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"First off, your experience and skills precede you, honestly. No question there, you're almost undoubtably being hired...but under one of our required questions, you seem to have failed to answer.

"Uh...what would that be?"

"With what affiliation, if any, have you had with prior contact with the GS/CN or any forerunner agency that would become the GS/CN? None, Some, Direct, or Prior Employment?"

"Oh...well I didn't know how to answer."

"Well if that's the case, and you definitely have had contact, it's probably best if it was 'some', wouldn't you agree?"

"No."

"No? Well then, would you mind explaining your case to me? I'll decide."

"Ok...well..."


First I'll say that if you don't like clowns, tell me now and I'll just summarize.

Oh, I need to be explicit? And you're not afraid of clowns? Not even a little?

Well, uh...

When I was young, I never knew what my father did for a living. To this day, I'm still not sure. I knew he worked for some organization in some capacity, but I doubt it was whatever I think it is. I'll tell you, he kept everything at home nasty neat, down to his buzz cut, immaculate thick-rimmed glasses, and his suit. God, he loved that suit...

Anyway...

The only time I got a glimpse of my Dad's job was when Mom died. He had nothing else to do with me, had no plans for this scenario, so he took me to work and told me to sit quietly for the day.

An iron hallway is what I remember most honestly. Neat little men, some in the suits like he had, some in labcoats. Scuttling around, saying hi to me occasionally, "You Jack's kid?", "Sorry about your mother", "Do you know where your Dad is?, that kind of stuff.

Sometimes...actually I forgot to mention, I was in his office whenever he took me to his work, you need to know that for this to make sense--sometimes I'd press my ear to the oak wood door and heard how people talked about some "anomaly" occasionally, I was pretty young so I didn't catch on to what it meant.

One day, whilst entertaining myself as best I could in the crushing boredom, until a tremendous din echoed through the entire building... like an ambulance or police siren, but different.

I know I heard people screaming, someone firing a gun. I stuck my head out and saw people dressed in black army gear bolting down the hall, my father running in the opposite direction.

Dad grabbed me, and I didn't even see where here took me. Before I could even register what was going on, I was in a large tiled room with Dad and about twenty other men. We were all stripped naked as steaming hot water that smelled like bad chemicals rained down on us, almost scalding my skin. Everyone seemed really scared.

I never asked him what happened, and he never brought it up.

You seem a little uneasy...should I skip to the point?

No, keep being explicit? Ok...just tell me if you need a second.

I didn't see much of him since he worked ALL the time, so when I did, I was all about whatever entertainment HE was interested in. It was the fastest way to connect and secure some quality time.

He took this stuff very seriously. He took EVERYthing seriously. He put pens in specific order, he turned product labels facing out...always facing out...and if I so much as LOOKED at his paperwork, he had to primp and sort it all again. That's why it came as such a shock when my birthday was approaching and he started getting increasingly... funny. "Funny" as in weird, and "funny" as in actually funny.

For as long as I could remember, he'd come home, stand in the doorway, loosen his tie, and step in. Then, he'd put his keys and his wallet in a wicker basket on a table by the front door. He'd walk the length of the living room, to the hallway, to his bedroom, and only THEN would he actually take off his tie, and finally he got out of his suit and just spent the day lounging in a button down and khakis.

It was the same every time, and nothing I could do would alter the routine. I could have anything from a black eye to a gunshot wound and he'd just talk to me about it as he proceeded through the routine without a single hitch. And yes, that did actually happen one time, he had a gun and I accidentally shot myself with it, and he didn't even notice until he removed the suit, and then he ran to me like the devil was on his heels...anyway, you get it, he was very anal about his routines...

..so it was all the more surprising when he suddenly came home one night, burst through the door, whipped me into the air with his hands under my arms, and spun me around the room.

His grin was wide, but his mouth was closed. I remember the blissful look on his face clearly, but more than that I remember seeing my own expression of shock reflected in his glasses.

"Hmm-hmm, Hmm-hmm, Hmm-hmm-hm-hm!" he hummed as he whirled me about.

I think I screamed or yelled for him to put me down, but I can't be sure if I DID it or just THOUGHT I should. Either way, he dropped me to my unsteady feet just as quickly as he'd lifted me. The inertia and the surprise of it all made it hard to stay standing.

