It was a Tuesday. The second day of the Circus, the second show of the week. Peter got up bright and early, slipped on his vest and headed out the front door before his parents woke up. They didn't react very well to the news of their only son coming home late two nights in a row. Harold simply shrugged it off, happy that his son was out of the house instead of moping around over a girl who had dumped him at prom. Marion was furious to say the least. She needed to know where he was and what he was doing at all times. This would go on until her eventual death of course, she would then have to resort to haunting him after that.
As Peter neared the Carnival, he thought more about what Zazzo was up to. He crossed the field and waved at Eddie, saying a quick hello before passing through the vibrant, red archway. Pietro was already perched high in his stand like a skinny blond mother bird. His glasses were low on his nose as usual as he read through his clipboard. Sally was right where Peter had expected her to be, staring out from the corner of her Fortune Teller booth. She ducked down behind the counter as Peter passed by, afraid of being caught. Pietro simply ignored Peter, as he wasn't worth any more his time.
Peter passed through the entrance of the main tent, quickly making his way across the Main Theatre, past the stage area and into the back. Bart was helping a worker move around some of Zazzo's magic equipment and Zazzo himself was no where to be found. The other dancers walked past Peter on their way to rehearse on the main stage. They waved and giggled at him as they pushed past him and walked into the Main Theatre. All of them except for Doll.
Maxwell scurried past Peter in a rush, heading towards Zazzo's dressing room, screeching wildly and clutching his top hat with one tiny hand. The monkey began banging on the door with his little arms and fists, unable to open it himself in his panic. Peter walked over and turned the knob for him, allowing the small creature to run inside. Maxwell proceeded to climb up Zazzo's arm and perched onto the Ring Leader's shoulder. Peter peered in and the Magician smiled, waving him inside. Peter closed the door behind him.
"Ah, yes my boy! I was just looking for you!" Zazzo said brightly.
"What did you need?" the teenager asked, shoving his hands into his jacket pockets under his vest. The Ring Leader marched over to him, placing his hands roughly on Peter's shoulders.
"I'm afraid you'll have to take over as lead animal wrangler for the rest of the week. Miss Julie has taken gravely ill, I'm afraid. It's a terrible, terrible thing. Can I trust you to continue your fine job for the next few days?"
Peter simply nodded and said, "Of course, sir. I'm...very sorry to hear about Julie. I hope she'll be alright." he said, staring into Zazzo's bright pink eyes. A bunny hopped over to them and landed on Peter's foot, it fell dead asleep. The Magician smiled his usual sickly sweet smile, patting Peter's shoulders, and he laughed.
"Very well, then! I can sure count on you, Kid. I almost wish I could take you with us once we leave here, ha ha!" He slapped Peter on the back and turned away from him, walking over to his dressing table. Peter looked down at the sleeping rabbit.
"I'm sure you have people who would miss you, though. Alas." he sighed as he leaned onto the dresser and reached up to pet Maxwell on the arm. The monkey screeched happily in response, clapping his tiny hands. Peter leaned down and picked the rabbit up, it grumbled softly in his arms. He wasn't going to leave this room until he got some answers. Peter looked up at his boss.
"Sir?" he asked. Zazzo turned to Peter and Maxwell mimicked the Magician, staring at Peter with wide black eyes. Peter set the rabbit back on the ground and it hopped off to the other side of the room, nestling itself into a pile of old newspapers.
"If you don't mind, please keep me posted on Julie. She seemed like a really nice person and I really want to know how she's doing." Peter said. Zazzo gave a look of slight surprise before answering.
"Of course, son." he said. "It's good to know how loyal you are. It's a wonderful quality for such a young man." Peter simply nodded.
"Thank you sir." he said, reaching for the door knob.
"Don't forget to speak with Bart before you get to work," Zazzo said, springing away from the dressing table. "It's very important to check in with him everyday, you're doing a fantastic job at it." Peter thanked him once more and left, closing the door behind him. He may not have gotten a clear answer, but there was definitely something Zazzo wasn't telling him. As he began making his way over to Bart, he nearly bumped into Dollface. She blinked and jumped back, a bit startled.
