Finally it was time! After waiting for months, the circus was finally coming to town, and what nine year old doesn’t get excited for the circus?!
I had never been to a carnival before, but some of my friends from school had been and they were always talking about how thrilling it was to watch the animals perform their tricks. From the sounds of it, watching the acrobats swing from the trapeze sounded like the most exciting part.
I woke early that morning, took a quick shower, finished up some of my homework for school on monday, then watched some of the Saturday cartoons. The circus was not until later that night, so I had some time to kill.
Charlie’s mom wasn’t going to be dropping him off for another three hours, and I was growing impatient. When I felt like my head was going to explode from boredom, I asked my dad to borrow his laptop to surf the web. After getting the okay, I went to Youtube and looked up some different videos of people performing. They all had smiles plastered across their faces. I hope they looked the same way tonight!
By losing myself into Youtube the time flew by. The next thing I knew the doorbell was ringing and Charlie stood on the front porch with his sleeping bag, clothes, and pillow.
Our families had been close friends since as long as I could remember, and we were constantly having sleepovers every weekend. Charlie was definitely my best friend in the entire world.
Now that he had arrived, it was not that hard to find something to do. We seemed to always be outside, whether it was kicking a soccer ball around, playing Lord of the Rings, or soldiers. We could play this for hours and never once grow tired of it. You know how it is to be a child. Everything seems to be entertaining.
My mom came out later and told us to go wash up for dinner. Looking down, we realized we were covered in dirt and mud.
After looking at us a little closer she thought better of it, “On second thought, you go upstairs and take a shower in my bathroom and Charlie can go and take on in the downstairs bathroom. Then we will eat dinner. I don’t want either one of you sitting at my kitchen table looking like that!”
Charlie and I exchanged smirks. It was the same thing every weekend. We somehow seemed to always attract the dirt. It was almost as if we were dirt magnets!
Finally, after scrubbing ourselves down, scarfing down the chicken nuggets and fries my mom made for dinner, and practically diving into the car, we were on our way to the circus!
Charlie had never been either, so we were both bouncing with excitement.
It seemed to take forever to stand in line for the tickets. But finally we were through. The actual performances weren’t going to start for another two hours, so we had some more time to kill. It seemed that was all today had been made up of.
“What do the two of you want to do first while we wait? I heard the face painting is pretty fun”, said my mom.
Charlie and I looked at each other, trying not to laugh out loud.
“Mom, we are almost ten years old now, there is no way we are getting our faces painted. That is just embarrassing.”
My mom shook her head as she walked off, mumbling something about “growing up too fast”.
Charlie turned towards me and was trying to say something but I couldn’t hear him. It was as if my head was being held underwater. Everything was coming out fuzzy… and that’s when I heard it.
The dark cackling of someone sinister. It wasn’t like the “evil laugh” you hear on the movies. No, this was much darker than that. It was as if the laughing was echoing around on the inside of my soul.
I shook my head, desperately trying to rid myself of the sound… But it only seemed to grow louder. Just when I thought I couldn’t take it any longer the sound stopped suddenly. As the world around me came into focus once more, a voice rang out through the inside of my head.
“You will… enjoy… the show later…”
My eyes flew open, revealing Charlie and my parents kneeling in front of me. Each one of them had a worried look on their face.
“Honey are you alright? You shrieked and dropped to the ground!”
I ignored her question and looked past the three of them, frantically trying to figure out where the voice had come from. After she repeated the question twice more I told her that I was fine.
My dad helped me to my feet, and handed me his water bottle, instructing me to take small sips of it. I did as I was told. No one was saying anything about the voice which worried me. After taking a few drinks of water, I pulled Charlie to the side, far enough away that my parents wouldn’t hear what I was saying.
“Did you hear the voice…?”
Charlie gave me a questioning look and shook his head, “What are you talking about? I hear a lot of voices… We are at a circus…”
I shook my head sharply, wanting him to see the urgency of what I was talking about. “No, none of these voices… You must not have heard it because you would know exactly what I was talking about.”
I backed away from him. I couldn’t have been the only one who heard that… Was I?
* * *
The four of us took our seats. Charlie and my parents had smiles on their faces that rivaled the ones in the Youtube video. Charlie was bouncing up and down, pointing out the different animals as they walked out.
The only thought that was moving through my head was how badly I wanted to go home. I no longer wanted to be anywhere near this place. Hiding under my blankets sounded like the perfect night for me.
And then the feeling started again…
In a panic, I sank farther into my seat while placing my hands over me ears, not wanting the feeling to take control of me. I squeezed my eyes closed.
But no matter what I tried I couldn’t shake it off. The fuzzy feeling took over once more, but no laughter came forth. After counting to ten, I slowly opened my eyes.
There was a fine white mist hovering all through out the giant circus tent, making it impossible to see from one end to the other. I looked to my left to ask my dad if this was part of the show… but he was gone. My head shot to my right, but I was met with the same emptiness. I was alone.
The sound of rusted bike pedals split the silence, and my attention was once more riveted to the center of the tent. I knew I did not want to see the cause of the noise, but I was no longer in control of my body.
Out of the mist came a lone clown, riding on top of a unicycle. My blood ran cold once more, and I knew right then and there that this creature had been the cause of the laughter.
I tried to stand up and run, run as far away from here as possible, but my legs would not comply. I was rooted to this seat, and there was nothing I could do about it.
And then it started once more. The laughter rang out, bouncing from one end of the tent to the other, constantly growing in tempo until I was afraid my ear drums would burst.
The clown went in a continuous circle, never once taking its eyes off of me. They bore into my being like nothing else in the world ever could. They could see through all my secrets. The clowns icy thoughts clawed their way through my brain. Searching.
When the clown’s body was facing away from me, its was facing backwards, never once losing eye contact. After what felt like hours, the unicycle suddenly stopped.
The clown stood up, its body facing away from me, but its face was fixated on mine. The clowns body slowly turned towards me.
My breathing became ragged. My blood seemed to freeze in place.
Slowly, the clown inched its way towards me, the laughter continuously ringing out, thought the clowns mouth was tightly clenched.
I strained against the invisible clasps that held me down, but was met with greater resistance.
The clown stopped directly in front of me. Without wanting to, my head was forced upwards until I was staring into the bottomless pit where its eyes should of been.
It tenderly reached out its hand and stroked my left cheek.
“Come child… It’s your turn to perform…”
And suddenly, my young heart stopped pumping…