He Who Laughs Last…

When Felix achieved his lifelong ambition to be a clown with the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus, he felt it was time to get married. He was 30-years-old, and had spent the last nine years training to be a classic clown.

The year was 1959, and the famous circus was wintering in Venice, Florida. The owners, John Ringling North and Arthur Concello, had moved the circus from tents to indoor shows a few years ago.

Felix was a thrifty bachelor who saved his money. He dated the same woman, Laura, for two years, and he was very much in love with her. She said she was in love with him and wanted to have his babies.

It was a small, but nice wedding, with mainly family members from both sides attending. Afterwards, they said goodbye to New Jersey, and moved into a one-bedroom house they bought in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

It was more of an investment than a place where they stayed, because the circus was always touring the country. The circus arrived in every city in a precise order. The first train consisted of 22 cars loaded with tents and the workers to set them up.

The second train to arrive was even longer, with 28 cars holding canvas-men, ushers, and sideshow workers. The performers always arrived last in 19 sleeping cars. Felix and Laura had their names written on the wall above their sleeping space in the seventh car.

Felix became a beloved clown who appealed to children and parents alike.

He pushed poodles around in a baby carriage, rode a tiny bicycle, wore a squirting flower that he used on everyone, did acrobatic tricks, juggled everything from bowling pins to toasters, and interacted with the other clowns in funny skits.

One of the secrets of his success was that he was always working on his acts and thinking up new ones. Some days went by when Laura only saw him at bedtime. When they stayed in a city they sometimes got a hotel room for more privacy.

Other performers and their spouses (if they had one) did the same thing if they could afford to. Those who couldn’t afford to, lived in the sleeper cars and tents set up outside near the train.

It was late into their second touring season when Laura started having roving eyes. One of the acrobats, Luigi, considered himself a ladies man and quickly picked up on Laura’s friendly vibes.

It wasn’t long before the two were involved in an affair. Both took every opportunity to be together. She was married, and he wasn’t. They managed to hide their affair for several months before Felix found out.

His first reaction was to confront her about her adultery and ask why?

But as he thought about it the need for revenge grew stronger. Ever since he heard those two acrobats talking about their brother Luigi making time with one of the clowns wives, a hardness settled over his heart.

For the first time in his life he didn’t want to be laughed at.

He didn’t want to hear the gossip that was surely circulating throughout the circus. People were laughing at him because he was a cuckhold. Not because of one of his routines.

One day he saw the two of them together talking by the Tiger cage. He knew who Luigi was now. They held hands for a moment and then parted ways in opposite directions. Felix watched Luigi walk over to his brothers who started laughing when he said something.

Felix watched, just out of sight, behind stacked up bales of hay. An elephant trumpeted loudly, spinning him around in surprise. It’s keeper was bringing food. He walked back inside the big top, picked up some bowling pins, and began juggling them.

His anger was transforming to rage and threatening his sanity. His own thoughts disturbed him. All he could think about was getting the last laugh…

Luigi and Laura were talking about what to do about Felix. They wanted to declare their love to the world. But what was the best way to get him out of the picture? Divorce? Laura didn’t think she could stand the stigma and balked at the idea.

Hot-blooded Luigi brought up killing Felix one day after they were finished making love. Laura acted shocked, but something bad inside her considered the idea. The next time Luigi brought it up she asked, “How?

A monster was stirring beneath Felix’s clown makeup. He looked in the mirror on his dresser and didn’t recognize the eyes that stared back at him. He sat the jar of black grease paint down. This look was unlike any other clown around.

They called it “Blackface” in vaudeville. He pulled on a wooly wig and looked at the transformation. Tonight was the night. He would settle with his unfaithful wife and her lover.

That same night, Luigi talked his brothers into murdering Felix. He convinced them it was a family thing that needed doing. When they left to look for him, Luigi hurried off to meet Laura at a pre-arranged spot across the railroad tracks in an old lineman’s shack.

Not far behind him, Felix stealthily followed with a knife he stole from the circus kitchen. All Luigi could think about was meeting up with Laura. He never heard Felix come up from behind him!

In a swift vicious stroke he cut Luigi’s throat! He gasped for air and blood bubbled up from his lips. His body teetered for a second then came crashing down on the rough gravel. Felix watched his body twitch in its death spasms and smiled beneath his blackface.

