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Like Lightning From The Sky

By Victor B

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As the understudy to the star acrobat of Cirque Icarus, there were only a few things in this world that Angela respected and even fewer that she feared. Helen was one of them. Angela respected the famed aerialist who had taken her under her wing and who served as her mentor. Angela also feared failing her. Gravity, on the other hand, was something which Angela regularly defied but which she still feared.

“You’re doing great, honey!” Helen called from thirty feet below.

Distracted, Angela caught the dangling silk strip precariously by the tips of her fingers. Her heart skipped a beat as she fell a few feet before she managed to tighten her grip and halt her fall. She hoped Helen didn’t notice.

“I could do better,” Angela told Helen later on, when her feet were planted firmly on the ground.

“Stop being so hard on yourself,” Helen said. “You’re good enough for Sunday.”

“Sunday?”

“I want you to fill in for me during the weekend show.” Angela heard Helen explain how she was still recovering from some sort of injury but she was too excited to listen carefully.

Helen, whom Angela feared and respected, had said that she thought Angela was good enough. Angela felt the wind shift and imagined that her luck was finally turning.

“I think we should cancel the act,” Helen said on Sunday morning over the great raindrops threatening to bore a hole into the tent fabric.

“No!” Angela shrilled. She quickly brought her emotions to check. “I can do this, Helen. Trust me. I'm an acrobat. I fear nothing. A little rain won’t bother me.”

“We should at least move it indoors. Inside the big top.”

“Big top?” Angela crossed her arms. “Our tent is too small. The circus would barely break even. We need to push ahead.”



Despite the rain, a larger than usual crowd had gathered beneath the makeshift rigging the stagehands had set up in the grass earlier that week.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” the soaked ringmaster announced to the crowd of umbrellas and raincoats, “boy and girls, for our next act, this fearless woman, will perform gravity-defying feats of agility that will leave you at the edge of your seats!”

“Angela,” Helen grabbed her student’s arm. She shook her head at her wordlessly, droplets flying from her hair.

Scowling, Angela yanked her arm away from Helen’s grasp and bounded to the stage as the crowd applauded.



A flash of light tore through the sky followed by a deep rumble, almost making Angela flinch. She shivered as the cold raindrops needled her skin. She told herself to suck it up and face her fears.

She thinks I can’t do it. She thinks I’m a failure. I’ll show Helen that I’m good enough
, Angela grumbled silently as the silks descended and she reached up to grip the slippery fabric.

She hoisted herself up, rising into the gray sky above the clapping spectators and Helen’s judgmental gaze. Helen’s probably scared. Scared that I’ll replace her soon. That green-eyed monster!

The sound of thunder startled Angela but she reminded herself that a little rain was nothing to be afraid of.

Angela twisted fluidly mid-air to form impressive shapes out of the silks and her own limbs. The distant sound of applause from below told her that she had executed the moves to perfection.



She’s good, Helen thought as Angela contorted herself up high. She was halfway done with the routine by now and would be back safe on the ground soon.

The wind picked up and threatened to blow away a few umbrellas from the audience. Helen watched Angela sway on the silks as the wind passed, gently at first but gradually growing unsteady. Helen gasped when Angela seemed to have lost her grip and slid down a few feet before catching herself.

Helen made a slashing gesture to her throat — she wanted the ringmaster to cut the act short before Angela got hurt.

“Don’t!” Angela shouted from above. The ringmaster froze as Angela continued.

“It’s not safe!” Helen yelled, abandoning pretense and praying that Angela would listen. “You need to get down!”

“I fear nothing!” Angela whooped as she flew across the increasingly violent sky. “I can handle this! Why won’t you believe me?”

The crowd began to cheer, seemingly under the impression that this was all part of the act.

There was a flash of light and Angela’s body went limp as a fork of electricity connected with her and the woman fell like lightning from the sky.

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About Victor B

Victor B is the author behind Guillotine, the first in a trilogy of books. Victor has worked as a data scientist, a management consultant, and an editor. He enjoys good books and privacy.

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