I went by the ice cream parlor and I noticed that it was dark inside, which was odd. I ran over and saw a small notice on the front door at it was a note from Mr. Tromboli. It seemed that due to the popularity of Crazy Cream and his refusal to carry it in his parlor, he was going out of business. I knew things had gotten hard for him, but I wasn’t aware it had gotten that bad. Mr. Tromboli always had the best ice cream. He made his own and it was always so creamy and perfect. It was like a historic landmark in town. I then turned and saw a clown standing on the street corner ahead of me. That was the gimmick of Crazy Cream. Their delivery men were dressed as clowns and they had clowns all over town wearing sandwich boards and offering coupons and sometimes free samples.
Everyone in town seemed really amused by the gimmick, but I thought it was a little strange. Especially since these clowns didn’t look like the kinds I’ve seen at the circus. Their costumes looked old and worn and the make up they had on looked kind of gross. I wasn’t sure if that was because underneath the make up they were ugly people, or if the make up was meant to make them look ugly. I wasn’t interested either way. Whenever I saw one of them out, I’d go around and keep as far as I could.
I crossed the street in order to bypass the clown ahead of me. I was hoping it didn’t seem me and decide to intercept me, but much to my relief, the clown was busy handing out coupons to some other kids who were wandering by.
I turned the corner and I saw the large bulletin board that was set up in front of the town hall. Usually that was where people would up notices for yard sales or lost pets, but I noticed that there were a lot of missing children posters going up. More than I had ever seen. The oldest one there had been pinned up a few weeks earlier. Little Amy Henderson was the first child to go missing. No one had seen her and no one knows what could have happened. Mrs. Henderson swore that she had dropped her off at school and when she returned to get her daughter, they found that she was missing. The school had no idea what happened and the police had no leads. After that, it seemed there was a missing child reported once or twice a day. It seemed ever since those clowns came to town, everything was starting to go to Hell. I wasn’t the only one. There were others in town hoping to find a way to force the clowns away, but so long as Crazy Cream Ice Cream was selling, there wasn’t much chance of them moving on.
I got to school on time and when I got to my locker, I saw a group of kids gathered by a locker up the way from me. I got out my books an walked over and I saw Julie Ordway being comforted by a teacher. I looked over and saw Billy a few feet away. I slipped over to him and grabbed his hand. He looked over at me and smiled.
“What’s going on?” I whispered.
“Julie’s little sister went missing last night. She just broke down in tears a few minutes ago.”
“Oh, my God. Another one?”
“Third one this week.” Just then the school nurse arrived and she and the teacher escorted Julie away. After that, the crowd broke apart and Billy and I headed to home room.
“Why is this happening? Why aren’t the cops doing something about this?”
“I’m sure they’re doing all they can. I mean, what do they have to go on? It’s like these kids vanish into thin air.”
“But they don’t. You know that and I know that.”
“So what do you think happened?” Billy asked. I knew Billy was a fan of Crazy Cream and he always rolled his eyes whenever I suggested there was some connection with the current state of the town and the clowns. He thought, like many did, that it was just a coincidence. The mayor had gone on record to say that the arrival of Crazy Cream actually was a good thing. They built their factory on the old abandoned lot outside of town. It had been empty for over fifty years and condemned from use but somehow they managed to get the clearance. Of course, no one has actually seen their facility and there are never any employees coming or going, but no one questions.
“I don’t know. Maybe they got lost in the forest. Mauled by a bear.”
“It’s a possibility.”
“Or maybe the clowns got them, right?”
“I didn’t say that.”
“You wanted to. Look, they are creepy, yes, but they’re just selling ice cream. It’s a publicity stunt.”
“There’s something else about them. Something more.”
“You’re paranoid. I bet in few months, they’ll ditch the clown thing and start dressing up as fluffy puppies or something.”
“I also bet those kids will turn up as quickly as they disappeared.”
“I hope so.”
The day went on like clockwork just like every other day. Everyone ran from class to class and listened to our teachers drone on. I was having trouble concentrating though. My mind kept drifting to the missing children. I had no idea why, but something about it was troubling me. I was beginning to feel like I was the only one in town who saw anything wrong
The day finally ended and I was all happy to be free. Billy had practice so I was on my own to walk back home. I usually would go out to the meadow outside of town to get some peace before going home, but the meadow had turned into nothing more than a dirt lot over the past month. The grass had died and the lake started to smell funny. Just another innocent victim of this cloud of death that had spread over our town.