Laura asked the lion and tiger tamer, Victor, if the plan would work. Again. He was getting impatient with her. Being the third wheel in a love triangle is never easy. He assured her the police would be waiting for Luigi’s two brothers and would interrogate them.

Felix would be dead, and Luigi would be left out in the cold.

Victor was right. Luigi couldn’t get any colder than he was. He was wrong about Felix however, who came up behind him, and drew his knife cleanly across his throat!

Laura screamed in horror!

Felix couldn’t stop laughing…

As It Stands, affairs of the heart can often be bloody.

The Strange New Neighbor

Listen to this story on Creepypasta

Tad drew the front curtains aside so he could watch what was happening across the street.

He’d never seen movers do what they were doing. They constructed an awning from the front door to the back of a 24-foot moving van. It was prefabricated with side panels that attached to the awning, making it impossible to see what was being taken out of the van.

Tad’s usual curiosity shifted into overdrive as he considered reasons for doing something like that.

“Why hide your stuff?” he mused out loud.

“What’s the matter honey?” his wife Agatha asked, as she looked up from the quilt she was working on.

“New neighbors...” he mumbled.

“So?” she wondered.

“Never seen anything like it. Look at that tunnel between the van and their front door. You ever seen anything like it?” he asked.

“No, I haven’t Tad. Maybe they’re concerned about getting their possessions wet. Didn’t you say it might rain today?”

“Yeah…” he grudgingly agreed. “Still, I never seen anything like it.”

Tad Higgins was a retired accountant who was only comfortable when everything around him was in a certain order. There was a place in life for everything, he often told his long-suffering wife of 60 years. Even a toothpick has its proper place.

Anything out of his orderly existence immediately made him suspicious, and very curious. Secretly, he wished that he was a famous adventurer admired by everyone. Realistically, he knew he was anything but athletic or daring.

He looked back out the front window wondering what his neighbors looked like. So far, no sign of anyone except for the van’s driver, and the two workers who set up the tunnel.

Tad tamped the ashes out of his Meerschaum pipe into a glass ashtray and glanced over at his wife. She was busy doing her thing. Their black pug, Molly, was snuggled up against her side, snoring as she slept.

He rocked back and forth in his rocking chair while slowly packing another bowl of cherry blend. He lit it with an old Zippo lighter he bought when he was a teenager. It was getting dark when the two movers took the tunnel down.

He watched them get in the van. The headlights came on and it pulled out of the long driveway. He didn’t see any lights on in the house, and wondered if the new neighbors moved in yet?

Agatha set her quilt down and got up, waking Molly who stretched out on the couch.

“I’m going to get ready for bed honey,” she said. Molly followed closely behind.

“All right, dear. I’m going to take a short walk.”

“If it starts raining you get right back in the house,” she made him promise.

“Yes, dear…”

Tad put his heavy raincoat on, his walking shoes, and a derby to warm his bald head. At 83-years-old, he was in good shape for a man his age. He made a habit of walking at least five miles a day when he was in his 40s, and it was now second nature to him.

He’d already gone for his daily walk, but needed something to tell his wife why he wanted to go outside. It wasn’t unusual for him to go on short nightly walks that helped him sleep better.

He tapped his pocket to make sure he had the keys and locked the front door behind him. He stood under the porch light for a moment and looked at the house across the street.

Then he went down to the sidewalk and strolled along his side of the street.

After going down a couple of blocks he turned around and headed back on the opposite sidewalk. The cherry trees that lined the neighborhood swayed gently with a gathering wind. The moon was only a sliver hiding in dark clouds.

As he neared his new neighbor’s house he slowed down when the garage door opened. He quickly got next to a tree and squatted down. A black Dodge Ram pickup with an extended cab and black-tinted windows backed out slowly.

Before the door closed, and when the truck turned on its headlights, he got a brief glance inside the garage and saw what he assumed was a man standing there. He had to be seven-feet tall, Tad guessed.

It started raining outside as he crossed the street, and went back inside his house.

The next day.

