What to Live For (27.1) The Circus Freak

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PART 1

“BOO!”

“Huaaaah!”

The Circus Freak cackled and laughed his way out of that particular cabin, especially amused at how the woman had almost dropped the baby out of fright. He danced across the hall, forcing a myriad of people who were lounging around to bob and weave out of his way.

“What a wonderful life!” Hugo proclaimed to the skies.

The Circus Freak had boarded one of the ships that had left the docks less than an hour before. He almost didn’t, it was hard to pick which one, but he obviously picked the largest. Even with the size of it, outfitted to carry almost a couple thousand individuals, it was still crowded. Having people all around him made it difficult to really surprise anyone, due to the cascade of reactions he got on his way anywhere which in turn betrayed his approach, but he still managed.

Some people just didn’t pay attention to what was around them.

Hugo tapped the man’s right shoulder then weaved around his left and held his grin there, eyes closed so they would show crosses, the drawn style of dead eyes.

“What?” the voice asked, away from Hugo.

The man felt the presence and turned around to find the Circus Freak.

“Wahh!” the voice yelped, right in Hugo’s face.

Startled, the man jumped away and fell on top of someone else.

“Hey, man!” someone else protested.

The Circus Freak laughed his way out of there.

Finally, he was having fun. No more acting weird and unlike himself, no more being worried about what could happen and absolutely no more caring for someone else.

There was only fun.

There was also no more being bothered by other people’s judgments. The brat that called himself or herself Street Rat was always getting under his skin, and that wasn’t supposed to happen. It hadn’t happened in years, nobody could do that.

And then there was her.

The Circus Freak jolted around a corner and took up his top speed. He leaned down and stopped an inch away from a kid’s face.

“WAH!” Hugo yelled.

“Ahhh!” The kid jumped and fell back on his butt before starting to cry.

The Circus Freak stood up, giggling, and ran away.

That was the life, alright. With how little was left of humanity, it was actually a possible endeavor to scare everyone who was left. It was a possibility for every single human being to live on to have, at one time, been scared by him.

That’s nuts! The Circus Freak thought, excited to no end.

Hugo entered a cabin, startling all eight people there.

“Hi,” he growled, forming a huge grin, and then blew the light out, bringing darkness to the room. The Circus Freak gingerly left them all behind to be terrified and yelling for help, while he snickered off somewhere else.

Soon after that, Hugo made a turn and met head first with a recognizable face. She looked at him, eyes wide open for a quick second, clearly recognizing him.

“I know you!” Hugo proclaimed.

“No, you don’t.” The woman pulled the hood over her face and turned to walk away, but the hall was so populated that it didn’t work that well. “Excuse me,” she asked of a stranger.

The Circus Freak grabbed her shoulder, giggling.

“No really, ‘ve I freaked you out so many times that I remember your face?” Hugo asked, surprised at that.

“Sure, why not, sounds right enough. Excuse me,” the woman again requested, shrugging him off. He just walked after her, thoroughly amused at how bothered she was acting.

“Who are you?” Hugo asked, still amused. “Hmmm, I’m really wondering here. Were you the one whose face I shoved in that pie?”

“What?” she asked, confused, giving him a glare of her Eastern looks.

“Oh oh,” the Circus Freak voiced, gesturing with a finger, “were you the one messing around with your boyfriend in the bathroom? I just opened the stall and ran for it,” he laughed to himself, “Aw, man, that was funny stuff. But no, she was blonde, you’re not blonde, right?” He asked.

Hugo tried to turn her around, but she shuffled violently, her patience pressed.

“Just let go, damn you!” the woman demanded, making use of a particular tone of voice that brought a clear picture of a memory into his head. It made him remember biting down on a hawk or something, the one that had been attacking his good arm back whe–

“The Magician!” the Circus Freak yelled, interrupting his own thoughts.

The woman jolted, severely, and glanced around in fear.

“It’s you, isn’t it??” Hugo asked, genuinely amazed. “Wow, what a small world!”

The woman tried to run, but he held her with a new level of force.

Jufeng growled and turned around, swiping his hand to make it twist the wrong way, which made him let go. She followed up with a thrust at his chin, but he leaned out of it, giggling.

“Well I guess it is a small world, what with it being just a few boats,” the Circus Freak said, in-between giggling.

People gave them room amidst grunts or outright yells of protest, which they ignored, as the woman flailed along with some fighting moves that didn’t connect at all. Her hood came off completely to show her dark hair and clear complexion, and to reveal she was not in costume at all.

