As Sam sprinted back to Maven’s tent, horrific scenes flooded his mind like a “best of” reel from a thousand horror films. He hated himself for putting Jenny in harm’s way. It wasn’t until he saw her stepping out from the doorway that his nightmare reel finally ended.
“Hey! Where have you been?” Jenny asked, brightly. “I waited inside for a few minutes but then I remembered you came outside for me after the last show.”
“You don’t remember?” He replied, trying to keep the terror from his voice. “They wouldn’t let me in, Jen. I was screaming to you from outside but I guess you couldn’t hear me.” Or were programmed to ignore me, Sam thought silently. “How was the show?”
“I’m so glad you brought me here, Sam. Mystic Magill’s Big Top Carnival is the best place on Earth!”
Bile rose in Sam’s throat but, before he could respond, his cell phone rang. He recognized Tina’s number immediately but let it go to voicemail. His number one priority was getting Jenny home safely.
“Why do we have to go so soon? I’m having a great time, Sam. I wish this night would never end. Can’t we at least get a couple of corndogs and some funnel cake before we go?”
Sam sighed. He didn’t want to set off any red flags but more than anything he wanted the night to end. While Jenny got in line for her food, Sam checked his messages. Tina’s recording was short and sweet, “Call me back right away”. The line was long so he hit redial and before the ring had registered on his phone, Tina answered.
“Is Jenny okay?”
Sam was touched by her concern, especially since they were his clients and had no real reason to care.
“She seems okay but she has no idea what went down in there.”
“Look, I rallied the troops and we need that recording ASAP.” Tina gasped. We’re supposed to pack up in a couple of days so there’s no time to lose. We can be at your office in an hour.”
“Hang on, Tina. I’ve got to get Jenny home and situated first. Can we make it two hours?”
Sam disconnected the call just as Jenny returned with her bag full of food. Secretly, he wondered if Maven programmed them to eat as much as possible to boost sales for the food stands. Despite her assertion that she was having too much fun to call it a night, by the time Sam had maneuvered his car out of the parking lot, Jenny was asleep. Rather than dropping her off at her apartment, he took Jenny back to his place. He tucked her into bed, left a note on the nightstand, and hurried back to his office.