Chapter One: Just an Introduction to the Story without a Proper Name
A sharp buzz drills into my head as my alarm clock goes off in a tizzy tantrum. I shake my head in disgust at the repulsive noise as I try to stir away the sleep consuming me. With a light tap and flick of my wrist, I hit the old wind-up and start to get dressed in my usual attire.
Off comes the old, white night gown and on comes my favorite sweater; an orange and white striped turtle neck with sleeves too long for my short arms along with my short, pink skirt; the only type of bottom clothing I can wear that does not get in the way of my condition.
In the mirror I stare in disdain at the scrawny frame of a girl who has been used to wearing the same looking clothes every day and walking out there on the ropes. I stare with a bit of disgust at how thin she is, how deep her eyes are set back, creating those strange dark rings around them. I guess it is nice - being tiny; greatly beneficial if needing to fit oneself into tiny spaces, but not so when you're the smallest creature to inhabit a place where being big and brute is pretty much the only way to survive. Only charm can replace brutishness and care to take a guess? That's right, I'm not very charismatic either.
A harsh sigh escapes my lips and heats up the surrounding air as I fold my arms across my chest. To myself, I decide that it isn't the appearance or the way she stares back with big, expressionless eyes that gives me the rigged distaste in my heart - it's the position the creature in this appearance must take.
With a shrug, I turn to my dresser and trace the handle of an ivory brush with my fingers when a soft rustling directs me towards my window. Curiosity gets the better of me and beckons me to the dark, silky realm of eternal night that lay outside of my reach. Peeking through the iron bars, I try to see if there is anything to be found. My efforts come up fruitless.
I'm about to admit defeat, but then the rustling summons me once more. I catch a glimpse of dried, dead grass below my window sill and find that it is being moved by an unseen force.
I catch my breath in a gasp and peer into the darkness, waiting for something big and fierce to run up from the shadows – like something Daddy always warns me about. My heart dares to race and pound against my chest causing a noise that could awaken and rouse any beast that’d be lying in wait. I lower myself behind my window sill, fingers close to gripping the iron bars and wait.
A sigh of relief parts my lips only after a strange, but small animal appears in the underbrush beneath me. Its white, freckled face and bluish black fur is intriguing. Two triangle-shaped ears sit atop its oval face in a soft stance against the darkness enveloping around it. With a start I realize that the creature is a cat.
I know it’s not the most interesting thing, but to be honest I’ve never seen a cat before. I’ve never seen the world beyond my vision before. Even so I know that cats are rare. I never thought I’d see one so close. Especially since cats do not belong on this world. They are said to come from a planet far away, the one that orbits around the star called Sun. I always forget the name. SighBo would know.
Reaching down slowly through the iron bars, I try to just barely touch its fluffy fur. Before my fingertips graze the compelling, blue hair, it suddenly looks up and stares at me. I flinch, afraid it’s preparing for an attack. Surprisingly it doesn’t attack at all. Instead it licks my fingers and makes me smile; I am sure I have made a new friend.
If Rufficous had seen this cat, he would've mistaken it for Tabby, the woman who looks particularly like one. I don’t mean to be rude, but he’s not all that bright. He once got his hand stuck in a trap because he didn’t want to let go of the food. Thank goodness Tabby was there to rescue him!
Sharp sounds pierce my ears, forcing chills up my spine. Fast, unsettling movements beat in my chest as the sudden loud shattering stirs my dream-like daze. Glancing back, I catch with my eyes small, glistening pieces of purple and petals of green caressing each other haphazardly on the wooden floor panels. I don't give it a second more. I quickly whip back to the cat, only to find it has been scared off.
I sigh, watching the reeds rustle as it scurries away into the dark, half crescent night. To be free like that cat, I'd give anything.
Turning back to the broken-up vase, I see which one has fallen. It is the purple one, the one that held pretty, green daisies. I honestly can’t recall where I got this one. My shoulders slump and I flick my tail agitatedly as I kneel to start the tedious task.
Piece by piece, I pick up the scattered remains; all the while shaking my head at the misfortune. As I stand and tilt my head towards the waste bin, I ponder a few things. In the end I don't throw it away. It is just an awful, little mess, but for some odd sense, I think I will keep it - hang on to it for a bit. I place the pieces on my dresser, intending to ask someone to help me fix it, probably later on in the week.
I shudder and nearly collapse.
