Oct 11
meganm14's picture

Careful What you Look for Behind the Screen

Careful What You Look for Behind the Screen
Something just didn't feel right about this carnival that just randomly showed up on Saturday. It wasn't unusual in the town of Santa Clara. Normally it was something that tried to get big but failed to succeed. Something in my gut was telling me that this wasn't some come and go type of carnival. This had to of been something worse. Santa Clara got a little bigger when Netflix decided to make a show called Santa Clarita Diet. Since then, we’ve had a bunch of things come in and leave. 

Everyone had been talking about the new carnival. How fun this was supposed to be. But something to me was off. It was like my gut was telling me that something horrible was going to happen. But I just couldn’t place my finger on it. I felt like an animal would break out, that seemed the most logical, but I just couldn’t get myself to believe it. I didn’t even want to think about anything else. I just had to force myself to believe it was nothing. That my gut was just lying to me. 

The carnival came on Saturday and it started on Sunday. As a young child in Santa Clara, I’ve always wanted to go to a carnival and see all the animals. The older I got, the less interested I was. Mostly because I constantly looked up behind the scenes of a carnival. And oftentimes it involved watching the animals get abused. It tore my heart apart to watch them be in pain. Even if they couldn’t say anything. And now, after 16 years of waiting, a carnival finally comes rolling in. At first, I thought it was going to be so much fun! I could go with my friends, be weird, and enjoy the day. By the day it opened, something inside of me shifted and I felt like there was something wrong with the carnival. The whole town looked and sounded like it was brainwashed into believing this is the best in the world. Except me. But there was just something that I guess I saw that nobody else did. 

I silently walk into my house and sit down at my computer beginning to research the carnival. It didn’t even have a name! It was just called, “Carnival.” That was it! There was nothing else to it. I scroll through all the carnivals until I come across one that looked kind of like the carnival here in California. I get a call from one of my good friends, Adam. I answer.

“Hey, Madeline!” Adam smiles on FaceTime. I smile. He was someone you had to be friends with.

“Hey,” I reply.

“Did you want to go to the carnival next week? I’m going just to see how stupid this is going to be. But apparently, it’s supposed to be really good!” he smiles and fell back onto his bed. Maybe I could go and just sneak behind the scenes and figure out what was going on.

“Who else is going?” I ask.

“The rest of the student body. Apparently, it’s supposed to be an all-school thing.” I didn’t know that it was a student body thing! Then again, I’m not part of it. 

“I’ll be there. But are you allowed to bring guests?” I ask.

“Yeah, one person can bring one guest. Let’s say Jenna brought her boyfriend. Those two get in for free because Jenna is part of the student body and the guest, boyfriend, can go for free too. So if I brought you, then you would be able to get in for free. It’s pretty cheap anyway.” 

“Thanks, for being a part of the student body,” I say smiling.

“No problem.” 

“Well, I got to go. I have to finish homework for English and Math.” I quickly say.

“Wait we didn’t get any-” Adam begins and I hang up. I just had to keep researching on that stupid carnival. 

I sit at my computer for hours on end, just searching about the carnival. Nothing bad showed up. All 5 stars, perfect reviews, all of them were saying that it was amazing and the cost should have been more for how amazing it was. There wasn’t a single 4-star rating! All of them were 5 stars. It seemed like someone made a bunch of accounts, rated all 5 stars on all of them, and someone had hacked into the websites that said something that they didn’t like, they deleted it. I felt uneasy and wanted to stop. But it was like a vortex I couldn’t get out of. Or like a maze that I just couldn’t get out of. I hear the door open and I spin around on my chair facing Adam. He gives me a small smile and falls onto my bed. 

“Um? Hi?” I say. I know we lived a couple of houses away and it wasn’t unusual to have him come over, but he always asks. 

Adam says something but he mumbled it into my bed. I couldn’t hear a word he said.

“Adam, speak up,” I say.

“I’m lonely!” he faces me and yells. He throws his head back into my bed. 

“You have a boyfriend, Adam?” I say a little confused.

Adam starts crying, his whole body shaking, “Not anymore!”

The world comes to a stop. Adam’s first boyfriend! Both of them were the power couple! Adam was so much happier! Ethan, his boyfriend now ex, was the jock of the school. I didn’t want to ask why but I had to.

“What?! Why?!” I close my computer and sit on the bed next to him.

Adam sits up and rests his head on my shoulder. Tears running onto my shirt. “Apparently I was just an experiment to see if he was gay or not. TWO MONTHS! Coming on three months! And now he says that he’s straight. If you’re with the same gender for over a month, you’re gay.”