"Oh, jeez Dollface, I'm sorry." Peter said as she composed herself.
"It's alright, Kid." she said, brushing imaginary dust off of her corset. "It takes more than a little scare to get me down." she said. "I was gettin' over to the stage, practice an' all." she smiled her little clown smile. It seemed forced. Despite the happy looking make up, she had a really sad look on her real face.
"Are you okay, Dollface?" Peter asked, genuinely concerned for her. She shook her head and smiled again.
"I'm fine," she said, a cheerier tone took over her voice. "Just a bit tired is all. The first night is always so stressful." Peter nodded.
"Did Zazzo ever tell you what I said last night?" he asked her. She smiled again and nodded happily.
"He did, yeah. Thanks Kid. It's nice to know I still have fans." she winked. Peter suddenly wondered what she really looked like under all of that grease paint. He laughed.
"You're really great, Dollface. It's easy to see who the star of the show really is." he said. She blushed under all of the paint.
"Awh, Kid. You're too sweet, thank you. Please call me Doll, all my favourite people do." If Peter couldn't get any answers from Zazzo, he was going to have to get them out of the next best thing.
"Doll," Peter said. "It suits you." She lightly slapped him on the arm.
"You're such a cutie." she said, turning her head towards the curtain. "I really gotta go though, the gals are waitin' on me." she said, blowing him a quick kiss before running towards the Main Theatre.
Peter felt bad for stringing Doll around like that, but he wasn't about to get anything out of Zazzo, he didn't have a choice. He had to know what was really going on around here. He never said that he wasn't a selfish person, after all. He walked over to Bart who seemed less than pleased to see him. He never really seemed pleased to see anyone to be perfectly honest.
"You did good yesterday, Kid. Keep it up." Bart said, with a sour tone, his arms crossed. Peter thanked him, a bit surprised at the situation. "Now get back to work." Bart snapped a bit and laughed, slapping Peter hard on the back as he walked away, still laughing. Everyone was acting pretty strangely today, more so than usual. It was his third day working at a Circus, he expected weird and strange, but this was simply unusual, even for them.
Peter was left with a bad feeling as Bart left. But he shrugged it off as best as he could and walked back into the Main Theatre. The girls were practicing their act on the main stage. Doll winked at him, sending another kiss blowing his way. He smiled and waved at her and walked towards the Sideshow tent to get the animals ready. Ricky met him at the entrance, leaning against the wall beside the curtain, almost as if he was waiting for him to arrive.
"Hey, Kid." he mumbled, a knife between his teeth. Peter was a bit startled at the first sight of him. The Australian's arms were crossed tightly across his chest, a mean look spread out on his face.
"What's up, Ricky?" Peter said, trying to break the ice. Ricky's attitude stayed frozen.
"I don't know what they've been tellin' you." he began. "But everything was just fine 'til you showed up." Peter took a deep breath before answering him.
"What do you mean?" he asked. Ricky scoffed and ripped the blade from his mouth.
"What I mean is, everything was all fine and dandy until you started working here. No missin' people, no extra attention from the boss, nothing. I don't know what's going on anymore." He used the knife to emphasize certain words by stabbing it in the air towards Peter. The teenager simply shook his head and took a step away from him.
"What missing people?" he asked. Ricky sighed hard, his free hand going up to slap his own forehead.
"Julie? Clara? Aurora!?" the smaller man snapped. Peter shook his head once more.
"What? I thought Julie was just sick?" Peter sort of lied. He knew there was more to this than what Zazzo had been telling him. This was his chance to find out the truth.
"You actually believed that shit story?" Ricky whispered loudly. "That's what everybody's been sayin', but it ain't the truth, Kid! I don't know what's really going on here, but ain't nobody sick." Peter walked a bit closer, though still cautious of the knife.
