It's so much fun!
Their solemn grins hung over the crowd, showing the deepest pain.
I want to die.
"Welcome to our circus," the deformed one fell to the ground. "Tonight, who would like to see the display the fright of these horrid beings?"
Get me out of here, please.
Voices echoed through the crowd. Chanting ceased when the ringmaster held up her hand. "It is time to begin," she cleared her throat. "Oh, the deformity!"
Slowly, a tiny girl, no more than sixteen, made her way down the street. A basket of treats bobbed in the clutches of her left arm, hopeful and just asking to be eaten.
"No nonsense," she spoke. "No eating treats, they're for Meito." The girl was cross with herself. She had no willpower, how was she to travel to the city and walk back to her humble home in the outskirts without sneaking a tempting bite of a chocolate-coated apple? Her short brown hair fell in front of her face. Almond brown, her mother would state. Chocolate, her father would argue. The color of feces, her sly, nuisance of a brother Meito would mutter. They phrased it several ways, her family, but Meiko would always finish with the last laugh; her hair was brown. It's not like she was a Crayola crayon, she didn't like to be labeled. Brown, she thought. Just brown.
Meiko snuck another look at the decadent treats that were delicately placed by the candy-maker in the woven basket. How scrumptious, she thought, her mouth beginning to water. She mentally slapped herself on the face, for if she did it physically she'd earn stares from the other townsfolk casually walking beside her.
"One bite can't hurt," she bit her lip, whispering to herself. Going to sit on a glumly colored grey bench, Meiko pulled out a beautiful, sweet-toothed person's dream. A granny smith's apple covered with butterscotch coating that dripped a bit too much for her liking was gripped firmly in her hand. Taking a quick lick, she lapped up the tasty goodness. Instantly, she felt a pang of guilt. These were for her brother, a presumably smart, thoughtful boy who had been graced with the gift of knowledge; he had been accepted to college. For a small life in a small town outside a big city, this was good news. These apples were to be for celebration, not for any normal activity. Meiko was jealous, she'd admit to that. She'd been cursed with dull brain power but quick thinking, and how was sharp wit supposed to ace a math final?
"I hope he doesn't mind. Actually, he probably won't notice," Meiko convinced herself. Striding down the crowded streets once again, the petite girl started to sing to herself nonchalantly. Earning weird and sometimes delighted looks from the people around her, she pursued forward. All of a sudden, a peculiar sound started to radiate from the ground. Meiko looked around. Others seemed to hear it as well, for they paused and looked around in the same fashion as Meiko.
"What is that?" a woman somewhere behind her asked no one in particular.
"Here it comes!" an elderly man in front of her looked hopefully to the street. Down the cobbled path, a large carriage trotted. Rolling to a stop, a poster slid down from the top and displayed the purpose of the entire ruckus.
'Come visit the circus in the woods!
We feature those who have been cursed with unpleasant lives, horrid deformities, and ugly impairments!
They would be happy to show you their talents! Come see the joyful expose of the true horror these unfortunate beings experience!
We are not responsible to what happens, our show varies nightly.'
The last sentence seemed to ring in Meiko's ears. People clamored to grab fliers telling of the event, gleams of excitement in their eyes. Meiko had to admit; it sounded interesting. She'd definitely go alone, though. Meiko's family wasn't accepting of odd things and eerie, strange events such as this sort of circus. Still, Meiko had to form an excuse for going out. Quickly, her mind strained itself and came out with a simple solution; just disappear now and get there early. No one would mind. Besides, maybe she could get early access and a good spot. After the crazed crowd had nabbed most of the fluorescent yellow fliers, Meiko approached a small, timid boy with soft golden hair. He seemed normal, for the most part.
"You'll like it," he said, his voice soft and low. Then, with an abrupt pause, Meiko noticed a bandage wrapped around his right eye. "It's so much fun…" he trailed off and looked in Meiko's deep brown eyes. "I'm not the worst, you'll see." And he disappeared back into the carriage. With no more spoken, the horses tugging the carriage whinnied and started off.
"That was weird," Meiko shuddered. With a chill, she noticed how empty the streets looked. It was as if with the carriage, all of the commotion left the usually busy downtown. Meiko shrugged it off and headed down the street towards the dark, ominous woods.
