Authors: Crystal De la Cruz
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Crystal De la
The Blue Bouzouki Press at Smashwords
Crystal De la Cruz
Julie chewed her pen idly and stared at the
screen. She was supposed to be writing up an article about the new
shopping mall on the outskirts of town but her heart just wasn’t in
it. Somehow, she’d always imagined that the life of a reporter
would be so much more exciting than it had turned out to be. But
then maybe that was more the town than the job. Nothing much
exciting ever really happened in Arlington.
Across the newsroom, the door to Mark’s
office opened and he and Thelma stepped outside laughing
mischievously. Julie glanced up, wondering what the big secret was
and just why her friends suddenly looked so
all of a
“Hey Julie,” Mark called, “will you come over
here for a second?”
“I’m kind of busy right now,” she replied,
for some reason feeling like she should hide her curiosity. “What
“Just come over here will ya?”
Mark was Julie’s editor,
the man in charge of the whole operation, as small scale an
operation as it might actually be. Thelma was a fellow reporter and
Julie’s best friend and together the three of them had shared a
certain kind of chemistry ever since they’d started working
together. In fact, she and Thelma enjoyed a flirty competitiveness
for their boss’s attention, though Julie would never in a million
years have dreamt of actually acting on it.
“Fine,” she sighed and stoop up from the
computer, hitting the save button even though the screen was still
She walked across the office.
“What are you two up to?” she asked, studying
the cheeky expressions on their faces.
“I’ve got a story for you,” Mark said, his
cute blue eyes seeming to tease her as he spoke.
“Yeah, well in case you haven’t noticed I’m
still working on the one you gave me half an hour ago.”
Mark brushed back his black hair and narrowed
his eyes. “Oh I think you’re going to want to follow up on this one
“It’s super naughty Julie,” Thelma said,
grinning at her salaciously. “In fact I wanted it myself but Mark
wouldn’t let me have it…”
Thelma rubbed up against their editor
flirtatiously and he pushed her way with a playful shove. And just
like that it suddenly dawned on Julie: they were sleeping together.
And she didn’t know how she felt about that exactly.
“Fine,” she said, trying to push the thought
out of her head. “What’s it on?”
“We got a tape in the mail,” Mark said, “an
anonymous tipoff you might say. It’s in my office in the player. Go
on in and have a listen.”
“Ok,” Julie said, “and what’s on the
“Oh you’ll see,” Mark smiled, “all you need
to know is that it came with a note attached.
Come to the
, that’s all it said.”
“We’re going for a late lunch,” Thelma
smirked, “go on in Julie and see what you think. If you’ve got the
nerve, that is…”
Julie stepped into Mark’s office and closed
the door behind her. She should have been happy for them, but
somehow she just felt… raw about it. She shook her head trying to
shake herself out of the bad mood. This wasn’t just about Mark and
Thelma, this was deeper than that. The truth was she’d been feeling
bored with her whole life lately. More than just bored… extremely
dissatisfied. Somehow she knew that there had to be more to it than
She went to the old style tape player and
rewound the cassette. On the desk she noticed the note that had
accompanied it. The paper seemed to be made of some kind of exotic
material and the words were inscribed in flowing, elegant
calligraphy. It was very strange.
The tape stopped and Julie pressed play.
At first there wasn’t much sound except for
faint voices speaking, too muffled to make out what they were
saying exactly. Julie walked around Mark’s desk and sat down. She
flicked her long blonde hair over her shoulder and pushed her
glasses up the bridge of her nose. People told her she was
attractive, but these days she didn’t much feel like it.
And then all of a sudden the voices came into
focus and suddenly Julie was wide awake.
She heard a voice speak, a deep European
accent, masculine and dominant. “
Come over here
do as your master tells you, worm!
Julie’s eyes widened as she heard what
sounded like a whip slapping bare flesh and a woman’s scream, not
of pain but of intense pleasure. She sat upright at the desk, her
mouth opening slightly. Just what was she listening to here?
That’s it, that’s it. You are daddy’s
little princess but you must be punished for your
,” the woman spoke, her
voice thick with arousal.
Are your binds too tight? Are they
Julie felt a twinge between her legs at the
ominous and controlling tone of his voice. She blushed and glanced
up at the office window to make sure nobody was watching her.
Suddenly she felt very ashamed. She’d read about things like this,
sure, but to actually hear them as they happened for real? It was
awakening a whole spectrum of new emotions and feelings inside
,” the woman on the tape
” the male shouted and Julie
jumped in her seat as the sound of leather hitting flesh
reverberated on the tape again. “
Now crawl over here and lick my
boot. Lick it clean and maybe then I’ll fuck you the way you
There was the sound of the woman moaning
lustfully once more and then the tape stopped with an abrupt
Julie didn’t know what to think. She was so
hot and flustered… that voice, that predatory voice. She looked out
the office window to make sure nobody was coming her way and then
she stood up and went to play the tape again.
