TORCHED, Donovan Circus #5
In Torched, the fifth installment of the Donovan Circus series, the show is back in action. The crowds are enthralled, the crew is productive, and best of all, Lucy and her friends are together. Then General Baker arrives on the grounds, threatening Sheffield Donovan and their entire way of life. The Donovan Circus must make a choice in order to stay alive, one with terrible consequences. As experiments begin and lives are lost, Lucy will once again be forced to do anything and everything she can to save her circus family…including trading her life for theirs. (Read chapter one excerpt below.)
Lucy Sullivan and her circus family are finally back where they belong – in the spotlight and with each other. Even ringmaster Sheffield Donovan is in good spirits as their show delights audiences each night. Life is almost back to normal.
Until the US government appears in the form of one General Baker and his army of soldiers. At the threat of worldwide exposure, life as the Donovan Circus knows it is over. Cornered into the General’s terrible experiments, they have no rights, no friends, and no hope of escape. Lucy will lose more than one loved one, and perhaps her own life, in the process.
The Donovan Circus will face the worst danger yet – can Lucy take down an entire government sector, or will the gifted world finally be destroyed once and for all?
Fire glowed overhead like a golden beacon of light. The light of my flames created dancing shadows against the oversized red-and-white striped tent. My act needed no spotlight; my fire made it more dramatic anyway.
I made shapes with the flames, circles as big as beach balls and squares I could hop through. My fire glittered oranges and golds, eventually flashing to blues and whites. The crowd clapped and stared in awe, their faces smiling in wonder. My flames reflected in the eyes of small children, their mouths agape, cotton candy and popcorn forgotten.
The twinkling lights glittered above everyone. Our band played a gentle melody with a beat that worked nicely for my pace as I leapt and leaned into the flames. I let them snake around my body, loving the way the first row marveled over the impressive illusion. Sparks crackled like fireworks as I continued swirling and twirling the flames on and around me.
For the finale, I summoned a giant ball of fire. I lifted it high into the air where it illuminated the crowd, their upturned faces alight from my makeshift sun. It floated for exactly five seconds. When my arms fell to my sides, the ball of flames plummeted back to earth and directly onto me. It hit the top of my head like a water ballon; upon contact, the ball exploded in a dazzling array of flames. My red hair crackled around me, swirling with the flames. I shot the audience a bright smile as the fire faded.
“Ladies and gentleman, the brave and talented Lucy Sullivan and her gift of fire!” Sheffield Donovan shouted into the microphone. He circled the center ring, waving his arm at me and smiling broadly at the audience.
After a deep bow, I ran out of the circle and backstage. Sheffield’s voice boomed as he announced the next act, Bianca and her dog Henry. Members patted my back as I walked past, congratulating me as I caught my breath. Despite the half-panting, I grinned the whole time.
I’d been performing this act for a week now, and already it felt like old hat. I was so comfortable with my fire now. My favorite part was making the audience gasp with delight. Even the smaller afternoon groups like today made a racket in awe of my gift. I’d spent hours with the dancers of our troupe, trying to come up with a routine that could be both powerful and graceful.
Once the show ended, the performers all ran out to give a final bow. Behind stage, we hugged and congratulated one another on another show well done. Even though I was new to this side of the circus, the other performers treated me as though I’d been there forever.
“You’re a natural,” an acrobat told me. “No one would ever know you only took it all up a few days ago.”
I went on to compliment the girl’s high wire act. We continued like that for a few minutes, exclaiming over bits of each other’s performances. Warmth tingled pleasantly beneath my skin as I beamed at her. I wanted to be liked as a leader of course, but their acceptance of me as a performer meant more than I could ever explain to them. It was all I’d wanted growing up, all I’d wanted since the moment I stepped foot back onto these grounds.
We moved fast to break down; I grabbed a broom to sweep the bleachers. Chatter filled the room, becoming white noise as I concentrated on collecting every kernel on the floor. I glanced at my alarm clock when I got back to my camper. It was only seven o’clock, with the sun hardly beginning to set. It was like we still had a whole day ahead of us. I took a shower, thinking to text Bianca and get dinner plans. I’d received an earlier message from Gabriel wanting to meet up tonight, which made my stomach fill with butterflies.
I’d hardly finished getting dressed when Delia burst into the camper. The door kicked all the way open, the rush of air with her speed making the camper rattle a bit. I gasped and whirled around to see her standing in front of me. She brushed her long, dark hair back off her shoulders. My stomach twisted at the worried look on her face.
“Lucy,” she said, pausing as though searching for the words, “you have to come to the Big Top. Something’s happened.”