"I think it's this way," Meiko thought aloud. Looking back and forth rapidly at every path's end, the curious girl was determined to find the circus. Examining every twist and turn, she stared long and hard at a thick tree with a sign plastered onto it;
'This way to the circus. <-'
About time, Meiko thought. She began to skip, as joyous thoughts flooded her head. She'd never been to a circus, nonetheless one like this. Maybe there are creepy clowns, ooh, Meito was always afraid of clowns! Meiko giggled to herself. Meito had been to the circus when he was very young, and they freaked him out. Meiko never restrained from endlessly teasing him about it, for she'd never even seen one. Meiko paused. A soft, barely hearable tune began to hum through the air. It was a melodic tune, eerie in every way. It was a harpsichord, to be precise, and they were always creepy.
"Hello! Anyone there? Is that music from the circus?" Shivers ran up and danced along her spine. A chill settled in her stomach and made her freeze.
"Why, hello m'dear, you've reached…" the voice faltered. Meiko looked around hastily and looked between two trees that arched towards one another. They were quite lopsided, and they looked rather ugly and silly. Meiko used her small ounce of strength and parted them to come face to face with…legs? "Up here, darling," A voice from the sky bellowed. It was feminine but deep. Meiko looked up, past the two limp trees, past the clouding fog that hung around their feet, and up at a woman with a polite, charming face. A long white, but almost silver-gray ponytail dangled from her hair. Was she on stilts? Or is she really that tall? Meiko wondered. The woman's legs were taller than Meiko's whole body! "Hello, darling. You've reached the Dark Woods Circus, the circus where everyone's misfortunes are everyone else's pleasures. "
"I've reached the right place, then," Meiko beamed. She was proud of herself. Usually, she would wander helplessly before getting completely and utterly lost, and then her parents' had to tarry with finding her. She felt rather accomplished. "Where do I start?"
The too-tall–to-be-human woman smiled faintly. "Through the arched gateway over there. Enjoy!" With a gesture, she stepped aside, revealing the true masterpiece. A large orange and yellow circus tent was spread out in an immense field, and a golden archway began the entrance. Meiko strained to see what else was present in the huge circus. With a hop in her step and ambition in her mind, she made her way through the gate.
As soon as she entered, Meiko felt the circus was a very desolate place. Few people littered the paths that marked ways to the exhibits, and Meiko started down one that seemed empty.
The deformed diva.
"Help…me…" a voice cried out. Meiko gasped, startled.
"Help me, please."
"Who are you?" The path was dark, lit by only the faint light of the sun as it died down and faded into night. Meiko continued walking, a little faster now. Curiosity had bitten her and turned her into a nosy bug, her intentions were set.
"I need my mother…" the voice echoed, looming in the air. "I'm so cold. Mother, help me…."
And then she saw her. A dark, rusted cage appeared through the fog. A blue haired girl with two pigtails was lying in it, sprawled out on the floor. Her hair almost entirely covered her, and she wore a pastel pink dress. She seemed pretty normal, as if she didn't deserve to be in a cage. What kind of circus is this where they imprison innocent people?!
"Where's my mother? It's cold, it's so cold!" she rolled back and forth. If this girl has a mental impairment, why are they keeping her here against her will?! She looked around the age of Meiko, if not younger. Then, the girl rolled over again and displayed her dilemma; her legs were bent and disfigured.
"Have you come to laugh at the deformed diva?"
"Have you come to hurt us?"
Voices shook and rattled around Meiko, but they didn't come from the weeping girl with awkward legs.
"We see the look of laughter in your eyes? You find it funny? You find us funny?"
Meiko was utterly confused. She was frightened, terrified. She was being ridiculed and harassed by shadows.
"Who are you? Why are you talking to me? Are you all okay?" Meiko stuttered. "Please don't hurt me!" She sank to her knees. The deformed diva stopped weeping and opened one eye. Staring with her aqua eye, she saw how much of a victim Meiko was.
"Stop! I don't think she means any harm!" the tealette shouted. The trees rustled. Silence ensued.
"Fine. I just want to protect you, Miku. It's alright," a voice cooed.
"Yes, exactly." Upon these sentences, Meiko noticed it was two separate voices; a boy and a girl. A slim, pale hand reached out and grasped a lock of teal hair. Miku sighed, calming down. Meiko tilted her head and saw another cage sat behind Miku, and a blob, fairly unrecognizable in shape, was in it. Meiko quickly sauntered around the path to observe the people sitting glumly in the cage. Instead of the blob Meiko expected to see, Meiko saw a two figures that seemed to be attached to one another.
One with two heads.
Two blondes, a girl and a boy as Meiko had presumed, appeared to be attached to one another as the result of a sewing experiment gone wrong. The boy sat and glared at her harshly, while the girl stroked the hyperventilating tealette's hair.
"It's alright," she cooed. "She means no harm, we've realized that. I'll hold you tight, my lovely Miku," the girl sang softly. A tear slipped down Meiko's pale cheek. They don't deserve this, whatever is going on. They're just trying to protect one another. "I'll hold you close…"
"Because her mother can't," the boy whispered. The girl shot him a soft glare, more like a warning look. "I'm Len," he reached out his one hand. Meiko hesitated to shake it, but eventually did to appear polite.
"Rin," the girl nodded.
"Why are you all here?" Meiko asked suddenly. It sounded rude once she spoke it, and Meiko regretted it immediately. Too fast, too soon.
"Don't you know?" Len looked into the distance bitterly. "This is the circus for people who've been cursed with deformities…"
Cursed, the word rolled off his tongue like a poem.
"And hideous faults." He sighed. "We perform for other's enjoyment. Here, have a rock; be one of the thousands who crowd to throw them in mockery. Here, gather around; let's torment kids who happen to have feelings!" Len strained to abruptly stand, tugging his twin slightly. Rin continued to play with Miku's hair, ignoring him. It was normal for him to over-react. "Do you know what it's like? Actually, it feels pretty darn good to be able to vent." He blinked out tears that had started to form around his glistening blue eyes. "Come to the show tonight," his eyes finally met Meiko's, who was frozen in fright, "You'll see what they do to us." Meiko held back tears. She wanted to cry; she wanted to run; she wanted to get out and never look back. This was too much to be real. "They made us like this," Len stated.
"We're monsters!" Miku cried despairingly. Rin hugged her friend through the iron bars, her limbs hurting. Her one arm reached around the distraught deformity.
"Run!" Rin shouted. Meiko urged her legs to move. "They're coming! They're going to start the show, hurry!" Meiko willed the legs she had to run, and she did. She didn't stop running until she came to a massive tent, the tent for the show. Gulping, she contemplated going in. This was scary; she didn't want to be there. However, a nagging force pushed her onwards, and she entered the circus tent. Was it pity? Madness? What had caused her to come here in the first place? Curiosity at its best, the brunette assumed.
After hesitating to hand the money-taker her dollar, she slapped a humble bill in his hand and he allowed her to enter. Inside, Meiko had to gasp in amazement. The seats were high and mighty, with foldable chairs and a large ring to display the show. Taking a seat near the front, Meiko noticed how crowded the place was. Did these people know what they were seeing? Did they know how horrible it really is?
"Tonight, we will show you horror, beauty, and humor!" The tall ringmaster appeared again, a smirk spread across her face. Her smile seemed malicious now, almost scary. Another tall woman, this one with a long green dress and a blonde ponytail appeared and twirled over to greet the ringmaster. They looked at each other and smiled, then clasped hands.
"Sweetie, let's call the beast!"
"We shall," the gray ponytail woman smiled in delight and clapped her hands, breaking the hold with the other woman. "Kaito-kun! We have dinner for you!" A grumbling noise echoed from behind a flap.
"Kaito want meat…" a voice with choppy speaking spoke. "Kaito hungry…."
"Kaito, come here," the taller ringmaster ushered. A dark figure in a straight jacket appeared, a crazed and delusional look spread across his face. As if rabid, his mouth foamed revolting, cloudy-white foam. He was hungry; mad. The woman walked slowly, her pace slowing every second. Meiko's heartbeat quickened. The blonde one cowered in fake fear.