"How do you know?" he asked him in a low tone. Ricky slammed his hand onto Peter's shoulder and pulled him closer so that no one else would hear.
"Because I saw Julie five minutes before she 'disappeared'. She was doing just fine, she was going to lock up the gate to the elephant enclosure. Next thing I know, Zazzo is in here telling us that she's suddenly sick and that she can't help out with the animals anymore." Ricky looked over his shoulder before continuing.
"Then this morning, Clara suddenly disappears too, Bronx was lookin' everywhere for her. Then the same thing, Zazzo goes over to the Freak tent and tells 'em the same story." Ricky began to look very worried at this point. "Then about an hour ago, I go to find my girl to rehearse the act for tonight, maybe take her somewhere nice in town beforehand. Zazzo comes in and says Aurora got sick, that I can't go see her so I won't 'catch it too'. It's not even a good lie, Pete."
"What do you think really happened?" Peter asked him, his tone suddenly quite serious. Ricky shook his head.
"I don't know. But something's happening to them. I don't know if something's up with Zazzo or if it has something to do with you showin' up. I just want to know where my wife is, alright. I'm going crazy." Ricky backed away from him and angrily slammed the knife into the wall beside them. Peter backed away again. Ricky was clearly more than frustrated with all of this, he definitely seemed the violent type as it was. He just had more reason to be now.
"What extra attention has Zazzo been giving you?" Peter asked him. Ricky took a deep breath, trying his best to calm down.
"He's just been wandering around more recently. He usually just lets us do our thing around here, but it's like he's been supervising us a lot more since you got here. He rarely ever steps foot in the side tents, yet alone speaks to us. I know he cares about us and all, one big family and what not. But he's kind of cold sometimes, it's been too weird lately."
"What would this have to do with me?" Peter questioned. Ricky shrugged.
"I don't know that either, I don't know a lot of things, but listen. Something weird is happening around here and now my wife is involved, which means I'm involved. You're the only one I know who won't go runnin' to Zazzo about all this. You gotta help me, Kid." Peter nodded in response as Ricky sighed in relief. He slapped Peter on the back.
"I owe you one, Pete." he said. And with that, the Knife Thrower was gone as he headed back to the main area of the Sideshow tent.
Only, Peter wasn't exactly sure where to begin.
He decided to talk to Bronx first, low key though, to ensure the Strong Man wouldn't go running to Zazzo about anything like Ricky had warned him. As Peter entered the Freakshow tent, he saw the Freaks gathered around Bronx, who was on his knees on the centre stage, he was on the verge of tears. All heads, including Rodney's, turned when they noticed the odd man out enter the tent. Coral motioned Peter over to them and as he approached, she wrapped a wing protectively around the boy, who was standing on the ground beside the stage, as her other wing draped over Bronx's shoulders. Coral, who was knelt down on the stage beside Bronx, brought Peter close to her and whispered so the Strong Man would not hear.
"Clara has been quite ill since early this morning, I'm afraid that she passed just moments ago. We all must be strong, for Bronx's sake, you see. You understand, don't you?" she asked in the form of a whisper. Peter nodded his head as she brought him closer, resting her head on top of his. Coral's long, wavy pink hair fell softly into Peter's face.
The Freaks, one by one, gave Bronx a loving hug before getting back to work, mostly to occupy themselves from what had just happened. Coral released Peter to hug the Strong Man and then left with the others. Peter then turned to face him.
"Bronx?" he said sadly. The man refused to look up at Peter, but still listened to what he had to say. "I'm so sorry," Peter began. "I can't even begin to imagine how you must feel, but...I'm really sorry..." Peter said, turning away as the Strong Man started to cry.
"Thank you, Peter." Bronx said gravely as Peter turned away. Peter mumbled a response to himself and exited into the Main Theatre. That's not exactly what he expected to happen, he had no clue now to what he was going to do. He knew Julie's husband worked with the animals like she had, but he didn't know his name or face, and it would have seemed quite strange to be asking around considering this had to be hush hush.
