Lauren’s foot stepped on the floorboard. Her torso twisted slowly, her ankles rotated in synchronization. Basking the view from the middle of the amusement park, her eyes didn’t know which to look at first. Their blue hue had become vibrant from the sun’s rays. Her mouth slightly parted from her quiet gasp.
Rides of all heights and shapes loomed against the sky. Fast food stalls littered around in every available space. People walked around in different directions. Families held their children’s hands tightly. Couples loitered here and there.
The place had a mix of cool and warm colors. The sound of wheels against rails dominated the air. Screams came down from the sky. A giant ferris wheel took up the end of the pier. It provided the perfect spot to view the sea, the amusement park and the beach.
“I never knew the town had such a place” she scoffed disbelievingly, “It’s like a mini Disneyland.”
Colin stood behind her, his eyes fully focused on her. He had to make sure that his date didn’t accidentally bump into anything. An amused smile on his lips, he replied, “Max’s father owns this place.”
Lauren’s wide eyes snapped towards him, “What?!”
She received a nod in return.
“I never knew…” Lauren breathed out. She shifted her gaze at the ground. She needed a bit of time to process the new information. Then, she felt a warm presence near her. A thin band touched the back and the sides of her neck.
It reached up to her waist, where a plastic card dangled. She picked it up. The background consisted of different tints of purple and violet. At the top, ‘Phantom Ship’ written in gold cursive letters over a pirate ship’s shadow. The rest had the word, ‘VIP’, in bold white letters. The bottom right had an embossed logo that authenticated its use.
“Is Max sponsoring our date?” She couldn’t help but ask. She flipped the card, checking the back. It had various signatures from what she guessed were important people. It also had the phrase, ‘Enjoy! Yer pirate adventures await!’
“Nah” Colin shook his head, wearing his own VIP pass, “I borrowed this from Jae. We all have one. Max’s father gave it to use during Max’s birthday once and let us keep it.”
“So Jae knows about the date?” Lauren blinked up at him. He stood behind her so she needed to crane her neck if she wanted to meet his eyes.
He kissed her forehead, “Maybe. Come on, you must want to see everything.”
Colin took Lauren’s hand in his. They walked side by side and passed through the food booths. The park had them located at the center. With it equally distanced from the entrance and the end of the park, people from both sides could satisfy their cravings fairly.
A large archway stood between the food section and the rides. Painted sea blue, its highest points curved like waves of the sea. A pirate ship surfed on top of it. Below, small metal fences created passage ways. Each person must tap their passes on the detector. Then, each ride coordinator will verify the fine print.
This controlled the crowd better since only those who paid could cross the archway.
As Lauren and Colin walked closer, a voice grew louder. Lauren scrunched her eyebrows and searched for the source. When they passed through a group of people, she could see the bottom of the archway better. A female figure had her back towards them. People seemed to disperse away from her,
She wore black breeches and black buckled boots. The hem of her maroon long coat fluttered when a breeze flew by. Wavy blonde hair flowed from under a feathered pirate hat. She had a gloved hand on her hip and the other held the sword tied to her hip. Her fingers drummed the hilt.
As if she could sense Lauren’s stare, her head shifted to the side. Her nose and lips peeked from behind the large hat. Then, she glanced over her shoulder, azure eyes landing on Lauren. A wide grin blossomed on her lips. She spun on her heel and revealed a brown vest over a white dress shirt.
“Welcome to the Phantom Ship!” Her melodic voice boomed above the noise. She strolled towards Colin and Lauren, “I’m Captain Cai! I see we have VIP guests today. Been a while since I saw those passes.”
A hand still on her sword, Captain Cai held her chin. She squinted her eyes at Colin, “Ye look familiar, boi, but I know ye not the young master.”
“No, I’m a friend of his.”
“Ah!” Cai suddenly snapped her fingers, “Yer that boi who pooped his pants at your first ride on The Stella Star!”
Lauren clutched her stomach, wheezing in laughter. It didn’t take her long to purely laugh with air and lose her voice. Her mouth stretched wide, the corners started to hurt. Her shoulders shook uncontrollably. Her eyes barely saw the ground.
“Of all the things you could remember, Captain Cai” Colin groaned, his ears turning pink, “Did you even not really recognize me?”
The Captain merely winked. Her grin turned mischievous. Then, she gazed at his female companion, “Ye okay there, dear? Don’t faint before ye even started yer date.”
Lauren took several deep breaths. The smile on her face still too wide, she wiped the small tears from the corner of her eyes, “I guess we should definitely check out The Stellar Star.”
