I open my eyes.
I see circus men.
Why are they in my bedroom?
Soft laughter fills the room.
Clowns are waving knives at me.
I need to escape.
I’m tied to my bed.
They’re coming closer.
The laughter is getting louder.
I close my eyes.
All is quiet.
My eyes open.
The room is dark.
I glance over at my chair.
A red balloon is tied to it.
Floating in the air.
LOST AT A CARNIVAL
Linda is lost at a carnival.
A carnival of her nightmares.
A clown is leering at her.
The knife-thrower is throwing knives
At her but keeps missing.
She runs into a tent.
Mirrors surround her,
Distorting her reflection.
She runs farther into the darkness,
Crashing through a mirror,
Finally landing in a pitch black room.
The floor begins to spin…
She tries to grab hold of the walls.
They are wet and shiny.
But there’s no way out.
That night Linda found herself caught in a nightmare that she couldn’t escape from, even when she willed herself to open her eyes. She was afraid that it wasn’t a nightmare, but a sinister game that had gone wrong. She didn’t know how she’d gotten herself into it or how she was ever going to get out.
The nightmare had begun with Linda passing through the magical door at the diner—but it wasn’t the diner anymore; it was a remote house that she’d never seen before. The house was dark and dreary like End House, but it wasn’t End House.
She heard the sounds of waves crashing against the house. She couldn’t believe that she was a prisoner in another house by the ocean. She didn’t know where she was or what day it was. She didn’t even remember how she’d gotten here. She just remembered following the little girl through the door: she’d been curious to see what was on the other side.
On the other side of the door, Linda found herself at the same carnival that the little girl from the village had visited, except this carnival was much louder and the people were leering at her, trying to force her into their tents. The fat man was waving his pudgy arms at her as he got closer and closer. A clown came at her with his balloons and howled at her. A man began throwing his knives in her direction, but luckily, kept missing. She ran away and ran behind the tents to the colorful booths of the carnival.
She chose the Fun House. She stepped into a room full of mirrors that made her multiple reflections appear distorted and unreal. She couldn’t figure out why she’d run into the Fun House: if in every horror movie the victims were always portrayed as being terrorized there. She hoped this wasn’t another game of The Dead. She was determined to locate an exit, but found only mirrors and more mirrors; they made her dizzy. Her distorted reflections stared back at her; as if they were distinct entities, united against her, instead of her own creations.
She ran until she crashed head-first through a mirror, into a dark place with no beginning or end. The whole experience felt unreal to her—as if she were lost in a different dimension. Behind this mirror, she encountered a man with a white mask and empty holes for eyes, laughing at her. When he touched her arm, she realized that he was real and not just a reflection.
She fled from the laughing man, going deeper and deeper into the dark unknown. She looked back and noticed creatures following close behind her. Some were bats and some were dark shadows, but all were reaching for her. She hoped that these weren’t the same shadows from town that had been haunting her for weeks.
She hit something hard and fell down. So maybe this place did have an end. She raced away with her hands out, hoping to find the mirror that had caused her to enter this dark hell. Ahead of her in the distance, she glimpsed a shiny surface. After she got closer, she realized it was the mirror, patiently waiting for her. I hope this wasn’t a trap.
She decided to step through the mirror and worry about the consequences afterward. She had always been afraid of the dark. She wondered how these creatures knew her fears—unless it wasn’t real, but just a figment of her imagination. She stuck her hand out and found that it flowed right through the glass. She followed her hand and crawled through the mirror.
She found herself back in the house by the sea. She was in the main hall, looking up at a long flight of stairs. She raced up the stairs and ran through the deserted rooms. The house was empty of any people or furnishings. All she could hear were her heels clicking on the shiny wood floors.
Fearing that she was caught in an endless loop like the one at End House, she hurried back down the stairs, all the way down to the basement. Since the top two floors were empty, she decided to try the basement—even though basements were also popular in horror stories, which was exactly what she was in.
The basement was empty. The floor she was standing on began to rotate around and around. She reached up to grab hold of something to help her climb off the revolving circle, but there was nothing: the walls were wet and slippery. She tried to escape but found herself falling deeper and deeper into the dark hole. The only thing she remembered before she lost consciousness was the sound of a man’s evil laughter as he chanted the words over and over, “It’s not over. I’ll be back.”
Not in Oasis, Florida.
Beneath the gaiety,
lies an evil.
An evil so dark
that nightmares are born.
Borne by the innocent
residents and tourists.
Can you feel it?
Can you hear it?
The evil laughter.
Come and join the fun.
THE DEAD accept one and all.
THE DEAD GAME
I’m here for you.
I’m looking at you.
Come with me.
To the carnival.
There will be games, knife-throwers, and
balloons—loads of balloons.
Just walk through the door.
It’s all waiting for you.
The door will open
a whole new world for you.
But you might be stuck here—forever!
Come and play with me!
The Dead love their games.
THE DEAD GAME BY SUSANNE LEIST
I was looking through pictures online to find one
that would cheer me up on such a dreary day.
Look what I found!
An elephant with its baby made to look like a circus.
A circus can be fun with balloons and lights.
Don’t forget the elephants and tigers.
A circus can also be scary.
There are clowns and men throwing knives.
My mind has drifted to the creepy again.
I guess that’s why my book contains a scene
in a circus, where someone is being chased by
clowns and knife-throwers.
The character doesn’t know if she’s in a nightmare or actually
running for her life through a maze of mirrors.
You can’t teach an animal new tricks—in this case me.
A circus will always be a frightful place for me, and my
dark thoughts will always lead me there.