A blue beast who likes to eat things cold.
"Oh, Haku, what a scary man," she cried. "Protect me. Feed him and put him out of his misery…"
Haku turned to face the crowd, who all looked at her intently. "This is my friend Kaito, let's give him a hand!" She began to clap her hands loudly, and the audience followed. "Kaito is hungry for meat. He doesn't eat the kind of meat we eat, though…" Meiko put her head in her hands. "Do you know that one person you despise, they're useless, and you need to rid of them? This disgusting being enjoys human flesh, he can dispose of anyone!" The audience clapped. Meiko's eyes widened as she stared at the ground. I'm going to be sick, Meiko gagged.
"Anyone in the audience?"
"Anyone?" She spread her arms wide in sick delight. A couple of people raised their hands. "You, my sir, someone else or yourself?" Meiko closed her eyes and day-dreamed of celebrating with her family, who seemed so far away, celebrating happier things. To her dismay, she opened her eyes to see Kaito protesting. His neck was chained to a leash that the blonde ponytail woman was holding, and the young man seemed to be taunting the poor blue haired man. People laughed and threw things at Kaito. He snarled and nipped at the stupid man who had this awful idea in the first place. He looked as if he didn't want this, as if he was forced into doing such a thing. Then, Len's words rang in her ears; "They made us like this." Was Kaito forced into cannibalism?
"I want to eat! Let Kaito eat! Eat real food! Real food!" Kaito struggled against the chain in angst. As if it couldn't get any worse, the man kicked him. Kaito slunk to the ground in fear.
"You're a beast, not a butterfly!" the man teased.
Meiko shut her eyes as his scream of agony ripped through the tent. As Kaito was dragged off back to his iron prison, Meiko prepared herself for the next act. It better be Rin, Len, or Miku next, or I'm getting out of here, Meiko thought. She couldn't handle much more. She had learned her lesson. What more could they want?
"You've witnessed how terrible rejects of society can be," Haku announced once the area was clear. Now, we need a volunteer from the audience…" she looked around. Not knowing what it was for, several people raised their hands weakly. Haku's red eyes seemed to bear into Meiko. Was she staring at her? Meiko's hands weren't raised out of fear. Haku cast a sideways glance at the shivering sixteen-year-old. "You," she pointed a gloved hand steadily at Meiko. Meiko gulped.
"What is it we'll be doing?" she asked, struggling to get out the sentence. She straightened her red dress and wiped a tear that had welled up in her left eye.
"You'll see, darling," Haku beckoned her forward in a sinister matter. The world around Meiko seemed to stare and watch her, to taunt her, to be waiting for what happened next. Meiko slowly approached the two women in the center of the tent. Haku's long body bent down so she was face-to-face with Meiko. "Liking it so far?" she asked. Meiko shook her head.
"No," she said softly.
"Hmm, we'll have to change that, won't we Neru?" Haku turned to the other tall woman, Neru, and nodded. The two women clapped in unison, and Len and Rin appeared. "These two freaks are twins, sown together by a mad man!" Haku proclaimed.
From the shadows, the twins hobbled in depression towards the center. Len's eyes were fixed on Meiko, and Rin was closing her eyes and letting Len guide her. "Hello," Len whispered once he reached her. The two long-legged ringmasters stepped aside.
"Here you go, m'dear," Haku tossed Meiko a rock. "Throw to your heart's desire," Rin cowered in fear, she knew what to expect. Len looked hopefully at Meiko.
"I can't," Meiko heard herself mutter. "That'd be like hitting a normal person…"
"Well, we aren't normal people, darling," Neru stared her down. Meiko gulped again, her hands turning ice cold.
"If you aren't accepted, why do you force others into this?" Meiko inquired.
