A caravan of blank, white-paneled moving trucks pulled off blacktopped State Route 53, and turned onto an abandoned dirt road. The dry dirt had permanent ruts carved in from years gone by and was overgrown with tall grass and weeds. Driving in the ruts, the trucks swayed and bounced this way and that, as tree limbs and bushes scraped its sides as they continued forward.
A large, red haired man driving the lead truck looked out through his front windshield and noticed a steep hill ahead. Taking one last draw on a cigarette, he flipped it out the open driver’s side window, then reached down and picked up a handheld communication device. Thumbing down a button on the side of the walkie-talkie, he raised the unit up to his mouth and grunted, “Check your gears, fellas…there looks to be a big hill up ahead. Over.”
He received replies: “Gotcha” “Ok” and “Roger”, as he tossed the unit on the empty seat beside him.
The lead truck came to the bottom of the hill, as the driver downshifted and pressed down on the gas pedal.
The other trucks followed suit, playing follow-the-leader.
As they started up the hill, plumes of dusty soot rose from the ground, as the manual transmissions of the trucks made screeching and crunching noises, cutting through the desolate air of their surroundings.
After a few minutes, all the trucks had made it up the hill and were now parked here and there in the open field where workers were going to be setting up a variety of haunted houses for the upcoming Halloween season.
* * *
Driving home from the hardware store, Steven noticed several flyers posted on the telephone poles around town. He normally didn’t care or pay much attention to what the signs were advertising, but his wife, Deborah, had sent him out earlier in the morning to pick up some gardening equipment and he had only found some the items he was after at the hardware place. He figured that if there was a yard or garage sale going on somewhere in town, he might be able to pick up the other items and at a discount from what new ones would cost.
He pulled his car over to the curb by one of the telephone poles where a poster had been plastered, shut off the engine and climbed out. Walking around the front of the car he zipped up his windbreaker in an attempt to keep out the chilly fall air. He came to the curb, stepped up and gazed upon the advertisement.
It didn’t take more than one look to see it wasn’t a yard or garage sale announcement.
The flyer itself was the size of a normal piece of paper, but had a black background, with orange and white lettering. Some of the letters seemed to be dripping with bright red blood.
Steven reached up, tore the sign off the poll and read it to himself.
Halloween is Coming!
What better way to spend an evening than at the Carnival of Horrors!
Six awesome houses of horror!
Get the scare of a lifetime for the measly admission of $6.00!
Where: The abandoned Steel Yard!
When: Tonight, Only!
Time: 6:00 – 11:11
Be There…If You Dare!
Even though Steven wasn’t much into haunted houses or really any scary stuff anymore, after the incident in his wife’s vegetable garden, he thought that maybe Deborah would want to go, so he folded up the piece of paper, stuck it in his back pocket, got back in his car and continued on his way home.
Finding and buying the rest of the gardening tools would have to wait until later.
* * *
Steven pulled off the main drag, turned left onto a dirt road, and slowly crept along in the ruts. His wife’s Lexus jiggled and jumped with every bump of the road. He looked over, saw Deborah grimacing and figured he would probably get chewed-out later for taking her new car instead of his beat up Pontiac. But right now he didn’t care. All that was on his mind was making it to the carnival and going through each of the haunted houses. Actually, he was more looking forward to seeing Deborah go through them, watching her scream with freight, jumping out of her skin with each maniac that jumped out at them carrying a rubber meat cleaver and knife.
Deep down he wished the actors would jump out with real instruments of death. They would then slaughter his wife and he would get payback for all that she had put him through. He would finally be able to live his retirement in peace.
Driving along, Steven noticed how dark it was in the woods they were driving through. He was glad that someone had set up torches to lead people through the dark, dirt road to where the events were taking place or he wouldn’t have been able to see where he was going. With the assistance of the flickering flames of the torches Steven spotted a steep hill up ahead.
“Oh, geez.” Steven heard Deborah mutter.
“It’ll be ok, sweetie,” he replied.
“Yeah, sure. Luxury cars aren’t meant for this kind of thing, Steven…you’re going to wreck the undercarriage.”
“It’ll be fine.”
“Easy for you to say, this isn’t your car. If something happens to it, I’ll be out of a car when it’s in the shop and won’t be able to get back and forth from the office.”
“You can always use my car,” Steven replied, shifting the car into second gear and starting up the hill.
“Oh, great. What will my clients think when I pull up in a piece of shit…did you ever think of that?”
“No, I guess I didn’t. But, hey, we are already here…we might as well enjoy ourselves.”
