I had to delete that goddamn chain letter, didn’t I? The motel bathtub—or my new my bed, depending on how you looked at it—creaked against my aching back. With the way my luck was going, I wouldn’t be surprised if I woke up covered in ice, and one kidney light. I rubbed my side and shuddered at the possibility, and then I wondered what twelve years feels like.
I sipped at the steaming coffee carefully, as I hid within the cubicle, checking my personal email. The traffic up and down the office halls began to slowly grow. The work day rearing its expressionless head, in minutes the place would become frantic, and we the sheep would flock to our specific herds—the high school class system still seeped deep within our psyche.
There were four unopened emails, two from my neighbor Pervert Dave, both of them containing attachments to video clips that I dare not open on the company computer. One was from Shelly—who worked down the aisle from me. She wanted to know if I would be attending our company’s Fourth of July barbecue.
The answer would be a resounding No. But Shelly was attractive, and showed an acceptable amount of interest in me (more than none), so I would skirt the issue, perhaps attempting to convince her that binge drinking at a dive bar near my dilapidated split level was the wiser choice. The fourth email appeared to be junk mail, its subject line read: Open me! And I did so without pause.
A graphic of a hideous leprechaun dancing appeared, and below the flamboyant troll, the email went on about the luck of the Irish, and how luck would be granted to all of those people smart enough to forward this email to twelve of their friends. I don’t have twelve friends to begin with, the fact that I had to be reminded of this in a chain letter was just plain cruel.
As I scrolled down further, I noticed the threat of twelve years of bad luck, and the word cursed appeared frequently throughout the body of the email. Not one to take kindly to chain letters, or idle threats, I forcefully slammed my index finger onto the mouse button, effectively erasing the ridiculous hindrance from existence. I was god.
A brief satisfaction gripped me, unfortunately it vanished quickly as my computer screen blinked the numbers 666 rapidly, and then switched to a wallpaper of a grizzly bear having relations of a sexual nature with a man, who appeared to be in a great deal of pain. The computer speaker blared Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy”, as I jumped from my seat in horror.
The volume of the music began to attract some of my co- workers; they began to gravitate toward my cubicle, peering in one by one, watching as I frantically attempted to disconnect the computer. The bear roaring and pumping away, the man staring out at the viewer, grimacing, resigned to his fate.
I leaped under my desk and pulled the plug from the outlet, the music thankfully stopped. My co-workers snickered loudly to one another as they began to disperse back to their own work stations. I gracefully re-emerged from under the desk, bumping its edge with my head, knocking my coffee cup onto the floor, its steamy black innards splashing into the outlet that had just relinquished my computer of its power. A hiss was audible, and the power in the entire office went out. Just like that. Cut to black.
The next hour brought an onslaught of commotion. Managers, supervisors, and countless vice presidents, all of them desperately were attempting to remedy the situation. Electricians and building engineers were called in, none of them able to figure out what was wrong with the power. The only thing that everyone was certain of was that I was to blame. A brief meeting with my supervising manager, and I was on my way home.
Admittedly, chain smoking in my Camry was a welcome reprieve. Traffic began to bottleneck, as I glanced up at the digital traffic billboard that hung ominously over the highway. The traffic times switched off, leaving a strange rectangular blackness in its wake. Suddenly, the digital board came to life once more TWELVE YEARS it read. The shock of witnessing this impossibility forced my hands into spastic gyrations.
Veering into the left lane; I caught a glimpse of a mini-van, milliseconds before the impact. The collision was obnoxiously loud, as I stuffed my front bumper under the van’s back end. Quickly gathering my bearings, I hit reverse, pulled out from under the wreckage that used to be a minivan and my Camry, and pulled onto the shoulder.
Smoke generously poured out from under my hood. The mini-van followed suit, pulling over onto the same shoulder fifty or so feet in front of me. I emerged from the car, startled and jittery, pretending to inspect the front end. Looking up at the mini-van in front of me, I noticed all of the windows were tinted completely black.
The sliding door swung open with a thud, long peculiar pant legs connected to giant red shoes stepped from the vehicle. Standing in front of me was an angry clown, adorned in a sport coat, checkered pants, and those mesmerizing giant red shoes. His large frizzy orange hair was puffed on either side of his head with a hat much too tiny for such a large skull. His face was painted a stark white, with black eyeliner circling each enraged eye, blood red lipstick generously coating his nose and lips. Slightly shaking my head side to side, I attempted to rid myself of this very real image.
As I did so, another equally large and angry clown exited the vehicle, identical to the previous one, and yet another, and then another. They continued pouring out of the mini-van, as the first few walked menacingly towards me. All in all, there were about seven or eight of them, I couldn’t be sure.
“What the fuck do you think you’re doing?!” The first clown barked.
“I’m really sorry! I lost control! The traffic sign freaked me out, it was tellin—”
He skipped towards me and threw a punch, like a coked up prize fighter swinging at an unfaithful wife. The fist connected with my mouth, bringing my frantic excuses to an abrupt conclusion. I fell to the pavement in a broken heap. My legs not responding as I tried in vain to get to my feet and run. The enraged clown septuplets circled me, beginning to kick and punch my body and limbs, while I desperately tried to cover up. One of them grabbed my arms and pulled them back, forcing me to stand upright.
The crazed clown in front of me leaned in close, his booze soaked breath layering my face as he hissed,
“Do you think you can just go around fucking with our kind?! Do you?!”
The painted devil nailed me with a body shot dropping me once more onto all fours. They all laughed in maniacal unison as they walked back to their mini-van. The clown carrier peeled out as it fish tailed back onto the highway, an empty forty ounce beer bottle flying out from the passenger side window.