She knew Mark and Thelma were toying with
her. Chances were, they expected that she wouldn’t have the guts to
track down a story like this. In fact, as far as they were
concerned she’d probably get embarrassed just talking about such a
thing. Maybe they were right.
Julie looked at the note on the desk, studied
the elegant calligraphy. Had he been the one to write it? The man
on the tape? And if so, what possible reason could he possibly have
to send it to the paper?
The Hellfire Circus, that was that new
carnival that had just moved into town. That was just the kind of
thing the Arlington Times would do a write-up on anyway. Julie
glanced out the window again and made a snap decision. She was
going there herself. Right now.
She drove her small sedan out to the large
meadow where the circus had been set up. The large billboard she’d
seen as she approached had sent shivers down her spine. Whether the
tape had come from there or not, the Hellfire Circus was definitely
not your ordinary carnival.
The picture showed a beautiful pale young
woman in a tight bodysuit with thick mascara plastered around her
eyes, goth-style. At her feet was a dwarf in clown face-paint that
was more horror movie than children’s entertainment. And above them
both was the outline of a man, really just a cape and a top-hat
with a pair of piercing golden eyes underneath. Out of everything
in the strange picture, Julie thought that it was those eyes more
than anything else that unnerved her. They seemed to be staring
directly into the darkest corners of her soul.
She drove down the muddy track and parked her
car amongst all the others. It looked like a show was already
underway. She went to the ticket booth and knocked on the
Inside, a huge bald man with rippling muscles
was pouring over a magazine filled with pictures of tattoos and
piercings. When he looked up Julie gasped in shock. He was wearing
light goth makeup and had a studded collar around his taut throat.
He was not the kind of person you saw in Arlington everyday.
“Hi,” Julie said, “I’d like a ticket for one
“Sorry,” the hulk shrugged, “the last showing
for the day started half an hour ago. Unless you want to come back
tomorrow, that is.”
Julie smiled professionally. “I’m with the
Arlington Times newspaper in town here,” she said, “do you think I
might be able to go in and get a quick look around for a write-up
The ticket man shook his head. “Sorry ma’am,”
he said, “you’ll have to come back tomorrow.”
Julie nodded slightly and the man went back
to his magazine. She started walking back to her car and then,
halfway there, she turned around again. The guy was still
completely buried in his magazine. Julie looked around herself and
then made a quick run towards the tents.
She couldn’t give up now, not after listening
to that recording. She had to see it for herself, had to find
Find out what, she wondered? She wasn’t sure
yet, but she needed to explore.
The tents were stylistically gothic and dark,
most of them ebony and ivory stripes, and the whole setup felt more
Victorian than twenty-first century. She heard voices talking and
quickly ducked in behind a trailer.
“That’s right,” one said, “they flogged her
so hard she was bleeding, but she loved every minute of it…”
“I’d love to have been there,” the other
replied and then the voices moved off out of earshot.
Julie peeked her head around the corner to
make sure it was safe and then hurried on. Surely she’d misheard
As she approached the big top tent she
realized that, considering the tape she’d listened to earlier, the
men had probably meant just exactly what she thought they’d
She shivered, a little afraid and more than a
little excited, and pressed on.
A moment later she slipped into the main tent
and made her way towards the ring. The whole place was almost empty
so it didn’t take her long to find a seat. She only hoped nobody in
charge had noticed her sneak in.
As she focused her attention on the center of
the ring she began to feel uneasy. A trio of clowns with black
makeup around their eyes and strange smiles on their faces were
cycling around the edge on unicycles at rapid speed, but it was
what lay beyond them that had really caught her attention. It was
the dark trio from the billboard outside.
The dwarf was juggling small knifes and the
beautiful, svelte woman was beside him, dressed in a skintight
silver jumpsuit that covered her entire body, save for just the
front of her face. She wore silver makeup to match her outfit and
her bright green eyes were wild and frenetic underneath. She seemed
to be some kind of contortionist, slipping into various impossible
poses, twisting her limbs around her neck and behind her torso.
And just slightly behind those two, with only
his dark smile and smolderingly intense eyes truly visible, was the
Ringmaster. Julie gasped as she looked at him, dressed in his sleek
black top hat and velvet cape. There was no doubt in her mind that
he was the man from the recording.
In his hand he held a long black cane and he
raised it up powerfully over his head, bellowing laughter.
“Cassandra!” he commanded, “lift him up!”
The contortionist reached her legs down to
the dwarf and flicked him up onto the soles of her feet, as he
continued to juggle. Julie felt a pang of dark heat in her belly.
That voice, it was him…