In the depth of the night a ship unloads its cargo onto the dockside watched by two figures hidden in the darkness. One is in a wheelchair and has no legs. The other wears gloves, a long black leather coat and keeps the brim of his hat pulled down over his face. From his pocket hangs a lead. A small white poodle sits at his side. Crates swing through the air as a line of battered trucks line up along the quayside. Bundles of money have been exchanged and skulduggery is at foot. A man lies battered and dying on the ground. A girl is bundled into the back of one of the trucks. Then, as the last crate is loaded, the poodle steps forward to lap at the growing pool of blood seeping from the man’s head. As the night sky breaks into dawn the convoy leaves port and wends its way up from the coast and into the narrow lanes of the West Country.
On the outskirts of a sleepy Somerset village a caravan sits on its own in a field. The sound of snoring rises from inside but is slowly drowned out by the rumble of the convoy as it enters the field. Inside, two lads wake, peer out the windows and look at each other in astonishment as they realise they have been encircled. Just then, a dwarf appears from the bushes pulling up his trousers and a polka dot pony trots by with a ballerina standing on its back. They stagger outside in bewilderment as even more sights greet their eyes. A big top is being erected. Hanging from its entrance a banner bears the legend, “Cirque Monstrue”. They beam at each other. A circus has landed.
Full of curiosity they try to speak to the circus folk but they are not understood. Undaunted they explore the trucks and caravans, stalls and tents that are being erected all around them. Eventually a friendly dwarf greets them and explains in haltering English that they are a travelling circus, and that they will make three performances before moving on.
The boys walk on, past a gypsy caravan, a bearded lady and a sea lion taking exercise, then out of their field and down the lane that leads to the sausage factory where they work, just dying to tell everyone the news. As they enter the village a small white poodle trots behind them, then pauses to sniff the air before returning to the circus.
It is no ordinary poodle and is much feared by the circus folk. It belongs to Caesar and the man with no legs, who have hijacked the circus. They perform as the circus clowns, but they are not at all funny, they are pure evil.
The boys will encounter the poodle soon enough again…….. as will the rest of the village.
But with two days till the full moon…….. they’ll wish they hadn’t.