Clowns are not the only scary thing at the circus.

When his daughter commits suicide, Robert Duncan is slowly driven to a murderous rage against the man who broke her heart.

The soft thud of the darts was the only sound that broke the silence in the dilapidated garden shed. They were aimed with delicate precision, before a quick flick of the wrist sent them soaring through the air. To onlookers, it would have been an enchanting sight, but Robert Duncan hadn’t had any spectators for years. He had been a local champion in his youth, the best at the pub. But his youth had long since passed him by.

Where he would have once aimed at the bullseye, he now focused on something completely different. He honoured the timeworn tradition of pinning a picture of one’s enemy to the board, and his darts carefully outlined the black and white photo of a man. And not just any man, oh no, everybody in town knew his name.

Dylan Harris. A highly successful bank manager, a family man, a pillar of the community.

Robert lined up his final dart, squinting in concentration, then drove it straight though Harris’ heart.

Dylan Harris. His daughter’s killer.


After her death he began to search frantically through her belongings, desperately trying to sort out the fragments of her broken life. What had happened to his baby girl, who had stolen his heart before she could even take her first breath? Where was that bright eyed child, who had whispered all her little secrets in his ear? When did he lose his grip on that beautiful young woman, who had so much to aspire to? How had he let her slip away?

He had stumbled across the affair in her journal. The charismatic businessman seducing the young intern: so cliché, yet so devastating. It had torn him apart all over again to read her entries. The first inklings of a romance began in early May, her first day at the office. Her writing shone bright with hope and wonder, and the page was filled with small illustrations of love hearts, daisies and giraffes – her personal favourite. The affair quickly progressed, with numerous office trysts and the occasional weekend away, all culminating in the fateful promise: he would leave his wife and children for her.

But, inevitably, he broke it off, claiming a newfound desire to rebuild his marriage. Her pages were tear-stained, and she neglected to even write the date. Gone were the hearts, the giraffes, the professions of love. Robert’s heart ached for his child. She was still so young, so fragile, easily broken by just one man. Her entries dwindled, until she penned her last haunting words: Is this what it feels like when life isn’t worth living anymore?

And then, nothing. A girl found dead in the local park, hanging from a tree, his baby girl, his beautiful Megan. All because of Dylan Harris, that bastard, using her for a cheap and easy thrill, then ditching her when it got too much for him to handle. He had blood on his hands, and yet for two years he had lived the peaceful life of an innocent man.

But for Robert, those two years had been hell. Two years of searing heartache, the pain clawing at his soul and ripping his life to shreds. First it was his marriage, which collapsed under the strain of so much loss. Next it was his mother, devastated at the death of her only granddaughter, dying of a broken heart at only sixty-eight years of age. The final straw was his fledging gardening business going under, leaving him with less money than when he began. And all the while the constant grief flowed through his life like a river: sometimes calm and gentle, at other times intense and raging, threatening to pull him under and mercilessly drown him.

And after two years, it was time for revenge.


He had kept his pistol carefully hidden away in the shed, camouflaged by his old gardening tools. It brought a tear to his eye to see them lying there, once so shiny with promise, now neglected and rusting.

He pushed away the tools as he reached further into the dingy cupboard, the stale air making him cough. After some searching he found the worn shoebox, gently lifting it into the open and placing it on the creaking wooden table. He removed the pistol and a stack of crumpled paper, each page covered in scrawling, glued on photographs and crude diagrams: his carefully laid plans for vengeance.

Robert absentmindedly reached for the pistol, toying with it as he contemplated the papers scattered before him. He had slaved tirelessly over the plans: tracking Dylan’s every movement, stealing his mail, hacking into his internet accounts. And finally, he had struck gold.

The circus. He could not suppress a slight laugh, which hung hollow in the air. Once again, he pushed away that persistent, nagging thought: he had not laughed properly in two years.

Robert did not like to reflect on what he had become: a mirthless shell of a man, wallowing in his misery, ruthlessly plotting his revenge.

He paused for a moment, recollecting himself. Yes. The circus. It was perfect. Armed with his pistol and the compulsory disguise, he would force his way into the big top. Amidst crowds of screaming children and frantic parents, he would seek out his only target: Dylan Harris, his wife, and three young children, together on a rare family outing. He would hold him at gunpoint, demanding an apology. And money, of course: he knew the man well enough to know he carried wads of cash on him at all times, and he may as well pay for the life he so carelessly destroyed.

And then, once the transaction was complete, Robert would murder Dylan’s children and wife with a single gunshot to the head, before turning his gun on Dylan himself. He wanted to pump the man full of bullets, and tear apart his lying, cheating body until it was a mere bloody pulp. It was all the miserable coward deserved.

And if he failed? He smirked, and gently pressed the gun to his temple. Well then, life just wasn’t worth living any more.


The vivid colours, joyous music and swirling scents were enough to send any child into a fit of ecstasy. They raced from one cheerful attraction to another, balloons clasped in their sticky hands and the taste of fairy-floss melting on their tongues. The big top’s candy cane stripes shone in the sun, looming majestically over the whole carnival.

However, Robert was oblivious to the overwhelming sense of glee. He rearranged his disguise in the rear-view mirror, pulling the balaclava firmly over his face and snapping on the latex gloves. His pistol sat neatly on the passenger seat, fully loaded and ready to kill. He reached for it and ran his fingers along the barrel, smiling as he felt the cool metal beneath his fingertips.

He glanced at the clock on the dashboard, impatiently tapping his fingers against the steering wheel. He guessed it would be another hour or so until everyone was shepherded into the big top, but he could wait. He had been waiting for two years.

