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Kimberly Loth Books

Circus of the Dead Book Four

Circus of the Dead Book Four

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Being dead definitely has its disadvantages.

Number one being that I have to wait until the full moon to kick Benny’s ass. What right did he have to kill me?

None.

Not only that, I was his thirteenth kill, so he’s alive instead. Not for long, if I have my way.

With Lorena gone, the island has taken on a life of its own and it’s up to me to destroy it. But doing so will require massive sacrifices.

Sacrifices I’m not sure I’m willing to give.

But the fate of everyone on the island rests in my hands.

Who will live and who will be gone forever?

The choice is mine.

Synopsis

Being dead definitely has its disadvantages.

Number one being that I have to wait until the full moon to kick Benny’s ass. What right did he have to kill me?

None.

Not only that, I was his thirteenth kill, so he’s alive instead. Not for long, if I have my way.

With Lorena gone, the island has taken on a life of its own and it’s up to me to destroy it. But doing so will require massive sacrifices.

Sacrifices I’m not sure I’m willing to give.

But the fate of everyone on the island rests in my hands.

Who will live and who will be gone forever?

The choice is mine.

First Chapter

Pain like I’ve never felt before rips through my body. It’s as if my skin is being torn off in sheets. My suffering seems to last forever, but in reality, it probably only lasts a few seconds. I scream and scream and scream, but no sound escapes my lips. Then, as suddenly as it came, the pain dissipates. 

At first, only my feet feel fine, but the relief then crawls up my legs. My head is still on fire, but my stomach lets go of the pain. Then, my chest and my neck, and I stop my silent screams. 

The pain is gone. 

I can’t see a thing. Darkness envelops me, and I feel like I should be scared, but I’m not. It’s as if the pain chased away my fear. My brain races through what’s going on, but nothing makes sense. I’ve dissolved into nothingness. But that can’t be right because I can still think. 

I try to move my body, but nothing happens. I’m floating in a sea of darkness, and I can’t feel anything. No anxiety, no fear, nothing. Just random thoughts. I want to close my eyes and let the darkness overtake me. But do I even have eyes to close? 

I think and think about what happened, but nothing comes to me. What was I doing before the pain? I go backward, replaying the events of the last few hours, and reality slams into me. 

I’m dead.

But I’m somehow still around. 

Of course I am. If a person is killed on the new moon, they come back as a ghost trapped on the island. Which means I should be able to see the island and those around me. But nobody ever talked about the darkness. 

Why did I never ask Juliette or Maddie what it was like to die? Seems rather heartless of me and a little dumb. I always knew I could die, and I should’ve asked what happened. Do I have to wait until I come back as a ghost? I wonder how long that will take. I’m already bored. 

My head spins, and the space around me lightens, but the only thing visible is my feet with ridiculous flip-flops and half-painted toes. I am doomed to eternity with my toenails in desperate need of a pedi. Not the brightest move, Callie.

All at once, the rest of my body comes into view. My shorts and black t-shirt. My hands and arms. I raise my hand to my face, but it’s still a little see-through. 

So weird. 

Everything surrounding me is dark, but at least I can move. I shift one foot forward, and the rest of me follows, but I can’t feel it. I practice moving around. I crouch and jump and fly upwards. I run faster than I have ever before. Okay, that’s cool, but it’s too bad I can’t tell how far I’ve gone. 

A speck of light shines in the distance, and I glide toward it. Once I get closer, I realize it’s the lamp on the edge of the dock near the ferries, and I rush toward it, grateful I can see something. All at once, the rest of the world comes into focus. Hallelujah. I’m not doomed to an eternity of darkness. 

I stand on the docks. The air is hazy, but I can’t feel the heaviness of it. I should though. The thick air is the one thing that is consistent in the swamp. 

Everything is quiet and still. 

There are no frogs, birds, or wind in the trees, and the silence is completely unnerving. I look around. Not a soul in sight.  

Is it not possible to hear when I’m dead?

No. Benny heard all my conversations. I press my hands against my stomach. Benny is the one who stabbed me. I don’t know what to think of that. Something splashes in the water, but I don’t hear it. 

Maybe the silence is like the darkness. I couldn’t see until I could. I hope this goes quickly. I don’t like feeling out of the loop and totally out of control.

Time is bizarre. It should be daylight, or maybe not.  Maybe I just floated in darkness for twenty-four hours. Maybe longer. Ugh. What if weeks have passed?

I take a tentative step forward and shuffle off the dock to wander through the dilapidated circus. I pass the snake man’s tent and remember my first night here. Nothing moves. No breeze rattles the tents. I walk past all of the tired tents with the signs that proclaim the horrors within and find the big cats. They are all asleep, including Fiona, who I’ve formed an uneasy relationship with even though she tried to kill me. They are breathing, but I can’t hear their snores. 

