Ruby’s barking became suddenly louder and more intense.
Elwood was seconds away from wetting himself. “Stop! Please stop!” he pleaded, hanging on to the tree trunk behind him with one hand, as though it would somehow grant him protection from the huge jaws of the yapping beast.
She inched closer and closer, daring to bite harder and harder. But just as she bit into the flesh of Elwood’s leg for the first time, she stopped.
She left go of Elwood and backed off. Her head darted to the right and she stopped growling.
Elwood chanced a glance in the direction Ruby was looking, fully expecting to see Mark standing there in his underwear.
But it wasn’t Mark. It was a clown. A short, very skinny girl—in fact—dressed as a clown.
Her hair was orange, huge and curly, obviously a wig. Her face was painted stark white with tall black triangles above her eyes and a red nose. Her mouth was also painted red, but jutting out above and below her lips were jagged pieces of what looked like metal teeth.
The red paint, which looked hastily smeared on her face, extended down onto her bare chest, which was ample and full for a girl of such diminutive size, and also painted white except for her thick, hard nipples which were also smeared red. She wore only the tiniest pair of red shorts covering an unusually plump and round buttocks for someone of her slight frame, and skin-tight leggings with stripes that alternated between black and red. The whole skimpy outfit ended with a pair of big floppy red clown shoes similar to those Elwood wore.
She stood, all five feet of her, completely still. Her eyes were hidden behind the black and red smears on her face and the orange wig that hung in front of her features.
Elwood gawked at the clown girl. Not in a sexual fashion, however—h e was just as unfazed sexually by women as he was by men—but rather because of the way she was dressed in the cool weather.
Ruby’s pants produced small bursts of white breath against the cool night air and yet the clown girl stood there, basically naked and produced neither breath nor shiver.
And then Ruby barked. Loudly, just once. It was a bark of surprise. She took several tentative steps toward the mysterious figure that had seemingly appeared out of nowhere.
The clown girl didn’t flinch.
Since Elwood couldn’t see her eyes, it was hard to tell exactly what she was looking at. Her head was slumped forward, almost as if she was asleep.
Ruby barked again, this time with more authority.
Elwood relaxed. With Ruby’s attention off of him, he was able to collect his thoughts and release his death-grip on the tree trunk.
“It’s my asshole neighbor’s dog,” he said. His voice sounded ridiculous inside of his clown mask. He wished he’d have done scary face paint like the clown girl. Her outfit only made him feel like that much more of a loser for dressing and acting the way he did. “He’ll probably come looking for her soon,” Elwood finished, meekly.
The clown girl’s face snapped up, meeting Elwood’s gaze for the first time. Or, more truthfully, her face was in its downward position one moment, and then as Elwood spoke to her, she was suddenly facing him. Even though he was looking directly at her, he hadn’t actually seen her face… move.
The action sent a chill down Elwood’s spine. As though, instinctively, he knew somewhere deep inside himself that human bodies weren’t made to move that fast.
Ruby seemed to know it, too. Just as fast, her hackles went up, her head went low and she resumed her frantic, high pitched barking.
Foam launched into the air while Ruby’s jaws slammed open and shut as she barked and barked.
The clown’s face locked back into its former position facing Ruby. That same non-motion made Elwood sick to his stomach. She was standing just feet from him. It wasn’t a trick of the light, or the cold somehow messing with his vision.
And that’s when it happened.
Ruby lunged, hurling her entire hundred and twenty pounds directly into the face of the petite clown girl.
Elwood cringed, expecting the large dog to knock the painted girl down and maul her. He lurched forward, somehow finding his moxie, ready to pull the animal off the defenseless girl.
But Ruby didn’t knock the clown down. That’s not what happened at all.
Ruby jumped up, Elwood stepped forward, and in the next moment, the clown girl was holding Ruby by the throat. The dog’s hind legs flailed and scraped at the ground, trying to find footing as the clown girl held her fast, causing Ruby to yelp and make choking noises, unable to breathe.
This act, just as awful and preternatural as the clown girl’s last movement made Elwood weak in his knees. He stopped in his tracks, watching in slack-jawed awe as the clown defied all sense of physics, handling the dog who was at least a quarter heavier than the girl as though the canine was nothing more than a child’s toy.
But that’s not the weird part.
The weird part was when the clown girl reached up with her free hand and peeled her face off.
Not her makeup. No, her actual face.
She slid her red paint stained fingertips up under the skin of her throat and pulled the skin up and over her head like it was nothing more than a latex mask.
Elwood felt his extremities go numb when he saw what was underneath.
The girl’s clown painted face wasn’t a mask, not the kind that covered another face. What was underneath could not by any definition be considered human.
Its color was the deepest most all consuming black Elwood had ever seen. It was as if it was so dense, it sucked the color out of everything around it. The colors next to it seemed to dull and mute compared to that blackness. Like an absence of space. A black hole for a head.
Its shape was vaguely triangular but it came to no points. It was thick at the base of the neck where it met the painted skin of the clown girl’s torso and then came up to a tapered end. Like a tear drop bent slightly to the left.
All across this blackness though, moved glowing green eyes. The eyes sat at angles but formed perfectly straight lines, all moving across the blackness in the same rippling pattern together, as if they existed on the same axis.
But what made Elwood piss his pants was the sound that emanated from the triangular head full of shifting green eye patterns.
It was as though he stood next to a electric grid. The low hum of millions of volts of electricity mingled with a tittering sound that resembled the rubbing of insect wings.
Elwood felt the warm gush travel down the inside of his over-sized clown pants and into his shoes, but he was unable to move from the spot as the thing that had pretended to be a clown pulled Ruby close and touched her jerking, yelping snout to that all consuming blackness it had for a head before casting the dog to the ground like so much crumpled garbage.
Elwood stared in horror as Ruby convulsed, both urinating and defecating on herself as her mouth foamed with bile and saliva. Her eyes rolled in the back of her head and her tongue lolled out of the side of her mouth.
Somehow Elwood found his legs. He jerked and then moved backward slowly. His breath came in hitched pulls, like hiccups only made of terror. His eyes never left the dying dog as he backed away, somehow reasoning that if he didn’t move quickly, the clownish thing wouldn’t get him.
He couldn’t breathe. Even the hitched hiccup-like gasps weren’t enough. He had to get out of the stupid clown costume. He had to breathe. With fumbling rubber hands, he yanked the clown face up over his own and took in long, deep pulls of air.
“What the fuck did you do to my dog, faggot?”
Elwood choked. He held his breath. Mark.
He slowly turned around. The feeling of dread growing with each second that ticked by.
“Holy fuck,” Mark said as Elwood fully turned to face him. “Elwood?”
The redneck bully was fully clothed now. He must have turned around and gone back to put clothes on. It made sense. With Ruby out here barking her head off, Mark had no need to hurry. He could take all the time he needed to get ready. It was like hunting game.
But, Elwood observed with watering eyes and trembling lips, his clothes were not all Mark had retrieved.
In his hand was a big, old pickle jar. It was stained all up so bad, the contents inside couldn’t be seen. But Elwood didn’t have to see them. He knew damn well what was inside that pickle jar. And now it was full to the brim.
“I should have known it would be your dumb fucking ass out here walking around like a faggot ass clown.”
With that, Mark swung the jar and smashed Elwood across the face. As the world kaleidoscope into a dozen different colors and consciousness faded, Elwood thought this as he crashed to the ground:
At least the jar didn’t break.
Be back here next Saturday, September 30th, for chapter 4!