This story is by Yannie Gataya and was part of our 2018 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Stepping into the arena I gazed in awe at the entirety of what I’d gotten myself into. My competitors, fierce in talent, lined up under the flood lights prepping their sets on their hovering platforms. The stands had been filled with thousands roaring in anticipation of what was to come. The hosts weren’t kidding regarding this spectacle.
As I walked towards my booth at the end of the line I gratefully only saw some of my comp. I would have wanted to be dragging at least a wagon rather than some old creaky donkey cart, but my talents had always been more of foolish spending. I got to damn anxious in the preliminaries and blew my budget.
I got a couple of winks and a few thumbs ups from those that saw me, meaning, I missed my shot at turning back. Everyone else, I could only guess had been entrenched somewhere deep in their hovering platforms- haunted houses of different kinds, with owls hooting and cats creeping around with glowing eyes. A miniature castle with some Frankenstein practising its walk and forest platforms with wolves howling their songs.
Getting to my booth… more specifically my spot of dirt, nothing sophisticated; I began to position the cart and the bedroom closet set on it.
“Yannie!” a fancy suited man made his way up to me to shake my hand vigorously while a camera man stood behind, “you were all over the place in the preliminaries my man, how are you doing?”
“Forgive me, Jet Black” He said slicking his hair back like he enjoyed introducing himself, “I’m part of the crew running everyone’s profiles, you have some hefty competition my friend, I’m gonna wanna interview you, for the sake of PR, marketing, you know the drill.”
Hoping to get rid of him, “Sure, sure, man, it’s alright whenever you need.”
He went on and on about stuff and things, he spoke fast, not as if he didn’t want me to pay attention, but more as if excited and confident. Next thing I know, he asks the camera guy to give us space and takes me by the side to a blind spot of the lights to a table with coffee close by.
“You look really nervous man, are you alright? I mean it’s like everything I’m saying is zipping over your head.”
I could only look at my feet for a few seconds and then quickly check out the other sets before Mr. Black seemed to have light bulb appear above his head, grow a small hand and smack him on the forehead.
“OH! You’re a compy virgin? First competition ever?” now he started to whisper and slow his pace of voice, “Kid, it’s nothing, all it is, you pop your cherry and trust me, the next ones, you’ll handle it better, what’s important is that YOU DID IT. You’re in the game, fighting that good fight. The only winners are those who improve and that’s what this is all about… come on, tell me all about what… you… got… here.”
Yep, I could notice how my cart seemed to kill off his momentous little speech and already begun to envision my high school renowned stutter into the half-arsed explanation I was going to give him until he interjected-
“Hold up, I see where you’re going with this, HA! Bedroom closet, boogey man vibes… some nostalgia, childhood fears.”
“Do you know how difficult it is to come up with a horror story?” I said looking up, thanking the gods he got what I was trying to go for. “My mind is always racing about everything, half the time I can’t get just a single idea out. I looked up ‘monster’ on the internet, got all sorts of things man, from how it can mean something massive to fantasy crap, I honestly would have turned back had it not been or a few people seeing me.”
“It’s a monstrous industry you’re in my friend” he chuckled at his own pun long enough for me to know I needed to throw in few good ha ha’s at him.
Giving the audience in the stands another glance, seeing them light up at the fireworks and trumpets, I just… felt my stomach melt.
Mr. Black patted me on the back and before leaving concluded, “Just cause something is trite doesn’t mean it’s not true. Just learn something and the next time you’re in this position you’ll see how you feel.”
He whisked off towards the cameraman to talk to someone else and that’s when I noticed their descension. It was as grand an entrance as the theatrical wrestlers back in the past, except these weren’t muscular guys in tights.