He held his small pocket knife as he tripped and weaved through the dark forest, blindly running in the direction where he though she had gone.
“Sam?” his minded clicked with muddled recognition. He stopped, and looked down at his hands, and as he saw the knife grasped hard in his hand, he threw it at the ground in disgust.
I can’t kill her, what am I thinking?
He sighed, and felt his anger mounting, along with pure confusion and drunken determination. He began walking forward towards the voice, and suddenly came into view a huge bridge with train tracks on them, going straight across, high over the road and fields, creating a huge drop until it reached the other end and veered right out of sight.
The Pop Lik Trestle.
He gripped the handle of his knife hard, his mind was swimming.
How did she get so far from me?
“Sam… come find me, I’m sorry, I’ll let you have it your way.”
His heart flew into his throat, and he felt a combination of terror, arousal, and fury.
He moved onto the tracks and starting walking, turning his head and looking around. There she was, on the other side of the bridge, hard to see anything but a silhouette. The full moon lighten the metal of the tracks just enough to see her pale skin and her dark hair. How she had gotten so far away was a mystery.
He sped up his pace, careful not to trip.
Then he heard a low rumbling, and off in the distance he saw a faint light through the trees on the right side up ahead. He felt numb, and yelled and motioned for her to move, but she remained still. He began to run, the light getting closer and sound getting louder.
He stopped suddenly, confused.
What am I doing?
He turned his head to the left and right, and saw how narrow the tracks were; he looked back up and didn’t see her- but the entire area around where she had been was completely illuminated by the train- the train continued chugging along, growing in size as it turned onto the trestle and sped towards him.
Feeling drained and dazed, he turned around and ran back to where he came. He ran in a beeline for a moment, and then turned his head.
Everything he could see was bathed in light, the tracks vibrating like an earthquake: the train was on him.
When he turned his head around, preparing to jump, he saw a horrible disfigured face staring at him; and he dropped the knife with a sharp clank.
The train stopped, disappearing back to the void of nonexistence. The trestle became still, and darkness engulfed everything.
There was a quick swiping sound, a large thump, and the silence of the night continued.
“Is it Greek?” Eugene asked after a moment, sounding impatient.
The wailing continued, and the translator furrowed his eyebrows and concentrated hard, looking at the dusty crimson carpet hung up and slanged across the wall, covering the source of the noise.
“Yes.” The translator said.
“Did you catch everything?”
The short, greasy man, the partial owner of the circus, had introduced himself as Eugene when the young translator had first arrived. The first thing that the translator noticed about Eugene was the horrible, deep, white scar that went up from his chin to his eye on the left side of his face. Even now he had trouble not staring at it.
Eugene then motioned for his employees to come forward; They were two, both holding syringes and one held a long whip, wrapped around his arm.
“Hurry,” he said. “We can’t have a repeat of last time.” And the two men disappeared behind the curtain.
“What are you doing? The translator asked.
The man waved his hand at the question, “He’s more dangerous than you know. Come, let’s go back to my private quarters.”
“You’re the fifth translator to come in. We had no idea what the beast was screaming. Drove us nuts.” He poured himself a drink, sitting in his office. “What’s your name- never mind that’s not important, just tell me what he said.”
The translator looked around at the small, dingy closet. It reeked of alcohol only had room enough for his desk, which was covered with knick-knacks, among the junk contained several pamphlets promoting his circus: “Raymond Bros. Traveling Circus and Freak Show.”
He had a name plaque that read “Eugene Raymond.” The young man looked up and made eye contact with him.
“Well…” he swallowed. “It said something about torture, and he needed help.”
The greasy man laughed, and took a big swing of his drink, and the young man caught a glimpse of his yellow teeth.
“Is that all? What else.” Eugene said.
“That’s not enough?”
Eugene didn’t answer the question.
“That’s all I got. He was speaking some old dialect.” Pause. “What is it? I need to see.”
“If you want to see, you have to pay to see the show like everyone else.”
There was a long silence, while the translator absentmindedly looking around the room, tried to wrap his mind around what was happening. He looked up and saw Eugene looking at him, eyes narrowed, scar pulsing.
“I asked if you caught everything.” Eugene said.
“I did. I got what I could understand.”
Eugene gave him a look of disgust. “You can leave now.”
“Ok, how about you keep my payment, and I get a backstage ticket to your show. I want to see. Now.”
“I-” he felt two huge, hard globs of flesh grab his shoulders. “Wait- when’s your next show?”
“Kentucky, five dollars. But, for you friend, I’ll make it three.”
“The tickets are only a dollar.”
“Yes, but you wasted my time, and my time is money.” His face was bleak and expressionless.
The translator turned around and tried to leave, but caught a look at the person who had grasped his shoulders. He leaped back in disgust.
“Come.” The thing spat. His face was disfigured and asymmetrical. His hair came out of his head in knotted, matted, and greasy clumps. His hand ended in two thick stumps, he had no real fingers or fingernails. It stood hutched over, but was still a good six feet, towering over him. His muscle and overall stature was huge, and on his torn shirt read “Lobster-Man.”
“Bradley, show this man the exit.”
Never before had he felt such pity and horror. He turned his head towards Eugene one last time as the beast pulled him out of the room, and then he was forced onto the ground in the hall. “Bradley” then slammed close the office door.
