"WELCOME, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN! TO GENERAL SINESTRO'S CIRCUS OF HEAVEN!"
Rayce sat up, a bit too quickly, and smashed his head against a hard surface. Cursing, he thrashed wildly; arms flailing, legs kicking, and head snapping back in forth in a vain search for some clue as to his whereabouts. An onlooker might have interpreted the scene as some kind of bizarre seizure. After one fruitless minute the spectacle ceased and Rayce, now out of breath and sweating in addition to everything else, tried to muster enough brain power to think back to elementary school. To the safety presentations made by the disinterested police officer, and Scruff McGruff, the dog-puppet dressed in a trench coat.
"If you're ever abducted, stay calm and follow these three easy steps! Step one-"
Step one. What was step one. Eyes squinting with effort, Rayce tried to guide the single solitary thought through the sea of pain that his head was currently drowning in.
Step one: Take stock of your body and immediate surroundings.
There were no immediate surroundings to speak of; it was pitch black, his head hurt like hell, and every creak from his god-forsaken loft bed caused new waves of pain to ripple across the surface of his mind.
The bed. If this was his bed, then the dark mass around him was, by extension, his bedroom, in what he hoped was still his apartment. He couldn't be completely sure. Forcing anyone to sleep in what was essentially a creaky, metal scaffold with a mattress, could easily be some sick form of torture dredged up from his darkest nightmares.
Rayce cautiously brought his hand up and probed at the surface that was responsible for his borderline concussion. After much deliberation, the decision was made: it was probably a ceiling. Reaching out with his other hand, Rayce felt for a light switch. To his surprise he found one and gave it a flick.
It was his room after all.
Rayce sat up, slowly this time, and tried to recall the events of last night. There was that guy, the one in the gaudy jacket, with the loud voice. Admiral Something-or-other and his wonder palace of things and excitement. He had gone to the... the thing... the... the circus!
His body now more or less back under his control, Rayce crawled for the ladder and climbed the eight and a half feet down to the floor his room. In the space under the bed from hell was a desk which was strewn with all manner of papers, assignments, and one brightly colored pamphlet.
General Sinestro's Circus of Heaven.
The name was just enough to stir part of Rayce's memory, and as he leafed through the pamphlet, he began to recall bits and pieces of the previous night.
There was Phoenix, the fire-eater, and as he looked at her picture, he remembered thinking that her act wasn't the only thing about her that was hot. Rayce rolled his eyes, glad he never got the chance to actually use the line. Every pickup line was a masterpiece four or five beers in.
Continuing to scan he recalled the aerial artist, Desdemona according to the pamphlet. For a brief moment he wondered if stringing up some silk lines would make getting out of bed any easier. More likely it would land him in the hospital. He could barely make toast after waking up in the mornings.
Then there was...
Rayce frowned and flipped faster through the brochure. After the second girl, none of the other performers seemed remotely familiar. In fact, any memory of the circus in general vanished after that second act.
Had he drunk more than he thought? Crossing the floor to the window, Rayce pulled aside the curtain to see his white SUV parked in the same space it always was. So he had managed to drive himself home. The young college student thumbed through the pamphlet one more time.
Walking back to the desk, Rayce pushed aside some papers and took note of the large desk calendar. According to the schedule his day was empty, and the brochure said the performances would continue on a nightly basis.
It was already three in the afternoon, and Rayce had a bit of schoolwork to catch up on, but he knew there was no chance he'd be able to focus in on it. Not with the glaring lapse in his memory.
Letting the pamphlet fall back to the desk, Rayce began to get his things together. He'd head to the circus early, poke around a bit before the evening's performance. If he got caught, he'd say he dropped his wallet the night before or something like that.
It was a circus, not a penitentiary, how hard could it be?