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“Welcome, one and all, to the best show of your life!†The Ringmaster yelled. Wearing a bright red suit and holding a large baton, the red haired man walked out onto the middle of the stage. He grinned at the onlookers.

“I am your Ringmaster, Rufus the Cunning!†Rufus paused, laughing as he scanned the crowd with his bright golden eyes. The children in the audience started to cheer and chant his name. His circus troop was famous all over the world. They traveled from town to town, preforming and making a living. Rufus waved his baton, pointing leftward where a mysterious gray blob lay on the ground. It moved around, it's shape changing in captivating ways. It looked as if it were dancing.

With a shout of surprise, the children giggled when the gray blob exploded in a burst of lights and confetti and there standing was a short, barely dressed girl. She wore an open red vest, her small breasts covered by a silvery shiny bra. and a pair of black tights, her toned form visible, obvious that she wasn't a child at all despite her smallness. Her hair was bright green and long, held back in two buns on top of her head. Her skin was a most peculiar green, but most stunning were her eyes. They glowed an unnatural white, made even more strange because they lacked a pupil.

“The Alien!†The audience shouted in joy.

Indeed the small girl standing there was the one everyone knew as The Alien due to a rare defect in her genes. The Alien was part of the first act, The Freak Show.

She walked around the ring, doing cartwheels, and graceful back flips, landing in the splits. The children in the audience ooed and awed, and even some of the adults couldn't stop themselves from making noises of surprise as she did some complicated acrobats.

With a sudden whoop, a large man ran out onto the stage. He growled, though he sounded like a gentle pussy cat to those who knew him personally. To the audience he sounded like a wild lion ready to pounce. The large muscled man ran up to The Alien, and picked her up with one hand, holding the girl high into the air. The Alien was flipped, doing turns in the air, before she landed back on the big man's outstretched hand.

The newcomer was none other than The Strong Man. He was known only as that. Nobody knew his real name, nor did he remember it. He was simple-minded, yet the sweetest person alive; his only passion in life was to make the people around him happy with his pseudo scary act. The Strong Man boomed in loud laughter, tossing The Alien around a few more times, each time the small girl did different acrobats in the air, before she was caught again. The Strong Man growled at the children, making them jump and yell in frightened delight.

“Alien fly!†The Strong Man yelled, throwing The Alien one last time, but this time, the girl was thrown away from him, her arms tucked to her side. She soared, looking as if she were a bullet, and then with a sudden twist and a turn, she tumbled in the air, and landed on her feet as if she were a cat.

The audience stomped their feet, shouted and clapped their hands, shouting “Alien,†over and over again.

The Strong Man grinned again, continuing on with his act, as The Bearded Lady came out and they started an interesting dance, showing off his strength in other ways, and scaring the children with how strange The Bearded Lady looked. Though, they did love The Bearded Lady as most kids did love The Freak Show.

Now The Strong Man was dancing with The Siamese twins, Bob and Tom, a strange cat and mouse game. The Strong Man was the fearsome cat, chasing after the twins, as they in a surprisingly graceful way, flipped and jumped fluidly. The Strong Man was even graceful in his own ways.

The Alien suddenly rushed out, flipping and jumping over the twin's heads, twirling and spinning around The Strong Man as if to confuse him and save the twins from being chased.

“Hey, mine!†The Strong Man yelled. He grabbed onto the twins and pulled one way, while The Alien grabbed onto the other and pulled them the opposite way. It was a tug-of-war between The Strong Man and The Alien.

Suddenly bright lights filled the tent, blinding everyone. There was a loud bang, like a cannon ball going off during battle. When the light cleared and everyone regained sight, The Strong Man was gone! The twins had also disappeared, standing in their place was Rufus the Cunning.

"How was that folks? Did you enjoy the first act? How about we bring out the wonderful performers?"

The Ringmaster pointed toward the left where the gray blob was back; in another explosion of confetti The Alien stood there again. The small lady bowed. "The Alien, everyone."

Rufus exclaimed, as if in alarm when The Strong Man came out and picked him up with one hand. "The Strong Man, everyone!"

The twins walked out onto the ring and waved. "The Siamese twins, what a sight! Tom and Bob, everyone." The jointed twins did a back flip.

"And there," The Ringmaster shouted, "The Bearded Lady!" The young woman ran onto the stage, she waved, tweaked her beard and did a cartwheel.

The actors bowed and bowed while the audience cheered and threw forward coins and other valuable gifts, such as rings, watches and one lady threw her expensive looking locket.

 

[Please don't take this as an example on how long all my posts will be. I do try my best, but I am still practicing my skills!]

