(The stage consists of a gypsy fortune teller's parlor. A small round table sits in the middle of the parlor, with a glowing green crystal ball on top of it. Behind the table, facing the audience, is a tall picture frame with a faintly glowing portrait of a beautiful woman. On either side of the portrait are a set of shelves containing all sorts of books, scrolls, and other mystic knick-knacks. Sitting atop each shelf, one on the left and one on the right, are two skulls wearing hats.)
(While the audience is getting seated, Sarita makes small talk with the children. If they try to sit outside the Ramada, she tells them, "No, no, my late husband Henry is buried under there, and he doesn't much like to be sat on." Once everyone gets settled, the show begins.)
Good evening, everyone! My name is Madame Sarita, spirit medium and ghost talker, and I've invited you here today to help me contact the spirit of Sarah Beaumont, one of the many ghosts that haunts this Carnival of Souls. You all know the sad story of Sarah Beaumont, don't you?
(Kids say no)
No? Well, then, we had better fill you in first, shouldn't we? Hmm...well, what would be better than letting a GHOST tell the story? Let's see if there's a spirit around here who will tell us the story...
(Walks back to the crystal ball, and begins waving her arms over it. The ball glows with an eerie green light, and Sarita begins chanting her mystic phrases as she goes into her trance.)
(She repeats this a few times, and soft, funereal music is heard distantly. Suddenly, a bell on the mantel rings of it's own accord! Sarita smiles, winking at the audience.)
(A faint tinkling, chiming noise is heard echoing through the parlor.)
(The music builds a bit, and Sarita begins swaying in place.)
(Sarita sits bolt upright in her seat, head thrown back, and quivers as the music reaches a crecendo! Then, she slumps to the table, as if passed out. All is silent for a moment until the skulls on the shelves begin moving. They rise up and hover in the air, surveying the audience. They slowly open their mouthes and hiss evilly. Then they speak in a menacing, otherworldly voice:)
Sssss... Who disturbs the eternal slumber of the dead?
Know ye that a deadly curse falls upon all who call forth the shades of the afterworld!
Yes... By summoning us, you have forfeited your very soul!
(They pause for this to sink in.)
Baa ha ha ha ha! Woo hoo! We sure got them, didn't we, Durgan?
Gunther! You're ruining our spooky mood here!
Hee! Did you see that one in the front row? I thought he was going to run out of here! Hee! I wish I had a knee to slap! Hoo hoo!
*sigh* (Turns to audience.) Well, so much for the fun part. You all want to know the story of Sarah Beaumont, right?
(Bouncing) Oh! Oh! I do! I do! Durgan! I do! Ooo! Me! Me! Ooo! Durgan! Ooo! Ooo!
(Slowly turns and looks at Gunther, who is making a fool of himself. To Gunther:) You already know it, Gunther.
I know, I know, but I love a good ghost story!
ALL our stories are ghost stories, you idiot! WE'RE GHOSTS!
(Makes a high-pitched squeak noise) Sorry, Durgan!
*RRRR* Now, where were we? Oh, yes, the story of Sarah Beaumont.
Well, you've summoned the right ghosts, because we can tell you all about it. You see, Sarah's story takes place at a Wild West travelling carnival, and Gunther and I were carnival performers in that same carnival when Sarah's sad story unfolded.
I was the strong man!
Yes, Gunther was the strong man, and I was the lion tamer. We would entertain the crowds with our acts, but the star of the show was Sarah Beaumont, the beautiful trapeze artist, acrobat, and high-wire walker. She was the most graceful and beautiful performer this side of the Mississippi, and there were many men in every town who wanted to woo and marry her.
(As Durgan relates the story of Sarah Beaumont, the portrait on the wall slowly changes, revealing in haunting detail images from the sad tale.)
But the man who wanted her most was Marius Blackwood, the evil, twisted RingMaster for the carnival. A vile, covetous man, Marius disgusted Sarah with his evil leers and cruel laughter, and she told him she would never marry him.
But Marius wasn't just a carnival ringmaster. He was also a warlock skilled in the black arts of evil magic. He knew arcane spells that could take over Sarah's mind and force her to marry him.
But he had no control over her heart. What good would it be to bend her to his will, if her heart remained pure and untainted by him?
So one night, Marius went out into the desert and used a forbidden ritual to summon forth the dark powers of the earth. He made a pact with them - if he could get Sarah to marry him on Halloween night at midnight, they would make her heart as black and twisted as his own. They warned him that if he failed, he would pay a terrible price, but Marius was certain his evil plan would work.
Cackling in triumph, he returned to the Carnival and intoned his incantation. Sarah's mind was helpless under his evil spell, and she became a slave to him. Entranced by the spell, she agreed to marry him on Halloween night.
But her heart was still free, and understood what had happened. It wept in a way that only the purest of hearts could weep. And on Halloween night, during her high wire performance, her heart became so heavy with sorrow that it broke the wire, and Sarah fell from the top of the carnival tent, down, down, down to her death.
