The following is a transcript of the recorded interview between Hazel Nicholson, Misty Nicholson, and a reporter:

R: It is January 27th, 2017. Please state your name and age, ma’am.

H: My name is Hazel Nicholson. I’m 49.

R: Alright, Ms Nicholson…

H: Don’t call me “Ms Nicholson”. That makes me sound like an old married woman.

R: Sorry, Miss Nicholson –

H: Much better.

R:  Alright, let’s begin; when you were 16, you and your sister, Misty Nicholson, disappeared for a total of 12 days in June, 1984. Am I correct?

H: Well, if the news and my memory serves correctly – I’d say you’re right.

R: Will you elaborate on what happened?

H: Why should I? We said we ran off into the woods, got lost, started hallucinating because we were sleep deprived and hungry before we made our way home, somehow well rested and fed. So yeah, I don’t see why I should tell you what happened.

R: Please elaborate on what happened, Miss Nicholson.

<It is silent for five seconds>

R: Miss Nicholson?

H: Don’t rush me! You’re not a cop; I can take my fucking time! You weren’t there. You didn’t go through the shit we were put through. So, shut your fucking mouth and give me a damn minute!

<Sighing can be heard>

H: Okay, I’m ready. I just want to start off by saying that we were kids when it happened; stupid, naïve, pretentious kids. I mean, yeah we were in our mid-teens, but that didn’t mean we knew any better. I don’t think anyone would have really known what to do in our situation.

R: I understand.

H: Good. I guess it’s important that you know what our street looked like. On one side, was a row of houses, and on the other was this massive forest. Our parents told us not to go in there and it was so creepy, that the warning wasn’t really necessary. Of course, that didn’t stop us as we got older. We went in there with friends to smoke and drink.

We went missing on the 17th. I remember I got into a fight with Mum and Dad that day. I wanted a car and they said I wasn’t responsible enough. It was a stupid fight and ended with me screaming that I hated them and never wanted to see them again. I calmed down after a few years and I planned on apologising the next morning, but that never happened. When I woke up, I was lying in a field.

R: I beg your pardon?

H: Are you deaf? I said I woke up lying in a field.

R: How did you end up there?

H: If you’d let me finish, I can tell you. Bloody hell. We woke up lying in that field. Misty was next to me. Then, we suddenly heard this voice. We stood up and held hands. In front of us, was this giant bush and ahead of that was this small rocky maze. The voice kept saying the same thing over and over and it made us continue walking through the bush and go through the maze. Next, was this willow tree and after we walked through it, this forest was ahead of us. That voice just wouldn’t shut up.

R: What did the voice say?

H: Come on kiddies. Come one and all to the most amazing show in the world.

<The sound of banging can be heard>

H: I’m sorry! The only reason I agreed to do this was because I, no, we never told anyone about it. We thought no one would believe us. Misty talked me into this interview because she thinks we could finally get over it. Therapeutic she said. I doubt it. I fucking doubt it.

R: Here, have some tissues, Miss Nicholson.

H: Thank you. As we wandered towards the forest, I noticed out the corner of my eye that there were other children walking through their own willow trees. Some were on their own, others in pairs, or small groups.

We entered the forest. The sun was shining through the trees, creating these rays of lights, and everything was so bright and green. We followed paths made of white pebbles. I heard that voice once again, but I heard another one shortly after it. “You’re too old for this show, Hazel. You won’t like it.” I think it was my mind trying to warn me and I stopped for a moment. Misty dragged me along and I realised that I was feeling really disorientated and tipsy and I knew I hadn’t been drinking that night. My head felt like it was full of cotton wool and my mind was spinning.

I heard my voice once again. “If you’re too old to see the show, then so is Misty. Why don’t you go home?” I stopped once again and I used my free hand to grab hold of a tree. I kept a tight grip on Misty’s hand, while she continued walking. She had this huge grin on her face, but her eyes were so vacant and cloudy. They were like someone had wrapped plastic wrap around them.

I tried to speak, but I couldn’t open my mouth. My grip on the branch was growing weaker. I felt like I was fighting to stay awake. I looked up to see this gigantic bright red tent in a clearing. The other children were walking in a straight line into the tent. That was when I saw Beswican.

R: Who?

H: Beswican. He’s the bastard who owns that circus.

R: Could you describe him?

H: I guess. I’m pretty sure he was in his late-forties with dirty blonde hair, brown eyes, and he was dressed up like a ringleader with a red jacket and a top hat. He was holding up one of the tent flaps to let the children in.

The moment I saw him, I grabbed Misty’s wrist and I swung her around until she smacked her head against the tree. That made her body transparent. I did it again and she was gone. I did the same for myself, beating my head against the tree, and everything slowly went dark.

R: Why did you do that?

