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There is always the carnival to look forward to in the bleak, almost deserted town of Blakely. It comes only once every other year, stays for only one month, and everything is always packed into one big giant box of a car. Many children enjoy watching when the workers unpack the caravan. Strange and almost grotesque things come out and stretch their limbs from the long journey. Then the circus tent comes up, and how magnificent it is! There are many interesting things to see when the carnival comes to town.
I am going to tell you about one particular story, though. It is about a boy named Leo, and a girl who has no name. Leo was like the other children in the town of Blakely. Every time the carnival came to town, he would shout and scream in excitement like the other children. He would buy peanuts and ice cream and other snacks and laugh at the deformed people in the “Freak Shack”.
As he grew older, though, Leo started to notice the expressions of the deformed when he went to go look at them. The two-headed figure was one that caught his eye in particular, because the girl-faced head always held a forced smile on her face, and her face was clear. The boy-faced head, however, had a terrible scar running down the left side of his face, and he always looked towards the ground.
On the other deformed people, however, Leo saw that most of them could not think for themselves. It was near the end of the walkway that Leo saw the girl who had no name. She was curled up in a ball in the corner of her cage, sobbing. Being the gentleman that he was raised to be, Leo went up to the bars and spoke through them “Are you alright?”
The girl looked up, and Leo took a step back in shock. Her eyes were pure blue, but lifeless, and were ringed with scars like a raccoon, creating a bandits mask. “Yes, I’m fine.” She said quietly, standing up. “I cannot see you that well, though, so forgive me if I do not look at you directly when I am talking.”
“Of course.” Leo said, stepping back up to the bars in the cage. “I don’t mind at all.”
The girl smiled a very pretty smile. “You aren’t going to throw anything at me, are you?” She said, blank eyes narrowing.
“No.” Leo said. “I don’t have anything with me.” He looked at her more carefully. “Why are you locked up?”
“Because of my tail.” The girl turned around and lifted her dress a little. A lifeless tail that looked like a cats flopped back onto the ground. “I wasn’t born with it, but I must live with it.” She said, dropping the hem of her dress back on the ground. “You must think I’m hideous.”
Leo shook his head. “I actually think you’re quite pretty.” He said truthfully, scratching behind his ear shyly.
The girl smiled again, blushing a little. “Thank you. What is your name?”
“My name’s Leo. What’s your name?” Leo asked, pressing his face against the bars.
“I have no name.” The girl said. “I have forgotten it, I have been in a cage for so long.”
“You must have a name, or a memory of something.” Leo insisted. “No one can forget their name so easily.”
The girl paused, thinking seriously for a moment. She was about to speak something when all of a sudden the carnival master came along, swinging his cane.
“Looking at the tailed harlot, are ye boy?” He sneered, stinking of cotton candy and rum. “Careful, she’ll bite if you don’t discipline her.” He laughed, spit flying everywhere. Leo flinched a little. He loved the carnival as a child, but like everyone else, he greatly disliked the man in charge.
“Hurry along, boy. There are plenty other attractions to see besides this one.” He tapped his cane on the bars, making the girl with the tail flinch. “Don’t speak.” He told her in a low voice before heading ahead.
Leo looked at the girl, who was now trembling. “I’ll come back later, o-k?” He said.
The girl sniffed. “You promise?”
Leo put his hand through the bars, extending his pinkie. “Pinkie promise.” He said.
The girl realized what he was doing and waved her hand around until she found his hand. She hooked her pinkie with his, smiling. He noticed that the carnival logo was tattooed on both of her hands, inside and out.
“See you later!” He called back as he ran to the exit.
As he came outside, he felt something new taking place inside of him, He didn’t quite know how to describe the emotion he was feeling - happiness? No, it was more...sad as well. Leo thought nothing more of it and continued home.
The next morning, he ate his breakfast and started out to the woods again. It was quiet in the town of Blakely every morning, to the point where it would seem very unnatural to an outsider.
He walked onto the grounds. Only the wind greeted him, with some of the wood rats skittering around. The carnival wouldn’t open for another hour. Leo wandered around the eerie grounds until he saw the caravans where the carnival people lived. He started towards the grounds, looking in the caravans to find the girl with no name. In almost every single caravan, there was no one except clothes and the occasional pet. Leo kept looking until he heard something scream horribly near the tent. He looked towards where the scream had come from, and noticed two people in huge stilts, a girl and a boy, standing in front of the big tent.
Leo walked up to the two people, who looked down at him. Without a word, they moved out-of-the-way. Leo thought nothing of it and moved past them. He went inside and found the hallway where he was earlier. He wandered up and down, but none of the deformed were in their cages, which he found to be very odd indeed.
