With Blackwood Park being only a working title, I’ve settled on the actual title of my abandoned amusement park story: Eucha Falls. I’ve racked my brain trying to remember what the park in my recurring dream was actually called, but it’s just not coming to me. At any rate, this new title feels more fitting, and definitely less like a rip-off of Rosswood Park (and you get a cookie if you know that reference).
So here’s the next scene.
“You sure you want to watch this?” asked Shane.
Back in the safety of Melanie’s room in the small house she shared with two other renters, she had already booted up her laptop and plugged in the camera. “I’m sure.” As the video player opened to the beginning of the footage, she reached to click the start button, but Shane grabbed her hand.
“Mel, you don’t know what we’re going to see on here. Maybe I should watch it alone first. Then I can prepare you for… for whatever.”
“You mean for watching my brother’s murder. You think I haven’t thought of that? That I haven’t been thinking about anything else since we found this thing?”
“I know. I just meant—”
“I know what you meant.” She took hold of his hand with her free on and gently pried it away. She didn’t let go, but squeezed it as she said, “If that’s what’s on this tape, then I need to see it. I need to know.”
He didn’t look convinced, but he nodded. Melanie took a deep breath, and clicked Play.
It showed Scottie from behind, leading the way down the path that led under the old, ruined sign and into the woods. He kept looking around at everything with a look of amazement on his face, and when he turned back to the camera, he had a look of wonder and excitement that Melanie hadn’t seen since they were little kids. “Are you seeing this?” he asked the camera.
“Yeah, man,” came Jeff’s voice in reply. “I don’t believe it. It’s really here.”
“Come one, let’s get tickets.” Scottie pointed excitedly to a tree just past the sign. “Look, it’s Fern!” He ran excitedly to the tree as Jeff hung back and continued filming. Scottie was too far from the camera to hear what he was saying, but he appeared to be having an animated conversation with the tree.
“What is he doing?” asked Shane. Melanie could only shake her head in confusion as Scottie turned back to the camera and beckoned Jeff to follow him further into the park.
As they made their way along the path that led to the clearing, it was more of the same. Scottie pointed excitedly at things that weren’t there, and Jeff responded as though he could see them, too. The camera, meanwhile, revealed only trees, rusted pylons and empty meadow where rides and attractions had once stood.
Scott turned to the camera, a wide grin on his face. “Can you believe this?” He shouted as though to be heard over a loud noise, but the only sounds in the background were the buzz of insects and the occasional chirping of birds, and a low hum of static that had been steady throughout the video. “Why does everybody keep saying this place is shut down?” He pointed at the camera. “Mom, Dad, Sis? Now you see. You’ve got to remember this place now.” He looked past the camera, as though something caught his eye. “Hey, Jeff, look. Look!” He pointed, and the camera panned to reveal more empty meadow and the tree line beyond. “It’s the Pistol Whip! Aw, man, this ride is awesome. Let’s go!”
The picture cut out for a second. When it returned, the camera had moved to the far end of the clearing. Scottie’s voice came from behind the camera, chatting excitedly with Jeff. Then there was a lurch, and suddenly the camera seemed to take off and fly, as though they’d attached it to a remote control helicopter. It went higher and higher, faster and faster, then dipped to the ground, flew back up again and spun around. The entire time, Scott and Jeff could be heard right there with the camera, laughing and screaming.
Melanie’s heart pounded as Shane reached over and paused the video. The camera was at least a dozen yards above the ground, displaying the tops of the surrounding trees and a glimpse of the lake beyond. “What the hell is that?” asked Shane.
“I don’t know,” she said. Her voice quavered.
“It looks like… it looks like they’re on some kind of ride.”
“How the hell is that possible?”
Melanie faced him. He looked as freaked out and at a loss as she felt. She turned back to the screen. “Play the rest of it.”
Shane hesitated, but as she hardened her face into a mask of resolve, he resumed play. The camera continued to make impossible movements for about another minute, then the picture cut to Jeff, doubled over and losing his lunch in the bushes as Scott laughed from behind the camera. “That was awesome,” he kept saying.
Jeff flipped off Scottie and the camera as he finished puking, then stood up, wiped his mouth, and looked sheepishly at the camera. “How did that not make you sick?”
“Guess I’m just tougher than you.” The camera quickly panned away to a clump of trees on the edge of the clearing. “How about we do the sideshow next, give your stomach a break?”
“I don’t know, man,” said Jeff. “That tall dude out front is creeping me out.”
“That’s all part of the fun,” said Scott. “Come on, man. When I post this on YouTube, do you want the whole world to see that you can’t hold your cookies on a roller coaster and you’re too scared of the freak show?”
“Screw you,” said Jeff, and walked back into the frame as he headed toward the trees. Scottie followed him. As they went, the static undercutting the audio grew louder, and the picture became distorted before cutting to black.
There were several minutes left on the video. Melanie just sat there a moment, waiting. “Is that it?” asked Shane. She advanced the player, but nothing else seemed to have been recorded.
Shane leaned back in his chair with a groan and rubbed his eyes as though to wipe away what he’d just seen. “That was insanely weird.”
“At least it didn’t show anything happening to them.”
“Other than them losing their freaking minds.” He glanced over at Melanie. “Sorry.”
“No, it’s fine. I mean, that… I can’t show that to my parents.”
“But what if…” She trailed off, unwilling to finish her thought.
“What if what?” Shane prompted.
She sighed. “They both acted like they saw something. What if they did?”
Shane shook his head, though it seemed more in wonder than in denial. “Some kind of shared psychosis, maybe? Or maybe Jeff was just humoring Scott?”
“What, you think he puked just to humor my psycho brother? And what about the camera taking off and flying like that? How do you explain that?”
He was still shaking his head. “I don’t know.” He leaned forward, and took both of her hands in his. “Look, I’ve got a paper due tomorrow that’s only half written. Why don’t I go get my books, and I can work on it here? Then after class tomorrow we can turn that tape over to the authorities.”
“You don’t have to do that. You won’t be able to focus if you stay here.”
“After what I just saw, I don’t think I’m going to be able to focus anywhere. I don’t want you to be alone tonight. Didn’t your roommates go home for the weekend?”
“Claire did. Jennifer’s working. She’ll be home after her shift. And Claire should get back tonight, anyway.”
“Yes, I’m sure. You go write your paper, and try to forget about all of this until it’s done.”
He didn’t look convinced, but he leaned forward to kiss her before standing up. “Call me if you change your mind.”
He took one last, creeped out look at the computer screen, then turned to go let himself out. Melanie waited until she heard him get in his car and drive away before playing the video again. There had to be something she missed, something that would help her make sense of it all.