I grew up in a pretty crummy town - Nowheresville, a real one-horse piece of crap, with a small municipal park which
had housed a vintage carousel since time immemorial. The same elderly guy was always sat in his little booth in the centre, whatever the weather, whilst
ornately painted wooden horses paraded by for the billionth time.
Me and my friend Billy used to invent
names for him when he was out of earshot, immature stuff like “Horse’s
Ass” and “Prick-Draw McGraw”. There wasn’t much else to do
around there. Since the park was essentially the only place for teenagers to
hang out, we seemed to spend every weekend hearing an endless loop of gaudy
organ music, which must have driven old Prick-Draw insane long ago.
Late one spring afternoon we were in
the park as usual, thinking up new monikers for P.D. when he surprised us by
emerging from his booth and cheerfully waving us
“This carousel sure is a beauty,
ain’t it? Say, did you cowboys ever hear the legend about why each horse is so
“Naah,” sneered Billy.
P.D. leaned back against one of his
trusty steeds and began to stare wistfully through us. “Well sir, the
story goes that each of these beasts is secretly alive, but you only see their
true form if you switch on the power after sunset. Why else do you think I
never operate the old girl at night?”
“That’s a real big pile of
horse-shit,” chuckled Billy, which made me blush a little. I was a punk
but I minded my manners.
P.D. gave us both his usual bland grin.
“You fellas best mosey on home, it’s getting late and I’d best call it a
But we stuck around as Billy had
decided to call the weird geezer’s bluff, especially since we’d noticed that he
sometimes absentmindedly left the key in the ignition of the ancient
machinery. That night was such an occasion.
We waited a couple of hours until it
was good and dark, crept into the booth
and began randomly hitting buttons and fiddling with a rusty dial. Eventually,
things spluttered into life, quite literally.
We didn’t notice the screams at first,
as the organ ditty was almost deafening from where we stood in the middle. But
we could see clearly enough.
On every post where a wooden horse had once stood,
gently rising and falling as they spun rapidly around us, was a human being,
impaled. Some through the chest, some through other parts of their anatomy.
Some wore old clothing, some had faces I recognised, people who’d vanished over
Their cacophony was unbearable, and we hugged each other, trapped in
But over that dreadful noise we somehow heard Prick-Draw’s cackling
You can love someone down to their core and they can love you right back just as hard, and if you traded diaries you’d learn things you never suspected. There’s a part of everyone deep down inside of them not meant for you. And the sooner you learn that, the easier your life is gonna be.