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Misfortune on the Fairgrounds

by carizeecrow


"What?!" Zanaro cried. "How did I miss?"

      Rather than give her any straight answer, the creepy green Quiggle laughed and gave her a thumbs down. No prize, no ten thousand neopoints—no avatar! She huffed and gave the Quiggle one last glare before stomping away. There were plenty more entertaining things to do in the Fairgrounds than throwing things at coconuts anyway.

      Like... Bagatelle! Her eyes went wide when she saw a board with nails haphazardly beaten into a wooden board. On the bottom were some numbers and a few stars—the last of which was yellow.

      "Oooh, that looks easy enough!" She shoved her hands deep in her pockets to grab some coins and ran over. "I want to play!"

      "Sure." The shady looking Lupe stood there grinning from ear to ear, with his hand out. "Only two-hundred-and-fifty neopoints to play!"

      It wasn't that expensive, and she was so sure she could win. She felt lucky for some strange reason, or maybe she just wanted to win something after losing so much money at the Coconut Shy. With a smile on her face, she handed over the money and stood back as he tossed a tiny ball high into the air.

      As soon as it hit the board, she heard a little 'ow!'. She leaned in a little closer to see why the ball was making that kind of noise, but to her horror, it was a little Mootix! Every time he hit one of the nails on the way down, she flinched. The Mootix finally came to a stop right on number one.

      "Aw, rotten luck." The Lupe had the decency to at least wipe the grin from his face. "Try it again?"

      Zanaro shivered and shook her head as she took a quick step back. "No, this is a terrible game. That poor Mootix!"

      "Nah." The Lupe tried to brush her concerns away with a wave of his hand. "He loves this job, trust me!"

      He scooped up the little Mootix—who looked perfectly miserable—and dropped him into a glass jar. Before it could crawl out, he placed a lid on top and twisted it into place.

      "He doesn't look very happy." She frowned, looking at the poor little guy.

      The Lupe only shrugged and turned away, placing the jar on the shelf. She grumbled under her breath and left, disgusted with the whole situation. This definitely wasn't the game for her—she didn't want to be the reason some little Mootix ended up with a concussion... or worse!

      Oh well. It was time to take a break from all these games anyway. With a sign in the near distance that read Spooky Food, her stomach rumbled. She hadn't eaten since breakfast—a little snack wouldn't hurt anything.

      "Hello, hello!" A Bruce dressed as a vampire smiled at her, but it was a sneaky kind of smile. "Hungry? Would you like to try the special?"

      "Uh, sure." She spoke with uncertainty as she looked over the menu. "How much?"

      The Bruce named some fairly reasonable price, and she happily paid him. The names for all these foods were probably novelty. Grundo Sticks couldn't actually be made of Grundos, could they? She rolled her eyes at her own silliness and waited for him to get her food ready.

      A few minutes later, he handed over a bowl of steaming soup and a couple of yummy looking cookies. She took a seat and grabbed her fork, ready to chow down. But before she could, something in the stew moved. "Uh..."

      Suddenly a tentacle looking thing sprang out of the bowl. She shrieked and tossed it away from her, dropping her cookies in the process. In horror, she watched as the tentacle thing inched away.

      "There was something in my stew!" she cried, running back to the Spooky Food Shop. "It was ALIVE!"

      "Only a little alive." The Bruce frowned and crossed his arms. "What did you think was in Tentacle Soup, anyway?"

      "Not a real tentacle!" She shouted. "And I dropped my cookies!"

      "No refunds!" the Bruce snapped at her and turned his back. "I slave and cook all day and all I get are complaints."

      Zanaro shook her head and took a few steps back, a little creeped out by the shop now. If the Tentacle Soup had a real tentacle in, then that meant the Grundo Sticks were—no, best not to think about it.

      Just when she'd given up any hope of enjoying the Deserted Fairgrounds, she saw a sweet looking Aisha at another game booth. She approached cautiously, thinking there was no way such a kind looking girl would rip her off. After looking to make sure there were no captive Mootix, she decided to give it a try.

      "Roll up, roll up!" The Aisha offered a little wave. "Wanna play?"

      "Sure." Zanaro smiled and paid or one round. "How does it work?"

      The Aisha picked up a gun with a cork shoved into the nozzle. She handed it over and explained, "It's simple. You just point and shoot—try to aim for something good!"

      Oh, this was totally in the bag. She'd played that Ultimate Bullseye game a hundred times, and was quite good. How hard could this possibly be? She was confident she would hit something and walk away with a nice prize to show for it.

      Zanaro lifted the cork gun and took aim at a box of Kiwi Pear Gummies and fired. She was so sure that this was going to be the one good thing this place had to offer... until the cork veered way to the left and bounced between two objects.

      The Aisha giggled. "It takes some getting used to. Try it again."

      Right, she just wasn't used to a cork gun! She knew what to do this time. As quickly as she could fish the coins out of her pocket, she paid for one more round. She picked up the gun, took very careful aim and fired at the Kiwi Pear Gummies once more. The cork flew from the gun and sailed right toward the box. She let out a little cheer when it thumped against the cardboard, but stopped short when she realized the box hadn't moved an inch.

