Red-streaked sunglasses bobbed in the dimly lit chamber. Some times the only way through hell, is to keep going. A faint, an eerie sensation went through his body.
Thin threads of electrical impulse, a will to act, and move, bottled potential in other words.
In this state of dimmed feeling, strange moods came over him. The lights and songs of the surrounding carnival bleated at him. It was muted as though its cry was travelling through thick impenetrable air.
Still somewhat aware, he tried to claw his way through the revelries. Struggling across an invisible tide, the waves of a perception had him trapped in their enveloping undertow.
These days it was hard to remember your own name, or the sense of ever having one.
He pushed his way out of the fraudulently rustic double doors, emerging at last in the twilight air.
He breathed deeply in. The heat was oppressive, but clear. Real, and unadulterated.
This fantasy pulsed deeply all around the carnival. When one first arrived, it was like being on a rollercoaster, or falling in love.
The first signs where an apprehensive excitement, which quickly ran away into euphoria. A mania takes hold of the one, and it disappears into the phenomenon.
Pierson, his name for now, had been snared like countless others. A storm of lights, colors, and alien freedom quickly burrowed under his skin.
No words may be used to speak of this madness. It is beyond words, reaching all the way into the root of perception.
Like drift wood, Pierson is helpless to the waves and crashing of the tyrannical celebration.
He tried catching his breath, as the mania began to take hold once again. Drugged and pulled back out to sea. The horizon and its orange-pink soliloquy faded. He could see it for only a few moments longer, when it disappeared into the other.
Everything that was not the carnival was the other.
He returned inside, to dance with the tempest. He did not know if he was a clown, but he surely was surrounded by them.
Painted faces, grotesque exaggerations of emotion, and glee.
They danced, swirling in the chamber, flinging blades at the targets. These targets were raw beasts, no doubt about it. Some part of them must be human, he considered. They had four limbs, and seemed like they could stand upright.
A stench was exuded by their festering gashes. They spoke in horrible bestial tones. Words that once knew meaning were washed into their true abominable essence.
These grunts could bring one to the only conclusion. That these half beasts were in pain, a righteous, deserved pain.
They were tied on spinning wheels against the far wall.
A devout maniac wearing a white and scarlet robe approached him. He fanned various knives out, in a practiced smooth display.
“Take a shot at greatness.” He preened
“I don’t know,” Pierson replied, “That may not be my thing.”
“Pierson, do it!” The crowd chanted.
“Pierson! Pierson! Pierson!”
He grabbed the blade from the jester’s hand. Without much hesitation or care he flung it at the beasts. It spun gracefully, but clattered against the stone wall.
The room erupted into laughter and applause.
“Here here!” The clowns cried.
The beasts too, joined into the merriment, deriving joy from the act.
“Maybe next time Pierson,” The maniac chimed.
He shook his head slowly, a throbbed of pain surged through his skull, and he temporarily came to his senses.
Pushing the maniac aside, he went for the stairs. Quickly, but not quick enough to escape the maniac and his flutter of knives,
He heard a soft wet rip as the blades flew true. The squeals of the beast tangled the cheering of the crowd. A noxious smell hit him, as he escaped upwards away from it all.
The next floor was a large dining area. A candle lit room, flanked on all sides by mirrors. The large gathering all sat together at a long table.
Once inside it seemed the feast went on forever. He looked back, and the stair case was gone. Only the endless reflection of the revelry existed. The feast, and its reflection, two things separated, stretching to meet each other, to become each other, to nullify each other.
He wandered feverishly around the table, until after one lucky pass, he found a seat had be set for him.
Pierson reclined in the one open seat. His company included maniacs, but also other more composed figures. Gentlemen and ladies in fine fabrics, cut delicately into their meals.
“A good abundance this.” A woman across from him remarked.
She was wearing a pink-red dress, with a crow’s mask.
“Where do you suppose it comes from?” Pierson asked.
This elicited a rumbling of laughter by his surrounding feasters.
“What a useless question. If there is food, eat. Where does it come from! Where does it come from!” He mocked gleefully.
He looked down, to see a plate full of steaming meat, and potatoes had suddenly appeared in front of him.
Slowly he complied, and began eating the sweet food. It was tender, melting almost into air as you bit into it.
After a few portions he lightened up, and tried to engage the crow-faced woman once again.
“How are you doing tonight?” He asked.
“Great, thanks.” She replied automatically, “The offering this time of year are unbeatable. Mid-summer, or is it Mid-autumn? It’s hard to say for sure, but whichever it is, definitely is the best!”
Everyone around her grunted in approval.
“How did you find yourself here?” Pierson asked.
She smiled, “By the fortune of my fate. With the intensity of ambition. The endless feast is a reward for the most deserving.”
“They shall be above, ascended into the heavens by their virtue! Untouched and free!” The table chanted.
“How did you end up here Pierson?”
He thought hard on the question.
“I can’t remember for sure,” He said finally, “There was a long time where I could only think of returning, but as time goes on I change. Every morning more of the old is shaved away. I thought when I was returning, I was going back to myself. Now my self is here, what is there to return to?”
“Here here!” She agreed, raising her glass.
