Sunday, February 21, 2021

Death By Clown

Death By Clown

Mark Allen Davis


Grandpa Anarchy and his sidekick cornered Bofforma III on the steps of Frosthaven city hall.  The world's oldest hero punched two of the last of Bofforma's clown army, then approached the stairs.  Behind him, Panic at the Dance Hall Boy spritzed the faces of the two stunned clowns; their white faces and red noses faded as they transformed into normal Frosthaven citizens.

The sky was overcast and grey; the villain -- a truly imposing clown of well over six feet and in excess of three hundred pounds -- waited on the top steps.  He sported oversized red sandals and a white robe trimmed with gold and red puffballs in a row down the front.  His golden mask flashed amid lengthening shadows; it was lined with silver on the inner surface to mimic a whiteface look, but the nose was bright red.

"Give it up, Bofforma!" Grandpa Anarchy called out.  "Your reign of terror is at an end!  Take off that mask!"

"Never!" snarled the massive clown.  "In a million years I could not hope to find a more perfect vessel for my essence!  Nor have you the power to rip it from me, you frail fool."

Bofforma III was the last Emperor of the Kalownian Empire, an ancient clown kingdom that dominated the Anatolian plateau of Asia Minor between 2300 and 2000 B.C.  He was a contemporary of the Minoan civilization, and a renown sorcerer whose life force was intrinsically tied to the golden death mask buried with him.  He possessed those who wore the mask, and infected others with a mind-controlling virus that transformed them into an army of clowns at his command.

"Face it Bofforma you've lost," yelled Grandpa Anarchy.  "The antidote engineered by Omnigen Corp from my special pancakes has returned the citizens of the city to themselves, removing them from your mind control.  There's only you now."

"No matter!" the clown retorted.  "I require no army!  I really must thank you, Grandpa Anarchy.  I am powerful in my own right, but in the body of the strongest sorcerer in the world, I am nigh invincible!  You may have defeated my army, but who are you to oppose me?  An old man with his bare fists is no match for a magician of my caliber!"

Bofforma raised his hands.  Storm clouds swirled overhead.  Lightning struck with a boom and a bright white flash.  The grass near Grandpa was burned black.  Wisps of smoke rose.  The hero did not flinch.

"I've beaten you before, Bofforma," said Grandpa, raising his fists.  "I can do it again!"

Bofforma emitted a deep, booming laugh.  "Do not lie, Mr. Anarchy," he said.  "Do I not possess the body of your oldest and dearest friend?  Surely Dark Dr. Dark is the last person you would willingly strike!"

"That pompous ass?" Grandpa snarled.  "Any time, any where!"  

Energy crackled along Bofforma's arms and arced from one hand to the other.  "It matters not," he said.  "You can't lay a finger on me, old man.  I will never let Dark Dr. Dark go.  There is nothing you can do about it!"

"We'll see about that," Grandpa said, striding up the steps.

Energy struck Grandpa.  He stumbled, but then continued climbing.  Bofforma uttered a rapid patter of words in an ancient tongue.  A glowing red shield surrounded him.  Grandpa strode through it as if it were nothing more than a hologram or projected image.  The clown's eyes grew wide.  A massive sword of glowing silver energy appeared in his hands.  He swung, but it passed through Grandpa to no effect.

Grandpa Anarchy punched the clown in his golden mask.  The clown stumbled.  Grandpa punched again and again, and Bofforma III fell backwards, clutching his red nose.

"How?" the clown exclaimed.  "My magic...."

"Because," said Grandpa, "Dark Dr. Dark is far more paranoid than you could ever guess."  Reaching into his shirt, Grandpa Anarchy produced a small leather bag.  "This charm protects me specifically from Dark Dr. Dark's magic.  He created it for me himself for just such a situation."

"Impossible!" the clown exclaimed.  "If that were true I would have known it!  All of his memories are mine to access!"

"He had all memory of it magically wiped from his mind," Grandpa said with a laugh.  "You loose, Bofforma!"

As Grandpa reached down, the clown snarled, "You win this round, Mr. Anarchy.  But I will be back!   So long as my death mask exists, I am always one step away from returning to establish my empire upon this earth again!  I am nearly five thousand years old and you  are but one old man!  You cannot always be there to stop me!  One day I will...."

Grandpa yanked away the mask.  The clown faded and shrunk, and became Dark Dr. Dark once again.


"And what did you do with the mask?" asked Professor Emily Wolcott.  "That is the heart of my collection -- and a very dangerous magical artifact to boot!  Where is it?"

