Here's something I wrote three years ago. I probably won't update it anymore. It was super important when I wrote it and I hope people get to enjoy it a lot in the future, even though canon has contradicted it. The cover is by tumblr user Mooseings.
I ran away to join the circus when I was seventeen, just like everyone else.
No? Ah, well. I've always defied convention. Admit it though; you always wanted to join the circus when you were a kid. I'm living your dream and you're jealous of me! Come on, I don't blame ya, kid! I travel, I'm part of the show and everybody loves me, I'm more handsome than most of my traveling companions and the girls are all over me.
"Gah- help! The girls are all over me!" I choke out, waving an arm in the air. Not an easy fete with two lions on top of a person. One of the lionesses has my torso pinned under her bulk, and the other is pacing around me, red tongue peaking out, as if trying to decide which part of me is most delicious. A massive paw lashes out and she pins the arm to the ground. She stands up, looking down at me hungrily. My arm aches from the weight of the front of a full grown lion. I could get myself out of this…if only so many people weren't around. "Corduroy!" I call out.
"Girls, girls!" A large muscular man is pushing his way into the tangle of myself and lions. He wedges between the two of them and wedges them apart. The lions growl at him, but takes them both by the nap of the neck and pulls the monsters offa me like they're just a couple of tabby cats who get feed to much. They curl up like kittens in his grasp. Giant, killer kittens. He walks away with them.
Did I mention Corduroy is huge?
I stand up on the long wooden platform of the train station. If that had happened back in San Fran, people wouldn't have even looked up. They're too busy, in the city, to deal with some sap being eaten alive by big cats. But this is a small town, and thus, my misadventures had gotten the attention of a group of gawkers. These gawkers started to disperse, looking more disappointed than relieved. I can't miss an opportunity to show off, so I yell at them "If you think that's something, wait until you see the real show!"
One kid perks up. He's chubby, and his hair is so pale blond he resembles a little old woman more than a kid. "Is it about gettin' mauled by more animals?"
I look down at him grumpy expression "Puh-leaze," I say, crossing my arms "my skills extend far beyond getting mauled."
The universe apparently hates me, because a dark shape suddenly swoops down from the sky. Suddenly my face is full of wings and talons and as a medium sized bird attaches itself to my head. Thwap-thwap-thwap-thwap! It punches the top of my head several times with its beak. "Gah! Son of a- woodpecker?! Getoff, getoff, getoff!" I swing at it with my arms, trying to dislodge the demon bird.
I jump. Not three feet away from me is a round, red faced man whose black walrus mustache looks like something alive on his face, the way it wriggles furiously. He ignores the bird from hell and proceeds to spit fire at me. "What the hell are you doing?! You're supposed to be unpacking, not getting to know the local wildlife!"
The yelling of my employer sends the bird finally flying and I rub my head. I notice that the ringmaster is still watching me and I adjust my arm to salute him. "Aye-aye, captain!" I dart away as quickly as possible. I can hear the damn kid laughing his arse off as I make my way back to the luggage car. It's not until I get further up the platform that I realize what I just said. Aye-aye captain? I smack my forehead. How am I going to prove to Renzo that I'm stage material when I talk like such a goof?
The performers carry their own personal luggage, but there's a number of stage props stored in the back car for me to get. Though by the time I get back there the railroaders have already thrown all the stuff out and left it there in a pile. I give a glare to the one of the overalled railroad workers who walks by, then pick a truck to take to the other side of the platform. At first I'm dragging the heavy trunk, but I spot a couple of cute local dolls with their eye on me. Suddenly I stop, reach for the trunk and, in a fluid motion, heft the heavy trunk over my shoulder.
Of course, like any magic show, it's all an act. I can feel the cold stone in my necklace under my shirt, guiding the motion. The trunk is being teleported subtly. I flash them a shit-eating grin. "Hello, ladies," I say, trying to be as smooth as possible. When I literally walk into the hairy chest of the animal tamer, I'm momentarily distracted from using my magic, and the heavy trunk falls onto my back. My expression becomes pained for only a moment before I lift it again with the amulet.
