The dirty, blonde girl pushed her way down the line of people waiting to embark the ferris wheel. Insults and protests slid off her as he hefted the heavy rucksack higher up her shoulder.
“Joleen!” an equally dirty, older man with features buried beneath curls of unkempt grey hair called to her, waved. “Joleen!”
She nodded once, made up the ground separating them, and dumped the bag at his feet. Metal clinked against metal deep in the folds of the canvas sack. The man she’d just elbowed aside looked as though he might say something but one narrow-eyed gaze from her shut his mouth again.
“That the stuff?” The older man tucked his hands inside the front of his greasy overalls, nudged the bag with a booted foot.
“Yes, Pa,” Joleen said. She gave the looming structure of the wheel an appraising look. “This ain’t gonna work.”
“Don’t you be sassing me, girl.”
“I ain’t sassing you, Pa. I just don’t think this is the right place.”
Pa dug around in his overalls, produced a small, dog-eared tome with a papery-leather cover held closed with heavy metal clasps. He undid the clasps, licked his thumb, and flicked through the pages.
“Says here all we need is this book-” he lifted it into her eye-line “-candles, three, black; bell, one, stolen at midnight from the Church of the Living Mist; and…read it.” He turned the book to face her.
Joleen rolled her eyes, recited: “A wheel of iron.”
“A wheel of iron,” Pa repeated.
Joleen blinked once, twice. She opened her mouth, closed it. Eventually, with a nod of her head towards the giant ride, she said, “Pa, it’s a Ferris Wheel. Ferris.”
“Exactly,” Pa said. His hands pulled items (bell, one, stolen; candles, three, black) from the bag. “Ferrous wheel just like it says in the dang book. Here, catch.”
She fumbled for the bell, missed. It hit the floor and its haunting ring caused many in the crowd to grab their ears, one or two to vomit, and all turn and see what was happening.
Pa didn’t notice. He was busy setting the candles into the sod around the base of the operator’s booth. When they were lit, he took a step back and retrieved the tome from beneath his stained armpit.
“Pa?” Joleen tried again, but Pa was beyond reasoning.
“You just be sure to ring the bell at the time,” he said. “I ain’t gonna look a fool in front of The Black Goat.”
Joleen rang the bell.
Still nothing happened…
Pa checked the bell.
Then there was screaming. Lighting arched from the sky, carved a path back and forth along the spokes of the great wheel. A furious wind whipped at the swaying cars. People fell, people died.
A single black hoof slipped into the world through the vortex at the centre of the wheel.
“See,” Pa said. “Ferrous wheel.”