He heard a horrible scream again from the main entrance room and ran towards it. He stopped in fear and hid behind a pillar when he met the sight before him. All of the deformed were lined up, the line stretching in a circle around the room. The carnival master had one of the deformed, the body with two heads, and was holding the head with a boys face over a bubbling pot of...something. Another carnival attendant was holding the head with a girl's face away from the concoction.
The carnival master smiled evilly and shoved half of the boys face into the liquid. In response, the boy screamed in pain, like he was about to die. Leo watched in horror as the carnival master quickly lifted the head out of the liquid, revealing burned off skin on the right side of his face.
“Remember to smile, my dear deformity.” The carnival master sneered in the boy’s ear, propping up the body with two heads. He patted the girl’s head with an unusual smile. “You could take an example from your other half here.” The girl’s face twisted into a forced smile. The attendants took them away from the line and someone new stepped in front of the carnival master and the bubbling pot. Leo almost ran out on instinct when he saw it was the girl who had no aim, her blind eyes not looking anywhere in particular.
“As for you, I will spare you the pain today.” The carnival master spoke, placing a hand on her shoulder. “Remember, however, to smile and show off your wonderful tail, my dear.” He grabbed the tail and the girl whimpered in fear. “Go on back to your home.”
The two attendants grabbed the girl and took her out of the line as well. Leo didn’t stay to watch anymore and ran as fast as he could out of there, out of the tent, and back to his home.
Later that night, he went to the carnival like everyone else. He saw that the head with the boy’s face on the body with two heads looked around and smiled to everyone. The right side of his face was now scabbed over and covered with as much makeup as possible. Leo walked down the hallway, looking at all the people who had something wrong with them, whether that be physical or mental. He finally came across the girl who had no name’s cage and went up to the bars. “I’m back.” He said to the girl, who was now sitting in a chair in the middle.
“You came back.” The girl smiled, standing up and walking to the bars. “You kept your promise.”
“Of course I did, silly.” Leo said. He decided not to tell her what he saw earlier that morning. She might just want to talk about what he saw everyday, since she was kept in this cage for most of the time for all he knew.
“Do you do anything during the day, Leo?” The girl asked. Yeah, he was right.
Leo laughed. “Well, since we are in the summer, I go out and fish in the lake in the woods. Other people do their own thing, since we don’t have school.”
“What is this ‘school’?” The girl said, curling her slim fingers around the bars.
“It is this place where people our age go to learn about the world and how to do things when we grow up.” He said.
“What sort of things?”
And for the next two weeks their conversations went like this. She would ask questions about him and the life around him, and he would answer them kindly. He found her intriguing, interesting. He wanted to help her, figure out what happened to her that made her be put in this unfortunate carnival.
Leo didn’t try to go in the mornings to see her again. He was afraid he would get caught when they had that...‘session’ in the mornings. Finally, it was almost the last day when the carnival would have to pack up and leave the bleak town of Blakely.
“Soon, I won’t be able to see you anymore.” Leo said sadly, grasping the girls hands in his own. “I won’t be able to talk to you anymore.”
The girl’s face became sad. “It is because of this carnival. I was sold to the carnival master by my mother so she could feed my other siblings. I cannot leave because I am bound by contract.”
Leo thought for a moment. “Well, why don’t you come along with me? We could both go to sea together, like I’ve always dreamed of. I was going to go when I finished school, but I wouldn’t mind going early. You can’t see it, but you can feel and taste it. You wouldn’t have to be in a cage anymore.”
“...Do you mean that? For real?” The girl smiled hopefully. “I would like that very much.”
“Do you know what time everyone is technically asleep?” Leo asked.
The girl with no name thought for a moment. “I would say very late at night, but not before morning begins.”
Leo nodded. “Be ready at that time. I’ll come back and pick the lock to your cage.”
So Leo went back to his home and packed for the long journey to the nearest port. He took his savings and pocketed them. “Goodbye Mother, goodbye Father.” He whispered to their sleeping forms before heading out the door.
Leo snuck into the circus tent and returned to the Freak Shack. He walked quietly until he reached the girl who had no name’s cage. “Stay quiet.” He whispered to her. She nodded and pressed a finger to her lips. Leo took out a pin and started to work on opening the lock. He was almost done when he felt something hard whack him on the side of his head and he fell over, blacking out.
It wasn’t until much later in the morning that Leo’s parents noticed him gone, without any note. The carnival left Blakely and the search for Leo continued, but without avail. After three months, they had to resort to the fact that he wasn’t coming back. Leo had vanished.
To this day, no one knows what had truly happened to Leo and the girl who had no name. But people noticed that when the carnival came to Blakely the next year, the girl who had a tail was replaced by a boy whose hands had been fused together by another pair of much smaller, delicate hands who had the carnival tattoo in-scripted upon them.