"Shush!" silence swallowed the crowd. "Len, Rin, you deformed freaks, take her to the back. We'll discuss this later, she asks too many questions." Haku's voice lowered as she addressed the twins. With a subtle hesitation, Len grabbed Meiko arm. Meiko, in shock, gasped. Rin grabbed her other arm angrily. Rin wasn't angry at Meiko; she was angry at the circus. Her life, her situation, what was to be done, what was to come. It was the same thing that happened to Miku. Dragging her off in a respectable way in order to not arouse suspicion, the two lugged Meiko outside the tent. Outside, the cold fall air bit at Meiko's exposed skin. She truly wished for a fluffy winter sweater or a warm embrace. The two let go of Meiko's arms, and Meiko had to fumble with standing up straight due to the strange way the two had set her down. Rin looked solemnly at Len.
"Thank you," Len spoke in a hushed, whisper-like tone, "For not throwing rocks at us."
Meiko opened her mouth to speak, but was silenced by Rin's interruption, "Miku's up next. Her act is by far the worst…" her gloomy eyes, glazed in tears, looked over at Meiko.
"You're welcome." Meiko felt as if she hadn't spoken in ages, her throat was so dry. "What do they do to her?"
Rin buried her head in her shared shoulder. "They pour the hurting liquid."
"Hurting liquid?" Meiko was utterly confused.
"It burns…" Rin cringed.
"What is your name?" Len asked suddenly.
"Ah, I see. It's a pleasure…" Len drifted off. The two, one depressed, one deep in thought, didn't bother with talking to Meiko. They just waited, and waited, and waited until a high-pitched scream echoed from the tent. Rin started to cry.
"They're doing bad things to her," Len kept his voice low. "Bad things."
Meiko wish she didn't understand what he meant. "What are they going to do with me?"
"You'll see." Rin and Len spoke in unison, as if rehearsing for a horrid play acted repeatedly. Once silence covered the cold night outside the tent once again, claps erupted from the tent, and the shuffling of feet started to thunder. When it died out, Rin covered her eyes as to prevent what happened next from happening.
Haku and Neru stepped out. Neru and Haku wore the same expression; a mixture of sick joy and slight trauma. Neru grabbed Meiko's arms unexpectedly. Meiko tried to rid herself from the older woman's intense grasp, but couldn't succeed.
"What are you doing?" she roared.
"Shush!" Neru hissed. The world seemed to be fading to black. Meiko felt dizzy, and Rin and Len became sobbing blobs of yellow. Meiko felt something cold and rough enter her mouth, acting as some sort of muffling device. Meiko felt tired, confused, afraid; deeply afraid.
"See you at the circus." were the last words the befuddled girl heard.
Silence followed by silence. Pain followed by screaming. Tears followed by numbing.
I want to die.
Meiko's eyes fluttered open. She felt different, but alas, she felt safe. Secure; protected. She didn't know why. All she saw was a white room, white colors. As if white was a color. White just personified emptiness, haunting, looming emptiness. Her body felt devoid of movement. She struggled to break the binding trance that held her down. Rope, she presumed.
"She's awake. Let's get this beast to the circus."
"I am not a beast." Meiko's words drifted out slowly, as if an incomplete thought. "Where am I?"
"Where are you? Well, soon you'll be everywhere."
What could that possibly mean?
A thick, tape-like substance was stuck on her mouth. Her lips struggled to move it, but had no luck.
The world was once again chilling and dark.
"Welcome to the circus!"
A foggy memory clouded her head.
"Tonight we will show you…"
One of joy, peace, happiness.
The whole family sitting around the fire; her mom, dad, and Meito.
Meito had just made a joke about her hair.
"Feces brown," Meito snorted. "What an ugly color."
"Your hair is the same color practically!" Meiko had argued. "And besides, it's just brown."
"Lighten up." Her parents teased. "You guys make us laugh."
The whole world shook. Meiko opened her eyes. Crowds of people of all ages, some small, waiting for their innocence to be snatched away, and some older, whose innocence was gone. A brown lock of hair fell over her left eye, and she blew it away. Looking to the right, she saw Kaito, grinning a toothy grin. Looking to her right, she saw Miku, cocking her head in disappointment. In front of her, the twins sat, poised and ready. They stared at her.
Len opened his mouth, closed it, and then opened it again to speak. "Welcome to the Dark Woods Circus."
Meiko looked down at her body. She smelled rotten, and her face hurt.
"Tonight, we have a new addition; the molten mistress!"
Acid stained the girl's face.