Allison Danvers stood in between the stacks of books in the library on campus of the University of Washington. She took in the smell of the old books, a musty smell that wasn’t too strong. Her fingertips grazed the spines of the books on the shelf in front of her, feeling the texture of all the different kinds of book covers. She enjoyed the covers that almost felt like fabric and were older than most on the shelves. Allison preferred these books more because they had so much more history to them than just writing inside of them. Most of these books were second editions; the first editions locked up in a case on the first floor.
As she listened to one of her favorite podcasts, she pulled books from the list she had in front of her, checking them off as she went. Allison balanced herself better on the stool as she grabbed for a book on the top shelf, slowly rising to her toes. A few female students passed her in the walkway, not having a care in the world as they talked about an upcoming party that was happening over the weekend.
The girl in the middle of the group had long, sleek black hair that fell a little passed her shoulders and green eyes that almost looked like emeralds, her smile contagious with the brightest teeth. Her darker complexion glowed, and her body had the curves of one similar to a cheerleader’s, as did the others in her group. Allison recognized her from her Psychology class; Vanessa Vanacore. She seemed to be the “Queen Bee” of the little trio. The girl to her left almost reminded Allison of a mouse. She had small features, but the biggest, prettiest bright blue eyes, her skin like porcelain. Her hazel-colored hair was tied back on the top of her head, held tightly with a single pink ribbon. This was Hannah Izenhower, a real nerd like Allison herself. Allison remembered Hannah from her freshman year in Medical Terminology together. Allison believed she was going for the nursing program. The last girl had bleach blonde hair that was cut in almost a pixie style, her features almost resembling a fairy herself. Her skin was a cream color, looking almost as smooth as a baby’s. The girl’s eyes were a dark blue, almost black against her skin. This last girl was Kayla McDonald. Allison didn’t personally know Kayla, but knew she ran around with Vanessa and Hannah. Allison smirked, knowing she wouldn’t be invited to it, nor did she care. Her studies would always come first over a mindless sorority party. Flicking her own golden hair away from her blue eyes, she turned back to the list she had been working on.
Just as she was finishing the page, a loud bang erupted through the library. She shrugged it off at first, thinking it was only someone dropping a book on the floor somewhere on the second level where she was at. Another bang erupted from the main floor beneath her and she pulled her ear bud out, listening again with more curiosity.
Surely someone isn’t that clutzy. Allison thought before she heard another loud bang, soon followed by students screaming from downstairs. She almost fell off the stool as she ducked down between the bookshelves. Students ran past her towards the emergency exit in the back of the second floor, while others seemed to take cover between the bookshelves like her. Allison looked up and saw the three girls that had passed her earlier, their eyes all wide like newborn fawns in the woods as they stared at her. She lifted a finger to her lips and motioned for them to follow her to the back of the library, when the gunshots erupted at the top of the staircase, on the second floor.
Allison and the other girls hurried as they hid behind a bookshelf almost to the back of the building, seeing the light shining through the large windows behind them. That’s when it got worse. The entire second floor of the library went out. Darkness encompassed them as more students ran past the small group before another set of gunshots echoed through the floor, seeming closer to them. Allison heard someone cry out in pain and a large thud sounded on the ground a few rows ahead of them. The four girls ducked down as Allison peered through the lower shelves of the bookcases, seeing a young man laying a few rows ahead of them, crying. She could see blood start to pool on the back of the young man’s light blue shirt before loud footsteps came closer to them, echoing through her mind.
A pair of heavy black boots, almost military like, came into view; the person wearing black jeans. Allison glanced back at the three girls behind her, all of them trembling and holding on to each other for dear life. As she turned back towards the young man and the shooter, Allison got up on her knees to get a better view of the two. The young man looked no more than twenty, too young to have this happen to him. His brunette hair was slightly long and wavy, just touching the tips of his ears. His brown eyes were wide with fear and pain, his gasps for breath almost sounding like a gurgle, most likely from the blood pooling into his lungs. Allison had read and watched enough true crime to know that the young man wouldn’t last long if he didn’t get medical attention soon. She directed her vision to the shooter as he came more into view.
