Posted tagged ‘coulrophobia’

Downstairs

March 30, 2015

“Good morning Mister Brand, welcome to hell.”

 

Adam Brand rubbed his eyes and they gradually became accustomed to his surroundings. The first thing he saw was a sharp dressed man in black sitting behind a desk. Scanning further Adam could see that he was in an ordinary, run of the mill, type of office room: chairs, desk, paperwork, flat screen computer, executive toys; though strangely the stranger at the desk had no framed photograph of family members. If this was hell and he was in the presence of the devil it would make sense. Was it true that the devil could not be photographed or was it his shadow that couldn’t be seen? He was all mixed up. This was hellish. The stranger spoke again.

 

“Not quite what you expected, is it? Hellfire and demons were soooo last millennium that the boss thought we should revamp the place, make it more modern. He also passes on his apologies that he’s not here to greet you personally. This is a busy place and there were a few big shot arrivals earlier today so he’s interviewing them. He likes to tend to the big fries.”

 

“This is hell?” asked Adam.

 

“I’m afraid so. Your time on the other place is gone. Can you remember the accident?”

 

“Accident?”

 

“You fell down some stairs, silly boy. Though it wasn’t the stairs’ fault. It was nothing but the good old fashioned liquor that got you in the end. Blind drunk. Staggering. Stairs. Tumble, tumble, tumble. A little twirl and it’s goodnight Sarajevo.”

 

And now Adam recalled the works party. Drinking with friends, dancing with varied females, more drinking and revelling. Someone did say those steep stairs will be the death of someone. And, if he wasn’t dreaming, that someone was him. Now fully sober he exclaimed. “So now I’m in hell. Well, as you say, it’s not what it’s cracked up to be.”

 

“Don’t let my informal manner put you at ease, mister Brand, this is the embryonic stage of your spell in hell. This shooting of the breeze is the precursor to a more serious time for you.”

 

Adam smiled. This could all be an elaborate joke concocted by his workmates: an ultimate haze. He looked at the stranger behind the desk more closely. The devil’s personnel assistant was like every other official that pulled on a suit. Nothing in the stranger’s make up was sinister; he was mister normal personified. The lack of a hangover was the only thing that put a spanner Adam’s theory that this was all make believe. Still, maybe he’d done an alternative Jack Bauer and slept for twenty four hours. Adam stood up.

 

“Tell you what- in fact I never caught your name. Mister…”

 

“You didn’t catch it because I didn’t pitch it. Now sit down, Mister Brand.”

 

Adam smiled again and dismissed the stranger.

 

“This gig is over and the stage is being dismantled. The game is up mister no name, you’ve had your fun and you can let the buddies know I think this was one of the best scams ever. I hope it’s all on a secret camera, we’ll laugh about it later but this interview is closed. You just don’t light my fire and I have reconsidered the position on offer. Goodbye, I am going to walk out the door.”

 

Adam headed toward the only door in the room. Before he could open it the man with no name said.

 

“I wouldn’t open that if I were you.”

 

Something in the tone, a hint of menace, a slight shift in the atmosphere in the room, a sudden detection of a grave being stepped over, Adam sensed that circumstances had taken a turn for the worse. That last statement sent a chill through his bones. He backed away from the door.

 

“Glad that I have got your attention.”

 

Feeling a little bit unsteady Adam fumbled for the safety of the chair he was designated. He’d give his right arm to be comfortably embedded in the womb of the chair. He managed to reach the seat using an unorthodox technique that resembled the outrageous skills of Faustino Asprilla.

 

“Now that you are packed into the seat let us move on to the second stage of the cycle, where I can give full rein to my talent as a ringmaster. Get ready. Ta-da.”

 

Using the jargon of the fanfare, at the ringmaster’s cue the room cut its colour leaving a bible of black. This darkness lasted for a few seconds before a full-size projection appeared on the wall. Adam’s eyes gazed at the screen. It was horrible.

 

A man was screaming, a petrifying banshee scream. He was lying in a pit full of crabs. The angry crustaceans were pinching him all over with their claws. The screen was a vivid blood red as the crawling crabs continued their onslaught. Writhing, sliding, nipping.

 

“He dies this death every day, although, technically he’s already dead. Fear of crabs was this fellow’s phobia. Well, we like to give the customer what he doesn’t want. I’ll show you more, Mister Brand.”

 

With a snap of his fingers the picture changed and the crab man disappeared to be replaced by another poor soul in torment.

 

There were clowns everywhere.

 

They were tormenting a gibbering man. It was as plain as an angel wing that this man was terrified of clowns. The deformed harlequins pulled out all the stops in their mad masquerade. Their hellish act of stilt walking ended with the clowns falling onto the individual. They were laughing in his face as they crashed down on him. This was a novel way of bringing the house down.

“Coulrophobia is common these days,” said the man in black “to tell you the truth I’m getting pig sick of it. Give me an emetophobia victim any day. I could definitely go to town with one of them. What do you think, mister Brand?”

 

Adam was transfixed by the horror on the wall. The clowns were now up to a new caper. They were stripping their victim and dressing him in clown clothes. The man screamed as big, hulking, misshapen boots were being forced onto his feet. With the images becoming more and more distressing Adam closed his eyes. When he opened them the screen had gone and he was alone in the office with the stranger. Adam thought back over his life and wondered why he was in this pit of hell.

 

“Why am I here?” he asked.

 

“You know what …you did.”

 

Adam looked at the wall expecting more pictures of anguish but they didn’t materialise. Instead the other person got up from his seat and put a comforting hand round Adam’s shoulder. Adam could see that the stranger’s suit jacket had a tail, a pointed one that could only be described as inhuman.

 

“Come now, Mister Brand, it’s time.”

 

They both got up and walked towards the door.

 

“Where are we going?”

 

“You’ll see.”

 

The devil’s associate opened the door and Adam could see what was in the next room.

 

“Oh no, please, please. Anything but that. I beg you…stop…please, please. Oh help me God.”