The Zoo Man, Pt. 8

The inside of the carriage was a dark room that seemed to stretch on forever. There was a part of Hannah’s brain that knew what she was seeing made no sense, but she didn’t know how to articulate the sensation of unease she was feeling. Part of her recognized that the carriage couldn’t possibly be so big that the insides were shadowy, that there shouldn’t have been echoes coming from inside the thing, that she shouldn’t have felt a faint breeze blowing out from that open door, but she had no name for these things.

She looked down at David. His chubby face was twisted up in consideration, like he’d notice what she had and was even less able to parse it all together.

Clarence stepped onto the carriage’s frame, one hand holding onto the roof, one foot hanging in mid-air. He stuck his head into the darkness and called out, “Franklin! It’s Clarence. I’m bringing company. A girl and her little brother. It’s not showtime; I’m just giving them a quick tour.”

He’s talking like he’s shouting at somebody across a field, not somebody five feet away.

Clarence turned and held a hand out to the two children. “That should be enough notice. Franklin’s a performer by heart, but a bit private when it comes to his personal life. We wouldn’t want to walk in on him with his drawers down, would we?” Clarence barked a single, loud laugh. David laughed with him, then he took the Zoo Man’s hand and let himself be carried up and into the carriage. Hannah looked around nervously, wishing for one of Mama or Papa’s friends to notice her, to make eye contact with her, but no one paid any mind to two children at the caravan show.

David had disappeared into that darkness, and she couldn’t go home without home. She swallowed and took the Zoo Man’s hand, too.


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