Illustration by Idiots’Books
Lester wouldn’t work the ride anymore, so Perry took it on his own. Hilda was in town buying groceries—his chest-freezer of gourmet surplus food had blown its compressor and the contents had spoiled in a mess of venison and sour blueberry sauce and duck pancakes—and he stood alone. Normally he loved this, being the carnival barker at the middle of the three-ring circus of fans, tourists and hawkers, but today his cast itched, he hadn’t slept enough, and there were lawyers chasing him. Lots of lawyers.
A caravan of cars pulled into the lot like a Tim Burton version of a funeral, a long train of funnycar hearses with jacked-up rear wheels and leaning chimney-pots, gargoyles and black bunting with super-bright black-light LEDs giving them a commercially eldritch glow. Mixed in were some straight cars, and they came and came and came, car on car. The hawkers got out more stuff, spread it out further, and waited while the caravan maneuvered itself into parking spots, spilling out into the street.
Riders got out of the cars, mostly super-skinny goths—a line of special low-calorie vegan versions of Victorian organ-meat delicacies had turned a mom-and-pop cafe in Portland, Oregon, into a Fortune 500 company a few years before—in elaborate DIY costumery. It shimmered darkly, petticoats and toppers, bodices and big stompy boots and trousers cut off in ribbons at the knees.
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