Master of Ceremonies: Part Six
"Stop crying, Vira."
Vira looked up. A stunning, beautified version of her old self—dressed in sunflower yellow and decked out with flowered, flowing braids—appeared in the mirror. It was standing above her and putting its gloved paws on its hips.
"Why did you do this to me?" Vira cried angrily, pounding her bare fists to the ground.
Tilting its head, the beautiful Acara replied, "I did it for your own good."
"My own good? I treated you like you were my best friend," Vira shouted. "I thought I could trust you, and this is how you repay me? You’re a thief and a liar!"
"Liar?" The Acara was taken aback. "Look at your new self, Vira. I gave you the truth. What you look like now is who you really are," it said, pointing a finger shamefully.
"I’m nothing like that hideous creature! That’s you, you miserable creation. Where did you even come from?"
To Vira’s disdain, the Acara smiled. "You created me. There’s magic in your blood that gives reflections life."
"I would never create such a pest. Give me back my beauty and get lost!"
"I won’t give it back until you learn to appreciate what you already have."
"Stop torturing me like this!"
Shaking its head, the reflection said, "Someone had to teach you a lesson, or you’d never change."
Vira stretched her paws out toward the mirror. "There was nothing wrong with me before you came."
The dainty Acara leaned in closer to the glass. "Everything was wrong, Vira. You’ve always been hideously envious of what you can’t have, and it’s about time you saw that little green monster of yours."
"You’re being stupid! I’m—"
"Just listen to me," it interrupted, asserting its dominance in the situation. "You have a lot that needs changing. You’re the most prideful and vain Neopet that I’ve ever seen. You have a wonderful life, but you throw your family away and care only for your own self."
Vira glared at the Acara with disgust.
It continued, "All you care about is looking beautiful and showing off to please the crowds, and your greed for attention and fame is causing you to forget about what really matters. Your father was doing his best for you, but you were too slothful to give him one, single care in the world."
"Shut it. I’ve heard enough."
"All that beauty on the outside was wasted on you."
"Get out of my life, you disgusting thing!"
A Chia police officer stepped into the room behind her. He had a direct line of sight of her now that half the maze had been destroyed. He blew his whistle as a large Grarrl guard came in to detain her.
Vira kept her eyes fixated on the mirror.
The Acara that she longed to look like said, "You can have your looks back when you learn to appreciate what you have." The reflection then vanished.
Vira lurched at the mirror. "What’s there to appreciate? You’ve taken everything from me!" she shouted, slamming her fists and forearms against it, but her magical reflection was gone.
"I’ll get you!" She pounded her fists harder against the mirror.
The Grarrl guard grabbed her fiercely, pushing her arms down behind her back and still managing to lift her into his arms.
"Miss Claymore, you are under arrest!"
He brought her back past the pink curtain and dragged her out through the funhouse’s entrance. Vira struggled to break free from his overbearing grasp, but he carried her all the way to a security booth near the fairground’s entrance, where he locked her up in a detention cell.
"Your father will be here shortly," he said, crossing his arms.
Vira took a seat on the bench and hid her face in her paws, crying out in frustration as the guard watched her.
After several minutes of sobbing in the awkward silence, her father came into the booth.
"Vira, what’s gotten in to you?" the well-dressed, Red Kyrii asked angrily as he approached the bars. His demeanor softened when he saw her glowing red eyes. "What in Neopia? Vira, is that you?"
Vira ran to him and leaned on the bars. "Father! Please take me home."
"What did you do to yourself?"
"Someone put a curse on me! I need to get out of here," she sobbed.
He closed his eyes and shook his head. "I can’t let you out, Vira. Not in your current condition."
"What? What are you saying?" she gawked, confused at his unmerciful reaction.
"Vira, you vandalized the funhouse in a deranged frenzy, shouting at nobody. You crashed the beauty contest, and yesterday you made a complete mockery of the Claymore family in front of the entire company. You said it yourself—you’re under some sort of spell! I can’t let you out."
"Please don’t blame me. Someone else did this to me and ruined everything!"
Her father put his hands on his hips and looked sideways at her through widened eyes. "You spent more money on a supposed ‘beauty’ potion again, didn’t you?"
"That’s not what happened."
"You think that I’m made of Neopoints… that you can just waltz around Neopia spending money carelessly, changing your body in ways that it’s not naturally meant to be."
"Please, Father, don’t do this to me."
"How much did they tell you that the antidote would be?"
"Father, it wasn’t a potion!"
"Well, whatever happened, everyone thinks that the Claymore’s eldest daughter is a lunatic, wild and desperate for attention!"
Vira fell to the ground in agony.
Her father continued, "I’ve done everything I can and still can’t get to you. I think a night in detention is the best thing for you right now, anyway."
"Don’t treat me like a freak. Please," she sobbed.
"I’ll be back tomorrow morning with the specialists, and, if you’re in better condition, we’ll continue this discussion at home."
Her father and the Grarrl guard left the booth.
Vira screamed and hit her fists against her thighs. No one, not even her own father, was on her side. There was nothing that she could do now except wait for him to return.
The dispiriting darkness from outside crept into her detention cell. Vira lay there sobbing for several hours, unable to fall asleep. Mechanical churnings of the amusement rides vibrated into her ears unpleasantly, and excited screams from merry fairground patrons tortured her pained soul.
