Summer Carnival

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic

A young girl who will do anything to win back the man she loves makes a deal with an old gypsy woman at a carnival




Zoey grasped the framed picture in her hands. It was a photo of her and her boyfriend Hunter. They had been out paddle boarding that day. It was a special day for her. Because Zoey believed that was the day she fell for Hunter, and she remembered it vividly.


They went out paddle boarding on Willow Lake. It was a late spring day, and surprisingly they were the only ones there. The Lake was peaceful and quiet. The setting sun shimmered lazily off the tranquil water, bathing the lake in a comforting amber aura. They set their paddle boards down on the bank and stepped in as the warm water lapped gently around their ankles.


They had been dating a few months by then, slowly getting to know one another. Hunter was tall and lean with dirty blonde hair and an infectious smile. He was bold and somewhat brazen. Yet sensitive and patient. He gracefully cut through the water on his paddle board and turned to face Zoey. He coaxed her to come out to him. Zoey precariously dipped her paddle in the water. She flinched nervously under wobbly knees. She rowed out to him the way he trained her. Zoey focused her attention on the water, and was startled when their boards bumped into each another. She began to lose her balance but Hunter reached out to steady her, laughing gently as he did so. “Your OK. I've got you” He said in his soothing voice.


Their sweaty sticky bodies embraced. Zoey leaned in to kiss Hunter. And when their lips met it was like no other kiss Zoey had before. She forgot all about paddle boards, falling in the water, or even where she was. Zoey was completely taken away by this moment, by this one kiss. And she knew at this point in time she was falling hard for Hunter.


She smiled at Hunter and asked if she could take a picture. She pulled out her cell phone and they leaned in close to one another. She took the pic and leaned in to kiss Hunter again. But this time she completely lost her balance. Zoey fell in and took Hunter with her. It was a miracle her cell phone survived.


Zoey gazed at the photo. Her brilliant smiled shone through her slightly sunburned cheeks. Her red hair was matted to her freckly shoulders. Hunter looked especially handsome to her. And she loved his broad shoulders and the way his muscular arms wrapped around her petite body. Zoey hugged the framed picture to her chest. She loved Hunter, and today was the day she would tell him.


She was meeting Hunter at the Summer Carnival tonight. The carnival had started many years ago. Each year it grew and grew in size and popularity. It was now immense. The carnival drew people from all over the country. Zoey loved the stories her parents and grandparents told her about the carnival. She was amazed by how much it changed and how huge it had become.


Tonight was a Friday, and on Friday nights dressing up had become a tradition at the carnival. It was almost like Halloween except costumes were not limited to just scary, they could be anything. Zoey was wearing a Victorian era costume. A beautiful flowing green dress that she looked stunning in.


Zoey arrived at the carnival and it was packed. The excessive crowds were becoming a major problem. Zoey maneuvered through the parking lot to the main entrance. Several people complimented Zoey on her dress, and she politely thanked them. Zoey walked past the main entrance to the carnival which led directly to the main attraction, the fun house. The fun house was very large and took several minutes to venture through. Macabre and risque, it wasn't meant for children. In fact as the years went on the entire carnival itself distanced itself from juvenile enjoyment for more adult themes. Still the crowds and crowds of people came, in larger numbers each year.


As Zoey walked by she glanced at the entrance to the fun house. There visitors were greeted by very life like statues of people dressed in a myriad of costumes. It seemed like every year there were more statues and Zoey had always felt that they were creepy. There were spooky stories that the statues were once living people. And Zoey's older brother loved to scare his sister by telling her said stories. But now much older, Zoey just felt the stories added to the lore and mystique of the carnival.


Zoey checked her cell and saw that Hunter had sent her a text. He and his friends were at the far end of the carnival under the Ferris wheel. Zoey entered the carnival grounds and began to meander through the thick crowds of people. She clutched the framed photo tightly against her side protecting it. Young unsupervised children ran past her, bewildered out of towners wandered by, and an obnoxious band of motley drunken twenty somethings paraded through the center of the carnival's thoroughfare.


The night seemed to be especially humid, and the crowds of people no doubt made it worse. Zoey could feel beads of sweat collecting on her forehead and running down her back. Music blared from a stage where a live band performed and a barker raved about his freak show, creating a symphony of cacophony.


Finally the Ferris wheel loomed ahead. It's randomly lit red, green, and blue lights shone brightly in the dark of the night. Zoey readied herself. She grasped her photo even more so tightly, almost white knuckling it. Her face brightened as a smile spread across it and her heart began to race in eager anticipation of finally seeing Hunter.


And then as if almost on cue the thick crowd parted and Zoey spotted Hunter. But what she saw next made her stop dead in her tracks. He was in the arms of another girl. She was tall and blonde, and was dressed in a pirate wench costume. Her black knee high boots gave to way to luxurious shapely thighs. Her too short black skirt stretched around her firm ass. A blood red corset wrapped tightly around her body. Exposing a toned midriff and reaching up to large breasts it could hardly contain. A tattoo of a shattered heart with the words “Heart Breaker” adorned her breast.


