Monday, March 26, 2012

Familiar Features

As usual, from the flash fiction challenge. I saw the option of abandoned amusement park and I couldn't help but use my old stomping grounds. Enjoy. Challenge link:

 From a distance Lagoon looked the same as it always had in the off season. The familiar skyline of the coasters, Ferris wheel and the Rocket stood out against the brown mountains and the parking lot was empty. I pulled around and stopped in the employee back lot so I could avoid walking the entire length of the closed off main lot. There wasn't a guard at the security checkpoint, the place has been completely shut down without warning, but it was still an odd thing. Once parked I grabbed my pack and started looking for a way in.
The park had been a fixture of Utah for more than a century, only closing for a few years during World War II. No one seemed to know why it had been shut down so suddenly, especially since it was after the hiring for the next summer season. Some rumor had floated about a buyout from six flags, but that idea cropped up every year. Others contended that something had finally broken the Freed family and they had abandoned their source of wealth. Dozens of other thoughts were put forth but anyone who knew the truth wasn't talking. So I decided to find out on my own, and it seemed the park itself was a good place to start.
There was a turnstile type entrance at the end of the employee parking, but it was locked down tight. I would like to say I used some fancy gadget to bypass the electronic lock usually linked to ID cards, but the truth is much simpler: there was a nearby service gate chained shut. Bolt cutters in my bag made quick work of the lock and I was in, for the first time in a couple of years. The place was intimately familiar to me, I had had my first summer job here (games department), but something was off as soon as I stepped in. The silence seemed oppressive, the usually familiar ground alien under my booted feet. Then again the north end of the park was always strange to me so I ignored it and wandered south.
The feeling of desolation just got worse as I went on. Even the usual sound of birds was strangely missing. The rides were all sitting, waiting for riders that might never come now. And the games and shops were closed, garage doors hiding all the tricks I had learned ages ago. But as I reached the central midway things got altogether stranger.
First it was a noise, as I passed by a strength test I heard an artificial tone meant to be a bell ring. The game wasn't turned on though. And as I examined it I noticed something I hadn't before. The prize display, visible in glass case for this game, was set up. Not the mark of a closed park. And the stuffed animals seemed... off. The eyes were all to realistic, and the faces on the pigs and cows carried looks of extreme pain. I started examining them more closely when another sound caught my attention, drifting across the asphalt. It was a singing bell that sounded for all the world like a klaxon going off, and I knew where it was coming from.
The sound persisted as I followed it down the midway, and found the source right where I expected it, my old game of Bowler Roller. A tricky game, though not as impossible as some people thought. The noise was what happened when you won, but it shouldn't have been going, no power would be on in the game. The door looked closed but as I got closer I saw that it wasn't quite latched all the way. A practiced twist and shove and the game was open. The source of the noise was instantly apparent: where there was usually a bowling ball rolling along the tracks to hit the buzzer I saw a bloody head, mouth open in a final scream of terror. My lunch made a return appearance on the ground as I staggered away.
I fumbled my phone out and tried to call 911, but there was no service. I wasn't really surprised. Something had clearly gone terribly wrong here. I started threading my way, slowly, through kiddy land towards Pioneer Village. That old place was a town made up of transplanted authentic old west buildings, and it had always been called haunted. If there were answers to be had they would be there. I flipped my knife out of my pocket, more as a personal comfort than anything else, and dove through the tunnel separating the dusty old town from the rest of the park. Two famously bad tempered geese lay dead along the path but that was nothing compared to what I had seen.
The nausea was gone but that oppressive stillness remained, and even got worse as I wandered between the old houses and shops. None of them seemed all that willing to give up information from the outside, and truth be told I wasn't eager to explore much deeper inside. I was starting to notice a smell as well, the stench of rotten meat and spilled blood everywhere, subtly pervading the park. I tried the phone again to no avail and turned to the worst area of the park: the old shooting gallery.
I didn't want to get to close, and luckily I didn't have to. As I approached the doors flew open, showing the bodies of three more workers, kids really, riddled with holes. A deep laugh filled the air, mocking me as I fought to keep from falling over again. It spoke in a tongue I couldn't understand and I fled, bolting as fast as my legs would take me.
I made it out safely, but I'm not done quite yet. You see, as I ran I started to feel something new. A familiar presence in the back of my mind both aiding me and begging for aid in return, whispering secrets of power in my ear. That one is in my dreams now, promising the aid of the carousel horses and other park fixtures. I think it's the spirit of that old amusement park itself, trying to get help so it can fulfill it's purpose again. I need to go back, soon, and banish whatever it is that closed the place down.

No comments:

Post a Comment