The group of four friends sit around a table inside the tent meant to look like a diner from the ‘50s finishing up their milkshakes and french fries. Outside they can hear the tinny music of the carnival mixed with the screams of delight as people ride various attractions, and carnival workers barking out to attract people. Tessa pushes her black and pink hair out of her eyes “So, what are we gonna do next?”
With his arm still around Tessa’s shoulders, Eric manages a half shrug, “What does everyone want to do?”
“They got one ride I hear is pretty scary. They call it the House of Horrors. How bad could it be?” Jackson pops a french fry in his mouth grinning wildly. Jackson, the adrenaline junkie of the group.
“I dunno. I mean, I don’t do horror movies well Jax.” Anna twirls her long blonde hair around her fingers nervously.
What a contrast they make. Tessa the dark goth sporting black and pink dyed hair, multiple piercings, dark eyeliner that as she states is as dark as her soul, and yet she has a gentle heart wanting to save the animals. Eric with his movie-star good looks, light brown hair that always seems to fall just right no matter how much the wind blows, the quiet and shy one often lost in a book. Jackson their adrenaline junkie, with his unruly dark brown hair as wild as his own spirit, having not found a sport to give him the excitement he craves. And then petite Anna with her long blonde wavy hair, a contrast to the stereotypes of dumb blondes always on the honour roll list every semester, their own walking talking dictionary who attempts to hide her intelligence to anyone else.
Tessa smiles softly to Anna, “How about the Sideshow then?”
Anna nods, “That doesn’t so scary. You guys can go to the House of Horrors after without me. I don’t mind.”
With a whoop of glee, Jackson gets to his feet before helping Anna out of the booth, “To the Sideshow!”
Laughing, arm in arm, the group walks through the fairgrounds towards the edge that seems darker than the rest. The lights not quite as bright, nor the lights from the rides quite reaching this part. Off to the side, they hear the screams and laughter from the House of Horrors causing Anna to shrink into Jackson’s taller frame. A gentleman wearing a top hat, waistcoat, black cane with an ivory bat at the top, and a cape smiles to them. “Step right up! Welcome welcome! Here at the sideshow, you will see sights that will bewilder and amaze you! Creatures, you have never seen before! Humans deformed and transformed by the gods themselves!” He waves his cane to lead them down the dirt path, “Just start down this path and see what surprises we have in store for you!”
Tessa whispers to the group after walking past, “Is it me or did that guy have fangs?”
Anna blinks wide-eyed, Eric soothing her fears, “Probably caps or he had dental work done. It is fine.”
The first creature they see appears to be a human covered in scales, swimming in a large aquarium a gaudily painted sign in front of her aquarium states that it is the “Creature from the Blue Lagoon”. She swims closer to them, webbed hands touching the glass, almost as if trying to touch them through it. As Anna moves closer to investigate how this is possible, she opens her mouth wider than humanly possible showing a mouth full of razor-sharp teeth. Anna screams and runs back to the group. “This is so not real, right guys?”
“Of course. I mean history shows that often sideshows were just humans with natural birth defects. Or just really good cons. Right, Eric?” Tessa looks up at Eric.
Eric nods as Jackson leads them to the next. “Exactly. And with modern science, it is easier to trick us into thinking these things are real. Huh, The Blob. How on earth did they do this?”
In another large aquarium, not filled with water unlike the previous, is a large gelatinous cube-shaped object, that is not quite opaque, the hint of what appears to be various bones within. It slides across the wood planks placed on the bottom of its aquarium, leaving a trail of slime in its wake. “Woah. Neat special effects huh Anna?” Tessa looks to her quivering.
Anna musters a nod. The man in the tophat appears to the side of them. “Would you care to see how The Blob eats? Fear not, gentle ladies and gents! No harm will come to thee!” At a snap of his fingers, a person unseen save for his arm opens a hatch at the top of the aquarium to drop a live chicken inside. The Blob lurches towards its intended prey, its long forked tongue darting out as there is a flurry of white feathers and a final squawk from the chicken as it engulfs it into its mass whole.
Anna leans over the grass off to the side and throws up her dinner. “I’m…sorry. That is just…not…like Biology class you know?”
Tessa pulls a black handkerchief out of her leather jacket and hands it to her. “It’s ok Anna. It’s not real. Ok?”
The man in the tophat smiles another fanged smile. “Are you so sure about that madame?”
“I am. Now come on. We are almost done.” She guides the rest of them towards the next sideshow display. “Man that guy moves fast. And is creepy weird.”
Jackson seems to bounce as he walks, “Oh but this is fun!” Of course, he would find some excitement in this.
In a cage, playing with a doll sits a man, healed stitches spread across what his flesh on display for others to see, wearing torn and dirty jeans. Each part seems to not fit with the others, a jigsaw puzzle of mismatched body parts. A grey pallor tinges his skin, giving him the appearance of a corpse brought back to life. Another gaudily painted sign by his cage states he is “Frankenstein’s Monster”. He lifts his head to look at them, raising a single hand and stumbles over the syllables, “Fr..ien…ds?” Together they back up so they are not in his reach in case he reaches through the bars of the cage. His face twists into a frown of sorts, one side of his mouth turning down while the other stays straight. “No…fr…ien…ds?”
“Come on. Let’s just…go…two more we are almost done…come on” Anna tugs on them hurrying their steps, fear in her voice.
Jackson laughs at the sign of the next cage half of it encased in darkness. “Ha! The Wolfman!” He mimics a howl. A beastly growl comes from the shadows with glowing yellow eyes. A man stands hunched over as if it is too painful to stand completely upright, his skin covered in a dark brown fur in patches, at the end of his hands are wickedly long sharp claws, a tail swishes back and forth behind him in irritation at the mimicry. He reaches through the bars of the cage to try and reach Jackson who jumps back just in time. “Holy s***! Sorry, dude! Sorry!”
Anna screams as she pulls on his arm, “Don’t taunt them! Geez!”
Eric gives Jackson a gentle smack upside the back of his head, “Damn Jax really?”
Jackson laughs trying to hide his nerves, “Yeah... I mean, come on. Almost done. It was just a joke guys.”
Tessa mutters under her breath, “Jerk.” As they walk towards the last exhibit.
An empty stage stands before them. Another sign that is painted to appear as if dripping blood simply states “Dracula”. They look around to try and see what is the big deal of this part of the sideshow as it appears there is nothing there for them to see at this time. Mist crawls around their legs causing them to shiver, slowly moving up towards the stage, billowing into the shape of a man before appearing before their eyes. The man with the fanged smile. Again. The group huddles together. Anna whispers, “Just special effects. Just special effects.”
Dracula smiles widely to them not trying to hide his fangs. “Welcome friends. I do apologize for the scares you may have received. But, now,” his grin takes a sinister turn, “you may never leave.”
The lights in the area turn off all at once and they are cast into darkness. Their screams mingle with those of the people on the fairground rides. Things were getting lonely for these poor creatures. And Dr Frankenstein needs new specimens to experiment on.
Love don't come easy for a lonely soul like me
I find myself in trouble on the road to misery
I try to do the right thing but I'm easily misled
I'm drawn to the dark side, and the devil in my head