Knott’s Carnival

The crisp air of the Autumn morning danced by the car as Daniel drove. Glancing in the rearview mirror he saw his little girl dozing off in her car seat, her head lolling to one side before popping back up. Daniel gripped the steering wheel tighter and his leather clad gloves groaned and squeaked in protest. Leaves rained in from the trees in front of him, blending together in different shades of red and orange.

“Daddy?” Jackie called from the back seat fidgeting in her car seat.

“Yes Jackie.” He smiled kindly through the mirror but didnt catch her gaze before turning back to the road.

“Are we there yet?”

“No I told you before we left Jackie, we have a long ride ahead of us.” She sighed and went back to looking out the window clutching her blonde haired baby doll close to her.

~~~

A few hours later Jackie was back to snoozing, while the car was quiet and peaceful. The back roads that Daniel raced down winded around abandoned houses, cornfields and ponds of all different shapes and sizes. Left alone with his thoughts that screamed through the silent roads echoing back to his old house back in Indiana with the empty rooms and old wooden floors stained with nine years of a family’s wear and tear.

Daniel was taking up a new job in Arizona in welding, welders were in such a high demand that they had offered to pay twice as much as he made at the burger truck he had worked in. He only really got good business if there was a football game at a nearby school or a party that had rented out his services for the guests. Lost in thought Daniel didn’t notice the sputtering in his engine and before he knew it they were crawling to a stop. He pulled the wheel sharply to get the car to the side of the road before it went out. His engine shut off almost immediately upon pulling over.

He tried multiple times to restart the car but to no avail, no sputtering, no revving just silence. A soft snore floated through the back seat as he jumped out of the car and popped the hood sighing. However after not finding anything wrong he shut it feeling defeated.

“Daddy!” Jackie called from back inside the car fumbling to get unbuckled from the car seat. He made his way to her side of the car unbuckling her and setting Jackie on her feet which were clad in warm boots that matched her soft cinnamon colored hair. The wind whipped the long strands into her face in which she managed to quickly brush away.

They were stranded, in the middle of nowhere with no signs to show that there was a town or a gas station or anything for that matter nearby. The only way he would be able to get help would be to walk.

“Want to go on a little walk Jackie?” He asked grabbing her little hand in his. She nodded happily and skipped ahead of him.

He locked the car up and followed her down the long road overlooking a cornfield that seemed like it had no ending, as if the sea of yellow would crash against the road and engulf them. Jackie skipped happily alongside her father holding her doll by its hand.

~~~

After only an half an hour of walking Daniels back ached with 38 years of age however Jackie still skipped and danced alongside him obviously enjoying the view.

“Look ferris wheel daddy ferris wheel!” She jumped excitedly pointing to a large colorful ferris wheel off in the distance.

Jackie was dragging her father to get a closer look when they stumbled across a sign that was almost as big as a billboard that read,

Knott’s Carnival!

Built to amaze!

Without even saying yes or no Daniel was being dragged through the gates, eventually he chuckled at her efforts and gave in trying to keep up with his daughter. People were everywhere, it must have been a popular attraction but Daniel hadn’t heard of it when searching directions on how to get to Arizona. A crowd swarmed past them laughing and holding prizes of all sorts. The smell of cotton candy and funnel cakes wafted through the air.

Daniel searched for the way to the ferris wheel but Jackie had changed her mind and was going in a different direction.

“The carnival funhouse?” Daniel asked his daughter who shook her head yes.

He glanced around, there didn’t seem to be any ticket booths, he wondered if it was all free.

“Let’s go!” Jackie protested.

“Hang on.” Daniel decided to try and look for a worker but before he could finish his search Jackie’s hand was gone from his and he only caught a glimpse of her cinnamon hair before she ran into the funhouse.

Daniel quickly followed behind abandoning his former plan.

“Jackie wait up!” He heard a soft giggle upon entering the first room which consisted of a spiral staircase and black and white checkered walls that if you looked closely almost looked like they were moving. Making his way up the staircase he entered yet another room except this was polka dotted in every color of the rainbow and had a spinning tunnel which let out to a large green slide.

“Jackie!” He called trying to catch up with her. She laughed again, her laugh echoing off the walls and bouncing around in Daniel’s head.

With some difficulty he managed to make it through the tunnel and went head first down the slide. He was then dropped off into a foam pit. When he crawled out he came face to face with, well with his own face. Mirrors.There were mirrors everywhere. Daniel had never liked mirrors as a child. He had thought he had grown out of the childish phobia but standing here in this room with mirrors forming into some kind of maze an unsettling feeling ran through him.

“Jackie?” He called but this time no laugh answered him.

“Jackie!” He called again this time a little more panicked. He tried to calm himself down. She couldn’t of gone that far it was just a little fun house she was probably waiting at the exit for him brushing her doll’s hair or waving to children nearby.

Daniel started moving his unwilling body through the maze. He back away from one mirror but then bumped into another.

What if I went back the way I came?

He thought to himself but when he tried to turn around the way he came he ran into another mirror. He turned again, mirror. He spun and watched himself.

Mirrors spinning and turning and mirrors.

He seemed to be trapped in a box. That’s when he heard it, a sound that made his heart drop to his feet.

Jackie’s blood curling scream pierced through Daniel and then the mirrors threw the scream back at him.

~~~

That was the last time I saw my little girl. When the screaming stopped everything disappeared. The mirrors, the crowds, the fun house became abandoned and run down and Jackie went with it. Investigations were run through the land after my report. Yet after not finding anything they filed a missing report for Jackie and later sent me to an asylum claiming I was having hallucinations.

Jackie comes to me sometimes though.

Nobody here believes me, they tell me it’s all in my head but how can they explain a blonde haired baby doll appearing perched in the middle of my room after lunch one day.

Jackie often talks to me. She tells me about the people at the carnival, how nice all the children are, how good all the carnival food is and how fun the ferris wheel is, she also told me I can ride it with her soon.

Soon.

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