Lorena Tavington was a singer.
Lorena Tavington was beautiful.
Lorena Tavington knew she was beautiful, but she hadn’t the greatest confidence in her singing abilities. Despite the fact that she was the star attraction at a circus featuring midget wrestlers, and despite the fact that people came from miles around to see her sing, she’d never considered herself to be particularly great. Nevertheless, when she got up in front of those huge crowds and belted out her trademark twenties-inspired swing music, she was hardly ever nervous. She did the job, she smiled at the crowd, and she collected her money, and the butterflies hardly ever came to haunt her.
Today, however, she was nervous as she performed her vocal exercises in her BMW on the way to work at the tent. Today was Friday; it was only a rehearsal, but everyone would be there to block the new show. The new show being the first show without Lennox the Lion Tamer, and without the trapeze-monkeys, and the first show featuring Birnham “Golyat” Wood, the midget wrestler. Birnham Wood! How strong he was! How thick were his mighty midget arms! Lorena was smitten by the mighty Golyat, and wished to impress him with her singing today, in preparation for their date on Monday, which was their weekend. So she exercised her voice as she drove.
“Ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah,” she sang, her stomach now a pit of writhing nerves.
“Ah-ah-ah-ack!” She choked on the last note, unable to get it out.
Am I really that nervous? she wondered. Her heart was now pounding. Then she realized that it wasn’t simply nerves that had her distressed. It was guilt. Guilt over Lennox, the Lion Tamer she’d dated and loved and dumped the second he was fired from Dunsinane’s Circus. She’d accepted that date with Birnham even before Lennox left.
Well, she thought, I can’t very well be with a man that has no job. And he’s dangerous to be around! What if Jon Hammster decides to target animal trainers?
Lorena breathed deeply, calming herself as she drove up to the makeshift parking lot outside Dunsinane’s largest tent. She thought of Birnham, and she smiled. Then she stepped out of the car. As she walked up towards the tent, what she saw ahead of her galled her to her very marrow.
For it was a midget street fight!
Birnham Wood and Lysander Murrain were locked in what appeared to be something more than a friendly sparring match. Why, if the term weren’t copyrighted, you might call what they were locked in “mortal combat.” They currently held each other in a powerful clinch, attempting to match one another strength-for-strength. Each man’s muscles were tensed, and each man’s teeth were gritted as veins bulged in their heads and sweat dripped down their temples. Birnham was much bigger and a bit stronger, but Lysander was as agile and quick as any midget. As such, when it appeared the larger man would overpower him, Lysander freed himself from their clinch and dropped down, springing between Birnham’s legs and dashing behind him.
“I have no fight with you!” Birnham was yelling as he turned. Lysander was having none of it, and forcefully tackled Birnham to the ground. The larger man hit the dusty earth with an Oof!
“No fight? NO FIGHT!” Lysander was screaming as he attempted to put Birnham in a leglock, “I have loved Lorena for years! And now, within a day, you steal her from me?”
Over by the cars, Lorena was stunned. Lysander loved her? This was news. She’d always thought he was just a nice guy… Why didn’t he say anything? Now Birnham had kicked Lysander off of him, and was picking the smaller man up.
“She’s not your property,” said Birnham. Now he lifted the wrestler known as Brutus the Brutal above his head, preparing to snap him in twain across his knee, “Lorena belongs to no one. Now die.”
“NO!” Lorena yelled from by the cars as Birnham began to bring Lysander down onto his knee. Birnham was distracted by her scream, and looked her way.
“Lorena?” he said, the rage on his face fading.
She looked at him, her eyes tearing up, “Birnham, I -”
Her plea was cut off by a roaring sound that, for a second, filled up the entire world. In the blink of an eye, Birnham Wood was lying limp on the ground, his body pinning Lysander Murrain down. The ringing in Lorena’s ears was so loud she couldn’t even hear herself screaming. Then she felt herself roughly thrown into one of the cars in the lot, and was for a moment stunned.
When the instant of blackness passed, Lorena looked up to see Lennox the Lion Tamer walking past her, clutching a shotgun. As Lysander struggled to get out from under the body of Birnham Wood, Lennox aimed it again. And fired. He continued to advance towards the tent as Brutus the Brutal crumpled. Lorena had pulled herself to her feet now, and her mind was furiously racing as she wondered what to do.
Do I tackle him? Do I run? she wondered, but she simply heard herself scream, “No!”
Lennox turned around, and aimed his gun.
“Lorena,” he said, “I loved you. I thought you loved me. Now, I have nothing. I am here to kill everyone in this circus; but you can still run. Run, Lorena, be free!”
She shook her head, “I can’t let you.”
Then she dashed towards him.
The gun went off again, and Lorena felt something hit her stomach very hard. She collapsed to the ground, just lucid enough to see Lennox turn and advance towards the tent again.
He lifted his gun again, and called out, “I am Lennox the Lion Tamer, and I am here for rev-”
Lorena, laying in the dust, saw Lennox’s cry of vengeance cut off, and in an instant, the Lion Tamer was nothing but a skeleton. Then nothing but dust. From the tent itself, there billowed a mushroom cloud, and then a bright light filled the world.
Lorena realized what had happened. Lysander and Birnham’s rivalry, in the end, had been cut short by Lennox’s revenge. And Lennox’s revenge, in the end, had been cut short by Jon Hammster’s – for it seemed that he had chosen this moment to take his own vengeance. As Lorena felt her body burn up in the nuclear blast, she laughed. It was all so meaningless.
Jon Hammster Will Return