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Author Topic: Living Joke  (Read 9322 times)

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on: 02:24:55 AM 09/15/13
I'm the man who can't laugh... or at least I fear that if I do, I'll die.

It began with a "Fool's Day" party that happened once a year. It was never actually on April 1st, it was never on the same day twice, and you only received 24 hours notice before you were expected to attend. That was part of the fun. You had exactly one day to call in sick, find a baby sitter, and do whatever else had to be done.

If you missed one party, you were off the list. It didn't matter how far you lived from the old farm house in the woods where the event took place. Be there, or be gone.

Perhaps the most difficult challenge was finding a costume. Store-bought outfits were disallowed, and if you put together an ensemble beforehand... HE would know. Somehow, he could take one look and you and he knew.

The party's host was a tall, odd man whom none of us had known before receiving our invitations. He didn't let us see his face, and of course any attempt at tricking him into revealing personal details always fell flat.

He called himself the Living Joke.

The first year I went, I knew no one. Party veterans wouldn't talk to me unless it involved some sort of joke at my expense.

"Are you new to the party?" the Sack-Headed Woman asked.

"Yes!" I replied, happy to find someone who acknowledged me, "What should I do??"

The woman tilted her head as if she was shooting me a wicked smile from beneath the burlap. Then she threw her drink in my face.

"You should clean yourself up!"

The relatively new folks weren't much friendlier. They avoided me like the plague and stayed glued to the veterans. They wanted to learn as much as they could about the events... about the Living Joke... and anything I had to say to them would've been useless data.

Confused as I was, I noticed something straight away. Nobody laughed.

When one of the newbies was standing in the middle of the room with his pants torn and hanging around his ankles... when he turned red and started crying... everyone in the room pointed at him mockingly and whispered cruel things.

Not a single chuckle could be heard.

Another rule, I figured, was that anyone who laughed would be cast out.

It only took a few years before something inside of me turned cold, and I stopped trying to seek out any shred of humanity in the other guests. I think the final straw was a fat man in a clown suit comprised of garishly dyed clothes and what must've been his wife's make-up.

"Enjoying the party?" I asked, choosing my words carefully.

"Quite." He replied coolly, as if I were trying to trap him.

"As am I." was my brief response.

"ASS am I!" the fat man shouted, his eyes suddenly alight with mischief.

With surprise on his side, he flung me to the floor. Hard. Before I was able to gather my wits, the obese clown was sitting on my back, pressing me to the floor, pants and underwear down. He bounced a few times as I heard my spine cracking.

Even though there wasn't a single laugh, I knew from experience that everyone was pointing. Mocking. Trying to think of more jokes to make about my horrid situation.

That was what turned me into one of them... someone who didn't speak unless spoken to, and only if I was sure I could lure the other partygoer into a nasty comedic trap.

"Don't break my rules!" the chipper, sing-song voice rang out from the top of a staircase. Everyone stiffened and turned in unison, like a litter of kittens hearing their mother's warning.

The Living Joke descended the stairs, a single boney mitt sliding over the splintered railing. The crape paper streamers woven through the banister shivered slightly in the breeze as he passed.

"What'd I do?" the ass-clown asked as he pulled himself off of me.

"Bodily injury, dumb-shit." snapped a haphazard cat-girl in the crowd. She sounded a lot like the one who shared her drink with me.

It seemed like a good rule, to be honest... but even then I figured it was there to keep the host safe from lawsuits, as opposed to keeping us safe.

Not all of the rules were fair, much less sensible. As I mentioned, we all had to construct our own costumes 24 hours before the party... but the Living Joke didn't have to abide by this restriction. Every year, he wore that same rubbery, dopey mask with the huge grin.

The closed mouth, its fat lips drawn into a closed smirk, spread from the corner of one eye to the other. Above that ridiculous cherry-red smile was an upturned, piggy nose, and above the nose was a pair of beady eyes spaced a bit too close together. The furrowed brow seemed much like that of a primate.

The best way I can think of to describe it would be Alfred E. Neuman's O-Face.

It didn't seem right that he should get away with wearing that mask and the musty, green, moth-eaten thrift store cloak. Even if it WAS his party, he should've been a good sport about it.

Something occurred to me before the last party I attended. Out of all the cruel tricks and crude insults I'd seen taking place, none of them were aimed at our less-than-benevolent host.

I wasn't allowed to plan my costume, but as far as I knew there was no guideline against plotting someone's comeuppance! From the moment I left that otherwise abandoned estate until the second I received the next invitation under my door, I was scheming away.

It couldn't be something pedestrian. I couldn't pull the same shit that had been done to me, like asking if he had the time... then telling him he should get a hobby if he answered "Yes".

Ugh. I fell for that twice, and it wasn't funny on either occasion.

No, it had to be something spectacular. Something that would solidify me as the greatest prank mastermind to ever grace their presence.

"Welcome, guests!" the Living Joke called to us from the top of the stairs again, making yet another of his annoying late entrances.

