Posted in Short Stories

Carousels and Nightmares (Part VI)

The Past

Little three year old Sheila giggled at the waving clown then ran to him. Connie and Tom, her parents, jogged behind her. Connie caught up with her first and clasped onto her hand.

“Sheila, sweetie, let’s not bother the clown.”

“Oh, it’s no bother, ma’am. It’s what I’m here for.” He twisted his painted face in an odd expression, which elicited more laughter from Sheila.

The clown laughed back. To Tom and Connie he said, “Say, I’m in charge of the carousel inside the tent here. Do you think she would like to ride on it?”

Before her parents could say anything, little Sheila jumped up and down, “Yes, yes. Please, Mommy? Please?”

Connie glanced at her husband then back at Sheila and chuckled. “How can I refuse.”

“Great,” said the clown. He turned and led the three of them into the large tent.

Before them sat the largest carousel Connie had ever seen. But she wondered, the tent isn’t that big. How can it house a carousel this size?

The clown read her expression and said, “It’s a magical carousel.”

“Magic how?” asked Connie. Her husband must have heard the trepidation in her voice, because he stepped closer and wrapped an arm around her shoulders. She peered down at Sheila’s face, now lit up. Her little eyes were wide saucers. Her tiny mouth gaped open. Connie turned her attention to her husband, Tom. “What do you think? Should we let her ride it?”

Tom smirked then whispered to his wife, “I’ve never heard of a magical carousel. I’m sure he said that for the benefit of Sheila. Kids love that kind of stuff. Go ahead. Let her ride it.”

Connie wasn’t convinced. To the clown she asked again, “Magic how?”

The clown turned around to face the carousel. Pointing to various animals he said, “Take, for example, the horses. If you ride one of those, you will ride through a real true to life countryside as though you are really there and on a real live horse. You won’t be on the carousel anymore. Well, to us here you will look as though you are just riding a carousel, but to you, you won’t be. Then, we have the ducks. If you ride a duck, you…”

“Wait,” interjected Tom. “You mean to tell me that the experience for the rider is real?”


“You’re putting me on.”

“No, I wouldn’t do that. I am telling you the truth.” A full minute passed without anyone saying anything. Then the clown, seeing the creased brows in both parents’ expressions, continued telling them about the carousels magic. “As I was saying, if you ride the duck, you will be in a pond floating for real on a large, live duck among a beautiful and majestic mountainside.”

Connie strolled closer to the carousel. Her daughter’s hand still clasped within her own. Something odd caught her attention. It was what looked like twin horses attached to one another with one seat between them. She pointed it out to the clown and said, “I’ve never seen anything like that on a carousel before. What happens when one rides on the double horse?”

“It’s a duplicator.”

Connie wasn’t sure she heard right. She blinked a few times then said, “A what?”

“A duplicator.”

“Ok, now I’ve heard everything. Come on, let’s ride the carousel. She lifted Sheila up onto the platform of the carousel and stepped up herself. To her daughter she asked, “Sweetie, which animal would you like to ride?”

“The twins, the twins,” yelled Sheila clapping her hands and jumping up and down.

Connie picked her up and placed her on the seat on top of the twin horses, then stood beside her daughter and placed protective hands on her to keep her still. When nothing happened, she said to the clown, “You can start.”

“Oh no. You have to ride something too. So does your husband.”

“Sure, ” said Tom hopping up on the carousel’s platform. He picked a duck.

Connie’s reluctant expression caught her husband’s attention. She didn’t want to leave her daughter unattended.

“It’ll be ok. She’ll be fine, honey. Ride the one horse next to her.”

“Yeah, ok.” Connie mounted the horse to Sheila’s right.

The clown smiled. “Perfect. You’re gonna love this.” He pressed a button and the carousel sprung to life. Slow at first then gained speed. A typical carousel will reach a certain speed and stay there until the ride is finished, but this wasn’t your typical carousel. It’s speed continued to get faster until it was a blur.

(To Be Continued)


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