Once the applause died down, Maven had more orders for his lucky ticket-holders.
“Tomorrow, each of you will go to the bank and withdraw five hundred dollars in cash. If you do not have five hundred dollars in your account, you will use your credit cards to get a cash advance. Instruct the teller that you want small bills. Repeat it back to me!”
Since the crowd repeated Maven’s instructions verbatim, he proceeded with mailing instructions and the address to a post office box. Again, his puppets parroted back every word bringing a smug smile to Maven’s face. He knew they’d obey, they always obeyed.
“In two days, Mystic Magill’s Big Top Carnival is pulling up stakes and heading to Philadelphia. Call your family and friends in Philly. Tell them they must go to the carnival and to see Maven’s show. Get on Facebook, Twitter, and any other social media you peasants obsess over and spread the word. Mystic Magill’s Big Top Carnival is the best place on Earth!”
“The best place on Earth,” the crowd droned.
Inside Tina’s trailer, she and Sam stared, wide eyed, at the transmitter. It took several minutes before either spoke.
“That’s part of the act, right?” Sam demanded. “Tell me that’s some kind of Carney prank and they did not just murder some helpless bum!”
“I don’t know,” Tina sobbed. “Just just don’t know.”
“I’m going to get Jenny,” he answered. “Now!”
Just as Sam stood to leave, Maven’s cold, sinister voice filled the tiny room again. Maven gave a few parting instructions and an embedded memory about a fun-filled show before speaking the word that released his audience from their trance. Tina and Sam were still listening when fists pounded on the door. Tina froze, icy fingers of fear trailed up and down her spine. Her mind reeled, wondering if Maven could conjure demons from the pits of Hell to rip her apart for hearing what he’d done.
“Tina,” a feminine voice hissed. “It’s me, Clara, open up!”
Sam placed a comforting hand on Tina’s shoulder before rising to answer the door. Tina’s sigh of relief when Clara actually entered was audible.
“Something terrible has happened, hasn’t it?” Clara asked, her voice was thin and wavering. “I was babysitting my granddaughter and I caught a flash of something. It all happened so fast, I felt fear and pain then the baby woke, screaming. I called my daughter to come get baby Chloe. I knew I needed to get over here ASAP.”
“Tina will fill you in,” Sam answered gruffly, pushing Clara out of the way. “I’ve got to find Jenny!”