In celebration of the release of THE MIDNIGHT CIRCUS by Jane Yolen, Tachyon presents glimpses from the book that “draws readers into fully realized worlds with strong characters who reflect the strengths—and the darkness—in all of us.” (Susan Vaught, author of Trigger and Freaks Like Us)
Dog Boy Remembers
The Dog Boy was just a year old and newly walking when his father returned to take him into Central Park. It was summer and the moon was full over green trees.
The only scents he’d loved ’til then were the sweet milk smells his mother made, the fust of the sofa cushions, the prickly up-your-nose of the feathers in his pillow, the pure spume of water from the tap, and the primal stink of his own shit before it was washed down into the white bowl.
When his father came to fetch him that first time, his mother wept. Still in her teens, she’d not had a lot of knowledge of the world before Red Cap had taken her up. But the baby, he was all hers. The only thing, she often thought, that truly was.
“Don’t take him,” she cried, “I’ve done everything you asked. I promise to be even more careful of him.” Her tears slipped silently down her cheeks, small globules, smelling slightly salty, like soup.
His father hit her with his fist for crying, and red blood gushed from her nose. He hated crying, something Dog Boy was soon to find out.
But Dog Boy had never smelled blood like that before, only his mother’s monthly flow which had a nasty pong to it. His head jerked up at the sharpness, a scent he would later know as iron. He practically wet himself with delight.
His father watched him and smiled. It was a slow smile and not at all comforting, but it was all Dog Boy would ever get from him.
“Come, Boy,” his father said, adjusting the red cap he always wore, a cap that was the first thing Dog Boy recognized about his father, even before his smell, that odd compound of old blood and something meaty, something nasty, that both repelled and excited him. Without more of an invitation, his father reached into his pocket and pulled out a leather leash, winding it expertly about the Dog Boy’s chest and shoulders, tugging him toward the door. And not knowing why, only that it would surely be something new and interesting, Dog Boy toddled after him, never looking back at his mother who still simpered behind them.