Unholy Trinity: Carnivals are for Lovers by K.S. Walker
Our church worships at the altar of the Unholy Trinity. Its gospels are delivered as a trio of dark drabbles, linked so that Three become One. All hail the power of the Three.
I plucked another droplet from the sugar-spun mass tangled around a paper cone. Airy crystals dissolved into shimmering sweetness on my outstretched tongue. Since I chose to keep two feet planted here on God’s green earth rather than climb into the ride I held Kyla’s cone too. We’re opposites, her and I, but I think that’s why we go so well together. The cones kept me company as I watched her arc higher and higher, until the halo of her hair brushed the puffy underbelly of cumulus clouds. We kissed before she stepped onto the platform–her lips were cotton-candy sweet.
The ride conductor slammed a heavy fist against the console and swore. And then he hit the panel again. And again. His open palmed thwack-thwack-thwack cut across the mechanical melodies and brassy laughter that wound their way through the carnival. His world became a vacuum narrowed down to a single flashing red light and the blood hammering in his ears. The swing boat rocketed through its trough and back up to its crest much too quickly. By the time the ship sailed back through neutral, faster still, everyone understood something was wrong. And that nothing could be done about it.
I believe I saw her. Right before the pirate swing wrenched free from its anchor. Right before its black sails billowed triumphantly against a blacker sky. Between one heart beat and the next, I’m certain our eyes met. A moment come and gone too quickly for apologies, regrets, or bravery. Nothing can telegraph that quickly between two damned souls. Well, maybe one thing. I worry that my own eyes were as full-moon wide as hers. I worry that the last thing I had to give her was the one thing she had plenty of. Fear is solace to no one.
K.S.Walker is a speculative fiction writer from the Midwest with a fondness for stories with monsters, magic, and/or love gone awry. When they’re not obsessing over a current WIP or their TBR pile you can find them outside with their family.
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Stephanie Ellis writes dark speculative prose and poetry and has been published in a variety of magazines and anthologies. Her longer work includes the folk horror novels, The Five Turns of the Wheel, Reborn, and The Woodcutter, and the novellas, Bottled and Paused (all via Brigids Gate Press). Her dark poetry has been published in her collections Lilith Rising (co-authored with Shane Douglas Keene), Foundlings (co-authored with Cindy O’Quinn) and Metallurgy, as well as the HWA Poetry Showcase Volumes VI, VII, VIII, and IX and Black Spot Books Under Her Skin. She can be found supporting indie authors at HorrorTree.com via the weekly Indie Bookshelf Releases. She can be found at https://stephanieellis.org and on Blue Sky as stephellis.bsky.social.