By now the entire Circus family was aware of Clara's untimely demise. She was a very young girl, only twenty five years old, twenty years younger than her Strong Man husband, but no one ever really seemed to judge. Not in the family anyway. It just didn't seem right to Peter, how did such a young woman, who was perfectly healthy the night before, get so sick so suddenly and die only a few hours later? There had to be more to this. Much more.
Peter made his way back to the Sideshow tent where Ricky gave him a nod and a strange look as he passed by. Peter simply shrugged, his hands in his jacket pockets. Peter looked around the tent, people were everywhere now, doing odd jobs and getting the animals prepared for Peter to send them to their proper places for the show. Peter spotted a strong looking man in the corner of the tent. He had shaggy blond hair and wore a blue and green skin tight suit. A leash in his right hand was connected to the collar that was around the neck of a rather large, yet friendly looking, lion. The man looked quite upset. Peter slowly walked up to him.
"You wouldn't happen to be Julie's husband, would you?" the teenager asked. The green eyed man turned his head away from the tame lion and focused his attention on Peter.
"Yes, I am actually." he said. He held his free hand out to Peter. "Carter," he said as he shook Peter's hand. Peter told him his name as he let his hand go.
"Have you heard anything else about her today?" Peter asked him. Carter shook his head sadly.
"They just said she's not doing so well. It's a scary thought, you know. They've already lost Clara just today, plus..." he hushed his tone to a whisper. "Not to mention, Aurora is quite ill now... From what I've heard, that is." he said quietly.
Peter nodded and glanced over at a still very concerned Ricky, who was throwing knives at an empty board. The lion yawned widely and then settled down into a deep sleep.
"I think he's pretty worried as well, don't you think?" Carter asked Peter as he motioned towards the Knife Thrower. Carter loosened his grip on the leash a bit. Peter agreed, still looking at Ricky.
"Do you know what happened?" Peter asked Carter. The blond shook his head.
"They said she just got really sick on the way to settle the elephants down for the show. They said I can't see her either, apparently whatever she has is catchy. I don't know..." he sighed.
"I hope she gets better soon," Peter said. Carter nodded sadly and then smiled a bit as if to hide his sadness. Peter then started to put the animals out and get them ready for the show. He was bringing out the horses when he saw Zazzo and Doll on the centre stage, they seemed to be arguing, so Peter acted as if he wasn't paying any attention to them as he pretended to focus on the horses. He brought both animals up and tied them to the post in front of the left stage where another wrangler would put them in the right place later on for the show.
Peter couldn't make out much of the conversation, though they never seemed to notice him standing there. The two of them continued to bicker as Peter turned to go get the bear from the Sideshow. He managed to catch a few key words like before.
"What do you mean she died? First Clara and now...no. No... Zazz, you don't mean that..."
One of the other girls had died, and Peter wasn't sure which one. He knew what he had to do, whether he wanted to do it or not. Peter brought the bear out into the Main Theatre just as Zazzo was leaving to go backstage. Doll still looked sad despite her happily painted face. Peter secured the bear so he wouldn't wander away and walked up to the stage where the little clown was.
"Doll?" Peter asked. She looked down at him from the stage, a sad look still spread across her pretty face. "Are you alright?" he asked her. She shook her head and her loose black curls bounced around her head.
"Zazz is just being mean again, that's all." she said, a tear dropped down her face, it didn't even smear her make up. Peter sighed and climbed onto the stage.
"Does he do this often?" he asked. Doll looked down and closed her eyes.
"Sometimes," she started as she brushed the tear away. "He just gets mad sometimes, it's fine." she tried to smile.
"You really care about him, don't you Doll?" Peter said. She looked up at him with her big, grey eyes.
"I do." she said simply. "How could ya tell?" she asked. Peter smiled.
"Because girls don't put up with that kind of guy unless she really cares about him." he replied with a slight smile. She looked down again and nodded.
