Nobody knew where they came from, nobody knew who they were, and as they arrived in town nobody seemed to care. The town’s people simply went about their daily routine as if the parade of vehicles down Main St was a daily occurrence. Even Mayor Ron Donaldson sitting in his overstuffed office chair watching the convoy roll past the window of his office couldn’t remember signing any paperwork, permits or approvals for any upcoming public events, but here they were.
The burnt orange Kenworth Aerodyne with colour matched 44″ curtain side trailer emblazoned with “Uncle E’s Endless Pleasures Traveling Carnival” on each side, slowly led the convoy through town and on towards the football oval. Consisting of five trucks, all with similar stand out graphics emblazoned on their trailers, six dual cab utes towing large caravans and four old sedans in varying states of disrepair the convoy slowly snaked its way up the winding road of the only hill in town. At the top of the hill and almost like they were all controlled from a single central source the convoy crawled it’s way through the open gates and up on to the grass playing surface. Once on the grass the convoy slowly made its way around the oval until each vehicle was nose to tail in a complete circle.
Nobody knew how they got there but the following morning every power pole, every rubbish bin, every parking sign and the only street side letter box which still remained in the small remote township of Fielding’s View was plastered with bright coloured flyers.
Come One. Come All.
Uncle Erebus invites YOU to visit his
Carnival of Endless Pleasures!
Something for everyone!
No one leaves. unhappy!
One Show Only!
While their arrival had barely raised an eyebrow in the quiet town their nonstop working over three days as the show was set up quickly became the talk of the town. Despite the talk nobody questioned anything about the carnival, it was just accepted that the Mayor’s office had handled things without them knowing and since Ron didn’t want to publically admit that he couldn’t remember authorising such an event even the chatter in the Mayor’s office only revolved around what they would see at the show and who was going.
Fielding’s View was just a shadow of the town it was when Ron’s grandfather was mayor and the town fought back against the great depression with gold being discovered in the creek and more than 5000 people moving into the area to cash in on the new found wealth. Even when Ron’s father was elected mayor there was over 3500 people in town but by the time Ron inherited (due to the lack of interest by the remaining residents) the same position the numbers were lucky to reach 1000 but each one of those people were excited at the prospect of seeing a carnival.
With so few people in the area and no real tourist attractions left Fielding’s View had no need for seven day trading and by lunch time Saturday the town had started its usual weekend shutdown. Despite the quietness around the streets all the houses were a buzz of excitement with husbands and fathers wondering what pleasures they would find, kids excited at the prospect of seeing a carnival for the first time and wives and mothers trying on dress after dress in an effort to find just the right outfit for the big night.
As Mayor of the town Ron made sure he was first to arrive at the football oval, not because he wanted to be first in line but because as town leader it was expected of him. What he didn’t expect to see when he arrived was the entire football field closed off, the high fences all covered in thick green tarps and the entry gates heavily chained and padlocked. To his knowledge the gates of the oval had never been locked in the entire history of Fielding’s View. As the evening slowly began to set in and the day’s sun began to fade over the western horizon Ron turned toward the town center and saw a procession of people all dressed up in their Saturday night best and heading for what they were promised would be a great night.
By the time darkness had completely descended upon the small town the last of the residents had arrived at the rear of the excited queue. Noisy chatter filled the crowd as people formed little groups within groups but despite nearly 1000 people all standing together at the gate still no one saw the dark figure rise from behind the large concrete gate pillar.
The dark figure no one saw stood dead silent for several seconds before a set of amplified speakers exploded with the booming grumble of a thunderstorm. Before the rumble of thunder stopped a high powered halogen flood light illuminated the once dark figure from below, casting him in an eerie shadowed light.
As the noise dinned and the dark figure began to talk every set of eyes moved towards him. “Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls welcome to Uncle E’s Endless Pleasures Traveling Carnival, I am Uncle Erebus and I present to you my great collection of carnival attractions. You will be shocked, you will be stunned, you will be left breathless and the pleasures will be all mine.”
The entire crowd was quickly mesmerized by Uncle Erebus and his words and just as they had all overlooked the extra full stop in the fifth line of the flyers, they now overlooked the wording of his speech.
Uncle Erebus continued his speech. “I guarantee that you’ve never seen what you are about to see and I further guarantee you’ll never see anything like it again in your life time. Entry is free, attractions are free, even food is free, we accept no forms of monetary payment, but you will all pay something.” He let his last words sink in for a second and before anyone could speak up he resumed talking, again mesmerizing the crowd as he spoke.
“Ladies and Gentlemen I can see you’re all anxious and the gate will open in just a few seconds. Please form a neat orderly line, we have room for all of you and you will all be a part of our pleasures before the night is over. Thank you for your patience.” Then with a large boom from the speakers and a large puff of what people wrongly assumed was artificial smoke from a smoke machine the lights went out and the man they knew as Uncle Erebus disappeared.
Within seconds of being plunged into darkness the crowd became restless yet none of them walked away. They’d all come to see a carnival, something that was so rare in their quiet town of Fielding’s View that leaving just wasn’t an option. For nearly ten minutes the crowd talked amongst themselves, discussing their excitement, discussing their host and discussing his odd speech which none of them took too seriously.
