Welcome to this month’s #RRBC Spotlight Author Blog Tour! Please join me with Charles W Jones, author of, among other things, CIRCUS TAROT:
“Many strange things are present in World Circus, and not just the sideshow acts. If you were to take a walk northwest of World Tent, you’d come across a little café where you can get your fill of corndogs, snow cones, and, of course, cotton candy. But that’s not what I want to show you, the spectacle of interest is Tower. The yard and maze around it is always midnight with firefighting Clowns running to put out fires from embers that drift to the ground from the fire that shoots from the top of Tower. This excerpt is Mary and Johnny’s journey through Tower.”
Excerpt from Chapter 26
Mary and Johnny released hands and began looking around. The foyer opened to a larger room with nothing in it but a spiral staircase in the center. The walls and floor were the same golden granite as the foyer; no windows disrupted the smooth surfaces.
“Looks like we go up,” she said, assessing the stairs. “Not just through.”
He stared at her, without saying a word, waiting to see who took the first step. Deciding to take the lead, he held his foil in front of them. They clamored up the spiral, their footfalls echoing in the chamber.
“I need to take a break,” he said as he slowed, gripping the railing.
“It does seem like we’ve been climbing a very long,” she replied, stopping a few steps behind him.
She looked up. The top appeared to be a short distance from them, maybe fifty more steps.
“Oh shit,” he exclaimed. “Don’t look down.”
“What? Why?” she asked.
Without taking his advice, she looked down, over the side of the spiral of the railing. Hardly believing what she found, a momentary wave of nausea flooded her system. Thousands of feet below them was the base of the staircase. From their vantage, it appeared the stairs carried them diagonally to the ceiling. Her foot slipped backward. A shrill scream of surprise jumped from her mouth as she fell backward. Johnny watched with an ashen face as she tumbled slowly back down the stairs. Her hands fluttered, looking for purchase on the railing. A jolt of pain shot through her shoulder when a hand caught hold of the railing, ending her descent. Awkwardly, she righted herself and climbed with shaking legs back to Johnny.
“Are you OK?” he asked when she was ten steps below him.
“Yes, I’m glad I only fell a few steps.”
“More like down at least three spirals.”
“What?” Her voice cracked. She stopped her head from turning to look down.
They stood in silence, clutching the cold metal railing as horror abated from their systems.
“Next time someone tells me to ‘not look down.’” She panted. “I will listen.”
He nodded, then turned carefully on the step to continue the climb. From time to time, they looked up to see whether it looked as though they had made any progress to the top, and were careful not to allow their eyes to look below them. Finally, the stairs ended. They stepped into a slightly smaller space.
“There’s no way out,” he said with a shaky voice, looking around the room. “I think we should go back down.”
He turned back to her. The gilded iron railing and the opening in the floor no longer sat in the center of the room. He rushed back to her side.
“What do we do now?” he questioned shrilly. “I want to go home.”
“I do, too,” she consoled.
She left him in the center of the room as she walked the circumference. The granite was cold to the touch, which seemed odd to her. The fire burning in the turret should cause the room to be at least warmer than it was. There had to be something she missed, but what?
He gave up on the idea of ever going back to normal and thought of staying within the walls of Tower for the rest of his life. He was locked in the center of the Tower with her, no one ever knowing what happened to them. He watched her rubbing the polished walls, looking for a way out. He blamed his mother for sending him to their house to check on them—they were not his friends!
“Quit pouting, and come help me.”
He grumbled to himself as he stood. What was there to do in this room requiring his help? He shuffled to her with a put-upon expression. She glanced back at him.
“There’s a seam here. I want you to put your hand on it so that I can find it again. I think I found a hidden door. I want to take a look from a few steps back.”
His mood lightened, and he did as she asked, placing his hand across the fine seam in the granite. The cold of the stone gradually became warmer as he watched her task of slowly sliding her finger along the wall next to him.
“Mary,” he said, his tone alarmed.
“My hand is starting to burn.”
“What?” She spun around, facing him.
She looked at the place his hand met the wall; neither looked different.
“It’s probably just the stone warming with your body heat. Take your hand off the wall and use your other hand for a while.”
Watching him try to pull his hand from the wall, she furrowed her brows. It didn’t budge no matter how much force he used. He grabbed a finger with his other hand, attempting to pull it free. A cry of agony filled the room while his face flashed various shades of red. She assessed his hand and the wall again, thinking of the meaning of the Tower. At first, she found no correlation, and then it came to her.
“You need to stop feeling sorry for yourself. We’re in this together. If you think we’re going to stay here forever, we will. Only you can change your fate.”
Tower groaned as though it were taking in a deep breath to inflate a balloon. The walls and floor vibrated. She looked him solemnly in the eye and without a word passing between them, he understood it was up to him.
“We’re getting out of this,” she coaxed.
He looked into her eyes, believing her.
“We’re going home,” he said, smiling.
His hand came away from the wall. She smiled proudly.
“I’m sure this is a door,” she said, leaving what just happened alone. “I can’t figure out how to open it. Any ideas?”
He surveyed the area her fingers smudged the glossy stone.
“If it’s a door,” he declared. “Shouldn’t we just push it open?”
He placed his hands firmly on the wall, using strength he didn’t know he had. She joined his efforts, both grunting and groaning. Finally, the block of granite slid forward. They didn’t stop until they were in the next chamber, slumping to the floor exhausted.
About Circus Tarot
In the strange land of World Circus, Mary and Darrin discover they aren’t in their safe, dull life any longer, but have taken the identity of one of the cards from the Circus Tarot. After a terrorizing encounter, resulting in death, they learn the bizarre rules of the land and discover that the denizens of the sinister World Circus want more than to entertain them.
Don’t forget to get your copy of Circus Tarot at Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00785VJIW
Find Charles W Jones at the following places: