The celebrated tent circus led by Admiral Wiseacre had much more to it than met the eye-behind the glitz and glamour of the spotlight lay terrible secrets, dark happenings that defied every unspoken law of the universe. Death, twisted motives and dangerous minds. Read on if you dare.
The world had stopped suddenly, so completely that nothing existed beyond the slightly rippling canvas of the tent. I watched with mute interest as the contortionists bowed a final time in their glittering sequins before disappearing backstage.
"And now, ladies and gentlemen..."
Spotlights previously fixated on the ringleader danced about as his voice boomed up to my perch with the chatter of the audience, filling the air with my own quickening heartbeat.
"Our next act will soar through the air in a death-defying dance of skill and grace, risking their lives for your entertainment and pleasure! Please, give a hand for these high-flying acrobats as they perform on the precarious trapeze!"
Then, without warning, one of the lights was blinding me. I smiled through it, raising my free hand to acknowledge the noise of the crowd as I leaned back with the leather-covered handle of the swing firmly gripped in my fingers.
That night's music started up again and after a mental count I'd shifted my weight onto both feet and hopped down off of the platform, feeling a breeze caress my cheek as the circus flew by beneath me.
Adrenaline rushed through my system as I reached the other side of the tent, moving my hands at just the right moment to turn my body around as I started to swing back where I'd come from, feeling the muscles in my arms take over from memory once the momentum was just right.
Eli and I filled our ten-minute window with a countless amount of flips, dives, and spectacular catches, never failing to keep each other aloft when the time came, illuminated in our midnight-blue suits by the lights following us, constantly maintaining mysterious smiles from behind the black feathered masks over our eyes.
Applause rose and swelled like the tide over us, filling our performers' spirit with a hunger for more.
It felt like the moment had ended much too fast, our final trick performed seamlessly and with the effortlessness of a bird in flight.
Before I knew what was happening the both of us were already backstage, heading our separate ways amid the organized chaos that was getting the human cannon's act set up completely.
During our trapeze performance the lights were all set at the top of the tent; the stage crew could work to get everything in on the sawdust floor while we twirled and leaped above them. The circus itself was filled with little scheduling tricks that made each show proceed smoothly, tricks that the audience would never truly appreciate.
But then again the audience was simply a mass of ordinary people looking to catch a glimpse of the extraordinary, a good combination of obnoxious children and fatigued parents. The art of the circus had only its performers as its true critics.
We were not extraordinary in any way, but the ordinary who put extraordinary effort into the art they so loved.
I wasn't one to make friends in the circus. I held up my responsibility to perform, and that was all.
I lived for the trapeze, and the trapeze alone.