"I guess you're right, Kid." Doll said, turning her head towards the closed backstage curtain.
"But you're okay, though?" He asked. Doll nodded again and smiled.
"Yeah. You're startin' to learn how he really is, aren't ya? He's like three different people, ya know? Around the family, he's all caring and loving. Around the audience, during shows, he's brave and daring and wonderful in every single way. But the other him, the real him... He's cold, and mean and awful. He acts like he doesn't really love any of us. Like we're his workers and not a real family. He's not like that often, only when things like this start happenin'." Peter cocked his head to the side.
"Things like what, Doll?" he asked. Her eyes went wide and she looked like a deer in headlights.
"W-well. I'm not really supposed to talk about it...but..." Peter instantly felt horrible about putting her in this situation, like he had stabbed himself in the heart. These people were treating him like a member of their family, and this is how he's repaying them? By spying on them to answer a few of his burning questions?
"I mean, I really don't know anything about it, so I'm probably not the best person to ask, y'know. But a long time ago, we had this Opera Singer, Judy. She jus' disappeared one day, without a single trace, or nothin'. I asked Zazz about it, thinkin' maybe she just ran away or left or somethin'. He said she had gotten sick and died. Jus' like that. So when it started again, this mornin', I asked Zazz. I said, "Zazz, Clara died jus' like Judy did, right?" And he says, "Yeah, Doll. Jus' like Judy." And so I ask him, I say, "Well, how did she die? What happened?" He wouldn't tell me, Peter." Doll took a shaky breath and Peter put his hand on her shoulder. She put her hand on top of his and continued her story.
"He always tells me everything, I don't know what happened. He just won't tell me, Petey." She looked up at him once more, her made up face was smiling, but her eyes were the saddest Peter had ever seen them.
"I'm sure he doesn't mean it, Doll." he said, trying his best to comfort her. She smiled a genuine smile and stood up straight.
"I know. It's just discouraging, ya know." Peter nodded in agreement.
"And now with Julie gone, I don't really know what to do." she said sadly, without fully realizing what she had said. Alarms went off in Peter's head. It was just what he needed to hear.
"I'm sure everything's going to be just fine, Doll." he reassured her. She sighed but smiled brightly, thanked him once more and skipped backstage to find her Ring Leader. Peter practically ran to the Sideshow tent, nearly knocking over a bunch of boxes and equipment as he made his way back to report to Ricky. He found the Knife Thrower right where he had left him. Only now he was sitting on the dirt floor with his back against the wooden board, with about fifty knives sticking out from it. His head was in his hands.
"Ricky!" Peter shouted. The Knife Thrower's head flew up at the sound of his name. He signaled for the boy to keep quiet as he was starting to attract attention from the other workers. Peter knelt down beside him and told him all about what he had learned about Julie, the argument and what Doll and Carter had said about her. Ricky looked even more worried than before.
"Julie's dead, huh?" he said, mostly to himself. "Nothing about Aurora?" he asked, almost hopefully. Peter shook his head.
"I didn't hear anything." he said. Ricky grasped his head in his hands.
"I know what's coming, Kid. I just don't want to believe it." he sighed. Peter put a hand on Ricky's shoulder.
"You don't really think Zazzo is killing people, do you?" Ricky shook his head and grumbled.
"I don't know what to think anymore, Kid." he said. "But at this point, nothing would surprise me."
Soon after, Zazzo announced the death of Julie to the rest of the family, Carter of course taking the hardest hit out of everyone. The show was called off for the night, to let everyone take a break and if Zazzo saw it fit, they'd cancel the next night's show as well. Ricky paced nervously up and down the floor of the Sideshow tent, not so patiently awaiting the news of his wife's fate. He had made a huge scene at the announcement of Julie's death, so huge in fact that it cleared out the entire tent, leaving the Australian all alone with his knives.