Corduroy is right in front of me. Randall Corduroy is a big guy with large muscles flaming red muttonchops. He's apologetic. "Cipher, are you alright, kid? I can't express how sorry I am about the girls. I don't even know they got out of their cages!"
Another thing about Corduroy: He's one of the few performers who actually doesn't treat the stage hands like dirt. It's refreshing even if his animals are a constant, bodily threat.
I try to shrug. It doesn't really come off as a shrug. Corduroy picks up a couple of trunks, one tucked under each arm. Show off. I think, and risk glancing at the dolls. Oh yeah, they're eating it all up…
"You're stronger than you look," he says approvingly and I say nothing. I know what he means. I'm a bit of bean pole- too tall to be as skinny as I am and and my face looks thinner with my out grown hair- almost down to my shoulders. I keep telling myself I'm going to cut it. I keep forgetting. I actually look kind of vagabondish, but I'm young enough to make it look good.
He sighs, sadly. I'm surprised and a little scandalized that he doesn't see the girls, who are waving coyly at him. "I just don't get it. My animals are well trained- really they are. It's like they go crazy whenever you're nearby."
"It's always been that way for me," I walk on ahead of him, tired of being overshadowed by this big six. I have skills he can't even imagine, if only I had a chance to show them off without people going bonkers. Nearing the gravel turnabout, I see a horse attached to a wagon waiting. On the road, that's all you see- wagons or pedestrians. Shoot, there must not be a single car in this town! I really feel far away from home.
Corduroy is keeping up with me. He's eyeing me like I'm large cake sitting out in plain view. I clarify "No, really. Animals hate me. Dogs, cats, birds…I got attacked by a woodpecker just a minute ago!" I can see he doesn't believe me, so I shrug it off. I don't need him to believe me.
Corduroy lifts an eyebrow "Cipher, this might sound like a weird question, but do you carry around raw bacon in your pockets?"
I let out a wild, deranged laugh before I realize that Corduroy's being serious. Really? "Why would I even do that?" Then "Check my pockets, pal."
He doesn't take me up on it, just like I thought he wouldn't, but I'm still a little mad that he would jump to such a conclusion. We get to the cart and pack our things in. I'm about to turn around and head back for more when I'm tackled from behind. Wha? Now what is it?! I'm tackled to the ground and patted down by large hands. Meaty fingers reach into my trouser pockets. When Corduroy is done, he shrugs and lets me up. I stare at him in horror.
"I had to check," he says with a shrug.
Did I mention liking his guy? He's completely screwy! Must come from wrestling big cats all day. I adjust my cabbie hat and glare at him, as I don't really have words right now. I go for another load, and pretty much keep repeating the process until the wagon is loaded up.
It's actually kind of a long ride to the center of town. The train station is so far out it's not on most maps of this place. I must say, I like the name of our new stop: Gravity Falls. Has a sort of irony to it.
It's midsummer and dry, and the horses hooves kick up dust and, before long, all of us are covered in a grimy layer. We reach our destination- a clearing just off the center of town, behind the cemetery. There is kind of a festive atmosphere as we're setting up the tent and the trapezes and the animal cages. No doubt my circus fellows are glad to be off those packed train cars and actually moving their legs. It's always nice to finally arrive somewhere. I've been traveling with the company for about two months now, and the routine has become second hand. The places and faces change slightly, but it's always the same.
But don't get me wrong. I still love it, it's just that, well maybe, you can say that the magic has worn off, just a little? Doesn't help that I'm still not on stage, but my fellows tell me that's completely normal. I have yet to prove to Renzo that I have any talent at all, despite my trying. It makes me wonder what the heck he's looking for. That washout Smokinmirs?
Speaking of Smokinmirs, I hear a nasally voice calling two long syllables out from across the clearing. "Ciiiipherrrr!" My shoulders droop. I'm currently in the process of shoveling lion dung out of the cage- standing outside it and pressing a long shovel in to get as much as I can. The lions are leering at me and one is looking at a scar on my arm in what I'm sure is a satisfied manner. But I'd rather shovel lion poo than go to the sound of that voice. I wait. Maybe he won't call again…
"Ciiiiipherrrr! Where are youuuuuu?"
