Many in Clowntown viewed life through a jumbo-sized pair of happy glasses.
But not Lugubro. His was the grey view.
Whether the issue at hand was toilet facilities for the camp—Lugubro was a stickler for hygiene, others content to ease their personal waste into the stream that ran alongside the camp—or the relative merits of blindfolded chainsaw juggling—Lugubro’s perspective held emphatically to the side of a strict division of labor, circus union rules and safety—the sad clown summoned meetings, odious to clowns like Laughy and Tickly, in which he railed against some breach of decorum or warned about threats that seemed silly to most of the other clowns. When he brought the inhabitants of Clowntown together to address the Werebunny issue, they made their objections known. Loudly.
“Aw, fuck’s sake, mate, there’s no such thing as a Werebunny.” This was Shrimpy, fresh from a stint at Zing-Pow-Kapang Circus in Melbourne. He pulled a silver flask from the side pocket of his oversized checkered jacket and took a hit. “You have a bloody nerve, wasting our time yet again.”
The sad clown stood on a speech-making platform elevated safely above the rabble. He patted at his electric blue hairpiece, which he could never get to glue on right. “Nevertheless,” said Lugubro in his whiny way, “the beasts have been spotted. Either we pull together as fellows in the laugh-making trade, or surely we shall be pulled apart. Slowly. By a ravening pack of…them.” He paused portentously. “Have you not heard their cries, late at night, sounds that freeze the blood and curdle the marrow?”
“Have some of this,” said Shrimpy, trotting up the ramp to the platform and thrusting the flask at Lugubro. “It’ll warm your blood, no question.”
“Would you kindly remove yourself from the dais, you and your intoxicants?”
Titters from the audience.
“It’s a routine,” whispered Biggy to his longtime companion, Smalls. “They must have planned it together. Never thought Lugubro had a sense of humor, but, well, technically he is a clown.” Smalls emitted a chirp. Biggy patted him on the head. Smalls hiked himself up on his stilts, set a tier of cream pies on Biggy’s head, then with a great WHOOOMP flattened them to a mess that oozed down Biggy’s face. Soon whatever fragile order remained collapsed in an orgy of bits, gags, cheap laughs and lowbrow waffles.
“Must I bring the novelty-sized gavel…or the megaphone?” Lugubro croaked out.
“Oh stuff it, matey,” Shrimpy shouted over the general din. He intercepted a dildo balloon and batted it to the back court, where an enormous pair of pink lips greedily sucked it into the canvas. “Nobody wants to hear your gloom and doom spiel.”
The clowns hushed. Melons, a Jugalette of no small renown, came forth from the back. Her corona of loud red fuzzy hair sent sizzles of lust through the crowd. She wore polka-dotted tights, the sexiest floppy shoe on the market, a short Tartan plaid skirt that barely hid her pooner, and a tight leather bodice to which a series of balloons were yolked, topped by those nature had given her.
Melons had the cutest face of any Jugalette in the camp, and when she opened her mouth, she might have been praising the taste and texture of a beer shit, for all anyone was paying attention. Even Lugubro was not immune to her charms.
She sailed right up to the platform, stood close to the sad clown and regarded him with her big blue eyes. A drop of flop sweat glistened on his brow and began its slow, conspicuous descent. He coughed. “It’s gratifying to see that my words mean something to, er, someone.”
“You’re freaking hot!” shouted Buffo, who sported a body suit painted with thick, bulging muscles. “I want you to have all of my babies!”
“Mind if I give this a shot?” asked Melons, ignoring Buffo.
“S-sure.” Lugubro moved aside two steps. Melons giggled. “Um, could I have the whole platform?”
Lugubro’s unease was obvious. He whispered something in her ear. She smiled and nodded, clearly amused. “Ok, we’ll share the spotlight.” Those portions of the sad clown’s face not covered with white paint blushed a furious red. “No worries, mate, we’ve all got a hardon for Melons!” shouted Shrimpy. Lugubro seemed to visibly shrink. “It’s ok—occupational hazard.”
Melons thrust her chest forward, and the clowns gasped. “Lugubro is right. Clowntown is poised for a werebunny invasion. You can go on laughing, or you can listen to me.”
“Now these creatures to which my sad colleague refers, they’re not your Grand-Daddy’s children of the night. Their music ain’t sweet. But their eyes glow pink, their long ears detect the slightest movement, and their teeth—make razor blades look dull.”
As she spoke, the sky began to darken. Five clowns at the back of the tent dragged forward a flashlight the size of a cannon and erected it behind the platform, where it shot an illuminating cone through the roof. They arranged mirrors around it to amp the signal. Melons frowned. “You know, there are easier ways to…” Then she shook her head and laughed. “Yeah, ok, it’s a bit. But seriously, folks, we need to talk about something.
“When Clowntown was first encamped, it was supposed to be a temporary location. The police gave us no choice at first; and, rather than let them run us out altogether, we took a plot of real estate nobody else wanted, even the bums. Trouble is, nobody bothered to determine whether any other beings lived here. Such as rabbits.”
“What rabbits? Shrimpy shouted. “I mean yeah, maybe the ones we brought in for the hat trick, but those are trained circus animals.”
“I’m not talking about those bunnies. I’m talking about the indigenous creatures of this land. The ones whose territory it rightfully is. Long ago, a wise old hare spoke of invaders, ‘the Coming of the Floppyshoed to EEEEP. He…”
“What’s EEEEP? What are you babbling about, love?”
Melons shot Shrimpy a stern glance. “EEEEP is the ground we stand on. It’s the water we taint with our piss and shit. It’s the air, thick with the smell of cotton candy and popcorn. Clowns brought the imbalance; now the time has come to shift it back to where it once was.”
Melons’ cherry nose sprouted whiskers. Her lips drew back, revealing a set of teeth sharp as daggers. Her ears flattened against her head and stretched laterally. Her hands curled into paws.
And then they heard, all of them, the high squeak of the Werebunnies. The tent was surrounded. Soon, the hopping would begin.
Bio: Called “a mad, genre-defying genius” by author/filmmaker Terry M. West, Alex S. Johnson is the author of such books as The Doom Hippies, Bad Sunset, Shattergirl and Doctor Flesh. He has also edited and published the Floppy Shoes Apocalypse clown horror series, the Axes of Evil heavy metal horror series, Chunks: A Barfzarro Anthology and others now in preparation through Nocturnicorn Books. He recently edited the dystopian satirical anthology Trumpocalypse for Horrified Press, and plans to do more work with them soon. Johnson‘s novella Freaks of Hell is due to arrive later in the year from Sleazy Viking Press. He enjoys salty, sour and spicy foods, coffee and all manner of media. Johnson currently lives in Sacramento, California, at the heart of the Central Valley.