“Don’t be mean. I’m Bradley.” He pointed his arm towards his chest.
The young man slowly stood, brushing himself off. “I’m… Glenn.”
Her head began to clear. She rubbed her eyes and looked around; she was lying on a bed, in a small, windowless room. There was only the door hinge, a wide opening in the center of the wall across form her, leading into along dark hallway hall. Small candles lit the room and hall, and all sight faded away as her eyes followed the light as far as she could.
She tried to remember what happened; then suddenly, she was flooded with memories.
Sam yelling… Running, escaping, and then colliding into someone. He had done it again. Her hand flashed to her face, and she felt a large bandage covering half her head. She squirmed in the bed, and felt the sharp pains in her side, and remembered lying on the cold dark forest floor, seeing a dark shadow looming over her-
“Are you alright?” said a slow, soothing voice.
The voice belonged to a handsome young man, maybe in his mid-twenties. He had dark, long hair, a nice build, and she instantly felt a wave of confusion and anger wash over her.
She looked down and saw a lot of her body covered with bandage and gauze.
She looked back up at the stranger, remaining silent.
“I saw him hurt you.” He said coldly. “I live next to the trestle, and brought you back here.” He moved forward, and leaned on the bed. “You’re welcome.”
She didn’t answer.
“Why were you with him?”
“Where is he?” she said.
He looked away, and it was clear he was confused.
He stood up and pointed towards the hall. She painfully stood up; he just stood there as she struggled. They made eye contact as she made it to her feet, and she felt irritated that he didn’t help her up.
Once up, she began limping forward; he moved to the side and let her through.
As she made it through the hallway for a moment, she reached a corner and turned right, aware that he was following her silently.
As she rounded the corner, her emotions explode on sight.
He lay there, motionless, completely covered with dry blood, shirt torn to bits.
She rushed to him and fell over his body, and looked up into his cold, open and unmoving eyes. Then she started weeping, and screaming.
The next thing that happened was a blur; she was blinded from her tears, but she felt hands on her. Ice cold hands, moving up and down her body- and groping her roughly, then stone hard lips pressing against her faces, overpowering and forceful.
With all the strength she could muster, she balled her hand into a fist and flailed and swing at the shadow.
She felt contact, and then the whole room began to spin. Suddenly she felt like a fog form lifted from her mind. Her head cleared, and colors blurred until her eyes told her she was in a different room.
Something grabbed her and threw her back hard against the wall.
Everything was dirt, filthy and disgusting… matted laves and wood and mud, it looked like something underground; the only light came from small torches hanging on the walls.
She looked up and saw a demonic, monster-like face, leaning over her.
It had the face of an animal, with two horns jutting from his head. It didn’t have clothes and its chest and abdomen was covered with long brown fur, but it stood on two legs that both ended in hooves.
The Pop Lik Monster.
“I’ve tried…” it gargled… “To help.”
She sat frozen, unable to move. At first she though it was shock, but then she realized she actually couldn’t move at all, not even blink. Her eyes began to burn as tears continued streaming down her face.
“I’m sick of being the monster. I was your savior.”
She looked him in the eyes.
A second later, there was a scream, and then the weeping stopped and the world became quiet again.
Bradley ran beside him as they both ran through the interior of the building, following the screams. They passed room after room, and Glenn couldn’t help but read the words that were marked on each one through the hall:
Wild boy, Bearded Lady, Elephant Man, Real Live Alien, Insect girl, Freddie the Armless Wonder, Mignon the Penguin Girl, The Great Omi, Koo Koo the Bird Girl, The Man with Two faces.
Finally they reached the scene, and saw a gruesome sight. The curtain had been lifted from the platform he had been at earlier, revealing a large metal cage.
Inside, laid the two employees from earlier, both motionless on the floor of the cage in a puddle of blood.
In front of cage stood Eugene, fumbling with keys as he tried to open the door.
And then, inside the cage, stood exactly what Glenn had predicted: a satyr.
There was a sudden click as the door became undone, and Eugene turned his head, and Glenn saw that his eyes were blank; he looked like he was daydreaming.
Then, in one quick motion, the beast charged out and made contact with Eugene with his huge gnarled horns. Blood splattered throughout the room, but the circus owner didn’t make a sound as he collapsed on the floor.
Then the monster turned and ran at Glenn. He tried to speak and raised his hand up in defense, but it was too late.
A second before contact was made; he looked into the eyes of the creature, and saw a demon. He expected to see an innocent creature panicked and scared, finally escaping from its iron prison.
Instead he saw pure fury and bloodthirst.
It stood there. Not moving. That aftertaste still lingered in his mouth, strangely wonderful and sweet. It’s been too long.
It let out a muffled sigh, completely undecided of its fate.
It had tried, but what kind of world is it when he looked at like a monster and the true devils walk this earth free and admired?
It turned his head, hearing someone talking off in the distance, the sound reverberating through his skull.
It closed its eyes, and faced the decision. He gave everything over to instinct, let his animal side take over again, and knew what to do: he was not going to be taken lightly.
As he stalked away, following the direction of the noise, he passed the concrete part of the bottom of the trestle. His eyes followed over the graffiti sprayed across it, which he had always done for years, and smiled.