Disclaimer: I own none of the characters or products named in this
story and make no profit from it.
Summary: A mysterious carnival appears on the outskirts of Sunnydale.
Despite the sudden disappearance of townspeople and pets, Xander is
intrigued and wants a closer look. What he gets is more than he could
This story is based on a suggested story idea from the lovely Mystic Oblivion.
As always, thanks to the wonderful Petxnd for the banners that put the perfect
visual to my words.
"Oh, dang, I think I might just explode."
Willow rubbed her flat tummy, swearing it was grotesquely distended
from all the food she had just ingested.
The other three, who were lined up on the wooden bench beside her,
would have agreed if they had the strength. If she were alone, Buffy
would have belched. Xander would have farted. Jesse, who was less
concerned with polite society, did, then, just seconds before the cloud
of stench could assault them, turned to Xander in disgust.
"Damn, Xan! That's just fuckin' sick! Can't you control yourself?
There's women present."
Xander frowned in confusion.
"What the hell.....*sniff sniff* HEY! That was NOT me! Goddamn it Jess!"
Jesse leaped to his feet, shouting,
"It's the A bomb! Tuck, duck and roll!"
In a move directed by old 1960's cold war, civil defense films, Jesse
threw himself on the ground, rolled up into a ball and scooted under the
bench while the other three alternated between gasping, cursing and laughing.
Xander had to admit, his old friend knew how to have a good time.
When they all recovered, Buffy made a suggestion that again got them
on the move.
"Well, frankly, after all that junk food and the effects of the "A" bomb,
I know one more rough ride and I may just puke."
The others nodded their agreement before she continued.
"Why don't we go on the ferris wheel. That way when we are at the top, we
can look all around and see what we want to do next."
"Hell, yeah, let's go!"
A short waddling time and they found themselves in line. When it was their
turn, Jesse elbowed Xander back and jumped in to the first car beside Buffy.
Xander rolled his eyes and he and Willow climbed in the one below.
As the huge wheel of lights, music and swaying baskets began to move and
lift, Xander again drew in a full breath of cool damp night air. The terror that
had gripped him earlier now seemed so silly.
Higher and higher they went. Willow babbled beside him and he responded
with noncommital nods and grunts, all the time staring at the world far
below them. When they finally reached to top, Xanders' attention was
drawn to the far, dark corner where the game booths sat.
When his eyes located the last one, he was surprised to see the carny was
not alone. He had a player. Immediately, and inexplicably, Xander felt jealous.
He stared at the somewhat familiar back, trying to identify it as the giant wheel
began dropping, cutting off his line of sight.
"Oh, Xander, isn't it wonderful? All the colors. It's so beautiful. It feels
like we are on top of the world."
"Huh? Oh, yeah, beautiful"
Xander tapped his foot impatiently, willing the huge wheel to pick up speed,
to rise faster and peak sooner. Finally, it again crested and he stared, craning
his head for a better look.
'LARRY!' This time his brain slapped a label on the letterman's jacket.
He knew it was Larry. Jock Larry. Larry, tormenter of all things geeky.
Apparently, Larry who was about to play Spike's game of chance. Xander
continued to watch, leaning dangerously forward till he was again to low
to see and he waited frantically till the ride would lift him high enough to
survey the furthest corner of the carnival.
Xander swore each rotation of the wheel was slower than the last and
he thought he would scream by the time he again reached the apex.
What he saw this time stunned him.
Larry was gone. That alone would have pleased him, but the carny was
also missing. Not only that, but the booth that begged players and offered
black stuffed bats was now closed up tighter than Buffys' knees in the
back seat of Jesse's car.
The awning was dropped and the row of dimly lit bulbs was shut off.
Xander was shook! He felt as though he had been cheated. Of what,
he had no idea. Still, he had to know. He had to go see. And in order
to do that, he had to ditch the others.
When they finally disembarked, Buffy was bouncing on the balls of her feet.
She had spent the time much as Xander had, studing the area and deciding
what she wanted to do next. Although, unlike Xander, her attention
had been drawn to the opposite end of the field.
"Let's go over there. I want to see the freak show and I think I saw a
fortune teller booth."
Willow wrinkled her nose.
"A freak show? That's kind of unP.C, isn't it? Although the fortune teller
sounds like fun. Xan? What do you think?'
Xanders' attention was focused elsewhere as his curioslity was quickly
"Yeah, sure, freaks are good. You three go ahead and I'll catch up.
I think that last chili dog is going to do me and I'm afraid it won't be pretty.
Give me a few in the porta-shit and I'll be right there."
Not waiting for an answer, Xander hurried off with Willow waving her
hand and calling after him.
"O.k. Hope you are all right. We'll see you over......"
The rest sailed past Xander like a fruit fly, annoying, and thankfully short
Within minutes, Xander was back at the far end of the lot. His heart
pounded and his lie regarding the hot dog threatend to come true as his
gut churned and bubbled. Refusing to examine his fears and possibly talk
himself out of it, Xander started to walk the length of the booths.
This time none of the other barkers called to him. No one touted their
games or coaxed him over. All just watched, silenty grinning as he
passed by till finally, he stopped.
The last booth was indeed closed up. If he hadn't been here earlier
he would have sworn it hadn't been open at all. There were no lights,
no footprints in the dirt to indicate anyone had stood there and a thin
layer of dust covered the buttoned down canvass awning.
He should have walked away. He should have told himself that he had
made a mistake, that it was one of the other game stands he had visited.
That there never had been a georgous, blond carny seducing him with a
deep, silky, sexy accent and deep blue eyes.
Xander Harris seldom did what he should.