It seems ages, although I know it has only been an hour since I heard that voice. Looking up from my dresser, I see standing before me a very, very tall, young man presented in his usual raggedy, blue, long-sleeved sweatshirt and tan pants that just nip at his skinny ankles. His clothes string unusually tight against his skin - unusual because he is a tooth-pick. I like unusual things though.
"SighBo!" I exclaim excitedly. "What brings you here?" I try to act casual, regaining myself from the previous outburst.
He flashes a bright smile. "Ah just wanted to see how ya was doing, May."
There's something about his accent that makes my face suddenly turn different shades.
"Oh. I'm fine," I quickly add, "Thank you, SighBo," as I pick up a small, wooden brush from my dresser. "What have you been up to? Practicing, I assume - what else is there to do here?"
I brush back my long, knotted, brown hair into a well-kept bun, and then quickly shoot through it two long, black knitting needles that intersected in the middle, making an ‘x’ to hold the big mass of ball together right in the middle of my head. Even though the bun's behind me, you're still able to see a visible bump in my hair line right dab in the middle where the darn thing sticks out. I swear - I can't ever tie it up right without my mass of hair bulging. I'm considering cutting it all off.
"Mm, pratisin', drawin', some times Ah sing a little," He says slowly, just beaming with his happy-go-lucky shine. "Now May, you can't keep sayin' that all it is we do is pratise. You gotta make some time for yourself. We oughta draw together sometime."
I throw him a playful grin as I tell him, "Me? Draw? - who are you asking to draw with? Haven't you eyes, Bo? I can't draw even to save my life!"
"Aw, May! Stop foolin'! Ah like your pictures. Ah think they're pretty."
"Then you must be blind in one eye!"
"No! May. Ah really, really like'em. Ah think you got some sort of talent."
"Stop! Just stop! You're a terrible liar!"
I am in hysterics of laughter as I throw one of my pillows at him - toatally miss him, by the way. Only thing I hit is air.
He laughs with me, opening his mouth, ready to counterattack my words, when a beastly accented voice chops through the air smoothly.
My shoulders slump with disgust as the voice booms and repercussions off my irritated ear drums. I visibly shake and shiver with the repulsing thought of the owner as SighBo's face shares my inward concern.
The towering boy, puffs out his wiry chest and with a soured huff, puts on his most evil and most furious of faces you'll ever see - it's true murder in his eyes when he's this worked up.
"Ah hate it when th't Mareo calls you that! You ain't no monkey - you is as normal as the rest of us!" He suddenly drops his fury and looks thoughtful for a moment. "Aa... well, actually, now th't Ah thought about it, that really ain't all too normal, is it?"
I give him a smile for effort. At least he's trying to stand up for me.
"Oh, May, Ah don't understand," he turns to me, staring from his whooping seven-foot height down on my four-foot-five with a look of sincere confusion. "How is it th't 'em creatures thinkin' you's a freakshow when alls Ah's thinkin' you is real pretty."
A sweltering blush rises and bursts across my entire face as the words hit me and swallow me up. Surely, I passed out some time ago and all this is just some crazy fantasy dream world where everything is perfect and wonderful. I think SighBo must've noticed the room catch fire from my burning cheeks because he starts blushing, too.
"Ah oughta get back to pratisin' afore Ringer notices Ah am gone. See ya, May!"
As soon as he leaves and is gone, a full-blown smile is still big and beaming across my face along with the darkest shade of red anyone could ever, ever have on a face.
"Ah. So, your lover boy is wonderful now, is he?"
In the doorway, a moderately tall man wears a censuring smirk and leers with duplicitous eyes. Not one to wait for a reply, he strolls up to me, his long, red, golden lined cape nearly dragging at his ankles, and tugs teasingly at a thick, loose strand of hair.
The only two pieces of hair that I could never get up into my bun, that Mareo always had the delight playing with, that framed my face and make up my whole look; my chin-length sideburns. The darn things refuse to go into my hair bun.
I smack his hand away.
"Mareo! How many times have I told you? Stop. Reading. My thoughts!"
He chuckles, his throaty laugh bellowing around the room. With a jump and a skip, he starts to circle around me in his smooth, graceful steps, seemingly walking on air.
"Oh, MayBelle! Stop being such a tease," He swirls his fingers around the loose strand of hair as he hisses, "You know, you're just too fun to play with!"
Mareo always seemed to have the ability to read thoughts. When asked how he got them however, his only reply is, "Ah, my mind powers? Oh, no, no, no! That is too great a story to tell! You will only be left confused and wanting to hear more! Now go run along, Monkey Girl!"
