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Dancing With Death

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Chapter One 

The Innocent Go First

It was a quiet morning, so far, at the camp of Fräulein Elsa’s Cabinet of Curiosities in Jupiter, Florida. The sun was out, the air was fresh, and the temperature was just right for a bright day in January of 1950. And the forecast had said that the night would be equally as lovely, which meant, hopefully, they would get a good turn-out for tonight's performance. They needed it.

However, within a few moments, that would all be gone. Their concerns wouldn't be on the night's performance anymore. . .


 

They heard the screams first. Pepper’s screams: loud, shrill and child-like. The whole camp heard them, no matter where they were. Blood-curling, cries that shattered the air. Most of the group was at the breakfast tent when it happened, eating their morning meal under the careful watch of Desiree. But they all immediately abandoned their food after they heard the shouts.

Racing across the campsite, to the source of the screams, the monsters then discovered Salty’s body, sprawled across the ground of his and Pepper’s tent, blood drizzling into the dirt floor from the stab wound to his chest. A look of shock was spread out across his face as Pepper cupped it lovingly in her lap, clinging to it desperately, tears drizzling from her eyes.

“Dead! Dead! Dead!” Was the only word she was able to manage to scream in her innocent, broken voice to everyone.

Terrified gasps of horror and sadness sounded from the troupe as they looked at what had happened, though they, staring wide-eyed and mouth-gaped at the scene, could barely do anything themselves, the shock of seeing one of their own dead being almost too much for them to handle. This was the first time one of them had died in a long, long time.

“Oh my goodness. . .” gaped Amazon Eve, with Ma Petite in her arms. The little woman, too, had a look of shock on her face.

“What the hell?” muttered Jimmy, “How? How?”

“Hell. Salty. . . Send for Miss Elsa,” Ethel ordered to a nearby monster in her shrewd accent, immediately, pointing towards Miss Elsa’s glorious, palace-of-a-tent. “She’ll know what to do.” However, before the words could fully escape from the tip of her tongue, the grand lady herself, dressed in her robes, had appeared. She, too, had heard the screams from her tent.

“What is going on - oh, no, no!” Elsa Mars cried in her heavy, thick German accent, her voice cracking, “Salty, my little monster! How could this have happened!” She covered her hand over her mouth, in shock “And Pepper, Oh Pepper!” she fell down on her knees beside the girl and wrapped her thin arms around her, “My poor baby! How did this happen?”

“We heard Pepper scream and found him like this, Miss Elsa,” replied Jimmy.

“He must’ve accidentally stabbed himself this morning with a breakfast knife,” lamented Paul, slipping off his hat and holding it to his chest.

“Poor thing,” sniffed Bette, with a silent, but equally mournful, agreement from Dot.

“How did he get a hold of a knife!” cried Elsa, before she looked up, pitifully at everyone else. “Never mind, now. It’s too late. . . “

They all sat there, looking at the sad scene, for a few silent moments, before Elsa finally said: “Have Salty’s body cleaned up, put in some new, fresh clothes, and moved to my tent. He needs to be properly laid to rest,” she turned to Pepper, “Come, my precious child,” she stood up off her knees and pulled a very-much-reluctant Pepper with her, “We need to let them clean him up. You don’t want him to be left this way? A Mess? Do you?”

It took the girl a moment to respond, but she did, saying: “No.”

“Good, then we need to leave them to it, my child. Come, let’s go to my tent. You can eat your breakfast there.”


Elsa waited till after the body had been buried on the outskirts of the camp to address the whole show, as a group, in the main tent. After everyone was seat, she, with her blonde hair curled to perfection, as usual, a fur draped over her shoulder, and a mourning Pepper by her side, said loudly: “Salty’s death is a tragedy. He will forever be missed by our troupe, and can never, ever be replaced. Not in the show, nor ever in our hearts.”

Pepper nodded in agreement. Everyone nodded in agreement, as sniffles sounded throughout the troupe.

“But,” Elsa continued, looking up somberly, “The show must go on. We can’t let an accident stop us. Salty wouldn’t have wanted it to. However, in honor of our fallen friend, we will dedicate tonight’s show to the one and only, Salty.”

“Here, here” responded the crowd.

“In Salty’s memory we shall perform!”