Carnival of Darkness (FaeTAL Series Book 1) (8 page)




After a shitty-ass night’s sleep, I find myself wandering closer and closer to the starter cell trailer. I can’t even explain to my damn self why I’m over here. The rodeo ring is on the other side of the fucking carnival. It’s not like the guards won’t question it if I go in there. No one goes in. Not without Fred. For the first time since I started at this fucking place, I’m thinking about requesting to help him out with breaking the girl. Not because I want to cause her harm. Far from it. I want to be in there so that if things look like they’re going too far, I can step in and stop the bastard. Cover or no fucking cover.

I grunt and nod my head to the guards as I pass the trailer. It takes everything I have in me to keep from breaking in to check on her. Fuck me sideways, what is going on with me? Why am I so drawn to a damn woman that I don’t even know?

After that weird ass dream last night, I have no doubt that I will find a way to keep her as safe as possible in this damn place. It won’t be easy, but my new reality is that I have to keep doing my job while keeping her safe. Fuck! Mac better get his shit together fast; I don’t know how long I can keep this up. Going about my day as if nothing has changed is going to be the death of me. Fuck if I know what has changed or why, but something monumental is happening. I can feel it down to my damn bones.

Hours later, another fucked-up-beyond-belief show behind me, my mind is still solely focused on the girl. I have to find out as much as I can about her and why she was taken. Hell, that’s the one thing I can’t seem to figure out about all the girls. Why them? What makes these girls so damn special? My gut is telling me that if I can figure that part out I can solve the puzzle of the C.O.D.

Walking around the carnival as everyone makes their way out is always somewhat surreal. Some nights it’s all I can do not to follow them all out and just leave this hell behind me. Tonight, I don’t even feel the pull toward the exit at all. Oh, fuck no.  I’m being pulled, against my will, to the back of the damn place. To the one trailer I’m not allowed to go anywhere near. Fucking Fred! Why can’t the man just give it up already! I’d be happier than a pig in shit if this whole place went up in flames, after I got the women out of course.

Turning the corner, I head further into the back alleys of the carnival. Exploring the darker areas that only workers go, I walk into a scene from a nightmare that has my stomach churning and my mind fighting for an explanation that just ain’t coming. Reaching down for the knife I keep hidden in my boot, I drop into a fighting stance.

Shit. Holy. Fucking. Shit. What in the hell are these things? Swallowing past the huge lump that has formed in my throat, I clear my mind and focus on what has to happen now.

“Why don’t you ugly fuckers pick on someone your own size?”

Two pasty white faces surrounded by bright red hair dart up to face me. Their pitch black fathomless eyes stare ahead, assessing me. Their attention leaving the poor woman on the ground at their feet.

Shit! It doesn’t look like she’s breathing. I’m too fucking late. Goddamn it, whatever these fuckers are, they’re about to pay for what they’ve done.

One of the creatures releases a hiss-growl combination that raises the hair on the back of my neck. The other just stands there with its head cocked and inhuman claws dripping the poor woman’s blood to pool at its bare feet. The air around me feels almost electrified. My senses go on high alert, and I ready myself for the battle to come. I don’t know what these damn things are, the stuff of nightmares that's for damn sure, but everything bleeds if you stab it.

Before I know what hit me, a claw scrapes across my shoulder. Deep gashes pour blood down my chest and I suck in a breath to center myself through the pain radiating through my body. How the fuck did it move so fast? It was several feet away and then BAM! I back away, stunned. Shaking off my surprise, I swing around and slam my elbow into the one closest to me. Not giving it the chance to recover, I jerk my knee into its stomach, twist around behind its tall form, and bring my knife around to slice its throat. The sharpness of my blade ensures that the creature ain’t moving anytime soon. Blood arcs out across the alley ground, turning it an ugly shade of reddish black. It looks more like oil than any blood I’ve ever seen. As it falls to the ground at my feet, I turn my head to face the other creature. Its head is still cocked to the side, just fucking looking at me.

“What ya lookin’ at ya creepy bastard?”

Why in all hell ain’t the thing attacking? I arch my eyebrow and tilt my head, mocking the ugly bastard.

“We doin’ this or what?”

It doesn’t move. Just sniffs the air, like a fucking dog or some shit. It freakish eyes squint, he sniffs even deeper, then his eyes go wide. Releasing a high pitched growl, it backs away slowly, turns and disappears into the blackness surrounding me.

Uh, what the fuck just happened? I shake my head, wipe the blood from my knife, and replace it in my boot. Sucking in a breath I force myself to approach the young girl lying silent in death on the dirty ground. Her blonde hair, streaked with red, is splayed out like a bright halo around her round face. Her eyes wide with fear in death.

Ah, fuck me, man. I know this girl. She was taken by Fred before I even came here. Poor girl has been with the C.O.D for about a year and a half. How in the hell am I supposed to explain to Fred what happened to her? Shit, I’m not even sure what the fuck just happened.

Pulling out my phone I snap a few grotesque pictures of the creature and the girl to send to Mac. Maybe he can figure out what the fuck these things are and who to contact about the girl. I don’t want her family to have to always wonder. I’m betting Mac’s Aquarius program thing can figure out who she is.

As carefully as I am able, I move the girl to an out of the way spot where she is covered and won’t be easily found. Doing the same with the creature, I figure I will come back once everyone is asleep and deal with the bodies then.

Clicking send on the images, I call Mac and put my phone up to my ear as I start walking to my trailer. A sleepy grunt echoes through the phone.

