Chapter no 41 – HORROR-GO-ROUND


Isaac paused his charge when he saw the dripping blade just a few feet away from his face. Seeing Bobby regain his footing and stab at the air was enough to force Isaac’s reasoning to overtake his emotional outburst.

“Try me, dandelion! I’ll leave you looking worse than her!” Bobby yelled.

Isaac couldn’t help but let his eyes drift to the goopy, vomitus blend of meat and muscle that was sandwiched within the torn ribbons of skin. The haggard husk that no longer resembled his sister left his spirit trampled in the worst of ways.

He was alone now.

When the harsh realization that he was the last member of his family remaining in the playground hit, snot bubbled from Isaac’s nose, and the tears and drool leaked. If he wasn’t so angry, he might have fallen to his knees. But instead, he found a promise in his heart.

“You’re gonna pay for this,” he grumbled. “We’re even now!” Bobby exclaimed.

Isaac didn’t need to reply to the absurd claim. It wouldn’t change anything. He just wanted to let Bobby know that wasn’t the end.

The cold-hearted confidence that he hadn’t displayed was something different. His trauma helped recast him in a new role. Isaac sniffed up some of the snot that still oozed from his nose, basking in the thoughts of violence that infected his thought stream.

“Why the hell did you do that?!” CJ screamed. “You heard Dad! You heard what he said!”

“Did it ever occur to you that maybe Dad’s not right all the time?! Especially when he’s telling you to kill people?! Maybe they’re hurting him too or—or making him say that stuff to trick us!”

“Of course you would say that now!” “What are you talking about?”

“The second I get some shine, the one time when finally get a moment! You can’t even wait five seconds to rip it away from me!”

“People are dead! You think I care about that?! What the heck is wrong with you, dude?!”

“It’s your life. That’s all you care about—”

“I don’t even like baseball! I hate it! I do it because I have to, not because I want to! I do it because Dad will hate me if I don’t!”

“You’d—You’d say anything. You’re just mad that he didn’t ask you to do it! You never did wanna share that shine. You were always a greedy brother.”

CJ took a step closer to Bobby until the knife blade was nearly against his cheek. He didn’t let the weapon intimidate him. As CJ squared eyes with his big brother, he did everything he could to keep from blowing a gasket.

“Dad’s lost his fucking mind… and now… so have you.” CJ didn’t enjoy swearing, but he wondered if it might help somehow get through to Bobby.

“He’s never steered you wrong before! Why should today be any different?! I don’t know about you, but I’m not here to lose! Not to this faggot,” he pointed at Isaac, “not to those old weirdos, not to anyone! Not even to you! But I sure hope it doesn’t come to that,” he said.

CJ couldn’t believe it; the rhetoric that was typically reserved for his father sitting on the ballpark bleachers on a hot, sunny day was spewing from his brother. He espoused it with such passion because it had been burned into his brain. It was like they were the same person.

Bobby had finally become the young man that he never figured himself good enough to be. He’d finally gotten the overdose of praise he’d thirsted for from his father.

It was all he could see.

“Bobby, please stop, you’re—you’re scaring me,” Tanya said, tears streaking down her cheeks.

“This piece of shit killed our little brother, and you’d just let him be? You’d just… never mind. You’re not gonna get it. Neither of you are. It doesn’t matter anymore, anyway. That’s why Dad picked me. It’s time for us to move on.”

“You can go to Hell. I’m not going anywhere with you,” Isaac replied.

“I wasn’t asking. You’ve got two choices: get in the elevator, or the knife gets in you. Pretty simple, wouldn’t you say?”

Isaac ground his teeth and balled his fists, pushing his fingernails into his palms.

“As much as I know you’d like to do your own thing, when we get to the next part of the playground, I think that I’d feel safer having you go first.”

A nasty grin manifested on Bobby’s face. The thought of using Isaac as a guinea pig not only kept him a step away from death, but it also felt like justice.

“So, get in the fucking elevator. Now.”


When the elevator completed its ascension and the metallic door squeaked open, two groups of children were revealed. On the right side of the elevator, Bobby stood, holding the knife menacingly. On the left side, everyone else stood, with a profound uncertainty and fear that left them gobsmacked.

As Bobby directed them to exit, they could all smell chemical fumes starting to fill up their nostrils. A short, straight pathway stared back at the children with a lone sign erected at the end.

Just past the sign, sat a sizable, hexagonal platform. The ground within was occupied entirely by a huge, self-propelled, slow-spinning merry-go-round. But this merry-go-round wasn’t the carnival standard filled with animals on poles; it was the playground variety.

