This is an old story getting an update. Part one is all the way back over here.
Part two of this fantasy tale continues Peters journey into the strange fantastical field of freaks and wonders. How far will he go, and does he have a choice?
1063 words, Fantasy.
Midway – The Night Circus – Part Two
Peter’s head swivelled like he was a man starved of sensation, he looked around at the apparent insanity spread out in front of him across the field. The round man cackled as he walked up behind Peter, he slapped Peter on the back and jovially muttered “Go, come, go, come.” Peter looked at him closely for the first time, he was familiar, yet not, it was a strange sensation but he couldn’t place him. Something about the mans eyes pulled him. They were deep, surrounded by laughter lines, but looked cold.
The man wore a faded yellow shirt, with dark braces and patched brown trousers. All of his clothing stretched to his spherical frame. He didn’t look like a clown, or even dressed as something special, evidently the man wasn’t in a performance, he just seemed so very present and real that he disturbed Peter.
Ahead Peter caught the flash of Shep, the back and white fur was flashing across the field, winding between people’s legs.
“Shep!” Peter called, as loud as he could, his voice desperate, distant and quiet even to his own ears. Impossibly, his dog heard, turn and ran a little of the way back toward him. Peter waited, unable to shout again as he was afraid of how his voice might sound. Shep regarded him, tail wagging, his tongue lolled momentarily and then he nodded. With that to human gesture, Shep turned and ran into the crowd on the field.
Peter was stunned for a dozen heartbeats. Had his dog nodded? Was it just a coincidence of behaviour, rather than something of meaning? He wasn’t sure, it took him a moment to realise that he’d been walking forward. He stopped and looked around again, the round man had vanished, as had Shep, but Peter hadn’t been aware of this, or anything, as his feet had moved for him. A group of children laughed nearby, they held balloons as they stood together in front of food cart that sold over-sized insects.
They all had an iguana perched on there neck instead of a human head, one boy turned, the iguana rolled an eye at Peter before dismissing him. The lizard leaned forward and nosed at the balloon, another of the boys tittered at this and did the same. Soon they were all laughing as the iguana’s made the balloons bob. Peter brushed against someone and looked around.
“Oh, I-I’m sorry.” He stuttered on autopilot. He didn’t know what else to do, how do you react when brushing into a woman made entirely of wound rope. She waved her hand in a languid boneless curve and walked on. How was he supposed to react to any of this? He didn’t know. He considered what he should do even as he grew aware that he walked on.
Game stalls and vendors littered the field in clusters. He walked over to the nearest game. A man, dressed in leaves, handed over a thimble and pine cone. They were swept away by the bulky vendor behind the counter, who nodded.
“Go on, Victor, you can do it!” A younger man next to him said with encouragement in a high pitched voice. He was tall, thin, his arms were made of twigs but the rest of him looked human enough.
“Don’t jinx me, man.” The man in leaves said, not unkindly. He was handed what looked like a gerbil, he held it up experimentally, as though gauging its heft. He gave it a few squeezes until the small animal erupted with a purr that belonged to something much larger, the vendor rang a bell and the game was afoot.
The man held up the deeply purring creature and squeezed it as a row of targets a few meters into the booth rattled back and forth. The small targets moved quickly but as he squeezed the small creature its tongue shot out and struck a target, knocking it back on a hinge. Again and again the impossibly long tongue shot across the gap and hit a target, more strikes than misses. After a minute the bell rang again.
“You did it!” The twig man said with pride.
“You ever doubt me?” The leaf man said, a wry lopsided smile played on his lips. The two kissed, a light kiss that Peter didn’t feel he intruded on.
Mechanical numbers rotated into position with loud clicks, when they stopped the vendor grunted, ducked and handed out a small clay pot with a lid. The leaf man nodded and the two turned and walked away from the booth.
“I never doubt your aim. Everything else, yes.”
“Oh yes? You’ll feel my aim later.” The leaf man assured his love.
“Promises, promises.” The voices fading into the melee of noise, Peter could barely make them out as the two wandered into the crowd. Peter decided to carry on looking around, this was an incredible experience, and as he thought that he realised that he didn’t feel scared anymore. The feeling had been chased away by wonder. This, he thought, is like living in a Clive Barker novel, only with less nails and chains. Ahead the crowd was parting before a huge man as the ocean before a ship.
The man approached Peter, but Peter stepped aside in advance, and stood in the shadow of a booth. He turned to the woman next to him, she was large and dressed in every colour imaginable.
“Who is that?” She turned and regarded him, looked at his clothing with a flash of distaste, but answered him politely.
“The big man? Big moustache?”
“What else, he’s the strongman.”
“Ah,” Peter replied, thinking that was obvious now that he’d been told, “thanks.” The woman nodded and walked away.
The man was at least 9 feet tall, and ridiculously wide, he looked well muscled and moved with a casual grace. Peter go the impression he could pull up trees and bench-press cars for fun. As he grew near he slowed, and looked at Peter. The man’s hand flew up to his face, his head rocked back and he sneezed. From his torso a smaller man shot forward, bounced on the ground and rolled. Peter stood in shocked surprise and awe, then he howled with laughter, bending double as the the laughter flowed from him.
To republish please email firstname.lastname@example.org
This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 444 Castro Street, Suite 900, Mountain View, California, 94041, USA.