top of page

OPERATION: CARNIVAL CREEP is one chapter in the larger PROJECT KADMON story, a prelude to THE SIMON MYTHCHRONICLES: BROKEN CHALICE. OPERATION: CARNIVAL CREEP is a preamble especially for BROKEN CHALICE #5, which reveals the past of the characters and the building of The Chalice.

OPERATION CARNIVAL CREEP - PART 1

 

The sounds were thick in the air. Pings and rumblings and shouts and calliope madness. Laughter and screams commingled into a wild throng. Dirty children slipped through the crowds, their pink faces camouflaged with crusted residue of cotton candy. Babies cried as their hold slipped on strings and balloons escaped into the syrupy skies. Hackneyed adults chased after or consoled their ecstatic progeny, guzzling $10 plastic cups of beer, yearning for the day to end, dreaming about their beds and TVs and warming embrace of sleep. They caught glimpses of hibernation while waiting for loved ones on clammy benches covered with chewed gum.

 

The Ozark Empire Fair only happened once a year, after all; might as well let them have their fun.

The four of them passed underneath the bulk of the Ferris wheel. Hordes of families waved to the patrons swinging in the cars above. A scraggly dog slithered through their legs, scraping the concrete for the detritus of corndog bits dropped by the masses.

 

“I’m not sure I can do this,” Krindle leaned on Grayson, eyeing two men with handlebar mustaches and sleeveless shirts bickering at each other under The Tornado rollercoaster, a cacophony of spinning cars whizzing through snaky loops and booming with an earsplitting soundtrack of AC/DC over its blown-out speakers. The winding torrent made her dizzy. Grayson propped her arm over his shoulder, smiling gently.

 

“I concur, my friends,” Maxwell gave his head a quick shake, trying to regain a modicum of normality to his senses. He adjusted his fedora to better shield his eyes from the humid sun. “This is . . . not normal. Not normal at all.”

 

“Nonsense,” Simon was marching a few feet before them. He splayed his arms into the air in a V shape. “Feel the orchestra of consciousness! We are at one with banality!” Although he wasn’t able to bring his cane—it would be too easily identified as a magical weapon—the drug pulsed in his veins with an inane confidence regardless.

 

“Jesus Christ,” Krindle shook her head along with Grayson and Maxwell. The blinking lights of the surrounding rides spiraled around them. “You’re insane.”

 

“Haha,” Grayson chuckled. “He’s enjoying this too much.”

 

“Are you kidding?” Simon countered with faux indignation. “Life is nothing but a vast buffet! And this is the vortex, man! We are standing right in the heart of the American fucking nightmare! Wooo!”

 

“Focus, man,” Grayson ushered them all along, pulling Krindle in tightly. She squeezed him in response, their gaze meeting for just a moment before being drawn back into the wild multitude around them.

 

“I’ve just never experienced anything like this before,” Maxwell continued his observation. He watched his hands move slowly, bending his fingers, and they turned into spaghetti noodles that wobbled languidly as if under water. The drug pulsed behind his eyes like a small drum. “I think I am the ground. Yes, I am the ground for sure. I am walking on myself.”

 

“I was starting to wonder if the four of us were just one person having a dream,” Krindle offered her interpretation of the drug’s effects. She moved her long, midnight hair out of her eyes, wishing she had brought a tie to pull it all into a ponytail. “I feel like we’re being watched.”

 

“We are,” Grayson confirmed. “They’ve had surveillance on us since we first entered the grounds. Just keep moving forward until we get to the Pit.”

 

The group—even Simon—suddenly went silent. They all understood what was at stake; it was imperative to act as normal as possible. Seem sober.  As it turns out, Grayson had the easiest time of it. He and Simon had experimented with enough psychedelics over the years that they could handle most any type of warping of the mind. Whereas the drug they had imbibed a half an hour ago seemed to overwhelm the senses of the others, Grayson’s consciousness had the sharp clarity of a polished knife. His focus was keen. The goal lay ahead of him like a raging bullseye, beckoning for his arrival with a banshee’s screech. He would not waver. They had come too far now.

