The Convention

Chloe Michaels had spent nearly two hours getting ready for what she’d thought was a local Comic Con. Her friends had bought her the ultimate Harley Quinn costume, it was the perfect blend of comic styles and it fit her exactly how she’d dreamt of looking since she’d learned of the convention. As perfect as her costume was, the day started to shift almost upon leaving her house. In the parking lot of her apartment complex she had found Trent Howard, an odd college classmate, dressed as the Joker, with flowers and a smile that almost surely meant he thought they were going on a date. Her friends had set her up. She sighed to herself. Awkward as spending the day with Trent would be, she didn’t have the heart to hurt his feelings.

She could tell he was as shocked as she when they arrived, not at a Comic Con, but what could only be the largest Clown Convention a small midwestern town had ever seen.

“This could still be fun…” Trent offered, trailing off.  He’d been sweet the whole drive to the convention center, sweeter than she was used to, by a wide margin. He’d let her pick the music, even when he grimaced at her Top Hits selection. He’d turned off the air conditioner when she’d gotten cold, even though he wore a purple suit, in June.  He’d tried his damnedest to make conversation, even though it was painfully stilted when it became clear he’d never actually read a comic before; he’d just really wanted a chance to get to know her. So, she pulled her black lipstick coated mouth into a genuine smile and said,

“Sure! Let’s give it a try.” Taking in the candy-striped fabric wrapped around the front pillars of the convention center, she added, “It looks like a carnival, maybe they have funnel cake.”

After some time walking through throngs of joking clowns, finding a hundred things to laugh about with Trent, Chloe realized just how much fun she was having. But no enjoyment could delay the inevitable for long. Excusing herself, disappointed to be gone for even a moment, she went to find a bathroom. Dazed by her attraction to a man she’d tried to gently avoid for months, she wandered through the convention center, following the signs the best her distracted mind could, and nearly entered the wrong toilet. Pushing a strand of black hair from her made up face, she giggled nervously at an imposing male clown as he scowled down at her from the door frame of the men’s room. Quickly, she turned to the correct door and yanked it open. Her embarrassment lasted only seconds as it was blasted away at the force of the gruesome scene before her.

Frozen with terror, she could only stare at the sight of fresh blood spreading across the tiled floor. The sprawling body of a female clown lay at the center with brightly painted open eyes locked onto the door Chloe stood in, staring passed everything and nothing in view; her long, curly, teal wig soaking up the blood, creating a ghastly ombre.

“Chloe?” She heard Trent call from farther down the corridor. Had she been gone for so long? She couldn’t make herself reply, still spellbound by the mangled body so casually left in the women’s restroom.

“Chlo—“ Trent came up beside her, but stopped short as carnage came into view, she could feel the horror emanate from him and compound her own. As the two stood processing the violence, the body jerked. Chloe leapt to the woman’s side on instinct, realizing the woman must be alive somehow. She looked back to see Trent reaching for her. Had he called her name again? She looked back down at the woman. Had she imagined the dead stare from before? The bloodied clown’s eyes had closed.

Chloe heard a garbled scream and turned in time to see Trent slump away from a clown dressed in a garish red pin stripped suit, its face painted with theater masks on either cheek. A crimson silk cloak dragged behind him, giving him the imposing figure of a villain from her comic books. He wielded a knife forged from her every nightmare, dripping in the blood of her almost lover.

The shocked terror that kept her frozen before turned to a mobilizing panic that had her scrambling backwards, slipping in the blood of the monster’s first victim. Screams roiled in her chest, clawing their way as far up her throat as they could.

She swung her arm at the nearest toilet stall, praying for a way out of her trap, but finding, instead, another mutilated clown corpse hanging from the industrial piping in the ceiling. Now screams did come.

The red clown seemed to float slowly across the floor, stalking her, taking one step for every six thrumming beats of her racing heart. Still she screamed. As the clown neared, with his laughing, crying mouth, twisted by gray paint and prosthetic makeup, he raised his bloodied weapon, ready to strike.

Still, she screamed.

She felt her back push against the cold tiled wall at the edge of her prison. The clown’s knife poised high above her, ready to fall and quell her scream, when the loud bang of a gun fired out, filling the space and drowning out Chloe’s screaming voice.

The clown, face unreadable behind his illusionary grimace, fell onto her, his knife scrapping at the tile next her ear.

Voices and chaos filled the small bathroom as the convention center’s security personnel moved in to take stock of the violence. Voices asked her questions. The clown was lifted off her. She was carried out of the room.

Still she screamed.

This story idea was submitted by R.J. Castiglione, a fellow writer. Check out his author website at https://rjcastiglione.com/ ! 

Sorry the post made it up just a –tiny– bit late tonight. However, I maintain that I did get it up before the final midnight of April 26, 2017. Hawaii is three hours behind Seattle. 

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