"Rats! Later, suckers." I mutter, leaning the shovel up against the wheeled cage, and walk around it. Smokinmirs isn't hard to find. He's bellowing up a storm and, as I come around, I receive several condolent looks and some people shake their heads as if I'm walking toward my own funeral. I finally catch up to Smokinmirs, who's bellowing a third time. I wave my are to get his attention "I'm here, I'm here!"
"There you are boy! Where have you been?"
"Helping Corduroy with-" but I receive a round slap to the side of my head for answering his question.
As I'm rubbing my head, he whines about how I'm his assistant and I should be helping him. Smokinmirs has this British accent, but it's fake British, the way only an American can sound British. For a bit of perspective, the fella's from Idaho. As for why he keeps this character trait up while he's not onstage, I have no idea, but I'm guess he's a sad, lonely man. "I shall need assistance with my tent post-haste," he says worriedly, pointing to the rolled up bundle.
The Renzo Circus Company is rather small time, and not so well known outside of this corner of the United States. No expense can be spared for silly things like hotel rooms, so the whole company sleeps in pup tents or stay with locals if they take a liking to us. Of course, what Smokinmirs means I'll put up the tent while he sits on his arse and criticizes what I'm doing.
And here's a tip for all you kids trying to break into the circus business: don't let them know right away you're an aspiring magician lest you want to become an indentured servant to the one they already have. Especially if your potential slaver's name is Lawrence P. Smokinmirs.
As I'm setting down pegs, the presence of a gigantic hole in the ground becomes increasingly obvious. At first it looks just like a dip, but as I get closer, I realize it has sheer walls and goes down so far I can't see the bottom. "Uh, Mr. Smokinmirs, do you think it's safe to pitch a tent here?"
"You're not paid to ask questions, boy. Now you don't plan to put your tent poles there, do you? I do not wish to be close to the trees. Mosquito season and all."
"Of course. I'll fix those, pronto!"
Once I'm done setting things up for my boss, I manage to slip away and do something else for a while- until he starts wailing again. I think it's kind of obvious by this point, but I can't stand that Smokinmirs. He certainly isn't someone I had heard of before getting to Medford. I kind of regret, now, pretending to be his biggest fan before, because now the pill hardly gives me peace.
That being said, the big top does eventually go up, the animals get settled, the grand stands and the ticket booth are set up and the company pitches tent in the woods. That night, I'm about to bunk in the stagehand tent and share stories about women and smoke, but Smokinmirs has other plans for me. I'm to stand guard outside his tent and kill all the mosquitoes before they can get in. When I first hear these orders, I'm sure he's not serious. That thinking turns out to be too hopeful. Please shoot me.
For the first, I dunno, hour, I whack every bug I see with a flyswatter, but plenty of them bite into me without me even seeing them, which annoys me more than it should. Let me make things clear- I like knowing things. What people are up to- who's behind me. It ticks me off a little when something escapes my notice.
Smokinmirs makes no objection from within the tent, and I realize that the mosquitoes are distracted enough by me not to go in there. So, instead of a guard, I'm more like bait. I wonder if my incredible bad luck with wildlife is literally biting me all over, because I don't see anyone else suffering.
Of course that night, I'm right next to the hole in the earth. I can't help but stare at it. It's like it's calling to me. At one point I pick up a rock and drop it in, then get to my knees to listen for the impact. It takes seconds to make a sound but I'm not one of those wise heads who can tell how far something goes down by listening to it. Because of my constant battle with mosquitoes, I get no sleep at all. As I said, the universe hates me.
So the next morning I'm slow, sloppy, unfocused and Smokinmirs abuses the side of my head more than usual as he readies for the performance. He puts on his costume earlier in the day- I think he just likes wearing it. He doesn't realize it makes him look like a lighted sign. Or maybe he does, and he actually likes that kinda thing. He wears a robe and a turban- both of which are lousy with bright blue sequins. His face is touched with makeup, and his black mustache is curved in a spiral.