Dr. Reinhart Elderidge screwed the skin-colored plastic plate back onto the android’s skull. The android came to life immediately, and asked the doctor what his orders were? Reinhart peeked through the blinds and looked across the street, before answering, “I want you to be in charge of security, Jonah.”

 “As you wish doctor. What are my standing orders?”

“Rule number one, don’t ever let anyone in this house beside me, unless I tell you otherwise. Rule two, it’s okay to answer the door if someone comes by. Just remember rule number one.

“You’re to say the owner of the house is not in, and you’ll take a message from the caller.”

“As you command doctor.”

“As for the other droids, make sure each one only does their assigned tasks. None of them are to ever leave this house. You can go about your duties now.”

“Yes, doctor.”

Jonah was the most complete android he’d ever created. And the tallest, on a whim. He was his first really human-looking android, exceeding his own expectations. His other creations weren’t as perfect-looking, or as mental acute as he was.

As a matter of fact, most of them looked incomplete because they were. They looked more like monstrosities than anything else. Some didn’t have heads. Or arms. Or legs. They moved around awkwardly.

Reinhart didn’t care that they were unsightly. They were his babies. A lifetime of work was reflected in their twisted humanoid inspired bodies.

If not for inheriting the family fortune, Reinhart could have never achieved all of this alone without any kind of financing from an outside interest. Like the government. He never took an assistant, preferring to toil away alone.

He peeked out the blinds again and saw his neighbor staring out the window towards his direction. Earlier he was outside by his mail box, staring at the house. Reinhart was uncomfortable with his curiosity, but also understood it was normal.

He’d gone through this before. It was his habit to move every seven years and to change his identity. He didn’t trust anyone. He never made friends. Reinhart was content to lead a solitary existence.

His success with Jonah gave him an unexpected confidante. It was such a new experience that he was still adjusting to it.

After a week of burning curiosity Tad could stand it no longer. He talked Agatha into making some chocolate chip cookies and taking them across the street with him.

“It’s only right that we say hello to our new neighbors after they’ve had time to settle in,” he reasoned.

When Jonah opened the door they both automatically looked up.

“Hi there! I’m Tad, and this is Agatha my wife. We’re your neighbors across the street. Are you the new owner?”

Jonah blinked his dark brown eyes and said, “No. I’m not the new owner. He is out right now. Can I take a message?” he asked, in what Tad thought was a mechanical response.

“Well…here’s some cookies and welcome to the neighborhood,” Tad said.

Jonah stiffly reached down and took the plate of cookies. “I will relay your message sir.”

“Hey! You can call me Tad. We’re neighbors.”

The door shut.

“How do you like that?” he groused as they walked back to the house. “That guy looked like that butler in the Addams Family. Remember Lurch?” 

“I do honey. He was played by Ted Cassidy, I believe.”

The conversation followed them into the house.

An odd friendship developed over the next year between Jonah and Tad. Jonah would be watering the lawn or getting the mail and Tad would see him and wave. They seldom talked.

Tad gave up trying to meet the house’s owner. He was obviously a recluse and he had to respect that.

Jonah meanwhile was puzzled. He liked waving, and, or, saying hello to Tad. He didn’t mind listening to him talk away while he was doing his outdoor chores. Was this part of his program?

He mentioned the daily contacts he had with Tad, to Reinhart one day. In one way he was glad to see Jonah was good enough to fool someone into thinking he was human, but on the other he was moving into a new realm…emotions. It was uncharted territory.

Jonah did not sleep at night. It wasn’t necessary. He walked around the house checking on things and reading books. He also got into a protective habit of looking out the front window at Tad and Agatha’s house, off-and-on throughout the night.

Almost two years had passed when one night while Jonah was looking out the front window he saw two masked men with guns, slinking around Tad’s front porch. He knew what that meant.

Tad and Agatha were in danger. The doctor wasn’t home to ask what he should do. He thought about rule one and two. There were no other rules. No rule that said he couldn’t help his neighbors.

As he opened the front door Tad stepped outside with a baseball bat. He’d heard the intruders. “Get out of here you punks!” he shouted, and took a step towards the two men.

“Drop the bat you old bastard, or we’ll shoot you!”

Instead, Tad moved forward, swinging the bat as he did. One of them fired his gun point-blank at Tad, hitting him in the shoulder! The bat struck the other man in the arm knocking his gun down.

