Hey guys! This is a flash fiction written by me a while ago. Please be gentle, the truth is I just haven't had any other real flash fiction submissions for Flash Fiction Friday so I'm posting my own. I hate to do that because I'm very much a casual writer, so please be gentle and try to enjoy this attempt. Keep submitting fiction so I don't have to resort to publishing my own work too often. Thanks everyone!
“The faceless man” was a most disturbing and mysterious circus freak belonging to a traveling sideshow circus full of vagrants and superstitious gypsy-folk. Wherever this circus went, suspicious disappearances would soon follow. Many accused the Faceless Man, for within his tent at night one could hear doleful and boisterous lamentations. Though there was widespread speculation that he couldn’t even speak, people often heard such clear cries as “Please, kill me!” Many speculated that such screams probably belonged to his many victims, but until people went missing, most had previously assumed it was an elaborate attempt to hype up the act.
The Faceless Man stood at about six and a half feet tall and was very lean for his height. His bones were fragile and he suffered from a condition, harlequin icthyosis, which left him at birth with scaly, hideous skin and bulging red reptilian eyes. He received experimental treatment for it, and his treatment, so the ringmaster claimed, must be applied and imbibed 24 times a day: once per hour. The disease, or perhaps the medicine, also had an apparent unforeseen cost: his mind. When he was visited by circus-goers, he was gloomy, rarely making any attempt to speak, and was wont to stare at the floor and moan softly, sometimes sadly, other times angrily.
What a piteous life he led, they would say. What a wretched creature! What a poor beast of a man. After leaving his tent, everyone always felt a bit better about their own lives.
But the Faceless Man never felt better about his own life. His face was always blank in expression and one could only guess at his despair by listening to the unceasing woeful sounds coming from inside his tent. His empty face had nothing resembling lips; just a slit for a mouth, and his skin would go from scaly to slimy after the application of his medicine. He also had no nose, and his head was a bit larger than it ought to be.
His body was a lumbering, clumsy-looking thing. Perhaps this clumsy look added to his reputation of being so mentally deficient. Truth be told, the Faceless Man is not by nature so dim and introverted as he is made to appear. The ringmaster had a secret.
Each night, upon the conclusion of the Faceless Man’s show, young men in the crowd would often offer to pay for a private audience with the Faceless Man, where it would be promised they would be able to elicit some speech from him. After such a show, these men would pay the ringmaster in cash, who would escort them into the den of the Faceless Man, where he would often be found crouching nearly naked, chained up, crying and moaning softly. What a piteous existence, the men would invariably think.
And as that evening’s lucky young man approached the Faceless Man, something the former didn’t expect would happen. A crowbar would greet the back of the visiting young man’s head in a most violent fashion, splattering blood and cracking skull, reducing the curious visitor to a barely-living pile of meat and bones on the floor. The Faceless Man would sob louder, at least usually, and the cruel ringmaster would ring a bell in a most mocking way. “Dinner is served!” he’d say.
“Please, just kill me!” would be the most frequent reply of the Faceless Man. But the ringmaster never did oblige.
The human meat keeps the Faceless Man dumb and quiet, you see. Human meat also has a tendency to become addictive, particularly when said meat comes from an avid tobacco smoker, which it always did, thanks to the careful planning of the ringmaster. The nicotine in his victims’ blood keeps him in line, keeps him hungry, but the feeding also fuels his rage and self-loathing.
Wherever the Faceless Man’s circus goes, suspicious disappearances are certain to follow. One day, the Faceless Man vowed to himself, it would be the ringmaster’s.