As usual, the town was consumed by its own vanity. The cobble stone streets had a unique mixture of blue and grey granite that sparkle under the sun decorating the grand buildings within its domain. Draped from the marble balconies were a variety of bright colors which danced over the nobles and aristocracy beneath them. These “high class” citizens were lavished in exquisite silk laced with threads of gold; emphasizing their perfection. That’s what the town seemed to only care about, perfection and drowning themselves in their wealth. I was also part of this extravagant society and lived oblivious to anything other than my “this world”. However, that all changed when I met him.
While walking home from a gallery, I caught a glimpse of a mysterious man hidden within the shadows of an alley way. He was dress in a bright red tail coat lined with black trimming around its front buttons, collar, and cuffs. In contrast, his bowtie was unusually long with tatter ends that flickered in the wind along with his messy bleach, blond hair. He stood there in a profile view, leaning against the wall as his steel toed boot impatiently tapped the dusty floor. What interested me the most though was the unique half mask he was wearing. It covered the left side of his face and depicted the happy mask you would see resembling theatrical drama; the only difference was that it had a deep, red tear coming down its joyful persona. His image was like nothing I had ever seen before and it was obvious that all the towns’ people were avoiding him, giving disgusted stares and remarks. I, on the other became captivated by his ominous appearance and stood across the plaza, secretly admiring his physique. For about a couple of hours I watch him quietly stand there, occasionally talking to the people who did find the confidence to approach him and handed them what seemed to be an black envelope with white lettering on it. Intrigued his action I slowly began to walk over to him but hid, mi-way for my timid nature prevented me from going any closer. Soon his head turned and looked at me with his deep, blue eye heavily lined in black. We were virtually eye to eye and I felt some kind of deep sensation run through my body when I saw his hand waving me over. Full of tension and uncertainty, I continued walking towards him. When I arrived he took my hand and gently kissed it whispering the word “mademoiselle” to me. The word felt spell binding, but in my bashfulness I coyly backed away from him. Seeing my shy nature he magically made a rose appear and handed it to me. It was colored in deep burgundy and attached to its stem was a note containing a roughly hand drawn map to somewhere. At the bottom in beautiful calligraphy it said, “We will be waiting for your arrival.” As I softly read the note aloud the mysterious man unexpectedly reached out and stroked my hair. He then whispered to me ear:
-I can not wait for tonight mademoiselle; I promise that it will be an unforgettable for the both of us.
Surprised by his remark I nervously walked away from him hearing a slight chuckle in the background. When I arrived home, I immediately rushed up to my balcony and collapsed. His voice was still echoing inside my head as I gently stroked the pedals of the rose. This uncontainable feeling made me all flustered as I began to wonder, why he give a rose. That night, I suck out of the mansion and journeyed to the place that was written on the small, crumpled map.
It was an unbelievable sight. The land was dry and parched surrounded by dead brush and forestry. At middle stood an old and tattered circus tent in its faded crimson and gold colors which creeks under the night wind. Nothing else could be seemed to be living in the area other than the crows that picked and prodded at the tents torn off flaps. At the top of its entrance way hung a broken wooden sign swaying back and forth; it read in fancy bold lettering: Cirque du Paradis. I stood there in utter amazement. This place just reminded me so much of him; deadly yet captivating. Suddenly he appeared from of the tent smiling warmly and kneeled before me.
-I was waiting for you my dear mademoiselle. Excuse my rudeness from early; I did not properly introduce myself. My name is Balthazar and I am the ring master of this circus. Would you kindly give me your name?
Feeling my heart pounding harder, I quickly griped my chest and nervously replied:
-Evangeline. Evangeline Moirés.
He then quickly stood up and kindly brushed my amber bangs to the side of my face and softly repeated:
-Evangeline. Quel beau nom. (What a beautiful name.)
Even though I could not understand his words my heart immediately started to pound harder as I became red out of embarrassment. Seeing my anxiousness, he slid his hands around to my waist and guided me towards to entrance.
-Evangeline, I thank you for accepting my invitation and I hope you enjoy this as much as I do.
As he quickly lifted the entrance flaps, a bright light blinded me for a moment. Suddenly, I heard loud, festive music and plentiful cheering reach my ears. In my daze, Balthazar pulled me closer to him and said:
-Welcome to Cirque du Paradis. A place where all your fantasies become reality.
