's 2013 Horror Write-off:

" Humbug "

Submitted by Rahkshasaran

Bill Mclane had the best side show this side of the Colorado. ‘Course, there haven’t been any good sideshows since the sixties, ain’t PC no more. But Billy’s was proper freakish. Hell, he even got a fella from Twin Cities tattooed neck to nuts (though that ain’t so unusual anymore, I guess) and he had stuff floating in jars.

Boy howdy did he have stuff in jars.

He had two-headed lambs, something that looked like a cross between a dog and a tiger, a severed hand, all the usual suspects. That was in the penny tent. The high-rollers were in a room you had to pay to get into. Only twenty people a day could go in, so crowds built up pretty quick.

Shrewd businessman, that Billy. He had a floor-to-ceiling jar with a fellow in it a lot like the tattooed man, only these were black barbed tats like you’d get as a tramp stamp. Had this fiery red hair rolled into dreads and his skin looked like old leather. Called him the bog-man. Next to him was the mermaid, probably the saddest thing you’ll ever see. Doesn’t look like a fish or human at all, more like a little manatee with too much neck and eyes collapsed into their sockets.

The main draw had to be the Whatchamacallit. Big glass tank, ten feet if it’s an inch, filled with murky green water and that thing, bumping and rolling endlessly from the pump current. Sometimes you’d see an elbow, or a cheek, or what looked like a bit of hair, but no one’s ever seen the whole thing. Hell, no one’s even sure if they’ve seen it right, ‘cause it kept changing.

Billy got a lot of money off all the local yokels, probably enough to retire on. But Billy kept on standing at his card table, taking people’s crumpled fives and tens and making change and anything else you’d expect a small businessman to do. He joked that the only retirement plan for him was six square feet of earth and some posies.

One day some cops pulled up in front of Billy’s sideshow, only they weren’t from any county we recognized. When Billy asked to see a badge, they maced him in front of the crowds and kneed him in the gut. No one did anything ‘cause no one wanted to get involved in none of his mess anyway. They got Billy in their car, loaded the Whatchamacallit tank into a trailer and skedaddled, no one’s seen hide nor hair of him since.

Well, that building’s just been sitting empty since then. Maybe once in a while some kid goes to creep around in there, but there ain’t much worth taking anymore. No one’s tried to open a jar since Sammy Hartfield thought to make off with the two-header. The jar broke and spilled a mess of what smelled like pina colada mixed with gasoline. Maybe the fumes of whatever that was got to Sammy’s head, because he swears to this day that thing started moving and bleating like a real waterlogged lamb before he dropped it and ran like a bitch.

Nobody listens to him, like nobody looks at that new bum down by the bus station. His hair’s all matted and he speaks a language no one can understand, but man has he got some pretty skin. Probably got it done in prison.