Mary felt a spark of excitement shrill down her back as her father turned to park into The Ambercue Showgrounds. Kate nervously looked through her purse, checking that she had everything she needed. “Do you need any money honey?” she asked. Mary shook her head happily. “Since most kids have already been to the Showgrounds, they’re making the entry and rides for free, but only for fall.” Kate nodded, satisfied.
“Alright.” John said sternly. “We’re here. Now you go ahead to Juliette. We’re going to Rochelle’s Circus now.” Kate and John chuckled secretly under their breathes together, still young about the Burlesque Bar. Mary was far too joyful to ask what was going on. So she just waved goodbye as she slammed the car door shut and ran over to the front entrance.
The entrance was a very big arch, with great rusted open gates joining. The arch was followed by a bold sign, saying - The Ambercue Showgrounds. It had become rusted over all these years of abandonship. And the murky teenagers had gotten to the ‘S’ on Showgrounds. The top half was falling off, yet the mighty iron steel that held it up could crush the teenagers that had discriminated Ambercues’ finest classic, refined and reopened attractions. Around the arch were posters of children having a ball on the rollercoaster’s, eating all kinds of candy and hot treats. Yet these too were old. They were faded to a yellow mahogany, and were torn by the strong winds that usually inhabited Ambercue around late fall and throughout winter.
Mary stared down at the blue - grey concrete sidewalk and thought hard for a minute. ’Come to think of it.’ she thought quietly. ’I haven’t heard from anybody who has come to the Showgrounds.’ Mary looked up quickly and turned towards the open gates. ’Yes…’ she confirmed herself. ’Nobody. Not Joan and her brothers Tom and David… Not Mike and his twin sisters Lisa and Tate…’ Mary concentrated deeper and deeper into the showgrounds. There were children there. But not enough to make up for the noise coming from the Showgrounds. ’Odd…’ she said aloud.
“What’s odd, Mary?” a booming voice fluttered from behind Mary. She instantly turned sharply, taking out her usual pocket watch. Juliette, in front of her, was utterly speechless. “Are you… Are you going to harm me with your… Watch?” Julie asked. Mary pocketed her watch, embarrassed. “Sorry, Julie. I thought you were a kidnapper or something.” Mary admitted sheepishly. Juliette smiled at her crookedly. “No, that’s alright.” Julie said slowly. “So, let’s go in while time waits!” She said enthusiastically, pulling Mary by the wrist. Mary was stunned by this. It was all too strange for her.
And just like Mary was under a magic spell, she completely forgot everything creepy about the Showground and took in the amazing atmosphere of her surroundings. She peered to her left, looking at an array of funny looking joyous rides. She peered up, looking at the big brass backings of the entrance letters. To her right, she saw many great food stores, and just ahead she saw Rochelle’s Circus. And in big letters just under, ‘Adults Only. Any trespassers will be prosecuted.’
“Hey! Mary! Stop day dreaming!” Juliette said angrily. “I’ve had enough of your dazes! Now lets get on with the show!” Mary turned to her obediently. She nodded briskly, and just out of the corner of her eye, she saw a showgrounds janitor. Mary was shocked by this worker. He was dirty and old looking. And by looking, she meant the janitor was in his 40’s, but with a lot of wrinkles and age spots. She glanced at his uniform. A faded moss green overalls, clearly material, not denim. The nametag on his ripped breast pocket was faded and Mary could just make out the name. ‘Charles.’ it read.
“Mary! Last one to the Ferris Wheel is a spoilt egg!” Juliette called from afar. Mary snapped a glance to Julie, but she was already a block away. “Hey! We’re supposed to stay together!” Mary blurted. Juliette was shouting something, but she was too far away to hear her words. Mary sighed as she ran over to the rusty Ferris Wheel. But she turned her head over her shoulder for a last look at Charles the Janitor. She hadn’t seen his face much, but his eyes were sad and the colour of the sea after a storm, a charcoal blue. But now, as his cold hard eyes stared back at her, sharing a glare with the surrounding children around, Mary gasped. She gaped. She almost screamed. But something else was strange about his stare, Mary thought deeply as she ran off with fright. It was as if he was muttering to swear revenge on her. To swear revenge on every child in this Showground.
Mary stared helplessly ahead of her. Juliette was sticking her tongue out her. Mary sighed once again. Maybe this trip wasn’t all what it was planned to be. “Come on! Get in line Mary moo cow!” Julie demanded. Mary gasped in shock and initial surprise.
“You still remember that?” Mary asked.
“Only if you do!” Juliette teased. Mary smiled and thought hard.
“Well I mistake you not, Juliette jungle jet!” Mary teased back. Juliette stared, her expression jokingly silly, yet confused. “I wonder how clueless we were when we made those…” she laughed. Mary nodded in agreement.
“We probably didn’t even know if it made sense!” Mary replied.
Juliette and Mary shared a moment. When they were little, they made little nicknames in kindergarten. Mary and Juliette were close then. They’re group being themselves, Paula, who later moved to Easterly, not far from North Haverfield, and the last members, Lisa and Tate. Who, as she thought of earlier, she hadn’t seen since they came here with their brother Mike. And almost instantly, the chills creeped back into Mary’s soul…