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Doctor Lee’s Circus of Sin: Introduction

09 Jun

Doctor Lee’s Circus of Sin: Introduction

 

They all went through the grey bright head-rush when you wake up from a faint and can’t remember who you are or how you got there. Then they remembered what their names were, and that they could move and speak and even open up their eyes, and as they did that enough of their wits returned that they realized they were baking alive.

Even with eyes wide open they couldn’t see much, because the windows to the carriage were shuttered up, but they could see they weren’t alone. They were seated three on either side, facing one another, slumped into the seats at first but stirring as one creature.

Everyone looked at each other, and nobody said anything, and all they could hear was the wheels treading dirt and rock beneath.

The one with the funny hair and the suspenders giggled.

“Hold on, now,” said the fat aging woman with the pair of spectacles. “What’s the meaning of this? Who are you people?”

“Yes,” said the old worn-down man. “What’s going on? Does anyone know?”

Wheels rattling. Heat and silence.

“I demand someone explain this instant,” said the fat woman. “I don’t find any of this amusing. You can’t treat me like this…”

“Quiet, lady,” said the one-eyed woman with the crushed hat and jacket. “I don’t know you either.”

“Well, whoever’s behind this needs to speak right this instant!”

The sharp-dressed man with the suitcase in his lap raised his hands up so everyone could see them, at least indistinctly, and said, “Hold on, now, let’s all pull together here.”

“Someone here is responsible for this!”

“You don’t know that’s the case,” said the old man.

“Right,” said the hat man. “Now, me, I haven’t the faintest idea what’s going on and I think if anyone here did, they’d have said so, isn’t that right?”

More silence. The wheels sounded like they’d slowed down.

“Hmph!” said the fat woman. “I never. Those weasels can’t get away with this. I have rights, you know! Whatever else they think they can get away with, they can’t move me around as they please!”

“What the hell are you talking about?” asked the woman in the hat.

“Patience,” said the old man. “I believe this man here is correct, and that if we’re all straightforward things will be a lot simpler.”

“That’s exactly right,” said the man in the hat. “Cooperation, see? Basis of civilization. Elevates us over monkeys and the Spanish.”

“So let’s cooperate. Now. I don’t state this proudly, but because I imagine it will contribute to proceedings I will admit that last I recall I was in jail. I’m not certain how I came to be here, but there you are. Is this significant to anyone else?”

“Yeah,” said the woman in the crushed hat immediately. “I was in jail too. Santa Alma. I guess they’re moving us.”

“Santa Alma?” said the man in the hat. “Where’s that?”

“East of San Francisco.”

“In California?”

“What? Yeah, in California.”

“Are you sure?” asked the old man.

“That’s preposterous,” said the fat woman.

“Beg your pardon?” asked the hat woman.

“I myself am located in Philadelphia, and could not have possibly been moved so far. I will graciously assume that you are not lying, which might just be unwise of me, but you are most certainly mistaken.”

The last word was more scream than conversation, because the hat woman snapped up out of her seat so fast she knocked it over. Everyone in the carriage moved too, backwards or upwards out of their seat, and the carriage rocked a little on its wheels while the old man and hat man both sluggishly interposed themselves  between the two women.

“Damnation!”  said the old man, who’d reached out and seized the hat woman’s wrist. Her hand was stuck into a jacket pocket and had wrapped itself around some kind of handle. “Calm down!”

“I ain’t never cut up a woman before, but you just try to stop me and I’ll cut you all the same!”

“Stop her!” shrieked the fat woman.

“Oh, my,” said the weedy man in the jacket that no-one had noticed yet.

The hat woman pushed at the old man, who doubled his grip on the wrist and leaned into it. “Let go, lady! Let go and calm down!”

“Hold her back!” cried the fat woman, who was trying to thrust herself into the wall. “They’ve locked us in with a madwoman!”

“Ain’t this carriage got no horses?” asked the man with the wild hair.

Everyone quieted down to figure out what that meant, and then they noticed it too: the sound of creaking wheels, and of nothing else.

“Alright,” said the old man, still holding back the knife hand, still crouched to keep his head from hitting the ceiling. “How about we step outside and have a look. Hm?”