“Damnit, Steven,” Deborah shouted, “I don’t even know why I am here. I haven’t been to one of these things in years.”
“That’s all the more reason to go. Plus, it’s only in town for one night and it’s Halloween season; don’t you like to be scared every now and then?”
“Not at the expense of my car I don’t, no.”
Steven came to the top of the hill, drove over its peak and coasted down the other side.
There were only twenty or so cars parked outside the fence surrounding the haunted houses so they were able to find a space easily. Steven shut off the engine and pocketed the keys as he opened his door, got out and strolled around the back of the car to let his wife out.
“Thanks,” Deborah muttered, clutching her purse, as she threw her legs out and stood up from the car seat.
Steven shut the door and took Deborah by the hand as they started walking towards the front gate of the carnival.
* * *
As they approached a zombie taking money and handing out tickets in the shape of severed hands Steven was finally able to see the size of the attraction. There were indeed six houses spread out behind the chicken wire and wooden slatted fence. Each one looked to have a different name. From his vantage point, Steven couldn’t make out all the house’s names, but he did see: The Butcher Shop, Zombie House, House of a Thousand Mirrors and Circus-Circus. Steven could see the roofs of the other two houses, but couldn’t see the sign telling their names.
As a group of teenagers in front of them paid the zombie and took their tickets, Steven pulled Deborah by the hand and walked up to the ticket booth.
The zombie didn’t talk, instead pointing to a large sign above the booth. The sign gave the price of $6.00 each for admission into the attraction.
Steven pulled his tri-fold wallet from his back pocket, opened it up and handed the dead guy a twenty dollar bill. The crusty guy took the money, gave Steven his change and handed them both a hand-shaped ticket. He then motioned them to go inside and started helping the next couple in line.
After a few feet they came to a guy dressed up as a cowboy. He was wearing faded blue jeans, a tan shirt with a bolo tie, a brown leather vest and cowboy boots. He had grey and black face paint on and a noose around his neck. Obviously the guy was supposed to be one of those unfortunate souls that were hung for some crime he had committed.
Steven and Deborah handed the cowboy the tickets, he ripped off the top of its fingers and handed the stub back to them.
“Hope ya’ll have a rip roaring time tonight, folks. Before ya’ll leave, make sure to take advantage of the discount coupons on the back of dat der ticket.”
Steven nodded and smiled back at the man, while Deborah gave the guy a halfhearted smile.
They then walked through a gate and onto the grounds of the Carnival of Horrors.
* * *
After going through The Butcher Shop and Zombie House, Steven and Deborah made their way over to a snack stand, ordered two plates of nachos and cheese and diet sodas. They had to walk around for a little while to find an open picnic table, but finally spotted one and hurried over to it and sat down.
Disappointed with the first two houses, Steven sighed and bit into a nacho dripping with cheese. It tasted great. He picked up another; made sure it was also covered with a large glop of cheese and popped it into his mouth. He then took a sip of soda and glanced up at Deborah, staring at him.
“You know damn well what, Steven.”
“No I don’t or I wouldn’t have asked, Deborah.”
“This place is the pits. Those first two houses were pretty lame don’t you think? Hell, we’re just wasting our time here. I would rather spend my Friday night doing work and earning us more money.”
Again with the money, Steven said to himself.
“I mean, really,” Deborah continued, “did you really enjoy those things?”
“I don’t know…I guess they were a little lame, but we already paid to go through all of them so we might as well. Hell, who knows…the other ones might be better. We’ll never know unless we check’em out.”
“Fabulous,” Deborah muttered, taking a sip of her soda.
A few minutes later, Steven finished his nachos and cheese and threw the empty plastic container in a trashcan by the picnic table where they were sitting. Taking another sip of his soda, he reached into his back pocket and pulled out the severed hand ticket stub.
On one side of the ticket was a graphic of a cut off hand. It had been severed at the wrist and had two bones protruding out the end of it. The hand itself was the color of dead and decomposing skin, with red and blue veins. It was pretty gnarly looking. Steven took another sip of his soda, as he flipped the hand over to look at the back.
Just like the cowboy had told them there was a discount coupon for another visit to the Carnival of Horrors and fifty cents off any size drink. Steven wished he had seen it earlier before placing their order at the snack stand, but it would have only saved him a dollar, so he didn’t care all that much.
Steven was about ready to stick the ticket back in his pocket when he noticed some small print written down the middle finger of the hand. Even though the driveway to the carnival had been well lit, the grounds inside were dark, so he couldn’t make out what it said.
He told Deborah he was going to use one of the port-a-pots and excused himself. She didn’t seem to care and replied only with a grunt.
He strolled over to the snack stand where they had purchased the nachos and sodas and was able to see the writing better with the light coming from within.
“We hope you have enjoyed our six houses of horror. But, if you are ready for a real scare, come visit our 7th house. We won’t tell you where it’s at, but if you can find it, it’ll be worth your trouble,” Steven read while whispering the words to himself.
After reading the small print on the back of the severed hand, Steven stuck it in his back pocket, walked over to one of the portable restrooms, urinated and then rejoined Deborah at the picnic table. When he arrived, Deborah was just finishing the last of her soda and throwing it into the trashcan.
“All set,” Steven asked.
“I suppose. Let’s just get this over with as quick as possible. Alright?”
“Come on…don’t be like that sweetie. Who knows, the rest might be fun.”
“Whatever you say. Idiot.”
That was about all Steven needed to hear to make up his mind to find the 7th house of horror. All he had to do now was figure out a way to convince Deborah to help him search for it after they were done with the other four houses they had yet to go through.
* * *
By the time they had finished going through House of a Thousand Mirrors, Circus-Circus and the other two houses, Red-Rum and The Far East, which Steven hadn’t been able to see earlier at the front gate, it was eleven o’clock.
According to the sign that Steven had torn from the telephone pole earlier in the day, the carnival closed at 11:11, so it didn’t look like they would have time to search out and go through the 7th house.
This disappointed Steven, but he figured there was no reason to bring it up now to Deborah, as she was more than ready to hit the dusty road and get the hell out of dodge.
As they made their way back to the front gate where they had entered earlier in the night, they had to dodge this way and that from running into zombies, werewolves, vampires and assorted maniacs wielding a variety of knives, axes, chains and other weapons. There was also a hoard of people exiting the different houses and walking away from snack stands. They carried the last of the snacks the carnival was selling. Steven thought about asking Deborah if it would be ok to stop and get another soda, but decided against it. He wasn’t in the mood to have another fight with his wife. Especially since they still had to ride in the same car on the way home.
Just when he started to think about the lonely ride home in the car, a rotund man with red hair stepped in front of them. Steven had been looking at the ground and nearly ran into the guy but was able to stop in time.
The man standing before them was well over six feet tall, easily over three hundred pounds and looked to have shaggy red hair (which Steven couldn’t tell if it was naturally that way or had been died the color of blood) on top of his head. He looked to be dressed up as a farmer. He was sporting a flannel shirt, dark green overalls, work boots and a John Deer hat, which was turned slightly sideways on top of his head.
As the man started to speak, Steven could smell the stench of alcohol on the man’s breath. He couldn’t remember seeing any of the snack stands selling any beer or liquor, but wasn’t looking all that well for them, either.
Steven looked over at Deborah who had a shit-eating frown on her face and then back to the large fellow.
“Hello, folks. Did ya’ll enjoy the carnival tonight,” asked the man.
“Uh, yes. Thank you,” Steven stammered.
Deborah didn’t say anything.
“Why you folks in a hurry…there’s still plenty to see…round back.”
A round back, Steven asked himself.
“Sir, we were actually getting ready to head home. Besides, I thought the carnival closes at 11:11,” Deborah said.
“Then why wouldn’t we be in a hurry since it’s already five after now,” Deborah snapped.
The man looked over to Steven and gave a wink. Steven didn’t quite know what the man winked at him for but had a good idea. He was going to try and convince his wife to visit the 7th house and go through it.
Good luck with that.
Steven also had the strange notion while looking at the guy that the man knew he had wanted to visit the 7th house but his wife wouldn’t let him.
“Now now, miss…don’t get your panties in a bunch. There is always plenty of time to see the 7th House of Horror.”
“What in the world are you talking about, Mr…the sign out front clearly stated six houses of horror not seven and the six that are here were pretty lame if I do say so myself.”
“Got yourself a feisty one here I see, Mr…,” the large man said, looking over at Steven.
Steven just gave a shrug of his shoulders and looked back down at the ground in defeat.
“Well, I tell ya’ll what,” the man continued, “I run this here carnival and I’ll personally show you to the 7th house…free of charge of course. I can guarantee you’ll have the time of your lives.”
“Steven!” Deborah snapped. “Tell this hick to quick bothering us and let us be on our way.”
