The Show Must Go On

Twisted Imaginings – A Horror And Gore Themed Blog.

Andy awoke, heart pounding. As daylight filtered into the bedroom, he switched the alarm off. The nightmares, which had all but been consigned to the darkest corners of his mind, had not only started again, but were returning not just more frequently but more intensely than before. Chloe turned into him, still mostly asleep. He lay there a few moments, allowing the pounding of his heart to slow. It had taken decades to come to terms with that day and he had assumed that the many months of counseling and therapy had lessened the burden of those loathsome yet all too terrifying memories were but a speck in the distance. The waking up to his own hysterical shrieking, the bed wetting and the being petrified of his own shadow had both plagued and haunted every aspect of his existence. He had a life now, an actual life, not a desperately miserable existence where he was often paralysed by what might happen next. The mortgage was almost paid and he was sufficiently established in his career that starting a family with Chloe meant she could fulfil her desire of being a stay at home. He always set his alarm extra early on work days, borne at first out of necessity but lately as a pleasantly indulgent start to the day.
For his seventh birthday Adam’s parents had taken him to the circus. Adam had been elated and during the car journey had excitedly spoken of all the delights that were to come and he was not disappointed. Trapeze artists had flown through the air like agile birds and the lion’s had swooped majestically through their hopes. He had even laughed joyfully at the clowns with their water squirting lapel flowers and pies to the face. Then they asked the audience for a volunteer. Adam had leapt up excitedly and was chosen. However his happiness had diminished as Bozo The Clown leaned menacingly into his ear, the reek of stale alcohol cloyingly foul, and snarled at him to behave before standing straight again and waving at the audience with his now lurid looking smile. Having again been swept up by the cheers and laughter of the audience, Adam barely had time to consider what had just passed before he realised they were going to perform a disappearing act and he would be the one to enter the box. He grinned again as he entered willingly and noticed the smell.
It was less of a smell and more of a putrid stench. The interior of the box was pitch black and, with nothing in the way of ventilation, he began to choke and retch. He had by now noticed the partition which would conceal him from the cheering audience and frantically clawed at it. He also began to scream as his fear rose. He was unaware of the crowd falling silent, then expressing concern, as he finally broke free and scrambled to the ground, gasping for fresh, clean air. He did, however, acknowledge the surprise and shocked reaction of the now almost equally frightened crowd as Bozo bore down on him. Within seconds he was pulled close to the now extremely unhappy clown and felt the sharp point of the knife under his chin. “Laugh AT me, do you?”, screamed Bozo. “Well I’ll give you something to fucking laugh at!”. Unconsciousness washed over Adam as all hell broke loose.
Later, Adam discovered, he had been the pawn in a 4 hour hostage situation. Other circus performers had pleaded with Bozo to remain calm, as the tent emptied of its occupants. The police, along with trained marksmen, had held intensive negotiations with the psychotic clown, finally managing to incapacitate him. The one thing that was forever etched into Adam’s mind was Bozo’s intensely malevolent stare and his snarled “The Show must go on!” as he was lead away. At his trial, which gripped the nation, Bozo was found to be mentally unstable and suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, so he was detained indefinitely at Broadmoor. The nation moved on but Adam couldn’t.
Bozo appeared in Adam’s dreams nightly. However well those dreams had begun, their ending was disturbingly the same. Bozo, his evil stare directed straight at him as he snarled “The show must go on!”, his blade glinting in the light and dripping the most vividly red with blood. Aged eight Adam suffered a nervous breakdown. The general consensus was that he may never break free of his catatonic state but, little by little, he recovered. His, parents, blaming themselves and then each other, split before he showed any signs of recovery and his father’s suicide by pills was attributed to being unable to live with the guilt of that surreal day. His mother stoically carried on, her way of coping being to never speak of those hideous events ever again unless pointedly ask to. She indulged and cared for Adam as best she could though, Adam recalled with a pleasant smile, as he realised he hadn’t called her all week.
Pouring hot water into the mug, he stirred the coffee and sugar granules as he cradled the phone to his ear. Today was going to be busy, so he decided to pass on any milk as his mother answered the phone.
“Hi Mum”, he opened with, a little more cheerfully than he intended. “How are you?”.
“Oh, not so bad”, she sniffed vaguely. “I thought your phone line may have been out of service”. He winced at that, realising he had neglected to call for quite a while. “Sorry mum….work has been hectic and I’ve been tired”, he offered. “Well”, she offered before pausing dramatically. As he considered his reply she continued. “At least you’ll have enough money to pay your phone bill!”. That having been her roundabout way of accepting his apology, they talked for a while, which mostly involved Adam feigning interest in the gossip his mother had to share. However she did seem unusually distracted and he enquired as to why. She stubbornly ignored his enquiries until he threatened to hang up in the middle of her story about the neighbours at number forty seven, which seemed to do the trick.
“Well, it’s probably nothing but….”, she paused. “It’s probably something mother”, he prompted and she continued. “I’ve had a few unknown calls recently and……”. She paused, then continued. “Normally I’d think nothing of it but the last couple mentioned a show and…..”.
Adam didn’t hear the rest as he had dropped the phone, and his now luke warm coffee, frozen to the spot. He was vaguely away of stifling a shriek but Chloe must have heard it as she had appeared beside him, ashen, and directed him to the living room sofa. He wasn’t sure how long had passed but once his breathing slowed to deeper breaths he started to think. It had been twenty five years but his recall of that day was still vividly clear and he swatted at the memories as a cold sweat broke over him. Chloe always talked so soothingly when he had an anxiety attack but this was different. Not only had it been quarter of a century but the anniversary was tomorrow, on his birthday!
