The Death Drop was a free fall down a six-storey–high column strapped to a bank of seats. Getting to the top was a slow crank. You could feel the wind shaking the structure around. Canvas and steel became distant as you rose.

Vanessa waved to Gray. She’d recently succumbed to his advances. The carnival was a trial of how things would go between them. She loved the large toy pig he’d won shooting ducks with a slug gun. But he’d been strange about the ride. Maybe he had a thing about heights. Whatever, Christy and she had been looking forward to it for weeks.

Right near the top, something went clunk. The platform dropped a few centimetres and stuck fast. The rock’n’roll soundtrack faded and a voice said, ‘Sorry people. We’ve had a minor power problem, Stay calm and stay seated while we hook up the auxiliary supply.’ Time became suspended with the riders.

Ten minutes passed. Vanessa, who’d been laughing about the predicament with Christy, caught the sound of a commotion below. Gray was being dragged away from the ride attendant by two policemen. Even from that height she could see an anger, a menace in his face, that he’d hidden from her. Suddenly the ride sprung back to life, lifted the last metre then released them.

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