The man was built to be, maybe twenty-sex, twenty-seven at most. He wore a blue shirt, spattered with blood across the chest and torso. Donning a clown mask, Allison felt herself freeze.
Clowns. It had to be a fucking clown mask. She cursed to herself. Allison had never been a fan of clowns, even as a child, and this was now becoming her worst nightmare. An active shooter at her school in a clown mask. As if the killer clowns back in 2016 hadn’t been enough, now someone had finally taken it to the extreme in 2022 and started shooting up a university library. She could feel her heart racing, the blood pulsating through her body quicker as the masked clown stood over the dying man. The mask bore into her mind as she looked at it. It had the classic white facial color with bright red nose and mouth, but there were wrinkles on the forehead, between the brows, everywhere. Almost as if the clown was in its mid-sixties and hadn't slept in weeks; just looking at the large bags underneath the eye holes. This mask was not made to make children happy, but to give their parents nightmares.
The masked clown was almost six-foot, two inches, if not taller. If he were to find the girls, he would tower over Allison’s five-foot, four-inch height. Allison watched as the wounded man stared up at the clown, begging with his eyes to let him live. The clown slowly lifted a large black gun, almost resembling an AR-15, and stared into the young man’s face before pulling the trigger.
The gunshot rang in her ears, almost disorientating Allison for a few seconds, before one of the girls behind her let out a small whimper. The clown’s head whipped to his left in the direction of the noise, before turning away from the dead man on the floor and walking in their direction. Allison was frozen in her spot as she heard the heavy footsteps come closer, but the man almost had a predatory walk. Like he was a lion stalking its prey in the Sahara. She motioned to the girls to quietly follow her towards the end of the shelf they were hiding from, away from the clown. As they crawled on their hands and knees, his footsteps got closer.
He's going to find us if we don’t think of something fast. Allison thought as she glanced at the girls behind her. We won’t have a chance of trying to sneak around the edge of this shelf. There’s too many of us and he’ll see us for sure. Vanessa looked at Allison in almost a pleading manner, looking to her as their new leader. Allison swallowed hard before grabbing a book from off the shelf. She stood up on the outer part of the bookshelf and threw the book as hard as she could to the other side of the library away from them.
The book made a loud thud a few bookshelves to their left and the clown turned his body quickly to the sound, gun raised. Allison watched intently for the clown’s next move.
Take it you bastard. She cursed as her heart rate went through the roof. The clown stood there what seemed like forever, studying the area from where the noise came from, before finally taking the bait and stalking towards the dark abyss on the other side.
Allison motioned her hand to the others to follow her as they quietly crept on the outer sides of the shelves, peeking around every corner before they continued on. Another cry in fear echoed from the other side of the library before another shot rang through the building. The girls were only halfway to the main staircase and would be seen indefinitely by the clown if he made his way back to the front. Hannah tapped Allison on the shoulder, causing her to jump, almost wanting to cry out. She whipped her head around to glare at her, but before she could, Hannah shakily lifted her right hand, pointing in the direction diagonally behind them. Allison peered into the darkness, trying to focus on the spot the girl had pointed at. As her eyes adjusted, she could barely make out a face staring in their direction from the edge of a bookshelf. Allison was staring right into the eyes of the clown. She felt the blood drain from her face and into the pit of her stomach.
Can he see us? Is he listening to where we are? A thousand different questions echoed through her mind before the clown took a step to his left, back in the direction of the girls. Looking around to find any sort of cover, Allison saw a table that had wooden slats on either side of legs, enough to fit all four girls under it comfortably, and still be able to pull the chairs back in. Allison grabbed Hannah’s hand and pulled her in the direction of the table quickly. Kayla and Vanessa followed close behind them as Allison quietly pulled the first chair out and motioned for the two to hide underneath it. They both shook their heads, hands trembling as the tears swelled in their eyes. Allison gave them a pleading motion, pointing in the direction of where the clown was. The girls looked at each other before climbing underneath the table and Allison pushing the chair in on them quietly. She grabbed Hannah and pulled the chair out quickly for her before getting underneath the table herself and pulling the chair in.
