Night of the Clown


Author’s Note: This is a short piece I did for a writing prompt at one of my writers group meetings.  Someday when I have enough pieces from the writing prompts, I’ll collect them all into one book and release it.  Until then, I’ll just post some of them here every so often.  We only have like fifteen minutes to write when we do these, though on this one I cheated and wrote for longer just so I could wrap it up the way I wanted to.


Writing Prompt: You wake up with a jolt.  The moonlight is streaming through your open window.  A clown is standing in the center of your room, holding a bloody knife.


Midnight.  He was usually up late, but he’d had a hard day at work and all he wanted to do was get a good night’s sleep.  Unfortunately, what we want and what we get are often two different things.

Moonlight streamed through the window, highlighting the motes of dust that seemed to be perpetually floating through the air.  Perhaps if he’d have ever been married, he’d have made a little more of an effort to keep the house clean, but the dust was a tolerated roommate that he simply just didn’t feel like dealing with.

Twenty-seven minutes past midnight, he opened his eyes and stared at the closet door.  Why was he awake?  Something didn’t feel right, though he couldn’t quite put his finger on what it was.  Silence…and then his eyes closed again.

Thirty-four minutes after midnight, his eyes opened again, and once again he stared at the closet wall.  There it was again…that feeling that something wasn’t right.

Thirty-five minutes after midnight…he closed his eyes again, but only for a moment.  Suddenly one of the floorboards creaked somewhere around the end of his bed.  Shooting bolt upright, eyes wide so they could take in what limited light there was, he saw it standing there in the darkness.  Something out of every child’s nightmare that has traumatized many an adult as well.  It was a clown, though not your average happy circus clown.  This one was covered in blood and had a long butcher knife clenched tightly in one hand.

He knew instinctively what was going to happen if he didn’t act quickly, so he spun over on his side, grabbed the pistol he kept under his pillow and then threw his arm out toward the clown.

Six shots exploded into the night…but then the room fell silent.  Five went right into the clown’s chest and one went just to the right, off-center in his forehead…and yet there he stood.  He never even flinched as the bullets penetrated him.  He simply smiled as his brow furrowed evilly.

Not knowing what to do, he tossed the gun aside and rolled out of his bed, quickly getting to his feet as he looked for a means of escape.  The clown had the door blocked, and the window had unfortunately been stuck in place for quite some time.  Sudden regret flowed through him for how lazy he’d become about maintaining his home, because he literally only had two choices…the door or the window, and the window was out.  That meant he had to somehow get past the clown, and hopefully make it through the door before a knife found its way through his back or between his ribs.

He tried to fake to the side, but the clown, who had heretofore been standing rather still, now spread his arms wide as his evil grin grew even wider.

Knowing the clown would be expecting him to dodge around, he feinted to the left and then jerked back to the right in an effort to appear as though he were going to dodge around him.  The feint worked as he’d hoped, but instead of dodging around the clown, he threw his right leg in between the clown’s legs, wrapped it around behind and then slammed his hands in to the clown’s chest, knocking him flat on his back.

The second the clown was on the floor, he leapt off to the side and tried to reach for the door, but suddenly a searing pain radiated through his leg and thigh as the knife sliced deep into his calf muscle.

Hot blood streamed down his leg as his hand clutched the door handle, and as he looked around and saw that the clown was trying to get up off the floor, he knew he had only one option.  Clenching his teeth as hard as he could, he reached down, wrapped his hand around the handle of the knife and ripped it from the flesh.  Then, with a quickness that could only be born from the womb of desperation, he turned and threw his fist with the knife in it straight at the clown’s head and knocked him back to the floor.  Then, before the clown could react, he raised his hand high in the air and slammed it back down with all the force he could muster, driving the blade all the way through his throat and into the hardwood floor beneath.

With the clown pinned down, he made his way through the bedroom door and then crawled raggedly toward the front door, leaving a trail of blood in his wake.

The air outside was cool, and the full moon provided enough illumination for him to see the young couple that were taking a late night walk across the street.  In a strained voice he called out to them desperately.

When the police came to investigate the scene, they found lots of blood in the house, and evidence of the shots he’d fired, but no clown.  The ambulance came and took him to the hospital where they tended his wounds, both mental and physical.  The psychiatrists said it was some form of schizophrenia, but he knew what he’d seen…what he’d experienced.  He had to believe it, because if the psychiatrists were right, that would mean he was insane.  He wasn’t insane…he knew he wasn’t.  He just knew it…or did he?