I’m used to people touching my wheel chair without asking. People will coo “Just popping past!” as they yank me from a conversation to move me out of their way, or will start pushing me at crossings, because I suppose they think my arms aren’t capable of getting me and the chair across the street. It shouldn’t happen, but it does, so when it happened today, I just assumed it was yet another “well meaning” arsehole who needed me out of their way, and had decided that my autonomy just didn’t matter at all.
I turned in the chair, with my usual “Get the fuck off my wheelchair!” speech, but for the first time in my life, I was speechless.
His black robes billowed in the wind, with a hood covering most of his face, except shockingly red lips. He didn’t speak, he just pushed me slowly along the street.
“Can you stop please?” I tried to sound assertive but my voice was as quiet as a mouse. He took no notice and began hurtling me forwards. The wind whipped against my face and the once calm autumn rain was now harsh and unforgiving against my skin. “Let me go!” I managed a bit more volume but he said nothing, pushing me faster and faster. We were approaching a hill and I felt my stomach in my throat. I was going to die. There was nothing else for it. I was going to die. The world shot past, the sky grew dark and I could hear torment in the air, tortured groans and screams all around me. At the last second, he turned my chair towards a side street, and began wheeling me down past all the houses.
“Shall we play?” A chilling voice. Otherworldly in a way that sent panic coursing through my veins. The chair stopped, and I looked around. Everything was calm. The rain had stopped. The world was normal again, but my heart still raced.
“Please let me go.” My voice was nothing but a tired whisper. I leaned back in the chair, too afraid to close my eyes. “What do you want?” I felt his hands on my shoulders, as cold as ice, and the sudden realisation that my chair was free spurred me into action. I fought against my fear and my exhaustion, and grabbed the rear wheels, pushing myself forward with all my might. I didn’t stop to think. I didn’t look back. I just pushed myself as quickly as I could.
I could hear him behind me, his footsteps seemed so loud, and he called out to me, but I just kept pushing forward, steering a little closer to the houses, wondering if I had time to stop and try and knock on any doors.
“It’s a little game!” His words echoed, bouncing, with a sickening glee to them. “It’s all just a little game.” Then, suddenly, there he was, looming a few feet in front of me. I tried to stop but the chair sped forward, and he approached me. He removed his hood with a flourish, and smiled widely, blood dripping from his crimson lips.
“No fucking way…” I whispered. Tight corkscrew curls surrounded his head, a deep, dark black, contrasting his deathly pale face, white with painted on blushes. A clown. He threw away his robes to reveal a white jumpsuit, covered with pretty red patterns. As we finally met, and he leant down towards me, I suspected the patterns were painted with blood.
“We’re going to play a game.” My blood ran cold, and I knew I was trapped. He just smiled, and smiled, and smiled…
There I was, face to face with the clown. He never stopped smiling. His beady little eyes bore into me and his grip was tight on the chair. It was like he had just teleported in front of me, this otherworldly thing, this evil, terrifying thing.
“Are you ready to play?” He asked, a drop of blood falling from his lips to my lap as he spoke. “The rules are very simple.” He nodded as he spoke, drumming his filthy fingernails against the chair. “If you can kill the car, you win!” I looked at him, silent, trying to take it all in. His eyes examined me with a gleeful brightness, blood dripping from his smile and staining the denim of my jeans. “You and the car crash into each other, and whoever lives wins!”
“But… why?” His grip tightened on the chair and he leant closer, giving off a surprising aroma, something nostalgic, popcorn and candy floss, like he had carried the scent of the circus with him when he escaped. It was a strange contrast. A man who was seemingly dripping in the blood of… something, also had a hypnotic quality about him. “Why me?”
“Because you’re so much fun!” He smiled wickedly. I certainly didn’t feel fun. I wanted to live. I had friends. I had a tinder match that things were going pretty well with. I had half of a box of fondant fancies in my office drawer that I’d been thinking about finishing all bloody day. I know it sounds insane that I was thinking about this as a horrible clown had control of my wheelchair and could very well murder me, but none of us gets to choose how our life flashes before our eyes, and flash mine did.
“What if I don’t want to?” I had noticed a man walking behind him, tall and the right side of muscular, with a comically small little sausage dog. If I could keep this Poundland Pennywise talking long enough, I could distract him, and hopefully, Mister Muscle and his tiny companion could help me.
“No?” This turned out to be a mistake. It’s something I will always regret as long as I live. “Don’t worry, we’ll have fun.” He moved so quickly. I heard the dog yelping, bones breaking, chomping, a sickening slurp as blood ran down the pavement, spilling into the gutter. The man was strewn across the pavement, his dog, somewhere in the distance, bolting as fast as his teeny, tiny legs could carry him.
I had no choice but to play.
He was glaring now. His smile still present but his eyes told the truth of his rage. As he advanced, I gripped my chair, unsure of what else I could really do. It was time to play. I heard him behind me, his fingernails rapping against the handles of the wheelchair.
“Time to play.” I nodded, knowing there was no other choice. He began wheeling me forward, blood, presumably from his mouth dripping on my shoulders. Drip. Drip. Drip. A hypnotic, haunting melody. I didn’t have the time to be disgusted, because I had to have a plan.
The world began whizzing past, the sky falling into darkness as the air flew into my face, hot and suffocating. I could hear all these voices, so much pain, so much sadness.
Soon, it was just him and I, the world beside us, a blur, the sky, an endless stream of darkness, all the stars had gone out and the droning of the pained voices around us was the only sound I could hear.
“They just want to be friends.” There were hands all over me, more and more appearing as the seconds spun by and the world became a little clearer. There was a black car up ahead, a hearse, unmistakeable, floral tributes to me lined the window. All the pain. The grief. The sorrow.
I closed my eyes, gripping my hands on the rear wheels, and pushed as hard as I could, trying with all my might to turn to the left. The hands grasped onto me desperately, my hands burning with the pressure, but I breathed, in, out, in, out, taking everything I had, and then, then there was nothing. No sounds. No lights. No stars. No people. No cars. Just the cool air on my face, and the haunting aroma of popcorn.