Steven looked up from the ground to the large man and then back over to his wife and said, “You know, Deborah, the guy does have a point. We might as well see what the 7th house is all about. Who knows, it might be pretty cool.”
“It’s just like you to take the suggestion of some hick that doesn’t know his ass from a hole in the ground…”
“What are you talking about,” Steven yelled, “The guy is dressed like a farmer, so I’m sure he knows the difference from a hole in the ground and his…”
“That’s not the point and you know it. It’s time for us to go, Steven. I caved in when you asked about us coming here and now we have seen what we came to see. Six houses, not seven…so, it is time to go home, now!”
“You know what,” Steven shouted again, “You go ahead and wait in the car and I’ll check out the 7th house and I’ll just meet back up with you when I’m finished.”
“Oh no, you don’t. If I let you out of my sight you’ll just get wasted on moonshine or something with this guy. I’m coming with you to keep you in line.”
“As you wish, my dear,” Steven replied, giving a quick wink to his new friend.
* * *
A few hours later, Steven was in the driver’s seat of his wife’s Lexus and on his way back home.
Driving along State Route 53, Steven recalled the events that took place inside the 7th house.
* * *
Steven and Deborah (reluctantly) had followed Billy, the fat guy, through the grounds of the carnival and out a gate at the back of the fence surrounding the attractions. By the time they exited the fence and started into the woods around the clearing they were pretty much by themselves. There were no more creatures or maniacs of any kind coming after them. It was just the three of them, walking through an overgrown path that had been carved through the tall cypress and oak trees. Steven hadn’t noticed before, but the ground was damp and the soggy leaves and sticks on the forest floor squished under his loafers.
Shortly after entering the woods, they came upon a smaller clearing than the one used to set up the six houses they had gone through earlier in the night.
As they had started walking through the small clearing, Steven wasn’t able to see 7th house. It was too dark to see much of anything, other than the silhouette of Billy a few feet ahead and the shadow of Deborah by his side. But, at least he could see something and he wasn’t walking in the woods by himself. Just the thought of being out here alone, with God only knows who or what wandering through the trees, had made gooseflesh pop up all over his cold skin. He now wished that he would have taken his windbreaker out of the car before they had entered the carnival.
But now he didn’t care much about the cold weather, as he was in his wife’s Lexus, with the heat on full blast and was quite comfortable.
Steven then thought about seeing the 7th house for the first time. If you wanted to call it a house, that is.
* * *
They had continued walking through the clearing and then Steven had finally spotted it. It was no more than fifteen or twenty feet away. He thought it had to be the 7th house, anyway, as there was no other structure in the clearing where they were standing. Not that he would have been able to see another house, being as pitch black as it was outside. Looking up, Steven couldn’t even see where the moon was, as clouds blanked the skies.
* * *
The shack itself was small and dilapidated. It was situated in between two large cypress trees and didn’t look like it had been lived in for quite a long time. There is no way they set this thing up the same time as the other houses, Steven had thought, it looks like it has been here for years.
The house couldn’t have been more than ten by ten and had old, rickety wooden walls and a rusted tin roof. The door to the shack stood open ever so slightly.
As the threesome had neared the rotted-out door, Billy turned his head towards Steven, gave a wink and then back handed Deborah across the face.
With a grunt and an explosion of breath she crumbled to the ground. Trying to suck air back into her aching body, she curled up into a ball, hugging her knees to her chest. Billy took two quick steps over to her and gave her a swift kick into the back. With the impact, Deborah’s spine straightened out and her body was sprawled across the ground. Billy then reached down, grabbed her by the hair and tugged. Some clumps of hair came away in his hand, but he didn’t much care, pulling harder.
Pulling Deborah into the 7th house.
The 7th House of Horrors.
Where only one lucky couple had a ticket for admission.
That lucky couple had been, of course, Deborah, the one being pulled by the hair into the dark house and Steven, who was standing slack jawed at what had just transpired in front of him. Sure he wanted his wife out of his hair and to quit telling him what to do all the time, but he wasn’t sure if this was what he had had in mind.
He cleared his throat.
“Ummm…Billy, is all this really necessary.”
“What are you talking about, boy…” the big man replied, pulling the limp body of Deborah through the door and into the candle lit interior of the cabin. “I thought this is what you wanted. Hell, I could see it in your eyes, Steven.”
“Yeah, sure. But…”
“But, nothin’ boy. This here is a done deal,” Billy huffed, “Now get your ass over here and help me lift your sweet lookin’ wife onto dat der table.”
“Ok,” Steven mumbled, walking through the door of the cabin, bending down and grasping Deborah by the ankles.