Then Jonah was there! He grabbed the man still holding the gun and broke his arm like a twig! The intruder’s howl of pain filled the night. Jonah hit him squarely on the jaw knocking him out!

He turned on the other man and threw several precise punches, sending him to the ground alongside his unconscious cohort. Tad staggered over and picked up his bat in case either tried to get up.

Jonah came up to him, and put his big hand on the wound.

Will you be all right Tad?” he asked with a touch of emotion that surprised him.

“Yes. You saved my life Jonah! How can I ever repay you?”

“Don’t tell the doctor what happened here. Tell the police you beat them up. They’ll deny it and say I did it, but you tell them they’re crazy cowards! I don’t want people to know I was here.” 

“Anything you say Jonah! Thank you again.”

Agatha came running out of the house crying. She saw Tad’s wound and pulled out her cell phone and called 911.

Soon the sound of sirens filled the night.

As It Stands, androids are always a fun subject to write about.

Time out of Time

Something went terribly wrong with Dr. Vincent Van Buren’s time machine.

The first time he used it, in 2018, everything went well. He took a quick visit to North Kingstown, Rhode Island in 1950, the year he was born, and returned in the allotted ten minutes to San Diego, California.

There wasn’t much room in the time machine. It was basically a round ball with a seat inside and three collapsible legs to stand on outside.

Van Buren was a genius. All the technology he used was far in advance of anyone else in 2018.

World scientists were aware of some of his work, but the majority thought he was a well-educated eccentric with delusions. His papers on time travel were jeered by his colleagues.

He never let the naysayers get him down. He prepared all of his life for this moment…when he would become a time traveler. That time was now as he readied himself for his next visit to the past.

He wore a black jumpsuit that had pockets in front, down the sides, and in back. In them he carried things like a compass, a pocket knife, length of rope, dried meals, nutrition bars, first aid supplies, a magnifying glass, and an extra battery for the taser gun he wore on a utility belt.

When he sat down inside he had just enough room to put two canteens of water between his feet. All the controls were within his reach. There was a small monitor that was hooked up to a camera on top of the time machine, providing a panoramic look outside.

This time he set the controls for ancient Egypt’s Old Kingdom period (2686-2181 BC). He chose the Great Sphinx of Giza for his destination point.

Then he was there.

The time machine was just a few feet away from the enormous Sphinx as he looked at the monitor. It was night, but a full moon lit the desert landscape as Van Buren pushed a button and the hatch door opened.

The interior lights profiled him as he stepped out in time for two Egyptian traders to see him. He could hear shrieks of terror as they urged their camels on to greater speeds!

“They either think I was a god, or someone really evil,” he thought while walking over to the base of the Sphinx. His studies told him that it was located on the west bank of the Nile, near Cairo, and that the sphinx was believed to be the pharaoh Khafra.

Van Buren marveled at the traditional blue and gold horizontal bands on the nemes headdress. The body was red. The face was yellow, a traditional color for men in ancient Egypt.

The Sphinx’s black beard was striking. In Van Buren’s time archeologists had just recently discovered the broken-off beard buried in the sand.

He lost track of time while walking around the Sphinx, but his wristwatch beeped, reminding him that it was time to get back. A few minutes later he settled in and waited for the auto pilot to take over.

He was still waiting an hour later!

Something was horribly wrong!

He tried not to panic. It wouldn’t help anything. He pulled out an emergency tool kit and started to dismantle the main panel when there was a bright flash and he was thrown back in his seat!

The sphinx was gone. He could see a primordial jungle outside. Then he saw a sight that made his blood run cold! A Tyrannosaurus rex was chasing a smaller dinosaur and they were coming his way!

In his moment of terror, a part of Van Buren’s brain recalled that it must be the Late Cretaceous period in what was in his time, North America. One of the dinosaurs slammed into the time machine and sent it spinning down a slope!

The Tyrannosaurus rex let out a roar of victory when it caught the smaller animal. For the first time in his life, Van Buren thought about death. He suspected he was close to it right now. He watched through the monitor – the camera was still miraculously working – and saw the bipedal carnivore rip his meal apart.

The stabilizers were still working or he would be in an even more awkward position. Suddenly the curious carnivore saw the time machine. It started moving in his direction when…there was a flash, and he was somewhere else!

It was raining outside and he couldn’t make anything out. His heart was still beating fast and he felt faint. He reached into one of his pockets and pulled out a nutrition bar. As he chewed on it he tried to organize his thoughts.

He was afraid of stepping outside in case the time machine decided to move on. Why it was happening mystified him. Then it happened again.

This time he saw sunshine.

He was in the middle of a field of wheat. He looked at the monitor and idly wondered where he was now. He was as startled as the man who stepped into view swinging a sickle!

He stopped and warily moved towards the time machine. He was divided between curiosity and fear while looking at the camera. Van Buren guessed he was a European peasant from his clothing, pock marks on his face, and blackened teeth. The antique sickle fit with his guess.

“Sacrebleu!” the man cried out in surprise.

Then, in a flash, he was gone!

When Van Buren was able to focus his eyes again on the monitor all he could see was snow. The time machine was sitting in an arctic tundra with no civilization in sight. He was glad that the climate control inside was still working.

Hours passed this time. He quit looking at the monitor. There was nothing to see but whiteness. He wondered if this was finally it? He couldn’t get the controls to work properly, and he was at the machine’s mercy.

Exhausted, he nodded off. 

When he woke up he was in his laboratory! He immediately pushed the button to open the hatch and crawled out. His legs were numb from sitting. His elation at this turn of events was short-lived however, as the time machine disappeared again!

All of his work was gone! Who would believe him now? A sense of despair gripped him and he slunk into a depression. Family and friends couldn’t get him to leave his lab for anything.

After a while they all gave up. The courts said he wasn’t crazy and he could do what he wanted. All Van Buren wanted, was for his time machine to return again someday! He’d be there waiting.

As It Stands, time travel can be a tricky thing.

Blink If You Can Hear Me!

The huge cargo ship, Alushion, lumbered on in space, dwarfing some stars as it hurtled towards its destination.

The crew didn’t know what they were carrying, nor did most care. The majority of the 32 man-crew were old-timers who had been with the ship for years. There was one new crew member however.

His name was Gorm, and he was assigned all the shit duties aboard the ship. He was pretty sure that it would take years before he moved up enough to where he wasn’t cleaning bathrooms and grease pits.

But he didn’t plan on being a crew member forever. He was a former reporter for The World News in Gallax’s biggest city Aahorn. He quit his job because his editor wouldn’t let him write stories about state corruption and slavery.

What made him make the big move was a tip from a trusted informant. Gallax’s biggest cargo ship was carrying more than minerals and Gallaxian steel. It was also covertly carrying slaves!

Gorm was sure his editor wouldn’t let him go undercover and investigate it. So he quit and applied for a menial job as a crew member aboard the Alushion. He was in luck. One of the regulars was in an accident and they needed a replacement.

The adventure of it all appealed to Gorm’s endless imagination.

He would write a tell-all book about slavery that would catapult him to fame and wealth. Civilized Gallaxians abhorred slavery, but there was a criminal element that specialized in it.

Every city on Gallax had a problem with residents disappearing. No bodies ever showed up. The authorities seemed unable to do anything about it. There were hints of what was going on, like when one man escaped.

He was blinded and never knew that he was hidden in a building near the International Space Station. But he did hear broken conversations and shared those with authorities.

The slavers were well-organized. How they got their captives off world was a mystery. There were so many possibilities the authorities were stumped. Private ships, military ships, commercial travel ships, cargo ships, and on, and on.

There were literally thousands of possibilities to hide slaves.

The slavers would wait until they had at least 200 captives before transporting them. The captain of the Alushion was a corrupt scoundrel with high government connections. His arrangement with the slavers paid him three times his captain’s salary.

The whole scheme was the brainchild of Lancor Mey, the leader of the biggest underworld gang on Gallax. He partnered up with the ship’s captain, Kanor Olk, and for the past ten years they transported thousands of Gallaxians off world and to other planets that provided eager buyers.

The ship actually had two crews; the one that authorities saw consisting of 32 employees, and the one they didn’t see that consisted of three employees whose only job was to take care of the captives.

