Cirque Du Temps
He was twisting down a cobblestone path when he first caught a glimpse of the world in between. The music came first. Soft melodies spilled from every corner, seeping into his mind. Next, was the smell, cuisine from all worlds, delicious smells invading his senses. It was absolutely intoxicating. The boy's stomach released a low howl, pleading for the food he smelt now. Lastly, as he walked, came the colors. Red and black tents rose higher than seemed possible. Striped with urgency and malice. Black gates, tall and thin, surrounded the world within. In the center of the gates lay a timepiece. Engraved in red, the slow tick of each second raised an eerie feeling through his mind.
As the boy walked nearer, he couldn't help but feel drawn in some way to this event. The red and black signs became a bit easier to read now. A large one, draping over the front, read, ‘Cirque du temps’.
Circus of Time.
The boy pondered over it, as he neared the red and black realm. Colors of the towns around him seemed dull. The striking red and black made the world beyond seem miniscule in comparison. The boy approached the gates, hay and cobblestone swishing under him with every step taken.
“May I help you?” A sturdy voice projected, the boy turned to the sound, breaking from his trance. The man who had spoken was in a booth, a booth the boy had not seen before. ‘Tickets’, was written on a sign above it. The man was in all black, save for the exception of a red tie. His hair was greyed, a salt and pepper beard was painted across his thin face. His eyes looked alive, yet the dull hollow that filled his skin spoke otherwise.
“Young man?” The voice cut off the boy's observations.
“Yes, sorry, are you selling tickets?” The boy questioned, nerves he did not recognize snaked through his veins.
“Theodore Witherton? I have yours here.” The man reached below to pull out a golden ticket, shimmering against the string light within the booth. The boy looked over, confusion draped across his features.
“How do you know my name?” His voice came out more feeble than usual.
“Time is the one you must question.” The man spoke, holding out the ticket, implying for the boy to take it. The boy reached out curiously, pulling the ticket from the man's hand. In gold engravement it read, ‘Admission One: Theodore Witherton. Valid Through: 1800-1900’. The boy blinked and read again, something was definitely not right.
“Excuse me sir, but there must be a mistake this says from the year 1800 to the 1900s. It's 1984..” His sentence trailed off as he looked up to see no booth and no man. He shook his head, wondering if it was just his mind playing tricks, but once more the space where the ticket booth had been was now nothing but cobblestone and hay, the gates behind stricken with mystery.
The boy felt an uneasy feeling overcome him as he stepped closer to the gates, yet he could not stop the magnetic pull that drew him nearer. The closer he got the larger the black metal seemed, the louder the low melody was and the stronger the aromas became.
Tick, Tick, Tick
The timepiece was directly before him now, its ever looming presence haunting him. The hypnotic sound of each second passing by dazed him. A slow trance washing over his senses as he stepped forth, the gates released a moaning creak as they opened without a finger on them. The boy was no longer startled by the strangeness; moreover, he welcomed it.
As the boy stepped inwards, the gates slammed shut without any resonance of the creaking from before. He looked around, his eyes darting to the cornucopia of red and black tents, mysteries hidden within, with no attendees to watch them. It was all very overwhelming, yet nothing but peace fled in his mind.
Across from him the boy noticed a tent much larger than the rest, the colors much brighter than the rest and the aura much more demanding. He walked forth, the hay under his feet seeming to wave him forward. The boy looked for any signs of what this tent might be but was left empty handed. So with a trancelike reach, his fingers flitted across the opening cloth and pulled it open, emerging himself.
The tent was dim inside, darkness in every corner save for the singular kerosene lamp seated on a table in the center. He walked towards it, to see a mound of empty jars around the lamp. He picked one up, a withered label was stuck to the side of it, the writing faded but from what he could make of it, it read, ‘Home Once More’. He opened the top, curious to see what could possibly be of use in an empty jar. Suddenly and strikingly, lights flashed around him, colors and sounds blurred together in the tent. The boy's vision went blurry and the sounds seemed in a rage against his eardrums. The jar dropped from his hands in his attempt to put his hands across his ears, desperate for the screeching and blinding to cease.
Swiftly and gracefully the jar hit the floor, a shatter flew from it, the noise and lights stopped. The boy released his ears and looked around.
Muffled voices spoke joyously, grey visions surrounded him. He was in a dining room, people were seated at the table in a lively debate. No, not people, his family. His mother was there, and his father and his baby sister. He blinked, reaching out for them in confusion.
“Mom?” He spoke, only to get no reply, no acknowledgement. He reached forth once more, the wisp of his mom's figure fading then returning at once, like a fog.
“They are just a memory. A lovely way to remember the times you cannot go back to.” A girl’s voice rang, he whipped his head around to be faced with a girl in all black, save for the singular red rose in her brooch. Her face was indescribable, striking in every way. Beauty spilled from her pores.
“Wh-who are you?”
“It is not who I am but what.” Her gracing voice replied, a slow smile creeped across her features, leaving the boy shocked and confused.
“What is this place?” The boy demanded.
“This is the Cirque du Temps, did you not read the sign, shameful really, people must read the sign, it's certainly large enough.” She ranted, her head shaking at the end of her words.
The boy gave her a tired look, “How is all this happening?”
“Anything and everything happens here. This is the place for dreams not granted in time.”
“But why does my ticket say it's valid from the 1800s to the 1900s? That's the past.” The boy questioned, pulling the golden ticket out from where he kept it in his pocket.
The girl looked at it and released a slow smile, “Theodore, how I've missed you.”
“Theo, you must not have finished in time, here let me help you.” She spoke graciously, waving her hand over the boy.
“Wait, what are you--” The boy's voice cut short as a blinding light overcame him once more. Images of another lifetime flooded through his mind.
“Come on Clara, it's just there, we could have everything, live a thousand lifetimes!” Theodore exclaimed, adrenaline rushing through his body.
“I-I don't know Theo, we’d be leaving everything, everyone we know and love.” The beautiful woman spoke feebly.
“Can you believe it darling!” A whooping laugh spilled from his chest as he spun a giggling Clara around the empty tents.
“W-who are you?” Theodore asked cautiously.
“I am the time keeper of the Cirque du Temps.” A deep voice rang through the empty tents.
“How do I finish my dreams?” Theodore demanded, ego sinning through his words.
“To live your dreams in time, you must become time yourself.” The Time Keeper boomed out.
“If I do this, I'll never be able to go back ?”
“You will simply be a distant idea of a person. Not living. Not anything.” The Time Keeper answered, a cynical look on his faded face.
“But I could have any life I wanted to?”
“Temporarily. You must always come back, and you may never go back to the same lifetime twice.” The Time Keepers loud voice ruled.
“Theo, think about this.” Clara pleaded.
Theodore looked at her and smiled,“I could have everything I wanted.” Theodore's voice shook with false bravado, as he placed a hand on the timepiece.
“No!” Clara screamed, she reached for the timepiece as well.
The timekeeper's laugh echoed through the empty tent.
The boy was released from the imagery. Realization striking his mind, he looked over at the girl.
“Clara, lovely to see you again.”
“Shall we add a new lifetime? There must be an empty jar around here somewhere.”