z
  • Home

Young Writers Society


16+ Violence Mature Content

Percy’s Plight

by vampricone6783


Warning: This work has been rated 16+ for violence and mature content.

*This is the origin of a character from my story “The clown with the artificial doll eyes”. This story takes place in 1943. Gacha Club character designs are on my wall. Enjoy!*

Introduction

THE ELSDALE CIRCUS FRONT ENTRANCE

Percy Hatchett, sixteen years old, stared at the glimmering circus before him. It was the only other place he thought of going to besides home. After what he did at the dinner table, he didn’t see how he’d be allowed back again.

Percy sighed. It was his only shot. The one place in the entire town that accepted outcasts and freaks. The place with the other people, like him.

To Elsdale circus he went!

Chapter One

Percy walked amongst the audience, unnoticed by everyone. He just had to find the ringmaster.

“You’re looking awfully worried for the circus.” A voice with an easy, confident air commented.

Percy turned around, heart pumping.

There he was. The great, the powerful, the astounding…

“Leopold Shapcott?” Percy asked.

“Yes, it is I, the amazing Leopold Shapcott! What troubles you, my child?” He asked, putting a hand on Percy’s shoulder, eyes concerned.

Percy blinked the tears out of his eyes. He couldn’t cry in front of Leopold, that would be embarrassing.

Too late. The tears were already falling from his eyes.

“I…I…I have nowhere else to go…” He sniffled between sobs.

Percy wanted to say so much more, he wanted to spill it out, but his cries were choking his words.

“It’s alright. I understand completely. Come with me. You’re one of us now.” Leopold said softly.

“Really?” Percy asked, wiping a tear from his eye.

“Yes. You belong here.”

Yes, he did.

Chapter Two

LEOPOLD’S TRAILER

After Leopold led Percy to his trailer, he slammed the door shut and asked Percy:

“Alright, what can you do?”

Percy went on all fours on the ground. Then, he grabbed his left leg and bent it behind his back, as if it were mush. He did the same with his right. He tied both of his legs into a knot. Only his hands held him up.

“You’re a contortionist?”

“A what?” Percy asked. He never heard of such a term before.

“Someone who can bend their bones. A contortionist. That’s you.” “ I think I’ve got something for you.” Leopold grinned.

Chapter Three

“What?” Percy asked, untying himself.

“You’re Slinky the Bendable clown.”

The way Leopold said it made the words final, made the words true.

Slinky the Bendable clown. Of course! It was perfect! It was just right for him!

Percy was home.

Chapter Four

BEHIND THE CIRCUS

“I’d like you to meet the gang.” Leopold said, leading him out of the trailer.

“That’s Prudence, the ballerina.”

A young girl in an iridescent pink tutu waved at him.

“Here are the singing twins, Celia and Delia.”

Two little girls sang their hearts out, ignoring Percy and Leopold.

They came across a man who was setting up cards on a table covered in purple cloth, dotted with silver stars.

“And finally, our magician, Caspian.”

“You know all of our animals, of course.”

Yes, Percy did. There were more animals than humans in the circus. He sometimes wondered how they were all taken care of, animals and humans alike.

But of course, Leopold did everything. That was just how wonderful he was.

“Now that you know everyone, go to Prudence. She’ll show you your trailer. Performances start at nine tomorrow.” Leopold said.

Percy looked up at the dark violet sky. When did it become twilight so fast? Back at home, it took forever for the sun to go down.

Better get to bed. There was a big day ahead of him.

Chapter Five

PERCY’S TRAILER

Prudence was quiet the entire time they walked. When he tried to make conversation, she just ignored him.

But when they finally got inside Percy’s trailer, she slammed the door shut, eyes wide, and warned:

“Be careful.”

Percy blinked in shock. Be careful? What was there to be careful about? This was Elsdale circus, the most wonderful and joyful place on Earth!

“Mr. Shapcott has been getting more animals lately. Dangerous, feral animals. One time I caught him talking to himself, something about death. I couldn’t catch much. He’s done nothing, but he will one day.”

“But he hasn’t done anything. You’ve been with him for years, you should know that Leopold-“

“Mr. Shapcott. He won’t allow you to call him anything else.”

“But-“

“Just be careful.”

As Prudence walked away, Percy couldn’t help but wonder if her words were true. They weren’t, of course, but still.

It lingered in his head.

Chapter Six

THE NEXT MORNING

Percy opened the door to his trailer, in full makeup and costume. The sun glared into his eyes, nearly blinding him.

It was a new day. The day. People would appreciate him for who he was!

Prudence did look terribly worried last night.

No matter. She was just trying to distract him. He wouldn’t pay any attention to her.

Percy had to focus on the present, that was all.

Chapter Seven

FLASHBACK-DINNER NIGHT

“Do it, Percy! Do your trick!” Lillie chanted. They were all at the dinner table, he, his sisters, Lillie and Sadie, and their parents. Lillie, the middle child, wanted to see him bend himself, like he always did.

“You know the rules, Lillie. He’s not allowed to do it during dinner.” Dad said gently.

“It’s okay. I’ll do a little twisting of my arms and that’s it.” Percy said. He didn’t want to break the rules, but he also didn’t want Lillie to be upset.

Plus, he liked doing it.

