The police came just a few minutes after we called. Mom was a mess. She just stayed in the kitchen, pacing and trying to find something to do. She had smoked all of her cigarettes before the police had arrived and she didn’t seem to know what to do with herself. Dad was in the living room with one of the officers and he was giving his report.
They had talked to me first and I told them about the noise I had heard and about the scrap of rubber. They wrote it all down, but I was given the impression they didn’t really care. Not that I blamed them. A scrap of rubber didn’t say much unless they had seen that freaky clown making a baby out of white balloons. I tried to tell them about that too, but they shut me down.
After they finished their reports, they looked around outside and then gave us the ‘we’ll do everything we can’ speech they probably gave all the other families who had gone through the same thing and left. Mom and Dad seemed completely crippled. I tried to tell them about my theory about the clowns, but they wouldn’t hear it. They were satisfied that the police were handling the case and went on back to bed. I tried, but there was no chance for me to get any rest. I could only think of Jimmy being dragged away to some unknown fate. I just sat in my bed and stared at the ceiling, just waiting for morning to come.
Once the sun rose, I leapt out of bed and changed. I knew there was no one in my house who would listen to me, but there was somewhere I could go. I ran past Mom and Dad in the kitchen and got on my bike and raced straight to Billy’s place.
I ran to his front door and banged on it as hard as I could. He pulled it open. He was still in his t-shirt and boxer shorts and he had some syrup on his face.
“Candy. Hi, what’s going on?”
“Jimmy! He’s gone!”
“Last night there was this noise and when I checked on it, he was gone.”
“Oh my God. I’m sorry.”
“The clowns got him.”
“Look, I know you don’t usually believe me, but you have to now. I found this in his room.” I then pulled out the scrap of rubber and held it up to him.
“It looks like a part of a popped balloon.”
“It is! I was coming home from dinner last night and one of those clowns came up to me and made a little baby out of balloons and then popped it. I think it was trying to tell me something.”
“Are you seriously trying to tell me a clown broke into your house and kidnapped your kid brother?”
“I know how nuts it sounds, but yes!”
“So, what do you want to do about it?”
“There’s only one place they would have taken him. To that Crazy Cream factory. It’s the only place in town no one is allowed to go.”
“You’re taking a pretty big leap here. You don’t have any proof.”
“I have enough and I can get more if I can get into that factory and find some.”
“How are you going to do that?”
“I’m breaking in.”
“I’ve seen the property. They don’t have any guards or anything. The only thing keeping people out is that stupid sign.”
“You’re seriously going to break into the Crazy Cream factory just to find proof?”
“If it can save my little brother, yes.”
“You do realize it would be against the law and the chances are pretty good you will get caught and they will most likely press charges.”
“I don’t care. They’re keeping something covered up there and if there’s even a slim chance I can save Jimmy, or any other kid who’s gone missing, I have to try.”
“Why you? Call the police and let them deal with it.”
“I talked to them last night about this theory and they just laughed in my face. In fact, everyone in this town seems to think there’s no way anything weird is going on over there. I’m the only one who sees something funny is going on.”
“They just make ice cream.”
“How do you know? How does anyone really know what goes on in there? No one ever goes in or out. You don’t find that odd?”
“They probably work odd hours.”
“You see? You’re making excuses!”
“Only because what you’re suggesting is so unbelievable!”
“Then prove me wrong. Help me get in there and prove me wrong. Then I’ll shut up about it and we can all go back to our lives.” Billy gave me his usual frustrated glare. I could tell he was torn with breaking up with me or giving in.
“Fine!” He barked. “We just get as far as the factory and when you see that it’s just a place of business, we go home and you never talk about this ever again. Deal?”
“Deal. We go tonight. I’ll come by at around ten.”
“Fine. Now, you want to come in for some breakfast? My mom made waffles. And we have like two hours before school starts.”
The rest of the day went by in a blur. All I could think about was Jimmy and what those disgusting clowns were doing to him. My stomach was rumbling like an Earthquake. I could barely eat. I was also growing nervous about my proposed break in. I was starting to think it was just too big a challenge. Maybe if I went back to the police and begged for them to listen to me. Maybe I would be able to get them to check it out if only to shut me up. There were moments when I thought about telling Billy that I wanted to call it all off, but something in me demanded that I hold my ground. I knew whatever was going on in my home, my town, started in that strange factory. I seemed to be the only person in town who could see through the facade and it was becoming clear to me that if anyone would be able to save Jimmy; it would be me.
I came by Billy’s house after ten and I was glad to find that he was already prepared to go. He was dressed in dark colors, which I had forgotten to tell him, so it was good he thought of it on his own. We rode our bikes through town and it was very quiet. The uneasy feeling in my stomach was growing more intense. As we got closer to the old lot, I felt like I was going to throw up. We came up to where the factory was and we stashed our bikes near an old oak tree. We walked over to the sign that warned people not to trespass.
“Well?” Billy asked.
“What do you mean? We’re going in.”
“Are you sure they have no security?”
“Do you see any guards? Any cameras?” I asked.
“No. I also don’t see any factory. Do you see any lights back there?”
“No, but the old lot goes on for a couple miles. It could be way back there beyond our sight. I know you’re scared. I am too, but I can’t just turn back now. If there is any chance to save Jimmy, I’d hate myself for the rest of my life if I didn’t try.”
“Did you tell your parents you were doing this?”
“Like they would care. They’ve been in their own little worlds for weeks now. I think when they realized Jimmy was gone was the first time I saw them have any real emotion.”
“I left a note for my folks, just so you know.”
“Fine. Let’s just get this over with.”
Billy and I proceeded onto the lot. The grass was tall and there was absolutely no light. We kept close to the ground and snuck along for what seemed like forever. At long last I could hear noises and a few yards further, I could see a large building ahead of us. It was quiet, but the lights were on. I just looked at it and I felt something pulling at me. It was as though the building itself was taunting me; daring me to come closer. Jimmy was in there. I knew it. I wasn’t sure how I knew it, but I did. I took a step and then I felt Billy grab my arm and pull me back.
“I thought you said we would just get close enough to see the factory!”
“I can’t turn back now. Jimmy’s in there!”
“How do you know?”
“I just do.”
“Even if he is, what are you going to do?”
“I’m going to go in there and get him!”
“We’re already trespassing. Now you want to break in there?”
“It’s still open. The lights are on.”
“We’ll just sneak in, take a look around. If we get caught, we’ll just say we’re taking a tour or something.”
“You really think anyone would buy that?”
“I really don’t care at this point. My little brother is being held against his will in that building and I’m going to save him.” Billy had always been the kind of guy who played by the rules, and I respected that in him, but with my kid brother at risk, the rules were not at the top of my priority list. I could see in his face his struggle to keep from fighting with me on this because he knew how important saving Jimmy was.
“I’m going to the cops and I’m bringing them here. I don’t want you to do anything stupid. Stay out of sight.”
Billy dashed off back toward town while I continued on to the factory. It was an old looking brick building. It was shaped into a near perfect rectangle and was tall. Each side had windows that reached almost all the way to the roof and there were four smoke stacks on the other side of the building. I had never seen an ice cream factory before, so I wasn’t sure if what I was seeing made sense or not. I could only really think of Jimmy.