We've Been Here Before

We've Been Here Before

A Story by Adam Crate

A couple sneak into an abandoned amusement park that has a dark past.


Sarah ducked down and squeezed through the opening cut into the fence, careful not to catch her clothing on the bent pieces of metal. Seth followed closely behind. A pale blue sky loomed overhead, dotted with cloud clusters that kept the sun at bay. Beneath their feet the concrete parking lot was cracked and overgrown with weeds. Both wore a jacket and jeans, clothing appropriate to the brisk weather.

Hand in hand the couple made their way to the park entrance. Only a few letters of the original sign remained; at one time it had read, 'Green State Amusement Park'. Sarah jumped over the rotating metal bars that no longer moved with Seth a few motions behind. To their right was the ticket booth which had long been smashed in, only a few resilient shards remaining held in place. Once on the other side and in the park proper, he wrapped his arm around her waist and pulled her close. They began their walk down the open street which had once, decades ago, been bustling with patrons.

“This park is a ghost town,” Seth said. “I heard it closed down after there was an accident on the Ferris wheel.”

“That's awful,” Sarah replied. “Could you imagine having to see something like that? You come to the amusement park to have a good time and suddenly you're the witness to a death.”

“Even worse - imagine going through it.”

“I'd really rather not.”

To their right were shops lined alongside one another, with windows broken and boarded up. To their left was the bumper car pavilion, settled in dust and overgrown with vines. Sarah jumped over the guard rail and into the dormant arena with Seth close behind. She hopped into the nearest car - a blue one with only a few specks of paint remaining  and took the small steering wheel in hand. She spun it around and yelled out, “Vroom vroom!”

Seth came up behind her and placed his hands firmly on the back bumper. “What do you say? Should we see if this car still has some bump left in it?”

She grinned and gave him an eager nod. He pushed with all his might, feet sliding out from underneath him, before momentum began to swing in his favor and soon she was barreling forward in her faded blue bumper car towards a faded red one across the way. He released a few feet away from impact and she cried out as she crashed into it, bouncing off and spinning to face towards the left. He came up behind her and pushed her again, a few feet ahead into another car. And another, until his arms were tired and he collapsed on the floor, breathing heavily.

“My pusher has no more go juice,” she teased him, lifting herself out of the car and joining him on the floor. She sat with her feet folded underneath herself, elbows on her knees, chin in her palms, and a smile on her face. A few stray stands of brunette hair had escaped from her headband and fallen into her face. He leaned forward and carefully brushed them back behind her ear, giving her a kiss before leaning back and resting his head against the floor of the bumper car pavilion.

In the rafters above he saw black birds. They were wedged between steel and structure, paying little mind to what was going on beneath them. They had built elaborate nests into every nook and cranny of the bumper car pavilion, creating a certifiable suburban dream for themselves. With no one to disturb them they lived happy, content lives. Entire generations had been raised and died in this pavilion. He wondered if their ghosts haunted these fair grounds too.

“What are you thinking about?” she asked him.

“Worlds I don't understand,” he replied. “Worlds I can’t be a part of.”

She laid herself down next to him, propping her head up on her right hand and resting her left on his chest. She felt his breathing, in and out, a constant rhythm of rise and fall.

“But in some way, aren't we always playing a part? Isn't something always left where we tread?”

“Perhaps. Perhaps we leave pieces behind until we have nothing left to leave.”

“But there always has to be something left inside.”

“Not always.”

He turned his head to look at her now. Her face was so bright, her nature so innocent, her perception so naive. She was entirely unaware of why they were there, ignorant of the weight of reality that bore down upon them. One day it would all give way in a tidal wave of acceptance - one day. She leaned down and kissed him, holding it for a few seconds before pulling away.

“Come on,” she said. “There’s more to see.”

She stood and reached out a hand to help him up. He took it and she clasped her other hand around his arm, pulling with all her strength to get him to his feet. As he brushed himself off she jumped over the guard rail and peered down the empty street, at all of the decrepit structures teetering on the verge of collapse. He watched her with a smirk, wondering where she was going to run off to this time. The fun house? The teacups? The roller coaster?

“Catch me!” she yelled, as every time before, when his hands touched the guard rail. He jumped over and jogged after her, giving her time to make up her mind without ending the game too early. She stepped up on the platform in front of the teacups, peering over the decayed structures that will never spin again, before turning and running down a side street leading towards the fun house. The Ferris wheel stood to their right, casting them in its shadow for now and for always.

He kept close behind her, following her footsteps as she made her way through. Inside it was cramped and smelled musky. The only available light was filtered in through cracks in the windows or the walls. Whenever he came within grabbing distance of her he held back, giving her a chance to escape. She ducked underneath a low-hanging door, sprinted through a multicolored tube which at one time had rotated, and came out into the hall of mirrors. As she ran past her reflection swelled and expanded, shrunk and constricted.