It was comprised of a mostly wooden exterior except for a few rusty metal bars for each rider to cling to. However, contrary to most of the other creations they’d seen up to that point, the roundabout seemed like it was intentionally outdated.

The iron bars were corroded.

The wood frame was rickety and splintered. The foundation squeaked with each revolution.

It wasn’t a ride designed to derive pleasure; it was a ride of doom.

The roundabout was positioned in such a way that there was no footing on the platform besides the lip of the merry-go-round itself. Beyond that narrow lip was a steep fall that led to a manmade moat underneath.

The malicious moat was occupied with a variety of toxic elements. The ominous, slimy, neon-greenish fluid bubbled and steamed. For anyone unfortunate enough to find themselves clinging to the roundabout, the noxious goop served as the ultimate motivator to hang tight.

Past the roundabout stood another platform, but there was no path that led from the roundabout to the final progress point. The lone doorway on the final platform was adorned with crimson font above that read: THE END?

Bobby glared at his sister Tanya; the eyes in his head weren’t the same that she remembered.

“Read it,” Bobby demanded.

Tanya stared at him but did as she was told. The sign remained consistent. It read: PLAYGROUND RULES.

“To reach the end you all must play, to see your parents once more today. Hold on tight for the final hooray, or just let go and melt away.”

“Shit,” Bobby muttered.

He glared at the words ‘you all’ with aggravation. Bobby would’ve loved to use Isaac as a guinea pig, but it appeared that wasn’t in the cards just yet.

Tanya coughed, her drying throat stinging.

“I don’t think these fumes are good for us. It’s hard to breathe. They’re

—They’re making me feel dizzy.”

“Yeah,” CJ said, letting out a cough of his own. “Me too. We gotta get through this as fast as we can.”

“Wait, what do we do?” Bobby asked.

The harshness of his tone had died down. The dread had sunk its fangs into his belly again.

“What do you think we do? Like every other merry-go-round, we hold on. You can do that, can’t you, tough guy?” Isaac interjected.

Bobby approached him with the blade, pressing it against his throat.

“I can make it so you don’t even get a last ride, smart ass. Is that what you want?”

Bobby let out a cough. Despite his thickheadedness, he was beginning to realize each word he spoke was a second he wasted. He knew his poor choices might be inching him closer to his own doom.

“We don’t have time to fight,” CJ said.

He couldn’t even muster anger anymore. The slices in his back still ached, his body was sore, and his spirit was running on empty. More than anything else, he was tired.

CJ removed himself from the argument and grabbed hold of little Donnie’s hand.

“Let’s go,” CJ said.

Bobby eventually dropped the blade from Isaac’s throat and gestured with it to move ahead.

Tanya quickened her pace until she was close to CJ.

“What are you gonna do with him?” Tanya whispered.

“I’ll just have to keep him in front of me. That’s his best chance. There’s no telling how long this thing’s gonna spin for. Are you gonna be okay holding on by yourself?”

“I think so,” Tanya replied.

CJ was scared but didn’t make it obvious. The added responsibility of accounting for Donnie did little to boost his confidence. He looked to some small talk with his sister to distract him.

“We never did end up getting to hit that seesaw, did we?” “It’s probably for the best,” she replied.

Tanya passed in front of her brother, stepping up to the slim slice of platform that would allow her to board the roundabout.

“Well, I still wanna seesaw with you,” CJ said. He smiled at her, trying to trick his mind.

“I don’t think so. After this… if there is an after this, I’m never going to a playground ever again.”

CJ’s grin warped slightly.

“Fair enough,” he whispered.

The merry-go-round was spinning slowly, allowing Tanya to hop on without issue. She grabbed onto the bar in front of her tight, then planted both of her feet firmly on the wooden base.

“You ready buddy? I’m gonna pick you up. When we get on, we’ve both gotta hold on as tight as we can together,” CJ explained.

He still didn’t know exactly how much Donnie could comprehend, but it made little difference.

CJ let out another cough as he secured the vertical metal bar. The rusted section he chose seemed the most stable to him; a piece of steel serving as a pillar for the two bars that intersected above it.

He grabbed onto it with one hand and set Donnie down gently with the other. CJ kept Donnie between his legs and they both planted their feet on each side of the steel column. Donnie wrapped his hands around the pillar, and CJ firmed up his grip on the two connecting horizontal pipes.

“Just hug it as tight as you can,” CJ whispered.

Donnie remained dumbfounded; hug was most certainly not a word he was familiar with. But when CJ thrust his hips forward and snugged him close against the vertical pillar, his instinct was to wrap around it.