I put an arm around him and hug him, “Fair point, want me to rip him to shreds?”

Adam smiles a little, “Could you?”

“I can do anything.”

“Yay, Madeline, you’re amazing.” he hugs me and wipes his tears away. “So. What are you looking up?”

“I told you, I had math and English homework to do.”

“We’re in the same class. They didn’t give us homework.”

“I, uh, stayed after and asked for homework.”

“We walked out together. We didn’t talk to the teachers.”

“Ugh fine! I was looking at the carnival.”

“How did you even find it?”


“Find anything?”

“Nope. All of it was 5-star ratings.”

“Told you it was supposed to be good.”

“Fine.” No, it wasn’t good. Something wasn’t right. 

“I’m staying the night by the way.”

I groan jokingly, “No! I hate when you spend the night! Go home for once!”

Adam laughs, “You’re the one that always spends the night here.”

I have to laugh. He makes those stupid jokes that you have to laugh about. I reach over, grab a pillow, and throw it at Adam. He grabs the pillow and throws it back at me. We end up throwing pillows at each other for hours. 
A few days later, we were only one day away from the carnival. And I was one step closer to ripping Ethan apart. But honestly, that was the least of my concerns. I just had to figure out what was going on in the carnival. Lately, people have been going missing. Which wasn’t too unusual. But it seemed like people have been going missing more and more ever since that carnival came in. News articles had the same thing, “Child Goes Missing” then on the next page, “Come to the New Carnival! Very Cheap Prices!” How come nobody was putting the dots together? Or am I just getting further and further away from the truth? Something just wasn’t right about this carnival, and something inside of me knew what was going but refused to say anything.

I walk around the building of our school and I am seeing news everywhere, signs, everything all pointed to that stupid carnival! People nonstop were talking about it. All I heard was “carnival this” and “carnival that.” I was sick of it! Even the teachers were actually talking about it! In the middle of class! It was becoming enraging. Thank god Adam decided to go to the carnival with me than with his ex-boyfriend. Now I could get in for free, and maybe slip into the back of the carnival and find something. Thoughts were going throw my head, all the scenarios. For example, if I went into the back, someone would see me and kill me, another was if there was just nothing. There were so many thoughts flooding my brain that I couldn’t focus on school. I knew that at least one of those thoughts were correct, but they were coming and going so fast I couldn’t pin it down. I just was counting down the days. And now, we are only one day away. 

The day finally comes and the nerves hit me. Like I was in the carnival. I guess people could see the nerves hitting me every time someone called my name. One of the teachers asked me to come into her room for lunch so I can calm down. I was calm, just a little nervous. All I had to do was just stay calm…

We get to the carnival and we find our seats. I’m sitting next to Adam and I tell him my stomach was hurting and I slip away to go to the “bathroom.” I find a small way to sneak in. I try to squeeze myself in and I manage to cut my hand slipping through. I try not to make a sound and I wander around. I look around in the shadows and I notice there were animals chained up. Couldn’t move. My heart was breaking. I wanted to break them free, but now I couldn't. I wander around until I find a door. I hear laughing from the other side. Not a funny laugh. A dark, menacing laugh. I put my hand on the door and I slowly open the door. Not a sound, thank God. I peak in and I see blood on the walls, what looked to be a human body on a table, I see rows of knives all bloody. I wanted to scream, I was in too much shock. I move my hand in slowly trying to reach for a weapon in case of an emergency. I feel the blood sticking to my hands. My hand lands one of the weapons I quickly pull it to my chest and look at the blood on my hand. My heart is racing. I look again and everyone is staring at me. They weren’t chanting, they weren’t laughing, no. They were staring. Right. In. My. Face. I scream and run. A few of them chase after me I run with the knife. The animals roaring. I find the way I got in and try to get out as fast as I could. I cut my arms and legs. The knife drops and slices deep into my leg. I scream again. I get out and limp as fast as I could to my seat. I find Adam and try to get up quickly. Adam looks at me, my hair knotted, blood all over me. Adam pretends not to notice me when he sees the carnival people and he pretends to cheer. He knew I was running from them. He cheers and I duck down low. The pain in my leg didn’t hurt anymore the adrenaline hit me hard and I couldn’t feel any cuts. I begin to feel extremely dizzy and I sit down in my seat. Little stars began to form around my eyes. I think I was dying. Maybe if I just gave up… Just say goodbye… Nobody will know about what was behind the scenes….

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