When Zazzo came to him later with the news about Aurora, Ricky practically lost control. He took a razor sharp knife in each hand and tore and slashed until the wooden board was nothing but a pile of splinters. His screams and cries echoed throughout the Carnival grounds. The rest of the family had gathered outside and bowed their heads in anguish and cried along silently with their beloved Knife Thrower.
Carter and Bronx were no where to be found, obviously not wanting to see anyone, having received the same news as Ricky had just a few hours earlier. The sun had already set, it was far past showtime and everyone was just standing outside of the tent, huddled together. Sally stood near the back of the group, tears slowly running down her face. An arm quickly wrapped itself around her shoulders and she looked up through her tears to see a very familiar blond man beside her, softly comforting her. Sally turned into Pietro's arms and cried into his chest.
Peter stood towards the front of the group, next to Doll, who had her head down. She was crying and confused and wondering where her Zazzo was. Zazzo of course was still inside somewhere with Bart. He had asked everyone to stay outside while the bodies were prepared, only he and Bart were allowed to see them.
"What if we all get the illness?" Doll whispered. Peter turned his head to her and frowned, putting his arm around her tiny shoulders.
"That won't happen, Doll." he assured her. Cold rain began to slowly fall from the sky, soaking everyone to the bone. The icy drops landed on Doll's face, combining with her tears, it didn't even mess up her perfectly painted face. When she started to shiver, Peter wrapped her in his arms and led her inside the Main Theatre, regardless if Zazzo was ready or not. The Theatre was dark as he led her to the bottom of the stands and sat her down. The other family members followed them and headed to the sleeping areas and trailers backstage, behind the tents. Peter took off his vest and threw his jacket over Doll's shoulders. She thanked him and held it closer to her chest. He sat down beside her and pulled her safely into his side. Doll leaned her head on his shoulder and continued to cry.
"Doll," Peter and Doll looked up to see Zazzo standing in front of them, a bitter look on his face.
"It's time to go now, Doll." Zazzo said sternly, his usual friendliness had completely vanished. Doll looked up at Peter and gave him a weak smile. She slipped the jacket off of her shoulders as she stood and handed it back to Peter. She walked slowly over to Zazzo's side as he pulled her into his arm, giving Peter a glare before taking Doll backstage. Peter just stood there, hair wet and sticking to his head, jacket and vest in his hands, all alone in the Main Theatre.
He shook the water from his head with his hands and smoothed his hair back down before putting his jacket and vest back on. He took one last look at the backstage curtain before heading outside and crossing the field back to Secret. The rain had drenched far enough into his skin to chill him to the bone as he entered town. Posters for the Circus that were plastered on every building and business in town, were now peeling off the walls from the rain, they landed in wet piles of mush on the muddy ground. Peter walked up to the doors of Early's Diner and walked inside. Katie Early, the usual waitress, daughter of the owner and a fellow classmate, saw Peter walk in and ran to the back, bringing back a large towel for him.
"Hey, Pete. You get caught in the rain?" she joked, handing him the towel from across the counter. Peter laughed and took it from her.
"Something like that." he said. Katie giggled.
"Just go sit down somewhere, I'll bring you the usual. You look like you need it." Peter nodded and took a corner booth by the window, wrapping the towel around his shoulders. He leaned his head back against the vinyl and sighed. Right back where he started. Just as Katie brought him his usual three double chocolate shakes, the diner door swung open.
It all happened in slow motion.
She walked in so gracefully through the doorway, her long brown hair bounced and swung in the air as she shook the droplets of rain away. Her bright green eyes shined so brightly in the pasty florescent diner light. Her light brown skin seemingly glowed. Emma looked perfect as always. Peter's heart sunk as she headed his way, though she hadn't even seen him yet. It wasn't until her brother walked through the door did Emma finally take notice of Peter.
"Hey, Pete." Marcus said awkwardly as he looked up to see his best friend wrapped up in a towel, with three full shake glasses on the table in front of him. Emma's smile quickly faded. "I didn't see you there, buddy." Marcus laughed, running a hand through his shaggy black hair. Peter pulled one of the glasses closer to him as Katie hurried back to the counter to take care of another customer. Peter downed half of one glass.