In the late afternoon, getting into evening, we're finally open for business, and the Fallers(I'm told this is what Gravity Falls residents refer to themselves as) come packing into the place. Renzo comes out and introduces the show with a number of dancers, then it's time for the clowns, and Corduroy's animal act. The lionesses are wearing these wigs around their necks to make them look like male lions. I don't know why, but I find this subterfuge amusing. Then there are the trapeze artists, the contortionist, and the opera singer who can break a glass with her voice. Then it's Smokinmirs turn.
The audience appears to curve around the stage, but actually the disk shaped stage is set to one side, with the flaps of the tent acting as curtains behind it. Smokinmirs and I are backstage currently, only what constitutes backstage is the lawn behind the other side of the tent. I don't bother watching the acts, because the novelty grows dull after the first time.
Smokinmirs goes out into the stage and announces himself as the Great Smokissimo. "My dear audience! Prepare to you have your notions of reality challenged! For after tonight, you will all realize that the future is in the past!" What does it mean? I dunno. It's the same mystical shtick every performance. He says the word audience as if it's the name of an attractive woman. I mouth the words as I get ready for my cue.
Finally Smokinmirs is performing instead of talking. Mostly he uses card tricks and illusions of the eye. My job is to blow smoke with a machine to make the atmosphere seem more mystical- sometimes ringing an unseen gong or playing a note on a zylophone. Again, for atmosphere. Smokinmirs is so much about style people forget the lack of substance- or so I think he hopes.
A noise grabs my attention. Actually, it's more like a hum. Others back here are trying to shout and keep their voices hushed at the same time, which is less hilarious than it sounds. There is sort of a crowd of people already back here- performers who are done, managers, stage hands and so on. It doesn't take me long to see what all the commotion is about. A deep brown, furry bullet is making its way through the crowd of circus people, disregarding humans in its path. Now I people start shouting- loud enough for the audience to hear, I'm sure.
I look back out onto the stage. Yeah, Smokinmirs can hear it. His face has turned tomato colored. Smokinmirs is smoking mad, but he can't break the illusion to the audience. But the audience members are whispering amount themselves. What's all that noise?
The enraged black bear continues to make a bee line through the crowd. And now that I think of it, it's pretty ridiculous to compare a bear to a bee. Maybe it's making a rhinoceros beetle line. Though I think rhinoceroses are bigger than bears. Unless bears are bigger than rhinoceroses. I've never checked.
I consider bailing on Smokinmirs, but there's innocent people in the tent who aren't him and they could get hurt as well. Not that it's exactly my responsibility to worry about them, though. Then I realize that I have no choice anyway as the bear is now nearly right on top of me. I realize I was the rampaging beast's target all along. Sigh. Of course.
I only have one avenue of escape. I run out onto the stage- right between Smokinmirs and his precious audience.
Smokinmirs goes from tomato colored to plum. "Cipher, there had better be a good explanation for this." He hisses in a loud whisper.
The universe has excellent timing. With a roar, the bear comes crashing onto the stage. "RUN!" I politely suggest to Smokinmirs. He seems to think that's a good idea, and we take off. Unfortunately we don't have far to go until there's a steep drop of into the orchestra pit. Stage. It's not like it's too high to jump, but we would have to think about the jump first. The bear runs at us, all of its teeth well, bared. It wants me just as dead as the lionesses and the woodpecker do.
"NO!" I shout, putting my hand out. What happens next is pretty much natural reflex. I've been doing this since I was a baby. The bear continues to run, but goes nowhere. Well, technically, it's going up. It's lifting into the air gradually. The ursine comes to the realization that it's floating and starts to make swimming motions and grunt strangely. If I didn't know better, I'd say it was panicking. "Not today!" I say through gritted teeth. I lift the bear right about my head.
There is a roar. A roar that is so loud and tumultuous that I have trouble keeping my concentration on levitating the bear. This sure was easier when I was a kid and didn't have my amulet yet. I look to Smokinmirs, confused, but he's staring at me with genuine horror. It's like a smack in the gut, but it's nothing new. I just saved your life you ungrateful chump! Don't you look at me like a freak.
But I remember that Smokinmirs and I aren't alone in here, and a jolt of fear comes on so powerfully that that this time I really start to falter. I turn slowly, first my face, then the rest of body, all the while still keeping the bear suspended. The audience. I'm being applauded.