Zoey just froze. The smile eroded from her face. She felt nothing and everything all at once as the hurt and betrayal coursed through her body. She even seemed to forget how to breath. And then the girl somehow spotted Zoey through the crowds and confusion. A vile grin over came her face. She grabbed Hunter and pulled him close. She kissed him with a lecherous passion. Digging her black nails into his sandy blond locks. The kiss placed the boy in a drunken stupor. And when he attempted to come back in for more she placed a hand on his face and pushed him away. The girl leered gleefully at Zoey.


All Zoey could do was stand there stunned. Until she was snapped back into consciousness when a passerby bumped into her and knocked her framed picture out of her hand. Zoey tried to quickly grab it, but it was too late. It had already been trampled on by several oblivious people. Zoey bent down to pick it up. The frame was crushed, the glass shattered, the photo torn. Zoey held what remained of her photo tightly in her hands. She looked up and Hunter and the pirate girl were once again lost in a sea of people.


But then suddenly the crowds of people stopped moving as the night sky was lit up by the weekly Friday night fireworks. Zoey looked up solemnly as the rockets cut through the air, bursting into a dazzling palette of colors. Zoey turned and began to walk away. She wanted nothing more than to be alone with her heartache. She began to quicken her pace, moving around the crowds of gawking tourists. Each boom of the fireworks resonated inside of her exacerbating her sorrow. She began to run until she was past the vast mobs of people. She took a quick turn from the main path and ran off the carnival grounds.


Zoey had run far into the carnival's back lot. She made her way past a grave yard of broken down carnival games and dilapidated rides. She found herself in a decaying city of deteriorating trailers that time had forgotten. And when Zoey felt she had ventured deep enough into this forsaken decomposing villa of despair, she rested. Zoey leaned up against a rusted out trailer where the thick weeds had encroached upon it's weakened foundation. The trailers foreboding dark empty windows seemed to peer ominously at Zoey.


Zoey looked at her picture once again as the grand finale of fireworks boomed overhead. Each blast and flash of the fireworks reflected off the picture briefly illuminating it. And now Zoey's tears flowed freely. They dripped onto the photo as she cried. She once again held the picture closely to her chest as she sobbed heavily.


Are you lost child?” Startled Zoey looked up. An old gypsy woman had come out of nowhere, or perhaps one of the dilapidated trailers Zoey had assumed were abandon. “No.” Zoey answered curtly trying her best to compose herself. “My eyes are not what they used to be, and it is quite dark. Yet I don't need to see you to know you are heartbroken.” Zoey just stared back not knowing what to do or say as the grand finale finally ended. In the distance Zoey could hear the crowds cheering.


The old gypsy woman slowly approached her. She walked achingly under the strain of a cane. Zoey had heard many times over stories of the gypsies and carnies who lived all year on the carnival grounds, waiting for the carnival season to begin. Zoey wondered if this was the old gypsy woman known as Mama Alzbeta. Zoey had heard many stories about her, but there was no way to know if any of the stories were true. Or if the stories themselves were simply an amalgamation of tales woven into one person who may or may not exist.


What happened to you, and what that Jezebel did to your lover. He was under a spell child.” Zoey only stared back at the gypsy woman in awe, how could she possibly know? “The hearts of the young are fickle and fleeting. But you truly loved him. Do you want him back?” “Yes.” Zoey quickly replied through dwindling sobs.


The gypsy woman stood in front of Zoey. She seemed grandmotherly to her, not so much in appearance, but more so in demeanor. She was very short and the clothes that hung off her aged body seemed little more than rags. Zoey could see the faded tattoos on the old woman's weathered skin.


But all things come with a price child. If his love for your is unrequited then you must pay that price. But, how could he possibly not feel the same way about a beautiful young girl such as you? The old gypsy smiled at Zoey revealing only a few rotten teeth in her mouth. Zoey answered back breathlessly, “I love him.” “Yes child, I know you do.”


The old woman reached into her pocket and produced a small black sphere, no larger than a marble. Zoey reached out and took it from the gypsy woman's hands whose fingers were bent and broken by arthritis and adorned with garish rings. Zoey starred at it curiously. “Go on child, wish with your heart.” Zoey wrapped her long delicate fingers around the sphere, and when she opened her hand she amazed to see it reduced to a fine powder of gold and silver. And then a sudden zephyr whisked the flecks of gold and silver up and away from her palm. They were carried away into the night sky twisting and spinning as if dancing until she could see them no more. “Now, go get your man.” Zoey returned to the carnival.


Zoey walked through the carnival streets with a sense of determination. She sent Hunter a text asking him where he was. He said he was still at the Ferris Wheel waiting for her. Zoey glanced at her framed photo and it seemed not to be as damaged as she had thought. Zoey looked up and once again saw the brightly illuminated Ferris wheel.


