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For Colton, Conner and Cody.

Published January, 2011 Story Š Chad Wright Leander, Texas Book Design by Chad Wright 2

introduction Being an insecure writer, I normally don’t let anyone read my work. When it comes to fiction I’m in control, which means “my eyes only.” Most of it comes from that fact that, since I was young, I have wanted to write fiction. To let others read my work is to open up the possibility that — well — that I’m just not good enough to write fiction. So why let the world see this one? Because it made me laugh and I think it will make my sons laugh. Plus, you have to start somewhere, right? Enjoy. Chad Wright January 2011


No More Circuses! The lion leapt. Its cavernous mouth opened to reveal rows of sharp, yellowing teeth. The man on the business end of that leap, one Silas Grimes, reflected that the size of the lion's mouth was probably tailor made to fit a human head inside. The deep, otherworldly growl did not seem to come from the lion's mouth, but from the center of the very Earth itself. It shook Grimes to the core of his being. “Don't show fear,” he thought as his hands began to shake violently. “They can smell fear.” Also don't look them in the eye, his brain told him. Grimes looked past the mouth and its terrifying orthodontics and stared into the onrushing eyes. It wasn't a cold, lifeless look that met his gaze. No, it was a hot, primal look of instinct. A look that would only be satisfied by the taste of blood. I said don't look it in the eye! “I'm sorry! That's like telling someone not to look down!” Quit arguing with yourself and run! his brain com4

manded him, sending a fresh rush of adrenaline surging through his veins. It was just enough to break the roots that had grown from his shaking legs into the ground. Move! Move! Move! Lion! Lion! Lion! “I see it! I see it! I see it! Shut up!” He looked around the small circle of a battlefield. Battlefield? More like a killing ground, his brain said sarcastically. “I said be quiet!” The bright spotlights trained on him dazzled his eyes as he looked for a way of escape. Everything outside the circle was a dark, inky silhouette. Hundreds of people sat on row after row of uncomfortable metal seating. If not for their gasps every time the lion moved and their cheers every time Grimes escaped, he wouldn't know they even existed. “Or were they cheering for the lion? They were cheering for the...the lion! Those crazy so...” Focus! His brain cut off his line of thinking. Let's save our indignation for a time when death is not literally snapping at our heels. “Good point.” The proverbial king of the jungle whirled and leapt again, closing the distance between them. Even as it landed, its powerful muscles shifted and it brought a paw around and hit the side of Grimes' head. The rest of his body followed his head to the dirt floor with a muted thump. Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow! “Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow!” That hurt you moron! “It was no picnic for me either.” Us, you mean. 5

“You can keep correcting me, or I can focus and keep us alive.” I don't really care about the rest of you, just no more blows to the head. Grimes scrambled on his belly toward the only weapons his eyes could find. To one side of the arena sat a wooden, four-legged chair. On its seat lay a bull whip, folded into a neat circle. He quickly put the chair between himself and the lion. A chair and a whip? How cliche. “You'd prefer I use what against the raging lion? My fists?” Use the chair. Indiana Jones you are not. The creature moved again with shocking speed and was almost on top of Grimes before he could pull the chair up and place its four legs between them. The lion's considerable weight slammed into the chair which, in turn, hit Grimes in the stomach dropping him once again to the ground. He gasped for air while scrambling to keep the suddenly small chair between his body and the snapping jaws that so hungrily sought after him. Hit him with the chair. “Yes, let's make the angry lion angrier.” Hit that overgrown alley cat with the chair! Grimes' body, as if out of his control, stood before the growling beast. His arms hoisted the chair up above his own head and, with the combination of his own muscles and a little help from gravity, brought the chair down as hard as he could across the lion's head. Well, the lion's nose really. It was, after all, a fairly small chair and a very, very large lion. The animal squeezed its eyes shut as the chair splintered into hundreds of tiny wooden shards. It opened its eyes 6

again, and found the small man standing before him holding the skeleton of what remained of the chair. The lion's nose throbbed slightly and it narrowed its eyes. “What? Did? You? Do? Brain?” Umm...yeah...I...umm...okay that was not as effective as I thought it would be. A growl started at the base of the lion's stomach and worked its way up through the two powerful lungs, gained speed and finally released, with an ear-splitting roar, from the angry mouth. Had Grimes been able to see the crowd past the spotlights, he would have seen them, as one, spring to their feet. Their cheers drowned out the lion's roar. Run. Just run. Grimes turned on his heels, dropped the remains of the chair, and ran as fast as his legs would propel him. He exited the circle and sprinted toward the safety promised by the daylight streaming in through flaps in the large tent. He refused to look back at the creature, eyes focused intently on the sliver of light ahead. “I'm calling the temp agency tomorrow.” Please. And tell them NO MORE CIRCUSES!


No More Circuses!