Wherever you go, I'll follow

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I <3 the Circus!
<< Pt. 2 - Amongst the Clowns | Herman Fuller Hub | Pt. 3 - Wherever You Go, I'll Follow | Pt. 4 For Fear of Falling >>

I awoke surrounded by flesh.

In that vague half-world of being freshly-roused from slumber, I thought myself wrapped in a warm blanket, maybe even one of those weighted blankets that have become all the rage. At first, I curled further into it, cherishing the warmth across my body, then one of the folds shifted on its own and I was suddenly and shockingly jerked from my languid torpor.

"Wha— what is this?" My voice caught, trembled, horror creeping into my heart like a living thing. My mind felt clear, for the first time in hours, as if a glittering veil had been lifted, and I saw the world around me without that occluding prism. The darkness of the metal container shifted and danced menacingly, and I drew breath for a scream that I quickly aborted in favor of not drawing attention.

The coils shifted again, momentarily tightening about me and I struggled against a rising tide of panic. It is difficult to describe the miasma of feeling that comes from being trapped inside the warm and smooth tendrils of that muscled embrace. Maybe a rat feels similarly when faced with its eminent demise in the deadly embrace of the constrictor, and like that rat, all I could do was stare wide-eyed as my captor rose into view.

This Clown was decidedly different from Squigly and Poodles. It was slender and… beautiful in its uniquely, horrifying way. Its face was all curved angularity and looked like those perfect alabaster busts of ancient Roman gods and emperors, save that the pallor of the cheeks were suffused with an ever-so-slight brushing of pink. It yawned, revealing perfect teeth and a small pink tongue, before stretching slender arms above its head. Its nude pectorals and shoulders were not unlike those of a small boy, but that is where the similarities ended.

From where the ribs should have been, sprouted long ropy tendrils of muscle that curled out from its body and helped to lift its torso free of the nest. The Clown curled its legs underneath itself, coming to rest in a kneeling position atop the pile of pillows around us. I thought in that moment that this Clown was probably the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen. Even as it somehow drew its tentacles into its torso, I could only stare in marvelous rapture.

The Clown yawned again and wiped sleep from its eyes with delicately slender fingers before turning fully towards me.

"Good morning, friend!" Its voice was bright and cheerful with a musical quality that I realized fit perfectly with its other-worldly beauty.

"Uh… good morning." My fear had begun to abate, replaced with fascination at the situation I found myself in. I was still at a loss for words, and I was suddenly very eager to somehow gain this weirdly beautiful creature's favor. I struggled to remember the events of the night before, and finally what had to be its name floated to the fore. I cleared my throat and tried again.

"Um, yes. Good morning, Frost. Did you.. ah, sleep well?" Not the most charming of questions, but at the time, it was all I had.

Fraust grinned at me and shifted a bit closer. It laid a warm hand upon my shoulder and gave me a gentle squeeze. "Yes, I did. Even with the interruption and an unexpected guest. I am surprised you remembered my name, to be honest. Fraust, however. Softer than frost, but I guess its still a proper homophone."

They laughed lightly at something they found amusing, and I couldn't help but smile from the genuine warmth in their tone. What had happened to me? In such a short time I had traversed some vast gulf, been ripped free from the life I had known. Terrible as it was, it was the life I knew, the world I'd crafted for myself. Here I was, reminiscing about a good night's sleep with what might as well be an eldritch horror. The wageslave mentality that had only so recently had such a firm grasp on my very being began to slip away, and I knew in that moment that I could never go back. I would rather die.

The moment of reverie was shattered by the crashing entrance of Poodles and Squigly. Cursing as they tried to push through the entrance of the container at the same time, they tumbled in together as a mass of twisted arms and legs. For a moment, I could not distinguish between the two Clowns as they rolled across the floor, and I thought I caught a glimpse of flesh sliding from one to another as they quite literally pulled themselves apart.

"Well then, there goes our serenity for the morning." Quipped Fraust as they cast a disparaging glance at the two unruly Clowns.

"Eh, doncha go 'bout spreddin' dat shit, Fraust." Squigly grumbled as he pushed himself off of the floor. "Poodles' jus went an dida jump'd jus' as I was doin' dat same." He elbowed his erstwhile companion, eliciting a grunt from the dour Clown.

"Sorry, Squigly. I wanted to see how the gilly was gettin' along, same as you." Poodles grumbled morosely, glaring hard at the floor. "How was I to know you was gonna jump that last gap from below me? Alllllways gotta be first."

