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One thing I had learned as a child was never to question the strange photos near the fireplace in the living room. My mother would never talk about them and if I did ask about them, she would crossly tell me to be quiet. So I tried not to ask about them again after that.

I remember, one time, she told me they were from a time in her life that she wasn't too proud of. I asked her why she kept them up, but she simply said that she just couldn't. I kept asking why but her response was me being yelled at and sent to my room.

I asked my dad about them, but he was none the wiser. "Your mother had this period in her life," he told me, "where she was into some very odd things, romantically I mean." I asked him why he didn't take them down. "They're stuck like glue to the wall," my father said. I was confused by this and made up my mind that he was lying.

They were strange; they were of a few people no one in our household recognized; a toddler, twin boys, a bride and a groom, a clown and an old woman. Yet, these photos felt strangely off. Something about them felt uncanny. Whenever I’d sit in the living room watching the television or reading a book, I shivered under their cold gaze.

But now that I’m in college I hardly ever have to deal with those photographs. Only at Christmas do I have to be under the hard, trapping gaze of those people in the photos.

In my last year of college, I went home for Christmas. The celebration itself was nice. Crackers, lights, presents, and watching Christmas specials were some of the many highlights of those few days.

But there was one thing that happened and made me never want to go back to my old house.

I had lost a shoe. It was one of my shoes that I wore for fancy occasions. It was one of my favorites too, so I pulled apart the whole house looking for it. I did not find it though. Yet, one day I found myself in the living room reading a book. I glanced at the pictures and almost fell out of my seat when I saw that clown holding something. It was my shoe.

And its usual frowning face had a sickening grin.

I blinked and the picture had returned to normal. But then I saw the twins holding a shoe, I was even more shocked. The twins had that same grin the clown had.

The grin was unlike any other. Their lips were darkly stained; if it weren’t for the fact that the pictures were in black and white, I would’ve told you what colour they were stained with. But I didn’t want to know in all honesty.

Their teeth; they were rotten. Some of them were missing. Some of them had bits that had already fallen off. They were uneven, odd, and uncanny.

The grins themselves were the worst. They were inhuman. They stretched so wide you could fit four light bulbs in them. They were so big too, from the bottom of their nose to the bottom of their chin. It was disgusting.

But every time I blinked, another picture from the set had my shoe and that awful grin. I ran out of the living room. I did not want to go back in there, because I knew if I did I would lose my mind.

One day I was looking on the internet for something, anything, related to these photos. I remembered the setting of the clown photo; in front of a cottage. So I searched it up: "Clown in front of a cottage photo."

The first result was a news article. My jaw dropped when I read the headline.


I read the rest of the news article.

“Local man, Daniel Shelby, has been arrested for the murder of six people.

“Shelby confessed to luring his child victims into the cottage of a man named Geoff Wright whilst dressed as a clown. The rest he lured with the help of his son, Eddie Shelby, who posed as a child in need of help.

“He murdered his victims with an axe.

“He admitted to photographing his victims before they died, the whereabouts of those pictures are currently unknown.

“In chronological order his victims are: Darren O’Shea (aged 5), Samuel Dean (aged 12), William Dean (aged 12), Christina Lopez (aged 32), Raul Lopez (aged 30) and Betty McElroy (aged 52).

“Shelby has fed both himself and his son the remains of his victims. He has admitted to eating human flesh as a child and claimed it was ‘good for a growing boy’.

“Shelby’s son has pleaded insane and has been sent to Warren Mental Institution. Shelby himself, however, has committed suicide via repeatedly hitting his head against the bars of his cell until he died from his injuries.

“This is the last known photo of Shelby.”

My hand shivered as I scrolled down and saw none other than the picture of that very clown.

I thought back to what my mother had told me all those years ago. Was she one of those sick people who thought murderers were hot? I shuddered in disgust.

After some time googling more stuff related to this case, I went back into the living room to check those photos, to compare them to the pictures of the victims I had seen when googling their names, but all the people in the photos were gone. They had disappeared, they’d vanished.

All of them except for that damn clown.

He had that same sickening smile. But he wasn’t holding my shoe anymore.

He was holding a shiny, silver, sharp axe.

Written by Doctor Pooka
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