Estimated reading time — 7 minutes
I was usually the type to stay out of trouble and away from danger but Jim on the other hand, was the rebellious type. Usually a long-time friend can pursued you into doing pretty much anything, and Jim was the master when it came to that.
Jim and I had been friends since we were two years young, now a decade has passed and we’ve stuck by each other’s sides ever since then. We went on adventures just about every day. Sometimes they got us into trouble but for the most part Jim respected and understood my “play it safe” way of life. But for some reason, I could care less that day. It was as though something possessed me into doing something wrong just for the thrill of it.
We had been walking home from school together when Jim and I passed up a very dark and unfamiliar-looking carnival. That day seemed to have been the brightest day of the year but ironically enough, from the carnival on there were nothing but gray skies. Jim hesitantly followed as I walked over to the entrance. A generic “DO NOT ENTER” sign that ran across the entrance was being held up by a rusty chain fell to pieces once I tapped the sign.
“Whadd’ya say we check it out?” I asked as I turned towards Jim.
Something seemed very eerie about that moment. Jim’s face was awfully pale and he seemed to be sweating bullets.
“Hey man, we’d better not. I don’t like the vibe I’m getting off this place.” He said in an extremely frightened tone.
Jim proceeded to walk away but something made me grab his arm and pull him back.
“Aw c’mon, we haven’t had a good adventure in a while. Where’s your excitement at? It’s not like anything bad’s gonna happen, I’m here.” I continued to try and pursued my reluctant friend with a very promising smile as he would usually do to me.
After a while he finally gave in and we entered the shady carnival. It was unlike any entrance I’d ever seen. It seemed to be some sort of labyrinth that lead to nowhere. The walls were lofty, dried up bushes filled with an infinite amount of thorns that were impossible to break through. Jim just silently followed without looking back as we began our new adventure. Suddenly after the first turn in, Jim and I felt a dark presence that we followed like robots turn by turn.
The leaves suddenly began to grow darker with each turn until they were black. The faint smell of something burning began to take over and by the next five turns, it was unbearable. I had never smelled burning flesh but I assumed that was what we smelled.
The ground felt as though it were going to break right under us if we stepped just a little harder. The temperature began to change as Jim and I stood still. It grew so intensely hot that we became nearly dehydrated almost instantly.
“I-I think we s-should turn around.” Jim said in a frightened and shaky voice. He looked as though his soul was leaving his body at that very moment.
“Uh good idea” I agreed but as we turned around, we noticed that our path had been blocked by a wall of barely burnt out thorns that we couldn’t even see the top of. We had no choice but the walk further.
I didn’t think it was possible but the smell of burning flesh had grown so strong that without even thinking about it I vomited due to the fact that I could taste the smell. Suddenly a soft roar started escalating until I couldn’t make out what Jim was trying to tell me. The sound seemed to be made up of a million screams that shot a knife of terror through my heart which made me take off running out of instinct. Without looking back I kept running, hoping to whatever god that was out there that Jim was right behind me.
I felt as though I had been running for hours until the smell had died down as well as the horrible screams. I couldn’t hear footsteps behind so I panicked and looked around for Jim. All that was behind me was that damn wall, mocking me. Again, I had no choice but to keep walking.
I couldn’t tell the time of day because the sky was just a solid gray in all directions as far as the eye could see. The leaves started to regain color and were a healthy green. The atmosphere felt perfect besides the fact that he sky was as dark as ever. The next turn lead me to a merry-go-round. I couldn’t really tell whether or not it was spinning until I looked at it for a while. Slowly but surely the abnormally large ride was spinning.
The size wasn’t the only abnormality of the merry-go-round; all of the animals appeared to be sheep. But they had a very sad and painful look to them, as though within the ride. The sheep were missing different body parts but they all had one thing in common, they had deep black and seemingly endless holes for eyes. Some of them were missing patches, if not all, of their knotted and filthy fur. The bare sheep’s skin was rather dull and extremely dry looking; some of the even had rotting flesh. I then realized that these were once, if not still, live animals. They seemed to barely be hanging on the ride by rusted poles piercing their bodies with enormous scabs building up around the exit wounds.
I suddenly noticed a new animal coming around the corner; it was a wolf. Its eyes, hyper realistic, such a captivating red color I swear they could’ve grabbed my soul right from my body if I stared long enough. Discolored flesh dangled from its mouth. Some was even pouring out of a hole in its neck which gave me another urge to vomit had it not been for what I saw following the head. Jim was on the back of the wolf. His eyes mocked the wolf’s and his skin was not a normal pale color, it had a sort of gray and lifeless tint to it.
