The Carnivaliers by Alex Grover

July 8, 2013 Comments Off on The Carnivaliers by Alex Grover

My head was stuck through a hole in a big green board. So was Marge’s, so was Hal’s, so was Grangia’s. My body was numb, immobile, the sounds of fun and amusement all around us.

A night at the carnival? A night of unknown and violent things. I tilted my head slightly, noticed blood spatters on the board.

My mind was half-numb too when the scorpions came flying at our faces. Four scorpions, four heads, four idiots who’d walked into the wrong carnival. The people were friendly enough; the kids were holding balloons.

A little boy bet a dollar on Hal. A little girl bet a dollar on Marge. Grangia had no bets. I had no bets. I was relieved.

The scorpion closest to Hal took twenty minutes before it stung him in the eye. He screamed. The little boy made two dollars. The little girl made nothing. Their parents took them away, and Hal screamed and screamed and screamed because the scorpion was still there in his eye. The game operator came and took it away eventually, along with the others.

I looked at my wife Grangia, but she couldn’t look at me. I felt closer to her then, closer than I had ever been. Hal and Marge had never been a close couple, though now Marge cried for Hal as his eye swelled in its socket.

I managed a look at the operator, who was talking now with his boss. The boss crossed a “no deal” slicing motion across his neck. I didn’t understand what he meant until a threshing machine was lowered from the ceiling. The operator called out to the carnivaliers, told them to place their bets. Marge cried harder. Hal was in a stupor. I couldn’t hear her too well, but I think Grangia sighed.

The carnivaliers placed their bets. They were laughing, loving the lights, loving the suspense, loving their money. I think I counted fifty or sixty dollars in all, which the operator collected from each in turn.

Then the threshing machine whirred into a mechanical frenzy.

“Who will it be?” the operator shouted to the crowd.

It was Grangia. Her head flew off.

After the winning carnivaliers collected their money, the operator threw us in the dumpster to die. There was cotton candy. There was cotton candy in there.

© 2013 Alex Grover

Alex Grover is a student at Rowan University with work published in 365 Tomorrows, trapeze magazine, MicroHorror, and several other online magazines. He has a 100-word story upcoming in Kevin G. Bufton’s anthology, Another 100 Horrors. He was also shortlisted for the Science Fiction Poetry Association’s 2012 contest. You can find his complete list of work at; you can also check out the journal that he edits at

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