But Lillie frowned, eyebrows creasing.

“That’s not what I’m talking about, Percy. I’m talking about your other trick. Your cooler one!” Lillie exclaimed.

At this, Mom and Dad got worried. Sadie, though only two and eating her fist, seemed to sense the discomfort, for her eyes got wide with fear.

Percy had another trick, one he didn’t like too much. He called it “rapid decay”. All he had to do was think about death and then, just like that, his body would rot. Maggots would magically appear to eat his flesh.

But he wasn’t the only thing that would decay. The person closest to him would too deteriorate. Percy found out the hard way, with his first and only friend.

The way to bring him back was to call out his name really loud. It’d take a while for Percy to hear, for he went into a state similar to actual death, but after some time, he’d come to.

If the person next to him decayed, then it was too late for them.

The person next to him happened to be Lillie.

“No, Lillie. It’s too dangerous. I’m just going to bend and that’s it.” Percy said, getting up from his chair. All he had to do was a little bending and that was all.

But Lillie grabbed his wrist and whispered:

“Remember Wyatt?”

No. He couldn’t think about it, he mustn’t think about it, it was so long ago, he had to…he had to forget….

Already he was sinking into his chair…it was crawling into the corners of his mind…no…no…no…

It was three years ago. Percy and Wyatt were thirteen, Lillie was seven. The three of them were outside, in the backyard. There were clouds out, like it was about to rain, but nothing came down.

“Do your trick!” Wyatt pleaded. Lillie nodded in agreement. She loved seeing the trick.

“Not now, guys. Let’s just do something else.”

“Come on, please? Just for a little bit? It’s so awesome!” Wyatt said.

“Me and Lillie will stand far away. How does that sound?”

“I guess it could work.” Percy said, shrugging. If they stood away from him, nothing would happen.

Percy ran a few feet from Wyatt and Lillie. He closed his eyes and thought of the dead bird he and Wyatt saw the other day. It was so rotten, so gone…

“PERCY, STOP!” Lillie called out.

Percy blinked his eyes open. No…no…

“You were out for a while.” Lillie said.

Lying next to Lillie was…was…was Wyatt. Rotten, dead, Wyatt.

But how? He stood a few feet away from them.

Percy looked down at his arm, where the rot had been felt the most. It made a path down his arm to the grass, which turned said grass brown, and traveled to Wyatt, infecting him.

“I killed Wyatt.” Percy said, realization settling in.

His lifelong friend, dead because of him.

“It’s not that bad…you didn’t mean to…it’s okay…”

But it wasn’t okay. How could it be okay? Wyatt would never laugh or smile again. Wyatt wouldn’t ANYTHING ever again. He would just be a mass of meat, overrun by the Earth, unnoticed by all…

“Percy!” Mom called out.

Percy opened his eyes. He was sitting on the chair, rot running from his arm…Lillie had rot on her arm. More than that, her hand was all bone.

Lillie didn’t seem fazed, though. Probably because it was all disappearing and she wasn’t actually dead.

Mom and Dad looked like they had enough. Sadie just watched silently.

“You almost killed Lillie. Do you know that?” Mom asked, a tinge of anger in her voice.

“Yeah, but I started it!” Lillie said.

“I don’t care, Lillie. He still did it.”

“I didn’t mean to! I was trying to stop!” Percy argued. He didn’t want to hurt her, he never did. They knew it better than anyone, his parents.

Didn’t they?

“I love you, Percy. But you’re a danger to everyone around you. You need to leave.”

“But-“

“You heard your mother.”

“But it’s not his fault!”

“Lillie, stop. It’s for the best.” Mom said. Her voice told them all that the decision was final, that Percy would leave for good.

Percy took one last look at his distressed family, holding the tears down, before he walked out the front door.

Chapter Eight

“And now introducing, the flexible, the moveable, the bendable…”

Percy waited behind the curtains. It was his act, his time. He was ready.

“Slinky the clown!”

No time to wait, no time to hide.

Chapter Nine

Percy smiled at the crowd, who he could see were anticipating his first move. It wouldn’t be like what happened with Wyatt. It couldn’t, it wouldn’t-

Lillie has the prettiest smile.

A collective gasps of “oohs” and “aahs” as he folded his spine behind his legs.

She would have loved to see this.

Percy crawled from out of his legs, a perfect spider. The crowd cheered, but he wasn’t done yet.

He stood on only his arms, legs in the air, toes touching his head.

Because that was stupendous to them, the crowd rose up and gave Percy a standing ovation.

Percy grinned at them all, relieved that it all went well. That the crowd would live for the next day.

Chapter Ten

AFTER THE SHOW

Everyone was leaving, satisfied with all that they saw. Percy would have left too, but the little girl holding a baby looked a lot like Lillie…but she couldn’t be Lillie…could she?

As she ran closer to the stage, holding the baby, Percy realized that it was none other than Lillie holding Sadie.

“I know it’s you.” Lillie said when she was right in front of him.

“Okay? What are doing here?” Percy asked.

She shouldn’t be at the circus, she should be back at home, with our family.

“I-I just want you to come home.” Lillie said, eyes blurred with tears. Sadie herself seemed to hide sadness.

“Does Mom and Dad want me home?” Percy asked. Though the circus was nice, he missed home.

