Today’s 365 Day Writing Prompt: Free to Be Me – What character trait to you admire most about yourself?
This is kind of a tough prompt to answer because 1) talking up aspects of your character is weird/awkward, and 2) I happen to like a lot of things about myself but am not sure what I like most. So I’m going to use my creativity (which I like) to come up with a story that indirectly explores some of the other traits of mine that I like.
Also, I just started reading The Night Circus, and am vibing on it right now… Plus there’s Halloween.
The mist rolling off the swamp pools around the hill. Aglow from the circus spotlights, the fog looks like an undulating spider web. The eerie melody echoing down from the black and silver tents above make clear this is not a carnival of cotton-candy laughter and balloon-animal dreams.
The barker’s voice cuts through the midnight air, though no body is present to usher patrons under the chain encircled entrance sign. “Ladies and gentlemen, do not scream with tremulous voices. Do not flee on terrified feet. Our acts are not for the faint or even the steeled of heart. Step into the darkness and behold the frights that will chill your bones and rattle your soul.”
A blind curve into the first tent leads wary patrons inside a mammoth steel cage. Few dare to snicker gleefully at the empty attraction. They are the first struck. A tickle along the back of their necks excites the hairs that stand on end at the scent of danger, setting off a chain reaction that drains their smirks and sets their hearts pounding. Soon everyone sees the spandex snake slithering through the bars. The elongated arm of man in a stretchable suit points upward. Eye more white than iris follow. The Fabulously Flexible Man has wrapped himself around the top of the cage as if he were its canopy. Though his skin groans from the strain, he does not break. His strained features appear to be melting off his face. When his ear extends downward like a bit of wax escaping its candle, a woman shrieks and begins a stampede.
They tear into the second tent and into the impenetrable-chest of Annie. Though she may have a five o’clock shadow, she’s no bearded woman. The silver plates of her bikini sparkle as much as her oiled skin in the light of the iron torches. Her guests ogle as she draws a sword and runs it against the taut skin of her bicep. A collective gasp echos as the blade is sliced to ribbons. They look eager to stay until she flicks her sledge hammer toward them.
“Don’t go,” she cackles after, “I’ll toughen you up yet!”
Skin crawls as they step into the third tent. The black void that surrounds them pushes them closer together, for warmth and for safety. A blinding light flicks on over head. Shrieks and shuffling as they huddle. Their eyes adjust. They see him, standing in the thin beam of light. From the back of his bald head, engorged veins push out of his skin as if a carnivorous sponge has come to suck his cranial fluid. He turns toward them. His features are warped by the extra load on his skull.
A strained voice echos deep in their minds, “Are you afraid?” His deformed mouth twists into a grin at their weak laughter. “Well, then. Allow Professor Mesmer remedy that for you.”
The veins on his head pulse. Their skin crawls. A thick ooze like egg yolk drips down their spines and with it rolls a tide of fear. It cracks open each rib cage and slithers around every heart. They beat faster to escape the inevitable strangling tide. He cackles and the light overhead shatters.
There are no screams. No attempts to flee. Only a still acceptance of the emptiness. The room void of light, of sound, of warmth. The touch of their neighbors long-gone as they succumb to the cloying suck of the hollowness inside. Somehow they find themselves in the fourth tent.
Silence is replaced by the steady clicking of a million clawed feet. Armies of arachnids big and small patrol every millimeter of the tent surface. Mouth are clamped shut as spiders on long, sticky webs swing around in daredevil formations. The guests move as one phobic mass to the exit that feel oceans away, desperately trying to ignore the tarantella throbbing under foot.
Its easy to overlook the woman as they pass. Her calm energy summons the spiders to her wispy frame. They wriggle through her thinning grey locks as if it is their nest. They bunker down into the crevasses of her nose and ears. They spin a fine web to entomb her as they wound a downed fly. She breaths in. She breaths out. Her serenity only nudges her guests further toward the edge.
The mist from the swamp has grown thicker. Only the barker voice carries over its stifling blockage. Their screams are muted as they flee. They claw blindly at their unscathed flesh as if covered in a great plague. They wail and thrash at nothingness. They tumble down the hill in flight from the Freaks beneath the tents.
They will return tomorrow. The barker has faith in this, he knows this with every bone in his body long gone. The greatest freaks always return.
All the traits I chose, I presented in an extreme way. I am not so flexible that I can wrap myself around metal bars.
The Fantastic Flexible Man = my flexibility (although mine is mental)
Annie, the Armor-Skinned Woman = my thick-skinned-ness (again, mine’s mental)
Professor Mesmer = my empathy (although his was sort of reverse and evil empathy)
Spider Woman = my calmness during storms and stress (and spider attacks)