The Companion by Ramsey Campbell (an excerpt)

The circular booths, the long target galleries, the low roller coaster, the ark and the crazy house draped shadow over each other and merged with the dimness of the paths between. Even the merry-go-round was hooded by darkness hanging from its canopy. Such wood as he could see in the moonlight looked ragged, the paint patchy. But between the silent machines and stalls one ride was faintly illuminated: the Ghost Train.

He walked towards it. Its front was emitting a pale green glow which at first sight looked like moonlight, but which was brighter than the white tinge the moon imparted to the adjoining rides. Stone could see one car on the rails, close to the entrance to the ride. As he approached, he glimpsed from the corner of his eye a group of men, stallholders presumably, talking and gesticulating in the shadows between two stalls. So the fairground wasn’t entirely deserted. They might be about to close, but perhaps they would allow him one ride, seeing that the Ghost Train was still lit.

As he reached the ride and realised that the glow came from a coat of luminous paint, liberally applied but now rather dull and threadbare, he heard a loud clang from the tin wall. It might have been someone throwing a brick, or someone reopening the torn door; the stalls obstructed his view. He glanced quickly about for another exit, but found none. He might run into a dead end. It was best to stay where he was. He couldn’t trust the stallholders; they might live nearby, they might know the boys or even be their parents. As a child he’d once run to someone who had proved to be his attacker’s unhelpful father. He climbed into the Ghost Train car…

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