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A few hours after the Freak Show ended, the Performing Tent was lit up once again by colourful flashing lightbulbs, this time to announce the start of another eagerly anticipated show, the Stunt Doubles.

The Stunt Doubles featured a mother-daughter pair, known individually as Hurricane and Tsunami. Crowds flocked to see their flexible, graceful motions, which indeed as their name suggested, mirrored the fluidity of wind and water. Hurricane, the mother, was perhaps a little too old now – her daughter was already 21 after all – and so she had knowingly retreated into the background, acting mainly as the assistant in setting up the flaming hoops, the needle-thin tightropes, and sometimes even tightropes through large flaming hoops! These stunts were performed with cheerful enthusiasm by Tsunami, whose smile didn’t fail to dazzle every male audience in the stands. Such a very bright and childish smile, and those pearly white teeth! She seemed as if she really enjoyed performing those dangerous stunts!

And Tsunami had thoroughly learnt all her mother’s tricks. Hurricane had been the star acrobat in the circus, performing fearless somersaults through hoops, jumping over mattresses covered with spikes, and with seemingly not a single scar on her. She had been a calm, icy woman, completely opposite of her playful daughter, yet both women exuded charm – albeit of different types.

The show ended, as it often did, with Tsunami and Hurricane, their hands squeezed tightly together, leaping through the air before holding with their free hands a metal bar suspended from the ceiling. Their hands still not letting go, they swung up at the same time to perch on top of the bar, their hands outstretched and bowing to an audience insane with applause.

The lights dimmed and the audience filed out of the tent in excited conversation.

Ocean sat in front of the mirror in the dressing room, taking off the scrunchie that had held her hair in place during the performance. Wavy blonde hair was momentarily liberated, falling loosely over her shoulders, before being bunched up again, this time in a careless ponytail. Her mother came in as well, her eyes still smoky from the heavy makeup. Ocean laughed.

“Wash your face, Mum. You look like you haven’t slept for days!â€

“So I do,†said her mother wryly, catching a glance of herself in the mirror. “It’s almost dinnertime outside; you should go grab a bite. We’ve got another show tonight, and you wouldn’t want to be hungry for it.â€

“Alright then!†She swung herself out of her seat, giggling as the chair continued toppling in circles, and threw her glittering costume into the laundry basket. She would be Tsunami again tonight, but for the next four hours she was just Ocean, a plain young woman hanging around in the circus. She had blended in with the visitors a couple of times, joining them in the House of Mirrors and trying her luck with the hoopla. These escapades rarely lasted very long, though, for her mother would unfailingly find her out and reprimand her. She shouldn’t be wandering about with the public! What if she went missing? Besides, she needed all the rest she could get before the next show!

That was her mother’s life in a nutshell. Performing, resting, and then performing again. Well, Ocean wasn’t going to go against her wishes this time, for she was rather hungry herself, and she didn’t want to let on that she had suffered a slight burn during just now’s performance. She had been inclined to leave these things alone, but her mother had warned that untreated burns could deteriorate into all kinds of infections, and her skin was already very spotty as it was.

She made a detour to the medical tent, grabbed some burn cream, and then headed to the food trailer where everyone should be gathered.

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The man with strawberry red hair grabbed his pregnant wife by the forearm. She breathed hard, sweet and blood dripping down her face. A thin gash ran across her forehead. It looked like the works of a small dagger. The man had a matching wound, only much deeper beneath his ribcage. It bled, the blood soaking into his clothes.

 

“Move faster,†the man pleaded. “I know you're tired, but we have no choice.â€

 

They were running through a forest thick with trees. The branches reached low, scraping and ripping at their clothing. They had no time to stop to check the wounds. The man ran behind her and forced her to run faster, pushing on her back.

 

“Go, go!â€

 

“I-I'm trying,†she gasped. Crying out and grabbing her lower stomach. “It hurts so much.†Her tangled blonde hair hung in clumps, most of it plastered to her face, hiding how red her face had become.

 

She fell to her knees, dirt and twigs digging into her legs. The man grabbed her, trying to pick her up, though he was too weak to handle the amount of weight she had gained with her pregnancy. After all, she would be going into labor anytime.

 

He kissed his wife's belly and then her lips. He knew that he would not last much longer. The wounds he had were slowly draining him of life. His only care was his wife. Before he died, he had to hide her, though deep down he knew she would not survive the birth of their child.

 

“I'm sorry, this will hurt even more,†he said, as he took her arms in his hands and drug her through the forest, falling to his knees several times when his strength gave out on him. He knew of a cave that was not too far from where they were. At all cost, he had to get her there.

 

By the grace of the Gods, he somehow managed to do it. He kissed her one last time and told her he loved her and the baby. He left and retraced his steps, covering their tracks.

