Cyrus Fears was a young child when he became a victim of the extreme violence and tragedy that was the civil war. His father was a prominent Confederate general and his mother a war nurse. As an only child Cyrus spent much of his adolescence assisting his mother in the field. Cyrus was surrounded by the atrocities of war at a very young age. The boy and his family were located in Texas deep in the heart of the Confederacy. There was news that the Union Army could be planning an ambush on Confederate sympathizers in Missouri so the general was called into action.
After many hours of travel, the family finally arrived at a small rail town west of the Mississippi called Wright City. This was their destination. The family was only in town a day before the Union Army launched a raid. The town was burned to the ground and Cyrus’ father was brutally murdered in front of him. To make matters worse, his mother was dragged away never to be seen again. Cyrus, still a small boy, was orphaned and his life was left in turmoil.
When the dust settled and the smoke cleared, young Cyrus wandered the village broken and alone. The traumatic events of that day would haunt him for the rest of his life. He soon began to suffer from a debilitating phobic anxiety that wrecked him with fear. Cyrus’ luck would change when a renowned traveling war physician, called in to tend the wounded, stumbled upon the young orphan and took him in as his own. The distraught young boy took to the good doctor and began to shadow him day and night.
Cyrus was an intelligent young man and absorbed much of what he saw in the operating tents. As a young man, he began to assist in surgeries and expound on his knowledge of medicine and human physiology. Cyrus decided medicine would be his life’s work and committed himself to becoming the best physician he could be. Cyrus was determined to help others, as he had been helped. Maybe someday, he would win the fight against the demons in his head.
Cyrus became a successful physician and worked well alongside his adopted father but knew he had a greater calling. It was near the turn of the century when Dr. Cyrus Fears saw his first traveling circus and medicine show. Determined to step out of the shadow of his adopted father and in an effort make a name for himself, Cyrus left the gore of the battlefield tents to join the circus’ medical staff. It was not long before Dr. Fears was the lead physician assisting performers with various ailments from broken bones to herniated muscles. Behind the scenes Dr. Fears worked relentlessly to create an elixir that would cure him of the fear that plagued his mind.
The circus proved to be more than just an occupation for the doctor. The camp had a culture and atmosphere that Cyrus found very comforting. It was within the small circus community that the doctor would find his one true love (other than medicine). Her name was Nora. She was a beautiful trapeze artist and she was the wife of the circus strongman Magnus. Nora had been forced into marriage by her parents who believed circus performers should marry each other to keep the bloodlines rich. Nora thus existed in a loveless relationship with her husband and was subjected to verbal and physical abuse from the brutish strongman.
It was not long before Nora and Cyrus began to realize they had feelings for each other. They were soon deeply immersed in the throes of passion. One night during a secret rendezvous, Nora and Cyrus were caught by the burly strongman in the act of love making. Infuriated, Magnus beat her nearly to death while Cyrus watched helplessly, paralyzed by fear. What the strongman didn’t know was that she was three months pregnant.
After the attack, Magnus stormed out and left Nora in a bloody heap on the floor, paying no attention to Cyrus cowering in the corner. Once they were alone again, Dr. Cyrus Fears thoroughly and compassionately tended to Nora and her wounds. He soon discovered the secret she had been hiding. Though not dead, the fetus was surely damaged in the attack. Nora was adamant about continuing with the pregnancy. Dr. Fears swore revenge on Magnus and would have it…in time.
One night, while the strongman was carrying bags of flour to the kitchen for the cooking staff, Dr. Fears crept into the kitchen behind the large man and positioned himself for an ambush. On the stove was a pot of boiling water. When the hulking man turned his back Dr. Fears pounced on the giant from behind and held a rag of chloroform to his face. As the brute lost strength, and eventually consciousness, Dr. Fears pushed the man’s face into the pot of boiling water holding it submerged until the flesh began to separate from the bone like wet tissue paper. Chunks of face meat and blood began to rise to the surface as the delicate organs within the man’s cranium began to cook and ooze from his orifices.
The doctor was so enraged that he didn’t realize he was also boiling the flesh from his own hands. He would have to wear gloves to hide his disfigurement for the rest of his life.
Indifferent to his own injuries, Dr. Fears felt better than he had in his whole life. For the briefest of moments, his fear was gone. It was then that Dr. Fears realized his potential for extreme violence and felt empowered by his ability to commit such a brutally heinous homicide. The irony for Dr. Fears was that he had spent his career saving others, but it was in that moment that he took a life that he felt most alive.
Dr. Fears dragged the lifeless body of the strongman back to his laboratory where he systematically dissected the body. He spent weeks probing the brain of the fallen giant searching for the elusive ingredient that would help him formulate his elixir of fear. It was in this time period that Dr. Fears was able to isolate a hormone in the brain called oxytocin. This hormone was responsible for retarding the fear response mechanism deep within the amygdala of the brain. Oxytocin would soon become the key ingredient to Dr. Fears’ fear elixir. The side effect of this hormone was unknown but is thought to create unbalanced, maniacal behavior as well as aphobia (the complete lack of fear). The discovery of oxytocin and its effect on the mind was the first step down the dark path that would engulf Dr. Fears.
A couple days after the attack, Dr. Fears reported to the circus community that he had witnessed Magnus leaving camp with a bag of his belongings late the previous evening. They could only presume that it was a result of the shame Magnus felt for the attack on Nora and her unborn child. No one went looking for Magnus after that, not that they would have found anything if they had. Once the experimentation with Magnus was complete, Dr. Fears disintegrated the bones and teeth in a vat of hydrochloric acid and filleted the muscle tissue.
He packed the meat in salts and prepared it for consumption. That week the carnies had the (self-proclaimed) best batch of chili they had ever had.
Locked away in his lab, Dr. Fears was teetering on the verge of insanity. Dr. Fears felt borderline invincible and could only concern himself with how he was going to get more of the fear elixir hormone. He decided he would call the concoction, “Phobius”. He began to make plans for his future…a future with no fear and a new family.
In the meantime, Nora continued to grow larger with her pregnancy and in the wake of the strongman’s apparent “abandonment” of the circus, Dr. Fears and Nora made their union public. Dr. Fears would care for Nora throughout the pregnancy though he feared that there would be complications as a result of the relentless beating she took in her earlier trimester. Once in labor Dr. Fears confirmed what they had suspected all along. Nora gave birth to a large and disfigured Ezekiel or “Ziek” as they would call him. In doing so, she sacrificed her own life for the life of her new son. Dr. Fears was devastated and plunged deeper into the realm of madness.
Ziek was grotesquely disfigured and barely alive when he was born. This was most likely a result of the trauma Nora suffered while pregnant. Dr. Fears did everything in his power to keep the boy alive and succeeded, but it came at a cost. After multiple surgeries and experimental procedures, Ziek looked more machine than human. He wore a mask with hoses and gadgets that were reminiscent of a comic book character. Despite his disfigurement Ziek grew to be a mountain of a man and Dr. Fears raised him as if he were his own. In the carnival atmosphere Ziek’s uniqueness was accepted and embraced. Dr. Fears would use Ziek’s strength and menacing figure to intimidate and bend people to his will. Ziek would assist the good doctor in locating and extracting the hormone used to treat his phobic anxieties.
Dr. Fears continued to explore and satisfy his need for the Phobius elixir. He even went so far, in his madness, as to operate on himself, exposing his brain and spinal cord so that he could apply the drug directly to his nerve tissue. He would procure the hormone by luring unsuspecting carnival patrons into the depths of his compound. Once inside he and Ziek would perform experiments on the victims in an attempt to perfect the Phobius formula. Those that lived became part of the doctor’s showcase, hidden away, trapped in a lucid nightmare of terror plagued by their darkest fears. Dr. Fears was truly crating his own grotesque freak show. Those that died became next week’s dinner (love that chili).
Dr. Fears became well respected (and feared) within the circus community and eventually began to run the show; literally and figuratively.
The doctor changed the name of the show to Phobius which paralleled the name of his secret elixir and gave everyone a constant reminder of what could happen if they went against Ziek or the doctor. With Dr. Fears’ smarts and Ziek’s strong arm tactics they assembled a crew of carnie minions that would do anything for the good doctor (or else). Eventually Dr. Fears grew a small empire and the Phobius Circus became world renowned for their extreme freakishness and rare oddities.
Eventually Dr. Fears and his twisted carnival empire made its way back to Wright City to set up shop…permanently! Dr. Fears’ attraction still “operates” near the rail in Wright City. Beyond the façade of the Phobius Circus tents you can hear the pathetic screams of the countless victims that still reside there. On display is Dr. Fears’ collection of freaks, results of his experimentation and twisted curiosity. If you can stomach the derangement of his grotesque creations you may get a glimpse of his terrifying abode. Or better yet, take a tour! It’s within those walls that the most unfortunate of Phobius patrons become part of Dr. Fears’ elixir. If that weren’t enough, somewhere inside, Ziek lurks, searching for victims to spice up the next batch of Phobius chili!