August’s Writing Workshop: The Flying Circus of Captain Xanado

Saturday 23 August 2014 by

For August’s Writing Workshop, I am doing something ever so slightly different, again! Housemate Tom has written a short story, and wants some good, honest feedback. But instead of giving it to you all at once, we will be running this as a series. Check back in a fortnight for the next instalment. Here is what Tom has to say…

Xanado was more so I could write about mythical creatures juxtaposed in the not too distant future. I’m not sure it reads right though, feels like there’s a glaring error but I can’t see them because I wrote it. A second set of eyes needed really!

The Flying Circus of Captain Xanado

Part Two

Wooden galleons hovering above them decorated in golden sails, in purple sails, wondrous carving work had been done to the magical ships and they oozed perfection. The ship coming for Dan had a mermaid figurehead with silver scales and golden hair. It really was a galleon of old until its hull opened and landing gear folded out. The crowd could only stare in wonderment. Pushing and shoving began to ripple through the crowd and Dan could feel himself being carried in the eagerness. In perfect synchronisation the carriages boomed out music and flashed their lights. A voice spoke to its audience:

“Ladies and gentlemen! Boys and girls of all ages! Xanado has come for you. Please come aboard and feast on your dreams.” The message sounded ominous to Gulch but no one else seemed to notice. They were to excited to get aboard the ships. The galleons dropped their doors and the users descended them, magical ushers that amazed and scared the crowds at the same time. One was a Centaur. Half man half horse with a golden waistcoat and a smile on his face. From other carriages came Minotaurs, bulls that stood on hind legs decorated in feather bows and ribbons. Half goat half boys danced from the ships playing pipes and enticing in the crowds. Everyone was happy to follow and Gulch thought about grabbing one of the boys and strapping on the teleporter there and then. Although if this was what greeted people on the outside of Xanado, what wonders there would be inside? He changed his mind and headed inside the galleon to a seat above deck after showing his golden ticket to the Centaur. At the wheel was a golem of a man. Built like a tank but with a blond beard that was so long he wrapped it round his waist. The man at the wheel would know what’s inside Xanado, know its wonders, it was Dan Gulch’s time to take his own bit of magic.

The Galleons had sailed up to Xanado in a short time. The giant red, yellow and white arena opened its doors and the ships landed inside comfortably. The mystical ushers lead the crowds up wide staircases towards the arena. Somehow big wasn’t the right word to describe it. Gulch followed the light up the tunnel with the rest of the audience and came out in a wide huge circle shaped arena. Thousands of people were already seated and looking down at the massive circus ring. It must have been 200 metres diameter surrounded by a moat. There were three circular pools in the middle of the ring and in the very centre there was a pedestal at least 50 meters high. It was well and truly night time and the top of the arena lights danced up into the night sky setting the stars twinkling, and clouds of pollution usually grey glowed colourful for the first time in their lives. Gulch was drinking in Xanado, much like everyone else, at the same time he was scoping out a route below. Where did the ringmaster keep his animals? He would wait till the show was in full swing then sneak bellow while everyone was distracted. He felt excited wondering what strange creature he would find that would save Marinis Circus. The show was about to start. Spotlights lit up the ring dancing around and music played and excitement built. The same voice from the galleons boomed from speakers around the arena:

“Ladies and gentlemen! Boys and girls of all ages! Welcome to the greatest show on earth!” The spotlights hit two openings appearing at the edge of the ring. From them marched Unicorns. Silver white beautiful horses with golden horns marched from the openings in a display of equine ballet. “Behold my amazing Unicorn dancers, born in magic they love to please a happy audience.” At that the unicorns danced like only horses can, weaving in and out of each other in perfect balance and synchronisation. Gulch could only stare and wonder. He could teleport a unicorn pretty easily but he worried people would think it was a genetic trick. They had rumbled his dragon. Suddenly fire leapt from the edge of the ring and a thousand phoenix birds flew into the air. The crowd gasped in awe as the fire birds sailed above their heads.

