So I guess writerly people are using Ello to post fun little wordy
scraps. And I guess I shall do the same. Here is a sneak peek at Make a Monster, the flash fiction project I'll be launching on my new website on October 1st. Meet THE CIRCUS TENT MONSTER:
Todd’s mom hadn’t believed him when he told her that there was a
circus in the cow pasture. She’d looked up from her laptop, lips thinned
with annoyance, and said, “Quit pestering me and go back outside and
Now, as he tromped through the hilly field behind their house,
Todd did the snottiest impression possible of her impatient, scolding
voice. “Quit pestering me and go back outside. Quit pestering me and go
He reached the top of a rise and the words died in his throat. There
it was below him: a large red and white striped circus tent. A jaunty
blue pennant adorned its pointed top, seeming to wave hello at him on a
puff of playful spring air.
Around the tent danced twelve clowns, who appeared to be connected to
it by thick red and white striped ropes. They wriggled and cavorted to
bouncy calliope music. The gentle breeze carried faint scents of popcorn
and sawdust to Todd’s nose, and he grinned.
It wasn’t an entire circus, that much was obvious. There were no
booths, no bustling workers, just the lone tent and its dancing clowns.
Perhaps the main tent had arrived first, thought Todd, and the rest of
the circus was still on its way. Circuses were chaotic things. It was
probably hard to keep everyone together when traveling between towns.
Why they’d chosen the cow pasture out back of his house was a mystery,
but a thrilling one.
Todd trotted down the hill, imagining the circus workers asking him
to help set up. He pictured himself sweeping out elephant pens and being
rewarded with a ride atop one of the wrinkly beasts. If he impressed
the workers enough, maybe they’d even let him be in one of the
The closer he got, the more excited the calliope music sounded,
skittering from cheerfulness into deranged glee. The dancing clowns
became more frenetic, leaping and prancing and whirling, somehow never
getting tangled in the thick red and white ropes that connected them to
the tent. Now that he was closer, Todd could see that those ropes were
curiously heavy, slithering along the ground with the meatiness of big
The smell of popcorn was stronger now, and also odder, something
about it too buttery and rich. Ultra-popcorn. Popcorn concentrate. Todd
grinned and waved at the clowns as he neared them, shouting, “Hi there!”
The clowns did not answer. Their big, enthusiastic smiles neither widened nor faltered. They wiggled like excited puppies.
By the time Todd was close enough to see that their eyes were lifeless and blank, it was too late.
Six of the clowns surrounded him, dancing their silly, hopping jigs
into a tight circle with Todd at the center. The smell of popcorn was
overwhelming, nauseating. The clowns faces were wrong, as empty of
personality as thumbs.
He tried to break away, but the clowns had formed an impenetrable
wall of brightly colored meat. That’s all they were, he could tell that
now. Not people. Meat.
One of the red and white umbilical cords that connected the clowns to
the tent lifted a clown into the air and slammed it into Todd like a
croquet mallet. He tumbled backwards towards the entrance to the tent,
regained his feet, and tried to scramble away. Another striped tentacle
raised its be-clowned end into the air and bashed him with such force
that he flew into the side of the tent.
The flaps that formed the entrance of the tent parted like lips,
revealing concentric circles of needle teeth, coated in black,
popcorn-scented goo. The calliope music coming from the hole at the
center of the rings of teeth was considerably louder now, screechy with
triumph. The monster’s clown-tipped arms swept the wailing little
boy-morsel into its mouth.
The tent flaps fell shut with a satisfied smack. The clowns on the
ends of its tentacles went limp, flopping onto the ground, as the beast
relaxed and enjoyed its meal. After several minutes, the flaps of the
tent puffed outward slightly on the warm breeze of a burp that smelled
like blood and popcorn.