He smiled wider as he felt the blade slip between the ribs and puncture the lungs. He could feel the muscle catch on the serrated edge, and pushed further until no more of the knife could be seen. 

What had seemed so silent around him before suddenly snapped back into focus; a surprisingly loud wheezing  reached his ears, followed by a low hiss and a groan of pain. He looked into the face of the boy he had just stabbed, as though seeing him for the first time. 

But that was because he was seeing his face for the first time. Something had clearly gone wrong.

This boy had soft, fair hair, and freckles. Not the acne and shock of black hair he had been expecting. This boy looked like he was about fifteen years old, instead of the twenty-one years the man was sure he had aimed a punch at not thirty seconds ago. 

He leapt up from straddling the child, who was still bravely fighting for another breath. Blood began to trickle from the side of his mouth and dripped from his cheek onto the dirt of the fairground floor.  Tears were flowing freely from the boys eyes, which now seemed unable to focus on anything for more than a fraction of a second. They still managed to look terrified. 

The man stood, mouth agape as he watched the boy give up the struggle, and fall still at his feet. Now he was a child killer. A scream erupted from beside him; of course there were witnesses. He had planned for there to be witnesses yes, but not for this. He had never planned for any of this.

Music from the rides danced across the wind to his ears, taunting him for his stupid mistakes, for not looking where  he was putting his hands. Nausea exploded within him.

A woman's hands were scrabbling now at the wound in the boy's chest, which had fallen still, in a vain attempt to piece him back together. He could hear a frantic voice speaking into a phone, he assumed, but it was too late. He knew he had to get away, to run as far away from here as he possibly could,  but his feet were rooted to the spot. Part of him wanted to be punished for what he had just done. No-one should get away with  that.

He closed his eyes, expecting at any moment to have hands grab him and throw him to the ground also. Yet none came. And all he could see was an image of Helen, age four, running around the garden as he chased her screaming happily. Then age seven, at her birthday, as she blew out the candles on her cake. He listened to her high-pitched tone as she told everyone she'd wished for a puppy. He watched the look in her big brown eyes as a small West Highland Terrier skittered out from the kitchen. It wasn't an image he ever wanted to forget.

Age eleven, on her first day of secondary school. Age thirteen, her body as it lay, much like the boy in front of him now, bleeding from a chest wound he had not been there to protect her from. 

An incomprehensible rage shook him as this image in his mind was replaced with another. A smile, often likened to the Cheshire Cat, wide and revealing all of his teeth. Acne and scars that marked this new face, made it look both old and young at the same time. The eyes, a piercing blue that seemed to mock you, intimidate you even if you didn't know the face to which they belonged. 

This was the face of the man that had killed a child. And he had been allowed to get away with it.

He gritted his teeth. Still no-one had tried to tackle him. The knife clattered to the floor at his feet. Sirens wailed in the distance, ominously becoming closer, until the crunch of tyres could be heard on the gravel nearby. 

"I'm sorry," he muttered, looking into every single set of eyes at the forefront of the crowd surrounding him. "I'm so, so sorry."

He allowed the handcuffs to restrain him, and he remained quiet and subdued as they recited his rights, and folded him into the back seat of the car. Things didn't need to be made any worse than they already were. He sensed the crowd watching him leave, and turned his head away from them to look out of the car window. 

A shock of black, a piercing blue and a Cheshire grin stared back at him from the Fun House. 



The End

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