“No.” Lillie said, eyes downcast.

“But I can convince them!” She quickly added.

“No, it’s fine. Go home, Mom and Dad are waiting.”

“But-“

“Go.” Percy insisted, shooing her away.

Lillie ran away, with Sadie in her arms.

Percy wanted so badly to run with her, but he couldn’t come back to a home where he wasn’t loved. Lillie couldn’t convince them to change their minds. Nobody could.

It was better if he stayed behind.

Chapter Eleven

FLASHBACK-AT THE PLAYGROUND

Wyatt and Percy are thirteen years old, sitting on the playground bench. They had to take Lillie, no questions asked. Across from the playground was the Elsdale circus, bustling with life.

“Do you ever think about joining the circus?” Percy asked. Sometimes, he wondered what it was like to be an act, something to be praised at.

“No. Why?” Wyatt asked. He looked at Percy like he was a clown.

“I don’t know, I was just thinking!” Percy said. He couldn’t hide the hurt in his voice, no matter how hard he tried. Wyatt didn’t have to say it like it was horrible.

“What’s wrong? Why did you yell?” Wyatt asked, concern in his eyes.

“Nothing is wrong. I didn’t mean to yell.” Percy said softly, regaining himself. It wasn’t that big of a deal and Percy didn’t need to make it one.

“Come on, Percy! Play tag with me!” Lillie called out. She was hanging off the monkey bars.

“Why can’t you ask Wyatt to do it?” Percy asked. She always asked him, all the time.

“No! You’re my brother, so you HAVE to play with me!” Lillie yelled.

Percy rolled his eyes as he got up from the bench, ignoring Wyatt’s smirk.

There were games to be played.

Chapter Twelve

“Who were you talking to?” Leopold asked when Percy left from the show.

“Just my sister. She misses me.” Percy said, unable to hide the sadness in his voice.

“They’ll miss you, but they’ll never understand.” Leopold said.

“Does it get any easier? Hiding away in a circus?” Percy asked.

He knew little of Leopold himself, but like everyone in Elsdale, he knew that Leopold left a life of loneliness to make the circus in the first place.

“No, but it helps not to talk to the audience, even if you may know them. Talking to them is distracting.”

“But what if-“

“Just don’t do it again or else.” Leopold said, finality in his voice, the same way Mom told him to get out.

“O-okay.” Percy stuttered. He didn’t understand. Why did Leopold say it like that? Like he would pay if he didn’t listen? That didn’t sound like the Leopold everyone praised.

“Great! See you tomorrow!” Leopold said brightly, as if nothing had happened.

Chapter Thirteen

Percy walked past the crowds, waved to the kids, smiled as best as he could. Leopold probably had a good reason for him not to talk to the audience, but still, it was unnerving.

Percy stopped walking. In front of him were the lion cages. Prudence seemed to be feeding them while the others crowded around her.

He came closer to get a better look.

As a matter of fact, she was throwing sausages in their cage, which the two frightfully skinny lions fought for.

“Doesn’t Leopold-“

“Mr. Shapcott.”

“Mr. Shapcott, excuse me. Doesn’t he feed them?”

What was with Prudence and calling him Mr. Shapcott? He never said anything about it to Percy.

“Does it look like he does?” Prudence asked, bile in her voice.

“Prudence, be nice. He was just asking a question.” Caspian said softly but firmly.

“But it was obvious-“

“You still shouldn’t talk to him like that.”

“But-“

“No.”

Prudence sighed, defeated. Celia and Delia giggled, to which Caspian responded with:

“Don’t laugh, I saw you two steal those sausages.”

Their faces went white, just like Lillie’s did when she was caught doing something bad.

“But we live in the circus! It’s not stealing, it’s our food!” Delia argued.

“She’s right!” Celia chimed in.

“Mr. Shapcott feeds us meals, we need not steal.”

The girls went quiet, unable to think of another thing to say. So much like Lillie.

“Percy, would you like to feed the lions?” Caspian asked, turning to Percy.

“M-me?” Percy stuttered, pointing to himself. He never came close to any animal before. Wyatt was more of the animal lover than him.

“Yes, you. Would you like to feed the lions?” Caspian asked.

Those lions did look pitiful with their visible rib cages.

“Sure.” Percy said, pushing back his fear.

They were large, fearsome animals, but they needed help. Wasn’t that what mattered?

Percy walked up to the cage. Prudence handed him a sausage.

The lions locked eyes on the limp sausage. Percy’s heart beat faster while time seemed to get slower. His hand froze with the sausage. Those lions looked so close to death…no! He couldn’t think of it!

Both lions ran towards the sausage, still in his frozen hand, one lion pushed down the other, and then-

It caught the piece with its teeth, breaking also the flesh of Percy’s hand.

For a moment, he just stared at his bloody hand, bleeding as if an axe cut through.

And everything started to come into motion, the pain was starting to sear, his hand began to shake.

Someone tapped his shoulder. Percy turned around and found that he was facing Caspian, concern written all over his face.

“It’s okay, you’re okay. Just take my hand. I’ll help you.” He said.

With the hand that didn’t bleed, Percy took Caspian’s outstretched hand. He could see that the girls had backed away, giving him space.

“It’s alright.” Caspian said when Percy got up.

