He felt the excitement rising as he moved through darkness between the wagons keeping the tall figure in the top hat insight. A few times he had lost the line of sight and felt rising panic but then the top hat had reappeared. He had enjoyed the show immensely, he could still picture the acrobats turning somersaults in their bright sequined outfits and the strongman lifting a platform holding three members of the audience above his head. He had never seen anyone that strong including his father who he had thought was the strongest man in the world. The dancing horses were a sheer delight and the elephant had seen his jaw drop to his chin, the clowns had him clutching his sides and he was sure he was going to fall off the chair as he watched on as pies flew and noses were honked. The atmosphere in the big top was intense as the trapeze artists flew high above his head without a safety net and the oohs and ahhs at times drowning out the drum roll. The real the star of the show was the imposing yet jolly figure of the Ring Master, in his black trousers and red jacket complete with top hat. He controlled the show with ease as he teased the the clowns giving all the kids in the a wink to let them in on the joke. He was the most famous Ring Master in the world and the face on all of the jars of 'Big Top' jam and it was him that had launched the competition 10 years ago for any child under 11 to enter. The prize was steeped in lore as no one knew exactly what it was only that it would be life changing, to win all you need to do was guess the secret ingredient but to this day no one had won and the competition. That was why he was here and why he was following the top hat through the darkness so he could find out the secret and change his life forever. He realised that the top hat was no longer in sight, he cursed himself for letting his mind wander and picked up his pace. He was panicking now, how could he have been so stupid this was going to be so easy and now he had blown it. He was about to give up and go back to find his parents when he heard a sound down between two of the wagons and decided to investigate. There was not much room to move and the darkness seemed to close in around him and the prize suddenly was not so important, turning round he bumped into the towering figure of the Ring Master and bouncing off him sat down with a bump. The Ring Master reached out for him shrouded in shadow and as he felt those hands grab him it all went dark. Light returned slowly, bleeding into the edges of his vision as he opened his eyes, he was lying on the floor with his hands tied in front and his ankles tied together. He could see a cauldron resting on flaming logs and above the cauldron a pulley system which had a series of ropes attached terminating in a hook that had been placed through the knots around his ankles. Suddenly he was pitched upside down as he was hoisted over the bubbling cauldron of strawberry Jam. The Ring Master was stood there calmly watching, how had he ever thought this man jolly? looking into those cold black eyes he felt the evil radiating out and flinched causing him to swing slowly. The Ring Master finally spoke only now his voice was soft and sibilant as he said "congratulations on becoming and finding the secret ingredient". He felt himself being lowered to the cauldron and as the heat began to overpower him along with the sickly sweet smell he thought to himself bitterly that the prize was truly life changing.