Family Ties: Carnival Stand Scams

“You have fun with that,” Tamy called. Quinn didn’t appear to hear her. Tamy could have blamed it on the packed walkways of the park, the roaring of a red roller coaster car over their heads, but she didn’t.

She sighed as Quinn disappeared into the buzzing crowd.

“I’m sure he’ll have fun standing in line for half an hour,” Tara told her. “Come on.”

“Mother told us to stay together,” Tamy pointed out as Tara dragged her away. They formed a rock in the current of people; or rather, Tara was the rock gripping a half-unwilling chunk of algae. Tamy gave up on her metaphor at the part where the rock was apparently walking upstream.

“She also thought we were going to ride the teacups,” Tara said loudly.

“Which we’re not doing anymore because…” Tamy tried pulling her arm away, but not very hard. Public space, super-strength…she was trying to be extra careful.

“It was Quinn’s idea in the first place,” Tara said. “Besides, we still have to do the carnival games.”

Tamy stared around at the towering people and gulped. “But I liked that idea better when we weren’t being watched by everyone.”

Tara finally stopped, loosening her grip. Tamy clutched her wrist to her chest, rubbing it. Tara gave her a look. “Nobody’s going to pay attention to us. Least of all the people running the scam games.”

Tamy glanced around again. “If you say so,” she muttered, letting Tara pull her back upstream.

***

The sidewalks in front of the carnival stands were much less crowded than the roller coaster section of the park. Tamy didn’t relax though. So many people still around to watch them, and what if she forgot and acted super-strong here? A buzz blared loudly from one of the games, and she jumped. Luckily, it wasn’t a very high jump. “I think this is a bad idea,” she whispered to the back of Tara’s head. “I still want to hit something with a giant hammer, but does it really have to be out in the open?”

Tara kept walking, ignoring her question. Tamy folded her arms, wondering why they were trying to hide their powers while using their powers to beat impossible carnival games. She glanced to the side, at a game of toss-the-rings-over-the-bottles. Actually, how were they going to beat half of these carnival games even with their powers?

Tara stopped, and Tamy nearly ran into the back of her. “I want to try this one,” Tara hissed.

Tamy peered over her shoulder. “You want to climb a rope ladder?” she asked, puzzled.

Tara nodded, hands on her hips. “It takes a whole lot of balance to stay upright on the ladder.”

Okay, sure, the angled rope ladder did look terribly wobbly. She leaned in and whispered, “Tara, do I have to remind you that your ability doesn’t include a super sense of balance?”

Tara grinned. “It sort of does. You know how easy I can change my center of balance?” she stuck her fingers in her pocket and pulled out a folded dollar bill. “Besides, it’s only a dollar.”

Tamy blinked. “I thought we were only supposed to use the money to buy food.”

“So? Quinn’s breaking the rules worse than we are.” Tara strolled up to the pinstripe suit lady and handed her the dollar bill. Pinstripe suit lady took it eagerly, opening the flimsy gate to the ladders. Tamy turned away, studying the other carnival games. Throwing darts. Spinning a wheel. Knocking milk bottles over. She did want to try that one, actually.

She turned back to Tara as a loud buzzer went off. Tamy furrowed her brow as Tara steadily crept upwards, the ladder hardly tilting. They made you climb a wobbly ladder and gave you a time limit? She snorted. They weren’t even trying to hide that it was rigged.

Tara didn’t seem too worried about the timer though. Tamy squinted, trying to tell if her sister had flattened at all, narrowing her center of balance as she climbed.

A hand tapped her shoulder. “Hey.”

Tamy yelped and spun around, nearly punching Alex in the nose. Gaping, Tamy slowly lowered her fist. “What are you doing here?”

Alex kept staring, gradually coming un-cross-eyed. “I snuck in,” she said.

“Oh. Well, wait, you didn’t even pay?”

Alex shook her head, grinning smugly.

Behind Tamy, a bell went off. Tara crouched at the top of the rope ladder, hitting a large button repeatedly. Tamy clapped loudly, but the bell all but drowned her out.

“So this is where you’ve been,” Alex remarked. She still wore almost complete white, making Tamy wonder if she’d changed clothes since yesterday.

“Actually, we just got here,” Tamy said. “We were supposed to go with Quinn to the spinning teacups.”

Alex stuck her tongue out. “I hate those things.”

“They’re better than roller coasters,” Tamy muttered.

Footsteps pattered up to them and Tara appeared, holding a small pink bunny. “What are you doing here?” she hissed at Alex.

“I snuck in.”

“That’s all you got?” Tamy pointed to the bunny.

Tara rolled her eyes. “Apparently I didn’t do it fast enough to get one of the big prizes.” she motioned behind them, to large stuffed bears and green…creatures with too many teeth to be an actual animal.

“I’m going to try the milk bottle one,” she told Tara.

“Guys!” Alex interrupted, raising her eyebrows. “I think you’re forgetting about the bigger mission here.”

Tamy sighed while Tara groaned. “Alex,” Tara said, “Nick’s with Mother. They went to the kiddie rides. I don’t think we’re going to learn anything by watching him ride the Ace Airplanes.”

“Are you sure?” Alex asked.

Tamy stared past Alex’s shoulder and gulped. “Um, I think Nick and Mother are right over there,” she pointed. Nick seemed to be pulling their mother towards the spin-the-wheel carnival game.

Alex disappeared just as Nick glanced toward them. Tamy gaped, and belatedly waved.

“We forgot to tell Alex she paid for ice cream last night,” Tara whispered, as Nick broke away from their mother and sprinted towards them.

“Unless she’s still standing here,” Tamy whispered, smiling as Nick ran up to them. “Hi Nick,” she said. “Long time no see.”

He stared quizzically.

“Never mind,” Tamy muttered.

“Where’s Quinn?” Nick asked.

Tamy glanced at Tara. “He went to the roller coasters,” Tamy said. “He’s probably standing in line still.”

“I rode a dragon,” Nick said.

“That sounds really fun!” Tara exclaimed. Tamy instantly glared at her, and she toned it down. “I climbed a ladder, and then I got this.” She waved the pink bunny in front of her.

Nick pointed behind them. “I won too.”

Their mother, talking to the pinstripe guy doing the spin-the-wheel game, was holding a giant, green, toothy creature. “I can see,” Tamy said, wrinkling her nose at the choice of prizes. “I’m going to go play knock the milk bottles over. You want to watch?”

Nick bit his lip and stared at the ground. “I want to ride the dragon again,” he finally said, and darted away before Tamy could reply.

“Have you ever thought about how disconcerting he can be sometimes?” Tara murmured as their mother waved to them, handing Nick his green, toothy creature. Tamy hesitantly waved when Tara didn’t, even though their mother was already walking away. “Wait,” Tara abruptly said.

Tamy turned, frowning at Tara’s pale face.

“I had a dollar of Alex’s money left,” Tara patted her pockets. “I know I brought it today, but I can’t find it.”

Tamy glanced over at the rope ladder game, discovering the pinstripe lady staring them down. Tamy gently took her sister’s arm and pulled her down the sidewalk, out of sight. “You already used a dollar,” she reminded Tara.

“Yes, yeah I know,” Tara nodded rapidly, “but I took twenty-two dollars last night. I had one dollar left over but it’s gone now.”

“Did you…drop it?”

Tara shook her head. “These pockets are way too skinny for something to slip out. Besides, Mom gave us thirteen dollars for today, and I only have twelve now.”

Tamy bit her lip, thinking of the pinstripe lady. She couldn’t have taken it, right?

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