CJ adjusted his left arm, locking it through the pillar until he was satisfied with his position. He tightened up his body and used his legs to hold Donnie in place as best he could.

Isaac jumped on a few yards in distance away from where Tanya, CJ, and Donnie were positioned.

As he’d done previously, Bobby stuck the gore-caked blade back into his waistband. Watching another revolution, he timed his hop so that he could occupy the space right beside Isaac.

The instant Bobby’s feet landed on the roundabout, the platform he’d jumped off of rapidly descended. In a matter of seconds, the entire path had completely vanished; the area was now covered by the sickening, shamrock substance in the ditch below.

Isaac snuck a peek back at Bobby. The exaggerated creases on his face formed a look of malcontent. Isaac didn’t like being near him, but as the roundabout accelerated in speed, he knew there wasn’t time to negotiate or reposition himself.

The gray castle walls surrounding them had morphed into a massive, smoky blur.

CJ flexed his muscles, pinning little Donnie against the steel. As the dizziness set in, he kept them in place without issue.

Tanya coughed again; the potency of the noxious fumes only seemed to increase with time. As each spin dragged them all screaming toward a new

spike in their pacing, her stomach rumbled violently. She suppressed the urge to vomit and closed her eyes, keeping her grasp firm.

Bobby, like CJ, was positioned against a column of steel where two of the grip bars connected. Despite having the largest frame, he could still hold himself in place.

Just feet away from Bobby, Isaac hung onto the bar in front of him. But when the metal around his fingers squeaked, he realized his grip might not matter so much as the area he’d chosen to hold on to did.

He’d chosen a horizontal stretch of the bar. Not thinking to align himself in front of a support column suddenly proved to be a poor decision.

The increased acceleration of the roundabout only amplified the amount of stress on the wobbly structure’s framework.

Isaac could hear more groans leaving the old wood in front of him. He could feel the unsteadiness of the support bar as he attempted to inch his way closer to the steel pillar for added security. But the pressure of the spin in his face was too much.

Suddenly, the bar in Isaac’s hands gave way. The rusted screws that once made the bar feel completely secured, began to detach from the support column. The sudden, jarring separation caused his left hand to slip off the metal. His lone remaining grip came from his right hand as the bar continued to bend and further distort.

Isaac looked down at the bubbling stew of toxicity and chemicals, his pulse jumping, causing his throat to bulge. He fought against the momentum, getting his left hand back on the warped pole, but the stress of the revolutions caused his grip to slacken.

“Isaac!” CJ cried.

He wanted to help, but due to his current obligation with Donnie, moving would create more overall risk than it was worth. CJ’s gaze of terror transitioned to Bobby. His brother was within arm’s length of Isaac, but CJ was less than convinced he would do anything to help.

“Bobby! Help him—”

CJ’s pleas were cut short by a wave of violent coughing. The fit, paired with the roundabout’s force, triggered a tiny mouthful of vomit to rush up his neck. The liquid was hot and mixed with a chunky and milk-like texture. The ride’s motion caused the barf to completely miss Donnie’s head.

Instead, it traveled past him and the hot chunks speckled both Bobby and Isaac.

“Help me!” Isaac cried.

In directing his pleas toward Bobby, Isaac felt a new type of helplessness inside.

“I’ll help you alright,” Bobby said. A sinister grin twisted on his face.

Bobby hooked his right arm under the steel pillar and used his free hand to reach back into his waistband. When he retrieved the knife, it was still bloody and caked with bits of Sadie’s insides. Bobby didn’t hesitate; he extended the steel toward Isaac’s knuckles.

“What are you doing?! Wait!” Isaac cried.

“Bobby, no!” CJ said, with puke still sliding off his face.

Suddenly, the loudspeaker in the room crackled. Tom’s typically kind and relaxed voice was more enraged and animated than ever. Molly’s hysterical moans served as torturous background fodder.

“Leave him alone! If you hurt my son, I’ll fucking kill you! But first, I’ll kill your dad! I’ve got him right here!”

Tom wasn’t lying, but he was certainly embellishing the truth. He figured a threat to dispose of Bobby’s idol would be the only clever tactic left in his arsenal.

To his credit, the words worked well enough to make Bobby hesitate. But Tom didn’t account for what came next. His minor oversight put him on a path toward grave consequences.

Greg’s seasoned loudmouth boomed enough to push his words to something more than background chatter. His heinous message was projected to Bobby without issue.

“He’s bullshitting you, Son! Take that fucker out! Get him good—” The speaker suddenly cut out.

