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 and click here to read chapters 15 and 16.
Elwood was no longer inside the barn. For that he was thankful. But the feeling was fleeting, for only several moments later he realized he was no longer inside of his body.
His consciousness was traveling. He couldn’t see. He couldn’t even feel, but he was cognizant of a vast sense of distance and time passing. Washing over him, through him. This went on for what felt like aeons. Lifetimes. The lifetimes of entire universes.
And then everything stopped.
Somehow this state of stasis was even more dreadful than the nightmare in the barn, than the Nelson brothers, than the endless non-corporeal travel.
Was this death? Had the thing in the barn finally tired of Elwood’s defiance and ended his life?
No. Elwood was not dead. He knew this because even without a body or senses, he could feel… it.
It was still with him. It had brought him here to this outer blackness. To…
A pinpoint of light appeared in the distant darkness. And then Elwood was rushing toward it. It grew impossibly large, impossibly fast and so bright Elwood believed his eyeballs would melt from the sheer brilliance of it until he remembered that he had no eyeballs because he had no body.
And then in the next instant, he hung suspended in space above a planet. It wasn’t like any planet he’d ever seen in school science books or even in science fiction shows on television.
This planet was black, the same black that formed the semi-fleshy body of the entity in the barn. At least that was Elwood’s first impression. As titanic, planet-wide tendrils roiled and whipped, Elwood realized that the actual world was underneath. Brilliant green patterns coursed across the tendrils like huge storms.
Then, after a time, maybe years, maybe centuries or millennia once there was nothing left below, the tendrils unwound and swam through the aether with the grace of some gelatinous sea creature, leaving nothing but crumbled debris in its writhing wake. A life ender. A planet eater.
This is what I am.
The voice was everywhere. It consumed the entire vacuum of space. Elwood would have thought the voice was inside his mind if he’d had a mind to be inside of.
And then Elwood was hovering above another planet. This one much large than the last. This one contained a civilization far more advanced than Earth. Its gaseous oceans glowed a bright pink and enormous artificial formations enveloped the entire world, shifting slowly, each mega-structure a smaller part of a gargantuan whole.
Many space vehicles buzzed from the planet’s surface to various platforms and doorways in the mega-structure. Some flew out beyond the planet on some space voyage unbeknownst to Elwood’s disembodied consciousness.
And there, yes there, above even those monolithic, cyclopean formations was It. The entity. Hungry for a new planet to consume.
The vehicles passed right through its knot of blackness as it writhed out there in invisible silence. Elwood imagined he was able to see what the inhabitants of the planet were not.
The creature, the thing, occupied a dimension beyond real space. Its black tendrils snaking down through the cracks and crevices of the mega-structure, down into the vehicles and even onto the surface of the planet itself.
The tips of the tendrils touched the minds of some of the humanoid creatures busying themselves with various tasks all across the gigantic world.
This is where I live. In the minds. In the darkest corners of their being. This is where I speak to them.
“Like you’re speaking to me now?” Elwood responded, not understanding how he was able to communicate without a mouth, or even a brain for that matter.
Yes, but you, you Elwood, are special. You are one of the chosen.
With that, Elwood’s consciousness drilled down to the planet’s surface where huge iridescent purple forests dominated the landscape and vast oceans of pink gas flowed with deafening waves hundreds of feet tall breaking on artificial energy dams built to keep the noxious fumes out of the impossibly huge cities with buildings that twisted up into spires so tall Elwood was not able to see their tops from this new vantage point.
All manner of alien species busied themselves on the streets. This planet was clearly some kind of intergalactic hub. Some sort of megatropolis. And here, where the entity had plopped Elwood’s disembodied consciousness down was one of its tendrils.
This tendril was attached to the back of the neck of one of the alien beings which inhabited the planet. It seemed that the predominent species was a tall, slender yellowish creature with skinny limbs and large hands and feet. Their heads were covered with thick red fur that travled down their backs.
This was by no means the only species packed onto to the huge sidewalks, scurrying into the buildings and running across the glass-like streets, but there were more “yellows” than any other aliens.
The tendril connected to one such yellow who stood, dejected in an alley jutting off from the main throuroughfare.
Elwood could hear the entity speaking to the yellow through the psychic tendril. He could not decipher the alien language, but whatever the entity was saying was making the yellow more upset. It shuddered and cried, putting its head in its hands, shaking back and forth.
And then, as if coming to terms with its fate, the creature stood upright and pressed a series of buttons on a device attached to its wrist.
Instantly the form of the yellow changed. It was no longer a tall, slender alien, but now was hunched and gnarled. While still bipedal, it now resembled an insectoid porcupine with many spindly limbs jutting off from a shelled carapace. Strangely, there was greenish fluid leaking from decayed fracture points all over its new body.
The bug-thing staggered from out of the alley onto the packed sidewalk.
Mass chaos ensued.
The original inhabitants of this planet were infected with a highly contagious virus brought to the planet by the yellow settlers. The entity was speaking directly to Elwood, narrating the insanity exploding on the streets below.
The crustaceans were sentient, albeit on the low end of the scale, similar to Earth’s primate species. They inhabited large swaths of nutrient and resource rich land near the gaseous coast lines. The yellows tried to systematically exterminate the species to make room for their mega structures as they teraformed the planet to be a natural gas refinement hub of their intergalactic empire.