As another large puff of smoke swept across the ground in front of Ron he and those around him realised the gates had opened. “Here we go folks!” yelled Ron as he made a beeline for the gate and the crowd behind him began to fall into line.
Although Uncle Ernie had said there was no entry fee immediately behind the entry gate and flooded by the light of several flood large lights was a ticket booth and turnstile ensuring only a single file line could enter. A sign on the ticket booth in big bold letter told patrons.
“Slide hand inside ticket booth and receive your entry stamp”.
Being first cab off the rank Ron eagerly stuck his hand through the hole in the booth’s window, at which time he realized the booth was empty. In the blink of an eye from below the counter a large hairy claw like talon appeared. The claw was holding a spring loaded self inking stamp and before Ron knew what was happening it had slammed the stamp down on his hand is a quick sweeping motion. Ron yelped in pain and immediately dragged his hand out of the booth. With his hand out of the booth Ron looked down at his reddening skin and saw his entry stamp now tattooed on his hand. Stamped on his hand was the screaming face of a man with fang like teeth, an abnormally long pointed tongue and the letters EEP!
As Ron walked through the turnstiles and into the carnival grounds he heard several people behind him react to the stamping in exactly the same way as he did but no one turned away or tried to avoid their stamp.
The carnival was set out in a large circle; each attraction outlined the circle and was set back inside its own tent. Although bright LED flood lights lit the front of each tent not a single entrance could be seen. A raised stage and free standing light tower stood proudly in the center of the oval, because of its height and location it could be easily seen from every attraction. People began to fill the grounds, some formed little groups, some stood alone, but all wondered what was going on and when the carnival would start.
When the last person finally made her way through the turnstile, shaking her hand and staring at the stamp as she went, the gates quietly closed and locked behind her. The entire town was inside the carnival yet not one person actually noticed the turnstile and gate disappear, just as they didn’t notice the large solid wall sealing them into the oval appear in its place.
As confused people talked and mulled around the oval and started becoming aware that none of the attractions were actually open the tensions started to rise.
Without warning a large plume of smoke began rising slowly from below the stage. While everyone present automatically turned and watched the rising smoke plume reach the height of the light tower the flood lights illuminated and a hush fell over the crowd. Then as quickly as it arrived the plume of smoke began fading and immediately before people’s eyes a dark figure appeared on the stage before them.
Uncle Erebus stood, all 2.3 meters of him, on the center of the stage draped in a long black leather coat, which touched the ground and was buttoned up from toe to neck. The coat had long draping winged collars that flared out below his ears and the leather gleamed in the bright lights. Emblazoned across the back of the coat was the same skull from the entry stamp, the only difference being that the coat’s version was in full colour, and had blood dripping from the two fanged teeth.
Uncle Erebus’ facial features were hidden behind a veil of white, a veil which to those standing in the first few rows looked like makeup, but wasn’t. Further hiding his facial features was the black fedora with the pinch-front teardrop shaped crown, complete with the blood red hatband, pulled down low on his forehead and the long flowing jet black hair that came out from under it.
Uncle Erebus stood silently surveying his audience and his audience stood silently surveying him until one brave soul spoke up.
“Come on! What the hell is going on here, we came to see a carnival but everything is shut and no one is here.” Came the lone voice from the crowd.
Uncle Erebus turned immediately to where the voice came from and pointed directly at its owner with his outstretched right arm and abnormally long index finger.
“Silence!” he said in a loud booming tone as he lifted his hand into the air and the man’s body gently rose from the ground as if connected to the finger by invisible wires. To the surprise of the entire crowd the man then flew towards the stage.
The entire audience was transfixed as the man’s body floated through the air towards the stage and gently touched down barely a meter from where Uncle Erebus stood. Unmoving and staring up into Uncle Erebus’ stone cold eyes of black the man tried hard to hide his fear but everyone close to him could see that it wasn’t working.
“What’s the hurry Jonathan?” Uncle Erebus asked.
“Ah…I…Ah!” Jonathan tried to speak but couldn’t form a sentence.
“Wha…?” Jonathan Preston began as he and some of the members of the audience started to wonder just how Uncle Erebus could know Jonathan’s name. But even if someone had had the nerve to pose the question aloud they didn’t have the chance before the booming voice of Uncle Erebus spoke again.
“You seem a little bit lost for words there Johnnyboy, did you use up your quota of known words with that last little chant of yours?” There were quiet giggles and laughter coming from the crowd but Uncle Erebus again didn’t give Jonathan a chance to answer. “Well Johnnyboy, you really want to see the show? Then your wish is my command!”
As the last word was being spoken Uncle Erebus raised his arms high in the air then brought them down and as if touching two detonators at the same time the entire outer field of the oval, the area between the patrons and the carnival attractions exploded in flames and smoke. Behind the explosions the closed up attractions mysteriously opened and bright lights lit the every game area. By the time the smoke had cleared the entire carnival was open and manned by people dressed similarly to Uncle Erebus himself.
As the crowd cheered excitedly and began making their way towards the attractions Jonathan, who had completely lost control of his bodily functions, stood trembling in a puddle of his own embarrassment. Less than a second later both Jonathan and Uncle Erebus disappeared in a cloud of smoke. Nobody saw the disappearance and nobody cared because they were too busy chasing their own pleasures. It was then that all hell broke loose over the entire field.