Happy Halloween, everyone.
From Chapter Seven: "An Infestation of Clowns"
The bells hanging from the lobby door jingled when I pushed it open. I blinked in the dim light.
I was surrounded by them. The clowns.
To say that there were “a lot” of them doesn’t quite capture it. While it would be numerically accurate to say the lobby contained over 600 clown dolls, this would also fail to properly capture the horror of the place. Infestation would be a good word. The lobby was infested with clowns.
The first one to greet me was an enormous, shiny Ronald McDonald statue just inside the door. His faded, glazed eyes stared at me inscrutably, his red mouth curled into a smile. He held up a white gloved hand.
I walked past Ronald and saw hundreds of his clown brothers staring down at me from all sides. Stacked on the shelves, dangling from the ceiling, arranged on the floor. Our name is Legion, for we are many, they seemed to say.
Porcelain figurines with delicate features. Plush dolls with rainbow hair. A sad “hobo clown” with a five o’clock shadow. A horned clown face with a handkerchief body, dangling from a nail on the shelf. Grotesque features, deformed hands and feet, mocking grins.
The receptionist from the previous night stood behind the desk, chatting on the phone. How can she remain so calm, I thought, when surrounded by these creatures?
A plastic cage on the desk contained a quintessential “evil clown” doll—red eyes, fangs, claws. This one didn’t even bother me. I was much more disturbed by the clowns with a sly, cocky grin on their face. An evil-looking clown just makes me think of cheap, B-horror films. The quiet, smug grin, however, can only mean one thing: This clown is real, and he thinks about murder all day long.
The receptionist acknowledged my presence with a nod and continued her phone conversation. I stared up at the signed clown photographs behind the desk. One black-and-white clown grinned psychotically, hair disheveled, eyes promising violence and chaos. I took a few steps backwards and bumped into something. It creaked. I turned.
A high, girlish shriek escaped my throat.
I had bumped into a rocking chair containing the ugliest mannequin I had ever seen. He wore a sheen fabric costume of rainbow stripes, with a matching conical hat. Aside from the red pompom, it could have been a Klansman’s hood. His wooden hands had been painted with eerie realism—detailed knuckles and veins and bones. I squinted, fancying the possibility that they were real, dehydrated human hands.
And the face. Oh God, the face. It was a smooth, waxen figure of indeterminate age. The corners of its crimson mouth turned gently upward, its eyes half-shut in opioid glee. It was the smug smile of Zen-peace-meets-psychopathy.
“Can I help you?” The receptionist held one hand over the receiver.
“I just need to pay for last night. I’m in room twelve.”
She slid the credit card machine across the counter and went back to the phone. I decided I’d ask about the rocking chair clown later on—this was all too much to handle on an empty stomach. I signed the receipt and headed out into the cold morning air, giving one last look over my shoulder.
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