To the world, he was the strong leader of the battling conflicts in the Underworld. He never let up. He was always there for those that needed it most, for those who were humiliated and pushed around due to their lack of humanity. He could control the Council in ways that no other person could. He created fear to the higher ministers with his immense skill of martial arts, impressive intelligence and strong judgement of what was right. Everyone knew his name, the whole world knew, but who he really was, it was always a mystery.
They knew he took medication to keep his unstable emotions hidden away where no one could see; they knew he was an alcoholic and a drug-addict; and most of all, they knew the pain he inflicted on the women he had met. But these were vague facts, revealing not the whole truth and nothing about the reason.
What wasn't said about this mysterious man was his lack of strength, something no one except close friends could know. The society took him for an idol with the strength of a God, untouchable and unable to die, but the harsh and terrible truth was that every day he woke up with an aching hangover with the memories of his past filled in his head, the guilt and torment never leaving his troubled mind. The beauty of the woman he once loved would always be imbedded in his head, even more so when he found himself in the arms of another woman. Another lover? Not necessarily. What hurt even more than his lover was his mother and sister reminding him of the life he once had and every time he saw them he could only think of how their deaths had inflicted his bipolar state of his childhood years, and as a grown man now, he would in secret, begin to let everything out, tears of a broken-hearted man falling down grey-skinned cheeks from hollow eyes.
The alcohol helped numb the pain, the drugs made him feel happier. Living a lie of emotions was much better than showing the world who the real man behind the mask was.
The Ringmaster, his true name unknown to even his friends. It was a bitter struggle to keep their curiosities from uncovering the truth, but he preferred it that way. He had gone so long without having to spill out his accumulated emotions that he had bottled up.
For the Ringmaster, tonight was not a good night.
He opened his trailer door, staring blankly at the clustered room of bookshelves, cabinets, tables and chairs covered in papers and meaningless objects that he had never gotten around to cleaning out, the air thick with musky containment. Spring would be soon.
He took in one step, shutting the door behind him, weighing his options to ease the pain that would suddenly appear out of the blue: drink until completely senseless; inject veins with heroin; or let everything out to the mute emptiness, and forget.
Spindly fingers clasped themselves over a bottle of strong alcohol upon a mahogany table, the wood stained with spilt tea and other substances, journals with complicated scientific formulas and equations open for reference.
He popped the lid off and fell into a tattered couch his poor excuse for a bed the rim of the glass bottle touching his lips. He tilted his head back wishing it was easier to get drunk as he gulped down the first of many.
A small drop of alcohol trickled down his chin and he shuddered, attempting to suppress his want to bawl. Ideally, it would be nice to have cried even better if he had someone to hold at the same time but these were only tiny fantasies that he could not afford to have. He didn't want to be seen as weak. It was about a reputation, but his reputation gave him immunity and if he lost this immunity he would be targeted by the Council, in danger and classified as a larger threat then what he really was.
The Council were traditionalists and in the Ringmaster's view, a socialist cult. The idea of change, reform and acceptance were not allowed and were forbidden within the government of the undead. Their rules were harsh and the penalties even worse. He had already experienced enough, spending a few years of his time in the infamous jail of the Underworld known as Hell; a labyrinth of cells and corridors deep underneath the city without even a candle for a light or a guard to talk with. Rumour had it there were imprisoned daemons who were bound to serve the Council, preventing anyone from escaping the compound. However, the Ringmaster believed this rumour as false as he had managed to escape from the terrible prison after three years of solitary confinement.
It was another aspect of his reputation that people believed him to be strong. Only the Ringmaster could escape from such a place. He never mentioned the infatuated woman that helped him get away.
If not for her, he might not have ever started the drugs, or the drinking, or even been the leader of the dismissed.
He closed his eyes tightly, wishing for the throb in his brain to disappear. It didn't make him feel any better but he still tried. Anything would do. Finishing off the first bottle, he threw it to the ground, a loud clank sound made on the wooden floorboards from the chipping glass. The alcohol wasn't enough.
The Ringmaster stood up, his body now shaking, knees buckling from the weight of a dizzy mind and a tragic psyche. His shoes scuffed the surface of the floor as he slowly made his way to a particular cabinet of his that stored his drugs.
With a trembling hand and a few attempts of missing the circular handle he managed to open the drawer, sifting through the packets of pot and meth until he found a syringe, its chamber already filled with the drug solution. He tore open a small plastic bag which held a hollow needle and attached it to the syringe, the twitches in his muscles becoming increasingly visible. The withdrawal symptoms always become more prominent when he was just about to shoot himself up.
Sitting himself back down on his couch, he held out his arm and slowly pushed the needle into the crook of his elbow, letting the drug take over his mind completely. He shivered, feeling suddenly cold as the liquid ran through his veins, his brain no longer aching with pain but slowing down completely. He exhaled despite his lack of breath, the syringe dropping to the floor while he clutched his arm, his thumb pressing against his vein tightly, his lower jaw beginning to quaver. The process of his dilapidating brain, the constant shaking, the trembling, the fear and the sudden ice over his skin. But that could be ignored; the pleasure he received was so much more satisfying, more satisfying than a good fuck which was one of the critical problems. There was nothing that could even compete with the feel of alien drugs seeping their way into his system, and his dependency on them had surely destroyed the beauty that once sparked his mind.
Everything was meaningless.
Clutching his arm, he leant back and let the heroin take effect.
"Mother!" a young boy shouted gleefully across a courtyard. His mother took him on trips to the Royal gardens when he had nightmares. It always worked.
"Yes, my sweet?" gentle eyes rested their gaze on her son as he made his way to her, a wide grin plastered on his face, "Have you something to share?"
He nodded quickly, "Mother, the trees and the flowers, have you noticed them?" his chocolate brown eyes were wide with the curiosity of every five year old child, but he was so much smarter and intelligent than the others of his age group.
"I have noticed their existence," she said, raising an eyebrow.
The boy sniggered, "Mother!" he rolled his eyes, "I have a theory about the flowers; they're all alive. As alive as you and I. Is it not fantastic, this idea of mine? Because," he cleared his throat, "All beings, just like us, we begin as something small and insignificant, yes? But then, we grow, just like the oaks and the elms. We grow up into what we should be, but however, if we do not take care of these plants and flowers, they wither and become sick. They are exactly like us, mother."
The mother looked at her child in a way only a mother could describe; the words of the young boy baffled her but she did not let it taint her love, "Have you told this to Laura?"
"Of course," he smiled brightly, "She says I should be a philosopher."
"But what of the family title? I am sure you would not want to let your father down by turning down the role as the Duke."
He exhaled irritably, "But being like father means I have to marry someone. It means I cannot do what I please. And of course," he lowered his voice to a whisper, "No one would want a crazy like me in charge."
The Ringmaster felt fresh tears on his cheeks. Crazy. Freak. Weird. Where he grew up, they didn't understand science; no one could understand the intricate details of the world, and how they did not have to rely upon their God for everything. But worst of all, no one could ever understand how such a boy, who had grown up in an environment of etiquette and royalty, could turn out to be so terribly uncontrolled. The fits of a young age never helped and his scrawny figure only encouraged his cousins to torment him further.
He let out a soft whimper, wishing with all his heart that he had been born without any mental deficiencies.
In the corner of a morgue, a boy was crying over the loss of his family, and most of all, his mother. At least ten of his cousins, uncles, aunts, and his dear mother, gone. His father explained to him that they would all go to heaven, but the boy knew this to be a lie. No, their bodies were to lie in the earth forever until the flesh decomposed into the marshy soil. It was obvious this was the case, so why did no one else believe him when he said this?
He hugged his knees, rocking back and forth, his breath ragged and heavy as he tried to control the anxiety attack that was trying to breach through his defences.
"No, no," he murmured, alarmed, "Stop it. Go away."
He spoke not for months. Who was to blame? He was only six years old. The skin stretched over his small bones due to the lack of nourishment and his refusal to eat. His sister tried her best but he wouldn't listen to even her. It was not until one day, his father came home with a grand instrument.
Carved and detailed, its keys a beautiful wood, he finally found happiness; the key to escaping the reality of a world he could not live in, and a way to express everything he could never share with those around him. It was the first time he knew what he wanted to be when he was older.
The torment refused to leave the Ringmaster's mind. The smallest memories always held the most emotion within them. As child, a teenager, as Benjamin Ellwood, he could only think of the sadness and the happiness at once. Ideally, he would have liked to have had flashbacks of his lover, his mother and sister. But like that was going to happen.
Without even realising it, he began to bawl, screaming at the top of his lungs from the pain that tightened his broken heart. Would the pain ever stop? Could it? The answer would probably never be revealed and he knew this, but it did not stop him from believing that one day, the world would lighten up.
But the world would never lighten up. It would remain in the ominous grey of the storm clouds, the society slowly crumbling away as they forgot their once beautiful purpose and spent their nights drinking until they couldn't remember the name of who they slept with the previous night.
But despite the bitter truth, it was easier to forget. The Ringmaster knew this and he chose to join in with the decaying civilisation that he now called home. It hurt, but that was why hearts were made. To fit in, to assimilate, he had to decay and rot.
He was dead, after all.