Jessica stumbled around the corner, nails scraping the floor as she forced herself up. Sweat streamed down her back, though she wore only an airy white vest and a pair of tight blue jeans.
She raced to the hotel kitchen, where long abandoned trolleys laden with ancient trays offered her some refuge. She cringed as the metal clinked and clanged. She crouched down, able to see out but still fairly well hidden, or so she thought. Her heart pounded and her bladder ached and then – the heavy metal doors creaked open.
‘Oh, Jesus. I’m sorry I just can’t do this anymore.’
Jessica stood and strode out. She dusted down her backside then folded her arms.
The figure in the clown mask stood still, head tilted.
‘I just can’t do it. I bloody hate hiding, it terrifies me. Honestly, I’d rather you just get it over and done with.’
The clown looked left, then right, up, and around, as if checking for hidden cameras.
‘I never could stand it. Hide and seek? What sort of sick game is that for kids to be playing? No wonder I had separation anxiety for years.’
The clown scratched his neck with one hand, drooped his bloody axe in the other.
‘I’m sorry. I appreciate the effort you’ve gone to, you know. With the mask and the weapon and all that. Good job, really, good job.’
The clown mumbled.
The clown peeled up his mask slightly, revealing a stubbly chin.
‘I said, but the chase is the best part.’
‘Better than the killing?’
‘Well. I mean, I like killing. Obviously, why bother otherwise? But I like the running and catching. Now you’ve stopped, there’s no fun. Not much point.’
‘Ah, man. I’m sorry. Really I am.’
They stood in the dim room, at an impasse.
It was the clown who broke the silence.
‘Could you not just hide for a little bit?’
‘No, I’m sorry, I’m done here. You’ll have to kill me where I am, or let me go.’
The clown pondered.
‘Well, but – you’ve seen my face now.’
‘Just a chin. Can’t tell how old you are or anything.’
‘Really? You’ve no idea at all? I mean, on the one hand that’s great, but also, I’ve got to tell you, I’m a little offended.’
‘I can see some stubble, looks like black hair maybe?’
The clown shook his head.
‘Sometimes, I don’t know why I bother.’
‘So…’ Jessica toed the floor. ‘You going to let me go then? I really can’t hide anymore, I’m sorry, I just can’t.’
The clown shrugged and rolled his mask back down.
‘Thanks, man. You’re cool, well, for a … you know.’
The clown nodded.
Jessica headed for the door, but turned back and looked her would-be assailant up and down one last time.
‘Just a thought, if you like playing games, and running around, have you thought about being a children’s entertainer instead? I mean, you have got the costume, after all.’