by Jenifer McNamara
Cresta, an ice-cream parlor, celebrated its grand opening the last week of June in Durkove, Maryland, a small tourist town which is a hop, skip, and jump from the Atlantic Ocean.
The tourists as well as the townspeople enjoyed the celebration with free ice cream, balloons music, face painting, and pony riding. Cresta became the hot spot of the summer especially for Gordon, Martha, and their teenage son Liam Henderson. Every weekend, the Hendersons sat at a small circular booth in the center of the ice-cream parlor. Liam made some new friends and met a girl, Regina. Liam never wanted this summer to end, but it did.
Autumn’s cool winds drove the tourists back to the suburbs and big cities. Cresta shut down for the winter. Liam’s girfrend left with her family to her home in the suburbs of New York. Every day on his way to school, Liam walked by the ice-cream parlor and relived his last day of summer.
Soon, the ice-cream parlor became dilapidated with broken fence posts, extremely large holes were dug in the ground in front of the ice-cream parlor, and an unusually large black steel door graced its entrance. The ice-cream cone atop of Cresta was replaced by a hideous clown’s head. It frightened Liam to walk by this place where he felt his first love which made him feel higher than a kite. Now he’d like to not remember last summer.
In the second week of November weird noises or music was heard. It came from behind Cresta’s large black steel door. The music played non-stop until the first of December. No one in Durkove knew why this music began or why it ended.
On the second day of December a new and strange sound radiated from the ice-cream parlor. A single low note loudly bellowed in a monotone from the hideous clown’s head atop Cresta, like the sound of a bugel in the morning to awaken the soldiers. Aghast, Liam watched the townspeople as they marched through Cresta’s large black steel opened door. This can’t be happening, thought Liam and brought his hand to his ear to remove his earbuds which he used earlier to talk with Regina, but he didn’t, for what he saw in the townspeople eyes, nothing. A noise must be responsible for this, thought Liam and saw his mother and father. Liam ran to his parents who had already marched through Cresta’s opened door. Grong! The large black steel door closed behind him.
Inside Cresta, Liam saw the same tables, chairs, walls, jukebox, and old-fashioned cash register. Not a thing had changed. The entranced townspeople sat at booths and tables and ate food. Liam waved his arms again and again, but no one even looked at him. Everyone sat, stared, and shoved food into their mouths like robots. Then Liam’s eye caught a flash of red.
Something covered in a red cape directed townspeople to a black curtain. Townspeople went through the black curtain, and disappeared. I have to put a stop to this, thought Liam and located his parents. He saw them eat the food set before them and then were pushed by two somethings covered in red capes until they stood in a line that led to the black curtain. The blackness of the curtain had gotten larger than it was before Liam stole into Cresta. He looked around the ice-cream parlor for some way to help the townspeople and walked to his parents. Liam stood between his parents in the line to the black curtain. He held onto his parent’s arms and tried to bring them out of their trance. As they were being pushed into the black curtain, Liam looked into his parents eyes. He saw a nothingness, the same nothingness pulled them into the black curtain and beyond.
In a nearby big city a news reporter read: Durkove, Maryland a summer tourist attraction disappeared off the face of the earth along with the townspeople.
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Jenifer McNamara is a secretary who enjoys writing. She lives near Pittsburgh, PA with family and dog Duke, who enjoys listening to her stories.