“What happened to your costume?” Hugo asked. “It was so silly, I loved it.”

The Magnificent Magician looked around, deeply concerned. “Shut up already!” she demanded.

The Magnificent Magician threw a punch, this time swiping it instead of executing a precise thrust. The Circus Freak weaved under it and smacked her in the side like a snake. She coughed out every bit of air she had in her in one go and fell to her knees.

“Ouf…” Jufeng complained, duly heaving.

“So,” Hugo said, heavily and happily grinning at her while he crouched down, “whatcha doin’ here? Thought you and the Beasts would be havin’ a party somewhere.”

“Shut uuup…” she demanded again, which was a funny tone of voice to use when you had no air, “I…it’s complicated, but I’m on your side now.”

“My side? Nobody’s on my side, Magnificent Magician,” the Circus Freak said.

“Shutup!” She looked around again in fear, the people around them seemed very confused about what was happening, none of them really knew who they were. “Don’t sell me out, I just wish to live.”

Curiosity nudged at him. Unceremoniously, Hugo picked her up over his shoulder and walked to the nearest cabin. Around five people were on that one.

“Leave,” the Circus Freak stated.

They all looked up at him, thinking. They mostly looked at the seemingly unconscious woman he was carrying. The strongest man there managed to look back at the Circus Freak in half-challenge.

“What’re ya gonna do with her?” he asked.

The significance of that question crept up quickly after it was out there.

“Oh no,” the Circus Freak said, grinning amusedly at the misinterpretation. “I’m just gonna talk to her. About secret stuff.”

“What are you doing?!” the Magnificent Magician asked, now using a proper tone of voice since most of the air had returned to her.

Hugo looked down at them, fully intending to come off as terrifying, and growled. “Now get.”

They promptly left, with the kind of half-hesitation half-fear that brought a little joy to the Circus Freak’s heart. They were the confused movements of someone freaked out of rational thought.

Hugo dropped her on the bed while the residents were leaving and then walked away to gain some distance if only to assuage their concern.

“And close the door!” Hugo added.

One of them yelped and did so.

“Now,” the Circus Freak said, with eyes closed as he grinned down at her, “tell me what happened to ya. You were at Magni, right?”

“What do you care? Is it funny to you, my misery?” Jufeng asked, embarrassed.

“A bit,” Hugo said, giving her a light giggle, “but I gotta say, I’m just really curious.”


“No way,” the Circus Freak said, shaking his head legitimately on the verge of being frightened. “You were not saved by the Shadow.”

“I don’t understand it either,” Jufeng said, “I guess she had other things to worry about.”

“Oh no doubt,” Hugo commented while tapping on his leg, properly annoyed.

She was a ghost, the Shadow, a ghost who incessantly haunted him. What were the odds? Hugo wanted to know what had happened out of amusement, to prod and scare the magician, but now he was again in that merciless pit of agony that people called an emotional state.

“I just want to live, now, Freak. I…it was a mistake, being Led by Anarchy,” Jufeng said. “They contacted me years ago, and there was this…independence. You could belong to it, and at the same time, be your own individual. Powerful and superior to everyone else.”

The Circus Freak gave a few chuckles, his mind already performing interdimensional voyages across his entire life, considering things that didn’t concern the magician at all. And some that did.

“But that was a mistake,” she went on, thinking he had reacted to her. “Like any other organization, they just pulled everyone along with what the top members wanted to do…I want to survive, I don’t care about the Beasts or civilization continuing.”

The sense of disappointment was welling up in him, along with uncertainty. The Circus Freak’s efforts to keep such thoughts locked away had been ruined by his desire to see the magician squirm for a few minutes while she wondered if he was going to hurt her. That part had happened, she was very lightly trembling, looking on anxiously, probably thinking of ways she could fight back if he were to strike. The expectation he would had a funny effect on her overall demeanor, which had been what he wanted to see.

Yet there Hugo sat. Unsatisfied.

“I grabbed a mage’s robes and stole my away aboard the ship,” Jufeng continued, in the way someone talks when they don’t know what else they should be doing. “And then out of it. It wasn’t that difficult.”

Indeed, Hugo’s play had come with what he didn’t want to hear. Humanity could die out, and he was spending the last hours scaring people for fun. What would she think of that? And was she even still alive? Could it happen that she would die because he wasn’t there?

It would’ve happened back then, for sure. If the Circus Freak hadn’t been there, when he lost his arm, she would have died. She would be dead, and the world would be doomed, and he would be having fun until the very last second.