The RingMaster was enraged that his prize had been taken from him. But his rage quickly turned to fear when he realized that Sarah's death had broken his pact with the Dark Powers. The ancient spirits appeared, and covered the Carnival in darkness, sucking it forever more into the spirit world.
Now, the carnival is damned to travel the nether regions beyond the veil, crossing into the mortal world only once a year - on Halloween. And Sarah, who died in such misery, forever haunts these darkened grounds as a specter of anguish.
(The portrait returns to its original state.)
(Sniffling) That..that's so SAD! Bwah haaa haaa!
Gunther! You're a spooky skull spirit! You're not supposed to blubber like that!
I... *sniff* I... *sniff* I can't help it! I miss Sarah!
What are you talking about? We're ghosts, too! We see her all the time!
(Looking up) Huh? Oh, yeah! I forgot! Hey, I've got an idea! I'll go get her so that our guests can meet her. I'll be right back! (Disappears)
(Shouting after Gunther) GUNTHER! NO! (To audience) That fool! Doesn't he realize that if he brings her here, where mortals can see her, the RingMaster will be able to find her? I'd better go after him! (Disappears)
(Offstage) Come on, people want to meet you!
(Offstage) But Gunther! Marius will find me! Gunther, wait just a second...GUNTHER!
(Sarah stumbles onstage as if shoved. Slowly, she looks around.)
You are... the living? It has been so long... I am Sarah, Sarah Beaumont, doomed to forever fall through the black mists of death.
Please, leave this place at once, before Marius comes! Even in death, he stalks me, eager to fulfill the pact he made with the dark powers. If he can force me to marry him, even in death, I will become as evil and twisted as him, and he will be free to spread his evil across your world. Please, go! You are leading him right to me....
(Suddenly, the music shifts, and an ominous tone sounds. The appearance of Marius is heralded by a swarm of bats that plunge out of the darkness and flit around Sarah and the audience. When the bats fly away, Marius is standing there in all his glory, surveying the audience with a hiss. Sarah is hiding in the gypsy room, but Marius sees her.)
Ahhhh... There you are, my sweet! Heh heh heh hehhh... I've been waiting for some ignorant spirit medium to be fool enough to try to contact you! She has led me right to you.
(Sarah turns to flee, but Marius gestures at her, and pulls her to him.)
Sssss... I see you are as beautiful in death as you were in life, my sweet. And just as feisty. *sinister chuckle* But now that I've found you, we can finally be together.
(Terrified) Marius, please! Let me rest in peace!
(Silent for a moment, then angry.) Peace? PEACE? There is no peace where *I* have been these many years! Only torment! And darkness! And cold, deadly cold! The dark powers have made certain of that! And my only way out of that nightmare world is through YOU!
(Sidles up to her.) But I do have to thank you, my sweet. It has been unpleasant, yes, but there are...compensations. There are other dark warlocks there, too, from whom I've learned many evil spells and forbidden secrets. No use for them in the afterlife, of course, but they will be extremely useful when I return to life!
(Gasping) What? You're dead! You can't return to life!
(Smugly) I can, and I will. When I marry you this Halloween night, your heart will turn as black as mine, and the curse on both our heads shall be broken. We'll return to life and I will be free to unleash my dark minions upon the mortal world! Ha ha ha ha ha!
Come, my sweet! My hold over you is complete! It's time for a black wedding! Preacher! Come to us!
(He gestures again, and a preacher appears out of nowhere.)
Preacher, perform the ceremony, and make it snappy! Ha ha ha ha ha!
Do you Marius, take this ghost for your own, to stand by your side as an agent of darkness for all eternity?
Of course! Muah ha ha ha!
Do you, Sarah, submit to this ghost as your master, to command your black heart in his campaign of fear and sorrow against the living?
(Sarah sways, and Marius gestures mystically at her until she stiffens and agrees.)
If there is any reason that this couple should not be wed, speak now or forever hold your peace.
What? What are you doing, preacher?
It's a formality.
(Standing up.) I've got something to say!
(Turns to her, and hisses...)
(Marius releases Sarah, and begins writhing in agony. Smoke blasts out around him, and ghostly streamers fly out of him.)
ARRRGH! You have escaped me for another year, Sarah, but every Halloween, until the end of time, I'll have a chance to find you again, and someday, your luck will run out! HEED MY WORDS! HA HA HA HA HA!
(He dissolves and vanishes in a spectacular display. After a moment of silence, Sarah floats over to Sarita and the audience.)
You have saved us all from a fate so horrible I cannot even imagine it. The threat of Marius's evil remains, but I may now rest in peace, at least until next Halloween. Thank you. You will be in my thoughts for all eternity...
(The spirit lights go out, and Sarita slumps back into her chair. She looks frazzled and scared, but is starting to regain her composure.)
Well, that was interesting. I don't want to think about what Marius would have done if he had managed to return to the mortal world. But, it's all over now, and Sarah is safe. I'm going to pack up my things and get out of this creepy place, and I suggest you do the same. Until next year, Happy Halloween!
(She starts packing her things, murmuring...) You know, mother said, "why don't you be a hair stylist?" but no, I had to go and be a spirit medium...