Jim wore a slight smile that made me scream at the sight of it for some odd reason. He seemed startled by my outburst and slowly turned just his head towards me. If I didn’t know Jim my whole life, I wouldn’t have been able to recognize him.
“What are you?” I asked in terror hoping I didn’t regret what had just come out of my mouth.
“What do you mean? I’m your longtime friend.” His tone was monotonous and his voice was abnormally deep for a twelve year old. His eyes seemed to be staring off deeply in another universe.
“Well? Don’t you want to ride with me? It’s loads of fun; you can trust me can’t you? It’s me, Jim.”
A sudden force took over my body and I walked over to Jim reaching his hand out. I tried to stop but I couldn’t. As I stepped on the platform, everything but the merry-go-round grew pitch black. I was indeed terrified but I couldn’t scream, I couldn’t speak, I couldn’t even feel myself breathing.
Jim had a pleased yet horrifying look on his face as I walked passed him and got on a sheep. The pole was so rusted that it turned my hands almost completely orange. The fur and skin of the sheep was so rough that it cut me instantly. The same burning flesh smell was back and was as prominent as ever.
The ride’s speed began to increase once I was locked on the ride and a familiar roar of a million screams started up again. The cries were so high pitched I could swear my ears were going to bleed any second. I couldn’t move or let go of the ride. I couldn’t cover my ears, mouth or nose to keep these awful things from entering my body.
It seemed as though we were about to his light speed and I closed my eyes and screamed as loud as I could since that’s all I was capable of. Jim hadn’t made any sort of movement or sound.
The ride finally stopped and so did the sound and smell. My eyes were still shut and I had suddenly fallen to the ground. I gained to strength to open my eyes once more and I saw that I was out of the labyrinth. I sat almost lifeless in the middle of the dirt road right outside of it for hours until I finally snapped out of whatever shock I was in and ran home faster than I’d ever run before.
I tried to tell my parents what I had been through, why I was gone so long and what had happened to Jim. They just gave me a very concerned look and pointed at the clock, “Sweetheart, t-this is the time you usually get home from school. And who is Jim? Are you sure you went to school today instead of sleeping all day? You might’ve dreamt that.” My mother said in a very worried tone.
Why didn’t they believe me? It really happened, had I been cursed by that damn labyrinth, or carnival? Whatever the hell that thing was, what did it do to me?
“Are you kidding me? I’ve known Jim my whole life! You guys even grew up with his parents! I’ll take you to his house right now!” I screamed so loud that tears began to run down my face.
They insisted I had a very realistic dream and left it at that. Something was very off about that moment. I didn’t understand why my parents couldn’t remember Jim.
I bolted out of my house and straight to Jim’s. His parents had no idea who I was and had never had a son named Jim. They had a three year old daughter named Lila. I couldn’t comprehend what exactly was going on or what I was feeling. I just knew that what I just experienced actually happened. I knew that I wasn’t making my lifelong friend up, I couldn’t have been. I even still had the wounds and rust stains on my but no one else could see them. Jim, where did you go?
After a few days my parents stopped listening to me. I tried to show them the carnival but I was the only one that could see it. Not too soon after that, I seemed to be the only one that could see me as well. I tried to talk to my parents but nothing happened. I stuck around to see if they were even concerned that I wasn’t around anymore but it was as though I had never existed. I even vanished from the family photos. No remembered neither Jim nor I.
I returned to the carnival once more. As I entered my new home, I placed a new “DO NOT ENTER” sign back up the next person that comes across it will heed it’s warning.
I finally reached the merry-go-round again. There he was, Jim, still riding the lone-wolf. Though there was something different about him, he developed sheep-like features and looked as though he were rotting from the inside out. I looked into a small mirror on the ride and noticed I looked the same. Jim didn’t speak to me, he didn’t look at me, he didn’t even move. I tried to talk to him but he couldn’t hear me, I couldn’t even hear me. I tried to push him off the ride but I just fell through him.
Before I take my place on the ride, I’m writing this and sending it off on some balloons that greeted me by the entrance, possibly for this very purpose. If someone is indeed reading this, please, “DO NOT ENTER”.
Credit To: Kristal G.