Monday Excerpt

Hope you like this short piece from my current project:

The forest loomed ever closer, seeming creepier in the dark. He switched on the flashlight and began to trek through the woods, practically jumping out of his skin whenever his legs got caught on the spidery underbrush. The branches that had seemed to protect him from the sun before were now arms reaching out to grab him. Every sound would make his heart pound faster and he kept expecting something to jump out of the shadows at him.

Just as Jack was ready to turn around, he tripped over a thick tree root, momentarily knocking him off balance and losing the flashlight. He tumbled forward, unable to see in the dark. Something connected with his body, smooth and large enough to keep him from falling further.

By the time, Jack found his flashlight among the fallen leaves, his eyes had adjusted to the dark and he could tell that he was resting on a flat boulder, one of the many that bordered the cliff. Jack scrambled back and took a deep breath, unaware that he had been holding it.

A train whistle sounded, piercing the calm silence of the night. Jack scrambled with his pockets, trying to pull his binoculars out. Lights flickered on at the base of the mountain as a second whistle blew. Steam from the train rose to join the clouds already shrouding the moon. Jack finally managed to pull his binoculars out and lifted them to his eyes.

Below, men were getting off the train and shouting commands. Smaller shapes scrambled out behind them, carrying crates in various sizes. The doors on the train cars were opened and people began to unload, each carrying something in their arms. As Jack watched, they began to break open the crates and pull out various items used for their acts.

Stands were being set up in various corners of the dusty arena. There were six popcorn stands, eight sweet stands, and nine stands for drinks. Each looked like a candy wrapper, with vibrant stripes of gold painted on the stands, crisscrossed with various other colors, all gaudy in hue.

Small tents for various games, each in white-and-red, were posted, close enough to the food for large crowds to enjoy both. A last tent, as large as ten of the smaller ones combined, was being set up at the center of all the chaos. The way everything was set up made Jack think of a giant wheel.

He watched as the workers began to test the Ferris wheel and other rides. The funhouse was converted to look perfectly ghoulish for Halloween, decorated with spider webs and flaming torches. The Ferris wheel squeaked as it looped once. Three men debated over the controls, while six other men began to oil the machine and scrub at the seats each time they came down. Jack turned his binoculars in the direction of the roller coaster, where a test car was zooming on the loops.

“Drake!” Someone yelled loudly, the sound faint to Jack’s ears.

He quickly tried to aim his binoculars at the man who had spoken the name, finally managing to spot the back of an older man as he walked steadily towards the train. A younger, slightly taller man stepped off the train. His face was blurred because he was so far away.

“Look at that!” The older man yelled.

Jack couldn’t see his face, but guessed from the amount of anger in the man’s voice that his face was red.

“What is the meaning of beating a child?”

Jack turned his binoculars in the direction the man was pointing, where a slumped figure sat on the ground. He peered closely and realized that it was a kid. As Jack swept his gaze over the fairgrounds, he realized that a good chunk of the “workers” were really kids. His insides roiled as he watched the kid who had been beaten stood up, revealing arms with fresh red welts. The man who had been called Drake walked over and spoke to a brawny man who stood close by. The man shook his head as if to say, “Nobody struck him.” The older man threw his arms up in exasperation and tried to put his arm around the kid, who shied away angrily and stomped off. Drake turned to glance at the older man, who seemed deflated.

Then, an interesting thing happened.

The old man looked up to the hills and stared straight at Jack.

He’s not really looking at me, Jack thought, an uneasy feeling flaring up inside. He’s just looking around.

The old man nodded in Jack’s direction. Jack’s heart pounded faster and he stood up. The old man just watched calmly, which somehow freaked Jack out more. He put the binoculars back in his pockets, turned, and ran.

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