View Full Version : Underground Circus (850 word short)

May 20th, 2012, 11:03 PM
Underground Circus(850 words)

The city was always fun for Mitchel. He loved the large skyscrapers, loved the smell of corner hot dogs, and mostly he loved the entertainment. Not the run of the mill boat rides on the river. Not the plays and the stage actors. No, what Mitchel loved was the underground part of the city. A place where not many knew the entrance, but once you found it you were family for life.

The first time, Mitchel, was introduced to the back harbor hole in the ground he was thirteen years old. That was twelve, maybe thirteen hundred years ago. It’s hard to remember when your life becomes so meshed together. Mitchel’s best friend was Carmen Douglas. Carmen was just over two thousand years old. He was the runner of the underground circus. The circus some called life, like Mitchel. Carmen told ,Mitchel, the first day he met him that if he wanted to live forever then he had to perform. Mitchel thought at first of the lights of Hollywood, but Carmen wasn’t talking about a figment of Mitchel living forever. He meant the whole entire body and soul living forever. He also wasn’t talking about the stage and movies. Carmen meant the circus, and Mitchel to him meant another act in his life.

At first, Mitchel, wasn’t very good at any of the tricks and plays that went into performing in a circus. Then he realized that it wasn’t about what you knew, but about what the people thought you knew. Mitchel quickly learned that hundreds of people were used to put on the circus, yet only the ones who performed attained immortality. Mitchel was given his first job as a tent set up man. This didn’t gain him life, but gained him a spot on the staff. He quickly made friends with the main acts. A man named Horgea, or half man. Horgea had been working in the circus for seven hundred years and he wasn’t all human anymore. Horgea was half man half circus lion. He had started out as just a regular lion tamer, but he quickly tired of the act and thought to spruce it up. Since Horgea couldn’t die he underwent a risky operation to put his top half on the body of a lion. His act boomed in popularity and when Horgea jumps through a flaming hoop the crowd goes wild.

The second main act, was an elephant trainer whom lengthened his arms, making them effectively as long as an elephant’s trunk. His act consisted of a fight, as if the trunks of elephants and his arms were swords. Mitchel longed to be out there with all of his friends. Yet it was over twenty years before he got his first act in the circus. An act Carmen told him would be his big shot. If he failed he would be a set-up man forever. Forever wasn’t very long in average human years, not compared to everlasting life of the performers.

Mitchel stepped out from the curtains, he honked his nose and cartwheeled across the circus circle. The crowd didn’t laugh, they didn’t clap, and they didn’t care. Mitchel danced, he made balloon animals, and he tried to tell a funny joke.

“What is black, and white, and red all over? A newspaper!”

No one laughed. His chance at everlasting life was running short. Mitchel did something crazy. He ran to the side of the stage. He knew his idea was a long shot. It hadn’t been done in hundreds of years. He wasn’t immortal like the others. He hoped the crowd would appreciate this. He grabbed the cannon and pulled it into the middle of the circle. He lit the wick and jumped in. He waited for the boom. And waited. And waited! Nothing not a sound. Mitchel got out and looked at the fuse,it stopped burning he was confused, he scratched his head. He went to the front of the cannon, and lit the fuse again. Then again scurried inside. The crowd started clapping, but he didn’t know why. He readied himself for the boom again. He waited! And waited! Nothing again. Mitchel got out, and the crowd went wild. Mitchel knew his time was up. He took his bow and walked to the back of the stage. He was ready to be told to get ready to put up the tents after the show. He knew life was out of his grasp. That was twelve or thirteen hundred years ago. From that day till now, Mitchel, was known as the human cannon ball. Mitchel didn’t realize that the cannon had a magic. A kind of Magic that was only activated once in a thousand years, and Mitchel just happened to be the lucky man. Every time Mitchel lit the wick of the cannon it shot little golden bars into the crowd’s hands. Mitchel never noticed the first night, because of how nervous he had been. But now Mitchel realized every night. That is how he had that night taken the circus from the circus of life, to the circus of life and wealth.

Something I did for fun. Entered it in another writing forums contest.

May 21st, 2012, 07:22 AM
Woah, I don't have a clue what happened there grammatically. It started off with just a few misplaced commas; no big deal. But towards the end, it kind of seems like you just got lazy. There's no shortage of run-on sentences after the first three paragraphs. It pulled me away from the story a bit. Paragraphs should have been ended in places they weren't. Small stuff.

I also feel like you overused some of their names. You don't have to mention their names every sentence. If words like he or she are starting to get repetitive, the answer is not to resort to using their name to the point of redundancy. That's so much worse. The answer is to rephrase and revise. Experiment with the way sentences are written. There's so many words out there! Play with them.

As for the story itself, again, it seemed like you kind of got lazy after a while. Was there a word limit to this? If so, then it's kind of understandable; it can be frusterating. But the story had a lot of potential. I liked the world you created. I haven't read anything like that before. The direction you took the story probably isn't even a bad one. It just didn't suit me. I found myself wanting to know more about the world itself, rather than what acts the different people were doing.

I did, however, almost enjoy the protagonist's back story. I say almost, because it had a few problems with me. First, the whole shooting golden bars out of the cannon thing really wasn't my cup of tea. So many things to choose from, and that was chosen. Second, you said it could only be activated every thousand years. Then you go on to say he did it every night? How?

Anyway, it was an interesting read that I don't regret. I enjoyed it. Keep up the good work.

May 21st, 2012, 02:40 PM
I planned to maybe expand the story into a short. At the moment the word limit on the contest really didn't allow for a longer background. I actually embarassingly didn't edit after the third paragaph. And after another read through I can see intstances where the name could have changed to another word. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. Will take this into mind when revising the peice.

June 11th, 2012, 08:31 PM
Interesting concept, but I agree with what Fin said. WAY too many run-on sentences. After you write, you should go back and pretend you're a new reader. That's what I do every time I get to the editing stage. Reading it with a fresh mind can help a lot, and it is also quite fun.

If it's hard for you to do that, take a break for a couple of hours/days and go back to it some other time. Maybe work on some other works for a little bit. Editing can be frustrating, but it pays off when done right. I know you're probably anxious to finish a story fast, but most of the time, actually every time, going back and reading what you wrote will save you in the long run.

You should maybe think about adding a twist ending. Maybe don't reveal that he is immortal until the end, or have the cannon kill him at the end and he is telling the story as a ghost. Something to think about.

Dave Watson
June 18th, 2012, 05:02 PM
As others have said, interesting idea about immortals performing in some weird cicus, but aside from the obvious editing thing, I thought it was pretty confused. Maybe I'm just being a bit thick, but I didn't "get" it. Golden bars? Sorry dude, but you've lost me here!

November 7th, 2012, 01:00 AM
Fin mentioned the errors, which i agree with, including the golden bars thing which is not my sort of deal. I enjoyed the first half, less so the second. With development it could be better :)

December 2nd, 2012, 09:50 PM
It's all over the place!! I get the golden bars thing. If it means money. If it is money then of course the first guy to fire the cannon in forever is obviously a successful act because the crowd walks away with an ungodly amount of money. The ideas are there, but it's dreamlike, and by that I mean scattered, unfocused. Who goes to see the circus if it's a hidden place? Are they immortal? Does immortal mean you can't be killed easily as well, or just that you don't age. The thousand year cannon thing could have been built up with some suspense, but it seems you've tossed out a handful of ideas without making them clear to the reader. Answer my questions, I want to know! The proper exposition and detail would make this infinitely more readable. What other types of freaks could be unveiled in a story like this?