He was wrong. A loud screech rang through the grounds, catching the attention of even the most hyperactive child. A colourfully dressed man appeared at the tent flap, visible even from the car park. He bowed, then placed a megaphone to his lips, bellowing the familiar words: ‘Roll up, roll up!’ The crowd was herded into the arena by men perched confidently on stilts, much to the delight of the children. The blissful squeals and giggles were enough to bring a sad smile to Robert’s face. He had taken Megan to the circus once, when she was merely a small girl with long plaits and dungarees. Tears stung at his eyes, but he brushed them away. This was no time to break down.

Clasping his pistol tightly, he stepped out the car, tentatively looking around for curious onlookers. Seeing nobody, he smiled slightly and felt adrenaline flow through his veins. He was ready.

His body desperately yearned to run, to shoot anyone who crossed his path, but he remained composed. He had to avoid attention; he didn’t want the police to take him down before he could reach the Harris family. His fist clenched the gun tighter, and he envisioned the chaos and the mayhem, Dylan’s blood spilling across the dirt floor, a life for a life. A family for his Megan.

His pace quickened as he got closer to the big top, and soon enough Robert was sprinting, running headlong into fate. His composure was broken; he just wanted to kill, to avenge his daughter, to spill blood. He threw up his arms as he entered the tent, waving around his pistol and firing a warning shot. ‘FREEZE!’

As expected, a bloodcurdling scream arose from the crowd. Frantic children clutched at their parents, shrieking and crying, whilst a handful of circus performers leaped at Robert, desperately trying to bring him to the floor. He brandished the gun at them, and they shrunk back, faces pale beneath the colourful makeup. ‘Get out of my way.’ His voice was low and intense, and the manic look in his eye caused them to back away slowly.

A deathly hush fell over the crowd. He brushed past his would-be assailants, and sought out his target. They were in the front row, which was to be expected; Dylan would have purchased the most expensive tickets, always leaping at a chance to show off his wealth. Robert grinned, and slowly stepped towards them, pointing his gun towards Dylan chest.

‘Remember me?’

Dylan pulled his wife and children close to him, visibly shaking.

‘Oh, you don’t recall? Well, then.’ He pressed the gun against Dylan’s throat and pulled back the safety, smiling at the satisfying click. ‘Let me remind you.

‘Megan. Remember Megan? The girl you promised the world to? The girl you used for your own gain? The girl you shagged,’ he spat the word into his face, ‘and then left for dead?’

Dylan nodded slowly, all colour drained from his face.

‘The girl that killed herself because you broke her heart?’

Dylan shook his head, complete and utter shock distorting his features. ‘I didn’t know…’

‘SHE WAS MY DAUGHTER.’ He withdrew the pistol from Dylan, and exhaled heavily. ‘You destroyed her life, and you destroyed mine. Maybe you don’t know what it’s like to lose a child…’ Robert reached out to the eldest Harris daughter, a small girl of seven, and drew her to his chest. He slowly brought the gun up to her temple. ‘Well, now you’re going to find out…’


The man crumpled to the floor, the bullet wound in his back already starting to bleed profusely. Police poured into the big top, struggling to make themselves heard above the screams and the loud sobs. ‘Relax! The situation is all under control! Please remain calm!’

The man lay, still and silent, in a rapidly growing pool of blood. Officers rushed to attend him, searching for ID and some sign of a pulse. The shrill cry of the ambulance pierced the night sky, yet all knew it was futile: the man was dead, and nobody cared to revive him.

Shrill wails led the sergeant and his officers to the Harris family, crouched behind the bleachers. ‘Are you okay, sir?’

Dylan Harris raised his face to meet the sergeant, unable to speak. He clutched his fainted daughter to his chest, stroking her face.

‘Sir? Can you tell us what happened?’

He raised a shaking arm to point at the body lying on the floor.

‘Was he threatening to shoot?’

Dylan nodded slowly, tears forming in his eyes.

‘Could you and your family get up, sir? We’ll escort you to the hospital.’

The five of them slowly got to their feet, supported by the officers. Trembling, they were led out of the big top to the embrace of the police cars and ambulances. But before he stepped out of the tent, Dylan shook off the officer’s grip, running back to the man lying on the floor. Pushing past officers, he crouched down at his ear.

‘I am so sorry.’

Submitted: October 06, 2009

© Copyright 2023 livelovelearn. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments:



awww WOWOW!!! That was an amazing story and even more, it was beautifully told. I dont think i've read a short story as beautiful, emotional and captivating as this one before!!! You're truly gifted! I enjoyed this piece very much!

Tue, October 6th, 2009 7:38am


Wow, thank you so much, you are so kind... -is speechless-

Tue, October 6th, 2009 1:04am


The detail with which this story is told makes it very captivating and brilliant. I can feel the emotions! See the scene of the circus playing out before me! Hear the carnival sounds, the screams of children and Robert's voice when he speaks to Dylan. Seriously, this was great. You're talented. :)

Tue, October 6th, 2009 9:53am


Thank you so much. :)

Tue, October 6th, 2009 3:29am


i loved this story. it was detailed and it is like you are there. awesome job. i will be looking forward to reading more.

Thu, October 8th, 2009 6:23pm


thank you so much :)

Thu, October 8th, 2009 3:09pm


Wow. Dass ist sehr gut. I like the emotion you see in the guy's planning and exicution of the plan. I also like that the Dylan guy said sorry only after Robert had died.

Fri, December 18th, 2009 2:37am


Thanks heaps. :)

Thu, December 17th, 2009 7:57pm

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