Tales of Terror: “Charlie”

Charlie the Clown

“That’s just wrong, Dad,” Stacy said unamused.  She continued to finish her dinner while her father, Gary, stuffed a junior-sized ‘evil clown’ costume with worn-out towels.

“What? I’m just saying your mom and I have always felt bad for never giving your brother and you another sibling. So, I decided to just make you guys one this Halloween.”

Stacy decided to ignore her dad’s teasing and instead focus on the YouTube clip playing on her tablet.  She wasn’t a big fan of Halloween, and especially not of the darker and scarier decorations that had become the recent trend.  Stacy hated being scared.

“I think it’s awesome, Dad!” Stacy’s younger brother, Dustin, chimed in.

“Thank you, Dustin.” Gary took a step back to admire his work.  He had found the clown on a clearance sale the previous year, and decided it would be the perfect addition for their annual Halloween party.  The costume featured a fairly standard clown appearance from the neck down, but it was the blood-stained collar and the horrific-looking mask that had convinced Gary to purchase it.  The clown’s mask was painted white with rudimentary stitching around his eyes, mouth and the sides of his face.  There were also smears of blood on both his temple and around his mouth, and his eyes glowed red with an intensity that made them appear to be on fire.

“What do you think, honey,” he addressed his wife. “Should we call him Pogo?”

Gary’s wife, Nancy, grimaced.  She was not in favor of her husband’s suggestion to name the clown after the infamous serial killer, John Wayne Gacy’s alter-ego, ‘Pogo the Clown’.

“I don’t think I want that kind of negative energy in the house, Gary.”

“Very well,” he replied despondently. “Dustin, what should we call your new brother?”

“Charlie!” Dustin said eagerly, his bright blue eyes looking into his fathers for the nod of approval.

“Charlie it is,” Gary affirmed.

Nancy was a little nervous that Gary was encouraging their 12-year old son to be quite so enthralled with the darker side of Halloween.  However, she tolerated it since Stacy had never shown the slightest interest and Gary was desperate to have a ‘partner in crime’.  Nancy enjoyed Halloween as well, but left the more morbid details of their décor up to her husband.

After Gary finished placing some black boots on ‘Charlie’, he sat the clown down in an old white chair and placed him in the wall space between Stacy’s and Dustin’s bedroom doors.  The kids’ bedrooms were on the main level, directly across from the bathroom.  Gary took wicked delight knowing that everyone at the party would have to walk by Charlie.

The rest of the evening was spent in typical school-night fashion as dinner concluded and the kids disappeared into their rooms.  Stacy glared at Charlie as she passed by him on the way to her bedroom.  The clown gave off a horrible vibe with his glowing red eyes.  She turned off the hallway light to see if it would help, but the glow remained.

“Dammit dad!” she uttered under her breath.  Stacy quickly walked into her bedroom and locked the door.  Her parents had told her it was against the rules to sleep with her door locked, but she didn’t care.  Tonight, and for the rest of the week leading up to the Halloween party, Stacy decided she’d rather take her chances with her parents getting upset than be at the mercy of some demonic-looking clown…even if she knew, from a logical standpoint, that Charlie was just a glorified stuffed puppet.

Stacy followed her usual pattern of staying up until almost midnight texting her friends while she lied in bed watching TV.  She was just about to nod off when she heard a shuffling sound outside her door.  Stacy placed her ear next to her door to listen more carefully.  The sound of polyester material rubbing against itself filled her eardrums.  Stacy trembled slightly as she grabbed her computer desk chair and placed it under the doorknob for extra insurance that nothing could get into her bedroom.

“Am I imagining this?” Stacy asked herself as she got back into bed, her eyes remaining fixed on the door while images flashed in her head of Charlie walking menacingly up and down the hallway.  After about a half-hour the sounds in the hallway stopped.  Stacy felt temporary relief as she plugged in her earbuds and tried to fall asleep.

—-

Midnight was approaching on the eve of Halloween while Stacy aimlessly surfed the web, waiting for the mysterious sounds in the hallway to start and end.  The last few nights had been the same.  Every night, around midnight, she heard noises in the hallway that lasted for about 20 to 30 minutes.  Stacy felt relatively secure with her ‘double-lock’ system, but was also concerned for Dustin’s safety.  On a couple of occasions, she had asked him if he’d heard any strange noises at night, but he told her “no”.  His responses offered little relief to her, however, since Dustin typically slept like a rock.

