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Dreaming of the Circus

by BP | Score: 6200

Rip hadn't slept in days. Wavy lined adorned everything his eyes fell upon. Cars. Windows. Like a heat mirage wafting into the air. Everything shimmered.

The pamphlet arrived in the mail. Tuesday? Maybe Monday. Did mail come on Sundays? His mind slithered through the possibilities, a beaten mound of moist dough sluicing through logic, pieces of it breaking off and falling through cracks in his mind.

He needed to sleep. He knew he wouldn't

This thought above all others is what brought brought him to the Circus. Emblazoned in thick, archaic, medieval-looking type print, the pamphlet had hailed the circus as a once in a lifetime event. That word, with it's broad, sharp horizontal lines striking out from stoic vertical shafts. The "E"s and "T" turning the word into a weapon. A terrifying hilt begging to be clasped and wielded. Rip didn't remember agreeing to go. Didn't recall the moment curiosity bled into confirmation before ossifying into action. One day he was home, his eyes cast down on the pamphlet in his hand. The next he was there, standing in the plaza outside city hall, the giant tent billowing before him.

"One night only." Signs screamed. "An event unlike anything you've ever experienced." If that were true, Rip was glad whatever alien instinct had brought him here. If for only one night he could forget, could let the pain of his unceasing mind wash away and provide him with a single night of relief then it would be worth it.

A man with thick handlebar mustache, candy-striped shirt, suspenders, and a straw hat hollered from behind his food cart. Rip felt himself fall into a trance. Shoulders, back, knees all slackened and he drifted forward on what felt like clouds. The vendor's eyes drifted to him once, twice, but never settled, never startled. As if Rip wafting toward him in a haze was the most natural, predictable thing in the world. Perhaps it was.

"Popcorn! Candy! Twenty-five cents!" The man shouted to the plaza, then, as if with a simple lowering of his head, he voice dropped and the world at large fell away, draped over with a heavy curtain. "Be right with you. sir. Peruse at your leisure."

Then he was back up, his back straight, shoulders level. "Can't enjoy the show without a donut whole. Can't kick up your feet without a treat. Soda. Popcorn. Cotton candy."

A wave passed through Rip's body. Starting at his ankles. His feet, weirdly, felt anchored to the ground. Bolted to the spot so that no matter how much his body shook, he understood he would never fall.

"Soda." Rip's voice emerged from his throat, a strange somber whisper. But without a second glance, the vendor heard him and had produced a bottle before Rip had a chance to question whether he had actually ordered the drink or not.

Money passed hands. They had to. Though Rip didn't recall producing any. As he walked toward the tent's entrance he tried remembering the feel of his hand in his pocket, the thick hem of his jeans scratching the back of his hand while he fished for change. Nothing.

It didn't matter. The conveyor belt he found himself on, spiriting him toward the Circus, didn't care. Didn't slow down or hesitate in the slightest. He had a drink. The Circus was starting. Nothing else mattered.

Smoke billowed from the tent. A thick, wispy fog that crawled across the ground before wafting up in great curls, like a tiger's claw swiping upward, it's fingers clasping in a fist, both beckoning and threatening him.

Lights flashed. In the smoke it looked like lightning, or explosions. Bursting in great yellow starbursts they struck something in side Rip, each time they flared he could feel his heart matching them. Beating in sync with the explosions. Bump, bump, BUMP, bump, bump, BUMP.

Sweat coated his palms. He had no reason to be nervous, yet his body vibrated with it. A sense of approaching an edge. The tangible feel of passing through a threshold. The smell of popcorn wafted toward him, riding high on the fog. The raucous impatient buzzing of the crowd. His pulse seemed to match it. To strain against his veins. His body begged him to keep walking. To pass through. To be a part of it.

The flashes of light grew larger. More frequent. The fog towered over him. Clamboring up the walls of the tent it blocked out everything except the smell, the noise, and that light. He blazed from within the tent. A powerful, blazing eye. The warmth of it washed over him and as he took a breath, he seemed to take all of it into his lungs, the smell, the sound, the fog, and the light.


Rip woke with a start. His body chastised him as soon as he moved. Neck, back, shoulders. It all ached from being left out on the chair. A discarded shirt tossed onto the uneven surface. He didn't remember falling asleep.

He'd been in the living room, sipping a hot drink by the fire. The flames had long since died out--lucky there as it had been going quite strong earlier in the night. The winter had been long, and particularly cold and so he had taken to building fires and having a warm drink to help him sleep. Apparently they hda finally worked.

Completed challenges

The following challenges were completed during the writing exercise:

Begin Start typing to begin
Event Your character hasn't slept in days
Words Reach 50 words
Location A circus
Words Reach 100 words
Letter Use the letter Y
Words Reach 200 words
Words Reach 300 words
Words Reach 400 words
Prop Include a bottle of soda
Words Reach 500 words
Words Reach 600 words
Words Reach 700 words
Words Reach 800 words
Event Winter is long and extremely cold

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