It’s time for another serial story. This should be a fun one, I mean what can go wrong at an amusement park? Get ready, I think it’s going to be a bumpy ride.
Keep up with the installments for this story at these addresses:
Moonlight on the Midway
Something Amiss in the Space Station Lounge
Hammer out the Flames
Burning Kiss of the Captive
Edge of the Abyss
Moonlight on the Midway
The final light winked out over the midway. A cool breeze just off the edge of the lake slipped through the empty park, empty except for Hank the last one to leave. He closed the control room door as he stepped into the dark moonless night. At one time Jen would have walked with him to the main gate, locked up, and then walked to his car. He used to give her a ride home in the early summer. But in the final days of early autumn she had already left for school.
Jen was a student at state college during the off-season. They talked on the phone most nights, used Skype when he could get internet, but that wasn’t as often as they had liked last year. Hank managed the park during the season, in the off-season he went to community college. The art program wasn’t huge but he liked it and the price for classes fell into his budget. He had worked so hard to avoid pulling out loans for school and so far had made it through pretty well, though he was coming close to the last classes the school offered.
When Jen left this last time it hadn’t been on the best terms. Hell, it was his fault and he knew it. He never should have said it to begin with but, well, she brought out the worst in him sometimes. They had been going through their summer tryst, the same since high school. But she wanted more, more commitment, more time, more of him. But the damn park, always the damn park, Hank had worked through the ranks to reach his level now. He had commitments to the park, didn’t he?
That wasn’t good enough for Jen though. It never was. She always wanted him to give up the kid job and start taking his future seriously. An accounting major, something steady, reliable, she wanted him to join her at State where they could spend the school months together too. When he brought up his paintings again, that was it, the last words she would here him say. She walked out of his apartment, didn’t look back, never returned his calls the rest of the summer. Hank heard that she had met someone new a couple weeks back but he stopped listening to the rumors. They did little more than open the wounds. He preferred to think that she just dropped off the face of the earth entirely right now.
This was the thing about walking through the midway in the middle of the night alone. For him it meant time digging through his thoughts. A few times he spent the rest of the night in the moonlight exploring the different ways the light played on the surfaces of the rides and buildings. Shadows become more than just reflections in the night. They took a life of their own. He made a few portraits that he was even proud of in the middle of the night on the midway.
No way he could ever get this kind of experience at a State school. Not that he really explored their course catalog. Hank liked the direction he took with his life and was determined to make it work. Jen should have seen that, she should have met him at his level. The school brainwashed her, that was it. He lost her to the strange thoughts they poured into her at the school. Stuff she never would have thought if she stayed here with him.
He purged the thoughts from his mind. He needed to focus on the walkway, the clouds shifted the light on the path ahead of him and put him in near total darkness a few times as he walked the grounds. The trip through the park didn’t really scare him, not anymore. He figured it was the familiarity with the place. Spend enough time wandering the grounds and you learn where every odd nook and cranny is during the night. Park policy stated that the closers work in pairs for safety when they closed the park. There were enough places for an assailant to hide in the park at night. It was a safety issue.
Hank sent Jerry home over an hour ago. It wasn’t his first time in the park alone, wouldn’t be his last. The quiet of the night helped him think and clear his head. Dealing with people and their issues all day took its toll on him and he needed that time at the end to let it all go. Therapy as simple as a walk in the dark.
The park was pretty big, too big to walk the whole way through for a closing trip. They had a system to clear the park at night where the outlying areas emptied and closed down about an hour before the midway was finally cleared and shutdown. When he powered down the lights, it had been a while since the park had been emptied. Sometimes he would find an issue though, like this time. The employees used golf carts to travel the grounds quickly. At the end of the night they were parked in the same area. They had specific stalls for each cart and charging units set so that the carts batteries could be charged over night. A cart was missing.