Only the very poisons they used to eradicate the crustaceans mutated them into creatures like the one you see below. The green fluid leaking from its body is a symptom of a hideous disease that afflicts the bodies of the yellows which causes them slow, violent excruciating deaths.
The crustacean plague nearly wiped out the imported population of the planet and delayed plans for the gas refinery for hundreds of years until they were able to get the plague controlled and eventually eliminated.
The denizens of this planet have not seen a crustacean in nearly three centuries.
As the entity explained the strange history of the giant gas planet to Elwood, a wave of panic spread out over the alien population below. The crowd flared outward, opening like a flower trying to escape the yellow masquerading as a diseased crustacean. As they did this, many citizens were caught unaware, minding their own business, walking down the sidewalk, suddenly finding themselves trampled and crushed under a frothing mob.
Within seconds the panic reached the outer edges of the first city block. Aliens screeched and screamed, sending the message across thousands about the crustacean sighting. Waves of creatures stomped their fellow pedestrians and ran into the streets causing the blue-energy powered hover vehicles to smash into one another and mow down still more pedestrians.
In less than a minute blood flowed freely across the smooth glass streets and howls of pain and panic rang out for miles.
This, the entity explained, is the creature the people on this planet fear the most. It is the one thing that can illicit a reaction of panic and terror any time, anywhere in the world. This is the face of true fear.
As the yellow aliens and the other species ran, stomped, flailed and died all around the crustacean, a small group of brave aliens circled the thing. They each held small metallic objects in their hands. Elwood reasoned that these aliens were the police, or what passed for police on the planet.
Before any of the aliens could fire their weapons, the tendril attached to the back of the crustacean’s head, seemingly visible only to Elwood from his disembodied, omnipotent point of view, sprouted many protrusions out of the body of the crustacean the same way it had done with the clown girl’s body back on Earth.
Elwood was beginning to understand why he was being shown this scene.
The tentacle limbs darted out, skewering, slashing and mutilating the aliens with much the same precision and violent sadism as they had the Nelson brothers.
As these aliens lay dying, translucent tubers emerged from the tendrils sucking up a weird glowing energy that wafted off of the murdered bodies like steam from a pot of hot stew.
More tubers sprang forth from the larger tendril attached to the crustacean’s head and began to vacuum up the glowing energies rising up from the bodies of the trampled and mangled corpses strewn throughout the city block.
Feeding, Elwood reasoned. The entity fed off the suffering and dying life energies of its victims.
As the diseased crustacean loped off, chasing the crowd of thousands, causing much more chaos and mayhem, Elwood’s consciousness floated upward as the entity changed his perspective once more.
Now he was high enough that he could see thousands and thousands of tendrils snaking down onto the planet’s surface, attached to other alien creatures wreaking similar havoc on a global scale. Even the citizens working on the vast refinery scaffolding that encased and orbited the planet were not immune to the entity’s puppet strings.
Space craft smashed into mega structures, causing massive explosions resulting in giant plumes of alien life energy to seep out into space, only to be sucked up by endless tubers snaking from the tendrils attached to the entity’s invisible body hovering, looming, leering over the impossible scene.
Elwood was witnessing the planet’s death. A helpless specter. A paralyzed god. Seeing all, able to affect none of it.
Time stretched onward, days, weeks, months, the chaos never abating. The entity growing larger and stronger with each terrified, pain-filled death until virtually the only life left alive on the planet, were the creatures whom the entity had used to instigate the world-wide genocide.
Elwood’s perspective was rushed back down to the surface. By this time, he’d become accustomed to being hurtled about like he was some film camera on an expensive Hollywood film set.
He was back in the city square. Back with the original crustacean who had started all of the bloodshed.
The tendril attached to its head pulled away and slithered back up into space.
The crustacean was surrounded by the dead. Heaps of bodies as far as the eye could see. Rivers of blood flowed so deep the ornate glass streets were no longer visible.
There, on top of it all, the crustacean pressed several buttons on its wrist. The hologram disappeared. The yellow alien hung its head, exhausted.
It knelt there, head in hands and sobbed.
Elwood imagined that whatever awful truths the entity had whispered into its ear were as bad or worse than the ones it had made Elwood endure back on earth in the barn as it impersonated his dead uncle.
Before he’s able to follow this thought through, the yellow alien begins to change again. But this time, it did not morph with the aid of its holographic technology.
It screamed in agony as its limbs began to fuse to its sides and its whole body began to stretch upward toward the sky.
Great rips and gashes tore open along its length and opened wide. There, inside them, were glowing green eyes. It’s skin turned from vibrant yellow to the deep, empty yawning black that Elwood could now only associate with dread.
In seconds, the yellow alien was no more. In its place rose a long tentacle spiraling up into space to meet with the host body. Across the planet, thousands of other tentacles did the same.
They are the chosen, Elwood. The entity cooed, like an adoring father. They are my children. They will live forever through me because of their duty and sacrifice. They remain within me. They ARE me. We are one in the same.
As you shall be.
And then Elwood was back inside the barn. Back in front of dead uncle Jeff.
And he knew what he had to do.
Be back here next Saturday, November 25th, for chapter 19!