The sight was overwhelming. I saw the tent packed with other young nobles gasping in awe at the spectacular acts that were being preformed. Balthazar then quickly guided me to the front center row of seat and we both sat hand in hand, as the show continued. First came a dark skinned man whose ribcage clearly shown through the thin layer of skin he had on. Standing on top of small, revolving platform, he pulled out two double edge swords from his side and instantly plunged them into his chest. Like the audience I screamed in terror, but Balthazar remained calm and smiled at me, pointing back out to the ring. I slowly turned my head only to find that the man had already pulled out the swords and although the ground was drenched in a puddle of his blood, he had no wounds. Before I could even ask how, the blinding spots lights immediately directed my attention to the top of the circus tent that was full of worn off patches and holes. The lights then shinned upon the tight rope and on it were a young slender girl and a mature built man. The girl was gracefully dancing on the wobbling rope as the man swung back on forth on the trapeze above her. To add even more suspense, the lights widened to reveal a pool of acid, bubbling beneath them. I could feel the dreaded stench of it being blown towards me by the wind and for a moment I covered my nose, trying to regain composure as not to be rude to Balthazar. Soon there was a brief intermission were many clowns in unique and mysterious mask performed a small act which served as type of comic relief. Then a gorgeous women with bright red hair appeared. She was wearing a tight corset and netted leggings that were so reveling that you saw all the color and elaborate tattoos etched onto her. She then seductively ran her hands all over her body and the images suddenly started to emerge. These wondrous, mystic creatures danced around the ring, completely mesmerizing the audience. I was slightly frightened by them until Balthazar whistled over one of the creatures. It was an exquisite peacock like beast with golden slitted eyes and long fanned out tail feathers that seemed to show images of other birdlike creatures dancing on it. It was an amazing sight.
Soon the show ended with the astounding power of the claps and cheers of the audience. The noise made the tent quiver in excitement. As everyone started to leave, I felt Balthazar’s hand still tightly gripping mine. He then asked in a soft tone:
-Won’t you stay a little longer? There is something special I want to show you.
-Just for me?
I said in shy amazement.
-Oui. Just for you ma belle, Evangeline.
His words instantly ran through my body in an indescribable sensation. I could feel a deep sincerity as he stared into my eyes. Touched by it, I embarrassedly nodded yes as he quickly stood up and tugged me towards the center of the circus ring. The whole troop was there; all giving me a scrutinizing look that had a great negative aura about it. Balthazar then extended his hand out in front of me and said:
-Evangeline, please let me introduce you to some of my fellow comrades. The first man you saw opening the circus is called Cirqx; Cirqx of Résurrection.
He stared at me with his swollen blood shot eyes and grunted at the fact that Balthazar had introduced him to me. Balthazar then walked over to Cirqx and lightly patted his shoulder as he happily said:
-Cirqx, be nice and show her the secret behind your act. Make it as memorable as you can.
In a soft maniacal chuckle, Criqx gladly replied:
-But of course, master.
Before he led me outside the tent I stop and turned to Balthazar and shyly asked:
-Balthazar, I know this might sound silly to you but, why did you give me a rose?
He said nothing and nodded over to Criqx to continue leading me out. As we were exiting, I felt a sudden sense of uncertainty as the tent, once again, started to creak and moan.
We stood outside on the dry, parched land with nothing but the cold silence of the night breeze and crows staring down on us. The silence was then interrupted by Criqx sharpening his swords together.
-Now mademoiselle, watch closely as I show you the secret to surviving these.
Suddenly a dense fog came and flooded the area. It seemed to devour the moon and nearby tent from my sight. The only thing I could see was Cirqx, who seemed to happily welcome the ominous force. He then let out a deep breath before abruptly raising sword and cutting off his right arm. I screamed in horror only to witness it grotesquely regenerate before my eyes; however it came back as a beastly arm of rough gray fur and razor sharp claws. I looked back up at Criqx only to see horns and fangs also emerging from him. In my terror I ran back into the tent into Balthazar’s arms crying in fear.
-What just happened?! I don’t understand! Please, take me back home.
He then grabbed my shoulders and turned me towards the ring.
-What do you mean Evangeline? The show has only begun.
Before I could comprehend what he meant, I was instantly snatched into the air by the two aerial act performers on the trapezes. Balthazar stood still, smiling in excitement as he yelled out to me:
- Those two are the Pandemonium twins; Ice and Meth of Ecstasy.
They sung and tossed me up in the air to each other as if I was some toy. Ice was playfully giggling in delight as I begged her to stop. It seemed to only excite her to sink her claws deeper into my skin. Even the crows that were peaking through the holes at the top of the tent were cackling at my misery. In my tears I screamed to them:
-Please! I beg of you! Let me go!
Meth, now grabbing hold of nothing but the waist ribbon of my dress said with a little smirk:
-Are you sure about that?
As he tossed me up towards Ice, I saw a pool of acid being placed underneath us. It bubbled and splashed as if it was beckoning for me to come into its embrace. My shrieks seemed to echo around the small tent as it started to shake and moan more vigorously as Ice and Meth continued tossing me back and forth. Soon Ice threw me towards the platform edge of the tight rope. In her childish laughter she hollered to me from her trapezes bar.
-If you want to get down, you’ll have to cross the rope to get to the ladder on the other side.
I was beyond the state of terror at this moment, but no matter how I refused I suddenly felt some kind of ominous force pulling me towards the rope. Soon enough I was in the middle of the rope, screaming to be release but when the force ceased to pull more me, I fell and was dangling above the acid pool.
-Help! Someone! Please!
My pleads, however were drowned by the sounds of their howling excitement over my demise. Ice then quickly ran over to me and said in a childish tone:
-It’s not fun just to hang around you know. Let me help.
With her spiked tail she whipped my hands and I began to fall to my doom, but a few inches before I plunged into the acid, a horrific bird like creature grabbed me with its razor sharp claws. Its grip pierced into my skin and left deep lacerations. It soon threw me to the ground in front of Balthazar. My body ached and bled all over as I cried in agony, hoping that my torture would soon end.