      "But-but..." She frowned and looked toward a very pleased Aisha. "I hit it!"

      "Another fluke, I guess. Would you like to try again?"

      "No." She frowned. "I think these games are rigged."

      The Aisha put a hand over her mouth, stifling a gasp as her eyes went wide. She staggered back like she might faint, making a big show out of her dramatic shock. "Rigged? Rigged?! I'm insulted!"

      Zanaro would have argued with her if she wasn't already walking away. She was never coming back to this place, not ever! When a scary looking guy near the Scratchcard place called out to her, she glared at him and just kept walking.

      Next time maybe she would go back to Meridell and try waking up the Turmaculus. She had better chances of being successful with that than she did anything here. Or maybe Faerieland, or Maraqua—or anywhere else but here.

      It might cost less money, too! Her pockets were considerably lighter now after playing all these risky, rigged games. She stormed right past the Wheel of Misfortune. At least she could give that game some credit—the title gave it away, she knew nothing good would come from that one.

      She paused finally, needing a little rest after getting herself so worked up. This was ridiculous. Her first visit to the Deserted Fairgrounds was a total bust! She didn't want to go home without at least one little souvenir, but it didn't look like she had much of a choice.

      "Maybe a couple more games..." She knew it was a bad idea, but she wasn't quire ready to give up yet.

      The Carnival of Terror was up and running, and she didn't have to pay anything to play. In fact, she could earn some money back in no time! It was a promising idea, one she couldn't pass up.

      A few minutes later she stood there, with a pile of Custard Pies stacked up beside of her. Robot clowns? Ha! They didn't stand a chance against her. When the game started, she grabbed a pie and got ready.

      At first it was easy. She took those clowns out without a problem.

      "Like taking candy from a baby!" She grinned, satisfied with this turn of events.

      But it didn't stay easy. The clowns moved so fast that she could barely hit them, and her timer was quickly running out. Her supply of pies was running low too. Still she tried, struggling to keep up with everything.

      The timer went off with a loud buzz, startling her for a second. In her confusion, she didn't have time to duck the pie that came flying right at her face.


      "Ugh." She pulled the pie away from her face and dropped it on the ground where the others thrown at her had landed. "Gross—I'll never get this out of my fur!"

      On the bright side, she managed to make a few hundred neopoints. She shoved the coins into her pocket and left, picking pie out of her now sticky fur. Wockies didn't look too good with sticky fur.

      Her next stop was an Apple Bobbing game. No way could this one be rigged! She was in complete control of the situation—all she had to do was bite down on something, and it was hers for the keeping.

      "Easy peasy." She stepped up and looked down, ignoring the shady look of the Gnorbu standing nearby.

      "Good luck." He didn't sound at all sincere as he gestured toward the barrel.

      Zanaro gripped the barrel on either side and looked down into the murky water. She could see some apples, a few scattered neopoints at the bottom, and a few other things she wasn't sure she wanted to identify. It was really just an apple she wanted... especially after her terrible and frightening lunch. Her stomach rumbled.

      After a few long seconds, she zeroed in on what she thought was the perfect apple. It was red and shiny—easily the biggest one in the barrel. She plunged her face into the water and took a bite, grabbing the apple her very first try. As she straightened, she grabbed the apple and looked down at it, smiling. Finally! She'd won something! A moment was taken to do a little happy dance as she hugged the apple close to her. "Whoo!"

      Something slipped off the apple. She looked down curious when she noticed part of the apple was orange. Her mouth fell open when she realized her perfect apple wasn't an apple at all! It was just a giant orange with a paper cutout of an apple tied around it.

      "Really?" She looked toward the Gnorbu. "An orange?"

      The Gnorbu shrugged. He obviously didn't care what it was, especially since he had the line behind her to attend to.

      "Well, I have an orange!" She smiled some. "Oranges are just as good."

      Zanaro found the nearest bench and took a seat. She carefully peeled the orange, making sure she didn't end up dropping it or something. This place was so full of bad luck that she couldn't afford to take any chances. She admired the orange for a moment after it was peeled, anticipating the yumminess that was sure to follow.

      Right when she started to peel away a small slice, she heard a dark cackle. She looked up quickly, startled, but didn't see anything. "Ugh, now I'm hearing things."

      Someone tapped her on the shoulder. When she turned to look, she felt the orange get pulled right out of her hands. She spun around just in time to see the Pant Devil shove the entire orange into his mouth and gulp it down.

      "Hey!" She lunged at him. "That was mine!"

      Before she could get a hold on him, he vanished, leaving nothing but an echoing cackle in her ears. She straightened and dusted herself off, staring at where the Pant Devil had been seconds before.

      "That's it, I'm never coming back!" With that, she walked away. She didn't even look back.

      True to her word, she never ventured anywhere near the Haunted Woods or the Fairgrounds ever again. Faerieland and Meridell was more her cup of tea—she'd stick to those.

The End

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