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Cirque du Mort

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Come one, come all, and spin The Wheel of Misfortune! Who will be our unlucky contestant today? Mrs. Jefferson? You’ve passed a healthy age anyway, good bye! Perry Austen? Good bye to you too! Megan Carter? Oh a pretty one! I’d like to have her in the Cirque du Mort! We could clown around. Haha! Say adios to Planet Earth and hello to Cirque to Mort! Come one, come all! Hey, cue the carnival music will ya? HO! HO! HO! I do enjoy The Wheel of Misfortune! The wheel of misfortune goes round and round, round and round, round and round! Greg Huffington, Gabriel Terrace, Ching Vo, Raj Patel, Vincent Nguyen, Giovanni Angelo, Justine Moritz, Santiago DaVinci, Oluwatobi Okundaye, gone! Gone! Gone! HAHA! My excitement dies down and I hear someone speak.
“Hey Death, I think it’s time for your trial,” a melancholy voice booms.
I sigh because I know that I will be demoted from spinning The Wheel of Misfortune. If only I could cause a war, I’d be allowed to spin it more often, World War III sounds appealing. My thoughts are interrupted by the annoying voice that belongs to Sadness. “Hey Death, I think --”
“I KNOW, I KNOW!” I shout, “I’m on my way.” This trial should start in a few seconds, I muse, which means I have half an hour to get ready. I chuckle to myself. I walk to my room and find Gossip sitting on my bed.
“Hey Death,” she coos, “What happened? Why are you being tried? Who do you think will replace you once they decide you’re unfit to be –?”
“For the love of the dead! Do you ever stop talking?” I say, and she pouts. A sudden movement occurs and with a crash, a pink-haired ditsy girl appears in my room. Giggling uncontrollably, she steps inside,
“Did someone say Love?” she asks, still giggling. She and Gossip have a typical mortal clown face: Red noses, colourful faces, and black eyeliner. Love wears a pink tutu over a polka dotted jumpsuit and Gossip wears purple overall shorts with bright red suspenders, a colourful t-shirt and knee length striped socks. Love stumbles forward and knocks over several items including a desk, some spare buttons, and my Soul Jar. A cool breeze escapes the jar and several ghosts begin to dance around Love. She giggles even harder. It’s like a circus in this place.
I snort because it is a circus.
“Love, you little klutz” Gossip says, and begins to giggle with Love, “I was just asking Death why he was being tried you know, so that—” Gossip explains, but I interrupt her,
“STOP! Both of you! Leave my room! NOW!” I bellow. They hesitate for a few seconds and another small giggle escapes Love, but after seeing the anger on my face, they shrug, and decide to leave. In the hallway I hear Gossip whisper,
“I heard he was involved with a girl, a mortal, which is why he’s being tried, he disobeyed the laws of the Cirque!”
Love squeals loudly, “OUUU! Forbidden romance! How adorable!” I cringe and shut the door. I walk to my mirror and examine myself. I look like a man of about twenty-five, although I am immortal. I wear ill-fitting and mismatched clothes that have oversized buttons. Rather than colourful makeup, my skin is as pale as white paint. The skin around my eyes is a dark black like thick eyeliner; it makes me look droopy and wistful. Greasy hair, tied in a ponytail hangs till my shoulders and my usual plastered smile has turned into a forever-engraved frown. I have a black bulbous nose, which isn’t a costume, it’s my permanent nose. The red nose that the mortals wear is a mockery of my exquisite beauty. A flamboyant white ruff collar accompanies my clothes. I decide to wear a jumpsuit that has two separate designs, split in the middle. One side is patterned like a chess board and the other just plain black.
I already know it will be a long day.
I begin to walk to the Circus Chambers, and a dozen ghosts dressed in clown costumes are chattering in the hallway in a cascade of sound. They sound like a rainy day. Some are juggling knives, and others riding their ghost circus elephants. I see the Circus Chambers, the largest tent in the circus. It has black and white stripes and a moat filled with dark water surrounds it; it looks like unrefined oil. It’s called the Laughing Water and when one goes near it hundreds of dead and tortured voices laughing maniacally can be heard. The voices sound insane, as if they’ve lost all hope and have no choice but to laugh in a macabre manner. Any mortal would be driven mad by the disturbing cachinnation. Speaking of mortals, Gossip was right, a mortal is what got me into this mess.
***

There are too many. Too many of them. “I know not, what to do” Life says. Lame, right? Life has a very old-fashioned way of speaking. Life is a woman, who looks about forty, with long legs and a graceful demeanor. Her blonde hair shines and ripples like a river of gold, and her eyes are an endless blue like the ocean or the sky. She is the Ringleader of the circus. She wears a mini top-hat and carries a living snake as a whip. She has a pale white face and excessively rosy cheeks and blood red lips. She too, has a circular nose. It is white and glows. “There has to be some way, any way to get rid of some of them, the planet has become crowded.” Life sighs and is distraught, she looks to her whip. In a hissing voice, her companion speaks,

“But missstressssss, why can’t you just ssstop making more?”

