SHE WAS ONLY A CLOWN is a special serialized novella presented in weekly installments every Saturday. Click here to read chapter 1, click here to read chapter 2, click here to read chapter 3, click here to read chapter 4, click here to read chapter 5, click here to read chapters 6 an 7, click here to read chapters 8 and 9, click here to read chapters 10 and 11, click here to read chapters 12 thru 14, click here to read chapters 15 and 16, click here to read chapters 17 and 18, click here to read chapters 19 thru 21, click here to read chapters 22 and 23, click here to read chapters 24 and 25, click here to read chapters 26 and 27, click here to read chapters 28 and 29, click here to read chapters 30 thru 32 and click here to read chapters 33 and 34.
“You were right. We’re not really here,” Elwood’s head said.
Kiana stood, eyes wide, queer look on her face. “Huh?”
Elwood’s arms crawled over to his torso and popped themselves back on as though they were toy soldier limbs. He grabbed his head and set it on his neck before climbing back onto his lower body. Then he stood, bloody and crooked, but whole.
“This is a projection. This room. This nightmare, Mandee, us. The whole thing is just a psychic manifestation.”
The Mandee beast roared again and swiped its claws at Elwood but he casually ducked out of the way and walked back to where Kiana stood as though dodging nothing more than an annoying wasp.
“Come on. We’ve got to go,” he said, grabbing his female companion by the hand.
“W-what about that?” she said, pointing her ax at the beast looming above them.
Black spikes erupted from Mandee’s exposed flesh. Whip like tendrils emerged from her eye sockets. It was doing its best to look as menacing and terrifying as possible.
Elwood was unfazed.
“Remember when you said you turned the ice pick on your own face but couldn’t feel anything? It got me thinking. This thing, this alien was able to show me whole other worlds and I felt like I was really there. It made me re-live the worst moment of my life, the suicide of my uncle that I caused. But how could I be in all of those places when I’m really standing outside in the woods? How could you really be here when you’re out there with me? No, none of this is real. Watch.”
With that, Elwood faced the towering horror blocking his path. “If it can make itself big and scary and do all of these horrible things to us, why can’t we do horrible things right back?”
One of the Mandee-thing’s huge hands slashed out, meaning to decapitate Elwood all over again but Elwood effortlessly side-stepped the swing with preternatural speed. He grabbed hold of it and concentrated. After several seconds the Mandee-beast screamed in pain and smoke rose from the wrist of the huge claw as Elwood’s hand began to glow red. The claw caught fire and melted off at the wrist, falling to the floor, smoldering. The Mandee-beast recoiled the huge arm. Elwood looked back at Kiana and smirked. “That’s what I thought.”
She watched him, shocked at his newfound abilities. Then she saw the tendrils in Mandee’s eyes dart out like striking snakes toward him. “Elwood!”
Before he could react, the tendrils wound around his arms, pinning them to his sides. The vaginal tongue slimed up his leg and then slowly coiled around his neck, choking off his air supply.
But Elwood only struggled for a moment. He opened his mouth. His teeth elongated and became huge shark-like fangs. He leaned over and effortlessly bit through the eye-tendrils and the vagina-tongue in one enormous bite.
“You are no one! You are nothing!” the beast said from a new mouth grown in place of its severed hand on the mutilated wrist of its breast-arm. “What do you hope to accomplish, mortal? Swine? I am forever. I am everything! I am everywhere!”
“C’mon, let’s get outta here,” Elwood said, his voice distorted from the size of his mouth and huge fangs. Ignoring the twisted monster screaming at him, he turned back to face Kiana. “We’ve got work to do.”
Kiana shook her head. “I-I Don’t think I should leave.”
Elwood looked on, astonished. “What are you saying? You just asked me to rescue you. I AM rescuing you! We have to leave now before it’s too late! It doesn’t really know we’re here yet. I’ve felt its true gaze. This monster it created from Mandee’s body is like scratching an itch. Unconscious. Just an automatic response to me invading your nightmare. But if it devotes any more of its attention to us, it will trap us inside your nightmare forever!”
“I can’t,” Mandee whimpered. “Just leave me. I deserve this. There ain’t no good in me. I ain’t good at all.”
The Mandee-beast cackled behind them. “She’s not like you, Elwood,” it said, green blood oozing from its new wrist-mouth. “Not as dense, stupid. She knows her place! Knows she belongs to me! I underestimated how… hopeful you were. I would never have probed your mind and folded you into my multitude if I’d known there lay such a spark of defiance inside you still. It tastes… rotten.”
Elwood grunted in frustration, finally giving in to the beast’s taunts. He turned, confronting the writhing corpse and all its awful appendages.
Screaming, he ran toward the beast. As he did so, his arms split in two and each of his now four hands elongated to sword-like points. He charged headlong into the claws, mouths and whipping tendrils, flailing and chopping, lobbing off hunks of monster flesh in a black and green blur until the Mandee-thing lay in ruin, just chunks of twitching meat.
“It’s right, Elwood. Just go. Why’d you even come here? I’m all bad news.”
“Stop it!” Elwood screamed. “We’re going now!”
Kiana wasn’t having it. As Elwood moved forward to compel her, she took a step back, shaking her head.
And then the twitching pieces of meat started to laugh. Each bloody bit grew a mouth, tittering and jeering in unison. “She will be your end, Elwood. Your undoing. Trust in her and you shall taste bitter defeat as sure as sunshine.”
“You’re better off without me,” Kiana added. “Thank you for trying but… I’m not your hero.”
“She’s not your hero, Elwoooooood!” the chunks mocked, falling into more mean-spirited laughter.
Elwood shook his head. “I will not leave without you. I–”
THERE YOU ARE
The voice of the entity shattered the windows in the torture room revealing the yawning eternal blackness outside Kiana’s nightmare. The window frame distorted and began to shrink. The walls shook and contracted, knocking the many murder devices to the floor. Mandee’s death mattress was pushed toward the center of the room as the whole nightmare began to come apart.
“Get outta here!” Kiana screamed, terror in her eyes as she realized they’d been found. “Go kill this motherfucker!”
Elwood raised all four of his sword arms and leaped at Kiana. “Not without you!”
The blades met Kiana’s neck and separated her head from her body cleanly. Her arms flailed and twitched in shock as blood spurted from her neck, but before her head could hit the floor, Elwood’s arms fused and his hands returned to normal, catching it. He cradled the head and made his way toward the door, ignoring the cacophony of laughter and jilted mockery coming from the mounds of flesh and gore.
Kiana’s head looked back at her body in horror as it collapsed to the floor and was quickly crushed under the contracting walls. “I swear I’m no good for you, Elwood! Why would you trust a psycho killer like me? Why aren’t you afraid I’ll just kill you, too?”
Elwood stepped over the laughing mouths and stood in front of the churning chaos as the door frame squeezed smaller and smaller by the second.
“Because,” he said, smiling as he leaped into the blackness. “I’m already dead.”
Be Back here next week for chapter 36!