Stammering back to my feet, I breathed in the lingering air of drunken clowns through a broken and battered sinus cavity. Dejected and beaten, I walked back to my car, dreaming of the sweet release my couch would no doubt bring me.
It didn’t turn over, my camry was dead. The accident must have severely screwed up something, because there was no starting it. The question now was would I remain here waiting patiently for help to arrive, or would I continue the trek home on foot. Seeing as I was just beaten in public by marauding circus folk, and no one came to my aid, I chose the second option. After all, the next ramp was my exit and I was only a couple miles from home.
The walking was hard to do as my bruised frame throbbed. I crossed the highway, and stumbled down the exit ramp, dodging down-on-their-luck veterans who asked for change. Maybe it was too many movies, but I felt as if the look they gave me was telling. As if they understood my current plight. As if maybe, once upon a time, in some distant past, they too wore the clothes of a clown beaten man-child.
My pace quickened to a brisk jog, and I came upon the local grocery store a couple of blocks from my home. It had recently been bought out by a large chain, and was now twice as bright and shiny as it used to be. I slowed back down to a walk, the all knowing bums far enough in my rear view for me to be comfortable with. There was some sort of commotion in front of the nameless chain’s front doors. Hundreds of picket signs which appeared to be held by hundreds of children, paraded in an energetic manner back and forth in front of the store.
I carefully walked toward the spectacle, slowly realizing that the children were actually little people. I had never seen a little person up close, let alone a hundred agitated ones with signs, my curiosity was peaked, and I felt the tinge of guilt as well. They chanted over and over in unison,
“Discrimination is wrong! We’re people too!”
I watched as they marched and repeated their mantra. A pretty blonde little person—who was watching the proceedings intently—stood next to me. I glanced down at her and nodded, as she glanced up at me and did the same.
“What’s this all about?” I asked.
“They refused to serve one of us, even after he showed them his i.d.”
“That’s weird, why?”
“Because they’re racist assholes.” She muttered matter of factly.
I looked down at her quizzically.
“Are you guys considered a race? I mean how does it work?”
The shock in her eyes told me all I needed to know.
“What did you just say?!” she growled.
I backed away slowly, my arms out in a “please, I meant no harm” gesture. Quickly turning, she screamed to the crowd of pint-sized picketers.
“This asshole just called me a midget!”
The crowd stopped marching, the chant with no rhyme scheme came to a screeching halt—imagine the record scratch, the bar full of angry patrons…yep, just like that.
“Whoah! Whoah! Whoah! I did not say that!”
The blonde kicked me hard in the shin.
“He’s a fucking liar!” She howled.
This lady was so fucking mean. I screamed like a six year old girl, and began to feverishly sprint away from the crowd, which only added fuel to the fire.
The mini-mob immediately gave chase; it was like when you briskly walk away from an over friendly, possibly horny dog, only to have it follow you even more aggressively. The mob mentality had grown roots in their collective heads, and there was no other option now. They were going to make an example out of yours truly.
Close behind me, I heard labored breathing and the rapid thuds of tiny feet racing closer toward me, cursing me all the while. Picket signs flew to the right and left of me, narrowly missing their target. I was gaining some distance on them now; I cut through some yards, and hopped some fences, making quick left and quick right turns along the way. Glancing back, I saw that the first fence had slowed the mob a great deal; they bunched up behind it, slowly climbing over, a few at a time. I stopped momentarily to catch my breath. Watching as they cursed and shook their fists in my general direction.
I continued on my way, free of the dangerous demonstrators but having learned an important lesson. Never ask a question to anyone, about anything… ever again.
Finally on my block, I smiled and walked to my front door. Upon entering, I crashed heavily onto my computer chair. The strange messages, the ferocious clown beating, and the angry protesters, were no coincidence, and I had to at least attempt to get that message back and send it to everyone I had an email address for, anything to lift its evil curse.
I shook the mouse, waking the monitor from its slumber. A red glow came to the screen, 666 flickered in a horrifying manner on the screen. It faded, as an angry leprechaun appeared in its place. I sat frozen in open-mouthed horror.
“You disobeyed our request and now you will face our wrath! HAHAHAHA!”
The monitor began to smolder and melt, flames bursting upward. The fire quickly began to rise up the wall and spread throughout my living room. I fell backwards onto the floor, screaming and crying in frantic bursts. I ran out the front door and watched from the sidewalk as my home quickly became enveloped in the Leprechaun’s spiteful flames. Neighbors slowly began exiting their homes.
Pervert Dave ran over to me, shouting inaudibly as he shook me by my shoulders, his dildo-forehead attachment slapping repeatedly against my face, but I paid him no mind. I was too far gone. They were no longer my neighbors, no longer my peers, they were now simply the lucky ones, and I the cursed.
The only answer that came to me in those moments was pure and primal… run away. And I did. My world had transformed into something else entirely, and I needed to figure out what to do next, who to become, and how to survive.
Later that night, when my legs could carry me no further, and the general area I was in didn’t seem to be filled with imminent danger, I stopped running. As I stood there, sucking in the air, the lactic acids building up, I saw the motel 8 sign flicker, and for the first time since the incident, an electronic sign did not heap digital threats upon me.
I walked toward the motel hoping that it would become my temporary holy ground…and here I am. In a bathtub—the mattress had a stain that looked like a masturbating bear, so I didn’t want to risk it. Yeah, I’m sleeping in a bathtub. The boogey man is real, the creaks in the floor are Satan, the crawling in the walls are probably zombie vampires, and twelve years is a long fucking time.