This whole shop wasn't even the most average one in the world, which would make it special. If you ever make a list of the top most average toy shops in the world, this one would be somewhere in the middle.
But one night, one special night, something very unique happened in this shop. On the outside a storm was raging. Lightnings illuminated the dark inside of the closed shop. On top of an average shelf sat some old, wooden marionettes. Most of them were dusty and it was more than obvious those were dead articles. Sooner or later the shopkeeper would give up to sell ny of them and they all would get thrown away.
Bow, this nearly ancient puppet moved its head. Next to it sat another marionette. This one was some sort of clown with a crown, bright and colourful and had a happy face, smiling joyfully in to the darkness of the deserted shop.
The faceless puppet moved it head slowly from bottom to top, as if it eyeballed the clown prince. Then a stripe of the sleeves rose up and suddenly dashed towards the happy marionette. The joyful head fell down the shelf, dragging the decapitated body with it. there was a dull sound when it hit the floor.
The old puppet stood up. Since it couldn't use its arms and legs, it used the long stripes of the dress as if they were arms made of cloth. Instead of walking, it hovered, like a wrong coloured ghost. It picked up its wooden cross and somehow was able to attach it on its back. Then the puppet started climbing down the shelf, while all the other toys stared with their artificial faces into nothing. Landing next to the remains of the clown prince, the marionette moved its head as if it was scanning the corpse before shoving it below the shelf. Then the strange puppet went towards the main door. But since it was only 30 cm tall, it couldn't open it. Its head moved like it was examining the handle. Then it moved towards the showcases. But it couldn't open them either. It wandered around the whole shop but there wasn't a way it could get out. Holding a stripe of cloth against the pale skin at if it was deep in though, the puppet went back to the entrance door and waited.
The next day was grey. Rain clouds rushed over the sky, people rushed over the streets, hurrying for cover. Those who had umbrellas wit them didn't bother to look anywhere but towards the grounds, trying to avoid puddles. One figure under an ordinary umbrella went to an unremarkable door and opened it. An average door bell tinkled as the average shop keeper entered his average toy store. He didn't notice a small black and green figure next to the open door. It slipped away unnoticed.
The puppet wandered aimlessly through the streets. It soon was soaked wet and the stripes of cloth hanging down from shoulders and waist to the ground became muddy. The toy went on without seeming to bother for the rain, when a gurgling drain caught its attention. It stopped and stood next to the drain. If the puppet had eyes, they would be staring into the darkness now. After a while, it moved on, following an invisible and silent track. The puppet reached a dirty and small alley. In between two old rusty dumpsters there was an open drain. Again, the puppet stopped first and stood a while motionless in front of it. Then it jumped into the darkness, when of of the five strings suddenly broke.
Images swirled around, but none staying clear enough to make out any details. A big pile of burning wood, people around it... movements in a poorly lit place place ... blood on a blade ... a dark and gnarly tree ... a laughing king ... hands pressed onto a wound ... ship in a heavy storm ... weak lights shining through thick fog ... an old woman dressed in black, smudges on her face ... blood dripping on a marble floor ... a corpse in a twisted position ... a joyfully smiling head in dusty darkness ... drops of water mixing into a red stream ... a group of colourful ribbon dancers ... teeth sinking into flesh...
A wet and dirty marionette laid in a flat puddle. A careless child must have thrown it away. Now it laid alone and abandoned somewhere in the sewers. Rain powered over it, but the water was unable to was away the dirt. In fact, it even added more. But was the toy really alone? A wet rat carefully approached the toy and examined it. When the puppet showed no reaction, the rat grabbed it with its mouth, the sharp teeth piercing into the wood beneath the cloth. It then dragged the abandoned, but completely intact toy with it.
Without the rat noticing it, the blank face of the puppet turned towards the rodent and a a stripe of cloth rose near its nose. A sudden movement and with a shriek the rat let go of her prey and fled, leaving behind a trail of blood. The puppet got up, shook its head and then looked around with the blank white face. A weak spot of light indicated where the gully cover was removed.
Still following the invisible and silent track, the puppet moved through the dark and wet labyrinth of the sewers with the certitude of a sleepwalker.
After a while it reached another light area. The rain had stopped by now, but the grey cover of clouds remained unchanged. The puppet looked up to the sky and saw a drain with bars wide enough for it to fit through. Climbing up wasn't easy, but possible.
The world was still grey, but now that the rain was over colours slowly returned. Canary-yellow, polka dotted, garish red or sapphire blue rain ponchos ran across the street and little colourful gumboots jumped into puddles. They were accompanied by laughter, joyful shouts and screams. The children wearing the clothes and causing those sounds caught the puppet's attention and carefully it followed them. Eventually, one of them noticed the strange toy on the sidewalk and picked it up. After showing it to the playmates, it was decided to keep it, but also to hide it from the supervising adults. The puppet showed no sign of a movement on it's own. If it had a face, it would be smiling. Just as is had been a fact that the clown prince had to die, it was a fact that children's laughter was good. When a girl screamed out as one of the other children plashed water on her, the puppet realized it loved the screams even more than laughter.
The children headed towards a fair or circus. The children waited impatiently at the entrance for the adults to catch up with them. But before the group could ran onto the fair ground, the puppet was spotted and had to be delivered to the adult authorities. After a short glance, the old marionette was declared to be waste and thrown into one of the trash bins.
If the puppet could make a sound, it would probably be growling as it climbed out a little while later.
It hurried past the food and game stands right towards the huge purple and black tent. It was careful not get spotted by grown-ups again and believed it reached the tent unnoticed. After all, the performance had already started. But just before the marionette could reach the tent, someone blocked it's way. It was a man with a top hat and an impressive huge feather attached to it. The look on his face wasn't exactly friendly.
"Where do you think you are going to?", he asked and picked up the puppet, which tried to get free by hitting the man's hand with the cloth stripes. The man did not throw away the marionette, but took it inside his tent and placed it on a chair in front of a strangely misplaced desk.
"I don't like anyone to get it without paying", the man announced and looked at the puppet as if it was a stowaway on a ship.
"You don't look as if you could pay though", he added.
The puppet tilted its head, slightly surprised that the man didn't waste a word on speaking to a living toy.
"You can work to repay the debt, though", the man offered.
The marionette pondered. Staying at this place didn't sound too bad, after all, where else could it find laughter and screams almost daily. It nodded.
"Sadly, I have no use for someone or something like you. You are too small to work at a stand and I am not sure about your performing skills either", the man replied.
For some reason, the puppet suddenly knew that size wasn't an obstacle. Not really knowing how it made it happen, it began to grow until it reached a height of about 1.8 m. Even the cross and the strings grew with it.
The man hid his surprise behind a smile.
"Now we're talking ...That is, if you can talk."
The puppet shook it's head and earned a "hmpf" sound. The man then pulled out a contract from one of the desk's drawers and placed a quill and an opened ink bottle next to it.
"Just so everything is in order, sign this", he said.
Ignoring the quill, the puppet used one of the cloth tendril to write.
It only pondered when asked for name and gender, but den wrote Puppet resp. female next to them before signing the contract with the same name.
"Welcome at the Circus of the Lee... Puppet", the man then said satisfied. The cloth tendril dipped into the ink again and pained a smile on Puppet's blank face.