I watch them for a while. I take in all the bright colors and even the muted ones. I notice how the bleachers are peeling and scratched up. The cages have all been worn down by time and weather, and I question, for a second why Luke never repainted them. 

Shouldn’t there be ghosts around? The island is tiny. With 116 other ghosts, I should be seeing someone at least. Even if it is someone I don’t know. 

I should be able to see the living people too, but it’s like I’m the only one around. I go to my boat though I’m not sure what to expect. No one is there. I move quickly to the other side of the island to Amy’s boat. There’s always a kid or two running around, but it’s completely silent, and nobody is inside. 

Where did everyone go? Or is everyone here, and I can’t see them? 

Maybe something went awry with that spell Lorena put on me. Maybe I’m somehow doomed to live out eternity in complete isolation. No Maddie or Benny. No Juliette or Luke. That would truly be hell. I search the rest of the boats. I don’t even bother checking who is supposed to live there. I want to find somebody. Anybody. 

The sky is overcast and dark, and the trees are deathly still. I lean over the calm waters and search for the telltale signs of frogs or fish, but there’s nothing there as well. It’s like I didn’t die, but the island did. Frozen in time.  

I go back to the circus. There has to be something or someone there. Some clue as to what’s going on. 

No. I’m in the wrong place. I need to go to Lorena’s boat. I step onto her porch, and a massive crack sounds in my ears. Then the sounds of the swamp explode around me. The bugs that buzz, the birds twittering, and the splashing of the fish. Well, at least I can hear now. Maybe I’ll be able to see people soon. 

I step inside Lorena’s boat. It’s empty of course. The contract we both signed lies on her table. I try to pick it up, but I can’t. I hover over it and read it again. The word sacrifice stands out to me. 

I want to flip it over, but I can’t. Ugh. Being dead is so frustrating. 

A letter beside the contract catches my eye. It’s addressed to me. It, at least, is all one page.

My darling daughter, 

I do hope you don’t hate me too terribly for what I’ve done. Of course, you probably do, but that doesn’t really matter. It was the only way. You had to sacrifice yourself to save Maddie, and I needed you to be willing to sacrifice yourself for the island so I could be free. 

Thank you. Our paths will never cross again, but know that I’m grateful for what you did for me. I’m sure you’ll figure out your role on the island on your own. You’ve done well for yourself so far. You’re in charge, but don’t let that fool you. The island is really in control. Learn how to work with it, and your life will be easy.

But knowing you, you won’t, and that means you’ll be constantly in chaos. 

Ciao, 

Lorena

That bitch. Under normal circumstances, she’d be right—I wouldn’t make this easy for anyone. But, in this case, I might learn to work with the island if that means I can somehow hunt down and murder my mother. 

I look around the boat. I can’t pick anything up, so I don’t know what good my searching is going to do. I don’t know how I’m supposed to learn anything if I can’t move stuff around. I can’t even read a book. 

My sacrifice is good for nothing. Maddie. What the hell happened to her? 

“Maddie,” I shout and rush for the docks. I’m there in less than a second. 

“Maddie,” I call again, but the dock is empty except for me. I spin around and around and around. Where did she go? I hope against hope that she is back home, but if I can’t see anyone, I won’t know if she’s alive or still dead. 

I jog back down the docks. I have to find someone else. Someone who has been a ghost longer than fifteen minutes. I wander all over, but I can’t find anyone. I’m completely alone. Maybe I did something with that contract that changed the island somehow. No. This has to be part of the transition to ghost. I’ll be able to see people eventually. I hope.

I return to Lorena’s boat and see something different. Her boat is glowing. I can feel the magic coming off of it. 

That’s new. 

The boats surrounding hers have a faint glow as well, but they aren’t as bright. Huh. I roam through the trees, and everything has a faint glow. The circus tents are more intense than even Lorena’s boat. 

Elias’s boat doesn’t glow at all, but mine is the most brilliant. Even the swamp water glows a little. I wander the island, looking for the magic, mostly because I’m bored, but also because I don’t want to think about my current predicament. The tents in the circus glow with strange green symbols. The trees radiate bright lights. Ruth’s boat glows brighter than any of the others except mine. 

I think back to everything I’ve been taught about the island and its magic. I pass my boat again and Elias’s. He once told me about the legend of the glowing green skull. 

 No time like the present to explore. I float back down the path and stare deep into trees to the middle of the island. 

Elias is right. I’ve seen it before, but the trees are too dense to take a boat through them, and as a living soul, I wouldn’t exactly want to swim. Plus, I always just thought it was from the circus. 

I’ve never ventured very far into the middle of the island because it’s too swampy, but now I don’t have to worry about gators or snakes. I move under the trees. Something glows a greenish-blue off in the distance, but I can’t tell what it is. I’m hoping it’s the skull and not some other horrific surprise. 

I float along the top of the grass, and the light grows brighter and brighter. I step out from under the trees and let out a gasp. In front of me is a massive, glowing skull. 

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