Flash Fiction: Clowning About

This was written in about ten minutes during a Fosseway Writers workshop by horror writer Alex Davis. We picked a horror story archetype and, after discussing why they were scary, wrote a brief passage that built up to a ‘reveal’. Hope you like it!

I was looking for answers, but I never expected they would lead me to a desolate, abandoned fun fair at midnight. I tried to check the crumpled note that had been pushed under my door to make sure the address was right, but in any case the taxi had already accelerated away, leaving me in darkness.

I rattled the iron chain on the padlocked gate and decided to find a weak spot in the dilapidated fence. The wind blew dead leaves across my path as I trudged along the wild weeds and grass next to the chain-linked barrier, mobile phone in torch mode. The rustling of my feet through the litter and foliage was a reassuring sound that I didn’t want to stop. But I’d found a gap and as I came to halt the silence was horrific.

I pushed through the wire fence and stumbled forward. A shape moved ahead of me, too fast to pick out with my torch. An eerie snigger came drifting across the broken concrete. My foot kicked something soft. I looked down and saw a deformed creature wobbling on the floor. As I shone the torch on it I realised it was a balloon poodle.

A voice behind me said, “surprise!”



14 thoughts on “Flash Fiction: Clowning About

    1. Thanks Diana! 🙂
      Set the scene, build tension, apparently diffuse tension with comedy line, scare reader immediately after comedy line and then drop in a nightmarish picture.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Aww, shucks! To be honest, I was almost tempted to go down the dry comedy route (hence the appearance of the balloon poodle) but didn’t have time to figure out how it would work. These instant writing tasks don’t leave any time for ‘planning’! I was vaguely conscious of inserting subliminal clues such as ‘desolate’, ‘darkness’, ‘dead leaves’, ‘wild weeds’, ‘horrific’ – all designed to prime the reader for nastiness! In the end, I ran out of time to do a ‘proper’ reveal so had to use the good old “it’s behind you” ruse.
        All great fun but quite stressful!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I think some people are proper wordsmiths (your good self and Douglas Adams, for instance, who also took bloody ages over his work). There’s a craft to it; you’re looking for exactly the right words in the right place.
        I just bang down any old tosh.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I agree with your breakdown above, Nick – but you missed out leaving the “reveal” largely in the mind of the reader. Give them the breadcrumbs, and let them put something truly scary together, rather than over-describing (the equivalent of the modern CGI crap-o-villains)… well played 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks 🙂
      Yeah, I’ve been aware of the recent media stories (and tales of clowns staring into people’s houses etc. have been reported to the police for several years, without any actual proof – my last job was with Nottinghamshire Police).
      This story came out of a discussion into horror archetypes; we then had to knock off an instant piece of writing using our chosen evil character and this was the result (not too bad for 10 minutes work, start to finish!)

      Liked by 1 person

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