"What's going on?!" I asked eventually.

"Your birthday's almost heeere!" he danced out of the room.

...

I just stood there, staring into the empty doorway of his bedroom.

I watched him closely after that, basically for any sign he was about to approach and/or accost me again in this manner. He seemed a lot happier. He'd flip pancakes with flair, and even if they landed on the floor... and a LOT did... he'd just leave them there.

I spilled an entire glass of milk on the throw rug in the living room - somewhere I was expressly NOT supposed to be eating or drinking, and when he found out he just blew a raspberry and we went outside.

I can't express how upsetting and wonderful this change was.

He sat in a lawn chair and we tossed a ball back and forth. I talked a lot, I remember trying to fill the void of conversation, but he just went back to humming.

"Hmm-hmm, Hmm-hmm, Hmm-hmm-hm-HM!" - Over and over, it was like the Oompa-Loompa song from that Willy Wonka movie, but the last bit didn't match. He was putting the emphasis on the last syllable.

Later I cleaned up the milk, as best I could, without any provocation or scolding. I just knew that rotten milk stank, so I figured on my own that I needed to get rid of it.

My birthday got closer.

Dad said I could invite anyone I wanted, and in fact I HAD to invite at least ten people. Even then, the oddity of setting a party minimum instead of a maximum seemed backward.

"What kind of party is it, and why do I need at least ten people to come?" I asked the day before it was to happen.

"You'll see!" he giggled. I'd NEVER heard him giggle...though I've never really heard a Dad giggle at all...

"But I need to know so I can tell the other kids!" I insisted.

He turned to me suddenly, and for a second I thought the old Dad was back. The one who got pissed if you asked too many questions.

Instead, he leaned down and smiled that same, closed-lipped smile at me.

"You want to be surprised!" he said excitedly.

Well I just sort of got over it.

That night was really weird. I was awoken in the middle of the night by my father, who said he couldn't sleep because "he was too excited for the party".

I asked him if he was okay and he said "No, I'm better! God, can't you wait?? I have something so special planned!!"

"Dad, I don't like this."

"What?"

"How you are. You're scary."

"Ha ha, don't be stupid."

"I'm not stupid, Dad!!"

"Hmm-hmm, Hmm-hmm, hm-hm-hm-HM!"

All day I was terrorized by what my Dad was planning, and by how my friends would react when they saw my Dad being so weird.

God, if we only knew....

The back yard had been set up with a table filled with cake and party favors, and a single large trunk. Streamers and balloons were attached to every available surface, creating an almost claustrophobic "room" of vivid, wind-swept colors.

My focus, however, was on the trunk.

It was long and silver...like meta, but not. Yellow stickers with what looked like black spiders dotted its surface, and a large white banner across the front of it read: "ANOMALY JD-9836 -LVL BLUE !!AUTHORIZED ACCESS ONLY!!".

The lid was held on with a large combination padlock.

"What's in the trunk?" I asked, pointing at it.

"OOH!" Dad covered his mouth. His eyes bugged out.

"OOH! OOH!" he bobbed up and down.

"Shh!" he pushed his finger across my mouth.

Finally, I'd had enough, I told him off and went into the house.

But the party didn't stop, noo.

I watched from my bedroom window on the second floor as Dad played all sorts of party games with the other kids. I wanted to play, too... but I hated them. Hated him. More than playing, I wanted to go down and break everything they were having fun with.

After an achingly long amount of forcing myself to watch, Dad finally went over to the trunk and started to fiddle with the combination lock.

I heard the humming again...

At least I thought I did, at first. I cracked the window and listened.

All the other kids had joined my Dad in that weird tune, but they were all singing the words, now.

"Mazi-keen, Mazi-keen, Mazi-keen-the-CLOWN!"

"Mazi-keen, Mazi-keen, Mazi-keen-the-CLOWN!"

"Mazi-keen, Mazi-keen, Mazi-keen-the-CLOWN!"

...and I was thinking "Mazikeen"? The fuck is "Mazikeen"??

...you look very pale...should I...

Okay, okay, no need to yell, please!

Dad removed the padlock and threw it over the fence.

I saw something move inside, then a single white hand shot out and gripped the side of the trunk. Another hand followed. The arms seemed to be clad in ruffled, pink sleeves.

