A Knight at the Carnival Central City Newspaper

Research is critical in the life any journalist. But in a city as corrupt as Central City research can put you into harm’s way. I knew the risk I faced when I purchased a ticket to the performance at the carnival last night. Not surprisingly there were not many in attendance; a few teenagers, several shady characters that clung to the shadows and one undercover journalist. The rumors of disappearances were well known and any sensible person would likely not risk it.  I however felt the need to report the truth. Whatever was happening on the carnival grounds needed to be brought into the light of day.

The moment the carnival’s Ring Leader stepped out from behind the red curtain, I felt that eerie sense tingle down my spine. He’s confident, cocky and undoubtedly cruel. His voice sounds like nails on a chalk board when he calls out for a volunteer in the audience. A hush fell over the crowd when he panned his cane over the few of us that were in the audience.

“You, young lady.” The cane pointed at me. “Would you assist me?” I wanted to report the truth and this was my opportunity. I stood up and walked down to the center stage, a bright spot light focused on me.

“What is your name my dear?” the Ring Leader’s long grotesque fingers curled around my shoulder. “Sharon.” I lied. “Let’s have an applause for Sharon.” A couple of the teenagers clap. “After all this might be the last time any of us see Sharon as she is today. For Sharon is about to be…transformed.” The Ring Leader sneers.

The Ring Leader guides me into a large black box. He gives me one final glare. “Goodbye Sharon.” He slams the box shot and leaves me alone in the darkness. I can’t quite make out his words with the box closed. Then, without any warning the floor beneath me fell open. I dropped through the opening and tumbled blindly into the blackness below. I felt a sharp pain as something hit my head on the way down.

Unaware of how much time had passed, I woke up to the sound of cackling. My head still hurt and I struggled to focus my vision. When I tried to move there was a sharp pain that raced up the side of my leg. My ankle was twisted awkwardly.

I turned my attention elsewhere. The only source of light in the surrounding area was the torches hanging from the walls. A group of circus performers were standing in a circle, rummaging through something out of my view. For the moment they hadn’t realized I had just awoken.

 “This one’s a reporter.” My breath catches in my throat when I hear the words. “Whatever she is…she won’t be for long.”  More laugher erupts from the rest of the group. I close my eyes, I can only imagine what horrible fate they have in store for me. Their laugher is cut short by the sudden bang of the door exploding into dozens of wooden shrapnel flying through the air.

A man dressed in white and gold full body armor stepped inside the room. He wore a flowing golden cape. In one hand he held a circular shield, in the other a large sword.  “Sorry about the door…thought it would make for a good entrance.” The group of carnie’s still seemed stunned by the sudden appearance. “Do you guys need to see an admissions ticket or something?” the man in armor shrugged. Whatever shock the carnie’s were in quickly wore off.

“Kill him.” One of them snarled.

“Wait! I have the ticket somewhere.”  As the first punches came, the armored man dodged the incoming assault and rolled across the ground. With a graceful back flip, he sprang up and catapulted himself into the middle of the pack of carnies. One solid kick and a back punch later the odds were looking more in the armored man’s favor.

One of the carnies snuck up behind the man in armor. “Look out!” I shouted. The armored man spun around and planted the hilt of his sword into the approaching thug’s face, sending him to the ground on his backside.

“Thanks lady.” The armored man gave me a thumbs up.

“Who do you think you are?” a voice with an accent that I couldn’t quite place spoke out from behind the armored warrior. A gypsy appeared, holding one of the torches. “You think you are some kind of hero? Don’t you know in this city, heroes get burned!” the fire breather blows into the torch and a streak of flame erupts. The armored man raised his shield in front of both of us, catching the flames just in time.

“I think this one needs to cool off.” The armored warrior threw a spinning sword up into the air and the blade struck the water pipe above, severing it. Water spurted out, drenching the fire breather and her torch.

“This isn’t over hero.” The fire breather retreated out the door.

The armored soldier reclaimed his sword and turned his attention back to me. “I don’t’ know about you, but I had a lovely evening.” he offers me his hand.

“I can’t move, my leg…” the armored man surveyed my ankle. “I don’t normally do this on a first date, but you seem like a sweet girl.” The man removed his glove and touched my wounded ankle.  A moment later he asks. “How’s that?”

I tried moving again. “It’s fine…there’s no pain at all…how did you?”

“These clowns ain’t the only one that can do magic.” The armored man lead me out of the basement, through a network of tunnels and finally to the surface.

As we were about to go our separate ways, I needed to know. “Wait! Who are you?”

“Oh, I’m sure you’ll think of something to call me.” And with that my savior was gone. My guardian knight.

Stacy Summers

Central City Times