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What Lies In The Shadows
I don’t know how many times I have seen this show, fifty, one-hundred? The only cool thing about this kind of show is the whip the guy carries around. He swings as it if where an extension of his own arm, lashing out at the beasts who reveal their presence to him. My parents can only feel sympathy for the poor animals he is lashing out at. The only reason they come to this show is to check the condition of the animals, dragging me along so that I can witness the abuse that goes on here. The whole time I just roll my eyes. This is just a cliché version of a circus.
“And now, for my final feat, I shall tame one of the most fearsome beasts walking on the earth. A huge monster that’s snowy white and stands eight feet tall! His roar is ear shattering, and with a single step from his powerful foot could crush me into a piece of paper! Do you think I can do it!?” The man shouts into his microphone far below. You can tell he’s a young guy, just by the energy he gives off.
Of course the whole crowd screams yes! Yes! So with an okay, lifting his arms out to embrace the huge cheer that comes from the crowd, he signals to a man by the side gate to life it up, and open the cage that contains the thing. Then happens the anti-climactic part of each show, the only “beast taming” you get to witness is this guy lashing out at a shadow. It appears long and huge inside the tent, looking like a big man, in a fur suit, on stilts. The beast tamer hurls himself out of view towards this enormous “beast.” First you hear cracks of the whip, then a bunch of shouts, some from the beast tamer and others from his followers, and then lastly a big huge slam from the cage outside, and an enormous cheer erupts from the crowd as the tamer runs back in, embracing it in all his “glory.”
After that comes the thanks and then the crowd is dismissed to go buy beast tamer junk from the venders outside, while my parents tell me to sit and wait for them in the stands. This part usually took an hour, so I came prepared. I got out my classic Sherlock Holmes from inside my bag, and dove into something that was truly interesting.
“Is that a good book?” a familiar male voice asked. My eyes were immediately drawn out of the book, and drawn upward to see the beast tamer standing over me. He was no older then I am eighteen at the most. He was handsome, I’ll give him that, but his show ruined all other aspects about him.
“It draws you in, definitely. I’m Skye, and you are?” I replied.
“Ryland Beck,” he answered, drawing the whip out from across his chest. “The beast tamer.” At that he laughed and plopped down next to me, while I forced out a chuckle, and tried to go back to Sherlock Holmes. “So what was your favorite part of the show?” He asked, still believing that I actually enjoyed that crap.
“The climactic ending where you tame big foot,” I replied sarcastically. He was taken aback, but then he sighed, as if it were expected.
“Look, a lot of people complain about that ending, and I understand how they feel but that beast is too scary most eyes, especially the ones of the little kids and the old people sitting in the crowd.” He explained, as if I still thought I bought the act.
“Look buddy,” I said standing, and putting the book away in my back. “A hairy fat guy on stilts scares everybody. It’s totally understandable how you don’t want to scar the children.”
“Wait, you don’t believe that that’s a real beast?” he asked in complete disbelief.
“No!” I shouted back, as it’s the most obvious thing in the world, and with that turned and walked away.
“Then how come I see you here for every show? Huh?” What’s up with that?” He asked loudly. I hit the ground off the bleachers, and turned around to face him.
“Okay, so you’re stalking me now?” I asked. When he didn’t respond, but open his mouth kind of stupidly I just rolled my eyes and walked away.
“Wait! Skye come back!” he called after me. I quickened my pace but he caught my shoulder before I could leave the tent. I spun around to face him, closer than I expected but not letting it catch me off guard.
“My parents are those animal control people, alright!? They watch every show because it’s their job, and drag me to it against my will even though I’ve seen it like a million times!” I snapped at him, just vaguely hoping it would get him to leave me alone. Again I tried turning around and walking away.
“Fine! Tomorrow I will show you all the beasts in my show! Even the one at the end! Maybe then you’ll value my show a little bit more!” Ryland shouted at me as I walked off back to the car. I texted my parents to be sure they knew where I was, then waited the rest of the evening out on Pearl Jam.
~ ~ ~ ~
The next night at the show, Ryland’s eyes scanned the crowd, searching for me. When he found me our eyes locked in an intense heat, and broke. With a new determined look Ryland put on another wildly cliché beast taming the show, the ending being as dramatic as ever. I got so bored I began to read during the show, until my parents snapped at me to pay attention.
By the end I was put out, and ready to be proved right. When my parents left and Ryland approached, he looked worried and slightly crestfallen.
“I’m ready to be proven right now.” I said, smiling and walking down the bleacher steps to him.
“Look, I can’t show you can’t of the beasts right now. I’m sorry my parents said I couldn’t because we lost a worker last night. On any normal occasion I would have but the monster has been ornery lately.” He said, sounding really downcast.