H: Somehow, I realised I was dreaming. Doing that made everything clear – the cotton wool feeling was gone, and I remembered everything. It was the middle of the night and it looked like we were in the forest opposite our home. We weren’t. We thought it was over – until we heard that fucking voice again! I could see the tent in the distance. It was glowing from the spotlight inside and I could very clearly hear the sound of children laughing…and screaming.

Misty was pretty much blind without her glasses on and naturally, she didn’t go to bed with them on so when she woke up, she couldn’t see shit. She said she wanted me to take her home and I said that I would, but when I turned in the direction I thought we came, I couldn’t make out any streetlights, or houses. I could barely make out the trees in front of us. I convinced Misty that we had to wait until it was morning because I didn’t want us to get lost. We did our best to stay awake, but I ended up closing my eyes for a second, and the next thing I knew, I saw the faint rays of light poking through the trees. Misty had fallen asleep as well. I woke her up and I told her that we were going home.

Before that incident, Misty and I didn’t like each other much. We’re identical twins and we resented the fact that people were always confusing us for one another. It felt like we didn’t really have our own sense of individuality; we were the Nicholson twins. It didn’t help that we did everything together and even shared the same circle of friends. Other people didn’t know how we felt because we kept it a secret. It was childish and we eventually got over it.

We walked in a straight line for hours. Our feet bled and blistered pretty badly, but that didn’t stop us. It was late afternoon when we finally stopped, exhausted, hungry, and thirsty. There was still no sign of civilisation. Misty kept on asking me if I could see anything, but she stopped when I snapped at her that I would tell her if I saw anything.

<There is a long pause>

R: Miss Nicholson?

H: Even after all these years, I still can’t help but wonder what would have happened if I wasn’t such a bitch. As strange as it may sound, I wish I was more like Misty. She was always the more mature and responsible one, but because she couldn’t see properly, she was completely reliant on me to take her home. I guess she was terrified that I was going to leave her to investigate something or because she made me angry. I wouldn’t have done that. I didn’t like her, but I cared enough not to leave her alone and helpless.

Misty suggested that we tied ourselves to a tree and hide under some debris so that he wouldn’t find us as we slept. I thought it was a good idea at the time. I did most of the work when it came to setting up our tent. Misty found an old rope buried in the dirt, and it was long enough for us to tie our wrists to the tree. Sleep was really uncomfortable and it was freezing, but we managed.

That went on for the next three days; we’d walk, and then hide under a bush. For some reason, we weren’t bothered by dehydration or hunger. On the fourth day, I woke to Misty shaking me. She looked frightened, and I quickly realised why.

R: What was wrong?

H: We weren’t in that forest anymore – we were resting against the fucking tent! Immediately, we sprung to our feet. Misty clung to my arm as we backed away. We were surrounded by large boxes, cages containing wild animals, and trailers. I noticed footprints in the ground leading to our resting place and I started to panic. Misty tried to calm me down, but it wasn’t working. I told her that the man was toying with us and the moment he got bored, he was going to get us. She tried to convince me otherwise, but by that point, I was too hysterical to listen and we started arguing. It ended when I was on the verge of tears and I stopped talking. I didn’t want her to know how upset I was. As I wiped them away, she prayed to God that we made it home.

We then heard a group of children giggling, startling us. Misty pointed out that it was coming from the tent. We inched closer to it and she was right. We’d completely forgotten about the other children and I suggested that maybe we should see if they were still okay, and then send people out there to save them after we made it back. Misty was against the idea at first, but then she agreed with my idea as long as it was just a quick look. I think she did it because she didn’t want to make me angry.

We weren’t stupid enough to enter through the front, so we dug a small hole against the side of the tent as our escape route. When we finished, I stuck my head underneath. It was too dark to see anything except a dim light in the distance. I squeezed through the hole and I helped Misty through. She kept her arm wrapped around mine as I used the other to feel around. My fingers brushed against a scarf at one point, and I tied our hands together so we wouldn’t get separated. Eventually, my hand wrapped around a piece of wood that turned out to be one of the support beams for the grandstand. We were closer to the light and I could make out movement. I couldn’t see anyone in the seats above us. The giggling had started up once again. I wanted to see if there were any children in there, so we started crawling towards the front row.

R: Did you see any then?

H: Yes. I could make out the silhouettes of a large group of children. That man was standing in the middle of the circus ring and he was putting on a show for them. It’s difficult to describe what it looked like, but every time I focused on one of the things, I started feeling a certain emotion. Misty thinks that the man had somehow managed to create a manifestation of emotions. I can understand if this is difficult for you to understand. I was captivated. I just couldn’t look away from it. I think I focused mostly on fear and anger. Misty said she was somehow completely sucked into it. It was like being hypnotised. I don’t know how much time had passed, but when his booming voice startled me back into reality, I felt like I’d woken up from a deep sleep.

R: What did he say?

H: “What did you think of that, my dears?” When he said that, I thought he was talking to us, but he had his back to us, and he was looking up at the group. I saw one of them stand up and leap down to him. She landed so gently in front of him, I thought she was wearing a harness or something. Shortly after, twenty more children followed her, all landing behind her. They held her arms and clothes like they were afraid as the man approached them and started holding the girl’s face in his hands.

R: What did the children look like?

H: The smallest ones all appeared to be at least five with long dark brown hair, wide dark brown eyes, very pale skin, and they all wore big white shirts. They all looked like little girls, but I quickly found out what gender they were when they leapt downward.

R: And what about the girl? Did she look like them?

H: Yes, and no. She had the same facial features, and her right eye was the same shade, but she was covered in horrific scars, her left eye was missing, and her hair was this nasty looking grey that almost made her look like a little old lady. It looked like her hair had never been cut and it was longer than herself. She wore glasses, but they didn’t have any lenses, and she wore a white lab coat and clothes that were clearly made for someone much bigger. She had a name tag on her that said, “Dr John Huber”. She looked to be at least ten, so I thought the man was her father and she was the eldest child. Needless to say, while I thought the kids were cute, I didn’t like looking at her.

When the girl had landed in front of him, the man asked her the same question again. She stared at him for a moment before she pointed at her mouth.

R: Why did she do that?

H: Misty says that it meant she wanted food. The man smiled and he said, “Ah yes, there is food waiting for you outside.” None of them could understand what he was saying until he pointed at his mouth and the exit. The one-eyed girl – that’s what we called her – ushered the other children out of the tent. She stayed with the man and he said, “Now, my dear Desdemona, what did you think of the show?”

R: Was Desdemona her name?

H: No. That was his daughter’s name.

The one-eyed girl didn’t say anything to him, and instead she pointed up at the roof. The man laughed and said, “No, my dear. The show only plays once a day. Why don’t you go out and eat with the others?” The girl continued pointing at the roof, and he said, “Would you like to walk along the tightrope, my dear?” and he pointed at the roof. That made her smile. God, her smile was creepy. It was way too wide.

She jumped up and landed on the platform that lead to a tightrope. She started to walk across it, but, she always dragged her right leg behind her. Because of this, it was no surprise that she fell and landed on her neck. That sound still makes me shudder.

The one-eyed girl sat up seconds later and stood up. The man approached her and said, “Are you alright, my dear?” The girl bared her teeth before she left the tent. I think she went off to warn the other children not to go up there. She was always off in her own little world, even when…

<A deep sigh can be heard>

H: I feel unconscious for six days during that time. Misty was all alone back then, and I don’t like to think about it. When it’s Misty’s turn, you can’t stop me from taking a cigarette break.

R: I won’t.

H: Good. After the girl left, the man stood still for a moment before he turned sharply to us. Our hiding spot suddenly vanished, leaving us exposed to him. Misty clung to me and I wanted to do the same, but I didn’t. A spotlight shone down on us and the man had this big smile on his face that made my skin crawl before he said, “Now, my dears, what did you think of the show?”

Neither of us could say anything for a long time. Finally, Misty asked who he was. He told us his name and he then said, “If this show impressed you, just think of how spectacular the show will be when our stars take their lead.” God, give me strength. I told him that we wanted to leave and demanded that he let us go. His response was, “You must show your worthiness to the circus. If you cannot do that, then you shall have to wait, Misty and Hazel.”

As this was happening, I was trying to untie myself from Misty. When I freed myself. I pushed Misty towards the exit, screaming at her to keep her eyes closed and run. As the man was distracted with my sister, I raced towards him. I don’t know what I was thinking; maybe I was going to attack him, but he saw me and cracked his whip at me, hitting my forehead and cheek. I shrieked and stumbled backwards, clutching my face.

I looked up as Misty ran towards the sunlight that shone through the entrance. Then, the one-eyed girl appeared in front of her and my sister ran into her. I thought it was a trap. I started running towards her, when I heard him crack his whip again and all of a sudden, I was hit by a…a wave.

R: A wave?

H: Somehow he’d created water and it filled the tent. I was dazed for a moment before I desperately tried to swim to the surface. However, this thick sheet of ice had covered the surface and I couldn’t get out. I pounded against it but it was too thick and eventually, I went down.

<It is silent for ten seconds>

H: I guess now it’s Misty’s turn, isn’t it?

R: Yes. Could you tell her to come in when you go?

H: Yeah, don’t push her. If she’s upset when I come back in, you’ll wish you never contacted us.

<The sound of a chair being dragged back can be heard followed by a door slamming. After thirty seconds, the door opens again>

R: Miss Nicholson, please take a seat.

M: Call me Misty, please.

R: Very well.