Just as suddenly as the hands had emerged, a clown THRUST his head up from the trunk and SNAPPED his head to the side to look toward the other kids.

Everyone laughed and hooted and cheered.

The clown's face... it was disturbing to me. Bleached white, with a perfectly round red nose and a tiny tiny derby on its head... but the eyes... the eyes were shut, as if the clown's oversized, toothless grin was just too wide for him to open his eyelids.

That expression remained frozen on his face.

The clown lifted himself up, like he was doing a push-up. The kids started chanting his name excitedly. One or two shouted commands like "Do something funny!" and "Fall down!"

The clown just stayed there for a moment... clutching the trunk like a bird perched on a wire. Then, slowly, its head turned toward the house... angled up to my window... and stared at me.

I say it "stared", but of course his eyes remained closed.

That is, until his bulbous red nose, that perfect orb attached to the center of his face, slowly began to split down the middle.

The "skin" of his nose pulled back in either direction, revealing a single, oversized eyeball pointed right at my window.

"Come on!" Dad called out, also looking directly at me, "Come meet Mazikeen the Clown! Don't be a little fucking shit-head!"

The children oo'ed at the profanity.

The clown looked back toward the children with its single eye. It then hauled itself out of the trunk... just an upper body trailing intestine and dislocated organs behind it...

He walked on his hands... RAN, really... darting into the crowd of children at an impossible speed.

Kids ran screaming, pushed each other over, tripped over their own feet or untied laces... they all just panicked and started fleeing like a startled cluster of geese.

At the center, where the crowd had been, the clown had positioned itself over a fallen little boy, the boy's arm now halfway down the clown's throat.

The clown didn't even have to hold the kid down. It seemed like there was just no way to get his arm loose. Struggle as the boy might, he was stuck.

All the color drained from him... I mean he turned white. Paper-white. It started at his upper arm, then his shoulder, then his face just turned pale and blank. The whole time, the boy's hand and forearm struggled against the inside of the clown's throat, and I could see its neck distending and rippling as the limb writhed within.

When the boy fell limp, the clown let him go and darted, faster than before, toward a little girl who was huddled at the base of a tree, crying. It sucked on her leg, all the way up, and, moving backward, pulled her under the table. Her dress dragged up over her head as she just screamed and screamed...

I don't know what happened after that, because I got away from the window as fast as I could and hid in my closet.

After a while, as the screaming died down, I heard a number of vehicles pull up outside. I didn't come out of the closet.

I heard "Are we ready?" followed by "We're ready", "Let's do this!"

A while later, shots fired, and eventually I heard "I got it!" followed by someone dashing out of the house.

Finally, some time later, there were sounds of a struggle, and I heard someone scream, "For God's sake Jack, they were children! You animal!", followed by a thud, and someone hitting the tiled floor.

I heard someone coming up the stairs and I slid back in the closet.

Next thing I know the doors flew open and something got me in the neck and I fell asleep.

I woke up in an iron room.

After a few hours two people came into the room.

Both of the guys were from Dad's job, one was just like him... or how he used to be... neat, suit, normal.

The second guy was...weird. He wore orange, he had some sort of mask on, he also had like...a full body suit? A remember his belt caught my attention, it had all these gadgets on them, but they didn't seem very...normal.

He got down on one knee and held my shoulders. He explained that my Dad loved me very much, and that he was very sorry for what happened. He said that Dad wanted to see me again, and if I thought it was okay I could leave the "facility" and go back home with him.

I was too young to really comprehend it at the time, but the guy said it was BECAUSE Dad loved me that this all happened.

"He wanted to make you happy. The guilt over your Mother's passing was too much, and that's how it got to him."

I asked what "it" was, but all I got was a pat on the head and a change of subject.

It only took a couple nights of sleeping in that room, that prison cell more like it, then, I agreed to go back.

At first, I was scared, understandably. I was extremely hesitant to even be in the same room with my father... as years passed and nothing out of the ordinary happened again... I eventually let some of my guard down even though things weren't really the same.

Even Dad's routine had been changed forever. When he got home he'd put his keys and his wallet in that wicker basket and walk to his bedroom, and loosen his tie...

But he never had the suit.

Not that treasured blue suit with the little "g" on it.

Never again.


"D...direct"

"Hm?"

"T...that would be d...direct"

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