“Give it back Andy!”
Lucy lunged for the clown doll that was held in the boy’s outstretched arm. Andy held the doll above his head with his left hand as he blocked her with his right.
“You want it back? Why do you want an old thing like this for anyway? Look – its falling apart!”
Andy reached up and plucked one of the old dolls eyes from its head and threw it at Lucy. She shrieked and clawed at his arms.
“It was my Granmama’s! It’s REALLY OLD!”
“Well, you can have it back – a bit at a time” said Andy, laughing as he tore off the clowns other eye and threw it at her.
“Please Andy!” Lucy sobbed. “Let me have him back. PLEASE?”
Andy grinned at her.
“You have to say that you’re a dirty little gypsy thief.”
Lucy hitched in a breath, and wiped her tears away, stammering, “I’m a dirty little gypsy thief.”
“And do you know where thieves go?”
“They go straight to hell.”
Andy ripped the head off the doll and scattered the pieces over her. Fluffs of cotton drifted onto the floor, clinging to her hair like snowflakes. Andy walked away, laughing.
Lucy’s face darkened as she glared after the boy.
“We’ll see who ends up in hell Andy, we’ll just see! “
Andy felt pleased with himself as he headed towards the arcade. He hated clowns – ever since his father had gotten one to perform for his eighth birthday. BoBo the clown had stunk of whisky and urine, and had fallen into Andy’s cake while trying to do a cartwheel, before vomiting on Andy’s presents. It had been the worst day of his life.
He reached the arcade, and was about to go inside when he noticed another clown across the street. This one could have been a full size replica of Lucy’s doll – right down to the red frizzy hair and the fluffy buttons along the front of its white satin suit. The clown raised a hand, and slowly waved at Andy. He gave the clown the finger.
The clown looked at him for a moment and pushed the corners of its mouth down into a frown, before reaching up and plucking its eyes from its sockets. Black ooze dripped from the ragged holes in the clown’s face and it waved at him once more.
A knot of terror tightened in Andy’s stomach and the boy ran into the arcade to phone his mother.
Andy’s mother arrived ten minutes later, and he got into the car without a word. They had gone three blocks and the car had stopped at traffic lights when Andy saw the clown again, standing in the entrance to a shopping mall. It still held its eyeballs in it hand and waggled them in the boy’s direction before striding towards the stationary car.
“Mum! It’s the clown! It’s coming to get me!” he yelled at his mother.
“What clown? What’s the matter with you Andy?”
The lights turned green, and the driver behind her honked his horn. She put the car into gear and drove off just as the clown reached the edge of the sidewalk, it’s long yellow fingernails reaching for the car. Andy watched it through the rear window as the car moved away. The clown was waving at him again. Andy shuddered and said nothing for the rest of the journey home.
Andy sat silently through his evening meal, and then went straight to his room.
“Andy!” his mother called from downstairs, “I hope you aren’t sitting up there in the dark!”
Andy got up and went to draw the curtains to his bedroom window.
Outside, in the back garden, stood the clown.
The clown turned its head up to Andy and slowly waved to him. It then started walking towards the back door of the house.
Andy’s stomach lurched as he heard two single raps from downstairs.
“Mum! Don’t answer the door!”
From the kitchen came the sound of breaking glass and the start of a scream that was abruptly cut off, followed by an agonizing silence.
“Mum?” Andy called, his voice wavering.
The sound of something heavy and hard hitting the floor came from downstairs. After a moment there was another sound. A rhythmic “Thwack, Thwack, Thwack. An image of long clown shoes leaving bloody footprints on the kitchen floor flashed into Andy’s mind. Getting louder…closer.
Andy fled to the bathroom and locked the door, tears streaming down his face.
The footsteps became muffled by the carpet in the hallway. A board creaked on the stairs.
Andy curled himself up into a ball behind the ceramic bath and tried to stifle his sobs, holding the scream that wanted to break free inside him. What had happened to his mother? He imagined her eyeless head lying on the kitchen floor next to her still twitching body.
Mum! A wave of grief flooded through him, tears flowing freely across the boy’s face.
The light from the hall dimmed as something obscured the frosted glass window. He knew what was out there, but was unable to resist the overpowering urge to look. Two firm raps resounded from the door. Maybe it was his Mum after all? Maybe she was OK?
He craned his head around the side of the bath.
The clowns face filled the window, the glass blurring the features, causing them to melt together into a nightmare mask of white and red. Its wide smile twisted into a grimace.
It lifted its hand and slowly waved at him, then placed a long yellow fingernail against the glass and began to trace a single word in wide red streaks.
His name. Andy. Written in his mother’s blood.
As the handle began to turn, Andy screamed.
Across the street, Lucy sat back on her bed. A smile played across her face as she cradled her clown doll in her arms.
© 2009 Graeme Reynolds
Graeme Reynolds is a 38 year old freelance destroyer of computer programs and horror author. He lives in the South West of England with a long suffering girlfriend, two cats and three delinquent chickens. You can read his work on his homepage http://www.graemereynolds.com