When a clown smiles

Prompt 5: “Carnie wanted to operate the Mansion of Horror midway ride for the summer of ’69 Playland traveling carnival. No experience needed. Apply within.”

The pink slip wasn’t actually pink, Bill noted. He held the single, white piece of paper. It had reams of writing on one side that Bill briefly scanned.

“Sorry, Bill, but the times they are a changing and Playland needs to change with ‘em,” said Sparks, Bill’s boss.

“I’ve been here for nearly 45 years. What needs a changin’? I can change,” said Bill. He didn’t like the desperation that creaked in his voice. He needed this job and he need it back in sixty-nine when he first saw that sign: Carnie wanted to operate the Mansion of Horror midway ride for the summer of ’69 Playland traveling carnival. No experience needed. Apply within.

Sparks lit a home-rolled smoke. Tiny embers burst from the tip of the smoke and floated to his lap. He brushed them away with his thick, leathery hands. “I hear ya, Bill. Satan’s Clown has terrified folks for decades, but I need to bring in some younger blood to appeal to today’s kids. The Mansion of Horror needs a horror overhaul, if you know what I mean. Kids today are laughing at your character, not screaming like they once did. Satan’s Clown just isn’t scary anymore. I didn’t want to tell you this, but you’ve become a social media joke. You’ve become a meme, Bill.”

Bill didn’t know what the hell meme was, but it prolly wasn’t helpin’ him keep this job. Bill birthed Satan’s Clown back in ’69 after he’d found a clown mask that had been tossed into a fire. The melted creepiness of the formally happy clown face reminded Bill of a demented demon. He introduced Satan’s Clown his first year, and he had been terrifying the young and old alike decade after decade.

“Goddamn it, Sparks. Fine. Good luck,” Bill left Spark’s trailer and headed to his locker in the employee trailer. He cleaned it out — some personal stuff, several newspaper articles about Satan’s Clown and, of course, the infamous mask. He left the carnival ground, turning back for one last look and got in his truck drove towards an uncertain future.


At dawn, Bill pulled into the parking lot of the Manitou Springs fair grounds, the last stop in this season’s Playland tour. It had been six months since the conversation with Sparks. He headed to the Mansion of Horror at the end of the midway, which is where it always was located. Apparently, change doesn’t mean a new location, thought Bill.

He knew this place like he knew his own dick. He headed to the final spook point as it was called and tucked himself in. Now he just had to wait until it got dark.

Several hours later, he listened as people walked by him and the new “young blood” jumped out and scared them with a “boo.” They screamed and moved on.

When it got dark, he made his move. He grabbed the new kid from behind and slit his throat. Bill put on the Satan’s Clown mask, bathed himself the gushing blood of the kid and stepped out to face his adorning crowd.

The screams were horrendous.

Satan’s Clown smiled.

8 thoughts on “When a clown smiles

  1. Carrie Houghton says:

    You don’t mess with a classic, meme or no meme. Creepy in such a good way! I love the imagery of a melted mask bathed in blood.

  2. Adan Ramie says:

    I was in the middle of your story thinking, “If this doesn’t go totally balls-to-the-wall gorefest, I’m going to have to write something similar with a killer at the end,” just before it happened. Well done, my friend!

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