“Alright, boy. Now on the count of three. One, two…”
The two men lifted Deborah’s limp body up and onto a wobbly table set up by one wall of the cabin. There were chains that dangled from its four corners. Billy grabbed two of them, clasped the bracelets around Deborah’s wrists and nodded to Steven to do her ankles.
Steven locked them in place.
Steven then glanced up at Billy, nodding ‘they’re in place’ and stepped back from the table. Seeing his wife, Deborah, slapped, kicked and drug across the ground had almost been more than Steven’s stomach could handle. Now that she was lying silently on the table, in a dirty cabin, in the dark woods, Steven wasn’t sure if he could handle much else. Not that he knew exactly what ‘much else’ entailed, yet.
Billy finished pulling a tool box out from under a fold-up cot that had been set up against the far wall, set it down on the table next to Deborah’s head and looked over at Steven.
“What you thinkin’ over there, Steven?”
“What am I thinking…a lot of things, actually. For one, I am totally confused on how we ended up here. Two, what in the hell am I doing here. And three, what happens next?”
“Welllp, let me see if I can answer dat der questions for ya. One, you and your pretty but smart-mouth wife here came to my carnival and were the lucky winners of a special visit to house number seven. Heck, there was only one ticket that had special writing on the back that you read there by the snack stand…and yes, before you ask, yes, I was watching who the special person was that was handed the ticket by the zombie at the front gate. So that should answer that for ya. Two, you are here because you want to be here. I saw it in your eyes how your wife was controlling your life. You didn’t even have to tell me in words. Heck, I just knew it from watching you two go through the carnival and how she spoke to you and me, for that matter. And three, as far as what happens next, that now all depends on you, Steven.”
“On me,” Steven replied, a frown burrowing across his forehead.
“Yes, you, Steven. It all depends on what you want the rest of your life to be like. Heck, do you want to be told what to do all the time or do you want to live the life of a free man and do whatever the hell you want day in and day out.”
Pondering what Billy had just said, Steven whipped his head to the moaning sounds coming from his wife. He was no expert, but from what he could hear and see she seemed to be gaining consciousness, again. He turned his head back to Billy who was walking towards his helpless wife lying on the table.
“Anyway,” Billy continued, “What you need to decide now is…what sort of character you think she would like to be.”
“Come on, Steven, get with the program. Didn’t you see all my actors throughout the grounds?”
“Sure, couldn’t miss them if I tried.”
“Well, there ya go…”
“I’m still not following you, Billy.”
“Damn, boy…I’m going to turn her into one of my characters. She’ll then come with me from town to town and show to show and as the added bonus she’ll be out of your hair.”
“Wait a minute. How in the world is that possible?”
“Oh, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet, Steven. You might have thought my six houses of horror sucked, but you are in for a real treat, tonight. No one has ever seen the 7th House of Horror, hell, I just created it a few years ago. Normally, I make sure the zombie at the ticket booth hands the ticket to a young lady or a single, dorky looking guy..ya know, one that no one will miss…but, then I saw you and your wife and could tell you just didn’t look happy. I knew right then and there I had to help ya. Which is why when the zombie was helping the people in front of you and you and your wife were busy looking out over the houses to see what you would be going through, I ran up and told him to give the ticket to you. I then high tailed it away and hid out until you two entered the park. I then followed the both of you throughout the carnival grounds and stopped you when it looked like you were headed home for the night.”
“Holy shit,” Steven muttered.
“Anyway, now is your chance. Do you want to be a single guy and enjoy the rest of your retirement or do you want to be subjected to orders from your wife to weed and plant her vegetables in the garden?”
“How did you…”
“Oh, Steven, my boy…I’ve been there…done that…I know exactly where you are coming from. I’ve seen your wife’s kind before, many-a-time. Which is why I am going to help you now.”
Billy then quickly reached down, pulled out a hammer from the tool box, raised it above his head and brought it down upon Deborah’s skull.
There was then a loud thump and crack.
Steven turned his head to one side and vomited on the dirt floor of the cabin.
After taking a few minutes to regain his composer, Steven cleared the tears from his eyes and looked over to his wife.
She was dead.
Her skull was cracked open above her left eye, bright red blood flowed from her hairline, down her face and onto the table she was lying on. Thankfully, her eyes were closed and not open, looking at Steven with that distinctive dead-person-stare.
