by Adrian Tullberg

The Clown toils.

He's sorting the paperbacks in a public library. When he finishes in twelve minutes and thirty-one seconds, he'll put on disposable kitchen gloves and start scrubbing the toilets.

He was feared.

Feared like nothing else -

- well, maybe one other -

- in this grim metropolis. The type of fear that only the truely evil, the truely ruthless and the completely unrepentant can be feared.

Strong men hardened by countless battles and numbed by daily atrocities, either by their own hands or witnessing others, would fall silent and avoid looking at the Clown, praying to once-ignored gods that the laughing man would not indulge his infamous, sudden whims.

Then one day, the Clown gave a performance, as he was want to do.

And the man – the grim determined man - who's attention he sought most of all received the Clown's full attention.

Friends, allies, enemies were united in revulsion and fear at what the Clown finally did to the audience he craved.

Even dragged to the Asylum, the Clown laughed, and laughed, until he received a visitor.

Green, pale, and possessing a gravitas that even the Clown in the midst of his mirth could not find humour.

It turned out that the man who died had become something ... more.

The dead man would not kill, for pride, for philosophy, for honour ...

... but the power he now wielded allowed for a measure of creativity.

The morning after, the Clown ceased to laugh.

He became polite, civil, helpful, to the amazement of all around him. Whispers of trickery soon faded, when his new-found civility continued (the Clown was renowned for his lack of patience)

In a year, he was used to assist in minor chores, tasks in community projects. There was no question of releasing him from the Asylum - no matter this new found acquiescence, the memory of his performances were too vivid a wound ever to heal - but his hands would be used in menial, unpaid tasks that would be forever responded to with a smile and a cheery wave.

Nobody knew.

Nobody knew that within the Clown's head, he would gibber and scream, as he performed these tasks.

How he would try with every last ounce of strength to scream in frustration as he doled out soup in homeless shelters.

The wretched sobbing in his skull, as children would walk past, within reaching distance, and he couldn't rend their flesh to feed the need in his belly.

The agony that never dulled, as he was slowly, and surely, ignored.

And the man now in green and white, instead of a dark scalloped cape, smiled.

For death is not the only way to bring those deserving into hell.