Sorry I’m late today, guys… My mind’s been all over the place today and this one took a bit longer than normal. Here you go:
He honestly didn’t know why he’d bothered to come.
Carnivals were…. Well, they were a bad idea in general. Cheap rides, put together quickly and just as quickly taken apart – as likely to break down as not. Rigged game booths, designed to enhance frustration, for prizes that weren’t worth the price of entry to begin with. And, despite the late hour, sticky-fingered children, running around everywhere like loose marbles, always underfoot.
But he found himself wandering around the fairgrounds, intermittently staring up at the night sky, if only to relieve his eyes from the kaleidoscope of bright, garish color. There was nothing he could do to avoid the scent – the odor of sweat and fried things lingering in the air.
That wasn’t exactly true…. He knew exactly why he’d come. Boredom. It wasn’t a good reason, but it was a reason. Like they said, ‘It might be crooked, but it’s the only game in town.’
Well, this, he thought darkly, was the only game in town. It was a pretty small suburb. The alternatives were shelling out money to see some garbage movie, or sitting alone at home. This had seemed marginally better than either of those.
Almost against his will, he bought a ball of cotton candy, because walking around awkwardly at a carnival might seem slightly less awkward with something to chew. Not that there was much to chew when it came to cotton candy – he watched as the vendor wound a tooth-rottingly pink cloud onto a cardboard stick.
He stepped away from the gaggle of children in line for the sweet stuff, careful not to end up with his cotton candy in anybody’s hair. It was like being a giant in munchinland. Sigh.
Pulling a face, he grabbed a wad of it and stuffed it into his mouth and immediately wished he hadn’t, as the taste of pure, unadulterated sugar flooded in.
He almost didn’t notice her, laughing at him, just barely visible, out of the corner of his eye. She was leaning against the log building that was hosting the snack booth.
Long dark hair.
And she was definitely laughing at him.
Maybe the night was actually looking up?
She met his eyes for a moment and gave him a half-smile before darting around the corner of the building. He wasn’t sure exactly why he followed her, except that he was absolutely certain she wanted him to. He dropped the cotton candy into a garbage bin and it was already forgotten as he followed her trail.
She led him a merry chase. He would spot her somewhere, not very far ahead, but always just out of reach. She perched for a moment on the rim of the popcorn cart. She stood on the packed dirt beneath the Ferris wheel. She darted around and between and behind, twisting through the packed dirt pathways, always certain to stay just within view.
He watched as finally, she ran out of the fair grounds, trotting into the woods some small distance across the green, back behind the campers where the carnies slept at night.
More than a little out of breath, he finally caught up to her, just inside the tree line. She stood still, looking down as he huffed and puffed, doubled over, hands on his knees. She stood close enough that, in looking down, he could see her feet, pale against the deep green grass that peeked out between her toes.
She was barefoot, he noted absently. Strange. But at least she wasn’t running anymore.
“Why…. did you…. run?” he huffed, without looking up at her.
“Anything worth having is worth the chase,” she said. “Don’t you agree?”
Her voice was low and throaty and quiet. He had to strain himself to listen, even standing so close. He looked up into her face. Her lips were very red against the pale skin. He stared up at her as those lips spread into a smile.
“Sure,” he said uncertainly. “Worth the chase.”
“I’ve never been one for loud, noisy crowds,” she continued, planting an index finger under his chin and pulling him up to stand beside her. He was, he noticed, just barely taller than her.
Strange, he thought. All of this was strange. Perhaps he shouldn’t have come? Perhaps he shouldn’t have followed so easily.
The palms of her hands were cool against the skin of his neck as she reached up, twining her fingers through his hair.
“Besides,” she continued. “There are things best done in private, don’t you think? Things best done in the dark?”
Her smile widened.
She could feel his heartbeat, thumping faster and faster, like a frightened rabbit. She gave him a careful looking-over. He was young. Relatively attractive, she supposed, but slovenly. She took in the stained t-shirt and the battered jeans, torn on the bottom from being dragged against the ground.
Not her usual taste. She usually preferred someone a bit more refined….. She did have a thing for a nice suit and tie. Slick, urbane businessmen were her specialty. But she supposed she would take what she could get, in this place. She was only going to be in that dinky little town for a night – she’d already forgotten its’ name.
His heartbeat raced faster still as cool fingers stroked his neck, feeling the strong pulse of the blood in his veins, and he barely noticed as she tilted his head to the side. His heart jumped in his chest, as she nuzzled his neck with her nose, taking her time.
She supposed, in any other context, this would be considered playing with her food. He was not exactly surprised when her mouth opened again, this time, not smiling, exposing fangs that he hadn’t noticed before, but he was surprised at just how much it hurt when she bit.
He was right, he realized now. He should not have come. Not a particularly original last thought, reader, but a last thought nonetheless.
She let out a long, lazy sigh, and gave a final lick across the length of his neck, picking up the last few dribbles. She supposed he was good enough for now….. What was it they said again, about the only game in town?
(write for) 25 minutes * original male character * carnival
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