Do You Think I'm Beautiful?


        There's no easy way to say this, but I want to end my life.  That may sound a bit extreme coming from a man who had so much potential....well, at least people tell me that I had potential.  I have always doubted myself.  I never really gravitated towards anything besides amazing and entertaining others by being a bit of a freak.  And no, I'm not referring to being a freak in bed.  I want to get any notions of that squared away immediately.  No, I'm a bit of a disturbed fellow who loves to entertain others through performing bizarre acts.  Swallowing swords, breathing fire, sitting on a mat of spikes, and performing extreme acrobatics were just a few of the tricks I had up my sleeve.  Others would have called me a fool for wishing to be such a person, but I ignored them.  I only found comfort in being bizarre, and fortunately for me, I was able to grow up with a father who ran a successful circus.

        I never felt that I belonged in school, nor did I feel that I could ever be a normal citizen.  So, after I had graduated from high school, I immediately went into the entertainment business full time for my father's circus.  I had loved being a performer all of my life, but it was only until recently that I truly was allowed to perform full time in my father's circus.  My father would travel around the world, and I would rarely see him as a result, but that didn't stop me from wanting to perform every time he returned home.  And perform is exactly what I did.  I did every kind of trick in the book nearly perfectly, and never ceased to amaze my father.  That was, until recently.  My father had been growing unhappy with the turnouts at our circus, even though we were world renown.  He began to expect much more out of all of the performers, including me.  And it was no secret to any of the performers that my father's health was failing him.  Many of my friends and the employees of the circus were already aware of this.

         My father was the superstitious kind of individual, who would blame his plight on very obscene and unrealistic things.  He would blame illnesses on demons, mishaps in performances to ghosts, and anyone who ended up running away from or leaving the circus he claimed they were secretly some beast.  My father, even on his deathbed was making obscene claims, or so I thought his claims were obscene.  It was two days ago that I went to visit him in his small trailer that he slept in.  He was still in bed, trying to fight off another fever.  I made my way into his small trailer.  Unlike the other trailers, my father’s was always dimly lit, he had lots of dust covering his trophies and other belongings, and the only thing he ever truly cleaned were his dinner plates and his ring leader uniform.  His voice croaked from beneath the covers and bedsheets.  “Jacob?”

          I came to him quickly.  He didn’t sound good at all.  “Yes, father?”

         “My time is nearing its end, my son.  You will have to be strong and support the circus.”

         “Yes father, I will do my best to keep the circus alive.”

         “But there will be a test for you in the coming days.”

         This part was what worried me.  More than anything my father had ever said to me.  He said it with a deadening tone that cut through his illness.  It struck me with an icy blow to my spine and chilled my core.  “What is the test, father?”

          His face shriveled at the thought of what he had to tell me.  “There is a performer who escaped long ago from a circus after murdering everyone in the audience.  She was relentless and ruthless.  No one was left alive.  She used the circus as a bowl and trapped everyone inside, murdering them all inside, all except for me.  I survived her onslaught by surviving her test.  She forced me to lie about her appearance by testing my humility and will to hold to my lie.  She revealed her identity to me as the Grinning Spade.   After that, she left.  Without a single trace.”

         I began to sweat with panic at this tale, “But father!  We have our largest performance in two nights!

          He slowly nodded to acknowledge my concern.  “And she will not let her presence go unnoticed.”

          I grabbed at his blanket in frustration.  “We need to cancel the circus!  We can’t let this happen!”

          This was what drove my father to his breaking point.  He grabbed me by my collar and pulled me in close to his deteriorating face. “NO!  If you do not perform, everyone at this circus will die, including you!  If you please her tomorrow, she’ll leave you alone, but if you dare upset her, everyone will pay.”  He began to slowly release my shirt.  “Do this as my final wish, make sure you survive her presences this Friday evening.”

          I gritted my teeth and withheld my growing tears behind my eyes.  I didn’t need him to see my weakness during his final moments.  I needed to stand strong.  “I will father.  I’ll put on the best performance ever!”

