This is the story of a boy, Chief, who has become troubled by nightmares of a clown that murders him in his sleep. Maybe the love of his mother will make the nightmares stop…then again…maybe not.


 

3.

 

They ate chicken from a bucket that night, and his mother didn’t even bother putting the box of biscuits in the oven.

Chief ate alone at the table as she paced the kitchen floor, the kinky pink wire of the telephone stretching in a frantic bend across the narrow space as his mother snapped at her friend over the line.

“I’m not sending him back there, Charlene. That man is an idiot. He doesn’t know anything about anything and he couldn’t find his head if his nose was sticking out of his own ass.”

Chief munched down on another ear of corn as his mother cackled at some evil joke her friend told her through the static of the line. When he was done, he cleaned up himself and carried the leftovers to the kitchen island, where he left them for his mother to box up in her matching Tupperware containers. Chief dipped beneath the telephone wire and made his way down the hall to the quiet sanctuary of his room.

He still loved his bedroom despite the endless nightmares. The walls were painted blue and bordered with pictures of cowboys in all states of wild and frenzied action. A couple small posters of his favorite superheroes hung from the walls, and his bed lay perfectly made in the middle of it like a welcoming embrace. Chief called the dog Rodger in and shut the door behind them both, crawling up onto the bed beside the dog and settling down with his latest book — a tale about pirates and the open sea.

When Chief woke, the room was dark. The sound of his mother’s voice was no longer echoing up the hall, but Rodger was sleeping soundly at the foot of the bed. Chief lifted the book from his chest and reached for the bedside table, his brain filled with a fog.

He felt eyes before he saw anything else. The hair on his arms stood on end and his belly went cold like it was filled with ice. Rodger sat up on the edge of the bed and growled as his fur began to bristle.

“Mom? Mom!” Chief called out. He did not turn around. He couldn’t. He was frozen, one hand extended over the edge of the bed, frozen over the book he had just placed on the bedside table.

A chill ran up his spine and Rodger started to bark wildly.

Chief turned and fell back on the bed just in time to see the clown rushing at him, the knife wielded high in his hand. It fell over him in a flurry of stained striped silk. Rodger barked as the knife plunged into his chest over and over again, and Chief tried to scream as the blood gargled in his lungs and in his mouth.

In the madness, Chief tried to defend himself. He ripped and tore at the clown, but he was no match for his size and weight. Empty black holes stared down at him and smiling crimson lips split into an impossible chasm of hellfire above him. Chief could feel his life slipping away as the clown stabbed him over and over again.

Somehow, in the chaos of it all, the knife slipped in the clown’s grasp and Chief felt his own small hand close around the handle. Without realizing, he began slashing at the clown, using every last bit of his strength to send his attacker back.

There was a scream, and the hot rush of blood and Chief felt the weight of the attacker disappear. There was another loud scream and a whine and Chief’s eyes flickered open.

The room was flooded with light and his mother was standing beside the bed, her eyes full of shock and a splatter of red across the front of her nightgown. Chief felt something warm and looked down to see that he was kneeling on the bed in a pool of sticky red blood.

Rodger was beside him, twitching, a red hole gleaming bright and wide in his belly. He threw a little glance up at Chief again and whined in fear. Glancing down, Chief realized his hand was clenched tightly around a bloody butcher knife. One of his mother’s knives, the red one with the silver handles.

“Oh my God, what have you done?” Betty Rutherford whispered, looking on at the scene, horrified. “What have you done, Chief?”

Chief began to retch over the side of the bed.

The clown was nowhere to be seen.


Read the previous chapters here.


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