Panic at the Dance Hall Boy stared out the window.  He whistled.  Dark Dr. Dark and Grandpa Anarchy exchanged glances.

"Our deepest apologies," said Dark Dr. Dark, "but...."

"It sort of accidentally fell in front of a steamroller," Grandpa blurted out.

"Yes," said Dark Dr. Dark.  "A regrettable accident, but entirely our fault, I'm afraid."

"Then it accidentally fell into a metal shredder," Grandpa added.  "Then it was accidentally melted in a forge and accidentally scattered to the four corners of the earth... save for those bits that wound up in another dimension... accidentally...."


Sunday, February 14, 2021

Fear of a Clown Planet

Fear of a Clown Planet

Mark A Davis


Her lips and nails were red as blood, and her buisiness suit as black as sin.  She had predatory eyes like those of a viper.  Julia Judas had been the CEO of Omigen Corp since 1969, but she appeared to be no more than thirty-five.  She was the daughter Jamison Judas, son of Joseph Judas, son of Julian Judas, son of Jebadiah "Madman" Judas -- all villains who had opposed Grandpa Anarchy, world's oldest hero, and his mentor the Gentleman Brawler before him.  Grandpa considered her a sworn enemy -- and yet here he was, begging for her help.

"Never fear, Mr. Anarchy," Julia said.  "Doctor Angela Chen is my top scientist, a certified genius.  If she cannot isolate this immunity serum found in your pancakes and replicate it, then nobody can."

"I hope so," Grandpa said, "though I  doubt my sanity in coming to you.  I should be out in the street punching clowns.  Your corporation is one of the least trustworthy in Frosthaven, if not the entire country."

"You came to me, Mister Anarchy, because this is an emergency and we are experts in genetics," Julia replied.  "We are the leading authority in the field and have been working with the United States government and military for decades, supplying them with elixirs and genetic enhancements.  You could have gone to Mr. Magoon at MJM Enterprises, your friend Ichabod Berelli at IB Enterprises, or even to your friend Jay Medberry and his associates, but the city is in crisis so you came to me."

Grandpa Anarchy wore his usual clothing -- an old and nondescript gray suit with a silver anarchy symbol stitched over the left breast.  Beside him was his sidekick Panic at the Dance Hall Boy, a muscular lad in a multi-colored spandex outfit accessorized with glow sticks and flashing lights.  Beside Julia, General Van Der Ven, a five star general, scowled.

On the far side of a glass wall was a laboratory where several scientists worked feverishly under the direction of Doctor Chen.

"This wasn't my choice," Grandpa said. 

"Omnigen has never steered the U.S. military wrong," said General Van Der Ven.

"Mister Anarchy," said Julia, "the current crisis is your fault, not mine.  Just because you and I have had our differences -- and yes, to be fair, you and my brother, and our father, and our grandfather, and our great-grandfather, and our great-great-grandfather -- does not mean that I intend to drown in a sea of clowns.  The day I allow clowns run the world is the day I turn in my doctorates in genetics & genomics and in medicine."

As Grandpa opened his mouth, she quickly added, "And no, I do not speak of those clowns in congress!  I mean those clowns out there!"

She pointed out a small side window that looked down on the city of Frosthaven.  White-faced clowns with red noses roamed the streets, terrorizing people with pies, lapel flower water squirters, balloon animals and squeaky shoes.  A clown apocalypse had engulfed Frosthaven and threatened to spread to all of New Jersey.  Grandpa Anarchy bit his tongue.  He wanted to say that he knew how to deal with a clown apocalypse -- that you just needed to find the clown with the golden mask and defeat him, and that a serum preventing mind control was built into the strawberry pancakes that he could summon with his magical lapel pin, given to him by an alien god.  But the truth was, the apocalypse had already grown too large for one hero and his magic lapel pin.

"All I'm saying," said Grandpa, "is that your company has a certain knack for hiring unhinged madmen...."

"What Grandpa means," interrupted Panic at the Dance Hall Boy, "is that the brilliant minds hired by Omnigen often demonstrate a lack of care, a willingness to ignore common safety procedures, and a worrying tendency to experiment on themselves in order to achieve their goals."

"Exactly!" Grandpa chimed in.  "Omnigen gave the world Doctor Totengräber, the Octarine Orc, Komondor Dogman, Doctor Unipus...."

"You get nowhere in this world by playing it safe," Julia said.  "We pride ourselves in hiring the sharpest and most ambitious scientists the world can produce.   There have, of course, been a few accidents and mistakes along the way...."