Squigly hmphed at the other Clown, then stalked over to the pile of cushions. "So, yous' done wif' yor beautify sleep, yeah?" He nudged the pile of pillows with the toe of his boot. "We's gots'ta take this'n over ta Icky an let 'er know we'z gots us a stowaway. She'll be findin' out soonest, iff'n she don't a'ready." He gave Fraust a knowing look before he turned his attention to me.

"Oi, gilly. Yous' prolly hungry now, eh?" At the thought of food, I realized that I hadn't eaten anything but cotton candy for hours. I'd skipped out on dinner the night before to catch the Circus, and I really had no idea how long I'd been sleeping. As if on cue, my stomach rumbled audibly, and I touched my belly with a free hand.

Poodles laughed and reached into a pocket. "See that, Squigly? I told you the gilly would be wanting to eat. Best pay up, fair bet's a fair bet." He withdrew his hand from his pocket, pulling out a bag of round candies that looked suspiciously like melted dark chocolate M&Ms. He tossed the bag at me, and I fumbled briefly with it as I caught it.

"Candy? For breakfast?" I eyed the bag of candies with a bit of incredulity.

Fraust grinned at me and relieved me of the bag before taking a few out and popping them into their mouth. "Yeah! Why not? Best part of a balanced breakfast. Also, most of what you kids are eating these days as 'cereal' probably counts as raw candy anyway." They handed the bag back to me, and I took it with a shrug. "You're probably right."

I resigned myself for an early morning sugar rush and the stomach ache that would inevitably follow. I opened the bag and popped one of the candies into my mouth.

The sensation was immediate as the piquant flavor exploded in my mouth like a nova. I found myself devouring the rest of the bag with gusto, and in the process I managed to smear a bit of the sticky chocolate across my fingers.

"Aay! I be thinkin' that tha gilly'd be likin' it!" Squigly attempted to jab Poodles with an elbow, but the other Clown deftly dodged the motion. "Yeah, probably should've warned-"

Squigly jabbed at him again and connected despite Poodles' gyrating attempts to dodge. "Eh, dontcha be' aruinin' tha surprise, billyboy. Thisn's not bein' as pure as ifn' it's straight outta tha Fun Lovers, but'n its bein a damn site more'n tha Candy."

I wondered for a moment at what they were talking about, then I felt a brief sensation of falling and all slid into darkness.

Time passed, and I felt myself drifting amongst the clouds of an otherworldly dreamscape. The memories from the night before flitted across the sky around me, playing like old nickelodeons in the clouds around me. The Circus was a wonder that I knew had changed me forever, and the flight through the Kaleidoscope onto the planes of an entirely different world had only cemented the fact.

The suspicion that I was no longer the person I had been blossomed into my head like a wondrous springtime flower. Who I had been no longer mattered, and the nascent desire for who I would become took hold of me with the persistence of a fever. This was my world now, and no matter what, I was never going to leave Fraust's side.

Where had that thought come from? As I looked at it again, rolling the concept over in my mind, I realize that it had somehow taken root inside of me. I was fascinated by the creature, that was undeniable. But fascination to the point that I would never leave them?

The memory of Fraust's gentle laughter echoed through my head, and I realized with a start that I was well and truly hooked. If this be a drug, then I accept this addiction gladly.

I awoke with Fraust's face hovering above me, concern writ plainly across their brow. I reached up with a tentative hand and brushed their bright red hair away from their eyes. For a moment that seemed like an eternity, we were suspended there together. Their eyes softened as they gazed into mine, and a knowing passed between us without the need for words.

When they leaned down to kiss me, I embraced it with all the fervor of a drowning man gasping for air.

"Uh… yeah." A short cough broke the reverie, and we split apart. I felt part of myself go with them as Fraust pulled away from me, and a bright blush suffused my cheeks as I turned away with a small smile. I felt a bit of Fraust inside me as well, a brilliant mote of incandescent fire now burning in the dark recesses of my heart. It was as if I'd never lived before, and I felt that all to brief kiss bring a warmth I'd never experienced before.

Sure, there had been other lovers before. Sweaty rutting in tangled sheets, brief protestations of love gasped between lewd thrusting of hip and clutching hands. Breathless promises between little stolen kisses. But none of them had been like this. Nothing like this.

I turned my head up to look back at Fraust, only to find them gazing at me with a warmth in their eyes that was more than a match for my own. In that moment, I knew.

I was home.

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