| Charles Morley sat up gasping for air, his eyes staring hauntingly at the back of the bus that carried his nightmare so hastily away.
Yawning, he sat up and looked over at the clock on the wall sighing deeply.
3:00 pm. It figures.
It was always the same lately, a lurid dream following him everywhere…
It began with the tolling of the church bells a few blocks away. As he listened to their mournful dirge, the sea above him churned with the turbulence of a mounting storm, as raven stained clouds twisted and knotted together in discord with the land below.
It was the middle of fall, the birth of Hallowmas; Samhain.
He was leaning against a wooden post on Third Avenue, watching as some kids lazily jaywalked while he waited for the metro to arrive.
That’s when he saw it leering at him.
A clown, or at least what appeared to be a clown, was standing directly across the street staring at him, an insidious scarlet smile spread eerily across its pale face. It stood menacingly rigid, a totem borne from the barren ground sculpted in rage. Its form merged into a crimson shirt trimmed with fading ivory, as ashen gray ruffles lined its collar, all tattered and spoiled with rot. The dull black shine of the oversized shoes adorning its feet were tapered to a razor sharp edge, completing a singular appearance that was painfully devoid of any humor. Its misshapen face beamed with demonic reverence, daring him to look away, if only that it might at once appear beside him if he did, and it so dearly wanted to be beside him. From the short distance between them its charcoal eyes held no semblance of a soul, only the promise of malice and contempt.
He knew that he should look away, his sanity craved freedom from its gaze, but he just… couldn’t. As if knowing this, it grimly turned its chalky bald head to its left while winking at him, a frigid breeze escaping it’s mouth...
”Laugh with me...”
All at once it smiled, making a slicing motion across its throat as a horn blew…
Silence snapped back at Morley with a crisp crack, jolting him awake again.
Jesus, at least I’m here now, I keep fading in and out…
His chest itched and he wondered why he couldn’t feel his right leg. He was so tired, tired of all the stress that his body felt lately. He sat alone in the darkness and wondered why a clown would be haunting all of his dreams.
Morley’s clown, my own personal Punchinello from hell, great.
His head kept itching and he tried to reach up and scratch it only to find that he wasn’t sitting up anymore. His body was lying naked and cold against a smooth steel frame.
What the Hell?
He heard the scuffling of feet just outside of his door and…
“Which one is it?” Asked a young man while opening the door to the morgue.
“Uh… That one...” The older man behind him said, pointing towards Morley. “I wish they’d stop messing with the bodies when they bring them down here.”
The younger man shook his head in disgust, reaching down he slowly raised Morley’s stiff right arm back up, carefully placing it on to the gurney.
“Where’s the clown?” the younger man asked.
“Over there, against the wall. That was one sick bastard. Killed eight people with a bus he stole before the cops could get to him. It took a shotgun blast to the face to finally stop him. No open clown car for him.” The older man laughed as he began to wheel one of the other bodies out of the room.
“How’d they stop the bus?” the younger man asked.
“They didn’t, Morley there did it. He jumped right out in front of it before Sicko over there could take out some schoolchildren in the crosswalk. Must have surprised the son of a bitch because after he ran over our hero here, he swerved right into a brick wall. Cops got to him before he could back out. Too quick if you ask me.” He waited for the younger man to hold the door open as he wheeled the corpse out into the hallway.
Suddenly a whisper haunted the air around them.
“Laugh with me…”
“Did you hear that?” the younger man asked, his skin bristling with the bitterness of a chill.
“Hear what?” asked the older man annoyingly.
“Just… nothing. Forget it.” The younger man rubbed his arms while shivering, quickly closing the door behind them.
Moments later Charles Morley sat up gasping for air…