The Funhouse

On a crisp autumn morning a fifteen-year old girl stood on the shores of the gray Atlantic near a silent amusement park, starring out into the ocean. The mist was slowly drifting apart as the air gradually grew warmer and a lone sea bird cawed loudly from overhead. The breeze played gently around her, blowing thin wisps of short golden blonde hair around her face and into her eyes and she reached a gloved hand up lazily to brush them away.

As the last of the fog cleared and she could see the sun rising silently over the still water, she closed her eyes, listening to the waves crash on the rocks below her, and took a long deep breath of the salty air before heading back to the house to make herself some breakfast.

The house, an old Victorian mansion, restored only four years before they'd moved into the secluded cliff-side community, was painted light lavender with deep green trim. She noticed her older brother, Erik, leaning against the wood railing of their second story deck, a cup of coffee steaming between his hands as he groggily acknowledged her return with a nod of the head.

"You're up early," She called casually, opening then closing the gate behind her, taking the slippery walk leisurely.

"Not by choice." He called back, taking a sip of his cup, "It's my first day down at the restaurant and they got me workin' mornings!" He took another drink of the probably black coffee before sitting it back down. She laughed and stepped up onto the porch, turning the door knob and letting it swing open soundlessly of it's own will.

With both her parents at work, her little sister sleeping, and her brother upstairs, the house was eerily quiet save for the creeks and groans that seemed natural in all turn of the century houses. She walked through the large living room, unbuttoning and dropping her heavy jacket on the couch, kicking her shoes off by the chair, and leaving her gloves on the coffee table. She went into the kitchen and made herself some scrambled eggs with a glass of milk before going back through the large, swinging door to sit on the couch and watch TV.

She'd flipped through all the channels almost twice when Erik called down from the open hallway, bending over the side to see her.

"Hey Tiff, have you seen my good shoes?" Having absolutely no clue what he was talking about, but figuring that he always slept in the library on the third floor instead of his bedroom, she yelled for him look there and was rewarded a few minutes later with a loud "Found them!"

She clicked the remote five more times, her chin resting on her hand, elbow on the armrest, when the phone rang. Turning the TV on mute, she set the remote down and reached for the cordless. Pressing the talk button, she answered in the nicest voice she could muster.

"Hello?"

"Hey, is Tiffani there?" Another sickly sweet female voice.

"Shelly?" She asked, talking normal.

"Oh, Hey Tiff." The person answered, the false sugar disappearing totally. "I was expecting your sister, what are you doing up this morning?" laughter filtered across the line. "I would'a thought nothing short of a bucket of ice water would get you conscious." Tiffani rolled her eyes, annoyed that her friend always found it amusing to make fun of her late day habits.

"Is there something you wanted or did you just feel like making fun of me?" An innocent tone answered her.

"I wasn't making fun Tiffy."

"Right." She said, sarcasm dripping from the word. Giggling met the reply.

"Okay… Anyways, I wanted to know if you could meet a few of us down at the Café, you know, the one across from the cemetery?" Tiffani shrugged physically, more out of habit than anything else.

"Sure, why not."

"Okay, like… I'll see ya there soon?" Shelly asked.

"Sure."

"Okay, bye."

"Bye." Tiffani pushed the off button and sat starring at the soundless TV before turning it off and heading up the stairs to her room to change.

*****

Tiffani was sitting on a marble bench in the cemetery, looking at the faces of all her friends. There was Laura who had been her best friend since sixth grade, her short brown hair was in a ponytail and she was wearing glasses. Tricia, her newest friend, was sitting beside her on the bench while Shelly, the first friend she'd made had when her family had moved here, was leaning on a tree that was growing beside the graves with Mike. Jason, disrespectful and rebellious, was sitting on a headstone, feet dangling carelessly off the ground. Last, Johnny stood beside her, eyeing Jason and shaking his head with disbelieving revulsion.