The question of confidence hindering Bobby evaporated upon hearing his old man’s voice. He’d made him proud once before, but now the opportunity to double up had presented itself. The attention-starved teen twitched with fury as he clenched the gory blade with malice.

“I’ll get him, Dad!”

The tip of the knife cut through the thin skin on Isaac’s knuckles. As the agonizing slicing burrowed deeper, Isaac felt the steel connecting with his bone. The pumps of blood were taken by the spin and slid away behind him.

The crimson fluid splashed over Bobby’s body and face, staining the teeth inside his disturbing grin. The splatter didn’t deter Bobby, even as it painted him in heavier strokes, it only intensified his devilish persona.

Isaac screamed louder, but his cries had zero impact on the situation. With the knife sawing to a point where it was almost completely through Isaac’s fingers, he decided there was only one choice.

Isaac pushed through and thought about CJ, Tanya, and especially Donnie. If allowed to continue in the leadership role he’d highjacked, Bobby’s reign of terror wouldn’t end with him. Isaac wasn’t part of their family, but he felt like he’d been through enough with CJ and Tanya to know they were good people. And he’d been through even more with Bobby to understand that he wasn’t. Donnie would be the last person outside of the Matthews’ bloodline. There was no doubt in Isaac’s mind that Donnie would become his replacement target.

As the blade dug further into his skeleton, Isaac felt the bones in his hand weaken. He wouldn’t be able to hold on much longer. His moment of truth had arrived.

Isaac loosened his left hand and pounced, latching onto the instrument of violence. His lower palm grabbed onto the drippy, double-sided blade and Bobby’s fingers.

“Hey! Get off me!” Bobby screamed.

But Isaac was done listening to his commands. He slid his right hand off the bar and swiftly wrapped his gory grasp around Bobby’s wrist.

“Get the fuck off! You’re heavy! I—I can’t hold us both up!” Bobby cried, panic now oozing from his tone.

Unable to think of another means of survival, Isaac projected a distant gaze past Bobby’s arm and into his eyes.

“I guess we lose together then.” “No! Let go! Let—”

Bobby’s appeal was cut short. The weight of Isaac’s entire body multiplied by the roundabout’s momentum his biceps drained. The tension in the arm he’d interlocked around the rusty pipe diminished until it was no longer strong enough to hold them in place.

The quarrelsome pair that rejected each other with regularity in their brief time together, sailed through the air in a flash. Their bodies landed in close proximity as they went splashing into the monstrous substance below.

As their frames connected, the poignant froth swallowed them whole, completely submerging them into the hellish horror. Almost immediately, the rivals could feel an other-worldly agony as their skin fizzed and blister. Whatever the cruel concoction was, it knew how to attack the human form with unmatched rapidity.

The porridge eliminated their clothing hastily and went to work on their soft exteriors. It was as if the ingredients in the stew were specifically designed to exterminate man.

Upon breaking through and resurfacing, all of the hair follicles on their entire bodies became a memory of the past. Additionally, the minuscule amount of weight that the fluid drizzling off their heads generated, pulled away at their scalps, and their casings began degloving. The sloppy skin gliding off of their skulls made them look like piles of shredded cheese melted in a microwave to excess.

The ultra-aggressive waste had already burned through multiple layers of skin. Upon submerging, each boy had instinctually shut their eyes, but the unforgiving solution liquefied their eyelids. By the time they reached the oxygen, the scorching green liquid had made its way to their pupils. The vision they’d each taken for granted since birth was no more. A streaky wave of sizzling slime was the last thing Bobby and Isaac saw.



In the finale of disassembly, their once ordinary orbs speedily distended. They ballooned outward, expanding to the point of eruption. The vile burst pushed a mushy, off-white material out from their sockets and into the soupy mixture below.

As they flailed about in the marsh, the raw, pinkish meat glistened where their skin had once been. The lethal chemicals were quick to move onto their major muscles. The fluid found crevices, joints, ligaments, and tendons. It soon dissolved enough carnal bondage on their bodies to disconnect the muscles from their bones.

The frantic peddling motions came to a slow, and each of their bodies shut down. Seconds later they were both static—erased into oblivion and forgotten by the surrounding universe.

In life, Isaac and Bobby went together like oil and water, but in death, that wouldn’t matter. As the vicious ocean of scorching fluid destroyed the little that remained of their tissues, the opinions and differences they held in life were suddenly of little consequence. Now they were one and the same; a single, all-encompassing soup of sizzling cells, dissolving ambition, and lost youth.

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