So yeah, then I blink ‘cause Dasneyville blinks gone first and ‘cause now it’s the Jeopardy! stage and the stage lights literally blind me. There’s a podium like I’m on TV, so I grab the button, but the skeleton yanks my arm and says that’s for later. The skeleton’s Wiltner, like Wiltner Dasney, and we run down a hallway that’s cheap and dumb, and they’re making a circus show, ‘cause there’s a clown down another hallway. Wiltner says Culver City’s infested, and I don’t get what that means, but I’m out of breath so I don’t bother asking.
We stop running at a dressing room, and he locks the door behind us and pulls cigarettes out of his ribs. And why didn’t we blink straight there, right? But he wanted me to see the outside first, and I still don’t know what he’s talking about, like ever. He takes a drag and says get changed and get comfy, ‘cause he’s gonna be gone a long time, and I try to ask how long but I’m late for that, there’s a puff of smoke where he used to be, and the door’s still locked.
There’s this leather costume on a hanger and a guitar case by the couch, and from how many Lunchables are in the fridge, Wiltner’s gonna be gone longer than I thought. In the mirror, I’m Taylor Swift, so that’s something to think about, and I’ve got on this leotard thing that’s all covered in soot. I go for the leather, ‘cause the leotard thing’s embarrassing, and the leather ends up fitting like it’s mine.
There’s this emblem thing on the neckline, and I check it out in the mirror. It’s like this Mousey Mickster head in the same leather but sticking up, and above it’s that other face again, the one that backs up my aunt and Wiltner on who I am. I think maybe it’s a trick, but I can kind of see me in the fridge handle, too, and the handle backs up the mirror. I take a seat.
I guess the guitar’s for killing a lot and a lot of time, but first I got stuff to think about, like the blonde girl in the bathroom and how she opened her mouth to scream, but blood came out. Except that never happened, ‘cause there wasn’t a knife, and there wasn’t a blonde girl, and I’m not me in the first place.
But that’s too easy, like I’m pretending Wiltner could possibly be right so I can hope I’m not really evil, and just hoping for that is a joke and a thing I obviously want. I pull my hair so I can look and it’s blonde, just like the mirrors said. I think how my aunt’s not real either.
I grab the guitar case just to peek when the door bangs and a machete chops in. It scrapes like it’s stuck, and then it gets yanked back out, and someone’s doing the laugh that’s supposed to scare you, and someone else joins in. The machete chops in again, and I try not to scream too loud, and it scrapes ‘cause it’s stuck again.
There’s literally nowhere to hide, so I duck behind the fridge, ‘cause the couch is in the corner and the clothes rack is empty, but the door’s in the mirror, and the machete’s back in the room, and this time it isn’t stuck. The cuts make a triangle, and there’s pounding and the triangle starts wiggling, and then a clown arm punches it out and unlocks the door.
There’s three of them, and they’re still laughing on purpose, and there’s blood, and their smiles are dog-toothed, and their eyes roll in different directions, but I know where they’re looking. There’s nothing left to hope about, so I close my eyes and wish the desert we drove to was real, back when Wiltner was driving and he actually looked like Wiltner Dasney.
The laughing gets loud, and one of them hits my stomach. My eyes pop open, and the clown in my face is confused about his bent machete. That doesn’t calm me down, though, and it’s obvious why when his machete finds my bare neck anyway like it had to. The clown’s drooling and his teeth are actual dogs’ teeth, not fake ones, so I’m back to wishing, and that’s when I blink to the desert.
It’s bright, and it’s hot, and I taste sand like I’m thirsty, and it’s no help being there, anyway, ‘cause the clowns are there too, all three of them, and the knife’s still on me even though I’m on the wheel of Wiltner’s fancy old car, but at least they all stopped laughing, ‘cause they seem like they don’t like it there, which makes four of us.
Then I blink again, and I’m back in the dressing room. There’s no clowns, and I run to the door and lock it to keep it that way. I drag the fridge in front of the hole, and there’s just enough cord that the Lunchables won’t go bad faster. I sit against the fridge and just freak out a bit like I earned the right to do that.
When I calm down, I notice I’m dressed like a superhero, but that’s a joke or something or the craziest thing so far, so I take a look at the guitar to think about something else. It’s a way nice guitar, and I decide I don’t have to be quiet, ‘cause of the powers. I sit down to play, and I try not to think about clowns. It’s not easy, but it gets easier the more I play.
I go through the Taylor Swift covers I know in the order I remember them, and it turns out I know every song she put out, and then I play songs that I wrote that sound like hers. It’s weird—I just started playing this year, but I have some pretty good songs already. Most of them feel like I wrote them a long time ago, way before I ever learned how.