1. “Most of them are,” the man admitted. Pointing at the retreating figure, he added, “But Tobias is different. For one thing, every muscle on that man is the real thing. He’s six feet, nine inches, and three hundred seventy-five pounds of pure strength. Just wait until you see his act. In fact, I’ve been considering having you and your father follow him.”
2. “I’ve known you since you were twelve,” he added in a softer tone of voice. “Since you’ve grown up, I’ve never seen you look at a woman the way you look at her. At least, not that I’ve noticed. And trust me, Toby, I’ve watched over you like a hawk. I’ve worried over you God knows how many times. I can’t begin to tell you how many nights I’ve lost sleep, wondering what your future holds for you. You know, sooner or later, this circus is gonna fold. It’s inevitable, no matter how much we want to deny it. No matter how many times we try to ignore the possibility. You and I both know the world has changed drastically over the past half century. It’s becoming more technological. Circuses are passé. This way of life is eventually going to come to an end, and when it does, I dread to think what’s going to happen to you.”
3. This time the man held three very large knives. Holding a ping pong paddle in each hand, Kai took her place at the plywood and crossed her arms in front of her. Ashan hurled one knife. Instantly, Kai threw out an arm, and the blade sunk into the paddle. A split-second later, the man threw the second knife, this time to her other side. Again, she whipped her arm outward so that the other knife penetrated the second paddle. Before Toby could comprehend the swiftness of the throws, Ashan let go of the third knife, this time directly at his daughter. Toby nearly cried out when she brought both paddles together in front of her in time for the knife to cut into both paddles. Stepping forward, Kai showed the empty seats that the two paddles were now joined, with three knives bristling from them. Unable to contain himself, Toby clapped appreciatively.
4.With one other exception, Kai and her father were the first new additions to Beckwith’s Amazing Circus in the sixteen years he’d been with them. He was pretty sure the rest of his circus family was just as curious to know when he’d let the newcomers in on his secret because the if and when would solely be up to him. None of them would out him because they believed it wasn’t their decision to make. It wasn’t their life being affected. They would remain in the background and let him decide on the when and where, and then let them know he’d done it.
5. Toby quickly stripped and dropped to his hands and knees. Physically, he could feel very little of his body changing. It took his eyes and ears, and sense of smell to tell him he was transforming. It was noticing how the floor moved away from him, as if he was rising above it. It was seeing his arms become thicker and rounder as they turned a dark, nubby gray. It was his hands flattening and his fingers shortening until all that was left were wide nails. It was becoming aware of his teeth growing into two enormous tusks from the sides of his mouth. At the same time, his nose unfurled like air filling a compact fire hose. And all around him the smells and the sounds of the circus grew louder, more intense. It was as if his skin was able to sense the most minute vibrations in the air.
6. Obviously these idiots had no idea how fast an elephant could charge, especially an enraged one. By the time they reached the curve in the road, they realized they couldn’t escape in time. For several seconds, the truck slowed as the men stared in slack-jawed shock at the rampaging beast heading straight for them. The man in the truck bed managed to raise a rifle and aim it at Toby, but there was no way he could get a straight shot with the way the vehicle was swaying on the road. Toby heard him get off a shot that went wide. Then a second shot.