"So what are we going to do?" Laura asked as the sun set behind her, casting a purplish-pink hue that tinted everything they looked at. After spending the entire day just "hanging out" doing something sounded interesting.

"How about the carnival?" Jason asked, holding his Pepsi bottle wrapped in a brown paper bag like always to trick people into thinking he had some alcoholic drink. Tiffani glance toward the northeast at the dark amusement park perched on the edge of a cliff and felt an involuntary shudder.

"What would we do there?" She replied looking back at him, using the same ploy that she used everytime they suggested going up there. "It's been abandoned for the five years I've been here, there's nobody there, the rides don't work, and it's most likely falling apart!" Jason shrugged.

"I thought that's what makes it fun." He sounded irritated. Tiffani was surprised that he hadn't backed down immediately like all the times before. She looked to the rest of her friends to see what they thought and found mixed feelings. Tricia looked to her like she didn't care either way. Mike looked about ready to leave now. Shelly looked like she'd been waiting for that question her entire life, though it was brought up every Saturday. Laura looked torn, like she wanted to go but was a little scared. It seemed only Johnny was as repulsed by that idea as she was. She knew somehow that this time, they'd all go up there with or without her and for a moment she thought that it would serve them right if something did happen, but immediately regretted it and felt herself weakening.

"Come on Tiff," Shelly coaxed. "It's not like there's any ghosts or anything, it's just an old amusement park." Tiffani nodded hesitantly.

"Hey, atleast go up there with us, if you really don't want to then, we'll all talk about it." Mike offered and Tiffani finally consented.

"So who's all going?" Jason asked, a triumphant smile on his face. A small chorus or "Me's" and "I Will's" met him; all except for Johnny who only nodded like he knew this was a bad idea.

*****

They'd jumped over the chain-link gates with their "No Trespassing" signs and were currently walking through rows, glancing at the stuff that looked like it hadn't been touched since the place closed down. Nothing was packed into boxes or put into storage and that seemed even to confuse Jason, considering that they all agreed that they never remember the place being open. Tiffani felt a cold grip of dread in the pit of her stomach as they continued.

"Why isn't any of this stuff packed away? And don't you think someone would have stolen something by now?" Shelly asked, looking around with mild curiosity.

"I don't know." Tiffani answered looking the other way. "Why do you think this place was closed down in the first place?"

"I don't know." Jason said, walking at the head of the group. "I asked my mom once and all she told me was to never bring it up again."

"Comforting." Tiffani replied dryly. They stopped infront of a large building with a sign over the doorway that read FUN HOUSE and Jason turned around and smiled at them.

"Let's go in here." He said, pointing back over his shoulder with his thumb. Everyone hesitated and looked at each other, it was now completely black out with no moon. But it's not like there's anything in there Tiffani thought, and, taking two large steps, was standing beside Jason. When it was clear that she'd agreed to go in, everyone else followed a little less reluctantly.

But as soon as all of them had passed through into the building its self, the door slammed shut behind them.

Shelly turned at the same time and grabbed the knob, trying to turn and open it, but the door wasn't just locked, it was is if it were frozen, the knob not giving way at all and feeling like a rock, cold and hard, in her hand.

"We're trapped." She announced, letting her hand slip from the handle and fall back at her side.

"I knew this was a bad idea!" Tiffani said, looking into the darkness from the small circle of yellow light that was shining down on them with no source, interlacing her fingers and thumb in a nervous gesture. Just then, from the shadows beside them, came a low, raspy laugh that made all of them jump. Glowing red eyes blinked at them from the darkness and there wasn't even a breath of air from any of the seven as they waited in terror to see if they should move or not. With out any warning that it was going to do so, the creature leapt from the shadows, revealing it to be a small person, in a clown suit.

