The blindfold is yanked from my eyes and I’m looking at Big Mike and Wild Bill, my soon to be fraternity brothers. Surrounded by darkness, not even the sparkle of stars glimmering in the sky. My hands begin to sweat.

 “Okay, pissant. You have somehow made it to the last night of hell week.  We hid the Delta Gamma Mu lion, you have to find it and take it back to the ladies,” Wild Bill said. 

“We did a little research on you, Kyle. We hid the lion where you don’t have the guts to go. In the funhouse,” Big Mike said. 

The guys jump back in the van and take off down the country lane, throwing empty beer cans out the window. That’s when it hit me; I’m stranded at the carnival grounds. 

Why me, Why this. No. I can’t go in there. I can’t. My thoughts were racing. The memories of my father beating me for embarrassing him by crying when I couldn’t find my way out of the funhouse come rushing back. Yelling and screaming on the way home. I shamed my father by being a mama’s boy. I’ve never set foot on carnival grounds since. 

With a steel determination to finish hell week, I climb the fence and fall over the other side. Air whooshes out of my lungs as my body smacks into the cold hard ground, a sharp rock piercing my side. The sweet smell of cotton candy and funnel cake makes my mouth water and my stomach growl.  I get up and begin limping through the grounds looking for the funhouse. 

My stomach starts tightening. My hands are moist from the sweat swamping my palms, and I start shaking. No. Not now. My mind is racing everywhere, the maddening drumbeat pulsating behind my eyes.

Finally, I find the funhouse. The enormous white clown face with painted cheeks and mouth. Its red tongue leading the way to the door as it towers over me, challenging me to face my demons.  The evil clown face is staring at me, but I force myself to go inside. The door slams behind me, metal off metal clamoring through the darkened building. I can hear the voices now. I must make them stop.

            “I can’t do this.” I turn and push at the door. It won’t open; I’m trapped inside.  Heart hammering in my chest, I look for another way out.

Pushing open the door on the left, I step inside. With only an overhead spotlight lighting my way, I find myself surrounded with an endless maze of mirrors. Each one reflecting the images from the mirror across from it. As I look at all the glass of emptiness, the voices grow louder in my head. I can’t make them stop.

“Leave him alone, jerk!” the high-pitched whiny voice comes from the left. 

I don’t look. I know no one is there.

“Shuddup, he needs to man up; this is nothing,” said another voice. This time from the right.

“Not now,” I said to no one, yet everyone.

             I can’t push the voices away. I start to whimper and slide down the door to the floor.  I start rocking back and forth.

 “Go away, just go away.” I put my hands over my face, pull them down, and look at the reflection in the mirror across from me.

“Who the hell are you? I don’t know you, go away,” I ordered. 

“I’m the son your pa always wanted. Names Tyler,” his image replied. 

“Please leave me alone.”

“Leave you alone? Hell, I’ve been with you for years. But the others wouldn’t let me near you. Listen up. You are nothing. You’re a baby, a mama’s boy. You probably still wet your bed when you hear footsteps coming down the hallway at night. You make me sick,” the image ridiculed.

I start rocking harder, the tears streaming down my face as I cover my hands with my ears to drown out the voices. 

“Get up, now,” Tyler demanded. His voice projects from the image in the mirror. 

I pull myself up. I need out. I begin to run through the maze. I turn left, only to run into more mirrors and another maze. I continue running, searching for a way out. I turn the corner and slam into another mirror and hit a dead-end. I turn around and am faced with another mirror, the image in it looking angry, and violent.

“You can’t run from me, crybaby. You can’t get out without me,” the image leans closer, and whispers sinisterly, “and I won’t help you.” 

I pull back from the image in the mirror and start running again. I can hear laughing. I can hear Mrs. G yelling at Tyler, and little Susie whining for him to leave me alone. J.R. is threatening him. I’m running as fast as I can, the voices chasing me. I can’t breathe. I’m gasping to get air into my lungs. My heart is racing so fast it’s pulsating through my thin Comicon t-shirt. Sweat is pouring down my face, mixing with my tears.

“Please leave me alone. Or help me. Please?” I beg.

I turn another corner, battling waves of dizziness and fighting for air. More mirrors.

“Told you. You can’t get out without me,” The reflection said.

I succumb to the dizziness. As my vision blurs, I fall to the ground, smashing my face off a mirror on the way down. The salty, metallic taste of blood fills my mouth. Darkness washes over me. I escaped.

***

I slowly open my eyes. The constraints of the straitjacket preventing me from movement. The sterile whiteness of the room is blinding me. I see eyes watching me through the window on the steel door.  I begin to sing.

“Come into the funhouse. Come one, come all. Fun, fun for everyone. Haaaaaaaaahaaaaaaaaaaa.”

END

Wendy Miller-Norris is a blogger and book reviewer from Pennsylvania. She is currently obtaining her education goals in Creative Writing and Script Writing.

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