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The Circus

circus smithsonian

“The Circus”, by Albina Felski

Fandango’s FOWC is natural, the Word of the Day Challenge is venturesome, Paula’s 3 Things Challenge words are clip, sparrow, acrobat , and Teresa’s Story Starter Challenge phrase is “Sign here”

Austin was a venturesome sort, which is was what first drew him to the circus. The famed Flying Fabios were looking for a sixth trapeze artist that would also be willing to go solo once the training was completed. Austin scratched his signature on the, “Sign here” line of the contract and was soon on his way to being Austin the Acrobat.

The Ringmistress and owner of the Circus Extravaganza, Blaze Glory, was always pushing for innovative acts to draw in those who would pay to see marvelous athletes risk death.

As it was a circus, it was only natural she wanted to introduce trained animals into the act. They had attempted to use chimpanzees, tree monkeys, and even flying squirrels, but it always ended tragically. One day Fred Fabio suggested birds might be a better choice to try.

Blaze sought and found a breeder of the rare Andalusian sparrow, which is known for its intelligence and trainability. The sparrows’ reputation was all that it claimed, and soon the dozen birds were performing feats of marvelous acrobatics.

Six months later, Austin and the newly named bird team, Stars of the Sky, were ready to begin working together. Clips were attached to various parts of Austin’s clothing and headgear that the Stars were trained to land on. After another three months of practice, the show was ready to go public.

Some circuses believe in safety nets for their aerial acts. Circus Extravaganza was not one of those circuses. Because their acrobats were literally facing death each time they performed, the oglers were willing to pay twice what they would pay to see the safety net acts.

The performers wove their way through the three rings of the circus until finally it was time for Austin the Acrobat and Stars of the Sky. Austin climbed a rope and twisted and turned, up and down it. The Stars, holding onto the clips, added such excitement to the act! The crowd was ooh-ing and ahh-ing in wonder. Next was Austin on the trapeze, turning this way and that, his Stars turning a great performance into a brilliant one.

Finally it was time for Austin to cross the tightrope with his unicyle. As he crossed, all twelve stars were perched along his shoulders, belt, and head. About halfway across, Austin jerked and his left hand flew to his ear, as the unicycle slipped and fell towards the dirt below. Austin, in prime physical form, was able to grab the wire to keep from falling. He began to make his way, hand over hand, toward the 100 foot-tall platform he’d started at. It was then that the crowd saw Austin’s ear, ravaged and bleeding, the drops of blood dotting his costume. The Stars of the Sky were in a frenzy around the wound. Like a scene out of Alfred Hitchcock’s, “The Birds,” they swarmed around Austin’s ear and face, scratching and pecking and squawking with unholy screeches.

Austin himself was screaming and wriggling, trying to hold on. It took sheer force of will to keep placing hand over hand on the wire, which at this time had cut into his flesh, so his hands were also bleeding; making the Stars ever more frenzied.

Austin was able to make it to the platform and almost tumbled off. As he climbed down the ladder, the birds continued their attack. He collapsed at the bottom of the ladder and lost consciousness.

Austin woke up in a hospital bed, his face and ear covered in bandages, as were his hands. Loretta, his girlfriend, jumped up from the chair in the corner and ran to him.

Austin said, “My mind wants me to believe I was just dreaming, but I know what happened was real.”

Loretta said, “Austin, the police have arrested Blaze. They found out those sparrows were genetic research subjects, not a species found in the wild. Their DNA had been spliced with pirahna genes. When the government agency who gave them grant funds found out what they were doing, they cut off funds. The lab started selling the birds as ‘the rare Andalusian sparrow’ to fund continued research. When Blaze bought the birds, she was instructed to feed them not only sparrow seed but raw meat once a week, or they would get aggressive. Blaze forgot to have the sparrows fed meat this week, and that’s why they attacked you.”

Austin healed over time, with most of his scars fading, but his left ear was gone. He gave up the circus life and adventure for the most part and took up kayaking with Loretta.

5 thoughts on “The Circus

    1. Never thought about that saying vs. reality before. Yep, and when you don’t give them their weekly meat, it becomes a case of aural carpacchio. It is amazing how hard birds have to search for food to stay alive on. That’s why I feed them.

      Liked by 1 person

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