“Okay, so you’re saying this worker was killed by the monster?” I asked. He slowly nodded, and at that I couldn’t help but laugh. “Okay great play acting Ryland it’s one of your talents definitely. But a fat man’s mouth is not big enough to fit an actual person, I’m sorry.” At that Ryland looked up at me, looking murderous angry, yet hurt like a kicked puppy.
“Fine. You want to see the monster so bad!? Let’s go!” He declared. He grabbed me roughly by the arm and pulled me down the bleachers and onto the grass. We walked briskly towards the side entrance were the shadows came from and through it to the field on the other side. No one was around, so we didn’t need to sneak to get close to this other huge tent. It stood twenty feet away from the main tent, and the inside was veiled by a plastic cloth.
“The monster is inside that tent. Beware of what you see.” He said.
“Don’t worry Ryland I’ve shaved a fat man’s back before. It can’t get any worse than that.” I said patting him on the shoulder, and walking to the tent. Slowly I drew the cloth back and stepped inside. Immediately I tripped onto a cold thick cast iron floor. All of a sudden a metal cage door dropped from above and I scrambled out of the way just in time. However now I was surrounded in complete darkness, and I was alone.
“Skye! Skye! Where are you!?” Ryland called, as he ran in. His voice sounded guilty, regretting to let me in here, and wanting me out. The moment I heard him calling all my doubts of his show faded away and slowly my mind began to register true terror. I heard Ryland call again, but I couldn’t answer, my body and mind succumbing to the numbing fear.
All of a sudden a deafening roar sounded from the back of the cage, penetrating my ears and rattling my entire body. The sound threw me backwards into the wall of the cage, then dropping me to the ground. I landed on my ankle then twisted it as I fell, the snap of it echoing off the walls. I sat there, covering my mouth, crying in pain, just hoping the monster would fail to notice my presence.
“Skye! Don’t move, say, or do anything! I’m going to find you!” Ryland’s voice shouted, sounding distant. I nodded to myself, knowing he wouldn’t see it, yet trying to convince myself he could find me.
Minutes, seeming like hours seemed to pass as I sat there on the ground, waiting for Ryland to return. I didn’t dare move or breath at all. The tense energy hung in the air like water on a humid day. It seemed to get hotter as gusts of hot wind encased me at intervals. Then noises gentle noises began to come with each little gust of wind. Then I realized something.
Slowly looking up I came face to face with a creature who was twenty feet tall, patches of white hair, and pale boil covered skin all over his body. It was almost human like it its appearance. However it’s hands were gnarled and beaten, and it’s huge feet shed sheets of dead skin, as large as small blankets. It stared down at me, it’s eyes black and broken, just looking for a midnight snack.
“Please find me Ryland. Please.” I begged inside of my head. All of a sudden a huge crack from above me answered my prayers as Ryland dropped from the ceiling and rolled off to the side, drawing the monster’s attention. It roared again, this time forcing my ears into a deaf state. Ryland threw me a pair of earmuffs, and I scrambled for them, putting them over my bleeding ears, and waited. He had a flashlight with him so I could see what was happening.
With every attack the monster tried Ryland would lash at him, forcing him back. I watched every horrifying second with fixed attention. Ryland had so many near misses. The monster smashing his fist down at Ryland, and in the last second Ryland would jump out of the way. Or the monster would kick his mighty foot at Ryland, but in return Ryland would roll to the side.
The monster and Ryland were evenly matched adversaries, when not strong in one field equally strong in the opposite. Every five seconds the whip would snap or the monster would roar in anger or agony, trying to kill Ryland Beck. However Ryland was too quick for the monster and soon he had it stumbling back into the very back darkness of the cage. When finally the monster stopped attacking and retreated to the farthest corner of the cage, he ran back straight to me.
We embraced quickly and fiercely. I cried into his shoulder all the guilt, fear, and pain that had overcome me. He hushed me down, telling me it was alright. However I, like a stupid scared little girl, bawled into his shoulder. If only I were stronger . . .If only . . .
“I’m sorry Skye. It was my fault. I was mad at you so I put you in danger.” He whispered in my ear. I pulled back a little to look into his face.
“No, it was my fault. I should have listened to you.” I answered. I looked into his eyes. They were a deep blue color, yet had on odd tint of orange, like the beach’s sunset on a clear summer’s day. Before I knew it his lips were on mine, and I was back in his warm embrace. His lips were as sweet, and succulent as warm honey, holding me so gentle in his arms on that cold metal floor. It created a warm spot on the floor. Then we were parted at the last second each of thinking the same thing. We were still in the cage.
“I think we should get out of here.” He whispered gentle.
“I can’t walk.” I replied spitefully. He stood, wrapping the whip around his chest, than he bent down and scooped me up into his arms. I clung onto him, never letting anything go. He walked along the dark wall and soon we were at the cage door. I smiled at him and he smiled at me. For the first time in my life I felt utterly complete. That was the last thing I remember before the monster has us both in its disgusting hands.