would come next. A strong swift blow to her ankle caused Christina to let out a long bone chilling scream. She sobbed and breathing was becoming hard for her as she flailed around aimlessly. She heard a soft thump as Joseph stepped In front of her and swiftly returned to where she couldn't see him. What she saw made her sick, inside the clear box, was her very own foot.
She screamed again, sobbing before she couldn't take it and threw up. She watched as slowly, pieces of her limbs were dropped into the bloodstained box, the crowed cheering. Blood pooled around her. Red filled her vision. Why couldn't she just die? She didn't want to feel any more pain.
"Please," she choked out, hopelessly. Her wish was soon granted as her old friend placed his hand on her head pushing in onto the ground before cold metal covered with sticky, crimson blood made contact with the sensitive skin of her neck and cut her off from the world.
"Goddammit, Mathew. Stop being such a pussy."
"Geez, Annie calm down. Ow!"
"Oh! I'm so sorry Gracie. I can't see anything down here."
"Way to go Lukas."
"Shut up Mathew!"
Four teenagers shuffled around in the darkness, until one of them pulled out her phone and turned the flash light on. She purposely flashed the beam of light into the other three's eyes, snickering as they complained. Turning back around she lit up their surroundings, a dark chamber hidden underneath a supply shed. Juggling clubs, unicycles and cages were littered over the ground, but there almost was almost no dust at all.
"You'd think he would've sold this stuff and made a profit," a tall, ashen blonde boy said as he stepped forward to stand beside the girl holding the flashlight.
"Who would he sell it to? No one would take this shit, Lukas.” She snickered. “He’s insane. I’ve heard he bought this stuff because he used to be crazy rich and all alone. Most of it’s probably never even been used. Boooring!”
“Why’d you even come then?” he shot back, eyes icy.
“To make sure you retards don’t shit yourselves!”
"Annie, don't be so mean. It’s not that boring, they say he put all this down here to hide something." A soft girly voice scolded her; the owner of said voice stepped into the light revealing a petite girl. She smiled softly at them as she moved deeper into the room, a short, thin black haired boy in her wake. Annie frowned, following after them while dragging Lukas with her. Silence filled the air as they searched the underground room. The raven-haired boy trailed after Gracie like a lost puppy. She let out a squeal of excitement (startling everyone else) as she spotted something in the corner of the room.
"Oh look Mathew! It's a box that contortionists use!" she said as she addressed the boy following her. "I think I’d be able to fit, see?"
The three other teenagers cringed as they watched her bend her body in ways that were unnatural. When Gracie had finished, she was wrapped up into a little ball about the same size as the box. She unraveled herself soon after, jumping to her feet. "I wanna try!" she announced.
"I think there are clothes in the box though," Mathew said, glancing at the box nervously. "Are you sure it isn't a box just for costumes or something? I don’t want you to get hurt." Gracie looked at it before shrugging and striding towards it. She opened the lid and reached down to grab the tutu that was stuffed in the box, but as she did a stench of decomposition hit her hard.
Panicking, she tripped over her own feet and landed on her backside, gagging. Worried the three others rushed forward to help her, but she didn't even spare them a glance as she stared straight at the box. Her terror filled face paled as she watched the box. The other three whipped their heads around to see a hand, haphazardly stitched onto a pale forearm, snake its way out of the clear box and touch the ground delicately.
A chorus of screams ripped through the thick air, Annie dropped her phone and it landed at a weird angle, lighting up the box in front of them eerily. The four teens froze in place, a figure began to slowly rise from the box. The limbs hanging at awkward angles, and its spine was completely bent over in the opposite direction, the head level with the calves. The legs were standing somewhat upright but they curved outwards, as if the bones weren’t solid. This monster stepped out of the box slowly, shakily, one high-heeled foot at a time.
With swift jerky movements the legs, bone-by-bone snapped back into place and the spinal cord followed suit. Snap. Snap. Snap. The upper body jerked forward, a long series of cracks resonated in the air. The body of a young female slumped, arms hanging loosely at its sides. Stitches littered her pale skin and her once new costume was ripped and blood soaked. Wriggling her fingers they clicked into place and she straightened her back, blue eyes flashing at the teenagers in front of her as she revealed an insane, blood soaked smile.
Terrified, the small group tried to flee. Unfortunately, it pulled Gracie back and the girl’s head was smashed into the bottom of the clear box. She screamed and sobbed as her arms soon were stuffed into the box as well. The rest of her body, after having lots of bones give way under the force the creature was applying, fit into the box with ease. Still smiling she reached for the lid of the box, ignoring the screams and yelling of the other teenagers, until a strong hand grabbed her arm, startling her. The monster’s smile faltered, she ripped her arm away from the blonde boy who held onto her and quickly slammed the box shut, locking it with a brittle key that snapped in the lock.
The box was hit furiously from the inside, muffled screaming seeped through the airtight box and the plastic began to fog up. All attention was averted to the box. Bang. Bang. Bang. The movement became more and more frantic before it stopped all together. Annie was on her knees in front of the box calling to her trapped friend, cellphone flashlight in hand and not getting a response. Tears poured down her face and she let out a grief filled scream.
“Annie, Mathew, we need to go. Now,” Lukas said urgently, grabbing the girl’s arm. Annie ripped and pulled at Lukas’ grip before falling limp, realizing her struggle was futile. Matthew nodded in acknowledgement, following close behind the stumbling girl attached to Lukas, looking around frantically. The stitched up girl had disappeared while they watched their friend die.
“Matt, you first,” the taller boy commanded, slowing down so the black haired boy could pass. Matthew reached out to grab the rope ladder that brought them down to the old man’s shed cellar, but felt instead his hand hit something hard and cold. Reeling back he tripped over himself. The blonde monster giggled and jumped forward with both feet, as if she were jumping into a puddle, but instead of hearing the splash of water there was a cracking sound. The creature landed full force on Matthew’s ankles, successfully snapping them. He cried out in pain and dragged himself backwards to Annie and Lukas’ feet. Now even the most collected of the remaining three lost it; Lukas looked terrified, his eyes glazing over as he visibly froze on the spot.
The monster dropped the rope ladder she had cut off and spoke for the first time, her voice chilling as she tilted her head slightly; a butcher’s knife gleaming in her hand.
“You can’t leave yet. It’s show time! And you’re up next!”