“I won’t make any trouble, that’s what I said to her, and I guess she believed me when I told her,” the Magnificent Magician said. “Do you?”

Hugo’s heart tightened inside his chest, the dreaded feeling of worry and responsibility taking over at the speed of flowing blood. He got up with a yell that frightened the woman, an amusement that he was unable to appreciate.

“Damn it!” the Circus Freak yelled.

Hugo grabbed at his head with his one hand, his stump reaching for it anyway, however helplessly.

“Why aren’t you dead? How in the void, of all the boats and everyone in this one, how did I run into you!?” Hugo asked, angry and upset, “damn it!”

The Magnificent Magician stayed awkwardly silent, not knowing how to act or what to say, which Hugo was used to, but again, couldn’t appreciate.

The Circus Freak punched the wall, lightly roared up in frustration, and then kicked the door open. It didn’t open to the outside, so his kick broke its hinges and slammed the whole thing in someone’s face.

The whole thing would be funny if Hugo was in any kind of good mood. He wasn’t anymore.

The Circus Freak ran out, leaving Jufeng behind without any kind of satisfactory conclusion to their conversation.

“Get outta the way!” the Circus Freak screamed while running.

People did, not as fast as he could run because his run was too fast for them to react in time, but fast enough that the Circus Freak didn’t need to swat them. That frequently.

“I need to make a mistake,” Hugo growled out loud, “gangway!”

The Circus Freak made his way outside and then walked to the ledge, making sure Neyrk wasn’t too far away. He looked down at the waters in a moment of hesitation. He looked up at the city again in frustration.

Signs of fighting were visible even from that distance, all across the island. The night sky was lit up, intermittently, with lights from explosions, and there was a faint glow of white all around the island, despite the fact it seemed to be much weaker in some portions. The war was ending over there as humanity’s survival was put into question.

More importantly, she was in there somewhere.

“Argh,” Hugo complained, holding his nose close. He turned to some stranger next to him. “Let them know, man, let them all know that love is murder.” He said it in a nasal voice, too, but he didn’t care.

“What?” The man replied, duly confused.

“Yeah,” Hugo said, looking back at sea.

“I don’t know what you mean,” the man ventured, a bit out of sorts.

“Tell me about it,” Hugo added, still pinching his nose.

Then the Circus Freak sighed and jumped.

It wasn’t pretty, his dive, he fell feet first and holding his nose. The Circus Freak beat his feet to come to the surface and then started swimming back towards Neyrk. He was hoping the cold water and exercise would calm him down enough by the time he reached the docks.

It took a considerably long while. Halfway through the swim, he was feeling stupid he hadn’t grabbed a boat or something. Or he could have forced his way to the bridge and convinced them to turn the cruise ship around by threatening them.

Hugo never thought things through. That has never been a problem… he thought to himself.

He knew what he knew, and he learned by doing, the Circus Freak had always been comfortable with that. But now it was a problem. Now, Hugo just wasn’t enough to satisfy himself.

That had never been a thing.

The Circus Freak growled

He held the Shadow in so much contempt at that moment. Hugo considered her solely responsible for the mistakes he was making and for the pain he was dealing with. That internal organ pain he had never felt before. He had lost an arm for her, given it up without a thought, because that’s who he was, but that should make him hate her or something.

He did hate her, to a point, he had so much contempt for her, Hugo could feel it very clearly. But yet.

I need to see her, Hugo thought.

He didn’t imagine trying to freak her out. He didn’t fantasize about getting any revenge of any kind or telling her off, even. For some reason, no desire followed the fact that Hugo wanted to see her. The desire ended at that.

He wanted to find out she was alive, that was it. The Circus Freak couldn’t think of anything for after. Yet, he terribly needed it.

This. Is. Awful, Hugo thought, painfully.

Wet in water freezing enough for him to feel it, the Circus Freak swam his way back to the docks. For better or for worse, he would still play a part in the final battle.

Once having reached the docks, the Circus Freak grabbed hold of stairs at the very end of a docking platform and pulled himself up.

I just know… Hugo thought to himself.

The Circus Freak crouched at the end of the platform, on top of it, and waited amidst unapologetic wheezing. There was no hiding how tired he was from the swimming, he was breathing strongly and erratically.

I am going to die not having any fun, he added in his mind.

“Damn it…” Hugo sighed out in protest. Exasperated.

The Circus Freak was having difficulty finding the will to get up and move, but then a large explosion went off nearby, and concern hit him again. It tied a noose around his heart and pulled.

Is she there? His heart wondered.

Hugo got up and ran.

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