After what seemed an eternity, the midnight chimes finally rang out over the loudspeakers, and everyone throughout the fairground cheered, applauding the wonderful grand opening that they had been able to enjoy all day and would continue to enjoy throughout the night. Some howled their cheers, and others shouted "Happy Halloween!"
Vira did not move an inch. She still had several more hours before her father would return, and only then would she be given a chance to redeem herself and her beauty. She tried to ignore the celebratory, Halloween cheers of the Neopets outside.
Within seconds, though, the excitement and midnight applause from the outside faded, and the fairground grew surprisingly silent. Vira could still hear footsteps and rides, but there were no voices whatsoever.
Alarmed, Vira closed her eyes and strained her ears to figure what was going on. Why was everything suddenly so quiet?
Then she felt it.
Something evil was there in the darkness… everywhere in the darkness. Its presence began flooding the fairground.
Halloween had finally arrived.
Vira sat up as soon as she heard the terrible screams. From somewhere else in the fairground, Neopets were yelling; fathers, mothers, and youth were now all screaming, but these were no longer screams of excitement. Something catastrophic was taking place.
She stood up and tried to look through the distant window from where she was. She was able to see just over the windowsill.
Backlit by bright carnival lights, she peered into the bleak dimness outside and saw the silhouettes of Neopets running frantically in all directions, shouting and looking for something. Some were running into each other and falling to the ground. The majority of them seemed to be heading in one direction…
A tall figure stopped in front of the booth’s window, blocking her view. Suddenly, red, narrow eyes looked in through the window and spotted her. Sharp, white teeth formed a jagged smile.
Vira dropped to the ground and crawled backward to the nearby wall, hoping to be left alone. There was someone—or something—deadly outside. Tears of fear formed in her eyes.
Within a few moments, a hooded figure slithered its way into the security booth. In the extreme darkness, it looked like there was no one even beneath the flowing robe. Vira shrunk in the back of her cell.
The creature reached its Hissi wings out to grip the bars. It pulled them apart with unnatural ease, bending them far enough for him to enter the cell.
"Get away from me!" Vira shouted covering her head.
In a low, gravelly croon, the Hissi breathed out, "I won’t harm you, my decrepit beauty. I’m inviting you to join the feast with our brothers." Its long tongue darted out of its mouth. "Come outside and sink your teeth into something good."
It turned and vanished into the night.
Vira’s heart raced, pumping her limbs full of energy, but she could not seem to get up. She sat staring at the gap in the bars that the creature had so easily rent. Just past it in the darkness awaited the booth’s exit.
If she left the booth, the fairground’s main gate was only fifty yards away. She could make a run for it. Now was her chance to escape.
The blood-curdling screams of terror rang out as dozens of shadowy creatures feasted on the poor souls outside.
Dare she leave the security booth?
But she also feared that one of the Hissi’s "brothers" might not be so kind to her if it found her in here.
Acting quickly, Vira climbed through the bars and cracked open the door to see for herself what was going on.
Adjusting her eyes to the stark contrast of artificial light and haunting shadow, she saw hundreds of Neopets running past her toward the fairground’s iron gate, hoping to escape the ongoing onslaught, but too large of a crowd was trying to leave all at once. They gathered around the front gate, waiting to push their way through the—
To her horror, Vira saw that the gates were shut!
Some Neopets were climbing up the tall, iron posts, desperate for freedom, but they couldn’t seem to make it over the top. The crowd continuously grew as thousands of fairground patrons pressed against each other, clawing for escape through what used to be the fairground’s only exit.
From elsewhere in the fairground, large, hideous creatures leapt at innocent Neopets everywhere, attacking them with their claws and teeth and dragging them screaming to the ground. There were hundreds of monstrous freaks preying on and devouring them!
Someone had unleashed the fury of the Haunted Woods’ greatest nightmares on these thousands of unsuspecting Neopets.
The scene of horror was too terrifying for Vira to watch! But returning to the detention cell meant listening to the catastrophe all night… and risking being eaten herself.
She ran around the booth and away from the front gate, hoping to escape the massacre, but something was slowing her down. It felt as though she were truly in a nightmare, running in slow motion away from an approaching predator.
It was her wings! The air was catching them and slowing her down.
Vira spread them even farther out and ran as fast as she could until they helped to lift her off the ground. She began flapping them furiously. Clumsily, she rose higher in the air, just enough for her to push off of a roof for extra height and rise into the sky.
As she unsteadily flew upward, the chilling winds filled her ears but failed to drown out the noises of the terrible screaming from below. Her tears left cold trails along her cheeks, and the black sky above her swallowed her up, both body and soul.
Leaving the scenes of horror behind her, she headed ever onward, flying into the night sky without daring to look back. She sought refuge in the vast darkness as she pushed herself higher and higher into Halloween’s bone-chilling embrace.
There was nothing left in this world for Vira to hold on to. She had been stripped of everything.
There would be no more joy, no more beauty, no more love.
No more family, no more home, and no more life.
What would be sweeter than death?
The old Vira was no more.
The only thing that hadn’t been taken from her this Halloween was her heart, filled to the brim with malice.
And it would never stop beating until she had exacted her revenge…
To Be Continued...