           He nodded to me and gave me one final whisper.  “Just say yes.”  And with that, my father’s pulse stopped and his body went cold.  I stayed next to his body for awhile, slowly letting my tears fall upon his lifeless body.  I had just lost the man who had helped give my life meaning.  As much as I wanted to lay there next to him and left everything to go on without me, I knew that everyone was depending on me.  I left his trailer after composing myself the best that I could.  I went out to all of the trailers to let everyone know of my father’s passing and to state that I would be taking over as heir to our circus.  Everyone made sure to give me their words of respect and went about with their evenings, most resting up, some practicing still, and others continuing to set up the tents.  My father knew that this was coming, but I had no idea what I was in for, so I began to make the preparations for the lights, sound system, stage, and the support nets and ropes.  I wanted to make everything perfect.  I set aside my best effects specialist Vincent to work on fireworks, special effects lights, and on other pyrotechnics.  From there I began to act and dress up as a full-on ring leader.

          I spoke with authority and force I wasn’t aware of before.  I began to command every performer, large and small to form efficiently, to maintain their cool and focus, and to perform at quick speeds.  I was at the helm of my father’s circus now, and I wasn’t planning on disappointing our murderous surprise guest.  Vincent made sure to triple check everything that could explode or release a flame, and made sure that all of our systems were in working condition.  My confidence was at an all-time high.  I was more prepared than ever to perform, except this time, I was commander of the performance.  Everyone was stretched out, prepped, and excited to put on the best performance anyone had seen from our circus in years.  We had new music, darker tents, and better lights to catch all of our acrobats, trick performers, the animal tamers had the animals completely under control, and everyone felt confident in themselves and our teamwork.  We were ready.

           We began to watch people come in the next night.  The tent was overflowing.  We had sold out of tickets, and all of the seats had been taken.  Nearly a thousand people were watching us.  I went backstage before the lights had come up to make sure everything was secure.  I verified with Vincent before going out that the systems were working, and once I was satisfied, I went out with a microphone in hand.  I walked towards the center of the stage and signaled for the lights to come on.  “Welcome, one and all to the Davies World Circus!”  The crowd went wild with excitement.  I continued on introducing everyone.  “Tonight’s performance is not your average circus.  We may have similar things to other circuses, but they all lack one thing.  The desire to amaze!”  I stood on the uneven rope platform and balanced myself.  I signaled to Vincent to turn on the machine to raise me above the floor.  “We have acrobats, tricks, acts that you will find bizarre and awe-inspiring.  But without further ado, take your seats, relax, and enjoy a step into our world.”  The lights shut off on me as I was raised up to the lights level of the tent and stepped onto the platform.  The acrobats began to fly around on their ropes, each of them carrying a bubble wand full of colored soap.  They performed amazing tricks on ropes, swings, and colored fabric.  Each of them alternating in taking in more and more soap from an elevated soap box.  The crowd was wild with excitement at the amazing light show, the performers, and the fantastic and engaging music that was playing loud through our speakers.

             The rope acrobats continued on for a long twenty minutes, and I watched as their act began to grow more and more in excitement, until the colorful flames were released from the pyrotechnics machines towards the back of the stage, signaling the end of their performance.  The crowd was clapping, whistling, and yelling cheers at the performers.  Up next was our strange, but entertaining comedic clown sketch.  They had prepared their act like mimes, so little speech would be needed to complete the act.  I had to control my laughter, as to prevent the audience from knowing where I was.  The crowd was full of pure excitement and joy at our performance.  But I began to notice something.  Out of the corners of the stage, I began to see a white mask with spade mark along the middle of it and the mask being circled and covered with a crossed X over the entire mask.  It was so distinct and disturbing that I couldn’t look away.  But as soon as I saw another enjoyable joke played out and looked back at the mask, it was gone.  Another moment passed where I noticed the mask, this time towards the back of the audience.  I wasn’t going to let this one escape from my sights. I continued to stare at that thing, watched as a figure that was well hidden in the shadows was wearing the mask and moving ever so slowly, never breaking my line of sight.  I heard a loud scream of cheers and the flames firing off again, signaling the end of that act. And with that, I lost the mask again.

