Instead of a stiff piece of handcrafted cardboard, it became malleable and clutched to her face like a second skin. The holes of its eyes became as dark as a bottomless well. Then, someone bumped into me, shifting my narrow line of sight to a group of young women dancing without fear of judgement. They, too, metamorphosed into hideous shapes that brought goose bumps to my flesh. Their skin peeled off with a ripping sound, revealing serpentine scales underneath.
They weren’t human: they were demons. Demons using the carnival setting to masquerade among the living. The more I looked at the crowd, the more otherworldly creatures I saw. The old woman in the wheelchair? A fiery beast on a chariot of thorns. The duo hitting on a pregnant woman? They were feathered beasts with crooked yellow teeth.
Two pitch black eyes locked onto mine as something I hesitate to call a man reached its meaty hand to my shoulder. A portion of his face had melted off to reveal a porous skull coated in writhing maggots. Through the holes of his incomplete set of teeth, I could see his tongue flicking back and forth like a twig in the breeze. A thick black substance oozed out of his nose and dampened what was left of a bushy mustache on his “good” side. Despite the festive green and purple suit he wore, he evoked nothing but unadulterated terror. As he stumbled closer to me, I could smell a mix of rotten eggs and booze on his breath. The odor didn’t mix well with the drink I’d ingested, causing my stomach to gurgle in protest. If that wasn’t bad enough, his viscous tongue rolled out of his mouth and slithered towards my cheek. My arm darted forward of its own volition, and I felt something wet and sticky drizzle over my hand.