I scoff at him and slap his hand again. "Let's just go to rehearsal already!"
He grins his nasty, devious Cheshire Cat smile as his fingers continue to twirl my loose hair.
"Aw, Monkey Girl, you always ruin the fun!"
Before I know it, fingers snatch up my tail and knock me down as he hisses the last word venomously.
A striking burn runs up my side as I hit the ground. I can't help but let out a sharp cry; mostly from surprise than pain. Twisting myself around, I grip Mareo's cape and try to lift myself up. (All the while, Mareo is having a great all hoot while this is happening.) Struggling, I manage to find my feet underneath me again. I whip my tail away from his grabby fingers as he tries to attempt the same cruel prank.
What can I really say? I'm sure you're wondering, but there's not much to it. I'm part monkey, I'm a Freakshow. Everyone around me tells me it's only mutation, but when I was little before I was taken away, my mother told me that my father was part monkey and it was genetics. Who knows? I can't confirm either theory; my father died before I met him.
"Ugh!" I grunt as I lose footing (due to someone who will not be named) and tumble backwards into my pile of dirty clothes.
Mareo hollers, laughing.
"Aw! Come now, Monkey Girl! Stop being so clumsy! Use that tail of yours to help yourself up!"
I ignore him. He's a worthless piece of scum anyway.
My head starts to pound and buzz while my eyes blur out of focus for a moment, making everything dark. I try to rub my eyes but find that I can't move my arms. Immediately, I start to panick. Struggling and straining, I try to move against the unseen force, completely scared out of my wits. Then I see the bluish glow. It’s something hypnotic and mystifying, but after years of seeing it, I am immune to such silly tricks. I know what’s going on.
"Mareo!" I squeal, thrashing my arms and legs against the telekinesis. "Put me down right now!"
He smirks, raising his hand, making me raise, too. "Aw, Monkey Girl, I thought you wanted help, no?" He chortles, spinning his hand about.
I scream, "Mareo!"
He brings his hand to his chest, the glow slowly subsiding.
I fly straight into his arms where he holds me up right by the shoulders. "There, you're not under my control anymore and you're breathing. This is much better than the first time, right? You were petrified, shaken to the bone with shock! Now look, you can handle it so much more now!"
Now this is another part of his mind powers. It's something called Telekinesis - a fancy word for moving objects with his mind. Every now and again he uses it to throw me up in the air and catches me at the last second, trying to see how many heart attacks he can give me. Of all his powers I especially hate this one.
Breathing heavily, I try to regain myself and calm down. I place a hand on my dresser as I pull away from his loose grip. In the vanity mirror, I notice Mareo isn’t smirking anymore and actually looks concern. He always has that stupid look after he uses his powers on me though. If he thinks I’ll feel sorry for him, he’s wrong! He shouldn’t be so stupid with his powers.
"Oh, Monkey Girl,” he says softly. “You know I was just fooling around!" His hand brushes against my cheek.
I turn from him and walk out of the room.
Who does he think he is?
I feel him hovering behind me and I just know he is reading my thoughts carefully. I don't care. He can read whatever he wants to. There's nothing in there he can find that he didn't already know.
"Not a single secret?" His voice rings out through the hallway.
I ignore him and look at the decorations on the walls.
The bright blue with light blue vertical stripes bring out the colorful portraits - each one containing an array of beautiful colors that tell of many stories about each and every performer. Every painting has a different pose, a different look, a different emotion. Not a single is the same, like the creatures who live here.
Yes, this is a place for entertaining the normals. Regular people like the ones reading this story. Wouldn’t you like to know this place I am at where we entertain those who are honored and praised for their normality with shows from those who do not belong outside of the world they know. Makes you think, doesn’t it? Who are these people? Do I know them? Are they the face I see in a hallway or while walking on a sidewalk as I pass them? Maybe you should think twice about those who are different.
One painting catches my eye. I notice right away it is new and freshly painted. The colors are bright and gleam with the light; it’s not faded like the ones around it. The woman with white, black-tipped cat ears is a familiar sight.
“When did they bring this picture in?” I ask aloud even though it is not necessary when with Mareo.
He smiles at the picture with warmness evident in his eyes as he replies, “This morning. They said the old picture didn’t capture her essence.”
Isn’t that the truth? The old picture of Tabby was so plain. She was just standing there with her bag clutched in her left hand. This one is a major improvement.
