AN: Short chapter, I know, but things have been busy. I'll try to update at some point in the near-ish future. Reviews are appreciated, flames are loathed, follows/favorites are lovely! Thank you all!
Josephine trotted back around to the midway with Iris in tow. She approached the coaster control panel, glancing over the array of buttons as she pulled a ticket out of her back pocket, slipping it into the slot. The edge was printed with a code, corresponding to the buttons on the control panel. Power, proceed, open gates, stop. A low whirl picked up into a roar as a dented and grimy rocket shaped cart raced down the tracks, coming to a stop as it slammed into the bumper, letting out a belch of steam.
"It's alright, I meant to do that," she said mostly to herself.
She cautiously treaded over the rotted boards, kneeling at the edge of the car. As expected, the inside was an overflowing rubbish heap, but Josephine managed to fish out a pair of heavy-duty gloves. She meandered back to the fish gates with Iris in tow, hoping that the gloves would allow her to perhaps unplug the cable box. Bracing herself, she grabbed and yanked the plug as the snapping jaws eased to a halt. Take that! Being careful to avoid the sharpened edges, the detective stepped into new territory. A round stage with a backdrop plastered in vintage carnival advertisements for mermaids and other sideshows dominated the area. In the center was a tank, the sides murky green glass, with the hatch sealed by a heavy chain. Inside she could see a faint blur of movement. She hurried over, polishing the glass with her sleeve. Inside was another cursed carny. Marlena the Mermaid, her dark hair floating like a cloud around her, pounded on the glass with a gloved fist. Her eyes were wild with panic, her face pressed against the window. A few bubbles floated from her mouth. She glanced upward and pointed to the hatch, frightened. Josephine nodded. I guess this is the curse of someone who claims to be able to breathe underwater, she thought gravely.
A beautiful young woman clad in seashells propped herself up on her elbows, waving at the crowd with a hand wrapped in a blue scale-printed glove. She flicks a mermaid tail, splashing delighted audience members in the front row, laughing with glee. An announcer wanders on stage.
"There you have it folks, our very own mermaid, Marlena! You saw it here at Madame Fate's Carnival: half girl, half fish, a dynamite mix of air and ocean! She swims, she floats, she even breathes under water! Sorry, fellas, this lovely lady is taken by our very own tattooed man, Dante Camelo,"
A stocky man covered in ink stormed through the crowd.
"Lovely my ass! Try lascivious!" he roared. "My wife is nothing more than a floozy!"
"Looks like our resident mermaid may have a wandering eye!" the announcer said with interest. The audience was hanging on the edge of their seat.
Marlena's expression changed from delight to embarrassed shock as a tinge of red spread across her face.
"Don't think I don't know about your little affair with Fabiano!" Dante growled.
"You heard it here, folks, our married mermaid may have the hots for strong man Fabiano Brawn!"
She ducked back underwater to hide from the jeers as the audience filed out quickly, hoping to avoid the fight. Consumed with rage, the tattooed man slammed the hatch of the tank shut, roughly spinning the latch before storming offstage. Frantically, she strained to heave the lid open, knowing that she only had moments before she ran out of air. A massive gentleman with handlebar mustache came running.
"I heard there was trouble!" he sputtered with a heavy Italian accent, searching wildly for Marlena.
Seeing the predicament, he quickly opened the lid as she burst out, gasping for air, flinging her arms around the strongman's neck, panting heavily. She only managed to choke out two words between wheezing gasps: