This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
THERE was a circus at the convention center. The Highland Circus. Marlin Kelley didn’t see the appeal. Ever since he saw It with Tim Curry, Kel had been afraid of clowns. But he wasn’t a kid anymore, and he didn’t hide from clowns. That wasn’t what had him sweating.
Kel took his seat amongst the crowd and waited for the lights to dim.
The acrobats weren’t so bad, he decided part of the way into the show. It was entertaining to watch them sail through the air. And the music wasn’t too loud or too garish. The little boy seated behind him kicked the back of Kel’s chair. Not a particularly patient or forgiving man, he whipped around to glare daggers at the boy.
The kid was so engrossed with the colorful acrobats that he failed to notice the angry man in his mid-thirties directly ahead of him. He continued kicking Kel’s chair. He was about to cuss the boy out when two red eyes stopped him.
It was the woman, sitting up in the nosebleed section. Her red eyes were trained on Kel. Even in the dark, he could see her skin which resembled craggy charcoal, her writhing black hair, and her impossible grin made up of shark’s teeth. Two leathery wings were folded against her back.
Kel ducked and turned forward again to watch the circus performers.
She was the reason he was here. She was the one that whispered the name in Kel’s ear along with the command: “Confess.”
The rest of the performance seemed to fly by. Kel couldn’t enjoy it. He had two options. Either he confessed his sins like the demon woman wanted, or he didn’t and she haunted him for the foreseeable future. Neither option ended well for him, and the time for choosing drew nearer with every act that passed.
When the show ended, some of the performers met the audience out in the lobby. Kel scanned them for the man whose face he had memorized from the Highland Circus’ website. The man whose name a demon woman hissed in Kel’s ear late at night. He searched for dark blonde hair and piercing blue eyes. Just as he thought that he might have to get creative and dodge security backstage, Kel spotted him.
He was off in a corner talking to one of his colleagues, an older man with strikingly similar features. The older man saw Kel approaching and motioned for the younger to look behind him. For a split second, Kel saw someone who was not so different from himself. Hurt, angry, pushed to the fringes of society. Then he put his mask on and became just another performer greeting a fan. It was impressive. Even Kel’s mask wasn’t that solid.
“Are you Reuben Skinner?” he asked just to be sure.
“Yes, sir,” the younger man said with a smile. “Did you enjoy the show?”
“Um, yeah…” Kel glanced over his shoulder. Amidst the throng of people, he saw the red eyes and sharp grin flash between the heads and shoulders of those milling about in the lobby. Sweat trickled down the nape of his neck, and he muscled onward. “There’s something I need to tell you.”
Reuben Skinner raised an eyebrow, and Kel knew he had about sixty seconds before the man told him to get lost.
Kel leaned in and said in a barely audible whisper, “I killed a hooker in Vegas.” He waited a beat to see what Skinner’s reaction would be. After a moment, the young man rolled his eyes and snorted.
“Yeah, okay.” He then adopted a serious expression with a hint of mockery. “Sir, are you aware that you’re not allowed to drink alcohol in this building? Although, kudos for sneaking it past security.”
Kel wiped the sweat from his forehead. There was more he had to say before Skinner dismissed him. “And then there was an old man in Cleveland.” Skinner looked to the man next to him.
“Seriously, can you get security over here?”
“And there was a family in Coon Falls after that!” Kel was shaking so badly that it took a few seconds for him to notice the young man was frozen. “Please, I’ve told you. Now make her go away!” He looked over his shoulder again. She was still there, but this time she was closer. Her huge bat wings jutted out ending in pointed tips before sloping down. People casually walked around them. How could no one else see her?
“What did you say?” Skinner’s mask had fallen away entirely. His blue eyes were cold and barren.
“That demon woman,” Kel sputtered. “She won’t leave me alone!”
“No, no.” Skinner shook his head. He twirled his finger and said, “The part right before that.”
Kel strained to reorder his thoughts. He was so focused on completing his confession that it went against the grain to backtrack. “I killed a family in Coon Falls?”
Skinner smiled. “That’s what I thought you said.” Then his fist smashed into Kel’s nose. He staggered back and fell to the floor.
A clamor rose up around them. Startled gasps and confused inquiries were bandied about. Skinner shook his hand, wincing.
“Well, don’t just stand there,” he said. “Somebody call the police.” He looked down on Kel with an expression equal parts disgust and exasperation. “It’s a sad day when I’m the voice of reason.”
From the corner of his eye, Kel saw the withered skin of the demon woman’s legs, all angles and shadows. The ends of her wings dragged on the floor. Her writhing hair came into view as she bent her upper body sideways. Head pointed at the floor, the demon woman stared at him. Her grin was somehow more menacing upside-down. A hard pit formed in Kel’s stomach as he realized that, though he’d confessed his sins to Reuben Skinner just like she told him to do, the demon woman was not going anywhere.
ynez2005: I LOVE THIS BOOK SOOOOO MUCH!!!!Though you really need to make another book,more Princesses!!! Whoooo!!!Girl Power!!!Mabey it could even be Devona's BFF???That would make it even better!!!Plus can you pleeease make Akki come back,together with Thea and Authur amd the whole family is back!Other th...
rudyoxborough46: An action-packed, mystical adventure awaits anyone wishing to read this novel. I’m amazed at how well you’ve managed to flesh out the characters in this book, and I hope to read more of your work.I’ve read books about goblins and elves and all that mumbo-jumbo before, and most accounts of these c...
Bri Hoffer: I couldn't put it down!! The characters are all incredibly likable, and it's so descriptive you can see, smell, and feel thier surroundings. Great story, and very well written. I cannot wait for follow up stories. there were a few grammatical errors, but nothing that I could move right over.
Flik: Hi! ^.^ huge fan of yours on ff.net! When I saw the note about this contest on The Way We Smile, I couldn't help but rush over here, create an account, and vote! XD Seriously love this story and would recommend it to anyone! :D best FT fanfiction out there. Amazing story, amazing concept that wa...
maewilde25: I am so in love with this story!!! captivated me till the very end, there wasn't a dull moment. Didn't particularly enjoy the lay out and some bits of info was missing along with how a 21 year old man amassed so much wealth that needed to be explained other than that and a few spelling errors, th...
CookieMonster911: The story overall was an adventure that is appealing to any age. The way the characters develop adds a more human characteristic to the novel. The writing style itself is amazing because you can learn every character's thoughts and emotions. The awkward love triangle and jerk moments adds to the ...
daneliacapote116: This was one of my favorites! When you start reading you want to continue I can't wait for the rest of the novel!! The characters where awesome! Everything was great. I encourage you to read this novel, your going to love it it and want to read it more and more !!
Hawkebat: Playing both Kotor I & II and Swtor I found the story line interesting and it held me until chapter 35 Very good story and plot flow until then, very few technical errors. I felt that the main character was a bit under and over powered, as it fought for balance. The last few chapters felt too f...