“Oh Ego, you don’t understand, I am never quite satisfied, and seeing the same faces over and over, does get quite boring. But lo! I have created too many. Yet I wish to create more. I want to get rid of the wrinkly ones and the ones I’ve grown bored of watching. How do I do so? Can thou tell me how?”

“I daressssay, missstresss, create a destroyer. A masssss destroyer that can take care of that for you.”

“Oh but they needs to be immortal you see? It would be too much work to replace the destroyer over and over and over and over,” Life exhales sadly, and her voice trails off.

“Your newessst son,” he begins, “you haven’t assigned him a task at the circus. Perhaps, ssssince he ends up breaking everything anyway, you could let him be the desssstroyer.” Life looks at Ego, contemplating his suggestion.

“I suppose,” she says, hesitantly, “I could.” After a fleeting silence, she nods, “Bring him in, I need to speak with him.” Ego steps into his full form, a gigantic snake with two enormous elephant ears.

“Asss you wi--” Ego starts, and evaporates.
***

The Ringleader assigns me the name Death; I am excited to finally be a part of the Cirque du Vie. I decide that I need to come up with a system to choose who leaves and who stays. Some people suggest drawing names out of a bowl or other name generators, but I decide that I want to make a wheel. Thus, The Wheel of Misfortune is born. The wheel spins and stops on random victims and the mortals die one by one. I feel so giddy spinning The Wheel of Misfortune. Watching the mortal humans, animals, and plants die is even somewhat …arousing.

Centuries pass and The Wheel of Misfortune spins on. The merciless wheel chooses at random and the creatures disappear from their planet. They end up in the Endless Tent. The tent looks normal sized from the outside but the inside grows to accommodate the growing number of dead. No life can be destroyed, it can only be changed. They become shimmery, white, and translucent. They live in the Endless Tent, where they mindlessly perform circus acts. They lose their personalities and follow the orders of me, Death. They perform tricks for the rest of the Clowns. That’s what we are. Clowns. There are only around four hundred of us immortal beings — Clowns. Our attire is regal, yet the humans choose to make a mockery of it. The Clowns are their entertainers, to entertain young children and families. Humans are pathetic. I would choose to murder them all if I wasn’t forbidden to do so.

There are three classes of us: Clowns, Cloones, and the Crown Clowns. Cloones are former Clowns driven mad by their power over the mortal world. The power is often so intoxicating that the Clowns are driven to do things that are against the Laws, and are then imprisoned in the Draining Tent. Here, their powers are drained and they essentially become like the humans. Their supernatural powers are lost yet they remain immortal. The Crown Clowns are the Clowns in charge of the governing of the Cirque du Vie. Life is the ringleader, so she has the highest authority. The Crown Clowns are appointed by Life, so obviously I am not a Crown Clown. Justice, Ego, Mercy, Health, Maturity, Greed, and Surprise are the seven Crown Clowns.

The Clowns look the age that the Crown Clowns choose for them. These ages are based on when their Name is assigned, their importance and their proficiency at what they do. The older you are, the better. I look sixteen: the youngest-looking Clown.
Life is the oldest.
***

I wonder what would happen if I were to alter The Wheel of Misfortune, I wonder to myself one evening. What would happen if I added in the names of the Clowns?

“Death, Life wishes to speak to you,” Greed informs me, and she is dressed like a typical clown except she wears an excess of jewelry, and her clothes and buttons are made of gold and other precious stones. Her hair is in silver curls accented with tiny diamonds, and they bounce and reflect light as she walks. Just looking at her gives me a headache.

World War I has just ended, and I am excited to speak to Life because I’m positive that I will be receiving something as gratitude for my hard work. All the darker Clowns had worked harder than the others, which is why the war broke out. This hard work is going to be acknowledged.

I walk into the room and Life is examining herself in a mirror. “Death” she says, when sees me in the reflection of the mirror. “You have killed too many,” she turns and shakes her head, “I think you need to learn restraint.” She speaks slowly, as if to a child. I look at the mirror and notice that I am now twelve. I watch her expression, her lips are pursed and she remains silent for a while. “I think… you should go. Consider this a warning.”

