The circus smelt of hay, sweat and sugar. And shit, beneath it all. The tent, faded in patches, rippled in the biting winter wind. A thick snow was falling, but people still streamed towards the ticket box. Inside was warmer, and the low rumble of elephants mingled with the chatter of monkeys and workers.

She was there, the girl they stole from the Temple. Dressed in a sparkling tuxedo, she fondled the lions ears. A bullwhip trailed lazily but the lions were unafraid. The whip was never used on them, only on people, now. The lions purred and her eyes found me in the gloom.

Gone were the days we spoke of escaping in submarines and hot air balloons. Now she was as much of an animal as those lions she loved, and I…I was too afraid to even talk to her.