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The Curse of the Three-Headed Circus
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ISBN-10: 1-89484-108-5
Genre: Supernatural/Horror
eBook Length: 269 Pages
Published: December 2001

From inside the flap

Before Little Mary came to The Three-Headed Circus, twenty-one-year old Harvey’s only worries were keeping his deceased father’s circus running and trying to get Tabs, the beautiful wire-walker, to notice him. Then Harvey meets Little Mary, a three-foot woman who impacts his circus in a way he could never imagine. There is more to this novel then meets the eye, I loved it!

Reviews and Awards

I recommend this book for an entertaining evening--but don't turn out the lights. The ending will haunt you for some time after you close the last page.
--Review by S. Joan Popek

Intriguing and suspenseful - Recommended

Author, Bonnie Mercure, weaves a suspenseful tale of "porcelain" fright. Although the prologue does not relate to the story until near the end, Mercure leads the readers from meek chills to profound horror in a slow, yet vibrant, escalating manner. Characters become real circus folk, and the supernatural plot strikingly believable. Circus life intermixed with magic and voodoo makes THE CURSE OF THE THREE-HEADED CIRCUS a must read for any horror enthusiast that does not relish excess blood spewed prior to bedtime.
--Word Wrap: Book review by Patricia Spork

I was hooked from page one and had a hard time putting the book down. Bonnie Mercure has succeeded in creating a bizarre, creepy atmosphere and a chilling sense of foreboding from beginning till end. The goodness of the protagonist serves as a well-needed contrast to the evil that lurks behind every page. This is not one of those horror stories filled with blood-and-spatter scenes. The horror of it lies in its mood and in the grotesque character of Little Mary, which I will remember for weeks to come. I look forward to reading more books from this talented writer.
--Review by Mayra Calvani ... for eBook Reviews Weekly

This is an interesting tale of magic learned in a faraway jungle and secrets that add to the story when they are revealed. This one is well written and doesn?t telegraph anything in advance. Kudos to Bonnie Mercure for a job well done and another name to add to the list of those writers to watch for.
--Barry Hunter, January 13, 2002

The Curse of the Three-Headed Circus (Excerpt)

Chapter 1

I didn't want to think about what could be inside the blue gunny sack. The two guys running toward the big top carrying a three-foot sack could only mean one thing: trouble. I'd had enough troubles for the day, thank you. Bo Bo the wonder poodle had run off, and we were supposed to be outta Keats by morning. Townies playing pranks on us was something we had grown accustomed to--a bag of dog crap set on fire outside the big top was a common one--but two idiots bringing us a twisting and turning sack was something new.

Whatever they had in there, it was alive.

I leaned against my truck and turned to Roly the Ringmaster. He tossed a box of props inside the cab, then bent to pick up another one. His long arms were taut, red freckles promenading on pale skin.

"Look behind you," I said.

He glanced over his shoulder. About fifteen feet away, the townies plopped the gunny sack by our big top and ran away. Their shit-kicker boots blew up a cloud of dust in their wake. When the dust cleared, the sack rolled side to side, then lay still.

Roly's fingers trailed through his red beard and his usually cheery face hardened a little. "We don't need this."

"No kidding," I said.

For a moment we stared at the bulky sack lying motionless under the hot sun. Then Roly gave me a shrug as if to say What the hell, might as well check it out, and headed straight for it. I surveyed the proximity of the field, grabbed a stick nestled in the grass and followed. The sack rolled over once, twice, then stopped when it hit the big top.

You think I should find the others?" I whispered, thinking if it was a ferocious dog or something, we'd need all the help we could get.

"In a minute, Harvey." Roly stopped a few feet away from the sack and leaned forward for a better look. I stood beside him, bent over and nudged it with the stick. Nothing happened.

I nudged it again, harder. A scream erupted.

I gasped, fell to my knees and fumbled with the knots on the top of the sack. Strands of gold-colored hair poked through the small opening I made.

A child was inside! Roly knelt down to help, and we yanked and pulled until we made an opening big enough for this poor kid to be set free.

The strands of gold-colored hair led to a pale, blue and black smudged face as this little kid inched like a worm out of the gunny sack. Wide blue eyes regarded the open air with confusion while a slender, dainty hand raised to block the afternoon sun. My eyes were drawn to that hand. It was perfect, the fingers small but elegant, and the skin so smooth....

Not like a child's hand at all.

She sat up and slid the sack from her legs. Getting a better look, I realized what the blue and black smudges were on her face: make-up. Her body, though small, curved in all the right places.

You're not a little kid at all!" I said. "You're...."

"A woman," she finished.

"Well." Roly clenched his orange suspenders and rocked back on his heels. "What on earth were you doing inside a sack?"

The little woman's hands tightened into fists and her sweet mouth turned down into a pout. "I hate them!"

"Hate who?" Roly asked.

Her chest heaved; the outline of small breasts came into view underneath denim overalls. Instead of answering Roly's question, tears filled her eyes and she cried.

"Now, now," Roly said in the authoritative tone he used when introducing acts. He promptly reached inside his back pocket and pulled out a ball of orange cloth. With a flick of his hand, it unraveled into a huge handkerchief.

She accepted the handkerchief and dabbed her face, sniffling like a kitten with a cold. When she was done, she stood and tilted her head to gaze up at us. She barely came up to my waist, and I stood just a bit shy of six feet. I'd seen plenty of dwarves in my life, but this woman was unlike any I've ever seen. Her limbs weren't pudgy and stout, but slender and willowy, fitting perfectly with her torso. And her face...well, beneath the blotches of make-up, I could tell she was quite pretty. She had a delicateness about her, like fine china.