“Please tell me your lazy ass ain’t sleepin’ while I’m out here busting my ass to deal with all this shit.”

Trying to reign in my frustration, I take a deep breath and do my best to stop bellowing into my phone at my boss. I really don’t feel up to dealing with his pissy attitude.

“Sorry, boss, just dealing with a lot of shit right now. Check your computer, right the fuck now, man. Some weird shit is going down here, and I don’t even know where the fuck to begin on making it all right. I ain’t talking about the usual kidnap and torture routine shit either.”

The sounds of him climbing out of bed and clomping his old ass to his office brings a smirk to my face. I can’t believe his dumb ass was in bed already! What the fuck, man. It’s only one in the morning. Since when does he go to bed before four?

“A’ight, I’m here. Now what? Email you said?”


“What the fuck am I lookin’ at here, man? Jesus. Oh hell, man. A little warning would have been appreciated!”

The scratchy sound in his throat makes me think he’s forcing back rising bile at the images currently filling his screen. If he thinks that shit is bad, he should see the shit on constant replay in my damn head.

“Fuck, sorry man. I just... ah damn it all to hell, Mac. What the fuck are these things? I ran up on ‘em attacking a girl in a back alley at the C.O.D. I was able to take one of the bastards down, and the other sniffed me like a fucking animal and ran off.”

“And the girl?”

“Goddamn it all to hell!” I growl. “She was dead when I got there, man. I was too damn late to help her. It was one of Fred’s girls. I don’t remember her real name. Hell, I’m not sure if I ever knew it. Any way you can figure out who she is? I tried to get a good picture of her face, but they fucked it up something awful. She did have this weird tattoo on her neck, just below her ear. I sent a shot of it.”

“I’m sure I can figure something out. Just calm down. Remember when I told you that I had run across something big and thought it might be connected to the C.O.D?”

I grunt and wait.

“Yeah, well. These things... I learned earlier tonight that they’re called Fallen.”

I start to interrupt him, but he stops me.

“Now you hold on just a damn minute and let me finish. What I was trying to say is that I found a group of guys that seems to hunt these fuckers down on a regular basis. I made contact tonight. I’m sure they are working their asses off trying to find me right about now.”

I can hear the smirk in his voice and let out a chuckle at the thought of anyone trying to find Mac if he doesn’t want them to.

“Yeah, like that’ll happen. Maybe when pigs fuckin’ fly and hell freezes over.”

“Ha! Okay, you got me. I left them a little hint on how to find me... not that they have found it yet. But once they do, I am hoping that they will be who we need to take down the Carnival of Darkness once and for all.”

“You really think these guys can take down the C.O.D? Shit, man. That would mean I can finally get out of this fucking place. In the meantime, what do I do with the damn bodies lying around? And what in the hell do I tell Fred about the girl?”

“Do nothing. Just leave them where they were. I know how hard that will be for you, but trust me. If Fred is involved with these damn things in any way... we don’t want to tip our hand just yet. Just act like nothing fucking happened. I promise, I’ll find the girl’s family, if she has one. They won’t be left not knowing what happened to her. I wish there was more we could do. Give me another day or two and if all goes as planned this group of guys will move in on the carnival.”

“Fuck! I’m not sure if-”

“You don’t have a damn choice, Brett. You have your orders. Now follow them.”

A resounding click tells me that he’s hung up. I squeeze the phone in my hand, only stopping when I feel the metal start to bend.





The door to my office bangs open and bounces off the wall.

“We got trouble.”

Glaring up at the guard, I raise my brow and wait. I don’t have the fucking time to deal with more bullshit right now. That stupid bitch got closer than I’d like to escaping today. That’s okay; her ass will be manning the dart booth tomorrow. I know how much she hates it. Maybe it will help her remember just who the fuck is in charge here.

He swallows loudly. “Uh, yeah. It’s Brett. He ran up on some of the Fallen attacking one of our girls. Man somehow managed to take down one of the things. I’ve never seen a human move like he did. Damn, it was a thing of beauty, if I’m being honest.”

“Get to the fucking point. Now.” I growl.

He takes a step away from me and I smirk. Fucking pussy.

“The second Fallen… it didn’t attack him. It sniffed the air and took off running like it was scared of him or some shit.”

“Is that all? Brett stinks so bad he scared away a damn Fallen. This is the trouble you have? So what if he’s a good fighter? That’s not a problem.” Why is this idiot wasting my time?

“Uh, yeah. No, that’s not it, boss. Once the other one ran off… Brett pulled out a phone and took pictures of everything. Every. Fucking. Inch of the scene. Close ups of the girl and the dead Fallen.”

“So go take the fucking phone from him. Problem fucking solved.”

“Yeah, well, uh…”

“What?” I bellow.

“He isn’t who he says he is, boss man. He called some guy named Mac and told him everything that happened. Checked in, is more like it. Brett is a goddamn cop or something. He’s here to take us down!”

Jumping across the room in a rage, I hit the guard hard. Crashing through a chair, we tumble to the ground, shards of wood from the chair sticking out from various points in his useless body. His head bounces off the floor.

“Why the fuck didn’t you stop him? He never should have been allowed to make that call.”

He pushes against me, only to be held down. My hand around his throat squeezes so tight I know that he doesn’t have a chance of breathing. Without blinking, I tighten my hand and allow my body to flicker between forms. My claws come out and bite into the skin around his neck. My mouth opens, now filled with sharp, shark-like teeth that are just dying to dig into this fucker. His mouth opens and closes like a fish out of water as he gasps for the breath that I will never allow him to take.

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