AN: A new story for Bleach! Be sure to vote your favorite story on my profile page if you want me to update them faster! =) I decided to try a bit of horror mixed with romance. Hopefully it's not too bad for a start.
SUM: Ichigo's life is different. Well yours would be too if you had a man-eating deranged guy named Shiro living in your basement too.
The small boy sobbed violently as he rushed through the screaming crowd, his heart thumping painfully loud in his chest. He turned around frantically, amber eyes searching wildly for the familiar faces of his family but only the color of flames greeted him.
"Mom! Dad! Karen, Yuzu!" the small boy screamed as he shoved past a fallen figure and looked around once more. Somehow even though the carnival was on fire, he still felt like he was running through a dream. Screams and wails of pain and anguish greeted him every which way he turned, burnt disfigured people reached for him and he flinched every time he met their eyes. A tent pole snapped under the ambush of the searing flames and crashed to the ground. Ichigo cried out as a fleck of burning wood landed on his shoulder. He shrugged off his jacket frantically and looked around again.
The boy broke into a run when his eyes fell on the figure in the black suit and top hat. He didn't need to look twice to see the man was smiling…
Three hours previous
"Mom, I want a cotton candy." A tiny hand pointed to the stand of fluffy bright pink candy. Masaki smiled at her son and nudged her husband. Isshin grinned and leaned down to Ichigo's level.
"Give daddy a kiss?" the boy responded by slamming his fist into Isshin's stomach. The man smiled with slight strain when his wife laughed.
Ichigo smiled at his parents and younger baby sisters as he chewed the candy. It was his birthday and they had decided to come to the new carnival in town to celebrate. The poster for the event had been attracting people ever since a month ago and it was going to be the last day they were in town. The small boy frowned when he saw the gypsy-like woman sitting by a deep lush green tent. She beckoned him over with a hand of long purple nails and the boy took a few steps forward, eyes curious.
"Want to see into the future, boy? I only need one look at that palm and I can tell you." she reached out her left hand and Ichigo looked back to his family. They hadn't noticed he had wandered off. Isshin was still trying in vain to bag a couple of goldfishes for his squealing sisters. Ichigo turned back and slowly reached out his own left hand tentatively.
The woman stiffened when their hands touched. Dark black eyes flashed fearfully for a fraction of a second and she took a shuddering breath as she released his hand. For a long moment, her eyes watched him with a flicker of sadness before she sighed and closed her eyes.
"Everyone has a fated path and I'm afraid yours is down that way." Ichigo's eyes followed the woman's hand to the dark black tent flap across from the fortune booth. He gave her a small frown and she touched his head briefly.
"I wish you the best of luck, boy." Ichigo tried to ignore the slight tremble from the woman's hand as he turned toward the booth. Ichigo hesitated for a moment as he touched the tent flap. It was oddly silent inside and he took one last look at his family. The small boy smiled slightly as he turned to the entrance.
Amber eyes widened as he stepped out of the tent to the other side. The brightly lit colors of the carnival were dim and washed out in this part. The air seemed dead in the particular place. A dark stooped man stood by the edge of the entrance. Ichigo's eyes fell on the big grotesque colored letters.
There was a vivid painting of a lady with a beard and a man with three eyes. The boy jumped when a hand gently settled on his shoulder and he looked up into bright red eyes. The man blinked slowly before offering a slow smile. The boy's eyes lingered on the red eyes before he gulped and tried to turn around.
"Tousen, I believe our little visitor deserves a treat." The man at the entrance of the tent looked up and Ichigo shivered when he saw the strange milky eyes. The man didn't seem to have heard his words and the tall man next to Ichigo gently gave the boy a small shove forward.
"Welcome to our show." The words were simple and the man suddenly pushed Ichigo forward. The boy crashed through the tent flaps and gasped in shock at the lined cages around the small clearing. Torches of bright gold flames were fixed over each faded caravan. Dark gnarly trees with black branches encircled the small space. The cages were painted in ugly hues of dark washed out colors. Each was linked with the other by a thick bolt of iron. Quivering shapes crouched in the small confines of each cage as people pointed and laughed. Ichigo felt his stomach clench in nausea.
"Get out of the way brat." A couple of visitors shoved the small boy roughly and he stumbled forward. Bright amber eyes fell on the huddled shape from a small cage and the thing inside it roared at him, dirty claws rattling the chains and bars as the thing rushed at the boy. Ichigo screamed in terror and stumbled back. Laughter sounded from around him and he picked himself up with a soft sob, running blindly for the exit. People shoved the boy roughly as he tried to go back the way he came in.
