I walk among the rusted machinery of years past and wonder what it meant to be a child. The color long faded and the laughter of children, now ghosts of the past, long forgotten. If I knew no better, the machines could be torture devices used to create terror and fear. My father told stories of days filled with joy; his family spent hours riding and laughing on the antique metal foreign devices.
Silenced forever, the contraptions know no other purpose but that of a museum. What will future generation believe of the carnival? My mind wanders and I imagine a child walking through the midway, eyes open wide in wonder. A corroded, orange rollercoaster rises to the sky in the distance. Rails roll and curve in circles. Faded gray horses sneer and buck against tarnished brass poles of a silent merry go round. Clown faces stare back from a once colorful fun house front, eye full of terror where bliss was danced.
Laughter will never again grace the presence of this place. The sounds of happiness have been replaced by weeping and gunfire. I stand where carnival barkers once stood; they called to the masses in search of contestants to try their luck at games of chance. Their prize a fluffy animal or candy. I stand as guard against the unwanted; their prize is lead and death.
My orders are that no man shall pass lest I be on the receiving end of the rifle. I do my job with no remorse. I have a family to feed and protect and the ones who wish to pass threaten our safety. I have had the opportunity to kill three times and have taken the opportunity on each occasion. One such intruder still lies motionless on the black floor of a covered building. Long ago, riders would steer the small vehicles around the black surface and collide with one another. I fail to see what joy could come from this and know when I look at the dead man that no joy will ever come to the building again.
The cold wind blows against my face. I pull my collar tight around my neck to ward off the chill as I make my rounds. Grass and weeds grow from the cracks in the concrete. I cannot imagine a time when pavement was the norm and not the exception.
My relief arrives and I nod as he resumes my place as sentry. I am given leave for the night and I walk slowly back to camp as I think about the time when I can see my family again. Three months in this cold and desolate place can turn a man’s mind to thoughts not wanted. A fine line separates vigilance and insanity, especially when one is left alone in a place such as this.
I enter my tent and lie down on my bunk. Hopefully sleep will come quickly and be without dreams. The carnival rules my dreams and the ghosts that dwell there terrorize my slumber. Less than thirty days remain until I can return home and shake off the cold embrace of this place. I can only hope that our replacements arrive before I go insane.