By the Sun's Hand
The last stray beams of moonlight filtered through the thick fog that hovered over the Deserted Fairground, which was anything but. Shrieks of not feat but laughter sounded through the well-kept cobwebs of the musty stands. At first glance the old fairground seemed like it was rotting away, but in reality the visage was carefully kept by those who oiled the gears of the nightly attraction night after night. One of these beams casually danced across the old, painted leather wheel that stood ever so silent. The wheel’s master watched tonight’s patrons drop the last of their neopoints on rigged games and foul smelling food as he twirled his slim cane absentmindedly, wishing some of those stray neopoints would come his way. While the other attractions were lit up during the night with long lines of gullible Neopets, he always waited silently by his wheel. Occasionally a young Neopet with naïve eyes would come and give the wheel a spin, but as soon as others would see what the prize was they would always laugh and walk away.
Loren sighed as he watched the last Neopets wander out, chattering happily. As the local ghosts shut and locked the gates Loren sat down and took off his dusty top hat. “Another day gone…” he muttered to himself. “By the sun’s hand we rest…”
“You should write poetry sometime.”
Loren looked up, startled. Cylia stood in front of him, the blue Aisha’s eyes tried from a long day of work.
“I said you should write poetry sometime, that last line was rather… whats the word?”
Cylia giggled, her necklaces jingling ever so slightly with the movement. “I was going to say something better but sure, that works. So… did you have a busy day?”
Loren dusted off his hat and set it behind the wheel. “You know the answer to that, your cork gun gallery is a stone’s throw from my wheel.”
Cylia frowned. “I just figured I’d ask… I try and recommend the wheel to people, you know.”
“Yeah well people just don’t seem to want to risk their money to old get sick or win a ratty plushie.” The red Gelert looked forlornly at the box of mismatched plushies that he placed his hat on. Cylia went over and picked up a headless Von Roo doll.
“Well I think they’re cute. Besides, it isn’t like you can control what happens with the wheel. That’s the fun, I hear wheels at other fairs do well.”
“Yeah, the Wheel of Excitement, the Wheel of Knowledge… no one wants to spin a Wheel of Misfortune.” Loren descended the creaky stairs and began to head toward the picnic tables.
“Well… you could change the name.” Cylia jogged to catch up to him, still clutching the plushie. “Call if the Wheel of Horror or something, maybe change the prizes…”
“Cylia, I’ve been watching the wheel since the fairground opened. Don’t you think if I could have done something to improve it I would have over a hundred years ago?” Loren put his hands in his pockets, frowning at the rays of sunlight that manage to penetrate the thick fog.
Cylia looked at her feet as she walked, clutching the silly plushie to her chest. “I often forget you’ve been here that long…. You’re the oldest, right?”
Loren nodded. “Yep. Arnold and Sidney built their stands not long after.”
“Heh, did they know about the curse?”
“Of course not. They were sure surprised…. What about you? Did you know about it?”
Cylia nodded slowly. “I had heard about it from one of the elders in my caravan.”
“Then why did you come?” Loren sat down on the worn bench of a table under a tree. Cylia sat across from him.
“I was young and stupid and I didn’t believe my grandfather. I just wanted to make some money to start my life away from the caravan, but…” She shrugged and petted the plushie. “I got stuck here like you. I don’t really regret it, my life is interesting.”
Loren nodded and looked off at the silhouettes of the stands, framed against the sunrise. No one could explain what the curse was, but they all knew one thing. Once it took hold of you, you tended your stand forever.
“Well…. Look at the love birdsssss…” Sidney’s sinister chuckle preceded him as he settled into the seat next to Loren.
“Cool it, Sidney. You know Loren and I are just friends.” She plucked a stray thread from the plushie’s arm.
“Oh, thatssss a ssshame….” He flashed that grin. “Ssssso, Loren, did you make a profit tonight?” He chuckled.
“Aw give the kid a break.” Arnold plopped down next to Cylia. “It must be tough trying to make money from a wheel that doesn’t give good prizes.”
Loren rolled his eyes at the Mynci. “At least I don’t promise people prizes from rigged games like you. People know exactly what they’ll be getting from my wheel.”
“Yeah, thatsssss why you’re broke.”
They both erupted into laughter, Arnold clutching the table while Sidney hissed through his teeth. Loren stood angrily and turned his back to Cylia’s pitied gaze. The Gelert strode back over to his wheel with his long legs and sat on the steps. He looked up over the stands, at the clown Chia’s cleaning up the mess from today’s pies, at the coconuts nailed to their posts over at the empty Coconut Shy, and at his coworkers, sitting around the table, sharing tales of today’s antics. He rested his head in his hands and sighed deeply. There were some days that Loren regretted pulling that lever on the wheel.
Loren had just enough time to look up before Bart eased himself onto the splintered wood next to him. “I saw the others giving you a hard time.”
“Its no different than usual.” Loren toyed with the edge of his tattered sleeve. “I’m used to it by now.”
Bart shrugged. “Hey, it isn’t your fault you got stuck with the worst game. Besides, it isn’t like they’re all much better off. You’re still trapped in this fairground. The only ones who can come and go are Saskia and I.”
“You two are the smart ones. How do you do it?”
Bart grinned and ran his finger along the edge of his hat. For some reason the motion made Loren’s fur bristle. “Ah… you know we’d never reveal our secrets. Besides, you’re already stuck here.”
“Yeah… I suppose so.”
Bart patted his shoulder with a heavy hand. “Just don’t dwell on it, Loren. Besides, the sun will be over the trees soon, and you won’t have to worry.”
“Right…. I won’t have to worry.”
“Just relax, kid.” He ruffled Loren’s hair. “Let the sun relax you.”
The Gnorbu got up and strode off to the gates, where the ghosts let him out. Loren leaned against the wheel’s painted structure and watched the sun climb higher over the sky. As the rays touched the ground, his coworkers slowly began to fade. First was Cylia, her heavy dress soon becoming mist that disappeared in the air. Then went Arnold and Sidney, their laughter becoming little but echos. As Loren watched his friends disappear one by one he smiled.
“By the sun’s hand we rest….”