Dawn was coming.
Ambrose could smell its rose and lilac scent in the air even before the pink, coral, and orange light stretched across the sky.
He frantically glanced around, but he knew what he’d see. Nothing but open land. No trees. No caves. Not even a lean-to. Just long grasses, wildflowers, and the vined-up amusement park rides.
He ran over to the Whooshing Gondola of Doom, grabbed its fake vines, and tried to tear through them.
They refused to bend. They refused to break.
“No. No. No! Come on!”
He clenched his teeth and tried to burrow under the frame.
The ground was packed too hard. He could barely scrape the top layer.
“Rrrrah!” He smacked the Whooshing Gondola of Doom with his hands. “What am I going to do? I can’t stay in the sunlight. I need to hide. I need—”
His stomach grumbled a reminder of its empty state.
He sat back on his heels and bowed his head. “Maybe they’ll show me mercy and give me something to eat today.”
Footsteps. Noisy cluttered footsteps.
Voices. Two. Males.
He glanced over at the ticket stand.
Two teenaged boys stood there, joking and laughing. “That isn’t a vampire. He don’t even have a cape.”
“Hahaha! Why don’t you go out there and find out for yourself? Huh? Huh? Huh?” Teenaged Boy #1 pushed Teenaged Boy #2.
“Oh, yeah? Why don’t you? You chicken or something?” He pushed Teenaged Boy #1 right back.
Ambrose stood in a smooth, easy move, despite his hunger.
“Naw, you’re the chicken. Look at your pretty chicken wings. Bawk. Bawk. Bawk.”
“Hey! Shut up!” Another push.
Ambrose strolled over to them.
“No! You shut up, you dummy face.”
“I’m not a dummy face. You are. Your face is dumber than—”
He laid his hand on the invisible wall. So close.
They both shut up and looked at him.
“You don’t think I’m a real vampire. Come in here. I’ll show you what is real.”
They both turned the same shade of peaked.
“Come on. Find the way in. Come inside.” He smirked. “Prove your courage.”
“Ehhh…” said Teenaged Boy #1.
“Uhhhh….” said Teenaged Boy #2.
His stomach growled. “Come on in. You know you want to.”
A burly man in a zookeeper uniform appeared and ushered the teens away.
Ambrose snarled and bashed his fists against the wall.
And so the day went on.
People appeared by the ticket counter and talked and stared and laughed and jeered.
Ambrose was hungry. And warm. And tired.
But he couldn’t sleep. His hunger and the constant barrage of untouchable people made it impossible for him to get any rest.
He tried to pace around his enclosure, but his hunger and the unabashed sunlight dragged him down into a sluggish stupor.
Ambrose returned to the Gondola of Doom and slumped to the ground. “I wish I could melt or burst into flames or dissolve into dust. I wish I could escape.” He leaned his head against the plastic leaves and plastic-sheathed wire stems. “When will they let me eat? When?”