He sure hoped it was, because his hand was beginning to feel numb.

Chapter Fourteen

IN CASPIAN’S TRAILER

Caspian opened the door to his trailer. Percy followed quietly. He didn’t feel like speaking with the pain that was coursing in his hand.

After Caspian gently closed the door, he put his hand on Percy’s bleeding one.

It glowed with golden veins, the blood faded into the skin, and…and it was gone! The pain and blood had completely disappeared!

“How did you-“

“I’m a witch. It’s how I make magic.”

“A…a real witch?” Percy asked. He never knew that witches could be real.

“Yes, I am.” Caspian said with a small smile.

“In fact, I used to be a doctor before I joined the circus.”

“Did you like being a doctor?”

“Of course I did. I helped people, that’s something to be proud of.”

“Then why did you come here?”

Caspian was silent. Percy wondered if he asked the right question, if Caspian would be mad at him.

But Caspian simply sighed and said with a grin:

“Same as you. To live a better life! Now, let’s get you back outside. You don’t want to spend the whole time here.”

Caspian opened the door and gestured Percy to walk out, which he did, but all the while, Percy wondered:

What is going on?

Chapter Fifteen

NIGHT-PERCY’S TRAILER

“Does anyone ever talk about anything? About our past lives? Because I don’t know any of you, not really.” Percy said. Caspian wanted them to all go to Percy’s trailer, to talk. For a while, it had been silent.

“We prefer not to talk about our past lives, as they are in the past, but for you, I’ll start.” Prudence said.

All night, it would just be the five of them, finally, finally speaking the truth.

Chapter Sixteen

FLASHBACK-PRUDENCE’S PAST

Prudence ran in the rain, to the Elsdale circus. It was just across from Mrs.Margot’s “house of healing.“ The orphanage was anything but.

All Prudence ever got was dirty food and loneliness. She would do ballet to pass the time.

But Prudence didn’t want to be alone anymore. She wanted to be a star. She wanted to be loved.

So why not run off to Elsdale circus, with its bright colors and glittering lights? Surely, a place such as grand as that would be far better than a shabby, rickety building that had seen better days.

Chapter Seventeen

“So that’s how I ended up here. I’ve been dancing ever since.” Prudence said.

“We were in the orphanage too. We ran away too.” Celia said.

“I was a doctor there before…before people found out.”

“Found out what?” Percy asked.

“That I was something to fear.” Caspian said.

Chapter Eighteen

FLASHBACK

Caspian raised his hands above Celia’s bruise. Her hand was all good and new, as if she hadn’t upset the wrong people.

“Everybody knows about you.” She said.

“And?”

He tried not to think about the obvious.

“They’re coming for you.”

“That’s a funny story.”

“No! It’s true. People didn’t like witches.”

“They don’t?”

“They don’t.”

Caspian didn’t say a word. He didn’t know what life would be like with nothing. No job, no home. Nothing.

Celia sighed.

“I don’t want to go home.” Celia said.

“Me neither. But we have to.”

Caspian couldn’t imagine going back to his small, dingy, lonely one room house. He wished that he could run away to the circus with Celia and Delia, never returning to their cursed lives again.

Maybe they could…

Chapter Nineteen

“You knew the girls?” Percy asked.

Caspian looked at the girls for a moment. Both nodded.

“Yes, I did. They came to me for comfort, for solitude. We thought it best to come here.”

They all looked at Percy. It was time for him to speak, time for him to reveal his truths.

Chapter Twenty

“I don’t know how to say this.” Percy said. Witches were real, but…but how would they believe him? There was nothing on people who would die on command. Nothing.

“Yes, you do. This is the circus. Anything is possible. Now, speak. This was your idea, after all.” Prudence said.

Percy took a deep breath. He could talk. He could tell them.

“If I think about death, I die. Briefly. Someone has to call out my name loud enough to bring me back. But people close to me die too and they don’t come back, either.”

“It’s what happened to my friend.” Percy said. He almost didn’t want to say it, but it had to come out.

If they were honest, he had to be honest.

“We don’t have to do this anymore. It’s okay. We know each other now. If we want to talk more, we will. Let’s get some sleep, okay?” Caspian said.

Everyone nodded their agreement and got up to leave.

Percy thought it’d be easy to talk, but it wasn’t. It still stung, it still clawed at him.

Maybe next time.

Chapter Twenty-One

THE NEXT DAY

Percy opened his eyes to the burning sun. It felt like he was half asleep, half awake.

The trailer resounded with loud banging noises. Someone was knocking on his door, but it felt so far away…

He stumbled out of bed and crawled on the ground. The other night felt so long ago, so unreal.

When Percy was in front of the door, he stood up, reached his hand out to the knob, and opened it.

Leopold burst in, fury and frustration in his eyes.

Why?

Chapter Twenty-Two

“I heard you talking to them last night. Don’t you know never to talk after dark?”

“Leopold-“

“Mr. Shapcott, if you will.”

“Mr. Shapcott, I’m really sorry-“

“You’re sorry? Sorry isn’t going to change the fact that you stayed up late when we have a performance! Don’t do it again.”

With that, Leopold left.