She is standing with her hip swung to the right, feet apart in a stance with one knee bent, the other straight out with her hip. Between her fingers are three, glistening marbles. The marbles are clutched high above her head as if she is contemplating whom to throw them at. Her ears slightly turn at an angle and her tail is lean and thin in a tight question mark. Although she looks fierce and angry, she also wears a sly smile along with revealing clothing.
Blue is her favorite color and is always present in her attire. The top just covers up her chest, ending at her upper ribs, tight so it doesn’t accidentally slip off. The straps lay casually on her arms, exposing her delicate, white shoulders. Her skirt is dyed just as dark blue as her top and cuts above her sharp knees. The intricate designs on both her top and skirt are dark swirls lacing and circling all over the blue like ominous clouds.
Beneath her is her show name: The Seductive Tigress.
"The picture is beautiful, I'll admit. It catches her completely, but she is sad in this picture as well."
Surprised by his voice, I turn to Mareo in confusion. "What do you mean?" I glance back at it briefly. "She looks... happy."
He shrugs, staring at it with a grim expression, all the warmness gone from his eyes. At first, he seems ready to say something thoughtful and meaningful, but then simply says, "Ah. Never mind, MayBelle. I guess I was being foolish."
I frown. What was that about?
He nods towards the door at the end of the hall. "Are we going to get on with rehearsals or not?" Swiping his hand across his forehead, he brushes his purple hair from his face, showing off bright, hazel eyes.
I look at him, thinking about saying something, but stop myself and take another glance at Tabby’s beautiful painting. Her raven black hair frames her face in a chopped cut along with similar chopped bangs brushing her eyelashes. I touch a piece of my hair that doesn’t go up into my bun and remember how soft Tabby’s hair is all the time. My hair feels like straw. How does she get it like that?
Turning away, I start for the door Mareo mentioned earlier.
As we advance in our steps, he doesn’t say anything. He could be reading my mind and just waiting to think of a snarky thing to say. I am pondering a lot at the moment.
My mind is alive with buzzing thoughts about Tabby. She is happy. I know she's happy. Isn't she? She never seems unhappy. I just don't think it's possible. Does anyone else think she’s unhappy? Mareo surely would know if she is unhappy. He doesn’t see her that often though so maybe he’s just saying that.
Glancing back, I make sure Mareo is still behind me. He is… and he’s sitting on his little cloud. The strange cloud is formed from his thoughts. He tells me it is pure concentration and needs a lot of energy but insists it’s faster and better transportation. I have no idea how he is able to form things from mere thought like this, but there he is - sitting on a thought cloud like nobody's business.
I cringe on hearing his voice. It's out of no where and when I am thinking, it’s unexpected.
He pauses then mumbles, "Never mind."
I don't think twice. I keep walking.
Whatever Mareo wants to say, it is of little importance to me.
What if it's of great importance?
I freeze, looking back at Mareo. "Did you... say something?"
No. I'm thinking to you.
I shiver. Thoughts are going through my head, but they aren't my own.
"Mareo," I squeal, shaking. "You know I hate your mind powers! Stop using them on me!"
But, I enjoy using them on you better.
He smirks, winking.
I growl, pouting.
This stupid mind trick is something he calls, 'The Ghost Voice'. He can automatically send people his thoughts so only that person will be able to hear him. He’s always trying to get me to think thoughts back to him, but I refuse to since it's stupid when he's right there.
"Mareo, please stop the Ghost Voice, and just talk regularly to me."
He smirks and shakes his head.
I grunt. "Aw, whatever..."
I turn around and find the door is in front of me. I open it quickly and slip through with Mareo trailing behind me. The sight I behold in front of me isn't as dazzling to me as it might be to you.
Bright, multi-colored lights illuminate and drive out the shadows in a giant Arena. Jugglers throw lit torches and swords back and forth upon the tightrope. Creatures with tentacles, feathers and claws slither through and about acrobats as they practice new routines and acts. A young girl with an alligator jaw and tail roars at anyone who crosses her path, working on new sounds to really get someone’s horror raised. Across the Arena there are groups of many sporting masks with some frowning faces and others with smiling faces to hide the true despair beneath them. Above the laughter and the cries, there are those throwing one another across the open air, catching at the last second with heart racing movement that is like dancing.
In the stands I see someone obverse this all. The eyes are all I can see. Dark, piercing, yellow disks blaze from the darkness. When I try to see the face to whom those eyes belong, the yellow vanishes. Maybe there wasn’t anyone there or maybe it’s a vanishing act. Whatever it is, it certainly is freaky enough to belong here.
This is the Circus.