<The sound of a chair being dragged back can be heard>

M: What’s sissy told you so far?

R: We’ve reached the point where she fell unconscious.

M: Oh, okay.

R: Why don’t you start after you started running towards the exit?

M: Alright. I’m pretty sure sissy’s told you that I couldn’t see very well without my glasses on, right?

R: Right.

M: Well, I started running towards the bright light sissy said was the exit. I didn’t know if she was telling the truth or not, but I had to believe her. I was terrified about what I’d do after I was out. Was I supposed to wait for her? Where would I hide after I was out? Would those children hurt me if they saw me? Without warning, I rammed into someone – the little one-eyed girl. She was smaller than me – only reaching my shoulders – but she managed to wrap her arms around me. I could hear the sound of rushing water approaching us. I turned around to see a large wave and suddenly, my feet weren’t touching the ground. My feet eventually landed on wood and the one-eyed girl let me go. I’m pretty sure we were on a support beam. I looked down and I saw this large circle – a whirlpool – and a figure standing in the middle of it. I was hoping it was sissy, but it wasn’t.

After several minutes, the water escaped out of the tent. Despite the tent flaps being open, it didn’t leave the tent until that moment. I started screaming out for sissy. I turned to the little one-eyed girl and told her that I had to go down and save my sister. But, she couldn’t understand me. I frantically pointed downwards and eventually, she understood. She took my hand and she made me jump down. We slowly fell down and when I reached the ground, it…it was dry. The girl didn’t let go of my hand as I started wandering around, searching for my sister. She walked ahead of me as she steered me away from any obstacles. I couldn’t find her until Beswican – that was the ringleader – approached us. He was holding sissy in his arms. I pleaded with him to let us go, but he stated that she’s prolonged our stay in that place and we weren’t leaving until she woke up and we proved ourselves. Then, he walked away.

R: What happened to you after that? Misty?

M: I’m sorry. It’s just, I know that sissy still blames herself. It wasn’t her fault that we ended up there, but she still thinks it was her actions that things escalated the way they did. I tried so hard to convince her otherwise, but I only recently realised that it’s pointless. She only smokes when she’s reminded of what happened.

R: Would you like some tissues?

M: No, no. I just got side-tracked, that’s all. After that, I fell to my knees and I started crying for my sister. I already felt helpless, but at that moment I-I…

The little one-eyed girl comforted me; she wiped away my tears and held me in her arms until I stopped. After I stopped, she took me by the hand and walked me out of the circus to the other children. They were afraid of me at first, but they quickly opened up when they realised that she wasn’t.

Over the next six days, the girl took care of me. I’ll admit that being around her wasn’t so bad. I was still very worried about sissy and I tried to find her, but I never did. The place was so big, it was like trying to find an exit in a maze. I often played with those children. They were quite playful, and would climb on me when I wasn’t watching. The girl always set them down and instructed them not to do that. Even though I couldn’t see very well, she taught me how to talk to them by moving my hands whenever I felt a certain way or when I did or didn’t want something to happen.

Beswican visited us every day. Whenever he came, the one-eyed girl would sit or stand between us. The kids were terrified of him and always hid behind her. I wanted answers, but he said that giving them would ruin everything. That made me very angry. He usually ignored me and he’d fuss over the girl. I thought those kids were his, which made me feel very uncomfortable when he commented on how pretty she was and how she’d make her special someone very happy. He’d constantly call her Desdemona and mention something about something just being a bad dream. Are you alright?

R: Yes, I’m fine. Why do you ask?

M: Oh, well, I thought you were a bit agitated.

R: It’s nothing. Hearing that just made me think about my wife and kids.

M: Why’s that?

R: Don’t worry about it. Please continue.

M: …Alright. We didn’t go into the tent while I was there. I didn’t want to go anyway. The night before sissy woke up I…I had this dream.

R: A dream?

M: Yeah. I dreamt about the little one-eyed girl suddenly appearing at the front of the circus with those children. Beswican was staring at the girl with this smile on his face. He approached her and asked if she knew who he was. The girl appeared to be confused before the group wandered off to explore. The look he had on his face as he watched them play scared me, and I came to a horrifying realisation. C-can sissy come back in now?

R: Alright.

M: Hey, sissy! You can come back in now!

<The sound of a door opening can be heard followed by a chair being pulled back>

R: Welcome back, Miss Nicholson.

H: What part are we up to?

M: We’re up to when you woke up.

H: Okay. When I woke up, I found it difficult to move. I felt like I’d somehow managed to fall asleep on my arms and legs. I was in a small bed inside a trailer. I was surrounded by chunks hanging from hooks. They looked like someone had managed to clump brains together and then hang them up. I spotted the door and I stumbled towards it. I nearly puked when I accidently hit one of them. It was so slimy and it seemed to shiver when I touched it.

