Mark A Davis
Fog rolled in off the bay, transforming the world into one of weird shadows and strange, hallucinary objects. They only resolved into the normal and everyday when you were right on top of them. Sound was distorted, and every creak and rustle was loud and immediate and just around the corner.
Grandpa Anarchy gripped his gun tightly as he crouched beside a boarded-up candycorn stand. It's not as if an abandoned theme park ain't creepy enough, he thought. You gotta add an impenetrable fog to it.
Somewhere machinery creaked and groaned, and then carnival music began to play, off-kilter and out-of-tune. There was a rumbling, clattering sound and then a whoosh -- somewhere in the fog, a roller coaster was in motion.
"Grampy-poo, where are you?" The voice was broadcast over loudspeakers throughout the theme park. It was scratchy, tinny, but unmistakably that of Grandpa's arch nemesis Carnival Act. "Why don't you come out and play? I have a special bullet with your name on it...."
"Give it up, Carnival Act!" Grandpa yelled. "Your attempt to bomb the subway station failed!"
"Oh, I don't know about that," Carnival Act replied. "It got you here, on a fog-filled evening, where we can have a little fun. I'd call that a success!"
The criminal clown dropped from somewhere above, landing twenty feet from Grandpa. Even this close Grandpa could barely make the man out -- but there was no mistaking that black silk top hat sitting atop rainbow-hued hair, or the red silk jacket of a circus ringmaster, or the fancy walking cane. The clown fired two shots at Grandpa, who was already dodging and rolling out of the way.
Laughing like a hyena, Carnival Act disappeared into the mist. Grandpa charged after him.
The carnival music continued to lurch and flop along. A fun house loomed out of the gloom Grandpa entered. Distorted Grandpa Anarchys loomed and leered, but also several squat or elongated Carnival Acts.
Grandpa smashed one with his fist. Mirrored glass shattered. He smashed a second, then a third. A bullet whizzed past his ear, shattering a mirror behind him. Grandpa charged forward, chasing images that grew fewer as more of the mirrors were smashed. Then he flew out the back, and there was Carnival Act, gun aimed straight at him.
"Say goodnight, Grampy-poo," the clown said. "It's been real, and it's been fun, but it hasn't been...."
A man dressed all in black, with a wide-brimmed hat and a billowing cloak, tackled Carnival Act from the side. "Good going, Guy Shadow!" Grandpa exclaimed, leaping into the fight. The three rolled and grappled on the ground, trading punches, but finally Grandpa wound up on top of Carnival Act, while Guy Shadow stood to the side, gun trained at the villain's head. The clown froze, but grinned maniacally.
"Always on top," said the clown. "Isn't that always how Grandpa Anarchy likes it?"
"You're going to jail for a long, long time, Carnival Act," Grandpa replied. "You're going to pay for your crimes."
The clown's grin widened. "Am I?" he asked. "Am I?"
"Is there a point to this this story?" asked Death Medal.
Grandpa Anarchy stood over Death Medal, gun drawn. The villain in the black SS-style military uniform with silver skulls, a chest full of medals, and a burning skull for a head stared up at him. They were in the yard of an abandoned steel plant. Death Medal's minions were scattered about, lying on the ground and moaning. Grandpa's sidekick the Princess of Purple Prose floated nearby, dressed in a fancy purple gown.
"The point? Only that bad guys get caught," replied Grandpa. "That, and having a companion you can trust at your back is a good thing." He glared at the floating woman, who appeared to be writing in a small notebook. "And one last thing. Carnival Act had style. Abandoned theme park by the ocean? Classic! Creaky old ferris wheel, rusting roller coaster -- the kind with wooden trestles. Hall of mirrors, derelict haunted log ride. Carnival Act never did anything by half measures. When the fog rolled in off the bay, there wasn't a creepier place for a criminal clown to be.
"Not," he added in a much louder voice, "like the overblown, special-effects laden Hollywood hideouts favored by some villains I could name."
"The one hundred Cthulhu chorus line dancers were a bit much?" asked Death Medal.
"And the fireworks display, and the fire-eating stunt bikers jumping over a tank filled with sharks," said Grandpa. "Although hiring AC/DC to perform My Way -- never liked them myself, but it was a nice touch."
"Well," said the flaming skull, "if you're going to fall short, then being compared to a genuine craftsman like Carnival Act isn't that bad. But what if my ostentatious display was merely a means to distract you from my true goal? What if, this time, I wasn't planning to destroy the world, but merely to trap you, Grandpa Anarchy, and send you to hell? What if I produced this extravagant presentation merely to lure you into my trap? Now that would be a stylish move, would it not?"
A firey pentragram flared up around Grandpa and his sidekick. Grandpa frowned. "Dang," he said. "That is pretty good...." With a shriek of demonic laughter, Grandpa Anarchy and the Princess were sucked down into the ground.