Two of the first horror books I ever read were about carnivals. These were years before I ever picked up Something Wicked This Way Comes, which likely would have scarred me for life. They were the silly kind of Goosebumps horror that was spooky but not really scary, but they haunted me for years afterward.
I spent a lot of time at fairs as a kid. I grew up in a small town with nothing to do, and our yearly summer fair was one of the few things I looked forward to every year. One year, when I was particularly young, I spent every day at the fair, open to close, wandering around by myself.
Nothing scary happened to me, but, even that young, it was surreal. I felt like I’d become part of the carnival somehow, a feature as intrinsic to the experience as the barkers drawing you in to play games. Just a girl wandering around with a bag of cotton candy and an unlimited rides bracelet, ready to fade away as soon as the fair packed up and moved along.
Anyway, here’s a drabble.
(a.) From Greek euphonia, sweetness of voice
Liliane tilts her head. There’s something beneath the carnival sounds of excited screams, the rumble of rickety rides, the raucous music. A hum, a screech, that travels through her nerves like a hit to the elbow. The hairs rise on her arms.
She cups her hand to her ear and steps out of the crowd, closer to the whine of the carousel. Not a chant, precisely, nor is it like any music she’s ever heard. Music should be pleasant, and this is a discordant sound, chaotic. Still, it calls her, drawing her closer, closer, like the scent of popcorn from across the fairgrounds.