Lita, the pirate girl strut through the carnival streets. She was with two of her friends, also dressed like pirate wench's. Everywhere the girls went they stirred up trouble and they did so with great zeal. For they turned the heads of all men who stared at them like dogs slobbering over a piece of raw meat. The girls sashayed about like they owned the place and took what they wanted. Lita stuck out her pierced tongue salaciously at a married man who was gawking at her as he walked by with his wife and children. Enraged the man's wife let him have it. Lita and her girlfriends just laughed as they continued their sultry walk through the carnival.


A family man was hopelessly trying to win his daughter the big pink bear she wanted so badly. But he was having absolutely no success at the high striker machine. “Ok sweetheart. Daddy will try one more time.” The husband's wife rolled her eyes. “Haven't you already wasted enough money?” She asked irritated. “I think I can get it this time.” The husband handed the high striker operator even more money. It was at this point that even the operator himself was getting sick of this pathetic fool. Not to mention he noticed that several people had gathered to watch. Now would be the best time to let the man win he thought to himself. The high striker operator causally leaned on his machine and reached behind it nonchalantly. He flipped off the rigging switch and stepped back. The out of shape husband swung the hammer down as hard as he could. The puck shot up like a rocket and rung the bell with a resounding ding. But then the puck suddenly flew off the machine at an odd angle. The puck struck Lita on the side of her head as she walked by, killing her instantly.


When Lita's friends realized what had happened they let out a horrified scream. And then, elsewhere a sudden shock overcame Zoey. She somehow possessed the clairvoyance to see what had happened to Lita. Her heart raced at an alarming rate. Lita was dead and she sensed it without even being there. Horrified Zoey questioned just what she had gotten herself into. After regaining her composure she realized she must find Hunter before it was too late.


Zoey finally reached Hunter. He turned around to face her as he was conversing with his friends. They stepped back as Zoey approached him. “Hi.” Said Zoey nervously. “Hey how are you?” Hunted asked. “I am OK. I have something for you.” Zoey presented Hunter with her framed photo. Hunter took it and looked at it curiously. “What is it?” He asked puzzled. “It is from that day we went out paddle boarding. Don't you remember?” “Ummm, kinda” But Hunter sounded more unsure of himself than anything. “Thanks though for the picture.” “You are welcome. I made it just for you.”


Listen there is something I have been wanting to tell you” “Oh?” Hunter answered nervously. Zoey reached out and held Hunter's hands. “Hunter, I love you.” “Oh” Said Hunter. A bit of shock in his tone. Zoey beamed at Hunter waiting for him to respond. She was oblivious to the look of discomfort and awkwardness on Hunter's face. “Listen” Hunter began in a cringe worthy tone. “I think that is a really sweet thing to say. I like you and I think you are cool and all but...” Hunter's voice just trailed off as he read the look of disappointment on Zoey's face. Hunter pulled his hands away from Zoey's. “Look I am going away to college this fall. I can't really see us, I mean it wouldn't work.” Zoey only stared back, she was speechless. “Look I better get going. We can maybe keep in touch? Thanks for the picture.” Hunter backed away and left with his friends. In a few more seconds he disappeared into a the seemingly endless crowds of people. But Zoey just continued to stand there as the hurt enveloped her.


But then Zoey snapped out of it. She remembered the gypsy ladies words warning her about paying the price. What price? What did she mean? Panic clouded Zoey's mind. How could she have been so impulsively foolish? She had to find the gypsy lady. Zoey took off running towards the back lot.


Zoey found herself once again in the seemingly deserted back lot. A feeling of dread hung over Zoey as she precariously walked among the crumbling remnants of trailers and mobile homes. But then she noticed one trailer where someone seemed to stir. She approached it. Without knocking she pushed the door open and there was the gypsy woman. Alzbeta sat at a large table. It was completely taken up by ancient looking tomes, a myriad of curious trinkets, and sinister looking concoctions.


Zoey walked slowly towards the gypsy woman. She managed very weakly to call out her name “Alzbeta.” The name was barely audible beyond her trembling lips. “You have come back, as most do.” Alzbeta turned to face Zoey. “Please.” Began Zoey the desperation in her voice was striking. “I didn't want this to happen. Please help me!”


Alzbeta slowly got up from her chair and walked over to Zoey. “I am afraid it is to late child. You made a choice you took the chance. There is nothing I can do to stop it now.” Zoey only stared back at the old gypsy woman. She was trembling all over her face had turned white. Alzbeta reached out to gently touch Zoey's face. “You poor, sweet, stupid girl.”


In a panic Zoey stepped back suddenly, nearly falling over in the process. She burst through the door of the trailer and started running through the back lot. But she did not get too far. Her movements suddenly became difficult, as if she was wading through a waist deep pool of mud. She looked down and was horrified by what she saw. Her body was solidifying. Zoey watched with unspeakable horror as her body was turning into solid stone. Realizing what was happening Zoey tried to scream but it was too late. Her body became a statue.


The next day Zoey was placed among the other statues of poor hapless souls at the entrance to the carnival's fun house. She fit in beautifully.





Submitted: January 21, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Jason Scott. All rights reserved.

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