Chapter Twenty-Three

A FEW MINUTES LATER

Percy was walking down the same path he went the other day, to perform. It was the first time he had seen Leopold-Mr. Shapcott-so furious. He never imagined Mr. Shapcott in such a way.

He was passing by the animal cages. The lions looked ever so weak, ever so tired. The monkeys and tigers too. So did the elephants.

But why? Why?

Chapter Twenty-Four

There was no time to worry about that. He had to get to the stage, and fast!

But was that…Prudence? It appeared that Prudence was running towards him, holding her arm…was that…was that blood? Dripping from her arm?

She was right in front of him, tears falling from her eyes, holding her bleeding arm.

“He came into my trailer last night…with a knife…and did this.”

Prudence showed him her gored arm, blood glittering in the sunlight, like some kind of sickeningly vibrant candy.

“He who?” Percy asked. He didn’t want to believe it, as much as his heart knew the truth.

“You know who.” Prudence said, anger in her eyes and voice.

“Can you get Caspian to-“

“He’s performing.”

“Could we make him stop?”

Prudence screamed, the pain jolting her. No one took notice to that, for it was covered by the delighted screams of small children.

Percy never thought it was possible to make someone stop a circus act, but it was worth a try. He didn’t know how to heal her himself and her scream sounded too much like his own when he dreamt of Wyatt.

“Come on. Let’s go.” Percy said.

Prudence nodded before screaming yet again.

No one heard.

Chapter Twenty-Five

Percy and Prudence had finally made it to the stage. From behind the curtains, they saw Caspian wearing a straitjacket, inside of a water tank.

Caspian was in a water tank. Percy wasn’t sure how or if Caspian would hear him, but he had to try.

Prudence’s eyes went white and wide. She almost fell to the ground, but Percy caught her.

“Caspian! Caspian, we need your help!” Percy screamed.

Still, Caspian did not hear him. Neither did the audience, it seemed.

“Caspian!”

Prudence’s breaths were getting softer, quieter.

Suddenly, small, slender sharks were swimming in the tank, each biting Caspian’s flesh, the water becoming tinged red-

The audience cried out in fear. The curtain fell in front of the horror in the tank. Percy could hear Leopold apologizing to the audience, coaxing them to stay.

Prudence stopped breathing.

Chapter Twenty-Six

Percy stood there in shock, holding Prudence’s limp body. She was just like Wyatt. No thoughts behind her eyes. Just a blank stare, a pure void.

Did it matter anymore why Mr. Shapcott stabbed her? Why he would do such a thing? He probably put those sharks in Caspian’s tank. Mr. Shapcott might come for him and the girls next.

The curtains rustled, then Mr. Shapcott came out.

“Percy, it’s your act.” Mr. Shapcott said softly.

Percy just looked at him, silent and speechless as ever. He didn’t know whether to laugh at the absurdity of appearing for an act or to cry at the fact that once again, people he loved died.

“The show must go on, my friend.” Mr.Shapcott said.

Percy lay Prudence’s body gently on the ground and walked slowly to the front of the stage. In the end, no matter what happened, he had to keep performing, keep smiling, keep bending over backwards.

Because the show never stopped.

Chapter Twenty-Seven

The curtains failed to rise. Percy turned to Mr. Shapcott, but he just pointed behind him.

Percy turned around.

There was a table with a plate of meat. A chair was drawn up to the table.

“Take a seat, eat the meat.” Mr.Shapcott said.

“Why?” Percy asked. He didn’t think that it was supposed to happen at circuses. It was too odd of a thing.

“It’s alright. Eat it.” He said, eyes no longer glinting of sunshine, but with the blade of a knife.

Percy took a seat, to stop Mr. Shapcott’s glare. As he pinned the fork to the meat and bit into it, he wondered where Celia and Delia were. They should have done their act already. They were after Caspian, everyone loved them…

Oh no. The meat. It wasn’t just meat, was it?

Too fast, the curtains rose. The glare of the sun hit Percy. He could hear the many voices of the audience, and then-

“Watch as he eats the twins! He’s a cannibal, a monster!”

Percy still couldn’t see with the penetrating light. The aftertaste of the rotten flesh was still in his mouth, a vile, inhumane thing.

But the audience cheered, laughing maliciously. It seemed like they had a taste for gore.

He pushed the chair back and got up to run, but Mr. Shapcott grabbed his arm. He bowed, taking Percy with him. The audience cackled louder.

It was all so deafening, so unnatural. How could not a soul care that he ate two little girls? They seemed so concerned about Caspian, why not them?

Maybe because people didn’t like children that much. Lillie herself was seen as an annoyance to most. When Percy was young, anything he said was laughed at.

Children were just children, only made to be cute. To be seen and not heard.

The taste of humans refused to leave.

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Percy ran off the stage, past the crowd of people. He had to go back to his trailer, wash off the makeup…and…and run away. Maybe home would accept him. It was better than being at the circus, anyway.

…………………………………………………….

Percy sighed in relief as he closed the trailer door. He was all alone. He could get rid of the makeup.

He walked up to the vanity.

Time to become human again.

…………………………………………………….

All the makeup was washed off, his real face shown. His skin had small zits on them, probably from the makeup. He never considered that he had sensitive skin until then.

Something loud knocked on his windows. Percy could see from the mirror’s reflection that they were three girls around his age, gawking and pointing at him.

