Monday, March 26, 2012

"The Land of Make Believe"

My family and I are from New Jersey. We lived there until a year ago. When it happened.

My parents took me and my younger brother Nick to an amusement park called "The Land of Make Believe." I was twelve and my brother was eight.

Even though we had never heard of the place, we were excited. We knew from the ads that many awesome rides were there and that a day full of fun and exhilaration awaited us. And indeed it was the best day we'd had together.

Still is. Except for...

Well, Nick and I were kind of worn out after all the running and playing and eating cotton candy.
"Mommy," he said, "my tummy hurts."

She placed her hand on his head. "All right, dear. We'll be heading home in a few minutes."

Soon we were nearing to the main entrance. It was getting dark, but still light enough to see. Suddenly Nick's pouting dissolved and a big grin replaced it. He was pointing at something. A ride we hadn't seen before.

A ride that we couldn't remember being there when we passed this way before.

"Cool! I didn't know they had a Candle Cove ride!" He scampered toward it.

I glanced at my parents, then followed. But I felt disturbed. Mom and Dad's faces were white.

A whisper reached my ears before I went through the entrance of the ride. It was Mom. "But they made up that Candle Cove show! Didn't they!?"

There was no one inside the structure to help us into the car, so we climbed in by ourselves. After a moment, the restraints locked into place and we started rolling down the track. That old, familiar calliope music played loudly, but there wasn't anything else Candle Cove-related, it seemed.

At last we saw animatronic duplicates of Pirate Percy and the Laughingstock. They looked toward us and I could have sworn they were terrified.

They began to speak to us. Their message made my blood run cold.

"Go! Go back! Get off this ride! It's not safe!"

Nick whimpered and I smirked.

"It's just part of the ride, silly. Nothing's gonna hurt us."

As we left them behind, I heard Percy yell out, "The Skin-Taker is up ahead!"

The calliope music became distorted, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't bothered by it.

We both jumped when Horace Horrible popped out. He didn't say anything. He just laughed. His monocle followed our path until we had left him behind in darkness.

"I'm scared, Evan."

"Good. That means it's like the TV show," I said, thinking a little humor would make him feel better.

"I...I gotta puke!"

Fortunately it went over the side and not on me.

Just then the Skin-Taker, with his trademark hat and cape, was lowered from the ceiling with a shriek.

"I'm going to grind your skin! Grind your skin! Grind your skin! Hahahaha!"

Just like on the show, his mouth didn't move right.

At this point, I was unnerved but tried to put on a brave face for my little brother. We could see the end of the ride coming up, and I believe we both sighed in relief.

That's when the lights went out. It was pitch black. I couldn't see anything. I couldn't move, either; it felt like my hands were being held down by ropes.

I heard Nick scream at the top of his lungs. The screams became gurgles and then there was silence.

"Nick? Nick, you all right, buddy?"

He didn't answer.

The lights came back on and I could move again. I looked next to me and it was my turn to scream.

Right next to me was the bloody, skinned corpse of my brother. His eyes were still wide in shock. He was staring right at me.

I threw up in my lap.

After that experience, none of us could stand to live anywhere near that place. So we moved here to Texas. Far away from the bad memory.

Just one last thing, though. After the lights came back on, and before I exited the ride, I saw the Skin-Taker again. I could've sworn his cape was longer. And dripping red.

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