The university library is normally crowded at night, jam-packed with college students who are all fighting the temptation of sleep to study for a test the next morning, or scrambling to finish writing an essay that they'd put off for the last three weeks.
However, on this particular Friday night, the library was as dead as a graveyard.
I figured that everyone else on campus was going to a frat party and tried to ignore the silence. The only other person in the building was the old librarian, Ms. Hays, who was sitting at the front desk. I walked up the stairs to the second floor of the library and made my way to the far side of the room, out of sight from the stairwell.
After grabbing a few books from off the shelf, I started reading. I didn't have any tests or other assignments on my plate; I was simply looking for an escape from the hectic outside world, and I've found personally that nonfiction is the best way to do that.
It was as I was standing up to grab another book that I saw it.
I tried to convince myself that it was my imagination, or a trick of the light.
But I could've sworn that I saw a bright blue, polka-dot spangled outfit pass by my eyes. An outfit worn by a body with a pale, smiling face caked with red and white makeup, with a wild nest of frizzy red hair on top of it.
It took me a second to register what I'd seen.
A clown? In the university library?
The thought was absurd. I had seen some strange things on campus, but never that odd. Maybe it was my imagination. After all, it was pretty late. I figured that it was merely a trick of the light, but I didn't go any further. Instead, I started back toward my chair.
Thud. Thud thud thud. Thud thud thud.
Suddenly, the sounds of heavy books tumbling to the floor pierced the silence like a knife. I nearly screamed, but kept my composure and began making my way to the staircase. I made damn sure not to get within ten feet of the source of the noise, and even then, crouching behind bookshelves as I crept toward the stairs.
Part of me wondered if it was just my imagination. If the books had fallen on their own. I started to turn around.
I won't let paranoia get the best of me.
I twisted my body all the way around, to find that I was face to face with the clown.
It was breathing heavily, its chest heaving up and down. Drool poured out of its mouth, causing the red, painted-on smile to drip, creating a surreal, psychotic grin that looked like it was bleeding.
Its silky clothes shimmered in the dim library lights. I noticed an enormous, spongy nose had been stuck on the clown's sickening face. It had absorbed some the makeup, making it a mix of white and red.
The clown began to giggle uncontrollably, the grin on its face somehow managing to stretch wider. It dug through the pocket in its oversized shirt for a second, and pulled out a kitchen knife.
I wanted to scream but my throat suddenly felt dry. The clown leaned in closer with the weapon, and I finally mustered up the strength to bring up my hand and punch the clown square in the chin. It howled, and I caught a glimpse of a few drops of blood before taking off down the stairs.
I don't know why, but I didn't leave the library then and there. Instead, I crouched down behind a sofa on the ground floor and waited with my head down.
I must have waited for an hour under there. I checked my watch and it was around 2 AM. I hadn't heard anyone come into the library. In fact, I hadn't heard anything. I thought I had sensed some footsteps somewhere upstairs, but I wasn't sure.
I decided to climb out from behind the couch and get out of there.
Cautiously, I stood up and started walking toward the door. It was in sight when I noticed something. Ms. Hays was sitting at the desk, breathing hard. I rushed up to the desk.
"Oh, Ms. Hays, thank God you're here! There-"
Suddenly, I noticed something off about her.
Ms. Hays had sweat dripping down her face, but it wasn't very hot in the room.
I thought I could see traces of white makeup on her face.
And, worst of all, I noticed a few drops of blood on her chin.
She seemed to notice that I'd trailed off. A smile eased its way onto her lips. She began to reach under the desk. I thought I could see the glint of something metal in her hand.
Ms. Hays started to giggle.
Written by StaticWrites