"Twenty-seven supervillains by my count," said Grandpa Anarchy.  "Plus seven heroes, to be fair...."

"Each hero being worth several villains, as you've previously stated, that's a net gain for us," said Julia.  "Mister Anarchy, science is always portrayed as the bad guy in science fiction stories, but we don't live in stories...."

"Speak for yourself!" Grandpa snarled.  "I live in a world where clowns threaten to take over America, led by the resurrected king Bofforma III of an ancient Kalownian Empire -- an empire of clowns from over 4,000 years ago -- and the only antidote is contained in strawberry pancakes summoned by a magic lapel pin given to me by an omnipotent alien who calls himself the Reality Bender!"

Gunfire echoed in the hallway.  An armed guard stepped through the door.  "Clowns are storming the building, Miss Judas!" he called out.  "We can't hold them off forever!"

Behind him, another guard was hit in the face by a cream pie.  As he scraped the pie from his face, his skin turned white, and his nose bright red.  It swelled like a tomato.  The first guard spun about and shot the second in the chest.  The clown collapsed to the ground, mortally wounded.

"Wait," said Panic at the Dance Hall Boy.  "We're shooting them now?  These are ordinary citizens!"

"Desperate times, my friend!" Julia Judas stated.  "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few!  The only thing that matters is that we save the city!"

The door to the inner lab burst open.  Doctor Angela Chen stood there, a vial in hand.

"I require one of these cream pies with which the clowns infect new victims," said the doctor.  "I have isolated the antidote!  But first I must test its effectiveness... on myself!"

"Oh no we don't!" Grandpa Anarchy exclaimed.  "No genius scientist is going to experiment on themselves on my watch!"

Grandpa lurched forward, but another soldier had already delivered a pie to the scientist.  With a smirk and a hint of madness in her eye, Doctor Chen smashed her face into the pie.  Her skin turned a pasty white.  Her nose turned red, and began to swell.

An assistant in a lab coat stepped forward, injecting Doctor Chen with the antidote.

Several things happened in rapid succession.  Two more soldiers backed into the room, firing their rifles.  One glanced behind, called out, spun and fired on the clownified Doctor.  She collapsed, struck through the heart.  However, as she lay dying, Doctor Chen's nose shrank and her skin returned to its normal hue.

After a moment, Grandpa said, "Well, the good news is the serum works -- and we didn't produce another supervillain...."


Sunday, February 7, 2021

A Clown in a Clown Store

A Clown In A Clown Store

Mark Davis


Professor Emily Wilfreda Wolcott smiled warmly at Grandpa Anarchy, world's oldest hero.  "I'm so glad you were able to make time in your busy schedule," she said, "to be here at the opening of our exhibit Mr. Anarchy.  Without your help, none of this would have been possible...."

"Without my help we'd be drowning in clowns you mean," muttered Grandpa.

Wolcott was the epitome of a college professor in her tweed suit, wire-rimmed glasses and with her hair pulled back tightly.  Grandpa Anarchy wore his usual gray suit, slightly rumpled, with a silver anarchy symbol stitched over the left breast.  His muscular young sidekick Panic at the Dance Hall Boy wore a multi-colored spandex outfit accessorized with glow sticks and flashing lights.

"This exhibit is a vindication of everything that my great grandfather Professor Wilfred Eustace Wolcott  and his protégé Professor William Bradfort spent their lives trying to achieve," said Professor Wolcott.  "Here is absolute proof that the ancient Kalownian Empire dominated the Anatolian plateau in Asia Minor between 2300 and 2000 BC, before the rise of Hattusa.  I can now say with absolute confidence that all of their detractors can suck it."

The gallery was filled with glass cases in which various objects of antiquity -- reconstructed pottery, statues of bronze or gold, tablets inscribed in unfamiliar glyphs, and ancient "rubber" chickens carved from wood -- were displayed.  Two large stone statues not far from the entrance still held flecks of paint, from which one could clearly see that these rotund figures had once had white faces and that their large bulbous noses had been red.  The stone sarcophagus of Bofforma III was on full display, the upper half carved in the shape of a rotund individual with a large round nose.

"I'm just here to make certain that this ancient clown king doesn't command a repeat performance," Grandpa Anarchy said.  "Displaying his death mask is the height of folly.  That thing is mystical!  It draws people to it, you know!"

"Yes, I am well aware," replied the professor.  "The Kalownian emperors were renown as powerful magicians.  But the emperor's death mask is the centerpiece of my collection!  No show would be complete without it.  We've taken every precaution... no one is allowed inside without having first eaten strawberry pancakes produced by your lapel pin...."