“My phoenix love to make you smile,” boomed the voice. “They have flown far from your dreams to be here tonight.” People began throwing food into the air and the birds swooped to catch it leaving trails of sparks behind them. The phoenix couldn’t be accused of being fake, maybe Gulch could grab one if it flew low enough. No he thought. Wait. “Let me introduce myself to you ladies and gentlemen. My name is Captain Xanado!” At that the pedestal in the centre of the ring burst fire from its base and as if by magic there stood Captain Xanado. He was as a mystical as his ushers. He easily stood seven feet tall and wore a technicoloured coat that came down to his ankles. His arms were spread and Dan could see gold and silver rings decorating his long fingers. He was human as far as Dan could tell, just freakishly tall. The captain smiled out at a million eyes all looking at him. Dan saw that he wasn’t alone though. At his feet next to him on the pedestal was a little girl in a chair. Had she sneaked up there and couldn’t get down? Was she some disabled child that had been given a special seat? It seemed strange but no one cared. The Griffins had just taken to the air. The flying lions with eagle heads pretended to chase the phoenix always missing at the last minute. The phoenix sparks mixed with golden feathers that fell from the Griffins and children grabbed them as they fell into the crowd. Dan started to wish he had checked how much the teleporter could carry. The Griffins were as big as elephants not lions. With one of them and Dan’s weight it might struggle leaving half of him or the Griffin behind. He quickly sent a text message to Bobo to check and hoped the clown wasn’t too drunk to reply.

“Enough of the warm up ladies and gentlemen, time for the main event!” boomed the Captain. The crowds gasped again and Dan Gulch wondered what could be better than what they had already seen. “If you wouldn’t mind directing your attention to my pools.” The crowd did as it was told and the pools began to stir. Something was about to erupt from the water. Dolphins? Dan thought. Killer whales? They were extinct now but if the Captain had Centaurs whales were entirely possible. Tentacles burst from the water. Octopus Dan thought. Dancing Octopus. But the tentacles were longer than Octopus. Giant squid? Dancing giant squid?

“The Krakens!” Dan nearly spat his beer over the man in front as a hundred tentacles burst from each pool and began to dance. The tentacles flowed like ribbons intertwining around each other swaying in the night air. From the centre of each pool the Krakens bodies could be seen now. They looked human from the waist up except they were covered in green scales and fifty feet tall. Two were male and one was female and they danced in the water with their eyes closed, faces looking solemn. Mermaids and dolphins began to leap from the pools below their fellow performers. Dan thought about the cost of keeping a Kraken. How would he even transport the gargantuan sea creatures? To steal one of them would be stupid. He looked down to the front row and saw the same goat boys dance from doors carrying food and drink to sell to the crowd. That would be how he would get below to find his creature. He tapped his laser pistol hidden in his case and smiled. The crowd was far to hypnotised by the show to notice him squeeze out of his seat and head down to the doors.

“Don’t move!” Boomed Captain Xanado and for a brief moment Gulch thought he had been spotted. “The Dragons want to say hello!” Gulch was relieved he hadn’t been caught but had to stop to see what was coming. Four more holes appeared in the ring and sixteen Dragons soared from the holes. All of them were different colours. Red, yellow, green, black and a beautiful silver Dragon who flamed blue fire into the sky. The company of Dragons circled round each other high into the sky till nearly out of sight until they broke formation and tumbled back to the crowd. People let out screams of fear and excitement. These were no GM lizard bat monsters. These were real Dragons and Dan wanted the silver one. It was as if Bobo had heard him as he sent a message then saying the teleporter could transport a whale if necessary. Gulch replied saying to get the biggest container they had and prepare it to carry a Dragon. A big silver Dragon that blew blue flame, he and Nelly would be happy again! As transfixing as the show was Dan had to get below. No one saw him get to the door and it wasn’t even locked. This is where he would find his fortune and his own bit of magic. Xanado didn’t need all of these animals. Gulch felt a pang of hatred for the Captain. How dare he keep all this to himself.

Don’t forget to tell us what you think – share your thoughts, comments and your own contributions on Twitter, Facebook, and below in the comments.

You can follow Tom on Twitter: @ThomasBazza

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