Why were they there? Shouldn’t they go home? Shouldn’t they leave him alone?

…………………………………………………….

Percy walked up to the door and opened it. All at once, the girls ran up to him. All at once, they said:

“You’re so beautiful!”

“You’re so cool!”

“You’re amazing!”

Why did they think that? Did they like him for what he did? Were they fascinated by it?

“Leave me alone! Go away!” Percy yelled, shooing them out.

The girls murmured at each other and glared at him, a group of sirens or harpies, depending on how one looked at them.

But they were leaving. That was all that mattered.

Chapter Twenty-Nine

Mr. Shapcott was the only one left. He stepped into Percy’s trailer, a sad look in his eyes.

But Percy wouldn’t be fooled.

“So you want to tell me why this is happening? Why the animals aren’t fed? Why people are dying?” Percy asked. He couldn’t do with any more lies, any more deaths. He needed the truth, once and for all.

“I know what you are, Percy. I know that you can die for a bit if you think real hard. I know because I can do that too. I can sense when someone has that power.”

What? Mr. Shapcott was like him? He knew the whole time?

“Your contortionist ability is an addition to your power, just like my ability to mute the hearing of other people. That’s why no one heard you screaming. That’s why no one heard Prudence screaming.”

Mr. Shapcott sighed heavily.

“I started this circus because I wanted to bring joy. Joy brings life to people, doesn’t it? For most of my life, I’ve killed people I loved, people that were close to me, with my powers. I thought that I could escape death.”

Mr. Shapcott laughed a little before continuing.

“This place used to have more people than animals, but those people died. They died because of me. They died because I couldn’t control myself.”

“Did someone call your name? To bring you back?” Percy asked. If what Mr.Shapcott was saying was true, then there would be someone to call his name.

“Oh yes, there were people who knew. A few people, though. Not a lot. Caspian was actually the last person around who could call me back to the land of the living.”

“The animals don’t die under my powers. They instead get thinner. Weaker. They’re alive, but just barely. The audience, people I don’t personally know, they get fascinated by death with my powers. It affects people differently, Percy. Take it from me, I’ve dealt with this for years.”

“I figured that if I had such a virus, why try to keep it from killing people? Why not just kill them manually, take away the pain that would come with my power? What was the point of trying to keep everyone alive when they would die anyway?”

“I don’t want anyone saying my name because it’s a virus. Because I don’t want to come back to this world. Because saying my name reminds me of when I came back to a lonely world, with just myself.”

“I ask you, Percy, to give up. To close your eyes right now and die forever. Spare the world from your pain. It’s what I’m going to do.”

Percy’s head was swimming with unease. Just die? Get rid of himself? Give up? He didn’t want to hear of death, ever. He didn’t want to be deep in tears and despair. There had to be more to life, a glittering show to life.

“I can’t just die. It’s not right. What we have makes life harder, but that shouldn’t mean giving up. If anything, it means that we should try harder. There’s always going to be someone out there who cares deeply for us, despite our flaws. I know that I can’t escape death. I know it’s going to come eventually. But I’m focusing on the here and now.”

“I’m going home. I think you should, too.” Percy said.

He didn’t know what his parents thought, but he knew that Lillie and Sadie were waiting for him. That they wanted him. He’d try and make his parents understand. If they didn’t? Then he would always have his sisters, looking up to him lovingly.

Percy opened the door to the trailer, but he couldn’t leave. An invisible force was preventing him from doing so.

“I can’t let you leave. I can’t let you into the world that abandoned you. You must give the final act.”

“I don’t want to!” Percy yelled, trying not to cry. Why was Mr. Shapcott so intent on death and dying? Why was he so scared?

Why couldn’t he let Percy go?

“I’m sorry, but I have to.” Mr. Shapcott said with such finality it made Percy want to scream.

Chapter Thirty

ON THE STAGE

Everyone was watching him, including the three girls who followed him. Mr. Shapcott wouldn’t let Percy leave until he finished his act.

Percy bent his back over himself, bones cracking for all to hear. Flashes of the other performers went through his mind, but he blocked them out.

He couldn’t hurt them all.

But when Percy was bending his legs over his head, he heard something. A growl. No, not a growl, but a group of animals waiting to pounce. Many growls were heard, coming together as a rumble from Hell.

A shrill whistle blew, not a single person in the audience reacted. A thousand paws were running and then-

Everywhere were the lions, clawing and scratching at him with their teeth. Percy screamed, trying to break out of the position he got himself in, but there was no escape. They were pulling on his flesh, tearing through his bones.

Was that what it felt like to actually die? Pain cracking and creating pressure points throughout the body, breaking away into nothingness? Bones and skin, pulled apart without care?

A giant animal mouth opened its awful, many teeth, right over his eyes.

Percy couldn’t see a thing, but he could hear his eyes being squeezed between the jaws of the beast, the squelching sound louder than his hoarse screams.

Epilogue

MANY YEARS LATER

Percy’s eyes were gone, replaced by artificial eyes sewn by the ringmaster himself. His very lips had been chewed away, leaving an eternal smile.

Percy’s memories weren’t quite right. All that was left in his mind was leaving his family for the circus…and…and…those girls giving him compliments at his trailer door…and how angry the ringmaster seemed that they liked him. Maybe he was jealous? Maybe that’s why he killed Percy?

