For the A to Z Challenge, I’ll be writing flash fiction pieces based in the world featured in my upcoming novel, Where the Carnies Are. You’ll meet some of the characters and learn their back stories. These stories are completely original and are not part of the book.
The Hypnotist and the House of Mirrors
The sound of clattering plates and ringing glasses filled the air of the House of Mirrors restaurant. Bull sat at a table with a group of three girls he had met on the Scrambler ride. He was reminded of another time that he had eaten at the mirror filled restaurant, and he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to entertain the women he had with him.
“Did you galls ever hear about the hypnotist that came in here and stirred up all kinds of crazy a few years back?” Bull asked.
“No,” they replied in unison.
“Well, I’ve got a story for you then. I was sitting at that table over there,” Bull gestured, “When it all happened.”
“What happened?” one of the girls asked.
“I was minding my own business, eating dinner, when all of a sudden, people start acting crazy. They were jumping around on the tables and floor on all four, just like frogs. Some of them were even croaking like frogs. I knew it had to be a hypnotist, but this restaurant is full of mirrors. There wasn’t much I could do without getting caught up in the trance myself, so I turned my attention away from all the mirrors and crazy people and watched my food.”
“How long did it go on for?” another girl asked.
Bull sighed. “It seemed like ages. All the while I felt like he was standing right nest to me too, but I knew if I looked up at him, I’d be a goner. So, I continued to stare at my food. It wasn’t long before someone pulled the fire alarm–probably one of the fortune teller waitresses. That took everyone out of their trance and sent the hypnotist running.”
“Did you see him?” the same girl asked.
“All I saw was the blurry flash of a black trench coat going out the emergency exit.”
The girls were all engrossed in his story, so he finished it off with a bang. “Of course, once a hypnotist has instilled a trigger in your mind it stays there. Every once in a while, you’ll see someone hopping around the restaurant like a frog. The fortune tellers figure out that the trigger has something to do with this place, and they have a recording of a fire alarm on hand, just in case. Sometimes, when I’m enjoying a meal here, I feel that same presence I felt that day and I wonder if he is in here. He could be using the reflections of the mirrors to hypnotize someone right now.”
The women all gasped and looked around cautiously. Bull smiled at his superior story-telling talent.
Where the Carnies Are blurb:
Olive is having a very bad day. She caught her boyfriend cheating on her, she lost her job, and she stumbled into a portal leading to a secret carnival kingdom which she can’t escape. The good news is she meets an eccentric, but stunningly handsome knife thrower. The bad news is she can’t go home for another two months.
The world she lands in is full of sideshow characters, terrifying amusement rides and her biological parents’ past. She was born a carny, but raised as a normal human. Magic lives in her blood, but it hasn’t reached her heart. To find out who she really is, and why carnies are disappearing, Olive must deceive the king with the help of Alex the knife thrower.
Olive and Alex play a dangerous game with their emotions when they decide to have a fling during Olive’s stay. They both lead very different lives and decide that being together for the rest of their lives is not possible, but a short affair is certainly on the menu. Will they make it through the annual festival with both their hearts and lives intact or will the king take matters into his own hands?