               I began to grow frustrated, trying to keep up with each of these masks.  The animal performances were coming on next, and each of the wild cats was ready to perform.  The animal tamer came out with two leopards who walked side by side by him and began to perform incredible tricks.  Then out came the bears and lions.  Flaming rings and shrink boxes were set up for them to escape from or go through, each animal amazing the audience with bizarre tricks and acts.  From engulfing the head of an animal tamer to carrying the other animals on their backs and tossing them onto moving platforms, dodging falling oak barrels and making through the obstacle courses unscathed.  They had perfected their performance and planned on pleasing this crowd.  It was then I noticed another one of those damn spade masks peeking out of the edge of the curtains behind the stage.  The mask was staring out at the crowd before vanishing behind the curtains.  I wasn’t about to let this one get away from me.  I slid down the stairs from the light stage to backstage behind the curtains.  I gave chase after the masked figure, never letting it out of my sights.  I chased it through the many dressing rooms and clothing rooms until I had cornered it in a broom closet.  I had it now.  It had locked the door, so I decided to kick the door down.  I let out a triumphant laugh, thinking that I had finally caught this figure, but on the other side of the door was a small and frightened rabbit, terrified half to death by me kicking the door down.  I looked to the vent in the room and ran to open the grill to the air vent.  I saw the last glimpse of a single shadowed foot heading up the vent before I heard the flames mark the end of the animal performance.  Up next was the bizarre and freak performance, and after it was our finale.  I decided to rush out to the entrance to the stage and found the figure, except this time, I was able to see it in its full shape.  The figure was a young looking woman with dyed red hair, matted clothes, and she wore an eye-piercing white mask with the same imprint as the others.  It was the woman that my father had spoken of:  the Grinning Spade.

           She was standing next to the rope platform, the one that was supposed to be heightened, out of view.  She was standing next to it with the microphone in hand.  It was then I heard her speak with a voice that would insight madness into anyone who was aware of who she was.  “Are you all having a wonderful time!”  The crowd went wild with this remark, screaming and cheering with excitement, not realizing who they were cheering for.  I ran towards the figure but felt something tackle me to the ground.  I tried to break free, but it was no use.  I looked back at my attacker and saw a large rabbit like figure holding me to the ground.  I tried to squirm and break free of its hold, but it held me down like an anchor.  I saw towards the sounds and system deck a dark figure with a strange and computer-like face.  It was not human and sounded inhuman in its giggles as it began to blare loud and frightening music at the audience.  I looked up to watch the Grinning Spade being lifted up on the platform.  She began to speak again.  “We hope you enjoyed tonight’s performance because now is the grand finale!!!”

          I fought my way free of the rabbit figure and took chase after the moving platform only to freeze in fear at the sight of a third figure with a blue mask, a male figure having the pyrotechnics aiming directly at the roof.  They planned to kill us all, and I had to stop them.  I tried to scream out for Vincent.  “Vincent!  Vincent!  Kill the lights!” But I stopped again in my tracks as I saw Vincent’s lifeless body tumble five stories down to the floor.  Everyone in the crowd screamed in shock and in horror.  His neck had been severed by with a large knife.  The Grinning Spade spoke again.  “We thank you for joining us tonight, and we hope you have a bloody fine evening!”  It was then the fireworks went off and began to explode against the roof of the circus.  Hot plastic and metal began to rain down both in the crowd and backstage.  The entire circus burst into screaming and chaos, flames erupted everywhere, and the bloodthirsty entourage of the Grinning Spade began to do their disgusting work.  The blue masked figure, the computer-like figure and rabbit figure had all joined in causing death and chaos amongst the already dying and terrified crowd.  The blue-masked figure began to murder the men, the computer-like figure used the flamethrowers and other pyrotechnics to burn people alive.  The rabbit figure was carrying a large club and was beating people into bloody, pulpous masses.  I then saw the Grinning Spade using her large cleaver knife to cut people open.  She was quick and relentless.  As quickly she struck, she vanished into the growing crowd, killing vulnerable people off one by one, their blood and guts spewing out onto the burning floor.  I rushed backstage to try and find anyone who was alive who could help me fight these….these things, but all of them had died from the wreckage and fire.