Balthazar silently stood above me, delighted by my pitiful state and let out a slight chuckle.
-Last but not least meet mon préféré, Alaze of a thousand beast.
Next thing I knew, I was entangled in her thick red hair. She then slid her horrid, reptilian claws all over my body breathing so heavily that I could smell some god- awful odor coming from it. She then whispered into my ears:
-You know, master never gives his guest this much fun. You must be very special to him. I’m so jealous that I could ruin you.
Suddenly, hoards of creatures sprang out from her body in a wild frenzy. Their release heated the air with the smell of rot and death. They grabbed me and began biting and tearing into my whole body that was already riddled in pain. This was worst than any punishment a human could give. In my anguish, I screamed to them:
-What are you people!
Cirqx then came into my view and said:
-You didn’t notice yet?
Ice and Meth then jumped down from their ropes above, laughing and together they blurted out:
-We’re demons of course!
Those words pierce my ears as managed to momentarily escape the creatures torment. In a shock state I stuttered:
-D. . . Demons . . .
-Of course we are little girl.
Alaze said in a prideful tone.
-We are demons that live on the fear of humans. Your screams are like music to our ears, intoxicating us.
The horrific creatures then dragged me back to their ring of torture. Suddenly they backed off as Balthazar walked over towards me. He slowly kneeled down and held me in his arms, tenderly stroking my cut up face.
-Evangeline. My dear Evangeline. You’re just so beautiful right now; I could ravish you.
He was about to kiss me but I manage to slap him away. As his mask fell, he turned back towards me and harshly replied:
-You shouldn’t have done that.
The tent and all the other demons started to become even wilder. Even the crows were enticingly waiting what was to come next. My heart could not handle what I was about to see; the left side of Balthazar’s face that was covered by the mask reveal to me a horrific demonic from. The skin was thick and scaled colored in a burnt red. His fang stuck out about two inches out his mouth and had some unidentifiable black liquid running down it. But what scared me the most was his golden slitted eye; next to his kind blue one I felt a great sense of betrayal. He then stumbled to his feet and started to dust himself off. Criqx, Ice, Meth, and Alaze rushed over to his side. Suddenly a demonic clown grabbed me by the hair and dragged me to their feet. Alaze was about pierce her claws into me before Balthazar stopped her. He looked at her in a stern manner and said:
-Don’t Alaze. I promised her an unforgettable time and you know us demons, will always keep our promises.
In my desperate state I hoarsely yelled at him:
-Why me! Why did it have to be me!
He then began to walk circles around me as he simply replied:
-Because, you’re different. Unlike the other people, you hide your true self. That weak shell you wear can’t fool me and to honest, I was just going take you as food for my pets here but. . . .
He then crouched down and gave me a sinister look:
-Seeing you find the courage to love me sparked my curiosity so much that I started to wonder; what does it feel like to love someone? That was my only reason.
Suddenly I was engulfed by the demons once more. The night felt endless as my torture continued. I just wanted it to stop. I could no longer take the crow’s cries and demon’s laughter. They all suffocated me in the small circus tent that seemed to continue shrinking as more demons started to arrive out of nowhere. I needed to escape; I just needed it end. So with my last amount of strength I manage to steal one of Criqx’s swords and without hesitation I plunged it in to my heart. Lying there, bleeding, I felt I was finally able to get some peace but through my faded vision I saw Balthazar pull something out of his pocket. It resembled the rose he had given me when we first met. He then gave it a light kiss and it started to dry up and die. As its black pedals fell onto my body I felt an extreme burning sensation coursing through my veins. For one last time I screamed in agony not knowing what had happened to me.
A few days later, I woke up lying outside in a bed of thrones. To my right I saw the tent and Balthazar slowly walking towards me. I couldn’t move, fearing what would happen if I did. Balthazar then sat next to me once again, tenderly stroking my face. In his soft words he said:
-Evangeline. My dear, Evangeline. You look even more beautiful now that the darkness has completed you. Here, take a look.
He then shifted a mirror in front of me and I saw my skin had become a ghostly white and my hair dyed in a series of black and red. My eyes had become a slitted gold similar to Balthazar’s left eye and deeply etched onto my chest were the 6 dots of the devil. I realized then that I had been made a demon. Balthazar continued caressing my face and whispered to me:
-The truth is, I knew from the first moment I saw you that you would be the “one” for me. Now we will get to remain with each other for all of eternity.
His words compelled me to hold him. I felt that if I didn’t, I would have no other meaning to go on, for even the bliss of death was taken away from me. So now I live bound to the circus; there to serve as entertainment to the nobles and aristocrats that manage to receive an invitation to come on the night of the full moon. However, I’m not like the other demonic clowns that just serve as a comical act to the audience. My job is simpler than that. All I have to do is remain by Balthazar’s side and help him greet the crowd.
-Ladies and gentlemen of the highest class; we welcome you to Cirque du Paradis. Where all your fantasies become reality.
© Copyright 2016 Koyoru Hino. All rights reserved.