The Circus is hiring! Ringmaster Ivan Goldmane of the Gold & Platinum Circus is looking for a gifted contortionist. Female, 21 or older preferred, and the more flexible the better. All necessities will be taken care of. Apply in person at the ringmaster's trailer at the circus site just south of Green Valley.
The image of the poster still persisted strong in Ruby Foxx's mind as she finished her hike to the site it mentioned. It was hard not to see coming with the massive, colorful tents. She had never actually been to the circus before, but she'd heard a lot about it and it sounded quite interesting. Besides, the position was perfect for a fox girl who'd had a highly elastic and malleable body since birth.
Ruby slowed down to a casual pace as she wandered among the various attractions and features of the circus. Excitement was already beginning to take her over already; it was just like wandering through a fairy tale. Over here, a concession stand advertising all the classic fixings; over there, an abandoned knife-throwing target; over on the other side, a circus elephant enjoying a drink.
She was so antsy she was shaking... on a molecular level, in fact, as her body was beginning to liquify from her glee. She didn't even notice until she suddenly felt her legs unable to support her weight, and with a SPLAT she faceplanted and became a puddle.
Oof! Ugh, I think I got carried away. Gotta concentrate.
Ruby focused as hard as she could and managed to pull herself together, then stood up once she was solid again.
Gotta concentrate, Ruby. You came here for a purpose. Gotta find the ringmaster's trailer. Gotta find the ringmaster's trailer. Gotta find the...
She suddenly noticed she was standing in front of a sign marked RINGMASTER'S TRAILER.
Steeling her nerves, Ruby stretched her arm out (literally, as it extended to about twice its prior length) and knocked firmly on the door.
"Coming!" a voice called out as the fox retracted her limb. Seconds later, the trailer's door opened, revealing a golden-furred lion with a well-kept mane that seemed to shimmer in the sunlight. He wore a black hat and cape, as well as a cute black bowtie. There was no denying it, this was the ringmaster.
"Ivan Goldmane, G&P Circus ringmaster. How may I assist?"
Ruby cleared her throat. "My name is Ruby Foxx, and I'm here for the contortionist position."
The lion nodded. "I thought so. Come inside, please."
He opened the door wider, and stepped back slightly as Ruby made her way into the trailer. The interior was set up like an office; posters and awards lined the walls, and a desk with a stack of papers on it rested by one wall, with three file cabinets lined up in the corner nearby. The floor was carpeted, and a few chairs dotted the room.
Ivan took his seat behind the desk and motioned for Ruby to sit in one of the chairs in the center of the carpet. She did, after which the lion pressed the intercom button on the wall.
"Madame Camille, would you please come to the ringmaster's trailer? Madame Camille to the ringmaster's trailer, please."
Ruby said nothing, but wondered who this Madame Camille was and what she had to do with the position.
A moment later, the trailer's door opened again, revealing a female dromedary camel, tan in color with brown eyes, and dressed in a green latex bodysuit that covered all but her head and her hands and bore the circus's logo.
"Ms. Foxx," Ivan introduced, "this is Madame Camille, our current contortionist. Madame Camille, this is Ruby Foxx, the newest applicant for your position."
The two females shook hands. "Pleased to meet you," the camel offered.
"Likewise. Out of curiosity, why is the circus looking for a new contortionist? Are you retiring?"
"No, Ivan just wants to see if anybody can outdo me. So far, though, nobody's had any luck."
The ringmaster cleared his throat, and Ruby and Camille both turned their attention to him.
"Allow me to explain how this will work, Ms. Foxx. Madame Camille was born with a once-in-a-million birth defect that makes her skeleton especially soft. She'll demonstrate a series of her contortions, and if you can match or outperform her, the position is yours."
Ruby nodded. "Let's go."
Camille grinned. "We'll start with the easy one."
Taking a step back, Camille carefully placed her feet about half a yard apart, then bent down and navigated her head and upper body through her legs. Then she navigated herself back up to an upright position before bending down to touch the ground again.
"Ugh... your turn."
THAT'S what I have to beat? This'll be a cinch!
Ruby stood up in the same position as Camille had started in, then bent down through her legs the same way the camel had... and didn't stop there, but wound herself back upwards and down again to reach Camille's position. Then she bent back up again to wind herself around a fourth time... and a fifth... and a sixth, as her torso stretched and flexed to accommodate. By the time she stopped, she looked almost like a fishing reel.
Camille was speechless. The ringmaster wasn't. "0-1 for Ruby. Let's move on to something tougher."
For the second test, Ivan fetched a wooden board with a series of holes of varying sizes, and handed it to Camille. The camel took a deep breath, chose one hole about the size of a baseball, and began to squeeze her face through it. At first it looked like she wasn't going to make it, but then she oozed through to the other side like clay. Then she managed to squeeze her whole body through the hole, panting a bit at the effort she'd exerted.
The fox smirked, and took the board herself. She looked for the smallest hole, less than a quarter-inch in diameter, and dove into it. Ivan and Camille watched on, the former with relative calmness, the latter in total shock, as Ruby passed effortlessly through the hole. She came out looking like a strand of spaghetti, but popped back into shape a second later.
"Give up yet?"
"We must go through ALL the tests," Ivan insisted. "Fair's fair."
The remainder of the tests went similarly. Camille contorted her arm to an impossible shape; Ruby mimicked that shape, then stretched and looped her arm to make the shape four more times. Camille curled into a small ball; Ruby became a perfect sphere the size of a marble. It was clear that the fox was better at contortion in every way imaginable. Finally the camel just gave up and walked out with a sigh.
"Just a moment, Madame..." Ivan tried to protest, but gave up. "Never mind. We'll do the final test with just you, Ruby."
"Just name it. Anything she can do, I can do better."
The lion set an empty wine bottle on the desk and removed the cork before offering the bottle to Ruby. "Enter this bottle. If you can contain yourself completely within it, you're hired."
Ruby laughed. "That's it? I've already done all that and more!"
"All right, if it'll satisfy you."
The fox set the bottle upright on the floor, took a step back, and dove into it. Her malleable body easily passed the glass neck, and she compressed herself smoothly down to a volume perfectly suitable for the bottle's interior. She filled the bottle up to about the bottom of the neck.
"How's that?" she called up, her voice echoing in a peculiar way through the bottleneck.
"Perfect!" Ivan replied, as he shoved the cork back into place.
Ruby tried to protest, but couldn't manage a word as the lion used some tape to seal the cork in place. She attempted to pressurize and break the bottle by expanding herself, but her soft body was no match for the strong glass.
I-I'VE BEEN TRICKED!
Ivan carried the bottled fox outside the trailer and waved to Camille, who had dropped her sore-loser act and was now gingerly sipping a fruit smoothie by the neighboring trailer.
"You got her, Ive?"
"I got her, Cammy. Nobody upstages my darling and gets away with it. And I think I know what to do with her..."
Together the lion and camel proceeded to the concessions booth, where Ivan shook Ruby until she liquefied, then opened the bottle and poured her into the cotton candy maker. She struggled fruitlessly as the maker heated, churned, and tossed her until she mixed with the cotton candy ingredients already inside before coming out a fluffy mess.
"Cotton candy for two, Cammy?"
"Oh, I'd love it, Ive!"
Camille and Ivan each grabbed and dipped a paper cone, and together they chowed down on Ruby-flavored cotton candy. Interestingly enough, she didn't taste half bad.
Those two are going to PAY for this when I get back on my feet again, the fox-turned-circus-treat mused. If I get back on my feet again.