Hand outstretched with a big red balloon. "Would you like me to take you on this ride?" she smiles. Slowly the girl turns her head. Time stops as Judy sees herself in the girl’s eyes. The girl nods and clasps the balloon.
It was one of those boat rides with ghosts and pirates jumping out of treasure filled caves under the glow of cheap stage lighting. Pirates always scared Judy. The smell of rum and sweat reminded her of her father. It's silly, but Judy found herself gripping the seats a little.
"What's your name?" looking away from a pirate holding a bottle and tipped over a barrel. The girl just stares ahead.
We should have gone to Cupcake Land, this is too real, she clenches the seat tighter as two animated robot pirates walk towards the boat from the fiery remains of a plundered Spanish fort.
Turning towards the girl, "Hey, look at how realistic those pir..." But the girl wasn't there. Panicked, she jumps from the boat, but the girl isn't in the water either. Forgetting the pirates, she crawls, sobbing, onto the cobblestone fort screaming, "Little Girl! Little Girl!" Her knees begin to buckle.
Then, out of the corner of her eye, she sees her. Standing atop the highest cannon tower, a dark silhouette amid the red inferno, she floats on a sea of flame. The ballet of red light flickering from her balloon on the cave walls pales in magnificence to the crimson orchestra beaming from her dark red eyes. Fueled by an angry fire from within, she floats untouched by the cool licks of flame.
Judy’s wrists ache as the smell of blood and rum burn in her nostrils. She's going to jump. She's going to... "Nooo..." But her scream is cut off as something hits her in the side of the head. She feels another blow and then only the hard stone against her back. The dark smell of rum is unmistakable as she sees her attackers. She recognizes the pirates standing over her just as another flurry of blows connect with her side and head.
She begins to black out, but manages to look up at the tower again, more worried for the girl than herself. But it was no longer the silhouette of a girl. It was a strange black outline of a man in tightly wrapped black clothing, but that same unmistakable fire burned in his eyes... the last thing Judy remembers is a puff of smoke, and a cool wind...
"Do you remember what happened?" the officer questioned Judy in she lay on the stretcher. She could see the boat ride behind him. It was a heap of smoke and rubble. A school bus lay on top in several pieces. Hundreds of bits of strange star shaped metal protruded from the surfaces of every building wall in sight.
"No, first the girl was there, and then she wasn't. I blacked out, and that was that."
"Yeah... the girl... where did you say you met her?"
"In front of the ride. Just ask the man at the ticket counter."
"I'm afraid I've already done that. He says you bought two tickets, but then went on the ride alone after releasing a red balloon into the air. This is all very strange."
"But I'm telling you, she was with me on..."
Judy saw the odd silhouette again standing on top of the fun house, a dark spot against the setting sun. His tightly bound black robes covered all but his eyes, considerably cooler and kinder than before. In his hand is the red balloon. He lets it go and she watches it just for a moment. When she looks back to the building, the dark man is gone.
"Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing, some have unwittingly entertained ninjas."
Hebrews 13:2 KNV (Ken's Ninja Version)