It was daytime when I finally made it out. I had to lean against things because my limbs were so numb and it was hard to move in a straight line; I was horrified when I realised that the trailer was surrounded by cages containing tigers, lions, gorillas, bears, and monkeys. They were heavily scarred and looked as though they hadn’t been fed in months. As I walked past the cages, I was so scared that I was going to lose my balance. I imagined myself being forced through the cages and having them tear me to pieces. I screamed when they stuck their paws through and clawed at me, trying to grab me. They were shrieking and roaring. Eventually, I just stopped moving and I collapsed to my knees. I covered my ears and I just sat there, shaking.

Suddenly, it stopped and I looked up. The cages were empty and I didn’t feel numb anymore. I got up and I started running. I was tempted to leave the circus and run home, but then I remembered Misty and I had to find her.

R: And what were you doing when Hazel found you?

M: The girl was doing my hair. I think the nerves in her hands were messed up because they occasionally stopped working when she tried to use them. When sissy saw me, she screamed out my name and I immediately started looking around. I called out to her and she replied to me. I forgot that the girl was there and I raced towards sissy’s voice. I threw my arms around her. I was so happy to see her again.

H: The one-eyed girl was staring at us with this curious look on her face. Misty told me what had happened and how she still didn’t know what was going on. I decided to go over to the girl and I thanked her for helping my sister, but she didn’t respond. She had this habit I found to be really annoying. It wasn’t a wheeze or anything like that, but when she stared at you or if you spoke to her, she used to make this sound.

R: What kind of sound?

M: I think she made the sound when she sucked breathe in and tried to process what people were saying.

H: And like I said, I found the sound irritating. Misty and I tried to figure out how we were going to escape when I got the idea to have the girl jump up and show us the landscape that surrounded us. I kept on pointing upwards and started jumping to try and show her what we wanted her to do. She confused it for a game and started laughing. She tried to get me to play with her, but I lost my temper. I told her to get off me, stop messing around and help us get home.

M: It’s okay, sissy. It’s okay. You didn’t know any better.

R: What happened after that?

H: The girl started to throw a very violent fit. She screamed and the way that she moved about looked as though she was trying to shield herself from being hit. I approached the girl to try and help, but that man appeared beside us and he held the cane out in front of us. We were terrified that he had just appeared there and backed away. He warned us that if a woman touched her during the fit, it would get worse.

After several long minutes, the girl stopped and curled up in a small ball. She was breathing very heavily. The man turned to me as though he was expecting me to apologise. I didn’t say anything; I didn’t want to show off any sign of weakness in front of him. I was going to apologise when he was gone. When I took too long to apologise, he suddenly hit me across the face with his whip. I fell to the ground and he started beating me with it. He didn’t look angry or happy. His face was blank as he hit me. Misty tried to stop him, but the man kept on pushing her away.

When it was over, Misty could finally go near me and she tried to help me to sit up. It hurt to move, but I pretended it didn’t and pushed her back. The man had picked up the one-eyed girl with one arm and pointed his finger at us with the other. He said, “The grand finale for my show is tomorrow. If you can’t prove yourselves, you’ll have to wait another year to return home. After what you’ve done today, you’re not going to enjoy your time here if you fail.” He then walked away with the girl looking back at us. She was terrified, but I don’t think the fear was directed solely towards me. As he walked away, I was stupid enough to tell him that Hell will freeze before we do anything for him.

M: Sissy and I spent the next two days trying to escape. We kept on trying to get back into the forest, but every time we thought we were close, we were back at the tent’s entrance. Sometimes, we’d see one of those children, but they refused to go anywhere near us. By the time night fell, it was so cold, we were forced to seek shelter in one of the trailers.

H: Each trailer we tried looked a lot like the one I had woken up in; all with a single bed and the hanging brain-like things. When we finally settled on a trailer, we made the choice to sleep under the bed because there were brains dangling dangerously low above it. There were hundreds of brains and occasionally, small pieces would fall onto the floor and new pieces would grow out of the old places. The pieces were gone by morning.

That night, we watched as millions of children made their way into the tent. They came in gigantic groups, and I was amazed that they could all fit in there. That man was greeting them at the entrance and every time he invited them in with that phrase of his, another group would start entering the tent.

When the last group entered, the man looked over to us and smiled before he made his way inside. We knew that he wanted us to participate in the show. I didn’t want to, but Misty warned us that if we stayed outside, we wouldn’t be proving ourselves and we’d be stuck there for a year. I didn’t want to go inside, but she pretty much had to drag me inside.

Surprisingly, the little hole we made was still there, so we made our way in there. It was much brighter when we went in the last time, and the seats were filled, but there were clearly less children inside. A boy and a girl for each country in the world.

R: How do you know that?

H: Because he told us.

M: Instead of crawling under the chairs until we reached the front row that time, we made our way around until we reached the backstage entrance.