        I rushed back out to the stage to find the Grinning Spade, giggling with maddening laughter at my fear and terror.  She began to call on her followers.  “Fire-heart, Tetris, Falling Star, all Rabid Children must be present and accounted for.”  It was then I witnessed the Rabbit figure, the computer-like figure, and the blue-masked figure surrounds me in order by name.  I fell back in fear and horror at the approaching figures, all covered in blood.  This was the feared Grinning Spade and her murderous entourage, towering over my cowering being.  The smell of burning flesh and fresh human blood and organ matter was scattered across the now collapsing tent.  All of the other figures backed away as the Grinning Spade walked towards me and knelt down to be face to face with me.  She raised her blood covered cleaver towards my forehead and began to speak.  “You.  You are the only survivor left, and I have a question to ask you.  If you answer correctly, you’ll live to tell my tale.  If you answer wrong….” She tossed her blade in the air in a juggling act, catching it in her open palm, the placed it towards my neck.  “Your sterling little show ends here.”

          I drew in a heavy breath and responded as calmly as I could.  “What is your question?”

          She tilted her head at an angle, placed her palm on the side of her face in thought, then put a hand of triumph, as to indicate what question this murderous being had for me.  “Yes!  Here’s my question for you fine sir!  Do you think I’m beautiful?”

           This questioned seemed rather bizarre to me, but I answered calmly.  “Yes, you are beautiful, Grinning Spade.”  The one called Tetris grew angry with me.

            “No one said you could say her name!” But her approach was cut short by the Grinning Spade’s cleaver, preventing Tetris from making an advance towards me.

             “It’s fine, I’ll let that one slide.”  The Grinning Spade’s mask tilted to the side again, obviously in thought.  She came to another conclusion and voiced it to me.  “That is if you’re willing to see what I look like under my mask.  I nodded my head in fear and in anticipation.  “Excellent!”  The Grinning Spade removed her mask and showed me her hideous, disfigured face, the face of something that no longer appeared to be human.  It was pitch black and there were multiple scars that ran up and down along her face.  Her appearance would have driven any normal person to madness at the sight of her, but my father’s words echoed in my head.
       “Just say yes.”

        She gave a ghastly smile, one that nearly stopped my heart in fear and began to emit an insanity-inducing chuckle, one that would make any normal person long for death.  She spoke again in a voice that embodied madness.  “Do you still think that I’m beautiful”  I wanted to be relinquished from her ghastly gaze in any way possible.  In that moment, I welcomed the thought of death as a release from her horrifying appearance, but I spoke again.

         “Yes, you are still beautiful.”

         The others chuckled at this remark, but the Grinning Spade stood up prominently and silenced them all.  “Silence!  He has answered correctly, and our time here is done.”  She placed her mask back onto her face and turned away from me.  “Farewell Mr. Davies.”  I tried to stand up and chase after the figures as they began to walk away, but a falling stage frame cut me off from them, falling directly behind them as a dividing barrier between me and them.  I ran out of the circus through the emergency exit towards the back, just in time before our reserve explosives began to fire off in a massive and colorful frenzy.  I left that night mostly unscathed, with my entire circus gone.  I decided to end my performance career amongst other circus performances, and joined Hollywood as an action star.  It was never my desire or my intent, but I was good at it, and it paid my bills.  But thinking back now on that night, the twentieth anniversary since the night of my experience with the Grinning Spade, and another massive catastrophe that happened recently in the news that reported of another circus massacre, it brought up my memories that lead up to that terrible night.  I couldn’t take back what they did then, and I can’t make up for it now.

            I suppressed my past far behind me, trying to forget about what happened that night, but the recent events of a similar massacre have led me to believe that the Grinning Spade is still killing innocent people.  So I decided to write down these memories as a memoir to that night, and as a warning.  My father's predictions were right, and I failed my circus, but not by my own doing.  The Grinning Spade is a merciless killer who only let me walk away with my life because she wanted to keep her legend alive, and that was the reason I never spoke of this matter until now.  The Grinning Spade cannot be stopped, and anyone who desires to entertain will be in danger of her and her murderous team of inhuman monsters.  If you are reading this, and you are an entertainer, avoid anyone who speaks of her at all costs.  Avoid the name of the Grinning Spade and the Rabid Children at all cost.  Dare you to face them alone, your performance will come to an early and bloody close.


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