Decidedly, something strange was happening in Coney Island. Apparently everything was normal, as in any high season. The beaches were crowded with bathers. People had fun, had snacks, walked, rode at the attractions of Luna Park or Steeplechase. Couples made love furtively under the Boardwalk … However, a forty-year-old man named Gus Nicholson had entered the tunnel of terror in a trolley three days ago and had not yet left. And the same thing had happened to a certain Dominic Colosanto: he spent three days disappeared in “The Torture Chamber.” Only he had more luck: he ended up leaving the tunnel in the same trolley he had entered, but he did it with an ice pick stuck in the head. On the other hand, when the police inspected the interior of this “dark ride”, he found an employee of the US Post Office called Phil Denson, another missing person, but he was alive and well and five officers were needed to separate him from an attractive mechanic woman who moved in three directions: according to him, it had been love at first sight, so he decided to get off the trolley and start a new life with the automaton. However, of the other missing persons (by mid-August, the disappeared already reached the figure of twenty) they found no trace.
When the mayor commissioned Michael and Jacob to investigate such a strange case, another disappearance had just occurred, this time in “The Devil’s Pit”, another of the so-called “dark rides”. But this time it was a large-scale disappearance, since there had been thirty-four members of an Ohio polo club who had entered the tunnel ten hours ago and had not yet left. Michael and Jacob went through the tunnel exploring every inch of the site without finding a living soul, but merely the typical mechanical figures that populated that kind of attractions. Imagine their surprise when the next morning the mayor called to inform them that the thirty-four members of the polo club had finally left the tunnel. However, not the tunnel of the “Devil’s Pit” (where they had entered) but that of a car wash on 8th Avenue.
That seemed like a work of black magic or witchcraft or of a bad-jokes hobbyist. Michael and Jacob required the police records of all the witches and sorcerers and bad-jokes hobbyists of New York City. While reviewing the files in their office, they received a new call from City Hall, this time to inform them that it was now the mayor himself who had disappeared in a Steeplechase Park’s carousel. They immediately went to the 8th Avenue car wash and patiently waited at the exit of the tunnel until the mayor came out clean and bright like just out of the factory. They requested the presence of all the employees of the car wash and one of them caught his attention because he could not stop giggling. Immediately Jacob recognized him as one of the bad-jokes hobbyists whose files they had been examining. When questioned at the police station, he confessed to be the culprit of all the disappearances except Dominic Colosanto’s. (Later it was found out that Colosanto had been the victim of a settling of scores between rival gangs.) As for the other missing persons, it had been days since they had returned home after leaving the car wash, but they simply had not taken the trouble to notify the police.