Masqueraded: Act One by Alexis Dees Genre: Dark Fantasy, Urban Thriller
Being haunted by a sinister circus wasn't unusual for the spunky Estela Nannette Sinclair. Neither was the abuse she faced from her adoptive parents. But one was just a dream and the other would resolve in two weeks upon her eighteenth birthday... or so she mistakenly presumed. Her life was a complex façade of lies that hid how deeply she's entangled with three powerhouses of dark magic. Had she been that ignorant of the masquerade before her? An ignorance that wasn't bliss. And an ignorance that meant her corpse would likely decorate an amusement attraction in a mere two weeks' time.
On our way down the midway, we crushed underfoot littered popcorn and stuffing that floated in the wind from mutilated stuffed animals. The wooden frames of the games and concession stands were rotting in addition to the paint peeling off of them. They looked a day away from collapsing in on themselves. Perfectly topping off the pitiful state the circus was in was the sound of a haunting calliope playing slowly in the distance.
As familiar as we were to each other, he had no name that I knew of. This was another part of the game he played in my dream. He knew quite well, however, who I was. This being to my disdain. The Ringmaster was fond of humoring himself at my expense.
“How is your family doing, Miss. Sinclair?”
The smooth arrogance of his voice made me an impulse away from socking him in the face. He’d probably just catch my hand, too, like he did with any other projectile.
With a slightly crazed smile on my face, I copied his voice, “I don’t know. What about yours?”
His jaw tightened and I knew I finally hit some sort of spot with him. His typically empty eyes darted to me with a deadly glint in them. If he wasn’t living in my head rent free, I knew he would’ve murdered me.
The grin I gave back only made him tense even more, “Ah, pity.”
Alexis Dees is a lifelong creative writer and storyteller of all tales enchanting and unsettling. She focuses on stories that maintain a balance of whimsical fantasy, morbid darkness, and offbeat eccentricities... which sometimes ties into the matter of amusement attractions, an industry she's been involved with professionally for nearly ten years as an entertainer. As all sensible intellects do, instead of pursuing a traditional 9 to 5, she's ran away with the circus more than once; and when she's not tied up in aerial silks or reading the Brothers Grimm for the millionth time, she's likely traipsing about an abandoned amusement park.