“Good choice” Cai gave her a thumbs up. Unsheathing her plastic rapier, she pointed it at the VIP entrance, “Hope ye enjoy yer day! I heard kissing at the top of the Ferris Wheel is a classic way to seal a relationship.”
“Thanks for the advice, Captain” Colin nodded in gratitude. He stirred Lauren towards the entrance.
Captain Cai followed them with her eyes. She noticed the visible blush on the girl’s cheeks. It made her chuckle. A blaring sound appeared behind her. She caught the sight of a man trying to forcefully push the metal rod that blocked his way. Walking back to her post, she called out to him.
Colin and Lauren passed through the entrance without a hitch.
“Did you really poop your pants? How old were you?” Lauren giggled. She imagined a small Colin. She couldn’t tell if he stayed calm or cried.
“I was 10” Colin flinched. His words almost got stuck on his tongue. He really didn’t want to talk about it, “Let me clarify that only happened once.”
“Sure, sure” Lauren swept around the place, “Where’s the Stella Star?”
Colin halted in his steps, forcing her to stop as well, “You want to ride the roller coaster first?”
“Yeah, start out with the intense ones. Then, make our way to calmer activities. I also want to see if you really won’t poop your pants.”
Pain shot through Lauren’s cheeks. Colin had stepped in front of her and pinched both of them. She whimpered in protest, trying to pull his hands off, “I never knew how naughty you are. You have this hidden side to you, huh.”
“Okay, okay, I’ll stop making fun of you and poop” the words flew out of her mouth in a rush. She cupped her cheeks once they were freed. Her mouth turned into a pout as she looked at Colin through her lashes.
Colin took her hand again and led her around. The Stellar Star was a rollercoaster that covered most of the west side. Its highest point was a steep hill of 200 feet (61 meters). The track also had various turns and loops. At the base, the entrance had been built to look like a warp gate, glitters inside dried black resin.
“Ahoy! Welcome to the Stella Star!” A petite girl with violet hair stood on top of a fake hill. She wore the same clothes as Captain Cai except for the long coat and hat. Her midnight blue eyes twinkled and her smile left people feeling warm, “Fast as a shooting star, this rollercoaster will make you feel like you’re flying through the galaxy!”
“Kiri, please don’t move excessively” another pirate called from the front of the queue. He stood by the height ruler, checking no one broke the restriction. His glasses and jagged black hair gleamed under the sun. He wore a navy blue trench coat with silver trimmed lapels and open silver buttons.
The girl made a peace sign with her hand and winked, “I’m being careful, Scrooge.”
Her companion rolled his eyes. He turned back to a crying 5-year old boy, helping his mother explain why they couldn’t take the last available seat.
“Eh? VIP guests!” Kiri suddenly yelled. She jumped down from the hill and ran towards them. Scrooge cussed out profanities, echoing in her ears, “You’re just in time. There’s one cart left. Please step this way.”
“But—” Lauren wanted to protest.
Colin followed the pirate and pulled her along with him. She stumbled a bit but got her balance quickly, “There’s no use to refuse. All the attendants will keep bugging us. They can’t risk getting caught by management for not entertaining VIPs right.”
The Stella Star had silver painted carts. The front, sides and rear collectively make up a shooting star. The first cart had been made to look like the head while the last one had a tail. People already filled out the other cars except for the front. Kiri escorted the pair and held the safety metal bar.
“Step this way” her high-pitched voice instructed them.
Lauren stepped inside first and pulled the harness. Colin did the same to her. Once they were seated securely, Kiri pushed down the metal lap bar. She stepped back and gave the riders a salute, “May the stars always show you the way.”
Behind her, Scrooge stood at the ride’s control booth. He did one last swoop and pressed the start button. The carts slowly crawled over the tracks, making a U-turn. It coiled like a snake. Several people yelled their cheers. Friends high-fived each other when their carts passed by.
After the U-turn, it curved to the right and slowly rose up in height. Then, it shot up, continuing its crawl. The blue skies and clouds suddenly disappeared as they entered a tunnel. Pitch black darkness around, none of the riders could see how high the track led them. Heartbeats gradually increased.
Lauren’s breath hitch, “Is it gonna be like this for most of the ride?”
Although she couldn’t see him, Colin shook his head, “No, the loops don’t have a tunnel. We’d be able to see everything upside down.”
At that moment, the Stellar Star no longer gave anyone a chance to talk. Earpiercing screeches bounced off the tunnel walls. The carts dropped down at an alarming speed. No sign of end came in sight. The tunnel seemed to drag forever.
Everyone lost in darkness, the Stella Star truly gave an out of this world experience.