H: I looked up at the audience to see if I recognised anyone. They were only the silhouettes of kids. Each time one them opened their mouths, thousands of voices escaped their lips. Some were screaming and wailing like they were being ground into paste, while others were laughing and squealing as though someone was tickling them. Their bodies were moving and twitching, and I realised that they were made up of millions of eyes and just a slit for a mouth. Their eyes looked as though they were wrapped up in glad-wrap. I wanted to throw up when I saw them.

We didn’t stick around. We made our way backstage where we found Misty’s glasses sitting on a table. I could tell they were hers from the design and the thickness of the lens.

M: We didn’t know how they got there, but I was so happy to see again.

H: Backstage was filled with crates, equipment, costumes, and mirrors. Nothing about it seemed weird, or off, but there was this man backstage...

R: Beswican?

H: No. This man didn’t look anything like him. I think he was in his late-thirties and his clothes, shoes, hat, and bag looked old and worn. He had grey hair and eyes and he was covered in scars. He was leaning against the wall with a pipe dangling out of his mouth. I thought he was a hermit when we saw him. He sounded like an Aussie. Misty asked him what he was doing there. When he saw us, he removed the pipe and he told us that if we wanted to go home, we had to earn it. I demanded to know what he meant, but he said that it was best if we just went along with it, no questions asked, and we could go home. He went on to say that we had to show our respect for the circus, and if we could do that, we’d be home the next morning and we could continue our lives as usual

Misty asked if he could help us, and he pointed to these harnesses that we could use to move around freely. We didn’t put the harnesses on. I made sure we wouldn’t. I still refused to take part. After that, he showed us this small collection of spears. He warned us that it was best that we didn’t use the weapons unless we really had to. She then asked him what he was doing there, and he told us that he was keeping an eye on Nameless.

R: Nameless?

H: Yeah, it confused us as well. We were just about to ask him who that was, when we heard that man’s voice.

R: What did he say?

H: “And now my dear children, I have a special announcement.” After he said that, the hermit told us that this was a show that we should watch, because it will be our turn to take centre stage afterwards. I told him that we weren’t doing anything he tells us to do. We made our way out, but we hid ourselves under the grandstand once again.

M: Before we left though, sissy insisted we took two spears in case things got worse.

H: I wish we hadn’t.

R: Why…?

M: After a brief moment, Beswican declared that he was going to pick two members from the audience and then he called out our names. He insisted that we come out. Without warning, we felt the harnesses attach themselves to us and they started to drag us backwards with enough force I dropped my spear in surprise. I tried to grab one of the stands’ support beams, but I was moving too quickly to get a steady grip on anything.

H: I was trying to unfasten my harness, but my hands were shaking too much to unbuckle myself. Once we were out, we were hoisted up over the children and then lowered down on the outskirt of the ring. We heard clapping, but they continued their screaming and laughing.

Once we had arrived, that man bowed to us and said, “You must both be so excited to participate in the show! How are you?” We didn’t respond to him, we just stood there, holding one another. He continued his speech. “Now don’t be scared, my dear girls. We’re going to have some fun, so smile.” He turned to the audience and he said, “This next performance is a very special one I have spent centuries perfecting. You see, your dreams tonight will be the last ones. Once I crack my whip, your souls will be removed from your bodies, and I shall use your souls to strengthen my power!” He turned to us and he mockingly stated that since we were too afraid to do anything, it will be our fault that this happened. He pulled back his head and he started laughing.

Before I knew it, I had broken into a run towards him and I grabbed his whip. I caught him off guard for a moment, before he kicked me away. As soon as I’d hit the ground, Misty ran towards us and rammed him. He stumbled back slightly, but then he hit her across her face. He kicked her in the stomach with enough force to wind her. I got up and I ran over to him. I tried to tackle him, but I wasn’t strong enough to knock him down, and he casually pried me off him and threw me across the ring. I landed on the ground – not too far away from backstage – and I’m pretty sure I blacked out for a brief moment.

M: During that time, I managed to get up and I tried to make my way towards him as he prepared to use his whip. The moment he cracked it, I jumped up and grabbed it. It burnt and I collapsed to my knees, cradling my hand. Beswican smiled at me and he made his way towards me, slowly clapping. He stood over me with his arms outstretched and he said, “Congratulations for making an attempt. I think you’ve done enough to go home.”

H: I didn’t hear what he’d said though. You see, the moment I came around, I made my way backstage and I grabbed a spear. The hermit was still there, and he warned me that what I was about to do was a very bad idea. I told him that he was wrong, he didn’t know what he was talking about. I ran back out and I raced towards the man. He didn’t realise what I was doing until I stabbed him in the chest.

