“Hurry Sara!” Lisa called, her eyes twinkling with mischief. “We’ll be late!”
Laughing, Sara allowed Lisa pull her away from the store window, the movie on the black and white television all but forgotten. The county fair started this weekend, and it promised entertainment no one would soon forget. What that entertainment was, was still a mystery.
As they neared the park, the two girls slowed, moving into the crowd as it made its way onto the fairgrounds.
“I wonder what the entertainment will be,” the excitement Lisa was projecting running throughout the crowd in a shiver of anticipation. “It’s weird that they wouldn’t tell us. Maybe it’s some kind of magic show and the not knowing what kind of magic is part of it.”
“Maybe,” Sara grinned. To be honest, she had no idea what it could be. Music, magic, whatever it was, it was drawing a big crowd. There had to be people from neighboring towns because she knew this many people did not live in their little town in the middle of nowhere USA. They were so far off the grid that tourists were a novelty and gawked at by the townspeople more than the tourist gawked at them.
Trying to see everything at once, Sara looked around her. People dressed in costume in front of brightly colored pavilions tried to lure customers in to see their shows. Vendors selling cotton candy, corn dogs, peanuts and popcorn mingled with the crowd yelling out their wares. Cages with exotic animals pacing behind bars lined the walkway, men on stilts towered over them, a man swallowing a sword, the bearded lady, but everyone ignored it all as they headed towards the big tent where the real show would be held. The one that promised mystery and excitement.
They were almost to the tent when Sara realized something was not quite right. There was a vibe in the air that made her skin crawl, and not in a good way. She always had a sixth sense when something was about to go wrong. Too many times of that feeling proving true, she decided not to ignore it. Looking closer at the people around her, she realized that the smiles on their faces seemed…wrong. The expressions of joy and excitement did not match the haunted, hungry look in their eyes.
An elderly woman jostled Sara as she passed, almost falling over in the crowd. Sara instinctively grabbed her to keep the old woman from being trampled.
“Thank you, dearie,” the old woman’s honey sweet gravelly voice cooed. “I’m afraid these old legs aren’t what they used to be.”
“It’s alright, ma’am,” Sara smiled. “It is a bit….” Her words died in her throat as the old woman looked at her, a smile plastered to her face, her eyes flashing the color of blood, the sickening red completely engulfing her eyes. Sara immediately let go and stepped away, blinking, not believing what she saw. When she focused on the old woman again, she was smiling pleasantly at Sara, her pale brown eyes full of concern.
“Are you alright?” the woman asked.
“Sara! Hurry!” Lisa called grabbing Sara’s hand and pulling her away from the woman before she could form an answer.
Telling herself she was just seeing things, Sara shook her head at her ridiculous imagination and followed Lisa through the crowd towards the big tent.
The two girls finally managed to make it into the tent. All around them people talked excitedly about the show they were about to see. Eyes kept glancing Sara’s way, that same strange flash of red she saw in the old woman’s in some of them, others seem to bleed inky black. As Sara and Lisa moved slowly to the seats, Sara glanced down at a young girl and she knew something was definitely not right. The look the girl gave Sara was one of such hatred and hunger that it took her back. Gasping, Sara put her hand to her chest in an attempt to keep her beating heart from jumping out of her chest in fear. Unable to stop herself, she looked around her again.
This time she concentrated on the clothing. The men wore suits, ties, slacks, shiny dress shoes and Stetson or Straw Porkpie hats. The younger men and boys wore button down short sleeved shirts, slacks, canvas shoes, and hunting caps. The women wore dresses, stockings, with hats and handbags. Some of the younger ones had crop pants or poodle skirts with button shirts. Their hair was in a ponytail held with scarves and saddleback shoes. All normal clothing for the fifties.
Sara stopped in her tracks. Lisa let go of her hand and they were instantly separated, but Sara was too stunned to care. As she looked around at what people were wearing, what they were doing, how they were acting, she realized with a jolt what was wrong. She was not in the right time. She was from 2015. What the hell was she doing in the 1950’s?
Better yet, how did I get here?
Her mind raced back to the store front where Lisa had found her. Something had caught her eye and she stopped to look. What was it? That’s right. A TV. An old bulky TV amongst the new flat screens playing some movie in black and white. Sara thought it was strange seeing it there in-between two HD flat screens. Who watched black and white anymore?
As she looked around her, she tried to remember what it was she was watching. Something about a county fair. Some old time horror movie where nobody was who they said they were, and surprises were around every corner. That was the draw of the fair. It promised fun and excitement, but once the excitement started there was only one way to leave.
When you were dead.
“What’s wrong, Sara?” Lisa asked walking slowly towards her.
Looking more closely at Lisa, Sara could see the flaws. Places where Lisa was…incomplete. As if the pixels on a TV screen were dying out. Her voice was different too. There was no emotion in it, just like her expression. On closer inspection Sara saw that Lisa’s eyes were the same as the people around her. Hungry, angry…flashing red.
“What’s going on, Lisa?” Sara asked taking a step back from her friend.
“What do you mean? We’re going to watch the show. Come on,” Lisa urged, raising her hand for Sara to take. Something in the inflection of her voice rose the hair on the back of Sara’s neck. “We’ll miss the show if we don’t sit down.”
“I don’t think I want to see the show anymore,” Sara said taking another step back.
The smile that slid across Lisa’s face was not reassuring. It was cold and hungry, like her eyes.
“In fact, I think I will go home,” Sara announced with more courage than she was feeling.
“I’m afraid that will be impossible,” Lisa scowled, her voice lowering, growing raspy, demanding, angry. “Once you cross through the Gates of Hell, there is no returning. You are forever bound to the pits of despair. Forever at the mercy of the demons you have created.”
Suddenly everything was in vivid color. Until that moment Sara had not realized everything had been in black and white. What the hell? The fair dissolved into mist as the people around her began to change. Each moaning and screaming as their bodies contorted into hideous creatures of various shapes, sizes and colors.
Demons, came unwelcomed into her mind. That was impossible. Demons did not exist.
Slowly, as one, they turned their eyes towards her, all different shades of the spectrum, all burning with fire, and she realized she was very wrong. Demons did exist.
In front of her, Lisa stood defiantly, her skin black as night, her long hair red as fire, her eyes green like emeralds. Absently, Sara thought she was beautiful. Then Lisa smiled, showing her razor sharp teeth.
“You belong to us now,” she hissed. “Welcome to the realm of pain and horror.”
Copyright© 2017 Heidi Barnes
Just a little side note: Where we are going into the realm of angels and demons, the creation of this particular universe is not what some might think the conventional way of thinking. I hope you’ll keep reading as I veer away from popular belief and create my own.