The Ransomed Brain

by Agama Stone Hera [Reviews - 0]

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  • All Ages
  • None
  • Action/Adventure, Alternate Universe

“You. You there - behind the glass, behind the screen. Come closer. Come near. Have you ever seen such wonders? Have you ever seen such…fear?” The conductor stood at the entrance to the tent, inviting spectators in.

The old woman stood there watching while her grandson jumped in excitement. He was curious about the sudden appearance of the circus tent, too.

The construction wasn’t much to behold – a simple red tent made of plastic and the cheap materials humans used to reduce costs while destroying the Earth.

It was not much too look at in terms of size, either – half the size of her home. But then her home was a mansion that housed 34 cats, 17 birds, 45 insects, 7 lizards, 10 snaked, 15 dogs, 13 horse, 8 rodents, 65 workers, and her family.

“Fear?” asked her grandson.

“Good question.” And an interesting observation. The boy had good eyes. This is why she allowed him to tag along.

Impatient, he tagged on her walking stick, but immediately apologized, “S-s-sorry, Nanna. I forgot about your rule.”

She grumbled to show her disapproval. He never remembered the rule. “We should go,” she said, but she stayed. She had that feeling, the one she used to get when things were just about to turn from sweet to sour. Then again, things hadn’t been all that sweet for the past forty years. Her instincts could be mistaken, rusted by old age and creature comforts.

“Come now, come,” cooed the conductor, “I know you want to. I know you do.” He flashed a big smiled revealing perfectly white teeth.

Interesting. “You there,” she snapped at the conductor as she approached him. “What’s your name, did you say?”

“I-I-I-I did not say,” he stuttered.

She did not understand why people nowadays constantly stuttered when conversing with her. Was she that old? That scary? That ugly? The thought made her angry. “Do say it. Now.”

“W-w-w-what?”

“Your name,” she gritted.

The curtain behind him waved open, revealing a tall blond old woman. “Well, what do we have here? If it isn’t the bane of my existence. What are you here for now, Neomi? Here to fight for the rights of the lobsters to swim free in the ocean again? Or is it that you don’t like that the tent is made of plastic? Now, now, we’ve been through this. Everybody is doing this, the economy relies on this, I am an enterprising woman, I must make a living, now you shoo. Shoo. Go back home to your cats and your old books and your—oh, what do we have here? Who is the cute little guy behind your ugly skirts? I did tell you I do not approve of this combination of earthen brown with grass green, now did I? Makes you look like a tree. Or a stump. Or a tree stump? Anyway. Who’s the kid? Did you kidnap him? My, my, my…”

While the idiot blond ran off with her mouth, Neomi played with her walking stick. She flipped it up and down, up and down, right to left, left to right. She contemplated. She was in deep contemplation. She was in such deep contemplation that she contemplated hitting that woman on the head with her stick. But her stick did not deserve such abuse. It was much too precious to be degraded as a punishment tool. Oh, but what a sweet, sweet feeling it would be to hit that woman over the head, give her a good clonk to shut her up, at least temporarily.

Something was off in this place. Off, off, off. “What did you say your name was, dummy?” she directed the question at the conductor. To ensure the conductor could freely speak, she clicked on the stick and muted the old blond. Her mouth flapped in all directions but no sound came out.

“I-I-I-I have no name,” the conductor admitted. “Now would you care to come in?”

“I see,” she said, then leaned closer to sniff him. She detected burned coal. And snow. “What’s your role, then?”

He smiled. “I’m the conductor, here to orchestrate the operation, you known, showing spectators in, providing information, etc.”

She nodded. “Now tell me, what’s this nonsense show all about?”

Now he stopped stuttering and resumed his script. “Come over, come over, and listen closely. Here and only here you can see the best of shows. Our main attraction is the best.”

“The best, eh?”

“Indeed. And if you pay a little extra,” he leaned closer to whisper, “we’ll let you call the shot, we’ll let you be in control. What do you say? Tickets are selling fast, truly, they are selling quick. Decide. Fast, fast, fast.”

“I see,” she said, and lowered to whisper instructions in her grandson’s ears. He nodded and ran off in the direction of their house. She’d need backup. Hopefully, help will arrive on time.

“Quickly,” the conductor said, “faster. Time is running out behind the pane, where life is but a fraction of what you know here.”

“But what on Earth is in there?” she exploded.

“An ice mermaid,” the conductor mock whispered, his eyebrows rising up, his eyes enlarged. But his pupils remained at the same size, crystal clear, like glass. “Come to us all the way from the Arctic Circle.”

“I understand.” She took a big breath and let her body sag as she leaned heavily on her walking stick. She pressed a button and

“Say, Mistress Loftramon,” she addressed the old blond, “what about a discount for the sake of the bank account of an old friend?” If she had to go off saving idiots again, she might as well get a discount. It wasn’t cheap raising the hundreds of creatures housed in her mansion.

“Why? So you could shame me again and steal my new guest? Hardly. Go off. This time I’ve got something that isn’t protected by animal rights.”

“Well, that is true.” She knew what the old blond was thinking, that she’d use her super social media power to turn a mass of people against her until she yielded and gave over the animal. That was how Neomi came to house so many creatures in her home. However, this time was different. “So why not let me in?”

“Due to unforeseen circumstances,” the old blond said, “today’s show is canceled.” She turned on her heels and stomped into the tent. The conductor quickly followed and closed the curtain.

That was all the invitation Neomi needed. She clicked on her walking stick and aimed it at the curtain. It was no simple plastic the old blond got there. It was no simple conductor, simple circus, and if there ever was a simple ice mermaid this one wasn’t it.