Welcome to my blog! Mine is just one stop along the Halloween Story Hop. What’s this haunt all about, you say?
Well… A group of authors have joined together to post short stories filled with Halloween chills.
My story below won an award from South Bay Writers, a branch of the California Writers Club, for best short fiction. Enjoy. And be careful who you trust this season. Muhahaha!
“What a Clown Reads”
I settled into evening with a perfectly ordinary-looking book that I’d purchased at Trixie’s Gags and Gains, a magic shop filled with card tricks, disappearing ink, wax moustaches and soap-flavored candies. The cashier, Trixie herself, had pointed her chin at me and smiled, confirming that my selection had been a good one. It was the shop’s last copy to boot, she’d told me. She wouldn’t be ordering any more. What fortune! I could hardly wait to read it.
The clown that graced the book’s cover had a tiny pink nose and a garish smile. In his gloved hand he held a book that matched, in every way, the book I’d bought from Trixie. Across his shiny gray shirt that just barely stretched across his belly, it read “What a Clown Reads” in bright red scrawl. What a clever little clown, I thought. What a clever little title.
I opened the clever little book and read.
The silver-clad clown wore a silver-clad frown as he took up the Sunday paper. “Good news, bad news, old news, new news” the clown muttered. He feverishly turned pages, looking for the funnies, something to cheer him up. When he reached the last page, however, he began to shake. And then tremble. And quake.
“This isn’t the Sunday paper,” he said. “It’s that fake newspaper I bought from that tricky damsel by the lake.” He flipped over the last page and sighed. Then his nose twitched. He lifted a hand to scratch an itch. While scratching, his eyes bugged out and his frown stretched into a scowl. He tapped his nose with both hands. “Why, this isn’t my nose!”
He ran to a mirror and looked inside. His round pink nose had beaked to twice its size, and was as pale and ghastly as the rest of his face. Sharp fangs poked out between blood-red lips. His breath quickened. His heart pounded—
“The joke’s on him!” I cried, laughing at the clown’s folly. He’d been tricked! And what a clever little trick it was!
I sipped from my teacup, shook my head and read on.
A pale white hand turned the page, blotting out the clown’s memory of the matters previously described. There, in the silence of midnight, hours before the sun would rise, the silver-clad vampire sat over his diary to reread his entries by candlelight. Arching a dark eyebrow, he narrowed his eyes. The first page was blank, as was the second…and the third.
“Where are my entries?” he asked of the book, flipping forward through its pages. “My victims, my sanctuaries, my drawings of the sea backlit by the moon… Where have they gone?” He thought for a moment. “Surely yesterday’s freshly penned entry remains.” He bit his lip, taking care not to draw blood, as he slid the ribbon that marked the page where he’d last written.
The vampire drew in a sharp breath. His marked page was unmarred, a fresh blanket of snow.
I slapped my knee with my hand and guffawed. “Disappearing ink! What a fool the vampire was to not see that coming!”
The vampire continued turning pages until he reached the end of the diary. After turning the last page, he howled. And then growled. Furious with himself for having lost his words and his voice, he stalked off to his washroom to gargle. Nearing the sink, he shuddered. Someone else was there—inside the mirror above the sink. But I am a vampire, he thought. I do not have a reflection.
With his heart pounding in his eardrums, he moved in for a closer look. The reflection peered at him too, until its wet black nose at the end of its long furry snout bumped the mirror. The vampire and the monster recoiled in surprise. The vampire touched his nose. So did the reflection. Both growled, and wiggled their pointed ears.
I furrowed my brows. An interesting trick, I thought. I lifted my teacup for another sip, but had trouble keeping it steady. Instead of hazarding a shaky slurp, I thought better of it, set the cup back down and continued to read.
A hairy gray paw—thick with claws—turned the page, blotting out the vampire’s memory of the matters previously described. The silver-haired werewolf grunted where it hid in the darkness, using its night vision to decipher—
I stopped reading and rubbed my eyes. I knew where this was going, for I was no fool. Flipping ahead, I mumbled whatever phrases caught my eye as I turned pages. “The silver-clad witch read from her recipe book of potions… The silver-beaked crow…silver-tailed skunk…silver-clad reaper.” Yes, I could see the pattern, and on and on it went. I skipped ahead to the last page and, finding nothing of further interest, I turned it over.
Yawning, I glanced at my watch, then started. I couldn’t make out the time. A reflection in the watch face looked back at me, chilled my blood. It wasn’t me. It couldn’t be! I ran to my bedroom and flicked on the light. “No!” I screamed at the reflection in the mirror. “I’m not supposed to have a little pink nose or silver painted lips that frown!”
A gloved hand, fringed in silver, quietly turned the page.
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