The tweets and news articles warn of “creepy clowns” plaguing America.
“Creepy clowns” does not quite cover the horror being experienced as these painted, disturbing costumed humans (???) roam our towns and streets. Merrimack College was on lockdown due to the threat of an “armed clown.” Nothing could be more horrifying—until word went out that one was spotted at UMass Amherst. This turned out to be a hoax, but Hampshire students are not about to be taken off guard.
Deep in the woods, there is work being done. After being blindfolded and sufficiently spun around, I was taken to an undisclosed location by a student who wished to be referred to only as Juggalo Punisher. (Note: an earlier draft of this article called Juggalo Punisher “JP”, but they determined that that was too similar to JP Patches, an infamous clown. Juggalo Punisher does not like clowns.)
“We only use code names here,” Juggalo Punisher told me. “That way, they won’t be able to track us down so easily.”
“But if they do, we’re ready,” said another student, Heath Death Ledger, hefting a high-powered Nerf™ gun. (Remember kids, it’s Nerf™ or Nothing.) “Clowns wear big shoes, so we’ve got tripwire. And some mirrors—we’re hoping they’ll see themselves and be so afraid that they turn and run.”
“We believe in non-violent solutions,” Juggalo Punisher told me. “Not like that rogue mob at UMass, with the forks. But sometimes peaceful solutions fail. When that happens, we have bear traps.”
I looked around the woods. Besides the bunker, I could see only empty cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon, dirt, and the remains of a long ago bonfire. “Is that safe? What if someone gets caught in one?”
“No one is safe,” Heath Death Ledger said, pulling his Nerf™ gun closer to his chest. It was the kind that you have to rev several times that emits foam balls. On the side was a piece of masking tape that said PROPERTY OF MYTHOS- DO NOT STEAL. “Nothing is sacred anymore, dude.”
The bunker itself is made of recycling bins, car tires from that huge pile near Flayvors, hundreds of copies of Garbology, and “no smoking” signs. Inside, I could hear muffled student voices arguing about proper use of cell-phone data, a precious commodity in this land with no Wifi. After some weedling, Juggalo Punisher (who is not, they stressed, the leader: this is a non-hierarchical society, in which everyone has a job—theirs being “the boss”) gave me the password, and I approached the door.
Tacked to it was a drawing of a clown with a giant X through it. I knocked.
“Password?” Someone inside asked.
“Six-six-six-password-six-six-six,” I said.
The door guard was a terrified looking first year, the one currently being berated. It turns out that they had been watching Netflix.
“It’s not my fault,” the first year (code name: Acceptably Cool) complained. “I was halfway through Luke Cage when this whole clown thing broke, I can’t just stop in the middle.” Acceptably Cool wasn’t the only one with some reservations about their new situation: other disputes that I witnessed included toilet paper rationing, proper weapons handling (“Don’t leave the Nerf™ darts in the gun, it wears out the springs!”) and spoiler warnings. Some Anti-Clown Resistance Fighters, it seemed, had already finished Luke Cage.
“If you don’t shut up I’ll tell you what happens,” Heath Death Ledger shouted from the outside. “See, it turns out Diamondback—”
At this point, Acceptably Cool plugged their ears, sang “I can’t hear you” over and over, fled the bunker and made a break for the woods, armed only with a giant farm share zucchini strapped to their back.
“Poor kid,” Juggalo Puncher said, throwing an unlit cigarette to the ground and stomping on it. “The clowns’ll get ‘em if they’re out there alone.”
I asked if there had actually been any clown sightings in the woods, and if so, wouldn’t it be safer just to hole up in a dorm room or something until the threat is passed? Juggalo Punisher laughed at my naive assumptions.
“That’s where they think we’ll be.” They threw another unlit cigarette to the ground and made a show of stomping on it. “No. We will take them by surprise.” Then they looked me right in the eye. “You can quote me on that.”
(Note: Acceptably Cool returned later, in one piece, but with only half their zucchini. They refused to talk about it.)
As of press time, “free-speech” publication the Omen had not denied the popular rumor that their staff was either clown-affiliated… or clowns themselves.