If You See One

My daughter Brandy is seven.  She’s a really bright girl and I love her. She is – in part – most of the reason I try so hard at everything, and part of the reason I took my circus training, and started performing at kid’s parties. I felt like I needed to; as a single mom living with her grandma, I felt like a deadbeat.

Big step down, but when you’re sleeping in the same room you did at 8 and going to college it’s okay. Performing is still performing. Plus, everyone starts somewhere right?

I didn’t mind; I loved kids, mostly…though other people’s kids tended not to be as well behaved as I would like. I was a hypnotist, so I got mostly teenage parties. My clown friends had it rougher; the few times I’d put on a rave wig and helped my friend Trina – aka Bubbles – by face painting was almost too much.

So, imagine my surprise when a few weeks ago, the very beginning of October, Brandy comes home from school visibly upset. I tried to get her to tell me what’s wrong. She wouldn’t. It wasn’t until we were at the table when she got really quiet

“Mommy, it’s the clowns. Kat’s neighbor told her about them,” Brandy says in her I’m-getting-scared-voice.

“Shh.” I say kneeling beside the table.  Luckily for me I stayed up-to-date on urban legends and spooky culture and had come across this a few weeks back in a random cluster of YouTube videos.

“The clowns are in North Carolina, and it’s people in costumes pulling pranks,” I say, seeing no reason to lie.  I was always as honest and factual with Brandy. But I also believed she could handle hearing more than “it’s not real.”

“Will you tell Kat that?  She’s super scared,” Brandy says, adopting her usual sunny demeanor.

“Sure thing.” I say. Brandy settled right into her homework; it was her usual vocabulary list.

That was then; this is something entirely different. Two weeks later and the sightings have spread. Texas, Seattle, even England. I could shrug it off as people being dumb and pulling pranks weeks ago.  It wasn’t so easy now.

The jokes swirling around were even funny. Then the clowns in the UK started to be more violent. Instead of just being menacing with no real point the clowns started trying to hurt people.

I’ll never forget the day they actually did: it was a man on his home from the pub. He was viciously attacked with bats.The CCTV looked off under repeated views. Trust that certain news outlets aired it almost constantly as a reason why Trump’s leadership was called for, while the man himself remained curiously quiet.  Almost too quiet.

“You’re being too paranoid honey,” my grandma said as we were putting away dishes. This was a few nights before Halloween.

“Am I, Nana?” I spoke in hushed tones because Brandy was still awake and getting ready for bed across the house.

“Yes. You’re sounding as bad as Brandy.  It must’ve been those Goosebumps books your mother let you read as a kid,” my grandma scoffed. I really hated when people called my mom’s parenting into question more than my own.

“I’m ready Mommy!” Brandy called out.  I swear that girl almost knew when to save me from uncomfortable situations.  I really loved her, and I knew it ran in the family.

It started being reported people were showing up to major city emergency rooms looking extremely pale and in some cases unable to speak. Those that weren’t turned away due to apathy or over work were lucky enough to observed. The first report came out of a Seattle hospital.

A man in his early thirties, mute and presenting pale skin. He was cool to the the touch and had approximately seven to nine seizures over the next 24 hours, each one turning the man’s appearance more clown-like.

More hospitals reported cases like that.  Soon more clowns came to light. There wasn’t anything to connect the cases, and it was spread pretty wide. No one had a working theory of why this was happening. Reddit – of course – was on fire with theories, which spawned Youtube pranks, creepypasta and more. I found the make-up tutorials to the strangest.

“I find it almost comforting that neither candidate has anything,” a boy sitting next to me in my poli-sci class said.

“You think Trump would use this for a chance to spread a message that only he can keep us ‘safe’,” said a bored student who usually took any chance to Trump bash.

“I do find it unsettling,” the professor finally chimed in.  We, in rapt horror, watched as a group of clowns that appeared to have once been salary men loot in Tokyo. In just a few months we are looking at people do this and all he can say is “unsettling”?

I couldn’t shake this feeling of dread.  As election night grew closer, the clown attacks grew worse. No one knew what to do.  Some of them seemed perfectly harmless (if you call running after people with a knife “harmless”), but if you looked at it as these people were “sick,” it was reasonable.

Most news reports were now saying “don’t engage.”

Of course there were those that did, quickly finding themselves at the wrong end of a beating or stabbing. Since no one with a clown face could be properly identified no one could actually be charged.

Finally election night rolled around.  A composed Hillary took her place.

“I haven’t said anything in these last few weeks, because the man so many of you support – and who once actually supported –  me, well..” Her voice trailed off.

I looked on in horror as a clown man loomed just a few feet behind her, still in his impeccable suit.  He was totally mute, waving a tiny orange hand.