"Hey, Marcus." he replied. His friend laughed ironically again. "What happened to you getting a job at the Circus?" Peter huffed, his eyes still locked onto the glass.
"It...didn't work out." Marcus answered, looking over to his sister. "So, I guess you two haven't seen each other in a while..." Marcus said as he sat down at the booth in front of Peter's. Emma followed him. Peter shook his head.
"I didn't think she wanted to see me." he said, downing the other half of the shake. Emma scoffed and swung her purse down on the seat beside her.
"I really didn't, Peter." Emma said. Peter gave a weak laugh and slid the empty glass across the table and grabbed the next full one.
"Really? That sure didn't stop you from asking me for help on your 'summer homework'." he said, bringing the second glass up to his mouth. Marcus sighed deeply and Katie simply walked into the back to avoid the confrontation. Emma turned around in the booth to face her now ex.
"Oh wow, Pete. Excuse me." she said sarcastically, her voice beginning to rise. Peter chugged the entire second glass in seconds despite how cold he was from the rain.
"I just love it, Emma. How you can dump me at prom, in front of everyone, and then just expect to use me when ever you feel like it. Wow, that's just great." Peter said, slamming the empty glass on the table as the rain began to pound into the windows. He reached for the third and final glass as Emma stood up.
"You spilled punch all over my two hundred dollar dress, Peter!" she snapped.
"It was an accident, Emma! I don't know what you want me to do! I said I was sorry, I took your dress to goddamn Carlsville to get it dry cleaned. I did everything you wanted and you still dumped me. I get it, just leave me alone, Emma." She scoffed yet again and sat back down, a victory smile now on her face. Peter took care of the third and final shake, slammed it down and stood up. He walked over to the counter and tossed the damp towel back to Katie who had been peeking out from behind the kitchen door.
"Put it on my tab, Katie!" Peter said as he walked out the door into the pouring rain.
"I know you're good for it!" Katie replied with a smile.
Peter felt sick. For several reasons. One, he had just seen Emma for the first time since she publicly embarrassed him in front of the entire class and two, he just downed three large double chocolate shakes in under five minutes, which until now, he didn't think was even possible. Peter sighed and reached into his pocket to fish out his phone. It wasn't there. He cursed himself as he searched his other pockets. Just as he was about to go back inside the diner and face his worst fears again, he realized. He had left it in the Sideshow tent.
He was already halfway home, but he needed that phone. The rain had slowed down enough for him to cross the field and get back to the Circus grounds in about ten minutes. He made his way past the ticket booth, the red archway and through the dark and empty grounds and finally into the Main Theatre. It was dark inside the tent and from what Peter could tell, no one seemed to be around, no one had even bothered to lock up. He didn't want it to look like he was snooping around after hours, so he maneuvered his way through the dark to the black curtain and into the Sideshow tent.
He back tracked and finally remembered that his phone had been left on one of the wooden fences where the elephants were kept in the day time. Peter jogged over to the fence and picked up his phone, the battery long dead, but at least he found it. As he slipped it into his now dry enough pocket and turned to leave, he heard a sudden loud noise behind him, coming from the backstage area. His heart jolted as the noise scared him enough to make him jump. He turned to fully face where the noise had come from. It sounded off again, echoing loudly throughout the Fairgrounds.
Peter jumped behind a stack of crates as the sound boomed through again, louder this time. It sounded like several miniature atomic bombs had gone off all at once. He should have turned around right then and there and gone back home. He was coming back in the morning for work anyway, he should have just gotten his phone then. Peter quickly stood up, ran past the curtains and into the Main Theatre. Just as Peter was about to go outside and run until he was locked behind the safety of his front door, he had a sudden thought.
"No." Peter said to himself. Suddenly feeling extremely brave and a bit stupid, he turned and started walking towards the backstage curtain. He ducked under the heavy black cloth just as another loud boom rang through the tents.