by Bob Stein
©1996 Bob Stein -- all rights reserved
First he was shipwrecked on an uninhabited island -- and then things began to get really strange.
Well, I'm shipwrecked. After that thunderstorm from Hell, I'm not sure where I ended up, but at least it can't be but so far from civilization. Actually, I'm amazed to find a so much undeveloped beach front anywhere in Florida.
Undeveloped? I should say abandoned. After almost a full day, I haven't spotted a single person, not even a boat or a plane. Figures. And all I can get on that damn $1,200 radio is static. And the emergency locator broadcast beacon must not be doing anything, either. Oh, according to the indicator lights, it's sending, but the Coast Guard would have traced it by now.
Except for walking a few miles up and down the beach, I've stayed with the boat. She isn't really damaged much at all. I think I can get her back to port if I can just get her into the water. But I'm not quite up to pushing a 36-foot cabin cruiser by myself. Charlie, I'm gonna get you for this. If you hadn't begged off at the last minute, I'd at least have some company.
It's about mid-morning. Don't know the exact time. My damn watch has stopped working. Must be some sort of conspiracy between all of the equipment. The radio and locator beacon don't even light up now, and every battery on board is dead.
The storm did a lot more damage than I thought. The boat looked OK yesterday, but this morning I noticed cracks and splits all over the hull. Must have really been twisted when it was thrown up on the beach. The paint is flaking off, too. I'm gonna have a long talk with the boat yard manager when I get back. Not that it matters much. It's pretty obvious she's totaled.
Marge will be frantic. I was due home last night, and she's always hated the water, anyway. I'm gonna hear 'I told you so' for the next 15 years. Of course, there was no storm reported when I left. I can't help it if blue skies suddenly turn to a typhoon.
With the locator and the radio both dead, there's no point in hanging around here. I'm almost sure I heard noises coming from not too far away. Odd stuff, though. Like circus music. I'll stick to the beach, and just start walking North. Sooner or later, I've got to reach a house or something.
Day 3 -- Early Morning
I found something, all right. Barnum and Bailey meets Apocalypse Now. An honest-to-God old-fashioned carnival, or at least what's left of one. The noise I heard last night must have been a bunch of vandals trashing the place. Everything is torn to bits. I'm probably lucky I didn't find this place sooner - whoever did this wouldn't have been too friendly to a witness.
It's sad to see how much damage was done. Most of the rides look like antiques, even though they were obviously in beautiful shape. And there's this incredible house in the middle of it all. Fancy stonework, sculptured gardens, and lots of stained glass windows. Except that the vandals really worked that over too. There's a grand piano in the fountain, apparently thrown through the second floor window above it. Every stick of furniture is smashed, and books and paintings have been ripped into bits.
The place must have been set up and running last night. I found hot dogs and popcorn that was still edible, if cold. Good thing, too. The boat wasn't exactly stocked for an extended stay anywhere. I haven't eaten so much junk food at one time in years.
It's weird enough to find a place like this trashed and abandoned, but I've noticed a lot of things that aren't here that make it even stranger. Phones, for one. I could understand if the vandals had ripped them all out, but there is no sign that there ever were any phones at all here. And power lines. With all the rides and lights, they have to have electricity coming from somewhere. But nothing seems to have a power cord, and I don't see a single outlet anywhere. And the real puzzler is the lack of toilets. A place this size should have bathrooms all over the place. Nada. Zip. Zero. So I found some bushes.
At least the house still has a roof and a fairly intact bed. After the last two nights, that feather mattress is gonna feel so good.
Day 3 -- Late Morning
Somebody is here. Got up this morning and all the trash is gone. At first, I thought maybe some storm had blown it away, but it's more than just the paper stuff. The broken glass and pieces of wood and metal are gone, too. I screamed myself hoarse trying to find whoever had been cleaning up, but got no response.
I'm almost sure they know I'm here. The hot dog stand across from the house is fully stocked and working today. It's the only thing that's been fixed completely. Wish there was something other than junk food here, but at least it's hot and fresh now.
All I can figure is they think I might be one of the vandals, and are just staying hidden until the police or Coast Guard get here. Suits me fine. At least they're keeping me fed.
Day 3 -- Afternoon
This place is starting to get creepy. Music started up on the other side of the Carnival, and I ran over to try to see who it was. The Merry-Go-Round was fixed like new and spinning round with no one at the controls. That ride was torn up yesterday. I remember thinking how awful it was. Some of the animals had been torn off the base, and the fabric top was ripped to shreds. Now everything is perfect. Not just patched, or touched up. There's no sign that there ever was any damage at all.
There was another surprise when I got back to the house. The smashed grand piano had been removed from the fountain, and a new one is back in the second floor music room. How the hell did they manage that? I wasn't gone more than an hour. It must've taken an army of men to get both of those pianos moved so quick, but I didn't see or hear a thing.
Why are they hiding from me? And where?
Day 4 -- Early Morning
The lights came on in the house a little while ago. Scared me half to death. Not the lights so much as seeing the bedroom. It's all fixed up. Repainted, furniture replaced, carpets cleaned. Hell, even the bed I was sleeping in is new, and I didn't wake up once! How did they do that? Maybe there's some sort of drug in the food.
But even if that's true, why all the games and tricks? I know I probably look and smell pretty awful after three days, but if they think I'm some sort of criminal, there's been plenty of time for the police to get here.
Day 4 -- Afternoon
I'm getting the Hell outta here. More than half the Carnival is completely restored, and I haven't seen or heard a single other person here. The amount of work is staggering - I can't imagine it getting done in months, yet it's been only been a couple of days. Just the materials would take hours to bring in, even if they had them on the Island somewhere. But there's no sign of a paint can, tool, or even a scrap of wood anywhere.
Funny. Now that a lot of the stuff is fixed up, it looks sorta familiar. Guess all these places look the same.
The boat is my best bet. At least it's familiar territory. I stocked up on hot dogs and some wrapped candy. Drugged or not, the stuff tastes wonderful. I'm a little surprised that I haven't gotten sick off of all this junk.
Maybe whoever is here will loosen up once I leave. It's not too far to the boat - I should get there before dark.
Day 4 -- Evening
The boat is gone. Thought I'd missed it somehow, but then I found the place where it had been. The indentation is still in the sand, as if it has been airlifted out. All that's left are some wood and cloth pieces, and some papers and other loose stuff. The wood parts are all perfect, even some that I think were embedded in the fiberglass hull. About the only explanation I can think of is that the man-made parts of the boat disintegrated, leaving only the natural stuff. And that's crazy. Must have been some sort of freak storm, or lightning, or something. God, Marge. I am so scared.
Day 5 -- Morning
The damned bastards followed me. Woke up this morning and found that even the pieces of the boat were gone. The beach has been leveled out, and they even textured it so that it looks like no one has ever set foot here. And I slept through it all again! I'm not gonna eat any more of the food here. There's gotta be something, drugs of some kind.
I don't feel drugged. In fact, I feel incredible. If there is a good thing about all this, it's that I'm losing weight. Talk about a weird diet plan. I've been stuffing myself with junk food for days, and my clothes are starting to get loose and baggy. Guess it's all the walking. My spare tire is gone, and so are a lot of aches and pains that I've gotten used to over the years. Too bad you didn't come with me, Charlie. You could really use this more than me.
Can't believe I'm joking like this. I should be paranoid, with all this weird shit going on. Well, if the bastards are gonna follow me around like this, I might as well go back to the Carnival. At least I can sleep in a bed, and I might catch them if I don't eat there.
Day 5 -- Evening
I saw a couple of the people when I got back. They were all dressed in black, even their faces covered. Freaked me out a little. I started chasing them, yelling and cussing. When I got to where I had seen them, there was nothing. Not just no people. There was no place for them to have gone. I screamed some more, and when I didn't get any response, I turned into a one-man wrecking crew.