Grandpa Anarchy nodded.  The lapel pin -- in the shape of a stack of pancakes with strawberries -- had been given to him as a gift by a powerful alien known as the Reality Bender.  With it Grandpa could summon strawberry pancakes as often as he liked.

"Good," said Grandpa.  "The ability of those pancakes to protect against mind control is the only reason we avoided a worldwide clown apocalypse last time.  With any luck, it'll protect us during your exhibition...."

Grandpa's voice trailed off.  "Hey!" he called out.  "Step away from the display!"  A tall, thin man was leaning against the display glass, staring at the emperor's mask.

"It calls to me," the man said.

Grandpa Anarchy leaped forward and yanked the man back.  "Oh no you don't!  Nobody's becoming an ancient clown king on my watch!"

Grandpa led the man to the front door.  His sidekick was arguing with another patron -- a man with a thick moustache.  "What seems to be the problem?" Grandpa asked.

"He won't eat the pancakes," Panic at the Dance Hall Boy replied.

"Don't like them," the man with the moustache muttered.  "Never did, never will."

"Then you aren't allowed in the exhibit!" Grandpa snapped.  "Good day!"

He turned.  Across the room a woman leaned in to the death mask display, staring hungrily.

"Hey!" Grandpa called out, charging forward.  "Stay back!"

"I want it," the woman said.  "I need that mask in my life."

"I said stay away from the display!"  Grandpa shoved her back.  ""What am I, a clown in a... a clown store?  This is important, people!  The last time someone put that mask on we were hip deep in clowns before you could say John Wayne Gacy!"

Glass shattered.  A heavily-muscled body builder stood over the death mask display, hands bleeding.  Glass lay scattered on the floor.  He reached in and picked up the mask.

Grandpa Anarchy slammed his fist into the man's jaw.  The man stumbled back, dazed.  Grandpa punched him again, and he keeled over.  Grandpa bent down and snatched the death mask of Bofforma III from his unresisting hand.

"That's it!" Grandpa Anarchy snarled.  "This has gone just about far enough!  Obviously the pancakes aren't strong enough to stop the call of the mask.  I'm summoning an expert to deal with this!"

Moments later shadows exploded in the center of the room.  A bearded gentleman appeared dressed all in black, with a billowing cape with a high collar and with dark glasses.

"I am here!" he exclaimed.  "Dark Dr. Dark, Leader of the New League of  Two-Fisted Justice, Team A, and Supreme Sorcerer of the World for five years running, non-consecutive -- not counting 2010 when I wound up in a tie with Ojal Dani and lost the runoff, or 2012 which was of course a strike year!  I have recieved your dispatch, my compatriot and co-leader Grandpa Anarchy....."

Grandpa tossed the mask to Dark Dr. Dark, who caught it.  "Right," said Grandpa.  "This mask is too dangerous to place in the hands of mortal humans.  I need you to take it and place it in the most secure, remote location you can think of... perhaps your monastery retreat in Nepal, but place a force field around it so that Harold Simonson the hot dog vendor can't get it, and maybe a dozen warding spells and whatever else you can think of and oh crap have you eaten any of my special strawberry pancakes yet?"

Dark Dr. Dark frowned.  "No," he said, "why would I?  I've told you many times before, your sickeningly sweet ideal breakfast is not to my liking.  I much prefer an egg, crumpets and tea.  You know this."

"Crap!" said Grandpa.  "Give it back."

Dark Dr. Dark stared down at the mask.  "No..." he said, "I do not think I will.  It is very compelling, is it not...?"

He put the mask on.


Deep within the Anarchy Cave, Grandpa Anarchy, Panic at the Dance Hall Boy and Professor Emily Wolcott watched news footage.  Hordes of clowns with red noses and oversized squeaky shoes terrorized the streets, hurling cream pies at anyone who got in their way.  No one was safe.  They'd already crossed from New Jersey into New York and the heart of downtown Manhattan.

"So the spirit of an ancient clown emperor and magician, Bofforma III, has taken over the world's most powerful sorcerer," Grandpa Anarchy said.  Images of a giant spell-wielding clown in a golden mask flashed across the screen.  "Well, it could be worse."

"How, exactly?" asked Panic at the Dance Hall Boy.

"I still have my lapel pin," replied Grandpa.  He rubbed it, and a plate of pancakes topped with strawberries appeared.  "If the world's about to go to hell, at least I won't face it on an empty stomach...."