The circus man had seen them-- the one with the shockingly green eyes and the eerie grin. The one that the circus had left behind. He had seen them in all their fishy, blue glory.
Such things had happened before. There had been times where an ignorant human caught a glimpse of Mab's gills or webbed fingers. Mab wasn't particularly worried about being seen. They had learned that humans were skeptical beings, and no one would believe that that person had actually seen Mab's true nature. But this specific... Just the thought of it sent shivers down their spine.
It had been early morning, hours before the sun rose and any human in their right mind would be safe in their homes. This was the time where Mab most often found themselves in the public pool, relishing in the solitude that the night left them. They had lifted themself from the pool with powerful biceps, only to look directly into the eyes of the ringmaster. He stood there, beyond the chain link fence, his eyes wide yet knowing. The blood drained from their face, and they sat there, balanced on her arms on the edge of the pool. Mab didn't know how long they stared at each other in silence.
"Good morning to you, sir." The ringmaster nodded and tipped his hat politely at them. He continued down the sidewalk, as if nothing had happened.
Mab couldn't forget how he looked at them. It was almost as if he had been expecting their encounter, like he had known of their inhuman form.
Mab arrived at work the next day exhausted and sleep deprived. They hadn't even closed their eyes that night. There were multiple occasions where Mab had found themselves falling asleep at the cash register.
"Hello?" A voice startled them form their half-slumber. A man stood in front of the register. He looked tired, just as Mab was, and every inch of his arms were covered in tattoos. They didn't recognize him, surprisingly, seeming as everyone knew everyone here. A single carton of milk was clasped between his two hands.
"Ah! Hello!" They were suddenly alert. The first customer the store had seen all morning. "Good morning, did you find everything you need?" They reached for the carton of milk.
"I did, thanks." The man gave them a polite grin, but something seemed slightly off about this fellow.
The ringmaster entered the store, and before Mab could speak again, they choked on their words. "That- er, haaaaa..." They coughed as their eyes followed the ringmaster, beyond the mans shoulder. Again, he tipped his hat at them, but no words were exchanged. Mab felt sick to their stomach.
A man stumbled out of a blue winnebago as they walked home, a dazed look plastered across his face. "Are you alright?" They called to him, stopping in their tracks. He didn't hear them "Sir, are you alright?" They repeated, and the man looked up. He was bent over, his arms holding him up from his knees, as if he had just run a marathon.
"Pardon?" He looked up, suddenly alert.
"You look- you looked scared, or dazed or something." Mab shrugged.
"No, I-- that circus guy-- he--" The man seemed out of breath and struggled to complete his sentences. Mab's eyes widened. The ringmaster.
"Wait, that guy? What did he do?" Their tone was now urgent as they rushed over to him. They knew he was up to no good.
The man shook his head. "Nah, never mind. The guys a fuckin' creep." And he left it at that.
Mab continued on their way home.