Wind rushed past him with an odd howling that felt too real. Ichigo let his imagination run wild as he raced out of the clearing. Branches snatched at his clothes and scratched his face.
Eventually, Ichigo stopped running and fell to his knees, gasping for breath. After a few minutes of rest, the boy stood up and looked around. The small clearing was a different one. He had lost his cotton candy on the way and shivered in his small jacket. Ichigo looked around and noticed the only thing here was the single cage sitting at the edge of the clearing. The paint of the cage on wheels was peeled and faded but Ichigo could tell, even in the dark, it was a reddish color. The strange thing was that the cage was not on display like the others. Instead, it was covered with a huge black velvet cloth that had leather straps at each corner to secure it to the caravan. The boy took a deep breath before gingerly making his way closer.
Small fingers hesitantly touched the cloth. Nothing happened and Ichigo felt his curiosity rise as he leaned forward. He took a deep breath as he pried the leather strap apart and eased the cloth off. He let out a huge gasp as the scent of rotting meat washed over him. The boy's stomach churned and he gagged dryly, holding his breath as he stumbled back. Bones and dark glistening flesh was scattered around the pale white thing in the middle of the cage. Ichigo felt his eyes water as the smell washed over him again.
He stumbled back and covered his mouth with a trembling hand. His classmates had told him of stories where traveling carnivals would kidnap people and do all sorts of horrible things to them Ichigo almost screamed when the thing in the middle of the cage twitched slightly. The clearing was dark and the only light was from the sliver of moon in the branches. The boy squinted at the trembling thing in the middle of the cage. For a moment everything was dark. Then a pale face revealed itself from the messy tangle of long white locks.
Ichigo's breath hitched in absolute terror as amber met bright yellow. Wide hypnotic yellow eyes with long jagged pupils watched him from a thin hollow face. Long filthy locks of white framed the male's face. Ichigo gulped thickly when he saw the mess of brown stuff trailing down the man's chin. It looked like dried blood. Ichigo whimpered when his feet started shuffling forward without control. The hypnotic eyes didn't blink as the boy drew closer. Ichigo could see the obvious hunger in those eyes and hear the dry wheezing of its lungs as it took in each breath.
Suddenly the sound of a huge explosion snapped the boy from his daze. Ichigo yelped in pain as a clawed white hand swiped at him from the cage and sliced through the thin material of his shirt. He felt his heart pound faster in panic and fear when the sound of screaming filled the air. The orange haired boy took one last look at the thing in the cage before turning to run in the direction of the screams.
He didn't know where he was running off to. Ichigo just closed his eyes and let his feet carry him off deeper into the woods. Branches tripped at his feet and scratched his face as he raced through the woods. It couldn't be happening. His birthday was supposed to be perfect. Flames licked at the dry trees behind him as the boy ran deeper into the trees. He shouldn't have rushed off without his parents in the first place.
Ichigo cried out as a thick branch tripped him and went sprawling forward. The bitter metallic scent of blood washed over his taste buds. He had bitten his cheek. The boy winced and picked himself. His pant legs were scratched open and his knees were bleeding but that wasn't what was concerning him. Dark figures crouched over fallen visitors and tore at limbs easily as they fed off the screaming people. Ichigo screamed as he tried to run. Somehow his feet had carried him back to the clearing where the freak show was and every one of those things had escaped from their cages.
The boy pushed his way frantically into the trees again, trying to ignore the loud growling and snapping of twigs from behind him. He cried out as he pushed his way into a clearing. The sounds from behind had suddenly stopped. Whimpers came from behind him and Ichigo took a deep breath as he turned to see the huddled shapes retreating quickly. Then he noticed his surrounding. It was the same clearing with the single caravan but Ichigo felt his body freeze when his eyes landed on the empty cage. There was a huge gape between the iron bars as if the thing inside had bent them to get out. So the question was where the thing was.
The boy went still as he heard the familiar sound of soft wheezing. A small breeze ruffled the hair on the back of Ichigo's neck and the scent of rotting meat reached his nostrils. The boy didn't have to turn around to know what was behind him.
In the moonlight, dry cracked lips drew back to reveal glistening white teeth. And this time, Ichigo was too terrified to make a sound as he stared into deep pools of yellow framed by black irises. Then the thing lunged forward and everything went black.
Shiro didn't eat Ichigo, in case you were wondering. Review please! =)