The conclusion didn’t sit well with him. It felt like there was much, much more to the story, but that was all his mind could conjure up.

He knew that there were other performers, other people. But they were all gone. Everyone was gone. The audience, the performers, the ringmaster. His first family, whoever they were, had disappeared.

It was just him, in the rotten, decaying circus.

The circus that Percy could never leave, no matter how hard he tried…


Is this a review?


  

Comments



User avatar
542 Reviews

Points: 41664
Reviews: 542

Donate
Wed Sep 06, 2023 8:03 am
View Likes
Liminality wrote a review...



Hi there vampricone!

General Impressions

I knew something was up with Leopold when he first appeared, but I hadn’t expected the reasons for it or what he would do in the end. He definitely comes across as being a bit too good to be true, even before Prudence gives her warning. I felt bad for Percy in the end – he’d made his decision to go back home but had it taken away from him. It seems like something must have happened to Leopold after he killed everyone at his circus, since Percy’s narration says he disappeared one day, too. I also think something must be up with Lillie – she is quite unusually nonchalant about Percy’s powers.

Characters

I like how the characters’ tones and mannerisms differentiate them. Prudence comes across as being downcast and cynical (though she has every right to be) in contrast to the other children. Meanwhile Caspian is more mature and comes across as gentle. I like the detail of Prudence constantly insisting that Percy call Leopold ‘Mr. Shapcott’, even when no one else chews him out about him. She is indeed being prudent.

Plot

I did feel a little doubtful about the parents’ reactions to Percy in the flashback. It’s clear they think he’s a danger to people around him – so it feels weird that they just let him walk out, even though he could (in their minds) kill people on the street. Also, this may be because of Lillie’s own story if she has one, but I was also wondering why she would actively trigger the memory of Wyatt’s death. Perhaps it’s somehow not clear to her that she’s upsetting her brother? She clearly cares about him, since she came to look for him in the circus.

I liked the build-up to Leopold’s ‘confession’. The fact that his animals looked starving was good foreshadowing to something not quite being right with him. It might have been clearer to me that the five would get in trouble for talking about each other’s pasts if there had been a scene where Leopold lays out all his rules, but I still liked the ending of that scene anyhow.

Line Comments

“Yes. You belong here.”
Yes, he did.

I’m not sure the second line is necessary. It’s clear from Percy ‘wiping a tear from his eye’ that he’s really happy about it – maybe just a smile would work?

“Someone who can bend their bones. A contortionist. That’s you.”
“I think I’ve got something for you.” Leopold grinned.

I think both these lines of dialogue are said by Leopold, but since they are divided up by paragraphs (and no speech tag on the first one) I wasn’t so sure. It might be good to keep the same character’s line in one paragraph since that’s how it’s been done elsewhere in this story, i.e.
“Someone who can bend their bones. A contortionist. That’s you. I think I’ve got something for you.” Leopold grinned.

Or
“Someone who can bend their bones. A contortionist. That’s you.” Leopold grinned. “I think I’ve got something for you.”


“Mr.. Shapcott has been getting more animals lately. Dangerous, feral animals. One time we caught him talking to himself. He’s done nothing, but he will one day.”
Talking to himself about what, though? (If he’s just reciting his grocery list, I don’t think that’s cause for concern . . . )

Overall

This was an interesting story – I haven’t seen something quite like Percy’s power in other horror stories before. Causing living things to die by touch, sure – but not by thinking it, and the little side details like him also being able to bend his body (or Leopold’s power not quite working the same way with animals) make it unique.

Hope this helps – keep writing!
-Lim




vampricone6783 says...


Thank you for reading! Yes, Lillie is unaware how much Wyatt%u2019s death upsets Percy and just knows that it will get him to do his trick.



vampricone6783 says...


I edited it a bit.



User avatar
1485 Reviews

Points: 154036
Reviews: 1485

Donate
Tue Sep 05, 2023 1:50 pm
View Likes
IcyFlame wrote a review...



Hey again vampricone! It's been a moment since I last read one of these so I thought I'd pop by for a review in honour of RevMo :)

I'm also going to be using the YWS S'more Method today, because I've a checklist challenge to crack on with!

First off, just to say I think this would have been easier to digest as two parts. Often I think you're pretty good at splitting up and posting shorter parts but this one was a bit much even for me! Just something to consider :)

Top Graham Cracker - What I Know
Percy is a contortionist, but also has a power to make himself rot away. This power also kills the person next to him. His parents cast him away to protect the family and he joins the circus where he thinks he'll belong but the ringmaster also has a secret and it turns out he's like Percy but instead of them being allies, he kills him to keep him in the circus forever.

Slightly Burnt Marshmallow - Room for Improvements

I'm going to group these into a few sections:
1. Chapters. The chapter breaks mostly don't make sense, and there's no clear reason for a lot of them to be separate. It makes sense when we have a jump in setting or time, but this isn't always the case here. Often a scene just continues and there's no reason for the change in chapter. For example, the intro and chapters 1,2 & 3 could easily be one chapter before we change scene in the next chapter.

