Welcome to The Circus of the Night

The Mask That Always Smiles... - Dave Burnham, The Haunted PenI have a major dislike of clowns, always have and no doubt always will. When you’re scarred at the age of eight-years-old the cuts run deep…

My school had a visit from “Coco the Clown” (God bless you, New Bilton County Primary) and I was randomly selected for the ‘blowing-up-a-balloon race.’ Sadly, my opponent wasn’t the school’s resident wheezy weakling, and I had to damned near burst a lung to ensure a hard-fought victory and be able to hold my head high.

To the victor went the spoils and I won a pencil for my red-faced efforts. Ya tight red-nosed bastard, Coco.

That being said, through the scars and mental torture, I’m a huge fan of the movie “Stitches,” and I’m eagerly awaiting the release of Stephen King’s “IT” in theaters.

In my opinion, clowns serve only one purpose, and that’s as nasty-ass characters in horror stories.

Having bared my soul, please allow me to introduce the first part (of which I hope will be many), in a collection of short stories featuring “The Circus of the Night.” I’ve had some story ideas floating (obvious “IT” pun for you) around for a while now so I thought it was time to hammer the keyboard and bring them to life.

The Mask That Always Smiles…” introduces us to Absinthe Dark, the ringmaster of this “smorgasbord of sin.” She is joined by a pair of clowns – Misery and Anguish – who have a penchant for chainsaws and Bowie knives. Suffice to say, these two aren’t your stereotypical clowns.

Influences for the story include a female pro wrestler (see if you can guess who) and some awesome desktop wallpaper artwork I found while scouring the Internet for inspiration. Musically, Judas Priest’s “Judas Rising” featured a lot on my playlist despite there being no obvious clown connection.

It was a fun writing project and the subject matter is a lot gorier than I usually write. I enjoyed visiting my “dark side” and will be going there again very soon. As I wrote the first draft I was Pennywise, Twisty and Stitches rolled into one, but in reality, I’m more like Tucker from “Tucker and Dale vs Evil.”

So (cue the Big Top music), without further ado ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages, roll up, roll up and welcome to “The Circus of the Night.” Sorry, no refunds…

The Mask That Always Smiles…

“You’re listening to ‘Iron Fist,’ the best classic rock radio station in New England. I’m Doctor Rock, and I’ll be right back after the break with our ‘Album at 11’ feature. Tonight, we’re going to be playing ‘Ace of Spades’ from rock god Lemmy Kilmister and Motorhead. Get ready to rock. See ya soon.”

The radio’s hard-rock heartbeat played in the background of the Rockin’ Robin diner.

“This is the 11 o’clock news. I’m Elliot Tracy, and I’m Tori Faithe. Our top story comes from the Moreland Park area of Mill City.

“Police are responding to another suspicious clown sighting this evening. The person is wandering around the wooded, inner-city area of Moreland Park. The clown is at least seven feet tall and clutching a bouquet of black balloons. Reports state he is acting in a threatening manner toward pedestrians and motorists.

“Currently, no information is available if the man is dangerous or carrying a weapon. Police are asking the public to avoid the area until further notice.”

Click here to read “The Mask That Always Smiles…” in full.


2 thoughts on “Welcome to The Circus of the Night

  1. Great story, Dave! Thanks for sharing some of your work.

    I agree with you about clowns. Horror stories is definitely where they belong. Stephen King (and John Wayne Gacy) had the right idea.


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