He had called in to work sick and assured Clive that he had not started celebrating early. It was probably some sort of overnight virus, he lied deftly, and he would be fine for drinks tomorrow night with his boss and good friend. Chloe had been harder to convince but, seeing the terror in his eyes, she agreed it was better if he wen alone to see his mother. She had tried to understand the inner demons he grappled with and if a three hundred mile round trip meant restoring his equilibrium then so be it. Besides she was seeing Fiona today, her elder sister wanting to fuss over her baby sister in her early days of pregnancy. As he started the car he promised to be home as soon as he could.
Luck was against him on the way there, the motorway having come to an almost complete standstill because of an accident. Adam’s anxiety had turned to full on stress as he finally turned off at his exit and headed for the village he lived in. Still, the early autumnal breeze was fresh and still held the last vestiges of a good summer. As he turned into his mother’s cul de sac his temper had almost abated when he spotted it.
The neighbour had called emergency services when she heard a loud scream and crashing of furniture. The police had arrived first and, having been given the spare key, proceeded to investigate. The chaos inside Delia Saunders house looked as though a tornado had swept through there. Mrs Saunders was found in the bedroom of her bungalow, where she must have cowered in the corner from the intruders. The paramedics suspected a heart attack but she was, just barely, still breathing. All of this Adam learned after launching himself from his car and racing to the ambulance. The officer taking details had filled him in on the details after ascertaining that he was her son. The paramedics had finished taking the notes they needed and let him have a quick moment before they went to hospital. As he sat next to her he took her hand and, with a gasp, she opened her eyes. Registering his presence her eyes by grew wide and she started to talk although her speech was garbled. He couldn’t discern much but what he did stunned him to the core. In amongst her nonsense she had mentioned a show and a comeback. At this point the paramedics had insisted that they should get to the hospital immediately and, sirens and lights blazing, they sped off. Adam sat on the front of his car, trembling. The nightmares and panic attacks he could understand at least. But this? No, he reasoned, this was a coincidence. Bizarre but a coincidence, he thought, calm returning as his phone rang.
He answered, just about managing to keep the sheer terror out of his voice and listened to Chloe talk about her day. She had enjoyed herself with Fiona, they had spent the day planning her son’s birthday. She elaborated at length but, once again, he was frozen to the spot. He managed to stop her and on finding out the name of the entertainer for Dean’s seventh birthday party he had dropped his phone and jumped into his car.
His steely gaze focused on the road ahead, Adam fought wave after wave of panic as he returned. The line between calm and flat out terror was thin and, if it were not for his vital desire to see Chloe would have been leapt across many miles ago. His phone was probably still lying in the middle of his mother’s road so he couldn’t call to check on her which added a sense of growing trepidation to his journey. The radio station, which murmured softly of the day’s news, had almost worked as a distraction. Indicating left at the roundabout, his discomfort at having been so tense was starting to turn into exhaustion but he wouldbut he would be home in a few minutes. Relaxing slightly, he turned his attention as the evening’s headlines came on. The usual political squabbles, economic uncertainty and global issues dominated the headlines dominated but by the time news of the escape of long term psychiatric patient Vincent Joseph, from Broadmoor, was half way through, Adam distractedly mused that none of his worst nightmares could have ever prepared him for the open front door of his house, as the news warned people to keep their safety in mind and phone police immediately with a location should they sight him. Because Adam knew where Bozo The Clown was and exactly what he was wearing!
Walking to the front door had been alarmingly easy but he wasn’t surprised as his legs began to tremble as he stood at the entrance to the living room. For he was looking at the trail of blood leading in and hoping against tremendous odd that it wasn’t Chloe’s. But, as he walked in, with the gait of a condemed man, he simply registered the trail of gore and bodily organs that lead to the gapingly open hole in her midsection with the grunt of someone who had no sane reason to have she otherwise. For had he done so his by now fragile mind would have overloaded at the sight of the bloodsoaked and sniggering Bozo The Clown, his shoulders bobbing in amusement, his eyes glimmering with an inhuman and intense insanity, drool dripping from the corner of his mouth as his crooking, broken and yellowed teeth locked into a rictus grin of crazed malevolence.
Adam’s eyebrows raised, a mixture of genuine surprise, total shock and unadulterated fear, as his mouth stumbled, tripped and fell over what would have been terrified gibberish anyway. As he stopped his legs valiantly held up under incessantly high pressure as he noted with some clarity that of all the ways it could end, this was head and shoulders above the rest as the one he recoiled at the most. Not simply the taking of his life but the wrenching from him the now three reasons why he struggled with his every breathing moment to cling on to what little sanity he had gratefully been left with. Falling to his knees, his face bright and wet with hot tears, he shook his head and groaned futilely as the area between his legs became damp with urine. Letting o ut racking great sobs now, he trembled violently as he began to plead pathetically with the now cackling clown, who was shaking his own head as he eased himself ever closer, right arm raising a bloodied knife that twinkled menacingly with the light of the autumn full moon. But he never felt that first opening of his skin, the parting of flesh as hot crimson drips then spurts from a deepening unconsenting wound. No, there are some things that the mind simply won’t tolerate as Adam’s world was extinguished.

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