This was made possible by having a false hull that was converted into an area where the helpless captives were put in plastic pods that sporadically emitted sleeping gases. They were hooked up to feeder tubes which the small crew was supposed to monitor.

Gorm was so busy for the first three days that he didn’t have time to explore anything. No menial task was below him. On the fourth day he found himself with some free time. He was such a hard worker that some of the crew members were already letting up on him.

He learned that there were three decks and a hold of Galaxian steel and tons of minerals in it. He knew where the captain’s quarters was, the ship’s kitchen, the navigation deck, the crew’s quarters, and where the various supply rooms were.

A week later, Gorm was becoming discouraged. He still hadn’t seen anything suspicious, or heard any juicy conversations that might provide leads to where the slaves were being held.

He was starting to think he was a fool for listening to the tipster. He was stuck on a cargo ship that wouldn’t return to Gallax for three more weeks.

Then a break came.

He got to know all the crew members during his short time aboard, and when he saw a stranger slip out of the kitchen and scurry to a door that led below decks, he followed. He could hear the stranger’s footsteps as he disappeared down into the engine room.

Gorm looked at the small nuclear reactor that was the ship’s source of power. All eight feet of it was sheathed in steel plates with Gallaxian script engraved into them. Gorm was so close to the stranger that he had to duck behind the reactor when he stopped, and started to turn around checking to see if he was being followed.

Then the stranger put his hand on the wall and a hidden door slid open! Gorm cautiously watched where he put his hand. He had no doubt what he’d find if he went into that secret room.

He knew for sure there was one slaver, and more than likely others inside. He had no way of knowing how many of them. Nothing about the situation was good. What should he do?

He couldn’t stay here much longer before someone missed him. He considered telling the captain, but as he walked back to his quarters a growing sense of alarm told him not to. He really couldn’t trust anyone aboard.

After the encounter with the stranger he made a habit of going back to where the secret door was several times a day. His persistence paid off days before they were scheduled to land on Anterrean, Gallax’s main trading partner.

He was hiding behind the reactor which was directly across from the secret door when one of the slavers emerged. He hurried out. Gorm went to the spot and put his hand there.

At first he couldn’t see anything. The room was bathed in a soft blue light that didn’t throw shadows. Gorm saw another slaver slouched over a keyboard in front of a monitor. He was asleep.

As he felt his way around the room he saw another stranger stretched out on a bunk asleep. His luck was holding up. Then he came to a row of pods that held the captives. As he continued to search he found more rows. He stopped in front of one when he noticed a movement.

The captive in one pod opened his eyes and moved his head slightly.

“Blink if you can hear me,” Gorm said.

The Gallaxian blinked twice. The horror of the situation made Gorm’s blood run cold. “I’m going to try to help you,” he said.

The Gallaxian blinked again. Then his eyes grew wider!

Gorm didn’t hear anything until too late. A slaver slipped up behind him and put him in a chokehold. Darkness.

When he woke up he was in a room full of captives from planets throughout the solar system. He guessed he was on Anterrean. He felt like a damn fool! What made him think he would get away with going into that room?

He always wanted to experience adventures and to be a writer. Now he was a slave!

A slaver came into the room and roughly grabbed him by his arm, and led him outside to a platform before a group of prospective buyers.

“This pathetic creature,” the auctioneer droned, “...says he’s a writer. Who needs a writer? he asked the group. A couple of low bids were thrown out and the auctioneer acted disgusted, “I might as well slaughter him and sell his meat to the Zarks,” he grouched.

Finally a wealthy female Gallaxian made a bid that was acceptable. The auctioneer gave her the mobile control device that activated the shock collar on Gorm’s neck. It was standard slave issue.

Gorm followed her obediently down a series of well-maintained streets until they came to a big compound. His new master’s name was Illse, and she was the mistress of the large house.

“You’re job here is to tell stories to my children every night. If they like them, I’ll set you free after you tell a hundred consecutive tales.”

“Well… I don’t know…

“Writers are storytellers, are they not?”

“Yes…yes, you could call them that.”

“Good. Then we have an agreement?”

“Sure. By the way, what happens if I run out of stories or your kids don’t like them?”

“You become Zark meat,” she said conversationally.

Gorm gave a sick grin, and said, “When do we start?”

As It Stands, life is about adapting to situations.