Until that moment, they’d forgotten about the other theater. “Holy smokes—there’s still a portal that can take someone into The Black and White Horror Show,” Brandon said. “What should we do?”
“Buy some dynamite, of course!” Max said with glee. “We can get some from Fulsom’s Hardware Store.”
“But who’s going to sign for the dynamite?” Sissy asked. “The owner is not going to give high grade explosives to junior high kids.”
“Say Bernie, you wouldn’t mind accompanying us to the hardware store so that we can buy some dynamite?” Jeremy asked.
Buying high grade explosives for junior high kids did not factor into his retirement plans. “The police are already looking for you and you want me to buy you dynamite?”
“Will you do it?” Jeremy asked.
“Ok, but only under close supervision.”
The burden that had lifted after The Pharaoh burned to the ground was back. Somehow, they squeezed into Brandon’s muscle car and drove to Fulsome’s Hardware Store. Sissy had to sit on Jeremy’s lap, which he didn’t mind.
When they pulled up to the hardware store, Jeremy noticed that the building looked abandoned. The siding was chipped and two of the front windows were cracked. A picture of a boy with long black hair was taped to the glass. It was Max and a caption read at the bottom: Wanted Prisoner— if seen report immediately to 911.
“Perhaps Max should wait in the car,” Jeremy said motioning to the sign.
Walking into the store was like entering a frontier outpost. There was penny candy and beef jerky near the register. Mr. Fulsom was sitting in a rocking chair, dozing, with his cowboy hat pulled over his eyes. A loud bell rattled above them and he jerked awake. “Who’s there?” Fulsom asked in a sleepy voice. Loud baying came from the back room and an enormous basset hound greeted them. “Don’t mind Maggie,” Fulsom said. “She gets excited when we have customers, but she’s harmless.” The basset ran over to Jeremy, licking his pants. “That’s enough of that Maggie.” Fulsom looked at them curiously. “What can I do you for?” he asked.
Bernie realized he was supposed to do the talking. “I was hoping you might have some dynamite on hand. I remember this store used to carry some years ago.”
Mr. Fulsom gave Bernie a careful gaze. “I do have some locked in the safe, but you will have to sign for it and provide the proper identification. I can’t release high explosive to just anyone.”
Bernie nodded, producing a rectangular billfold, showing Mr. Fulsom his ID.
“It says private business owner and you say you’ve shopped here before.”
“I came here years ago to buy supplies when I was remodeling the lobby inside The Pharaoh,” Bernie replied.
“So you are the owner of the building that mysteriously burned down?” Mr. Fulsom asked. A lot of strange things have been happening since your theater opened.”
Bernie nodded, but didn’t encourage him to talk. “I don’t own The Pharaoh anymore. The lot has already been auctioned to a Limited Liability Company called Carnival Productions.”
Mr. Fulsom showed Bernie to the safe, twisting the rusty combination lock, but it wouldn’t budge. He applied some oil and the gears began to turn. “A twist to the right, a turn to the left, and back again,” Fulsom said to himself. “Wait, no. That’s the combination to my mailbox. What was the combination to my safe?”
“Is it your birthday?” Jeremy suggested. “No, but thank you for wishing me one. What a strange question.” Fulsom remarked.
“No, I mean, the combination. Is the lock combination the numbers in your birth date?”
“Oh, you know, I think you’re right.” Fulsom turned the knobs and the safe popped open.
Inside, sticks of dynamite were squashed by thick bars of gold. “I don’t trust banks,” Fulsom laughed. “The dynamite may be flat, but it will still blow anything sky high. What were you planning to use it for?”
“That’s our business,” Bernie said.
“Oh, I understand. Just remember one thing—you didn’t get this from me.” Mr. Fulsom handed two dozen sticks to Bernie. “Oh, and be careful not to drop it. This type of explosive can get sensitive after fifty years.”
Leaving the hardware store, everyone squeezed into Brandon’s muscle car. If it was uncomfortable before, it didn’t make anyone feel better that they were riding in a packed car full of dynamite.
Soon they were negotiating Rattlesnake Turnoff. It was getting into the late afternoon and they remembered what it felt like to get sucked into The Black and White Horror Show. A desolate volcano emerged on the skyline. Its contours looked evil.
“Let’s not go inside,” Max whispered. “We can throw the dynamite into the shaft and be done with it.”
Jeremy knew they had to make sure the theater was destroyed. “I’ll place the charges in the theater,” Jeremy volunteered. “I’ll help,” Sissy offered. No one else was willing to get out of the car.
As they walked toward the hidden entrance, the ground under their feet was hot and the air cool. Neither of them felt they could destroy the magic in The Black and White Horror Show, but they weren’t going to destroy it; they were going to bury it!
Jeremy swiped the tarp from the entrance, peering inside. Movie posters of Clark Gable and Cary Grant hung from the walls. Further down, Grace Kelly wasn’t looking too graceful as her picture was halfway on the floor and lying in a puddle of mud. The posters made Jeremy feel uncomfortable, like their eyes were watching him.
A strand of bulbs flickered as they past, giving the impression that the theater knew they were there. As they walked down the hall, the room woke up. Energy pulsed through the wires and the projector turned on.
“Let’s plant the dynamite and get out of here!” Jeremy shouted. He pulled the golden cigarette lighter from his pocket and ignited the fuse. The energy in the room was 110%.
Suddenly, a phantom Ferris wheel erupted from the projector screen. Its silver shadow loomed above them, pulling them to a place they feared.
Jeremy watched the burning fuse while magic rooted him to the spot. If they were sucked into The Black and White Horror Show,there would be no way to get back! He felt his feet leaving the floor. His hand squeezed the lighter. If it was his instinct or blind chance, Jeremy didn’t know, but he threw it at the projector screen. It erupted into flames. In half a second his feet hit the floor. The lights went out and all they could see were the burning fuses.
“Run!” Jeremy yelled. He chased Sissy up the corridor and they jumped clear of the entrance.
Both sticks of dynamite exploded. Jeremy landed on top of Sissy, shielding her from the blast. A cloud of dust erupted from the tunnel and the hillside caved in. Jeremy felt electric, nuzzled against Sissy. He looked into her eyes and before he could kiss her, she locked lips with him.
Jeremy helped her to her feet, wobbling for a second, trying to remember what it felt like to walk again. He wrapped his arm around her and she did the same. They walked back to the car covered in dust and completely in love.