Dante's Nightmare

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Out of the darkness emerged a young boy who made his way down a dusty path strewn with carved pumpkins, his little painted nose ruffled slightly from the smell of fertilizer lingering in the air. He looked up towards a monstrous tent and grinned seeing the name painted onto a weathered wooden board. "Morgana's Mystifying Circus," he whispered under his breath before buttoning up the top button on his shirt. It was Halloween and he was given a special ticket to come and enjoy the show, he just hoped his father did not go back into his bedroom to check on him after tucking him in.

The worse for wear tent had seen better days, tears in the top of it allowed some light from inside to escape into the darkness. Black Mountain had many attractions, but this was one the boy was eager to see, so eager that he came alone. His little brown shoes became dusty as he walked towards the tent door; he licked his hand and glided it over his hair to smooth out any strays, before walking through the canvass entrance.

The dimly lit arena was filled with people, his shoes sinking slightly into the moist earth beneath him as he made his way past numerous wooden chairs. An overweight garish woman looked down at the boy and smiled, "you look like porcelain," she slurred reaching forward to touch his face. The young boy stepped back and walked on, "where are your parents?" she called back after him, but he ignored her and found himself a front row seat.

The boy watched as a masked woman approached him, she opened her right palm and tapped it with her left index finger. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a ticket, she smiled showing off her brown stained teeth. He placed the ticket in her hand, noticing the burn marks on her wrist. She tore the golden ticket in half and grinned before handing him half of it back. The woman pushed back her long black tresses before walking off into the back of the tent. He was amused with her costume, the burns looked so real and her teeth seemed if they were really rotting.

The first act had finished, and the knife thrower was busy leaving the stage.

Murmurs circulated in the busy tent before the crowd began to settle in their seats, a spot light appeared on the rickety stage. "Welcome!" a voice boomed from beyond an ivory-coloured curtain. "Welcome to Morgana's Mystifying Circus." From behind the curtain appeared a ringmaster; he flipped his velvet cape backwards grandiosely, striking his whip down strutting proudly as a peacock on the stage. The audience jumped and cheered every time he cracked his whip, the boy sat still and watched eagerly. "What do we have here?" The ringmaster asked pointing towards the boy, "a fan of Pierrot" he mocked looking at the boy's amateur clown makeup. The boy grinned slightly revealing a missing front tooth. The ringmaster adjusted his bowtie before pacing back and forth.

"Halloween is the only time of the year the dead walk among us," he continued flipping his cape while strutting to-and-fro. "But for those that live on Black Mountain, we know that is not the truth," he teased to which the crowd became loud, they clapped and laughed, chugging back beer and smoking cigarettes. "Be quiet now!" He commanded, "let me introduce you to my latest find." The ringmaster kicked one of the throwing knives left behind from the previous act to the side clapping his hands.

"Let's bring out a wondrous beast," the ringmaster proclaimed. "Calypso!" he shouted cracking his whip. "I give you Calypso, the dancing bear." From behind the curtain came a monster of a beast, the bear stood tall and the audience gasped; around her neck was a chain which the ringmaster began to yank. The bear moaned, and the audience chuckled, the ringmaster struck her across the back. "Dance!" he instructed, but the bear would not listen. The audience turned their laughter to the ringmaster who became agitated. "Dance, bear!" He threatened, lifting the whip once again to strike, but he was interrupted by a clown walking onto the stage. He was carrying a great big carved pumpkin, he stumbled and fell over his own big feet squashing the pumpkin. The crowd laughed and cheered.

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