Harper enters Cirque and meets the Goddess.
|The mysterious woman guided Harper through forgotten alleys for what seemed to last an eon or longer. Harper checked her watch and found it had stopped at 8:02 pm. There was no telling how long she had followed this stranger from darkness to brilliance. She nearly considered turning back when a most curious sight came into view.
The provocatively attired woman continued her walk forward into shadow, but this time no light came before her. Harper approached, closer to the stranger now than she had been the entire journey and the darkness gave way to ever lighter shadows. The woman stood with her back to a heavy canvas faded by time. It had once been a vivid red and white but now was an antiqued yellow and grimey burgundy- aged and vintage like the costume of her guide. It was clearly the tent of some forgotten circus.
The woman watched Harper approach. She was incredibly beautiful, nearly perfection. Fair, with long hair coiffed in a style as vintage as her attire, downy black plumes tucked into the elaborate style . She was made up with ruby lips and sooted lashes. Black satin gloves encased her slender arms. Her bodice clung to her hourglass figure, an elaborately patterned brocade of garnet adorned with tiny glass beads. The lace skirt exposed her shapely legs covered in silky nylons held up with utilitarian garters. It was as if she had stepped out of a postcard from the era of speakeasies and side shows. Her dark eyes twinkled as she offered Harper a quizzical look.
“Who are you? Where are we?” Harper stammered. She felt no fear, no concern, simply intrigue.
The woman cocked her head to the side, offering a genuine smile but no words. She reached behind her, pulled aside a flap in the canvas, gesturing to Harper to enter into the tent. Harper gave the woman a steady stare before walking through the flap. Shadow enveloped her, she looked back toward the opening. Still the woman held the flap open, an encouraging look on her face. She gave Harper a wink, snapped her fingers once and let the canvas fall shut. An unnatural darkness overtook the space.
Harper’s heart raced and she felt the first tremors of fear since she had followed this stranger into this strange place. A loud click drew her attention up. A blinding light snapped on. The single beam cascaded down to spotlight a straight backed chair positioned alone on the smooth grey floor. It faced a low bordered ring filled with a fine white sand. Harper saw the strange woman skirting through the shadows on the other side of the large circle. She gestured to Harper, inviting her to take a seat this time. The fear did not leave Harper but she found herself compelled to take the seat, even as the woman disappeared into the darkness. The light clicked off, once again plunging Harper into the unnatural gloom of this place. She took a breath and waited.
The darkness and silence felt oppressive as the minutes ticked by. Then the faintest of piano chords made it to Harpers ears. A warm glow spread from some distant height, illuminating a figure perched within a barely visible hoop suspended far above the white sand. Harper was transfixed. The piano grew louder, and the figure struck a pose. The hoop began a slow descent.
A tiny lieth woman, attired in a sheer white chemise sat seductively in the hoop. Her dark hair restrained in a bun adored with a plethora of shimmering dots and her limbs bare of any covering. The hoop spun as she leaned backwards, elongating her neck and appearing to succumb to rapture. Her balance centered on her hips, before she slid backward, appearing to fall but catching herself at the knees. A beautiful display of graceful acrobatics transfixed Harper. The woman twirled, bent, stretched, and writhed to a melodic tune unlike any Harper had heard. The music reached a crescendo before dying into silence. The warm light from above abruptly flicked out as the woman dangled from her hoop.
A sizzle of ignited flames drew Harpers attention to the newly lit sand circle. The strange woman who had guided her there smiled from the center where she stood flanked by two others dressed similarly to herself. They stood still, waiting for some cue only they knew. The hoop and acrobat were gone. The flames danced around them, causing the tiny glass beads stitched to their costumes to shimmer but fully illuminating the women.
A lone saxophone let out a sultry wail, before being joined by the piano and drums. The metallic drone of a trumpet completed the ensemble. Harper felt the tune was both vaguely familiar and completely foreign. It was as if she had been pulled back in time. The women arched and strutted to the music. They began a well practiced routine that was clearly designed to titillate.
