The Gunslinger walks down the alley leading to the boardwalk, as a light drizzle falls from the sky. Strange occurrences have been happening since the carnival came to town. Missing people, shades creeping around town, cattle mutilated. No one thinks to investigate the carnival, with all its pomp and veneer, but in the Gunslinger’s experience, the shine could hide something sinister underneath.
He walks up to the ticket booth and peers out among the carnival tents. The night is dark and the tents cast darker shadows across the boardwalk. The Gunslinger slides over the turnstile and walks into the carnival grounds. He walks by the kettle corn stand where the light scent of caramelized popcorn still hangs in the air.
“STTEEEEEEEPPPP RIGHT UP, STEP RIGHT UP” calls a disembodied voice. The Gunslinger looks around, searching for the source of the voice and he spies a carnival worker, wearing an ornamental hussar tailcoat and a traditional boiler cap with candy-cane-stripped ribbon adorning it. The Carney has an odd bluish aura.
“You sir, you sir, have you ever seen the 8th bearded wonder of the world?” beckons the Carney. The Gunslinger turns to follow but the Carney disappears as quickly as he appeared. The Gunslinger walks to the spot where the Carney was to investigate and that’s when he sees the yellow big top sent. Whirling organ music leaks out into the air from under the tent, and a bright light illuminates the walls of the tent, flashing varying colors. The Gunslinger makes his way over to the tent and enters. An elaborate stage stands at the back of the tent, many, many seats stretch down towards the stage. The swirling lights and sounds draw the Gunslinger further into the tent and towards the stage. The sounds take him back to an earlier time, when his father took him to his first carnival.
The Gunslinger can see it, his father carrying him on his shoulders while handing him a wand of cotton candy. All the swirling lights, the games, the food. The calls of the Carney, beckoning them to try their luck at a litany of carnival games, and the big top that contained the main event, the show that intrigued everyone who entered the turnstiles that evening. The father walks his son down to the front row and they sit, awaiting what happens next. The lights drop… the curtains part, and the Master of the Show strides onto the stage. His top hat is immaculate and his crimson ring master’s coat is pressed and crisp. His beard is glorious, every hair in place and shining. He moves to the center stage with debonair and grabs the microphone.
“LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, BOYS AND GIRLS…” bellows the man. The Gunslinger stares on, a nostalgic grin spread across his face. The Master of the Show’s face beams, his beard seeming to flow out towards the crowd.
Narrated by Brandon Warner