Breaking windows, ripping down flags, undoing as much of their repairs as I could. From the looks of things, they had pretty much finished up. Well, they got a lot more work to do now. I even managed to push that friggin' piano back through the window. Let 'em try to sue me. The bastards have been playing with my mind for days now.
Crazy thing is, I really got into tearing things up. It was more than just being angry. Guess they brought out the mean streak in me. They can keep hiding if they want to, but this is one vandal who's gonna make them sorry they ever started this. The way the place is built, it's easy to do a lot of damage. I can keep them busy from now 'til doomsday.
Day 6 -- Morning
They fixed everything back last night. Damn them to Hell! All the damage I did is gone, and the whole Carnival looks new again. And this time, they worked on me, too.
My hand is shaking so bad I can hardly write. Marge, I'm afraid I'm losing my mind. Writing all this down helps me a little. These log entries are about the only thing that provide a link to you and the rest of my life. Everything else is gone. They even took my clothes last night, though they left the log book. But it's more than that.
I'm a kid. Don't know how old, exactly, but not more than 10 or 12. I know it has to be some sort of illusion, or hallucination. But it all seems so real. So much is different than I remember. The kid in the mirror looks pretty much like my old pictures, but my hair is longer than I ever had it. And everything feels so much different. It's hard to explain. I feel really light. Not just because I'm smaller. It's like I have more muscles, maybe like what Astronauts feel like on the moon, sorta. Even my mouth tastes different. About the only thing left of my adult face is my hairy ears. You'd think that would have gone with the rest of my facial hair.
Took me some time to check out the rest of my new body. The bastards dressed me up in some stupid little sailor outfit from the last century. You never saw so many hooks and buttons. No real surprises underneath. At least not if you expect to see 10 year-old boy instead of 36 year-old man.
I don't know what to do now. Maybe go outside and run naked through the carnival. I know it sounds crazy, but this feels so great. I want to play and yell, and enjoy being a kid again. If this is all some weird thing going on in my head, I guess it doesn't really matter. And if it is somehow real, I might as well enjoy it.
Day 6 -- Evening
This will be my last entry. I know where I am now, and what's happening to me. Doesn't matter that it's all impossible, that this place can't exist. I can't really be 10 years old, either.
Took a while for me to adjust this morning, but then I went sorta crazy again. Breaking windows, tearing up decorations. One of the attractions actually had cigars and cigarettes all over the place, and I lit up. You know I don't smoke. And I nearly choked myself when I did it, but I wanted to try.
I saw more of the men in black, but didn't even try to talk to them. They'd be over some place I'd already been, and if I went back later, all the stuff I broke was fixed up. After a while, I really was a kid, a bad one. I pissed in the fountain, painted graffiti on walls, and was pretty much a real little brat. The scariest part is that it was fun. I wasn't scared at the time. In fact, right up to when I found the Pool Hall, I'd never been happier in my life.
It was the ears that made everything click. My ears. I caught my reflection in a mirror there, and did a double-take. It wasn't the image of a filthy, naked 10 year-old that caught my eye. That much looked completely normal. It was that the kid had pointed ears poking up through his hair.
When I pushed my hair away for a better look, everything sorta hit me at once. Where I was, what had happened to me, and what was going to happen. I ran screaming out of the Pool Hall, and into the woods outside the Carnival, as if there was any escape for me at all.
I must have spent a couple of hours hiding. When I felt the tail pushing out above my butt, I realized it didn't matter where I was. So I came back here to the house. They left my logbook and pen out for me. I guess they knew I'd want it. To be honest, I don't know why I'm even bothering. Most likely, this log will crumble to dust after tonight. And even if it survives, I won't even remember it.
But just in case you somehow get this, Marge, I want you to know I love you. There's so much I want to say to you. But it's too late. My hands are becoming hooves, and my head finished changing a few minutes ago. Besides, I can hear the whistles and music getting closer. The men in black will be coming to take me down to the stables. Before the Coachman's Ferry brings another load of bad boys to Pleasure Island.