2. Character development. There's a whole host of secondary and background characters here who appear but don't get much of a look in (despite some of them sharing their backstories). There's some really good articles on character development in the YWS Knowledge base, but this is one of my favourites.
Character development means that we care when something happens to the character further down the line, and is also one of the things that can most compel the reader to keep reading!

3.Structure. There are a lot of flashbacks here which I like to flesh out Percy's character but sometimes there's a flashback within a flashback and for me that's just too confusing!

Chocolate Bar - Highlights of the Piece
The whole plot was really strong, and I loved the circular aspect of the Ringmaster having the same power/disease as Percy. The setting was also pretty vivid, which I enjoyed.

Closing Graham Cracker - Closing Thoughts
I think this is a really promising idea, and it almost seems like an outline for a strong story. I would use this as a starting point and then build out the story from here - I think you could create a full length novel or novella!!

Hope this was helpful :)

Icy
Image




User avatar
114 Reviews

Points: 14872
Reviews: 114

Donate
Fri Aug 04, 2023 10:31 am
View Likes
FluorescentAnt wrote a review...



Hello! I am going to review using the YWS S'more Method today!

Well, I definetely can't pretend that that wasn't a really long story. But it was worth it, because I have lots to say in thi review. Alrighty, let's get started with...

Top Graham Cracker - What I Know
Okay, so this story is about Percy, a young contortionist who also has the power to make himself slowly rot away, but with that he can also kill people with this power. His parents decided that this power was too dangerous, since he killed his friend and nearly killed his sister, so they kicked him out of their home. Hoping to seek refuge, he goes to the circus, where the mysterious ringmaster gives him a seemingly good home, but it is not what it seems. One night, Percy and the other circus peeps decide to tell each other the stories of their past and how they got here. The next day, the ringmaster found out and is angry, and he proceeds to kill each of the circus peeps. Then Percy finds out that the ringmaster also had the instant decay thing all along. But then he kills Percy and he becomes trapped in the circus forever.

Slightly Burnt Marshamallow - Room for Improvements

Percy sighed. It was his only shot.
To Elsdale circus he went!

I think you could give a little more context as to why Percy chose to seek refuge and find a home here, in the circus of all places. Like, he could have gone to stay with family or friends, or a homeless shelter, and if he didn't have any of those, then you can explain that in the story, because it seems weird that his first choice is the circus. What was his thinking in this? Why did he choose it?
There he was. The great, the powerful, the astounding…
“Leopold Shapcott?” Percy asked.
“Yes, it is I, the amazing Leopold Shapcott!

Why is Leopold so famous and "powerful and astounding?" You don't have to give a full explanation, but maybe a little bit of background, like, "Leopold Shapcott was know all over Elsdale for hosting the Elsdale Circus, the greatest circus in all of Elsdale's history. He alone could do so many things, like acrobatics, riding of a unicycle, and hoop-twirling." or something like that. But that's just an example.
Everyone was leaving, satisfied with all that they saw. Percy would have left too, but the little girl holding a baby looked a lot like Lillie…but she couldn’t be Lillie…could she?
As she ran closer to the stage, holding the baby, Percy realized that it was none other than Lillie holding Sadie.
I think you might have had a typo here, or forgotten to type a sentence. The sentence should mention him seeing a little girl holding a baby. I'm also a little confused: How did Lillie know Percy would be here? She wouldn't just go to the circus by herself, right? And how would her parents allow her to take the baby so far from home? I think you could add Percy maybe asking her that.
For a while, it had been silent.
“We prefer not to talk about our past lives, as they are in the past, but for you, I’ll start.” Prudence said.

Hmm, this part seems just a teensy bit rushed. Why did she decide to suddenly start telling her story? Because no one stepped up before, why did she decide to? Maybe you can add her saying that because she thinks something, she's going to tell them her story.
“Watch as he eats the twins! He’s a cannibal, a monster!”
Percy still couldn’t see with the penetrating light. The aftertaste of the rotten flesh was still in his mouth, a vile, inhumane thing.

Wait, how does the audience know that he's eating the twins? Are their dead bodies under the table? There must be some kind of proof.
And one more thing - I think this story should actually be in the Short Story section - because this seems like more of a short story that a novel/chapter. Unless you're going to continue this story.
I'm sorry I wrote so much in this section - but just remember that these are all just suggestions, so if you don't think that it makes sense, don't worry about it!

Chocolate Bar - Highlights of the Piece
The violence at the end was definetely very detailed. Like at the part where it described Percy's eyes getting eaten, that was really desciptive and had a lot of imagery. And throughout the story in general, you did a great job at writing Percy's thoughts and what he was thinking as stuff was happening. This story requires a lot of description on what is going on in the characters brain, because of all the twists and violence, which you really captured perfectly. Awesome job!

Closing Graham Cracker - Closing Thoughts
Overall, this story provides great background for your first story. (which I skimmed) The epilogue leaves the readers at a cliffhanger, and as always, has an ominous last line about the character's not-so-happy fate. But that's it!
Happy writing!




vampricone6783 says...


Lillie searched everywhere for him. She did not know he would be at the circus, but she looked there anyway. Their parents did not let her go, she ran off by herself.

By telling them that the meat is the twins, the audience knows.

Percy liked the circus a lot. That%u2019s why he went.

Thank you for reading.




Whenever you find you are on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.
— Mark Twain