Today on Runeclock [collaborative writing experiment]:
The children turned to consider the thin girl with the skinned knees. Mark looked skeptical, but was so eager to be off that he made little opposition. Crim shrugged, and the others made warm welcome to their new companion in ‘banditry’.
The steel-touched boy yelled one last time to the moody boy watching from the boardwalk. “So are you coming, Seven? Huh, Seven? SEVEN. Well, we’re going to that place, catch up if you want.”
An apparently older girl that was painting nearby crinkled her nose in …frustration, delight? It was difficult to discern.
The six children and one dubious dog departed en masse, attitudes of vast stealth were adopted and executed. To Hibba’s relief the group made their way under the boardwalk, well out of the gaze of the two guards that still lingered there.
Crim lead them along the shore until they reached the grand wall of tall green planks that surrounded the Fair. He pulled his toy ray gun and held it up in preposterous vigilance, looking north and south, east and west. At last he laid his rusted hand on a plank marred by a single slash of red paint, that appeared to have been dribbled by a careless workman sometime in the past.
The Fair, as it is known, is the realm of lights and machines, the excited whirring of summer and life and memory. The roller coaster jostles, but stays on the track — the smell of popcorn and fried sugar waft.
To the children whose parents could afford the nominal fee, it was a bastion of games and running, of music and tiny teddy bears won by skill and craft. The calliope moan of its vast midway, the shadow-heart of the funhouse, the songs of the travelling bands that did their best to fill the thousand-seat bandshell that even in the height of the busy season only ever saw a few dozen guests.
Above it all presided the Ferris Wheel. A circle of light that spun like the hands of a clock, perfect and real. To ride to the top of its globe was to catch a glimpse of the entire island, to peek beyond the edge of the known world.
The children had no inkling that the Fair was a second-guest, a second layer. During the War, this place had served as the main harbor and command center for the fleet, battleships and rune-lords hurling themselves into the sea and the air. At War’s end, the aching metal had come here to rest, and in a brace of years had been sold to an enterprising soul. The Fair’s master beat the swords into roller-rails and corn-dog stalls, into benches and organs.
The children also had no inkling that at this moment, unexpected men were moving their way through the empty Fair. They wore the green tunics of guards and seemed to be searching for something or someone.
Crim pulled back the board, revealing a gap and a medium-sized pipe that had once served as some sort of drainage.
“Up the chute, geemos. Right into the splash-fountain. Come on then, come on then.”
He rested his silver weapon against his cheek and struck a pirate smile.
It was at that moment that a red Observer Node popped into view directly in front of the pipe.