Nearly a year had passed, and everything was in place. My knowing grin was well-hidden beneath a book cover I'd cut eye-holes into. The pages now covered my clothing. When asked, I told the other patrons I was simply "dressed in read".

My shenanigans would have to wait, however, as the Living Joke quickly and silently cut through the crowd and approached a rumpled-looking failure in the corner.

"You've broken my rule!" the Living Joke boomed, a knobby finger thrust out at the man. Any sing-song happiness in his voice was gone.

The rumpled man wore an old suit jacket and tie along with a pair of matching slacks. There was nothing special about his outfit, save for the comedic prop arrow he wore on his head, made to look like it had gone through his skull.

"Huh?" the man grunted dimly.

"No store-bought costumes!" half the crowd chanted in unison.

"Oh..." the man absently fingered the plastic projectile, "Yeah, I didn't buy it for the party. I had it lying around... from when I was a kid."

"No pre-existing costumes!!" the crowd retorted in full.

"I must ask you to leave." the Living Joke shook his shiny, rounded noggin and gestured toward the back door.

"B-but," the man stammered, "This is my first party. Go easy on me, huh?"

The Living Joke would have none of it. He placed one hand on the man's shoulder, and together they walked out of the back door. As they passed, the rumpled man looked to each patron as if he was searching for someone who understood his plight.

He found no empathy. Not even from me. I had a very good, very complex prank to unfurl that day... No cheating dimwit would ruin that.

"Our cars are out front..." muttered a man dressed like a monkey, complete with tail roughly cut from his child's stuffed animal, "Where is Mr. Joke taking him?"

"The shed." answered a girl with a toilet seat around her neck and toilet paper wrapping her small form, "He takes rule-breakers to the shed and burns their invitation."

There was a palpable sense of fear in the crowd. It was enough to make me rethink what I was about to do, though the thought only lasted for a moment.

Seemingly in the blink of an eye, our host appeared in the doorway once again.

"My apologies," he put a hand to his glossy cheek and shook his head, "Some people just can't follow directions! Why, that one couldn't find his way out of a paper bag."

He gestured to a man at the back of the room, who was wearing a paper bag.

"I see YOU couldn't either!"

Nobody laughed. We were all too accustomed to his sense of "humor", and seeing two or three people ushered out of the party, off to the shed, made just about everything seem a lot less funny.

The party continued. The jokes, successful or not, lasted on. The Living Joke moved about the crowd, though none had the guts to talk to him. He simple looked on, nodded, and refilled the punch bowl periodically.

As night fell, my plans began to come together.

Several female patrons had grouped together at the front of the house and were chattering away, insulting each other like we were in high school. The men were no better, mind you, pantsing each other repeatedly, dumping things down the backs each other's shirts, and exposing their anxiety-shriveled knobs to each other at every opportunity.

Somewhere, a timer hit zero.

Flashing red and blue lights flooded the house. Every front window was alight. Those who turned to observe the strange sight seemed too involved in the festivities to understand its meaning.

Then, within a half-second, the sirens blared. Police sirens.

"This is the Police!" a voice shouted from outside, its raw and haggard tone amplified by loudspeaker.

"The Police?!" shouted one man.

"How? Why?" shouted another.

"Oh God, is this illegal? Are we doing anything illegal?" a woman screamed, "I can't go to jail, my daughter’s home alone!"

As a frenzied commotion ensued, I hung back against a far wall, drink in hand.

"The booze!" someone shrieked, "Dump the booze!"

"Drugs! If you have drugs, get rid of them!"

"Where are the Bat and the Potted Plant? Are they still upstairs?! Jesus Christ, I think the Bat's underage!"

A loud pounding at the door caused everyone to freeze for the briefest moment as they seemed to think the authorities were about to break in. As soon as the loud bangs ceased, the flurry of activity doubled in its desperation.

Two cans of tear gas rocketed through the windows, sending shattered glass and clouds of noxious mist across the crowd. People choked, gasped, and fell to the floor tearing the masks from their faces.

The Living Joke knew no more than the rest of them. He stood at the center of the frenzy, turning this way and that as if he couldn't decide where to go or what to do.

"Over here!" I shouted to him, barely able to keep the excitement out of my voice.

He turned... that rubber freak-face of his turned... and he moved quickly toward me. Within moments, I had his feeble, trembling hand in mine as I ushered him out the back door of the house.

"I don't know how they found us!" I played my part to the hilt, nearly dragging the host down the rotting back stairs, "Someone must have tipped them off!"

I looked back at one point and saw only gas coming from the door. I had successfully separated the Living Joke from the entire party.

"There!" I called out, pointing to a leaning wooden shed beyond the trees, "We have to hide!"

"I don't think so." the Living Joke snapped, wresting his hand from my grip.

The man smoothed his dusty cloak and turned back toward the house. He seemed to be studying the property for any sign of a pursuing force. Doing what I was about to do here, in the open, hadn't been part of my plan.

My plan... to unmask a man whose identity was so painstakingly hidden.