The assembled maniacs and nobles met her toasted, and they all ate with renewed frenzy.
After hours of drinking, and eating, Pierson’s stomach was swollen, his mind lost in a haze.
“You cannot stop now!” Someone demanded, “You cannot disrespect the abundance.”
“I just need some time.” Pierson replied.
“Time! Tsh, you ungrateful…” The reveler shook his head in disgust.
He picked up a dish from the far end of the table and threw it roughly in front of Pierson.
“Eat!” They chanted.
He dug into it on instinct. The melted, tender cheek of the creature tore away. He looked down at the flesh, and then to where it had come from.
A head of one of the beasts lay on the platter. Its expression locked in pain, browned crispy skin.
He dropped the fork in horror, his swollen gut immediately turned.
His hand clasped his mouth, as a violent tide struggled to escape from behind his teeth.
He choked, and coughed, the stuff sloshed around his throat, shooting up his nose and burning.
He finally, emptied a nearby goblet, and relieved himself into it.
He sensed that they were watching him. After struggling against his own gagging, he looked back up to see the assembly drilling him with their eyes.
He locked sight with the crow faced women, and broke into a cold sweat, his pores opening.
“I need to go, how do I leave?”
“Leave?” She asked.
She brandished her larger steak knife.
“Leave! Leave! Leave! Leave!” They began chanting around him.
At least six of them seized him from his chair, and pulled him onto the table. He struggled, yelling, but they overwhelmed him completely.
“Leave! Leave! Leave!” The procession continued.
The crow faced woman stepped onto the table, holding the knife high above her head.
Pierson looked around frantically.
The diners in the mirrors, the endless reflection of their feast, they had stopped eating as well. They were all huddled, around the edges of the roomed, pressing against the glass hungrily.
He looked back to the woman in the dress. It fluttered over him. The traces of her smooth thighs leaned from side to side, in restlessness.
“Leave!” She shouted finally, and brought the blade home.
It punctured through his ribs. The cold metal oozed his warm blood over his chest. He looked straight ahead. The mirror on the far end had changed.
The maniacs began pulling each others clothes off in a frenzy of ecstasy. From the mirrors behind them, his blood flooded into the room.
He felt the dining room tilting towards the scene. The torrent of blood covered them, the carnival goers drowning in it cried out it cacophonous joy.
He fell towards the mirror, straight down towards it, as though it had become the new floor.
He slipped out from under the knife, under her legs, down the table, and through the mirror. He splashed through it, and made ripples in the bloody pool on the other side.
His arms flailed helplessly. Something gave way, and the ocean of gore, begin pouring out somewhere else.
It was pouring outwards, and then began to fall down. He slammed against a metallic grate. The rest of the blood streamed through it, drowning him in place.
Unable to fight it any longer, he took a deep breath of the stuff, and everything went dark.
He awoke, choking, and vomiting. Blood and food poured out of him. He pressed his mouth through an opening in the grate, and released it. After it subsided, he gasped furiously for air.
He looked through the grate, and saw only darkness below. No other form, light, or object could be spotted. Below him were four square walls, dissolving downwards into nothing.
“You can flee the carnival around your body.” A voice croaks, “But you cannot escape the carnival, in your mind.”
Pierson leaned up to see a pale gnarled figure, dressed in a burlap sack. His face was hairless, white, and twisted.
“Why do you struggle against it my son? Your family, your friends, and your people all rejoice. The sacrifice made for you is great. Why do you reject the freedom of the carnival?”
“Because! I can’t even remember life before this! I don’t remember arriving here, or why I came in the first place!”
The tormented creature smile, “One does not arrive at the carnival, one simply finds them self here.”
“I hate it!” Pierson yelled.
The creature was taken aback. He nodded looking at the ground.
“I understand, you need some time…hehah…just some time.”
He looked to him again, “Things could be worse though, they could always get worse. You could have been born a creature, or worse you could have been born me.”
The tormented one smiled a broken yellow smile. Harmless, but at the same time, insincere.
He reached out his hand, “Come now master, let’s return outside.”
Pierson grabbed his hand, and got to his feet. He followed the pale one through the pitch darkness. A seemingly formless room, eventually a ray of light sprung up in the distance.
Silently he followed him out, finding himself in the orange tinted twilight of before.
The wretched one breathed in deeply, “Ahh! Just smell it, that!”
Pierson joined him, taking in a large breath.
“The popcorn, the frying batter, salt, sugar, fat, it’s all so nice when you think about it.
The smells connected, and his whole life flashed through is mind. His childhood, family, school, his career, the accident, the hospital. It reverberated through him like a cold echo.
Pierson smiled in a grim acceptance.
“What do you say? Do you want some to ride the Ferris wheel, and have something to eat?”
“Sure.” Pierson replied.
They made there way across the fair ground, and walked onto the wheel’s platform.
The chipper operator told them to enjoy, and they were clambered into their carriage.
Pierson watched the sun, with an ethereal glint in his eye. They watched the sunset from every angle. They rotated up and down endlessly, watching a sun that never would.
A horizon he could meet, but never climb over, mocked him with cosmic indifference.