The Floating Circus
"Matt!" My name was shouted, and the circus master came into view, toting a large cage of rabid chickens. It was closing time, and tomorrow we were moving on, or up, I suppose. Since we were an Floating Circus, I guess the general direction was up.
"Yes, Sir?" I answered, hoping he wasn't going to ask me to spell the cabins again.
He was. "Can you renew the spell on Sara's berth?" He said, continuing to chug past me with his cargo as I opened my mouth to reply. I cursed in my head as I watched him take the north catwalk out of the main tent.
I sighed. It was bad enough Mangas was still Asleep, leaving me to do all the bloody spell-casting. Now the tent spells were failing and it would take me all night to renew the thing. If I'd known Mangas, our resident magician elder, was so near his Sleep I would have journeyed on. Not that Lil has been any help--she had been the other magician apprentice, the one who had gotten herself pregnant and run off with our lion tamer shortly after Mangas had blacked out, leaving me with all the work. Oh, Fiddlesticks. Bollocks. Mad Pies.
Well, moping wouldn't get me anywhere. There wasn't anything to do but renew the spell.
Sara's tent was on the outskirts of camp, blue with white stripes. She and her troupe of girls ran the, uh, more red light district of the Circus. Twenty-one and older. Which meant that I technically shouldn't be here.
I tapped lightly on her door and tried to ignore the pamphlets that littered the ground around me. No answer. I knocked louder. "Hello? Sara?"
Suddenly the door flew open and Trick stumbled out, all knees and elbows, stammering apologies as he backpedaled like a madman. Sara was right behind him, half her makeup off, and half of everything else in disarray.
"The next time I'll just lock you in there and...Oh, Hi, Matt," she said, giving me a smile. "Go ahead in. I'll just be a minute."
I edged around her, towards the door. "If I ever catch you hiding in--" I heard her whack Trick somewhere, "my closet AGAIN, you sneaky little boy...." The sounds of her surgery voice faded as I closed the door behind me. I could just hear his muffled apologies and whimpers as Sara chastised him further. I knew it was all a show, and that he was enjoying every minute of it. But, I guess the spell was fading, if I could still hear them. This tent was supposed to be soundproof. For obvious reasons.
I headed through the main room, past the door spelled for the kitchens and the lavatory (every tent had them, so the staff could come and go easily). I didn't even bother to look in her bedroom. Trick was my tent mate, and he was in love with Sara. I'd already heard a very detailed description of her rooms and person. More then I'd honestly wanted to know. Trick had even offered me his whole weekly dues to put a spell on our door to lead to her tent. I hadn't. I wondered idly if Lil had--she would have needed the money.
In the back, I lifted up a flap under the tent and smiled--the basement was still there. So, half the spell was still in place, I'd only have to reinforce it a bit. That means my night was still mine, and I could go see Clarice.
Half an hour later I sauntered down to the main attractions, past the ten armed purple octopus and the rainbow cheshire cat and other assorted oddments. All made by Mangus, of course, but only we knew that. Most people thought he was just here to float the tent and perform. Hah.
Clarice lived with the owls. He was the one who recruited me, because he could see magic. Nifty talent, that. He didn't do much else except for tell stories of his homeland in the plains, about how he'd saved the world with his mother's bones, or something. He never seemed to get around to telling about how he tricked his mother into giving up her bones, through.
I needed him to tell me when Mangus was going to wake up.