Back in daylight she ran full sprint, kicking up a dust cloud in her wake. She glanced back to see if he was still chasing her and saw him lagging behind at the exit of the fun house. She slowed her pace and skidded to a halt in front of the Ferris wheel. Leaning forward she coughed hard, panting as exhaustion caught up with her. As she rose again to her full height her eyes fell upon the rusted structure, and she was suddenly overcome with sadness.

He came up behind her with an embrace. “I've got you.”

She nodded, entwining her fingers with his and squeezing his hand. She said, “Don't ever let go.”

“Never,” he whispered in her ear. He placed his head on her shoulder, their eyes staring at the Ferris wheel that loomed before them. They stood there for several minutes as the cool air blew through, rustling their hair and clothes. Neither of them felt it.

“What are you thinking about?” he asked her.

“How incredibly sad it is to be an abandoned Ferris wheel,” she said. “At one time this Ferris wheel carried happy people up into the sky to give them some perspective on their lives. Families and couples, children and grandparents, everyone was welcome. All were allowed to look down on the world, on all of the lights of the fairground, and know that there was such a thing as magic.”

A few minutes passed as they stood in silence.

“Come on,” he said at last, guiding her to the platform with their fingers still entangled. He led her up the metal stairs, stepping over the ones that had fallen through, and pushed open the short gate at the top. A cart was waiting for them, rocking back and forth eerily on its hinges. The entire structure was rusted, worn, and covered in vines and moss. The roof of the cart had been eaten away by time and was now only remembered by four poles which held nothing up.

Sarah stepped up and took her seat. Seth followed closely behind. Once settled she lifted his hand to her lips and kissed it. Several minutes passed, neither wanting to say anything to break their shared silence. They cherished their time together because they knew, somehow, it was all the time they would have.

Suddenly they began moving. The rust peeled back and became replaced by paint, white and red. The moss and vines receded as the canopy grew back into place over their heads. The broken lights became whole and shone brightly as they were carried higher and higher into the pale blue sky. Day faded into night as they went, laughter rising up from the fairgrounds below them. Once they reached the peak, the cart rocking back and forth, she laid her head against his shoulder.

“Beautiful, isn't it?” he asked her. Below the entire amusement park, decades spent in ruin, had come to life. Faint illusions of a crowd could be seen, vanishing the instant the eye focused on them.

“How did we get here?” she asked him.

“How we always do,” he replied. “We've been here before, Sarah. Many, many times before.”

“How is that even possible?”

“Sometimes things happen,” he said, draping his arm across her shoulders as she wrapped her arms around his chest. She held him close and closed her eyes tight, listening to his words with a heavy heart. “Awful, unexpected things that cannot be reasoned with. But they happen, and they need to be dealt with. They must be accepted.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Do you remember when I told you this park closed because of an accident?”


He sighed. Even though he had done this a thousand times before it never got any easier telling her the truth. “We...were in that accident.”

She turned her head to look at him, her jaw dropping open and her eyes growing wide. She clenched a fist full of his shirt as she murmured, “No, no, you're lying...”

The sound of metal scraping metal rang out as the first bolt, improperly secured earlier that day, flew off, sending a shock wave through the Ferris wheel. The cart they were in loosened in its place and began to lean to the left, pushing her closer to him. A loud groan emitted from the structure.

“It's okay,” he said, kissing her forehead. “Just accept it, there's nothing we can do to change it.”

“No, no, no,” she kept repeating. “This can't be. It just can't. I didn't die here. I know that I'm still alive. I feel that I'm still alive.”

“It's just an illusion. Please, Sarah, you have to let go.”

The second bolt shot off, quickly followed by the sound of a bracket snapping in half. The cart loosened from its hold and began to plummet towards the ground. It ricocheted off the spokes of the Ferris wheel as she screamed out in panic. He held onto her, doing his best to whisper comforting thoughts into her ear. Screams from the phantom crowd below were rising up to their ears, fading into whispers heard from a distance. They were all alone, with all the lights of the fairground surrounding them, as their tragedy unfolded.

They crashed into the ground and for a few moments the world went black. For a few moments Seth thought they had finally found peace. Then in an instant he was back outside the abandoned amusement park watching Sarah bend down to squeeze through the hole cut into the fence.

It's a little different each time, but nothing really changes.

© 2012 Adam Crate

Author's Note

Adam Crate
This is an older story of mine. As much as I like it I still feel like there is something missing, something holding it back from being the story that I know it could be. Any advice, thoughts, opinions, etc. are greatly appreciated.

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Added on October 3, 2012
Last Updated on October 3, 2012
Tags: Crate, spooky, strange, carnival, surreal, experimental


Adam Crate
Adam Crate


I apply my words like an artist applies art to a canvas. I'm currently 22 years old and in the process of exploring the world, one place at a time. You can find more of my writing here: http://theg.. more..

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