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 and click here to read chapters 12 thru 14.
“Why won’t you kill him, Elwood?”
Whatever nerve Elwood possessed before his dead uncle spoke was obliterated in that moment.
It wasn’t the balloon-like lips parting, cracking and bleeding that shattered his wits. It wasn’t even the frog-sized purple and blue tongue poking out from behind the teeth that did it.
It was the voice.
Uncle Jeff’s vocal chords must have been ruined when the rope broke his neck as he fell away from the loft railing because the voice that escaped those ruined lips was not the deep, jovial voice of Elwood’s most cherished relative.
It was the clown girl’s voice. Except it wasn’t that either. Not exactly. It was controlling Jeff’s shredded vocal chords the way it was controlling the girl’s.
“I don’t want to kill,” Elwood said, finally, trying his best not to make eye contact with the… thing hanging over him like some dead effigy of of his normal life. “I’m not a killer.” He said the last part as much to himself as to the talking corpse of his dead uncle, as if saying it out loud would make him believe it.
The truth was, he DID want to kill Mark Nelson. He wanted it badly. More than anything he’d ever wanted in his life. It was only upon his post-coital sobering that he began to have doubts.
Here, now, inside his worst memory, he was having trouble remembering what had been so exciting about the prospect of murder. Almost like he’d been possessed by another entity. An entity he’d shot out of his cock along with his load all over the clown girl’s tits.
Elwood’s apparent defiance evoked unsettling laughter from dead uncle Jeff. The corpse threw its head back and cackled.
“Do you really believe any of those people out there care about you? Do you think your parents would have missed you if Mark and his brothers had slaughtered you and buried your body in the woods?”
Elwood didn’t answer. He knew the truth without Jeff having to state it. But the corpse did anyway.
“They hate you, Elwood. The people who brought you into this world see you as nothing but a burden. Worse, they blame you, rightfully, for Jake’s accident and for my suicide.”
Tears flooded Elwood’s eyes as his heart sank.
“Do you want to know what they secretly think but never say aloud to one another?”
Elwood knew the answer. It was palpable in the air at his home. Every time he caught his mother’s passing glance when he walked through a room. Or the way his father turned his back to Elwood any time they were in close proximity.
“They wish I’d never been born,” he said, choking back a sob.
“That’s right. The people in this world who should love you the most wish you’d never existed. Then Jake would be normal. Then I’d still be alive.”
“Stop!” Elwood screamed, shaking his head. “Just stop it!”
Anxiety pulsed through him as he cried. He shook all over. He was maybe only moments away from a complete mental breakdown. Not because the corpse of his uncle spoke lies. But because he spoke the truth.
“Then why be afraid of killing Mark Nelson? Does he not deserve it for what he did to you in his room? Or what he did to you for years after in the school yard? He has done nothing to earn your compassion, Elwood. You mean nothing. You’re barely human. Join us. Finish him.”
Elwood winced at the accusation. Barely human. His whole life he’d felt less than human. Like a waste of air. Like a burden on gravity.
Why was he hesitating? Why wouldn’t he take the final step, cross over into the corruption? Embrace the darkness that was already projected onto him even by those bound by blood to love him?
It wasn’t some sense of moral obligation to humanity. A creep like Elwood was not fooled by such notions of ethical absolutism.
It certainly wasn’t an affection or empathy toward Mark Nelson. Elwood wanted him to die. Wanted him to die slowly and painfully like his psychotic brothers.
No, it was something much more subtle that kept Elwood from giving himself over to the weird entity that trapped him inside his nightmare.
It was the look in the clown girl’s eyes. Her real eyes, human eyes.
Before Elwood could think on it further, the corpse of his uncle Jeff lifted up, defying gravity, causing the rope around its neck to go slack for a moment before the bloated, wretched thing soard forward and downward, adding impossible length to the rope until it hovered just in front of Elwood’s face.
Elwood leaped backward in fright, but he knew there was nowhere to go. Indeed, a glance behind him showed that even the doors of the barn were being devoured by the slow creep of the black oblivion, consuming Elwood’s nightmare with a maddeningly slow pace.
Facing the distorted features of dead uncle Jeff pushed Elwood even closer to the brink of mental exhaustion.
At this distance, Elwood was able to see the gouges across Jeff’s fluid-filled neck cavity where he’d reached up and tried to claw himself free of the noose after he’d dived from the loft railing.
This echo of memory, this shame nightmare Elwood was trapped inside of did not spare his other senses either. He could smell the rancid shit and gore from where Jeff’s bowels had emptied into his pants, down his legs and onto the barn floor. Could smell the coppery congealed blood violently caked all across the features of the man Elwood had considered the only person who truly cared about him.
“You will join us or you will die,” the corpse hissed.
“I know that,” Elwood said, feeling like he was on the verge of emptying his own bowels had it not been for the fact that Mark had pretty much rendered that an impossibility at least for a few days while his guts healed. “I’m ready.”
“Ready to kill?” the corpse asked, cocking its melon-like head.
“Ready to die.”
The corpse made an inhuman noise, clearly frustrated at Elwood’s defiance.
A defiance which surprised even Elwood himself. He figured, with what little fissure of sanity he yet possessed, that he simply had nothing left to lose. Putting him here, confronting the very worst possible moment of his life had clearly been meant as a way to weaken Elwood’s constitution. To test his mettle.
This had succeeded greatly. Maybe too greatly, because now, with nothing to live for and nothing left to lose, grinning with a renewed sense of purpose, Elwood’s fear and anxiety began to melt away.
He was no longer fearful of dead uncle Jeff, nor of whatever otherworldly entity that possessed the memory of him.
This entity must have sensed Elwood’s growing bravery because just as Elwood found his courage, the corpse of Jeff started to come apart. Bits of flesh, hair and bone began to swim out from the body as though it were submerged underwater.
At the cracks in the seams where this detritus escaped, that now all too familiar black matter appeared pulsing with its rows of green eyes.
Within another moment, Jeff’s body was hovering again, but all across its perimeter like some unholy outline was the creature inhabiting it, like a ventriloquist controlling a dummy.
Tendrils squirmed out from burst gaseous sacs sending waves of noxious fumes into the air as Jeff’s body continued to rise.
His face which Elwood thought could not become more hideous split down the front, the two halves falling away like broken eggs, revealing the triangle face of the thing that had set all of tonight’s fantastic and horrible events into motion.
It menaced Elwood, soaring above still hanging on to uncle Jeff’s ragged corpse like a locust clinging to its shed skin.
“Enough games, child,” the thing said, no longer bothering to use the mock voice of uncle Jeff. Its own synthetic cadence booming throughout the barn. “You will see.”
The thing snaked a tendril down from the rafters of the barn where it hovered and before Elwood could act, stabbed the sharp end of the tentacle directly into Elwood’s forehead.
“And you will obey.”
Be back here next Saturday, November 18th, for chapter 17!