 

“Ah,†he cried, when without warning he felt the unmistakable feeling of a knife being shoved and twisted between his shoulder blades.

 

Falling onto his back, he looked up at his attacker. Golden eyes stared down at him. The man's eyes flickered a few times, before he finally let go of this world and slipped into the next one.

 

When Allie woke up from her midday nap, she couldn't stop the flow of tears. She looked over at herself in the mirror she had mounted to the carriage wall and saw a frightened version of herself staring back. She wiped her eyes, sniffing, as tear after tear continued to fall. That dream again. It never changed. The man never made it. She didn't know if her dreams meant anything, though if they did and they were not the product of her imagination, then how could she possibly remember what happened to the couple, whom she believed to be her parents, when she had not even been born yet?

 

Should I talk to Rufus? She thought about that, but changed her mind, remembering how odd he became whenever she tried to talk about the past. He would always became guarded and almost seem angry. Those were the only times Rufus the Cunning yelled at her.

 

Wiping the remaining tears from her face, she got off the floor of her cart and went to stand by the window, looking out at the long line of buggies stretched out in a circle. In the distance, she could see the circus tent. Her stomach grumbled, reminding herself that it was time to grab something to eat. She debated if she should go into town to get something. WIth her looks, she couldn't very well blend in.

 

Oh well, I guess I'll just go to the food trailer,  she thought, though as usual she wished she could go out exploring. She left her carriage, said hello to the few circus folk who were haning around the carts, and then walked the little distance to the food cart. She went inside and leaned against the wall, as she waited for the line of people to thin out.

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“Hey!â€

A grinning face emerged from around the corner, possibly giving Allie a fright. Ocean laughed. She did like jumping out at people. She sidled up to Allie now, noticing tear stains near her eyes. She ignored them, knowing it was never a good idea to ask people why they were crying.

“Hey, can you help me out?†she asked nonchalantly, holding up something that looked like a translucent ball, with something rattling inside. “Some kid dropped this on the ground and I couldn’t find him anymore, so I thought maybe I’d take a look and see what’s inside. It might be the ultra-rare Monster Robot from the Robot Wars series! Ooh! Ooh! I think I see a streak of orange in there! It may well be!†She began shaking the ball vigorously, her eyes widening as she stared intently at the “streak of orange†that might belong to her most coveted collectible.

“Oh yes, but I need your help because, you see, I can’t open this.†She turned to Allie now and demonstrated, trying to prise open the spherical casing with a grunt. “I know I’m an acrobat and am supposed to be both strong and agile, but somehow my finger muscles don’t translate into opening plastic toy cases. Please help me! I’ll do anything for you in exchange!†She winked.

As she looked at Allie, a glance from the corner of her eye made her gasp. Her mother was turning into the food trailer from the other end.

“Damn, she’s removed her eye makeup already? Er, would you mind coming with me for a moment, Allie?†Before Allie could answer, Ocean had grabbed her wrist and hurriedly led her out of the trailer around to the back of it, their soft shoes padding noiselessly on the grass.

“Sorry to take you out of the food queue. I hope you’re not too hungry,†chuckled Ocean sheepishly. “I didn’t want my Mum to see me with this toy, you see. She’d think I was playing with the toy vending machines again when she explicitly told me not to. She’s always telling me to rest. Our lives as circus performers are tough, aren’t they? We’re always either working or resting to prepare for work. We can’t even go out to socialise, or hang around like normal folk.â€

She grew silent then, knowing that Allie had it harder than she did. With an exaggerated sigh, she promptly proceeded to change the subject.

“So do help me wrench open this casing! I don’t mind if you spoil it, as long as the Monster Robot – oh I do hope it’s a Monster Robot – remains intact! If it’s too hard, maybe we could use tools. Like we can pick up a stick on the ground and hammer at it until it cracks open, can’t we? No that’s an absurd notion. Hahaha!â€

Once Ocean began laughing, she couldn’t stop. The “absurd notion†of sticks thwacking against plastic stayed in her mind, and she started rolling around on the grass, clutching her tummy. It was lucky her booming laughter hadn’t already attracted the attention of the very person she was hiding from.

“This is just… too funny… priceless,†she mumbled between gasps of laughter, tears streaming down her cheeks. It took her a few minutes to sober up again.

“Oh I do hope it is a Monster Robot,†she declared, wiping her tears away with her hands. “If it turns out to be yet another one of those Orange Soldiers, I’ll kick myself. I’ve already got ten of those stuff, can you believe it? Ten! And it’s getting increasingly harder, with each new toy, to hide my stash from my Mum. Sooner or later I’ve got to move them out of the trailer. Oh do you know anything about Robot Wars, by the way? It’s a really great cartoon!â€

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