As soon as that happened, we experienced this terrible pain in our heads; it was like having your eardrums explode and a severe migraine at the same time. We clutched our temples and we started screaming. The pain disappeared as quickly as it started. The tent was deathly quiet and that man was lying lifelessly on the ground between us. I asked Misty if she thought it was over.

M: I was in shock at that point and I didn’t say anything. Sissy started laughing. I didn’t return the feeling. I knew that something was horrible wrong but I didn’t know what. Sissy quickly stopped rejoicing when we noticed the hermit standing a few feet away. She asked him if we’d proved ourselves…and he told us we had to run backstage before it was too late.

H: Before we had time to react, the tent vanished and we were in this dark nothingness. We looked around for a moment and tried to find an exit when we heard that man’s voice. He said, “All you had to do was prevent my whip from touching the ground.”

We turned around and there he stood, looking as though we hadn’t just tried to kill him. When I saw him, I demanded to know what the fuck was going on. He smiled at us and he told us that he was carrying out an eternal sentence where he had to guide the minds of every child in the world to his circus and there he would provide them with their dreams and nightmares.

M: He was born during the time where people accused of being sorcerers were burned at the stake and his daughter was accused of being a witch. He got his revenge by showing them why they shouldn’t mess with sorcerers. But, the magic that really exists in this world, only extends as far as your own energy will allow. He found a way to use the energy from the children in his village to strengthen his power. He killed the ones responsible for his daughter’s death, but he didn’t stop there; he wiped out his village and then he went on to consume more and more energy from people while they slept until finally he was stopped.

R: How was he stopped?

M: An Elohim came to him and took him to the place where we dream. He explained that he had to guide children to their dreams and if he tried to leave, then he would go straight to Hell.

Though reluctant, he gradually came to enjoy what he was doing, and sometimes, he’d bring some children into that world to take part in the show. They had to earn their way home or wait a year and watch as other children come over – succeeding or failing – until they proved their worthiness to go home. But sometimes…those children will die, meaning that they couldn’t leave. And the only way that you could do that was if…was if…

H: It turned out that killing him meant that we’d unintentionally killed ourselves. That was why we’d felt that pain – it was our minds telling us that we were dead. We didn’t believe him when he said that, but we couldn’t feel a pulse and there were scars on our bodies in the places where I’d stabbed him. I ignored the hermit’s warning and I killed myself…and Misty. She was dead because of me! I murdered my fucking sister!

R: Do you need a br…?

M: Hazel…

H: He told us that none of the children here really wanted to stay when they found out the truth, so we were given the choice; we agree to stay, or we’ll be forced to stay. We were crying. We didn’t want to stay and we begged him to let us go, but he refused. I grabbed Misty’s wrist and we started to run, looking for an exit. He cracked his whip, hitting Misty in the back of the head. When he did that, she couldn’t move unless he allowed her. I pleaded with him to leave her alone. He mocked me and told me that I shouldn’t have been so shallow. I just lost it by that point and I ran at him. His whip hit me in the forehead and I couldn’t move. He started laughing and told me that it was entirely my fault. He said that Desdemona will be leaving soon and he can use us to make her stay long since Misty befriended her.

We were forced to happily enter backstage where we found the one-eyed girl and those children. She didn’t see us come in until her kids hid behind her when they saw me. That man cheerfully explained that we’d made the choice to stay here and be our friend. He made us agree with his statement. The girl stared at us with this blank look, but then she frowned when she looked me in the eye. I was praying that she somehow knew what was truly going on. She made her way over to me and held her arms up at me. I was forced to pick her up and she started to make that sound in my ear. That man was too busy talking about his circus and how happy she would be in this place. The girl started to pinch and nudge my ribs. She was trying to make me angry; it was working. Eventually, she bit down on my ear so hard, it was enough to make me lose my temper and I wanted to scream at her to let me go. Instead, I was forced to calmly tell her to stop doing that.

M: The moment sissy said that, the girl slowly turned to Beswican. Her left eye slowly opened and this white fire suddenly burst out of the empty socket. She leapt out of sissy’s arms and landed in front of us. She held out her arms and the other children raced over to him. They grabbed his arms and legs and forced him back into a chair. The girl approached him and struck him across the face, slicing his face open.

Beswican tried to calm her down, but she pointed a finger at him before she started waving her hand about in a figure eight motion. She was telling him that she was angry at him and wanted him to stop what he was doing. He told her that we weren’t living anymore – he felt his own pulse, pointed at us and waved his hand in the same motion. The girl turned back to us and took our hands. She easily tugged on our arms, forcing us to bend over. She started nuzzling our hands for a moment, and then – she drove her hands through our foreheads.

The second she did that, it felt like we’d just snapped out of a deep sleep. She removed her hands and we could move again. I could feel my heart pounding, and I started gasping. I staggered towards sissy and asked if she was okay. She just hugged me, but I could tell she was crying.

