Clowns

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Based on a dream I had, in which a girl encounters disappointments and horrors during a cross-country trip with her friends.
WARNING: Some gore. Bisexual/lesbian characters. Clowns. If any of that makes you uncomfortable, this probably isn't the story for you.

Submitted: December 13, 2019

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Submitted: December 13, 2019

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Clowns.

Based on a dream.

Dreamt and written by Aia Bunny. 11 December 2019.

“Mandy, can I talk to you?”

We’re sitting on the edge of the luxuriously heated hotel pool; the others are laughing some ways off. We won’t stay for long—in the city, I mean. It’s a trip across the country, and we try to make the most of it. She has chubby cheeks and a cute, round body. Her skin is pale, her hair gold, and I think I really like her. She looks up at me with those pretty blue eyes. “Sure, what is it, Amallah?”

I shift a little farther from her to allow my heart room to pound. My face reddens, and not because of the warm water. “We’ve known each other for a while now…” I’m looking at the surface of the water which undulates silver and blue. It would be indigo in the night if the underwater light and faerie lights around the courtyard didn’t make it sparkle. The waves imitate her eyes. “I really like you. I think I want to know you more intimately.” I look at her, and her expression is unreadable. She just studies me. “Will you be my girlfriend?”

She’s still analyzing me, and for once, I have no idea what her answer will be. She doesn’t smile, doesn’t frown. I begin to lose heart before she says “Okay, let’s be girlfriends.”

I never smiled wider. “Really?” When she nods, still unreadable, I laugh. “Wow—okay! Uh, can I meet you tomorrow for a date?”

“Sure.”

Someone calls her, and I turn around to walk off the pent-up energy I have. I’m smiling all the while I wrap a towel around my waist and step onto the freshly cut lawn. I drink in the scent of saltwater and chlorine and summer night humidity and happiness. I still can’t believe she said yes! She’s so out of my league, but—but! Now we’re officially partners! As if this fun trip couldn’t get better!

My trek slows to a halt at the fence overlooking the gully and, some ways off, hills of green and grape orchards roll into the dark. I sigh, blissfully dreaming, and lean onto the iron fence. I love my friends, this trip, and everything. Almost everything.

My gaze travels, and I spot figures standing on another cliff edge. A lot of people are out here at night playing pool, ping-pong, swimming, or chatting at the bar. But the figures on the other railing look familiar. That’s right. I saw them earlier today when we were in the market place. They had donned clown-like attire, with the ruffle collars and bright polka dots and weird hair. They had smiled at me, but they hadn’t looked away. They were smiling at me now. They were still wearing the clown attire.

They start to back up and talk to each other, whispering. They disappear into the throng of people. Obviously, I tense—that was definitely suspicious behavior if I ever saw. I race back to my group, who shouts my name with humor and accepts me into the conversation. Mandy’s there. She doesn’t look happy. Did she see the clowns?

It's the next day, and we’re walking to a different city. Our transportation has been a mix of trains, boats, bicycles, and walking. This time we’re on foot in throngs of people. I get separated from my group. I walk around, and I spot a plaza of restaurants. I start for one of the restaurants, but I get cut off by a herd of tourists. Slightly frustrated, but mostly desperate to avoid the sea of humans suffocating me, I reach a clearing by a shop. I freeze when the clowns are next to me. I notice their eyes are rimmed with black and red, and it’s not makeup. Their nails are practically talons.

“What do you want?” I ask, trying to sound tough. Be confident, be menacing.

The biggest one—what is he, a humorous godfather/mafia-man?—he lumbers on up and looks down at me. This guy I can tolerate. He might be more dangerous, but at least he’s not mysterious like the never-frowning posse behind him. “We got a job offer for ya.”

“Not interested,” I said, leaning on the wall like I didn’t care.

“It’s to work in our restaurant,” he ignores my stance and hands me a flyer.

I take it, I don’t know why. It pays well—I mean really well. Just some extra labor—heavy plates to carry, kind of a cramped place, and it looks kind of like a doped-up amusement park, but a small one, indoors. Actually, it looks interesting. And man, that pay is good. I could really use that.

“If you’re interested, let us know,” he gives me the address of the place. They sidle off, and I finally find my friends.

I keep the clowns a secret—I don’t want to freak them out. It’s past, anyway. Time to enjoy ourselves in the plaza.

Oh, right—our date!

I finish a conversation with Jake and Jessy and I find Mandy sitting in an outside table under an umbrella. Cindy is there. She’s holding Mandy’s hand. My heart skips, but I give them the benefit of the doubt.

“Hey, Mandy,” I say cheerfully, bouncing to a halt beside them. They give me looks. “Ready for our date?”

“Oh,” Mandy shares a glance with Cindy. “I’m going out with Cindy. So, no.”

I beg your pardon? “But—what about--?” I watch them in disbelief as they get up and walk away, as if I’m inconveniencing them. Anger rises. Really? She could’ve just told me that she didn’t want to date me at first! I sit down, discombobulated, and Jessy finds me. She sits down next to me, her kind brown eyes analyzing me. She looks concerned.

“What’s wrong?” She rubs my back.

“Mandy just broke up with me,” I reply, bending over with elbows on knees. Jessy just consoles me, and I let her.

Afterward, Jessy asks if I’ll be okay, and I tell her I’ll let her know how things go. She says we can hang out for the rest of the trip if I need someone to talk to. I thank her. Then, I go find the clowns.

The big one is ready for me. A cigar bobs between his fingers and he whisks me into the restaurant. The place is crowded—so many people like to eat there! I wonder why? It’s a bunch of rooms, the doorways are oddly shaped, lots of yellows and blacks and reds and smoke—lots of smoke. It smells like roast beef and ham and rosemary. People are laughing and having a good time. It’s busy and fast pace, but I can get used to it. He makes me sign some waiver—I skim over it, says something about something happening if I were to get fired, yaddayadda. Legal stuff. I sign it in cursive, and he runs me through the process. He leads me, very somberly, through orientation. I fall asleep for most of it. I agree to work, and I start my shift the next day.

I told Jessy where I’d be working for the next couple of days. She’s skeptical, tells me she’ll drop by to check on me later. I wonder when my break is.

Later, I tie the yellow apron around my waist, and get to work. The clowns are bigger than normal humans. I’m starting to think their puffy bodies aren’t just tailored fabric. I buzz around, handing out plates full of meat and whatnot. They’re greasy, sloppy, but customers love them. Most are men; I don’t see many women.

I spill a plate, and the big guy—did he grow in size?—sighs but cleans it up and tells me to wait in the back because he wants to talk to me. The other clowns have stopped staring at me. I do as I’m ordered. I grow fidgety in the back kitchen against the wall. I start to feel a tingle down my spine. I check in with another two human workers, and both boys are as skeptical as me. We decide to check the meat grinding room. Unlocking the door, we step through another, ‘employees only’ door, and we slip into a huge safe. Full of meat.

Human meat.

It’s red, squishy, and I blood-splattered. I see an eyeball. Rory sees a cracked femur. Andy screams, and we follow in the freak-out session. Long tubes and tunnels line the upper ends of the three walls surrounding the locked door, on which some people are banging. We run and I phone Jessy—she’s on her way, anyway. She sees a shoot beside the gutter in an alley. I manage to climb up to the shoot just as the clowns bust into the room. I scramble as my coworkers scream beside me, and I here crrrack and sqlch! I scramble through the tunnel. Eyes are bleary. Heart racing. I want to cry.

Jessy finds my hand and pulls me through and onto the street, and we run away. When we reach a courtyard, we stop and pant and I cry and she comforts me. I tell her what happened. She tells me that we’re sticking with the group from now on and that she’ll help me fend off the clowns if they come back. Which they do.

But it was when I had to use the restroom. We’re leaving the city, and I walk out of the restrooms. They clowns are there. The smiling ones are still grinning, but they look mad. They look hungry.

“You signed the waiver,” the big guy growls. He’s definitely bigger now. “We getta’ do with you what we want. And you messed up big, kid.”

“No,” I growl back, and suddenly my nails are sharp, blackened talons far larger than theirs. What did they do to me? They look frightened, and I glare at them. “You leave me alone.”

I rejoin the group, arms locked with Jessy’s and Jake’s. We leave the city, and I never see the clowns again. At least, I hope not.


© Copyright 2020 Aia Bunny. All rights reserved.

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