Waiting for him to do something the little creatures looked at Mitchell on the cliff. Waiting for him to act, to make them laugh, their eyes were wide open. Expectation could be felt in the air.
His heart was beating fast. Sweat wet his palms.
Every day he held a show. The little creatures always laughed, always cheered.
Today his show was different. Deeper. His blue mask was sad and serious. John was watching with his red mask in his hand. He had made it himself. He was up next.
Today the little creatures didn’t laugh. They didn’t smile. Silence fell over the grass covered cliffs.
They put their masks over their faces. Started humming a dark, strange tune. Moved towards the actor on the stage, jumped from one cliff to another. Waited. Jumped again.
Mitchell took a step back. Felt the edge under his feet. Sand and stones fell into the abyss, towards the ground so far below.
Another jump. All of them, one by one.
-Please! Please! I’m sorry! I can do better! I promise!
They stared at him through little eye holes. They waited.
The masks got darker.
The voice was vicious and rusty, not what you would have expected from a little creature like this.
The masks became the creatures. The creatures became the masks. Mitchell screamed. They jumped. They all jumped.
John held his hands over his eyes. Opened his fingers and peered out on the pile of masked creatures where Mitchell had been standing. His body fell off the edge.
The creatures jumped back to where they had been, jumped back to their spectator’s cliffs. They cheered, clapped.
-John! John! We want John!
With shaking steps he walked up on the scene. Mitchell’s mask was on the ground. It was stained with blood. John looked at his own in his hand. It was too happy. The other, too sad. He picked it up.
He started singing.
-I am fire!
-I am ice!
He jumped back and forth, changing faces. The little creatures danced and clapped, laughed and enjoyed themselves.
-Oh, no, don’t melt me, please!
-Oh, no, the melting ice is putting me out!
The song went on. The two characters died in agony.
It was over. There was silence, a long, deep silence. John looked from creature to creature, back and forth.
No one took their masks on. No one jumped towards him.
He bowed deeply, finally breathing again.
Tomorrow there would be a new show. The day after, and the day after that.
If he could make them laugh.