|The Taylight Zone - Anthology Three
01 - The Devil's Carriage - Amanda
The amusement park was dark, and the gravel crunched under his boots. He'd lost his family, his friends. After all, who wants a murderer as a son, as a friend? No one, that's who. Especially not the wholesome Hansons.
He closed his eyes, remembering.
"Taylor," his mother had said, "you know we love you. We know you never would have done it without... without the..." She'd started to cry.
He knew what she wanted to say. Drugs. Without the drugs. The drugs made him do it, everyone said so. Everyone said it wasn't his fault, but he knew better. Sure, his family was willing to forgive him, but they'd never trust him again. The way they looked at him, whispered about him behind his back. In their eyes, and in the eyes of the law, he was a criminal. A murderer. A killer. No one loves a killer. They want killers behind bars. They want him behind bars.
He shook his head, more ashamed than anything. The gravel wasn't gravel anymore. Glass. Tiny shards, half broken bottles. It cracked when he walked, his stride slow, his posture weak. The soles of his boots were thin, worn, and the glass pricked his skin from beneath the rubber. He glanced around the pitch black amusement park. He could make out the ferris wheel, the bumper cars, the water slides. He could see the shadows that the pirate ship cast on the ground, right next to the building that housed the games. There was nothing out of the ordinary, nothing openly wrong about the place. But still, he felt a chill run through his body. It was July, 66 degrees at night. He was wearing a jacket and a sweat shirt despite the warm weather. The park had a strange feel to it that night, like something was missing.
He realized it suddenly, when he looked to his left, next to the swings. The roller coaster. It was gone. The huge, lopping, twisting contraption, aptly named The Devil's Carriage, was gone. Gone. How could a roller coaster disappear? It couldn't, obviously. There were no machines, no cranes. It had to be there. He walked closer, his eyes squinting to see in the darkness.
He heard a clinking, crushing sound as he moved towards the vacant space. The glass was gone. Tin, steel...a thick layer of scrap metal carpeted the ground. It pushed through his boots, cutting him. He felt the blood drip down his ankles, puddling in his boots, leaking out of the small holes. He winced. The metal was sharp and cold, surprising him every time it scraped across his skin, even though he knew it was coming. It was painful, but also, a release. It felt good. He thought about that, and it sickened him. Pain...feeling good? No, that wasn't right. Not for Taylor Hanson. But...was he Taylor Hanson? Taylor Hanson would never kill anyone, whether he was on drugs or not. Taylor Hanson wouldn't run away.
He felt his necklaces bounce against his chest. Yes, he was Taylor Hanson. Not the old Taylor Hanson, a new one, criminal and deceitful, never to be trusted. A bad seed, the one that ruined it for all the others.
He heard laughter. Evil sounding laughter, maniacal and insane. He looked up. There was someone watching him, he could feel their eyes on his back. It burned. Someone tapped him on his shoulder, the finger was scalding hot, the nail dug into his shoulder. He spun around, wary. What kind of person approached young boys late at night, in dark amusement parks?
He gasped. The roller coaster was there, fully lit. The red, flame shaped lights seemed more real than usual. They flickered and grew as he stared at them.
Hello, Taylor, he heard someone hiss. He looked around, but there was no one there.
Taylor, do you know what you did? The voice wasn't anywhere around him, it was closer. In his head.
"Y- Yes, I know." he stuttered. He stomach was in knots, a ball of anxiety and fear quickly replacing the butterflies.
The voice laughed. Good, Taylor, good. You admit it. Were you punished after you...did this deed?
"Yes. I was."
Enough? Were you punished enough, Taylor?
Taylor sighed. He felt guilty. "No."
Get on the ride.
Get on the roller coaster. Taylor, what you did was wrong. Get on.
He grabbed the railing, pulling himself up the stairs. He reached the top, where the ride was waiting. Waiting for him. His throat was dry, he could barely speak.
Sit down in the front car, Taylor.
The voice was yelling now. Taylor didn't protest. He couldn't speak, and he couldn't argue with a voice in his head. This was his conscience, wasn't it? You don't argue with your conscience. He slid into the first car. The seat felt hot through his jeans, and for the first time he realized that the flame shaped lights weren't lights at all. They were real flames, their heat almost unbearable. He felt the car start to rumble, then it began to move. Slowly at first, then picking up speed.
He was nearing the top of a large, steep part of the ride. He'd been on this before, he knew it was a long drop down. He heard the voice laugh again, when he neared the top. He looked behind him. The other cars weren't there, but there was a figure standing on the platform at the beginning, waving at him with a sly half smile on his face.
Taylor turned his head forward again, just in time to feel the first blast of heat hit his face. The car flew down track, headed straight for the flames that engulfed the bottom of the drop. The bottom? He didn't see a bottom. Just a black, black hole. He couldn't think, his hands clawed at the restraining bar that held him in.
The voice still laughed. The voice...it was familiar. The voice, the person on the platform...so many thoughts ran through his head. He wanted to cry, he knew he couldn't get out, but it was too hot. His tears dried before they left his eyes. He realized it suddenly, just before he plunged into the inferno. The person, the voice...one word escaped his lips.