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‘268 to dispatch, there’s clowns in the Quad!’


killer clowns

Five years ago, “The Clown Apocalypse” spread across America spreading fear of killer clowns in every neighborhood. I was working the night shift as a security officer for the Lamar University Police Department when an incident led me to believe that the Clown Apocalypse had made it to the campus. This experience led me to learn the truth about me as a person — under duress, I am no hero.

My job description as a security officer was to lock the buildings after hours, to assist students with locked vehicles and to patrol the campus on foot. During the day, I felt like my job was easy to do and I considered attending the police academy. I felt safe in the sun while the campus is brimming with life, from people walking to classes, to the birds singing and the squirrels shooting out of the trash bins like cannons at passing bikers. During the day, there are no dark alleys or hidden spots that people try to avoid. The daylight is the “safe zone.”

Then the night falls and the “danger zones,” on campus, the Quad and in between Chemistry and Nursing buildings, become the breeding grounds for my deepest fears. The day animals go to bed and the night creatures come to hunt. The owls and bats are active in the sky, the rats and possums dodge from building to building as I walk in the dark with a flashlight and a ring of keys as my only form of defense. Or so I thought.

As soon as the sun went down, I was always on the phone with someone just in case I scream and they don’t hear from me again they would know my last whereabouts. I was on the phone with my friend, Fefe, as I locked a building and entered the Quad, the center of the university.

I was in mid-joke when movement caught my eye. I turned and spotted a group of individuals in a huddle as if they were going over a game plan. This would have been fine and well during the day, but my night brain was in full gear and the items that the individuals were holding were very “suspish.” Fefe was trying to talk and I thought I had hushed her silently, but then a member turned in my direction from the group and they had both their arms casually draped over a two-by-four across their shoulders. I ducked behind the hedges but I was too late. I was spotted.

I bolted from my hiding place and ran to the nearest building, Lucas Engineering, and locked 12 doors in under a minute. In my moment of panic, my brain associated the two-by-four wielding person to a killer clown that I had seen in the media for the past week or two. When I think of things I fear, clowns were never among them. But that night, Pennywise the clown, Stephen King’s “IT,” was my greatest adversary. And there wasn’t just one, there was an entire posse of Pennywises.

Mind you, I am still on the phone with Fefe. As I reached the last set of doors, I noticed a maintenance man drive a golf cart in between Lucas and the Wimberly Building and motion at the group down the path. I continue to the lock the doors and I do not open them to scream him a warning. I bang on the thick glass and scream, “Don’t go down there, I won’t save you!”

All the while, Fefe is screaming against my screams, “Save him!” Clearly, that was not the route I chose. Lesson No. 1 that I learned about myself, I will flight instead of fight. When I am safe, and only then, will I try to assist someone else. I click on my radio and begin to scream incoherently to dispatch.

“268 to dispatch, 268 to dispatch, I need backup, there’s clowns in the Quad!”

Dispatch responds immediately, “Dispatch to 268, what’s your location?”

I give her my information and then I hear officer Fitzer over the radio saying he was en route. I was so relieved it was someone who I was friends with. I knew he would surely save me from a group of killer clowns. I tell Fefe I will call her back.

I stealthily scale the outside walls in the shadows of the building and watch until Fitzer comes into view. He turns a corner accompanied by his partner. I run to them and realize that my head is pounding and I am out of breath.

I rehash what I saw and that there is a maintenance man who was last seen trying to interact with the group of clowns. Then I see the look Fitzer is giving me — like I’m the crazy one. 

Fitzer points to the Quad and informs me that there was never a group of clowns on campus — they were “larpers.” I had to ask what larpers are. Apparently, they are live-action role players, and they did not have two-by-fours, they had foam swords.

If my pride had not taken enough of a beating, Fitzer leans forward and sniffs the air by me and asks me what that smell is? I lifted my uniform, whiffed inside and almost puked.

The accumulation of running and being terrified caused my body to release what I morbidly call “The Fear Sweats.” And I am 100 percent sure this smell is my secret weapon to combat whatever may be after me. Nothing could possibly want to physically touch me once they took a whiff.

This experience gained me a new nickname in the department— ‘Musty.” That isn’t even the strangest part of the story, though. I did not get fired, reprimanded or even made fun of. It was just common knowledge that there was no way I would ever be a police officer — I’m no hero. At least, not against the thought of killer clowns.

Category: Opinion