The circus. For years, before we had movies and TV and computers and video games, people went to see circuses for their entertainment. They'd crowd into hot, sweaty big tops to see women swinging from their hair or people up high, risking their lives on tightropes.
Even today, you can see the circus and its influence. From modern day troupes, like Cirque du Soleil and Cirque Berzerk, to not quite so plain reinventions, like the March Fourth Marching Band.
However you feel about the circus and the carnival (Let's face it, we're not talking about an industry well-known for ethics), the wonder, the mystery, the sheer thrill of it has never faltered.
But what happens when there's more there than tricks and training? What happens when the inexplicable really is inexplicable? That's what I wanted to explore. That's where Zirkua Fantastic came from. What if you really couldn't help but be sucked in by a ringmaster's spiel? What if that strongman really was as powerful as he looked? What if a tightrope walker could cheat death, because she couldn't fall?
What if all the magic was real? And what if that magic suddenly lashed back?
As the caravan rambled down the interstate, Tobias rolled onto his side. The prop wagon wasn't the most comfortable. He'd have to opt out of practice to sleep once they got the tent up. No hope for that here.
He tossed aside the air silk he'd been using as a blanket and sat up, looking around, listening to the truck's tires thud across potholes and cracked pavement. He checked the straps holding the crates, tightened one that had loosened on the drive. "Crap." If one came loose, others could, too. He pushed himself off his stack of crates and toppled when they hit a particularly nasty bump. "When was the last time they fixed up this road?" He dragged himself up and stumbled toward the rear door of the truck, cranking straps tighter as he went. Once he got used to the movement, he sped up, tightening down all the cargo in fifteen or twenty minutes. Only the first strap had come loose.
Wood scraped against wood. His heart beat faster, breath catching. He scanned through the truck. Nothing had moved, to his eye. "Just another bump." Palm pressed to his chest, he tried to force his heartbeat back down to something normal. "Nothing to worry about."
He sat back on his crates and wrapped himself in the air silk. Sleeping or not, he needed a barrier against the cold and, though he would never admit it, it left him feeling safer, more protected against whatever probably wasn't in the truck with him. He scanned the boxes a final time, just in case he had missed something.
Still nothing out of place. Not that Tobias could see much in the dark. He tossed the silk over his head and lay down on the crates, desperate for some semblance of sleep. He sucked in a deep breath. The silk smelled like tobacco.
He heard some kind of rustling and flipped the silk back over his head. Cerulean eyes filled his gaze. The familiar, heady scent rushed into his nostrils. "Marley."
"You sound surprised."
"A little." Marley lifted the silk and climbed in next to Toby, snuggling up so close his scent filled the cocoon. Nice to have you here. "I mean, this is an artist's wagon. It's not really the sort of thing you do."
He chuckled, hot breath cascading over Toby's back. "That's not quite true." He kissed Toby's neck, sending a chill racing along the corded muscles. "I end up in the prop wagon most nights."
"Do you?" He did his best to sound unfazed. In reality, he fought back warm, nervous laughter. "I'd think I would have noticed."
"Well, you did this time."
"So I did." Toby scooted closer, relishing in Marley's warmth. "And I'm very happy about it." He leaned his head against Marley's chest. The slight movement of the fabric wafted more of the intoxicating perfume into the space. "How much longer 'til we get to the next town, you think?"
"I'd give it an hour. Maybe a little more. If I'm any good at guessing distance." Marley pulled Tobias even closer. "You need to get some sleep, babe."
"Not if it's only an hour." He turned over and nuzzled into Marley's shirt, staring up into bright blue eyes. "I'd still be completely useless with only an hour's sleep." He yawned, and then slapped Marley across the arm. "Stop being so damn warm." The end of the sentence got muddled by a second, gaping yawn. "It's like sleeping with a space heater."
"You can't blame me for being hot. In fact, I remember you thanking me profusely on more than one occasion for it."
"Well, it's not very helpful when I'm trying to stay awake."
Marley chuckled. "Then get off."
He nestled closer in response, muttering into Marley's chest. "It's not that unbearable."
Marley wriggled his hand under Toby's chin, lifted his face, kissed him. "I figured that much."
Don't let anyone know, but I managed to steal the list of upcoming performances. I'm posting it here so we can all get a few shows under our belts.
October 23: http://vossfoster.blogspot.com
October 24: http://iyanajenna.blogspot.com
October 25: http://jaletaclegg.blogspot.com
October 26: http://sevantownsend.blogspot.com
October 27: http://prizmbooks.blogspot.com
October 28: http://openonemore.com
October 29: http://francespauli.blogspot.com
Just don't let anyone know that I gave you this... I don't know that they'd be happy.