“Can’t sleep, clowns will eat me,” Sanchez rocked backed on forth, holding his filthy hunting rifle. “Can’t sleep, clowns will eat me.”
The poor bastard had just passed the three-hundred hour mark. Thirty-six more and he would have lasted for what had passed for two weeks back in the Old World. But out here, here in the trenches, you lived by the minute. Not by the day or the week. Nobody that did that was still around to do it.
“It’s alright, man. Bonzo and Bif ain’t gonna eat your face.” I had to keep the kid in some kind of mental health, or he’d wind up eating that rifle. He hadn’t slept in more than forty hours and it was showing. I lifted a grimy hand to shield my eyes against the sun I pretended to be bothered by, peering into the distance. I ignored the approaching smoke trails. “Not with it windy like this. They don’t like being upwind – they can’t smell as good.”
He turned his bloodshot eyes towards mine, and I didn’t look into them. “You’re sure?”
“Positive,” I lied.
Relieved, he settled back into his place by the trench wall and resumed his mad little mantra.
I sighed, spat, and walked down the line. There were others like him, and others like me. There was even a goner – a man who’d had it with this mad world and was now lying face down in a shallow puddle. Ever the entrepreneurs, the others in the trenches had stripped the body of anything valuable.
There was a growing rumbling in the distance. Some of the more proactive men and women were on their feet, readying their gear for the coming assault. Others, the distraught and hopeless, just sat where they were muttering.
I mentally checked myself. I was wearing an ancient hunting coat, torn in many places and fixed with duct-tape. Who knew how to thread these days? Don’t answer that. I had an older ball cap barely containing my russet hair, a tired New York Jets logo faded upon it. I fingered the trench knife hanging from my broken, shredded belt and adjusted the M16 strapped over my shoulder. I was as ready as I was going to get.
The rumbling climaxed. The slackers gloomily stood up, or didn’t, it didn’t really matter by this point. I unslung my gun and rested it on the trench wall, peering over its irons through the barbed wire and potholes.
A mass of motley, ugly yellow Volkswagens coughed and rumbled in from the distance, well out of range. I spat again and waited, nervous as hell.
The nearest car was still for a moment, then shuddered. The closer door creaked open, and a clown jumped out.
I know what you’re thinking. All of this for a clown? Yes, really. Just keep listening.
Like I said – a clown leapt out of the car. Or rolled, rather. The fat monster rolled out of the rusty Beetle to land face-first on the mud. It picked itself up, faster than it ought to have been able to, and righted itself. Laughing maniacally, it took off at a dead sprint for us, and I hoped that some dumb jerkass wouldn’t shoot.
At least a dozen people did before it took three steps towards our entrenchments. The clown shuddered, coughed out a bloody laugh, and fell. It would probably bleed out in due time.
There was an utterly eerie silence over the godforsaken area as clowns began to pile out of the Volkswagens – like a torrent, an outpour of terrible blues music at three hundred miles an hour. Heh. They never stopped coming.
They came in all shapes and sizes: tall and short, thin and portly, bald and hairy, and in every color of the rainbow.
We really unloaded on them then, in a desperate shot at accomplishing something before it was too late. Firearms of all kinds, nearly as varied as our targets, roared along the lines in a wilting inferno. We didn’t have much of anything advanced, like grenades, mortars, or fully automatic weapons – but we made do with what we did have.
I realized that I’d been firing nothing out of my rifle about five or six times, and discarded it. I hadn’t been able to find or fashion any compatible ammo, and lacking a proper sidearm I drew my trench knife and held a dense metal cylinder in my off-hand.
The first clown up to bat was a fat one. He wore a gaudy orange vest over a yellow-and-blue polka dotted shirt, and had on neon green pants and floppy shoes. His pasty face was sharply contrasted with blue makeup made into diamonds around his eyes and fluffy, starchy hair of a teal complexion.
“I’m Krusty the clown,” he drawled, “and I don’t like you.”
They usually aren’t good for conversation, so I slugged him across the jaw as he leapt down onto me in the trench. He staggered back, into the wall, but nimbly dodged my follow-up attack and circled around me.
“I’m Krusty the clown,” he snarled through snaggled-teeth, “and I’m going to kill you.” He laughed like it was going out of fashion and scratched at my eyes with his claws.
I came in under them so that he only tore at my shoulderblades, and focused on punching my knife into his abdomen as many times as possible in as short of amount of time as I could get. He laughed in time with my thrusts until he gurgled on his own blood and fell limply to the ground.
I turned around, eyes hooded and with blood on my face. Blood. Not my blood. I wiped it on a sleeve and ran down the trench, past horribly mauled bodies and still-fighting (and –eating in the clowns’ case) people.
I saw Sanchez pounding a clown’s broken, shaven head into a pulp like an eggshell with the butt of his gun. I nodded my approval as he saw me and then grimaced as another clown wearing nothing but overalls, one of those goddamned bright red noses and a straw hat broke his spine with a sledgehammer from behind.
The boy fell to the ground, paralyzed, as the clown advanced on him. I tackled the son of a bitch and slit his throat from ear to ear, following the smile painted on his face. It was already red. He smiled twice with the same face as he died. I pretended not to notice.
I turned back to Sanchez as the clowns retreated for the time being, fewer but no less ferocious. I heard screaming and knew that they were taking some of my former allies and friends back to be assimilated as their own.
The young man was lying at an unnatural angle, the small of his back bent awkwardly and one of his legs twitching. He couldn’t even blink. I sat down next to him, balancing on my heels, and sighed. Spat. And said, “See you soon, friend.”
I lifted my knife to sink it into his neck, giving him a mercy kill, but it never came. I felt a pit form in my stomach as spidery hands seized my by the shoulders and I screamed wildly as the clowns pulled me away, into the darkness.
These days, I wear a nice, violet, pinstriped vest underneath a vibrant purple duster. I smile a lot more, too, and my hair is the loveliest shade of green. Wait 'til you get a load of me - I'm told that they can see me in their dreams!
BAH HA HO HO HA HA HAAH HAHAHA HA, BAH HAHAHA HA, HO HO HA HA! BAH HAHAHA
Edited by mike_, 26 November 2010 - 05:30 AM.