The little one-eyed girl started pointing at the exit, as if she was letting us know we could leave. After that, we realised the hermit was standing by the entrance. He told us that once we leave, they were going to go as well and if we wanted to say our goodbyes, we had to do it now.

H: Suddenly, Beswican stood in front of the little one-eyed girl and he started shaking her shoulders. “Don’t go, Desdemona! You can’t go! You need to stay here with father. You have to stay by father’s side! You have to stay here forever with father! He gave me a second chance to be with you! He returned you to me. You’re an angel. He gave you back to me.”

M: When I saw the fear in the girl’s eye, I spoke up and I told Beswican that Desdemona had been dead for centuries. I was sorry that he lost her, but he can’t expect anyone else to replace her. You can’t be given second chances when someone dies. I suggested that he looked up at the next show, maybe he could dream about her.

After I said that, Beswican turned to me. He was clearly angry at what I’d said. Sissy stood in front of me when he turned. He accused me of trying to separate him from his daughter. That was when the hermit appeared behind the little one-eyed girl. He wrapped his arms around her and dragged her out of his grasp. “She doesn’t even know your name or Desdemona,” he stated. “She is not your child. If you really were her father, you would know she called him daddy. You would know you were forced to conceive her. You would know you never wanted kids. But you don’t know any of that. Why don’t you do yourself a favour, and accept the truth? This place was meant to be our safe haven, but our time here has come to an end. I don’t think he would appreciate knowing what you’ve done with his family. Maybe we’ll come back, but I have my doubts. Farewell, Beswican. Dream of your daughter.”

The hermit outstretched a hand and he grabbed something invisible. He dragged his hand back, revealing an entrance into a bright light. A man’s hand outstretched from the doorway and held itself out. The girl smiled and took it before being dragged inside. The other children followed her soon after. The hermit looked back at us and said, “You go first before he tries to stop you.”

I took sissy’s hand and we slowly made our way inside. The last thing we heard before we left was Beswican screaming at us. “Desdemona, come back to father! I’m right here! Please don’t go! Don’t leave me behind! Take father with you! Desdemona, father loves you! Father needs you! I’m in Hell! Desdemona!”

H: The next thing we knew, we were standing on the outskirts of the forest opposite our home. Despite everything, we started laughing. We couldn’t help it. The lights were off in our house, but no one came out to investigate the noise. After a few minutes passed, we looked over to see that hermit. He was leaning against a tree, smoking. We approached him, and I asked him if it really was over. He told us that it was for us and that man was never going to go after us again, but there was nothing that could be done to stop other children from wandering into that world, and on that night, we were the luckiest people in the world.

M: I asked him whether or not we’d see the one-eyed girl again, he said that it was very unlikely. In truth, we were just in the wrong place at the right time, but, the girl has grown to like us and she had a gift for us.

R: What was it?

M: Do you see our bracelets?

R: Yes.

M: Well, they’re made from her hair and they’re supposed to ward off bad entities. If we were in trouble, she’d come to help us.

R: Did you ever see her again?

M: No, we never saw any of them again. After he gave us the bracelets, the man nodded and gave us a small smile before he disappeared. Once he was gone, we decided that we’d let our parents sleep before we came home. We spent the night walking around, smoking, talking, and just having a good time.

R: Where did you get the cigarettes from?

H: I had a secret stash and matches kept under the house. That night was the first time we’d willingly spent time together – of course, that didn’t stop us from getting into heated arguments from time to time. The next morning, we made our way home and knocked on the door. We were going to pretend we’d been locked out after going on an early morning walk.

M: Of course, it backfired when we were told that we’d been missing for twelve days. The police were called and when we were interviewed, we told them that we went for a walk in the forest, but we got lost. They believed us, and life went back on as usual for us.

R: I see. I hope you get what you want. Is there anything else you want to add to it?

H: No, that’s…

M: Yes! Now that you mention it, there was something else: when we woke up one morning, we found a pink, worn-out journal on the floor. We tried to read it, but this feeling of dread forced us to stop. We did find a picture on the first page though; it showed a smiling father and son at the beach. The boy looked just like one of those children, and I noticed the man looked like a younger version of the hermit. I think what I found the most disturbing about the picture was the photo’s date; January 27th 2007.

H: That really shook us up, but we knew that the girl got our message and had come to visit us. We thought she’d come back to collect her journal the next night, but I accidently left it in our room and it was gone when I came back.

M: And that’s pretty much it. Do you have any more questions?

R: No, that’s it. Do you have any questions?

M: Just one – I was going to ask you how you knew our disappearance wasn’t normal, but even after all these years, I still recognise the hand the little girl took, so now I want to know this – why did you decide to contact us?

<It is silent for ten seconds>

R: Well…it’s a hobby. It’s not like you’re the only one’s who’ve met my family.