"Well, we have to lose them." I insisted, changing things on the fly, "We have to lose the costumes!"

I pulled off the crude book mask and started peeling the taped pages from my white jumpsuit. When I had finished, the Living Joke was still dressed... still staring off into the distance.

"Come on!" I shouted, growing angry that my plan was going awry, "Let's do it! Now!"

I moved up behind him quickly, stuck my fingers under the edges of his mask, and pulled it off in one smooth motion. He let out a cry of shock, stumbling forward.

"Good... now... now the cloak." I continued with a strange mix of impatience and superiority.

The Living Joke stood silently, his back toward me. He made no move to remove the cloak, a sight that frustrated me greatly.

"That was good." he spoke after an eerie silence, "How did you manage it?"

The jig was up. I slumped my shoulders and dropped the strange mask to the ground. A groan escaped my throat, removing any doubt as to my duplicity.

"My van." I explained begrudgingly, "I left the side door open, aimed toward the house."

"The lights were projected, and the voice came from a speaker." He added knowingly.

"Right." I relaxed a bit. Maybe I hadn't pulled the whole thing off, but at least I'd gotten this far, "The pounding on the door was a series of beanbags fired from improvised cannons. PVC pipe. I used the same set-up for the gas canisters."

"I can't believe it." the Living Joke shook his head, his voice shaking, "I've been pranked. Made a fool of. Me. ME! Why, I think this might be the end..."

I heard a creak behind me, like a rusted hinge.

"Well, now you know how it feels." I replied resolutely.

"Yes, this have given me much to think about. It doesn't feel good, being the butt of a joke... I... I think you've set me on the right path. No more cruelty... no more joy and the expense of others."

Again, from behind, a twig snapped.

"Wow." I was floored, "Seriously? I mean, I was just trying to get one over on you, I didn't expect some sort of life-changing moment, here."

"I suppose there are only two words left to say." the Living Joke whispered.

I took a step toward him, expecting a "thank you" or "I'm sorry".

Instead, the man turned on his heels, made a complete 180 degree turn and faced me as if he were hovering above the carpet of leaves. He looked me straight in the eyes and smiled.

His eyes were beady. Spaced too close together. Beneath his upturned pig nose was a set of thick, rubbery lips that grinned from the corner of one eye to the other. The lips parted, exposing a cartoonish pair of square buck teeth and a row of equally straight pearly whites.


Aghast at the sight of that mask... the living mask... his face... I turned away and began to run. As I did so, however, I ran head-long into someone's chest.

It was the rumpled man, complete with the arrow through his head. Unlike the last time I'd seen him, the arrow was all too real. It poked in one ear and out the other, dried blood and brain matter stuck to its shaft.

His face was drawn up into a ridiculous smile... a smile like one I'd already seen.

"Remember!" The Living Joke shouted as I bolted into the woods, "Don't break my rules! Don't laugh!"

I weaved past the rotting form of a woman with live, vibrantly pink spiders crawling ceaselessly over her corpse flesh.

"Don't laugh!"

I stopped suddenly as a fetid, skeletal body popped up from behind a log like a Halloween prop, its eyeballs dangling low through a pair of thick glasses with no lenses. Though otherwise dead and sightless, the eyes bounced on their strands as if suspended from springs.

"Never laugh!"

Having covered some distance, I turned to see the rumpled man painted by moonlight in the distance. Holding his nose with his fingers, he puffed his cheeks out and turned sideways. I barely ducked in time as the arrow rocketed from his ears and buried itself in a tree trunk inches away from my own head.

"Don't ever laugh again!"

I haven't. Not since that night. Nothing, no one, has gotten so much as a curl of the lips out of me. I've conditioned myself to see every joke, every pratfall, as an attempt at tripping me up. Each witty remark is a failed assassination.

I never went back to the Fool's party, and needless to say I never received another invite. I've thought about driving past the old farm house... just to see if there are cars out in front... but it just doesn't make sense when I really consider it.

No matter how much I try to put the horror out of my mind, I just couldn't stand going back there.

I could never face the Living Joke.

Heh. "Face".

That face. Until now, I never really pictured the look on-





« Last Edit: 04:12:36 AM 09/07/16 by Slimebeast »
If I should live until I wake, I pray the web my death to fake.


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on: 08:45:53 PM 09/15/13
We live to die, but we die to live


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on: 09:28:20 PM 09/15/13
If I should live until I wake, I pray the web my death to fake.

Meaty Okra Tea

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on: 09:51:51 PM 09/28/13
Holding his nose with his fingers, he puffed his cheeks out and turned sideways. I barely ducked in time as the arrow rocketed from his ears and buried itself in a tree trunk inches away from my own head.

This sounds like an attack animation for a video game sprite!


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on: 10:30:43 AM 07/08/15
Jesus Christ, this is like Eyes Wide Shut with corpses instead of hookers! Alfred E Neuman's "O" face - GAH!  :o


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on: 10:53:21 PM 08/19/16
.........So, The Living Joke strikes again!