Everyone scattered, each running in different directions, but Laura couldn't get away fast enough and the midget clown was able to close it's mouth over her shin, it's tiny sharp teeth piercing her flesh and causing her to scream in pain and terror. The small childlike hands gripped her slightly loose pants and dragged her into the shadows with her thrashing around, screeching and kicking it's over sized head.

The group had stopped when they heard her cries and Tiffani was running towards the shadows when a series of terrible screams replaced the agonizing screech and Tiffani stopped and stepped back with a gasp of horror as dark blood spread slowly across the cheerily painted floor and the screams died away. They stood in silence for another moment until Johnny spoke up as a line of white shot out between them.

"Where's that light coming from?" The looked around in confusion and Jason finally pointed to their far right.

"There! See it? From that room!" They ran towards it, instinctively seeking the comfort of light. The room was empty and felt safe, but when they were about half way through the room, they heard a sound like steel scrapping stone. They turned in time to see a giant sword split Mike's head and go through his leg into the floor, spraying blood out all over Tricia who screamed and backed away while trying to wipe it away from her face and running into a wall. A buzzing filled the room and before anyone could do anything, spinning saws shot out of the wall behind Tricia, one catching her in the back and cutting her near in half.

Another saw caught Johnny in the neck, completely severing his head and spilling blood all over the floor. Jason turned to run, vomit dripping from his mouth and eyes unbelievably wide, but slipped on the thick liquid and fell on his back, sliding across the room before stopping where he watched in silent terror as a giant sword came down on his midsection. He screamed once with pain, a long drawl that ended with a gurgle and a crack as his head jerked back in convulsions as he died.

Tiffani, seeing that only her and Shelly were left, snatched the sleeve of her shirt and drug her towards the door opposite of the one they entered through, running fast and dodging falling swords and flying saws. But they were confronted at the doorway by a light pink teddybear, it's face stuck in a permanent smile, blood leaking from it's glass blue eyes and running sideways down it's furry face like tears where its head sat on its shoulders, it's seams coming loose and puffy white cotton hanging from it's arms, legs, and neck. It waved comradely at them and released a high-pitched laugh that scared them more than anything else so far.

The Doll pushed a button on the wall and with no more warning than that, a huge ax moving like a pendulum swung down, catching Shelly just under the ribs and slinging her across the room where she hit the wall and slid limply down to become a lifeless lump on the floor, leaving a smear of blood on the white wall.

Tiffani pushed past the bear in a panic and ran into the room behind it to find it was a maze of mirrors that reflected her image back at her. She looked behind to see that the stuffed animal had vanished. Feeling a little more at ease, she came further into the room.

She reached out and touched one of the mirrors tentatively and was shocked to see that her fingers disappeared into the glass and caused ripples on the surface like water. A sudden male reflection alarmed her into trying to turn around, but her fingers were caught and when she glanced over her shoulder, there was nothing there.

She looked back at the mirror and to her horror, the man had her hand in both of his; he smiled evilly into her eyes and she fought not to scream hysterically, telling herself that no one would hear her anyway.

The man jerked hard on her hand and she lost her balance, falling into the mirror. As soon as she was through, the man disappeared and she was left alone in the empty whiteness, the only relief was the mirror that opened like a window. Panicked and beyond terrified of getting lost in the engulfing white, she quickly stood and began banging on the mirror with her fists. High pitched laughter met her angry, hysterical screams and she stopped, silent with fright. The teddybear appeared and gestured for someone else, the little clown came into view carrying a board and Tiffani watched in horror, knowing exactly what they planned to do and that there was no way to stop them.

The clown joined the bear in the sardonic laughter, his low, raspy chuckle blending frighteningly with the toys high, childlike giggles as he raised the board back behind his head. Tiffani opened her mouth and a low drone came out, gradually gaining volume until it turned to a blood-curdling scream that made them laugh louder.

The clown, mouth opened wide and evil red eyes starring into hers, slowly swung the board into the mirror, shattering the glass and causing her scream to echo and then finally fade out forever. J