Stacy took some solace in knowing that her mom would be taking down all of the Halloween decorations the day after the party to begin decorating for Christmas.  Stacy secretly plotted that she would dismantle Charlie during the day, under the guise of helping her mom take down the decorations, and then stuff the possessed clown costume into the bottom of the garbage can.

It was 12:15 AM and there still hadn’t been any noise from the hallway when suddenly Stacy heard her mother scream.  She leapt out of bed and grabbed the kitchen knife out of her dresser that she had appropriated several nights before.  Stacy stood near her door, frozen in terror.  After only a few seconds her mother’s screams passed, followed by the sounds of something making its way down the stairs and then into Dustin’s bedroom.

The house fell completely silent as Stacy’s heart sunk into the bottoms of her feet.  She knew Charlie had done something terrible to her parents, and she couldn’t bear the thought of letting him hurt her little brother.  A sudden burst of courage entered her as she proceeded to unlock her bedroom door, the knife clenched firmly in her right hand.

Stacy’s heart was beating so loudly that her eardrums felt like they were about to burst.  She braced herself, knowing that Charlie could be waiting to pounce on her, as she flung her bedroom door open and turned on the hallway light.  With her knife held in front of her she whipped around, and to no surprise, Charlie was no longer sitting in his chair.  Stacy rapidly turned her head in every direction as she made her way over to Dustin’s door and reached out with her left hand to turn the knob.  It was locked!

Unsure of what do to next, Stacy decided to check on her parents.  She knew better than to hold on to any hope that they were still alive, but she still felt a pull within her soul to check.  Stacy followed the splatters of blood on the carpet up the stairs and turned on the light as she entered her parents’ room.

Her parents’ entire bed was soaked in blood, their bodies covered with multiple wounds.  Stacy was confused for a moment as to how Charlie got his hands on a weapon like that when she had the only big knife in the house…and then she remembered her dad’s knife and sword collection that he kept in his office.  Stacy considered that not only did the demonic clown kill her parents and now, threatened her little brother, but he also certainly had a more formidable weapon than her kitchen knife.

Still terrified, Stacy made her way back down the stairs and stood in front of Dustin’s bedroom door.  She was determined to save her brother, even if it meant her dying in the process.  She began to lower her shoulder with the intent of breaking down the door, but her instincts told her to try the knob again.  Stacy reached out with her left hand and a powerful shiver ran down her spine like an electric shock as the knob turned without resistance.

Stacy pushed the door open and flipped on the light switch all in one swift movement.  To her surprise, Dustin was sleeping peacefully in his bed, his sheets cocooning everything but his face.  Stacy whipped her head around feverishly to the right and then the left, looking for the clown.  She was about to check the closet when Dustin slowly opened his eyes.

“Shhh….” he whispered, his finger gently pressed against his lips. “Charlie’s sleeping.”

It appeared that Dustin was alone in his bed, but Stacy couldn’t see what was on the other side of it.  She pictured Charlie, crouched behind the other side of Dustin’s bed, waiting to plunge his weapon into her ribcage.  Stacy lowered her stance and side-stepped her way to the other side of the bed, her right arm holding the knife and shaking from the adrenaline coursing through her body.  What she saw next, however, was scarier than anything she had imagined.

Stacy’s eyes began to fill with tears and the breath in her lungs escaped, almost causing her to faint.  Before her lay the empty costume that was ‘Charlie’, covered with blood.  The towels her father had used to stuff him lay in a crumpled pile next to the costume with one of her father’s large knives left carelessly on top of it.

Questions of “how” and “why” flooded Stacy’s mind as her eyes traveled back toward Dustin lying in bed.  She couldn’t move.  Instead, she just stood there, staring at him and wondering why he had done it.

Stacy couldn’t see that Dustin had once again opened his eyes.  A glimmer of red swam through the blue pools of his irises as he waited, motionless, for his sister to make the next move.

Image via 123rf.com

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