They appeared to flirt with one another, a caress here and a stolen kiss there. Each undressing the others in time with the music. First the gloves were stripped and tossed away,with the exposed flesh being stroked seductively. Then came the lace skirts, completely revealing the garters and stockings. Sheer satin bloomers pulled tightly across firm buttocks. The women shimmied while their hair tumbled down their shoulders, plumes strewn in the sand.
Harper was entranced. She found herself panting lustily at the display. The women took to the removal of their bodices, each teasing with a slow unbuttoning as the others feigned affront. The brocaded fabric was tossed beyond the sand once tasseled breasts were bared. Clad in only their sheer, bedazzled undergarments the women continued to shake, shimmy and strut to the music. They teased their audience with the explicit display reminiscent of sex.
If asked mere hours ago, Harper would not have expressed any interest in such a display. She had pondered the sort of porn she’d like on her walk, but rarely did her preference include women, as such was often better done than seen. Despite that fact, she felt her thwarted arousal from her failed date creep back upon her. A throbbing had settled into her clit and her panties were soaked. Perhaps it was the liquor she mused, still mildly perplexed as to how she had ended up in this place.
The tune ended and the women turned to leave the circle. Harper’s guide tossed a knowing smile over her shoulder before fading into the shadows. The flames that had illuminated the erotic display began to sputter out until only a small section immediately in front of her chair remained. Harper ran her hands over her thighs, acutely aware of the texture of her dress pants. She looked around. The space seemed too vast for to be any circus tent she had ever been in before. It occurred to her that she wasn't sure where even a normal sized circus tent would fit into her city.
Deliberate, even footsteps sounded from across the circle. The shadows gave way to a taller woman, clad in a long black skirt and red coat adorned with golden accents. She wore white gloves. She was made up with smoky eyes and a deep red lip. Her hair was neatly arranged under a black satin top hat, only the most intentional of curls left to tumble along her shoulders. It appeared that the ringmaster had come to see her.
“Miss Harper Ferris, we welcome you to Cirque des Deviants. It has been our pleasure , and hopefully yours as well, to have you here tonight. I’d like to invite you to further your journey here at Cirque. It is imperative that you know, should you follow me into the ring, that you will not return the same as you are, if at all.”
Her voice was authoritative but sultry. Her eyes were bright, and appeared to be liquid gold. She did not seem quite human- too perfect, too beautiful. Harper wasn’t sure how to respond. The last statement had not seemed a threat, but rather a disclaimer.
“What are you? What is this place? Why me?” Harper whispered to the woman, eyes unable to leave her form.
The ringmaster’s lips turned to a predatory grin. “What am I? Not who? I am the Goddess of sex, love, fertility. Sometimes I help War or Death. It really depends on which civilization and what era you are from. I will answer to any name humanity has given me over the eons.” Her appearance flickered for a moment. She appeared as the goddesses of old. Her look and attire reflecting the beliefs of the Egyptians, Greeks, Aztecs, Norse, and tribes Harper could not name or place. Her visiage settled into the ringmaster once more. Harper stared in disbelief.
“Likewise, my partner the God of Sex may be called by any of his names. Priapus amuses him the most at current though. He can be a bit busy, often he helps Gaea in her work.” The ringmaster continued.
“Where are we? We are in the Cirque des Deviants. It appears to be a circus to you, but more aptly, we are in my realm. I rule this place, and it is a vast realm to rule. The circus is what your mind can accept for now.” She continued as if she hadn’t just shape shifted. “Why you? You are not what you appear. The sirens can only be seen by those who believe in them or those who can see beyond the human realm. It is a siren that you followed here where you watched the huldra and sirens perform. You picked us, rather than us picking you. The door to my realm, and home to these creatures has been here all along. Admittedly, we have developed a flair for the dramatic.”
She peered intently at Harper. “We can journey further if you’d like. Any carnal desire you imagine exists here, as well as any creature that serves me in some form. There is no era or civilization without those to serve the God and Goddess of sex.”
Harper blinked. She took a deep breath and tried to comprehend what this woman was saying to her. It seemed impossible. She lived in a rational world where gods were for the religious and left the rest of the world alone. She certainly didn't believe in mythical creatures, despite the occasional interest in them. It must be the liquor, not that she could ever recall being so drunk she was hallucinating. Was that even possible she wondered? It must be a dream or hallucination, this simply couldn't be real.