A WARNING!? A WARNING! I am furious. I expected praise not… I make up my mind. Life has to die. Life will be gone. I laugh maniacally. I laugh…like a monster. A blood thirsty monster, a godless beast that wants to tear her apart the way she did me. I laugh and laugh and laugh all the way to my tent. Death’s Tent.

“This circus will no longer be the Circus of Life, I will be king. I will be the Ringleader. I will have my Kingdom. My Kingdom will be the Cirque du Mort!” I say aloud to myself. I stare at my twelve year old form in the mirror.

“Cirque du mort eh?” A voice asks— a gentle voice; a sing song voice—a voice I’d never heard before.

“That depends. Who’s asking?”

“Don’t worry. I’m not an enemy.”

“Who are you?”

“My, my, you Clowns are so impatient!”

“Us Clowns? I’m not Impatience, I’m Death.”

“I can help with your plan.”

“Why did you call us Clowns, like you aren’t one?”

“I can help you with your plan.”

“Answer my question”

“If I do, promise to not kill me”

“What? Wha—MORTAL! MORTAL! OUT OF THE SHADOWS, LET ME SEE YOUR UGLY FACE!”

“My, my! I’m the ugly one? Have you seen your nose?”

“ENOUGH!” I run around my room, toppling furniture, desperately looking for my victim. “I will have you in the Endless Tent. You’re as good as dead! A Ghost! A —”

“Excuse me, but that is not my hand.” I look down to see where I had grabbed her. I slowly remove my hand from her breast, embarrassed. I shake it off and compose myself.

“I’m going to personally drag you to your death.”

“Oh, so you’re MY Death. Adorable. I appreciate the offer but I don’t want you. ” I grab her collar and begin to drag her. I do not have time for foolishness.

“Listen to me, I have an idea. I can help you. Can you at least hear me out?”

“No, YOU listen! I don’t know how you got here and I do not care, but you need to leave.”

“I’m not an ordinary mortal.” I say nothing, and continue to drag her. We arrive at the door and just as I am about to open the door she says, “Take me out of this tent and I will pretend that you and me … did … things.” She narrows her eyes and smirks, “Isn’t that against your laws? To have romantic relations with mortals”

“I do not take threats from your kind!”

“Oh yeah? Well how’s this impression: ‘Oh Death, I can’t believe you, you’re breaking up with me? Oh I can’t even — ! You horrid, horrid Clown! I came here because I thought we would be married! I can’t believe you would do this to me!’” She begins to sob dramatically.

“Alright, enough, what do you want from me? How do I make you go away?” I say because I realize that no one would believe me if I said she just showed up in my room.

“Let me help you.”

“You want to help me? You came here, just to help me? What’s in it for you?”

“Well, as a reward I want to be removed from The Wheel of Misfortune. I want to be immortal.”

“I…”

“Don’t say you can’t,” she interrupts, “I know you can. You want to add Life to it. If you can add Life you can remove me.” I ponder her offer and ask,

“How do you propose to help me anyway?”
***

When Espoir returns to the Cirque du Vie, my form has changed. I am now a twenty-five year old man. I had tried hard to earn my way up the ranks. I am also no longer the youngest Clown. As much as I hated to admit it, Espoir had great plan, and a part of her plan included waiting. I had waited seven years and had almost given up on Espoir’s return, but she returned, as promised.

“Hello Death,” she says. The last time I had seen her she had been a seventeen year old girl looking for immortality. Her looks hadn’t changed much; her light brown hair had gone from being shoulder length to waist length. Her hazel eyes and small frame remained the same. However, her light olive skin was now a caramel tone, as if she’d returned from a tropical vacation. “Are you ready?”

“As ready as I was seven years ago.”

“At least you aren’t shorter than me now.” She laughs.

“Amusing.”

“Shall we?”

“After you.”
We begin to walk to the Circus Chambers. I give Espoir the Circbuds, a pair of earplugs that had taken seven years to develop, to cancel the noise of the Laughing Waters. When Intelligence had asked me why I needed them, I had told him I wanted to see if he could do it. Of course Intelligence couldn’t resist a challenge or an opportunity to show off his …well, intelligence.

“Are the Cloones ready?” Espoir asks,

“Yes,” I respond. As if on cue, the Diminishing Tent shakes.

Seven Years ago Espoir had pointed out that I could not simply put another name into The Wheel of Misfortune. The names were added by Life. Everyone she created automatically appeared in The Wheel of Misfortune. When I had tried to put a name in, The Wheel of Misfortune had simply spat it back out. Espoir then pointed out that Life created Clowns too, but they weren’t in The Wheel of Misfortune. After investigating further and repeatedly challenging Intelligence, I had finally discovered the secret to immortality. The Clown nose. The thing that separates us and the mortals is simply a bulbous nose. That left one thing, how does one get rid of the nose? Life cannot be destroyed, it must be changed, as I mentioned before. Immortality, perhaps, has the same rules. It cannot be destroyed, it must be changed. After talking to the Cloones and promising them freedom, they had agreed to help attack the Circus Chambers. It would be futile to assume that the other Clowns would let us take Life’s nose without a fight. Since the ghosts are also under my command, they would be an addition to my deadly army. If one was to give Life’s nose to Espoir, she would become immortal, Life would be able to die, the Cloones would be free, and I would be Ringleader. Everyone wins.
Except for Life.
As Espoir begins to walk into the Circus Chambers, I open the Diminishing Tent and the Endless Tent, and a flood of Cloones and ghosts rushes to the Circus Chambers with her.
The humiliation will finally come to an end. Life will regret her disrespect towards me. I am willing to do whatever it takes, I decide, whatever it takes to overthrow her. She will finally see who the master is. The monstrous hunger within me has grown, and the beast within growls. At this moment, all the other Clowns are busy in their tents. The perfect opportunity to do what I we have come for. The only defense that Life has is the Crown Clowns. That meant the battle would be seven against Cirque-knows-how-many; the most numerous being the ghosts.
We enter the Chambers like warriors, and find the Crown Clowns sitting around the table. Espoir and I, as well as a few of the strongest Cloones go straight to Life. The rest of the army distracts the Crown Clowns. Ego changes into his full form and tries to protect Life. A few Cloones begin to restrain him. Espoir uses a small dagger to cut off Life’s nose. The last thing I remember is everything going black.
The fleeting battle is finished, and Life comes to see me in my tent. “Without me, you would not exist. I created you Death. I created all the Clowns, the humans, the trees, the animals… I am Life. I am the creator. You cannot kill me, without killing yourself.”
“W-what happened?” I say, which is an extremely stupid question to ask after I tried to kill her.
Life smiles, “You discovered your inner demon, I regret creating you.” She strokes my hair and I realize my age hasn’t changed. She notices me looking in the mirror and explains, “I’m trying to keep this undercover, but you will be tried, and I will make sure you get the punishment you deserve.”
“I —”
“Don’t bother. Nothing you say will change what happened in the Circus Chambers”
“If — If everything you created died when your nose was taken from you, how did you get it back?”
“I guess you should have listened to Espoir when she told you she wasn’t an ordinary mortal.”
“How do you know — Espoir is — who is — I don’t — She —?”
“Get some rest, your trial begins soon.”
***
A mortal is what got me into this mess.
I walk to the Circus Chambers. The Crown Clowns are arranged around a U-shaped table, and at the head of the table was Life and beside her sits Ego on the left and —
I stare in amazement at the brown-haired girl beside her. She smirks the same way she had when she threatened to pretend we had a romantic relationship. Espoir was the person sitting on the right of Life.
“This trial is regarding Death. He is to be tried for his actions and disobedience of the laws.” Ego recites, “His crimes include trying to murder Life, opening the Diminishing Tent, and using the ghosts of personal gain, all against the Circus laws. If there are additions, deletions or objections, please speak now, or forever hold your peace.” No one speaks. I have nothing to say. I look at Ego, then to Life, and finally linger on Espoir.
“I do not have an addition, or a deletion, or an objection… I just have a question,” I say.
“Go on”, Life instructs.
“Who is she?” I point to Espoir.
“She is you”
“What?” I ask, dumbfounded.
“She is Death. You were too rebellious from the beginning, and immature, I wanted to create a new Death.”
“And who am I?”
“Your circumstances have led me to create a new class, you are not a Clown, not a Cloone, nor a human; you are a monster.” A silence lingers for several long seconds and Ego says,
“Do you have any final requests before your execution?”
“Yes”, I say, “Let me spin The Wheel of Misfortune one last time.” Life nods and it appears in front of me.
The Wheel of Misfortune goes round and round — I realize I don’t want to die, at least not like this —, round and round, — I smile triumphantly because I know — round and round — I will die on my own terms — round and round …
I see the indicating needle point to a name. A familiar name.
The Wheel of Misfortune has chosen its victim and its victim… is its very own creator.

Death.



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