 

Passing a ring toss booth, with a pimple-faced carny calling out to Grayson to win his lady a bear, they rounded a corner and came upon the Pit of Horror. Its gaudy façade sparkled in a two-dimensional paneled display of air-brushed ghouls and demons, peering down at the crowds with overly-cartoonish eyes and neon fangs. The front piece was painted (with pure Midwestern craft) to look like the cobblestone walls of a medieval dungeon, here and there spotted with green-skinned arms hanging through iron bars and shackles and blood stains hanging from rusted pistons. Rotund, bulb-lined letters adorned the top of the display and flashed the words Pit of Horror. Some obscure guitar riffs designed to be creepy pounded from the attraction.

 

The four of them paused in front of the display. Flocks of teenagers cackled and screamed as they gathered into the train of cars. The final cart—two rows of two seats each—had a strip of tape to seal them off. A nimble piece of paper hung from the type with the letters “Reserved” scrawled across it.

An unusually skinny man with a protruding Adam’s apple manned the entry booth. He extended a skeletal hand out to them. Simon noted the succinct buzz cut on his scalp, with a massive tail of hair extending from the occipital ridge and down his back.

 

“Business in front and party in the back,” Simon nodded to him.

 

“Fuckin’ right,” the man rubbed his other hand proudly through his mullet. “Yore ticket?”

 

Simon handed him a crinkled stub out his pocket. All of the tickets for the Ozark Empire Fair rides were red, except for this one. This one was blue. A special insignia donned the surface rather than the usual numbering of a rational ticketing system: a circle with two C’s facing one another, the official seal for the Children of Cain.

 

The mullet man took the ticket and dropped it into his fanny pack without hesitation. He ambled over to the rear cart, tearing off the tape and reservation sign, holding out his hand in mock performance, stating blandly: “Welcome and beware the horrors that await you!”

 

Simon, Maxwell, Krindle, and Grayson all took a deep breath and climbed into the cart. Simon and Maxwell taking one row, Krindle and Grayson taking the one behind them. Scrunching into the plastic seats, the mullet man fastened the lap bars over their legs.

 

“Be sure to keep your hands and arms inside the vehicle at all times,” he murmured while lumbering over to the control panel to slap a large red button with his palm. The cars pushed off with a jolt.

 

“Why do I let you guys get me into this kind of malarky?” Maxwell shook his head. Simon bounced up and down in the seat like a gleeful child. Krindle couldn’t help but laugh, the drug pumping a levity through her headspace. Grayson remained pensive, eyes darting from side-to-side.

 

A pair of large wooden doors—designed to resemble the maw of a leviathan—swung open for the train to putter through the rickety track and into a dark corridor. For a moment, there was such an absence of light that they couldn’t see the heads of the passengers before them, yet they heard the “oohs” and “aahs” of feigned terror spewing from their mouths, along with mischievous giggles. The carts drudged along.

 

To the right, a black-lit vampire popped out of the blackness, welcoming the screaming patrons to their freakish fate. After that, a swooping ghost grazed the air above them, it’s shrill bawl louder than the cries coming from the portly girls in the cart before them. A static-filled soundtrack of howling and torturous cries continued as the train jittered through sharp turns of spider webs and zombie parts. Simon chortled with delight and Maxwell couldn’t help but join him at this point. The chintzy exhibition was a temporary reprieve from the onerous task before them.

 

After passing a pair of animatronic witches churning a steaming cauldron, cackling over rat tails and eyeballs bubbling in their brew, the train suddenly ground to a jolting halt. Any lighting blacked out entirely, with no sign of a neon ghoul in sight. The patrons ahead whispered in confusion. Simon, Maxwell, Krindle, and Grayson’s lap bars unlatched. They knew what was to come next. The next moment, a giant werewolf pounced out of the dark, snarling to distract the other passengers. The four took the opportunity to sneak off the train unnoticed while the train resumed its fidgety journey through the rest of the carnival ride.

 

“What now?” Maxwell inquired softly in the dark.

 

Grayson released Krindle for the first time since entering the Fair. He reached a hand outward, fumbling in the gloom ahead. Slowly shuffling his sneakers across the concrete floor, he bumped into a wall. Feeling around for a few seconds, he eventually found a doorknob.

 

“Over here,” he told the others, and they followed his voice. Grayson jiggled the knob, but it was locked as he expected. He knocked three times. “No turning back now. Just remember what we planned.”

 

 There was stirring on the other side of the door. They all help their breath as the knob rattled. The door opened with a slight creak . . . dull, sickly light pouring into the darkness of the Pit. A baboon stood before them, its long, thick fingers resting on the door.

 

TO BE CONTINUED IN PART 2, COMING SOON!

bottom of page