“To be honest I don’t think I’ve been on this side of that question before,” Jonathan Sims said, turning on the tape recorder and squinting at the three men sitting across from him as the one with glasses and no beard fussed with a small, portable microphone for a moment before setting it on the desk. He didn’t know if he was squinting out of exasperation or confusion yet, and likewise it seemed like they hadn’t decided whether they were going to be irritatingly boisterous or frustratingly timid. Perhaps it was the novelty of three people coming in to make a statement all at once and asking if they could record him that convinced Jon to take these Americans’ statement in the first place. Months spent picking through piles and piles of potential encounters with the supernatural tended to numb one’s sense of surprise, making amusement in a non-lethal form hard to come by. “Although I’ll warn you, the reason for our quote unquote ‘garbo audio setup’ is that most statements with any merit to them aren’t easily pinned down onto anything digital. So don’t be surprised if you don’t get anything usable for your, podcast, was it?”
“Yeah it’s uh, it’s an advice show for the modren era,” said the one with neither glasses nor a beard, in a way that Jon could tell it was some kind of inside joke he wasn’t in on. He heard that tone quite often, actually. Usually from Tim. “We turn people’s questions alchemy-like into wisdom.”
“Hm. Charming. And what kind of wisdom do you expect me to have for you?”
“Oh no we’re doing something a little different today, spicin’ things up a bit,” said the one with both glasses and a beard.
“Yeah the focus groups said we don’t do enough ghost-related bits already so we’re making a feature length spook special,” said the spectacled beardless one, opening a laptop on the desk. “Hey Juice you have pictures of it, right?”
“I gave those to you.”
“You did?” The glasses one picked a laptop bag off the floor and began rifling through it.
“Yeah, you brought that thing into this world you should be the one who has to carry the reminder of your hubris.”
“What do we need polaroids for anyway? I have pictures of it on my phone,” said the bearded one.
“It took the phones, Trav. That was kind of the whole thing was that it took phones.”
“I left mine at home that day, I wanted to be a good, non-hypocritical teen role model.”
“Well shit Travis, why didn’t you say that before? I almost died trying to get shots of that thing with a fucking hand sized printer!”
“Oh, yeah never mind actually these aren’t gonna work,” said the one Jon was pretty sure was Travis. Over the top of his phone, Jon could see several images of what looked like a cloud of static in the middle of a forest.
Jon tried to tell them they could bring in pictures later, that they should just get on with the statement before his time or his patience ran out completely, but with the three of them and their indistinguishable voices all rattling off at once he could barely keep track of who was saying what, let alone get a word in himself.
“Cool I guess I didn’t risk getting eviscerated by the physical manifestation of chaotic evil for nothing, then.” He went back to digging into his bag. “Justin are you sure you don’t have the-“
Jon jumped as the non-bearded, non-glasses one probably named Justin made a high-pitched whooping sound and slammed a handful of polaroid pictures onto the desk. “Haunted doll watch.”
Finally, there was a beat of silence. Jon took a moment to try and process what had just happened. He picked up one of the photos on the desk. It showed a refrigerator-sized box sitting in the middle of a parking lot, covered in bright colors with a smiling clown painted down one side and a white gloved hand protruding from a curtain uncomfortably close to the clown’s crotch region. He’d seen several fake creature pictures in his time, most of which were overdone with effects and horror cliches from any basic found footage movie. Besides the clown motif, these didn’t have any of that. No glowing eyes or blurry shadows, it was a relatively clear image, taken in broad daylight. Jon suppressed a shudder. He was used to photos that had been edited to frighten people, but these were less scary than they were just objectively bad to look at. He gingerly put the photo down and looked up at the beardless spectacled one who must have been Griffin. “You said you made this? This...”
“It’s a clown box,” said Travis.
“The clown box,” Griffin corrected him. “I only made one and acknowledging the possibility of there being more might just kill me.”
Jon took a long, slow inhale and pressed his fingertips to his temples. “Well then, I’m glad we could get that sorted out.” He leaned in closer to the tape recorder. “Statement of Justin, Travis, and Griffin McElroy, regarding the creation of and subsequent encounters with the, ahem, ‘Clown Box.’ Statement taken direct from subjects on June ninth, two thousand seventeen.”