I glanced at Roly to see his reaction to the three-foot woman. He was busy staring at our big top, which spread out ninety feet in width, an orange orb which came to a point at the top. A flap fluttered in the warm breeze, where a picture of a grinning clown sitting on a unicycle held a welcome sign. When Roly finally faced the little woman, a smile tugged at the corners of his mouth.

Would you like to come inside our tent for a moment? Perhaps tell us why you were brought to the Three-Headed Circus in such a manner?"

Her eyes lit up, barely holding a trace of her former tears. "I'd like that."

Roly put a hand on her shoulder and led her inside. I trailed behind. Roly and I had to duck so our heads wouldn't brush against the lapels hanging from the opening, but the miniature woman could have held up her arms and still not been able to touch them.

Inside the big top the air was stale and heavy. Sunlight filtered in through the openings and made sharp lines on the grass. The miniature woman brushed at her overalls and a billow of dust encircled her. The dust burned my eyes and produced an annoying tickle in my nose. When the dust fell, I noticed a small heart patch on the left knee of her overalls. The embroidered words on the heart read: ?Little Mary.'

Her gaze darted to the orange walls lined with boxes and equipment. She took a deep breath, held it in for a second then let it out in a long sputter.

"Nice," she whispered.

Roly chuckled. "You should've came to our show last night, if you think this is something."

I never go anywhere."

How come?" I asked.

Fear flashed in her big blue eyes. "I just don't."

"Oh." I was about to ask her who the sack carriers had been when Jake the Fire Eater wandered into the tent.

We can't find that blasted poodle anywhere. The guys are still out looking, but if you ask me I say it's hope...." Jake eyed the miniature woman in surprise. "Who's this?"

"I'm Little Mary." Her face turned a bright crimson color.

She seemed so miserable and unsure of herself, I wanted to do something to make her feel better. But what? I couldn't find the nerve to approach a complete stranger and offer comfort, even though I sensed how badly she needed it.

I wondered what my dad would have done in this strange situation. He'd been the owner of the Three-Headed Circus, and had always known exactly how to handle things. How hard it was without him even now, a year after the accident. But I couldn't give in to the emptiness I felt. If I did, it would consume me.

Roly stepped toward Little Mary. She took a mini-step backward.

Harvey and I could take you home," he said. "If that's what you want."

When she didn't answer, he repeated his offer.

Maybe she wants to stay for awhile." Jake stared at Little Mary with a smile on his face. Jake was unbearably handsome. His only flaw was a severe red scar that traveled from his temple to his mouth, an ugly, thick scar which had no business on such a face. He usually wore his long dark hair tied back in a rubber band, but today it hung freely over his shoulders. Jake was twenty-four, four years older than I, and was the closest thing to a best friend I ever had.

Not taking his eyes off Little Mary, he said, "Why'd she come here then?"

I was about to explain the sack situation, but Roly spoke first. "It was quite odd, really. Two men...."

"...brothers," Little Mary interrupted, and tilted her head up to look at Jake. She spread her hand over her chest. Her fingers fluttered like tiny birds.

"Why'd they put you in a sack?" I asked.

"For fun."

"Fun?" I couldn't see how fun it would be stuffed in a gunny sack.

"Fun for them."

"Oh," Jake said, as if this made perfect sense. He stepped forward, past Roly, and stood in front of Little Mary. She didn't step back, but regarded Jake with eyes wide and unblinking. Jake wore a silly little smile, his index finger pressed against his scar. I felt that something--anything--needed to be said to break the weird trance the two of them seemed to be in, so I spoke the first thing that popped into my mind.

"Would you like to stay and have something to eat? You must be hungry, after being stuffed in a sack and all."

Jake laid a blanket on the ground. Roly and I took out bologna sandwiches from our cooler and a bottle of eight dollar wine Jake had bought the day before at Keats' only supermarket.

Little Mary hadn't said she would join us, but she hadn't said she wouldn't, either. She stood and watched us with eyes narrowed in interest, as if she'd never seen anyone prepare a meal before. We sat on the blanket and waited to see what she would do. I gulped down my wine and reached to pour myself another. Roly, sitting across from me, stretched out his long legs and frowned. He didn't like me drinking too much. He was probably afraid I'd turn out like my mom. I ignored him and filled my glass. Unlike my mom, I knew my limit.

A minute later, Little Mary tip-toed to the blanket and sat down. Jake grinned and handed her a sandwich and a glass of wine.

"What kind of brothers would throw you in a sack to bring you to a circus?" I asked.

She nibbled on her sandwich and didn't answer.

I cleared my throat. "Is this your first time to a circus?"

She turned her head to face me, and her gaze lowered to my right hand. She squinted and leaned forward for a better look.

I admired the way she didn't look away, embarrassed, as most people do.

I set the glass down and raised my hand. Seven fingers jutted out, and a thumb. I had three extra middle-fingers, all exactly the same in length and width. If I felt like it, I could pick from any of my four middle fingers to flip someone off.

I wiggled my fingers for her; they looked like long stems dancing in the air. She clapped her dainty hands in delight. I smiled, thinking that this miniature woman must not get much on the way of entertainment.

"Well?" I said. "Have you ever been to a circus?"

She shook her head.

"Damn!" Jake said. "That's awful!"

"Quite a shame," Roly agreed.

Small traveling circuses were a rarity now a days, but I thought everyone had been to some type of circus at least once in her life. "Surely we're not the first traveling circus to come here?" I asked in amazement.

Little Mary's bottom lip quivered and I thought she was going to cry. Instead she bowed her head and whispered, "I don't know much about what happens here in Keats. I haven't left my father's basement in seven years."