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Circus Freak (Part 2) - A Short Story by Jaanvi Nayee

It hurt. Watching the place Mareko once loved turn into the place he feared the most. The only tolerable days were when Carmon was in a good mood and decided to give him the day to rest. On those days, Mareko would find the quietest place he could in whatever new town they were in. He sat on roof tops mostly. His tiny dose of serotonin was just sitting there, watching the birds fly, the sun set, and the night come.

This time, the crew were in a small town called Whitby. Most buildings were even easier to climb than usual, so Mareko spent the time there longing for a day off. A day when he could plan how to escape.

That day came sooner than expected. Carmon seemed to have grown fond of a lady who lived there and given the whole crew a day off. Not what Mareko was expecting because the rest of the crew at least got their weekends. Still, he thought he managed to sneak off to a rooftop far away from the world without being noticed. He had bought a few books with him so he could actually enjoy the day rather than spending the whole-time planning. Who knows how long it would be until the next one?

Mareko took the satchel off his back and took out a notebook and pen. He needed to be careful. Make sure Carmon’s circus would never find him again. He had to wait either until the next ‘off day’ or until night-time. He would have planned this before but normally with all the training and exhaustion, Mareko didn’t even have time to think before he fell into a deep sleep.

So, he began to write. He chose the next day off which might very well be soon if things worked out between Carmon and his new friend. If it didn’t, then it would probably be longer. No matter. At least it would give him time to slowly pack some things and figure out where to go. For now, he just needed to figure out how.

Mareko was in deep thought, thinking about how to escape when someone's voice broke the silence.

“What are you doing up here?” asked a light and cheerful voice belonging to Amelia.

Mareko jumped and tried to hide his book but Amelia was quicker than he thought. She snatched the book out of his hands and began to read. Her eyes grew wider with each word which made Mareko very nervous. What if she told Cameron?

In silence she gave the book back.

Quietly, Mareko whispered, “please don’t tell anyone”.

After a long pause, Amelia replied, “I’ve been wanting to leave too.”

Mareko never intended to take anyone with him but it might make it easier to survive on his own.

“Come with me”, a plea came out of his voice. Amelia didn’t normally defend herself around Carmon and the others. It hurt him to watch someone who was like an older sister to him, take on so much and not say one word in her own defence. She just took it on and pretended it never happened.

She smiled and said, “Your plan is too long. Who knows when your next day off is? We should go tonight”.

Mareko hadn’t considered leaving so soon and even if they were to, how would they be able to gather all their things so quickly without anyone noticing?

As if reading his mind, Amelia explained, “I have plenty of clothes and food in my cabin. It isn’t as if anyone ever goes in there other than me so packing will be easy. It is around lunch time right now so the crew will be out. If you can gather only the things you will need and put them in my cabin, I can pack it all up and we can leave tonight. As soon as everyone is asleep.”

She had clearly thought about this for much longer than Mareko had. The plan was perfect. They would leave tonight. “I will meet you by your cabin at midnight. Make sure everything is packed. For now, go and explore the town. Don’t raise any suspicion. I’m going to pack, and I will put my bag in your cabin. Can I have the keys?”

Amelia tossed him her key and climbed off the rooftop with such ease that Mareko wondered what else she could do that he didn’t know about. He waited a few moments and climbed off too. Amelia was right. No one was anywhere near the circus set up. Quickly, Mareko ran to his shared cabin and stuffed as much as he could into his duffle bag and put it into Amelia’s cabin, locking it up again. He went back into town, feeling rather proud of himself and sat down with his book in an attempt to waste a few hours.

When it started getting dark, he quickly made his way back to the circus. Everyone was getting ready to go into the canteen. Good timing, he thought. Filing into the line, he found Amelia and discretely shoved her keys into her hand. Without looking at her, he went inside and took his portion of stew from Martha. As he ate, he wondered how long it would be until he might be able to have a nice meal. Having the same meal every day wasn’t exactly something to look forward to. Regardless, he scoffed it down along with some bread and went back to his cabin, waiting until nightfall.

Midnight came sooner than expected. As quietly as he could, Mareko crept toward Amelia’s Cabin and tapped lightly on the door. It swung open and he stepped inside. The Cabin looked almost bare. He wondered how Amelia managed to fit everything into her bag. He nodded to her. An indication that it was time to leave. Locking the door behind them, they left the circus and went south, following the main roads toward the hills.

As they passed the houses, they heard a familiar laughter coming toward them. At first Mareko thought nothing of it. They kept walking.

A few minutes later, it sounded again. Closer this time. Carmon, Mareko realised. He should have known earlier, but it was too late now. They had been seen.

“What are you two doing?” Carmon asked loudly in a pretence anger. His eyes fell on their bags and it became real. Even worse, he wasn’t alone. Theo and Grace were with him. Of course they were. Carmon drunkenly gestured for the two to seize them.

They were still much bigger than him, but Mareko’s power was much stronger than it had been when he was a child. Grace went for Amelia and Theo charged at him, then froze.

His eyes a blaze, Mareko summoned every ounce of energy he could to create a mirage so real that even he was slightly worried. Mareko’s arms extended into enormous tentacles, more spilling out from the side of his back. He lifted Carmon and Theo off the ground, his arms wrapping tighter and tighter around their bodies.

He looked over to Amelia and she was holding on her own surprisingly well. She seemed well trained in defence herself. Grace was hardly able to push her sword on to her.

Waves of power rushed through Mareko in a blinding purple and green light. He felt as if electricity was flowing through his body, channelling every inch of rage he felt toward Carmon into the illusion.

Amelia called out and he looked over to see Grace on the ground with a large gash in her side. She was still breathing but barely. Amelia was screaming at Mareko to stop. Theo and Carmon were barely conscious. He dropped them and the illusion disappeared. Shocked by his own power and how much stronger it had become, Mareko stood paralysed as Amelia ran to Theo and Carmon. Carmon choked, and tried to speak in a sore drunkenly voice, “if you run, I will go after you, and I will find you. You’d be better off staying here”.

“I’d rather die”, Mareko replied.

Carmon laughed until he fell into a choking fit. He gasped for air and hoarsely said, “then run. No matter where you go, I will follow and I swear to you, both of you. When I find you, I will kill you.”

“You would have to catch me first”. Mareko used one last bit of magic to make the illusion of stabbing a knife into his chest. Blood flew out and Carmon wailed so loudly that Mareko thought the whole village would wake.

“Enough”, cried Amelia. She picked up Grace’s sword and took Mareko’s arm. The mirage disappeared but the two men still lay on the floor, as if it were real.

The blood disappeared and before any of the three could get up, Amelia and Mareko left. Running toward the nearest station, ready to disappear into the night forever.

By Jaanvi Nayee

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