Hannah was breathing heavily, surely about to hyperventilate, when another boom sounded from the back of the library. The clown had kicked in the door of one of the study rooms on the side of the library, stalking into the room before coming back out and moving on to the next one. Allison peered under the desk watching as the clown slowly stalked towards them.
The clown was getting closer, and she felt her hand be squeezed by Hannah. She glanced at the scared girl, giving her hand a small squeeze back and a slight smile. Allison glanced behind her and saw the other two girls holding hands as well, their knuckles almost white.
She looked back up towards where the clown was at…but he was gone. Allison whipped her head to her left, fearfully peering into the darkness for the clown. Her eyes darted from bookshelf to bookshelf, not seeing any sign of him. She could feel Hannah start to panic next to her, her palm becoming sweaty in Allison’s. A slight creak in the floor to her left alarmed Allison as she looked in that direction. There was the clown, not ten feet from them. She stopped breathing. The clown had peaked its face around the end of a bookshelf, its large, red-lipped smile looking menacingly in the darkness.
Does he see us? He had to have seen us. Allison gripped Hannah’s hand tighter as the clown crept slowly over to their hiding position, his footsteps thudding louder and louder as they came. Allison hoped the other two behind her couldn’t see or hear what was coming their way, only her and Hannah could see their fates. Closer and closer the clown came, staring in their direction. She could make out the fresh blood as he came into her view better, seeing the blood spatter across its face. She sat there frozen on the floor, her hand tightening on Hannah’s hand, knowing their lives were lost.
Less than five feet was between the girls and the clown, his gun raised, ready to shoot, when a noise echoed from behind him. He stopped dead in his tracks, jerking his head to the noise. A couple pairs of footsteps ran towards the back of the library and towards the emergency exit. The clown chased after the sound, his gun at the ready as he did.
Here’s our chance. Allison screamed in her head as she motioned for the others to follow. The four got out from underneath the table quickly and hurried quietly to the main stairs. They crept down the stairs and made it to the landing between the floors before the sound of a gun being cocked behind them filled the empty air. The four girls froze as they turned to look behind them. There, standing at the top of the stairs, was the clown.
He looked even more menacing in the sunlight from the large windows behind the girls. Blood spattered all over his clothes and boots, the mask even more terrifying in the light. Allison wanted to shit herself right then and there. Just looking into his cold, dark eyes, she could see the primal instinct to kill in them. She could’ve guessed he was smiling underneath the mask, even if the mask itself was doing a bang-up job of that as is.
Lifting his gun slowly, he pointed it straight towards Allison, finger ready on the trigger. Just as she closed her eyes, waiting for her fate to come, a sound of broken glass rang through the small area the five of them were in. A scream echoed from one of the girls as Allison opened her eyes quickly, looking over her own body for a bullet wound.
What the hell? She asked as she hadn’t found one. She looked up towards the other girls, their eyes wide with fear and tears, as they stared up at the top of the stairs. Allison looked in the same direction and saw the clown, sprawled on the top two steps, dead. She didn’t see anyone behind where the clown had been standing but could see a small beam of sunlight shine through to where he had been. She looked up and saw a small hole in one of the windowpanes and turned around to see the small courtyard outside of the library filled with police officers.
Allison saw something shine in the distance, almost a small glimmer, and peered into the sun to see where it had come from.
Perched on top of a small building about two hundred yards away, sat up an officer with a sniper. Allison smiled in relief as she saw the officer stand up, giving her a small wave.
Thank god for fucking dads.
Word Count: 2670