The Clown At Midnight
My name is Charles Royster. All my friends know I am a horror film fanatic, and they tease me relentlessly about the props I set up in my TV room before I watch a horror flick.
I place two life-size movie monsters on both sides of my 55-inch TV. My favorites are Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, and the Creature from the Black Lagoon. Next, I place a life-size werewolf mannequin dressed in a flannel shirt and jeans in the side chair next to the sofa to watch the movie with me. I light one small candle on the coffee table and turn on the overhead fan at its slowest setting. The draft makes the candle flicker eerily and gives the monsters a more ominous presence.
Larry Igou, a friend at work, had given me a DVD to watch this evening. He recommended it as one of the scariest movies he had ever seen. I asked him to join me, but unfortunately, he had other plans or didn’t want to take a chance on cardiac arrest viewing the film at my house.
I got home at about 9 p.m., had a few drinks and dinner, and positioned my props to watch Terror on Tape. It was almost 10 p.m. when I slid the DVD into the player and sat down next to the werewolf. I turned off all the lights in the house with my remote. The single candle was the only light.
The werewolf stared at me with his constant wolfish grin.
The feature played for one hour and thirty minutes with scenes from the goriest horror movies of all time. One of the most terrifying scenes was when the madman ripped out the buxom blonde’s tongue in Blood Feast. For a moment, I thought I might throw up, but the sensation mercifully passed.
Wow! Larry was right. I had never seen a horror movie with this much blood and gore. My nerves were shattered as I sat in the dark with my movie monsters watching blood splattering all over the screen and limbs being hacked off. It was a bloodbath in startling color from start to finish.
When the fright fest was over, I sat there exhausted with goose bumps all over my arms and legs and chills tweaking the hairs on the back of my neck. All my monsters seemed to leer at me in the flickering candlelight.
When the credits stopped rolling, the most haunting melody I’d ever heard assaulted my ears as I began to shudder violently. From the blackness on the screen, these words scrolled up: “You will win tonight’s trivia contest if you can name the famous person who said, ‘A clown is funny in the circus ring, but what if the same clown appeared at your door at midnight…’ Call 888-8888, and if you are the first person with the correct answer, you will be eligible for the thrill of your life.” A hideous laugh echoed in the background.
I reached for the phone and punched in the number. An eerie voice said, “What is the answer?”
“Lon Chaney, Sr. He said the greatest horror was “the clown at midnight.”
“Correct! You are the winner,” an eerie voice said. “I will come to you at midnight and give you a thrill you will remember for the rest of your life.”
“What? Is this some kind of joke?” I listened for a response, but the line was dead.
It was inconceivable that anyone would come to my house at midnight for the $2.00 rental fee Larry probably paid. I smiled nervously and turned off the TV. It was 11:25 according to the clock on the wall. I sat surrounded by my monsters and pondered my next move.
Then I redialed the number.
Before I could even speak, the voice said, “It’s too late. I’m on my way.” The line went dead, and no one answered the second and third time I tried to call it off.
I went to the kitchen and grabbed the largest butcher knife I owned and returned to the living room.
My nerves were raw with anticipation as the minutes ticked away. I regretted making the stupid call, terrified at what might happen at midnight.
I paced the floor as the witching hour neared.
The doorbell rang. I thought of not answering, but my curiosity drove me. Before I could reach the handle, the door squeaked slowly open. This made no sense. I knew I had locked it when I came home from work.
I was experiencing “horror overload” when I began gasping for breath. My whole body was convulsing in utter fear as I looked into the darkness beyond the door.
A tall, pale shape stood in the shadows between the columns on the front porch. The street lamp overhead shone down on a white head and the tip of a red, bulbous nose and portions of a gaudy clown suit. In the shadows, I could see two cruel eyes fixed on me from the recesses of his dark, hollow sockets.
From the long, pointed teeth came a voice that would chill a corpse, “A clown is funny in the circus ring, but how do I look standing at your door at midnight?” He tooted a maddening horn and roared with fiendish laughter.
Suddenly, strobe lights from out of nowhere revealed the hideous eyes and teeth in graphic clarity as the seven-foot clown monster advanced toward me in a pulsing, mind- altering motion. Two rows of pointed teeth spread across his face from ear to ear in a horrifying grin.
As he raised his two grotesque claws to strike, he looked down at me and said, “Are you scared?”
“Scared shitless,” I said as I plunged the butcher knife into the center of his chest. The giant clown monster rocked back and then teetered forward, gripping my shoulders to steady himself with what felt like rubber claws. A stream of his warm blood soaked my Phantom of the Opera T-shirt. Urine ran down my leg into my shoe as bright lights illuminated the darkness. Three cameramen and my best friend, Larry, ran into view from the bushes screaming in unison, “You don’t have to be scared. We’re broadcasting this on live TV.”
This story, The Clown At Midnight is included in my book of 32 tales of terror, Black As Night http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0054ECJ4C
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