Steven sucked some air into his lungs, spit on the floor to get out the last remains of vomit chunks from his mouth and walked over to where Billy was standing above his dead wife. Even though she probably died a painful death, she looked peaceful. More peaceful than Steven had seen her in years. Gone were the days of her running off to the office during the wee hours at night, gone were her constant worries about money, gone were her infatuation with her vegetable garden in their backyard and gone were the days of her telling Steven what to do with his free time.
She was gone.
A rustling sound snapped Steven out of his thoughts and he looked over to Billy who was rummaging around in the toolbox.
“What you looking for now,” Steven stammered.
“An elixir to help this here wife of yours become mine.”
“Welllp, I have to do somethin’ to bring her back to serve me and work for my traveling horror carnival, don’t I?”
“Yeah, I guess. But…”
“Don’t fret, boy. All you gotta do now is tell me her favorite horror character of all time and this here magic elixir will do the rest.”
Steven thought for a moment and then muttered, “She always liked those vampire movies, I guess.”
“Then that is what she shall be.”
Billy then took a small bottle of yellow liquid from the toolbox, uncorked it and reached a hand over to Deborah’s face. He clutched her jaw with one hand, pried her mouth open and started to pour the liquid down her throat.
Most of the liquid went into her open mouth while some hit the side of her cheek and ran off her face and onto the wooden table.
After a few seconds of staring slack jawed at the experiment before him, Steven noticed the pool of liquid in Deborah’s mouth start to ripple. Soon after, small bubbles began to appear at the surface and the yellow stuff began to recede. Steven knew it was impossible for a dead person to be swallowing but it was still happening right before his very eyes.
A few seconds later, the yellow liquid was gone.
Billy reached down and closed Deborah’s mouth.
“Uhhh…so what happens…”
“Just wait and you shall see, Steven.”
Steven then jumped back in freight from the movement of his wife’s dead body. It twitched and flexed this way and that. It shook and jumped on top of the table.
Then her eyes popped open.
With her reincarnation, they had turned from a stunning blue to a deep red. It reminded Steven of the color of blood.
Then her mouth sprung open.
Steven noticed her normal sized human incisors had grown into fangs. Saliva dripped from their pointy tips.
Deborah then let out a scream but it sounded more like the howl of a hungry animal. She tried to lunge at Steven but was held back by the chains on her wrists and ankles.
With chills running down his spine Steven jumped back at the horror of seeing his wife.
His former wife that had been dead not a few minutes before, now alive and turned into a vampire.
“Don’t fret,” Billy said, placing a hand onto Deborah’s chest, “She won’t hurt you none ever again.”
“She sure looks like she wants to hurt me.”
“Do you blame her?”
“I suppose not. This is unbelievable.”
“Believe it, Steven. Now, you are a free man…and I have found myself a beautiful new vampire to joins the ranks of my carnival…we both win.”
“I guess you are right.”
“Now you can go. Your work here is done. Enjoy the rest of your life, Steven.”
With those words, Steven had given a half smile to his former wife, turned and walked out of the 7th house of horror.
His life would never been the same and he knew it.
It would now be better.
Sure, he felt bad in some ways about having the lunatic, Billy, kill his wife and turn her into a vampire, but at least she was now out of his hair.
She was now someone else’s problem.
He could now enjoy retirement the way he wanted.
* * *
Driving Deborah’s Lexus away from the Carnival of Horrors, he remembered that earlier in the night he had stuck the severed hand coupon in his back pocket after reading the fine print on the back.
Stopping at a red light, he inched himself off the seat, reached around and drew it from his pants. He then turned on the car’s dome light. The brightness blinded him at first, but then his eyes adjusted to the light. Looking down, he flipped the gruesome looking ticket over and scanned the back of the card.
The coupons for fifty cents off a soda at a snack stand and a discount offer for next year’s carnival were still there but the fine print along the middle finger was gone.
He turned it over again and again trying to find the writing, but he couldn’t.
It was gone and along with it went his mind.
He pressed down on the accelerator, making a U-turn in the intersection and then floored it. The tires of the luxury car screeched and the engine roared. Something didn’t seem right and he had to go back to the old steel yard and speak with Billy, the carnival’s owner, to find out what was going on.
After fifteen minutes of driving, he turned off State Route 53 and back onto the rutted out dirt road. Gone were the torches leading the way to the carnival. Gone were the sounds of screaming fans entering and exiting the different houses of horror. And gone were the houses, as he drove up and over the crest of the large hill and into the clearing where the attraction had been set up only a short time ago.
Steven let out a scream but no one was around to hear it.
Copyright © Ty Schwamberger