*This is the sequel to my origin stories with Zeze and Zuzu the clowns. You can find their origins under my folder “Zeze and Zuzu the clowns”. The original story with them is called “31 Horrific Halloween tales”, under my folder “Scary-ish stories”. Slowly, I will be making folders for my different stories so that they are easier to follow. Gacha Club character designs are on my wall. Enjoy!*
THE CLOWN HOUSE-BASEMENT
Ariana pushed past the nine other kids trapped with her, walking up the stairs. If she could just convince Zeze and Zuzu to let them go…
A hand grabbed her left wrist. Ariana sighed, turning around. She already knew who it was.
“You can’t convince them.” Danika said, eyes full of worry.
“But what if I can?”
And with that, Ariana broke away from her hold.
It had been the same thing day after day, year after year. The ghost adolescents were locked away in the basement of the clowns, Zeze and Zuzu, unable to ascend to Heaven, for they were bound to the home.
Ariana tried persuading the clowns to let them go, but always, she was hushed back to the basement. She tried staying cheerful for the others, which was getting harder with every passing day.
There were ten ghosts in the basement. Five girls, five boys.
Danika was the first ghost, someone who gave Zeze joy just by seeing her. She died in 1951.
Hadrien was the second ghost, Drystan was the third ghost. They died together, whilst exploring the house. The boys died in 1962.
Amabel and Corvina just so happened to live next to each other and across the street from the clowns. Unfortunately, Hallows’ Eve of 1973 would be their end, for they made the mistake of looking for spooks…
Emmerane and Kieran had no interest in exploring the clown house, but the clowns had come to them on a walk home from school, in 1978.
Raphael and Trevelyan made the same brutal mistake as Hadrien and Drystan in 1984.
Finally, Ariana in 2013. Forced by friends to come to the house, dragged by the clowns to death.
All were only twelve. All but Ariana were hopeless.
As they sat in the darkness, contemplating their afterlife, the door creaked open, letting in a crack of light.
The kids looked up.
Zeze walked down the stairs, her Mary Janes click-clacking on the floor, her pink dress swishing with every move she made. Every once in a while, she had to brush a strand of yellow hair from her pale, painted face.
When Zeze finally made it to the bottom of the stairs, she gave an ear-to-ear, lipsticked smile at the bloody, grim-faced children.
“We’re going on a trip!” She said happily, arms spread out as if to embrace them.
Though the children groaned and grimaced, Ariana stared at Zeze’s sad, lifeless eyes. Her whole demeanor was exciting, optimistic, except for her eyes.
Zeze’s eyes shifted to Ariana, who quickly looked down at her shoes. She caught Ariana staring, but didn’t say a word.
“I’ll be waiting upstairs!”
Zeze was gone.
“We shouldn’t go up there. It’s a trap.” Danika said.
The other kids murmured agreements, but Ariana kept thinking back to Zeze’s sad, tear-filled, pink snake eyes, eyes once human, but reduced to that of a monster…
“We’re already dead, what’s the worst that could happen? Besides, it’s a chance to go out. Don’t you want to be out of this basement?” Ariana asked.
A murmur of voices in the crowd, discussing and assessing choices.
“What if they trap us? What if they send us to an even greater Hell than we’re already in?” Danika countered.
Voices rose, uncertain.
“They can’t possibly be that powerful.”
“You don’t know them.”
“You don’t know them either.”
Silence fell upon the individuals, choices being made mentally in each mind.
“All in favor of staying, stay with me. All in favor of going, come with Ariana.”
Hadrien, Amabel, Emmerane, and Trevelyan scrambled to Ariana, while the rest stayed with Danika.
“Alright. Then it’s settled. You’re all coming with me.”
Hopefully Ariana’s sense of judgment wasn’t twisted.
Zeze’s face fell when she noticed that only Ariana and a few other kids had come up the stairs.
“Where are the others?”
“They didn’t want to come.”
Ariana watched as Zeze sighed, apparent sadness in her eyes.
“Well, no use standing around here. Follow me! Zuzu is waiting for you guys!” Zeze said, all smiles again.
Ariana wondered what life would be like if she smiled at the first stroke of sadness. Would she be happier? More appreciative?
Or just lost?
Zuzu was waiting for them in the living room, black eyes devoid of any emotion.
“Where are we going?” Ariana asked, for Zeze didn’t say anything about where they were taking the kids and she was genuinely curious.
“To the theater, where we used to perform.” Zuzu said, voice as hollow as his eyes.
With a sweep of his blue coat, he led them away.
Ariana and the others followed the clowns through Maven Hills, to the dark forest, ending up in front of a theater lost to time, covered with branches and vines.
In fading letters, the entrance of the theater read: “Leonardo’s theater of dreams!”
“This is it. This is the place.” Zuzu said. Zeze nodded enthusiastically, yellow hair bopping up and down.
It looked like there was once vibrant color, but it was fading, decaying.
Just like Zeze and Zuzu. Ariana thought to herself.
“You fear us with good reason, but maybe, try to look at things from our perspective.” Zuzu said.
They were inside the theater, which was just as rotten inside as it was outside. Zuzu’s voice echoed, as did their footsteps.
“We used to be humans, like you. We used to perform here, at this very theater.”
“Not much happened, until…until she came along.”
Zeze didn’t say a single word since they got into the theater, which was unusual for her, as she was the one who spoke more.
What…what was going on?
“Zeze? You knew her better, do you want to tell the story?” Zuzu asked softly, in a tone the kids never heard him use before.
“I didn’t know her at all.” Zeze said hoarsely.
“Know who?” Emmeranne asked. Ariana and the boys watched with curious eyes, for they too, wanted to know who.
“Alessia, that’s who.” Zuzu said. He looked to Zeze yet again, but still, she did not speak.
“I guess I’ll tell the story.” Zuzu said with a heavy, sad sigh.
“Alessia was a close friend of Zeze whom she hadn’t seen in a while. Suddenly Alessia shows up to Maven Hills, as if she hadn’t had my wife wondering for years what happened to her.”
The emotions were there, the tension was boiling in the ground, but no one would leave.
They had to hear everything. They had to understand why, why their lives were cut short by two forgotten, lost clowns.
“Zeze used to tell me that Alessia would just stare at her. When we joined the theater troupe, this theater troupe, Alessia would come in and stare at her.”
“I didn’t want her to see Alessia anymore, but Zeze, she loved her. She loved her despite it all.”
Zuzu’s eyes held hints of tears, but no real tears came out.
“One day, Alessia followed us after a performance. We didn’t notice till it was too late and then? And then she shot us. You want to know why?!”
Zuzu smiled, clown makeup crinkling around him, papery white, the claws of age, age that could have been but never was, creeping to the surface.
Ariana and the other kids took a step back, just a little startled.
“She was jealous! Jealous of Zeze because of…well, I don’t know. She cried over “being beautiful”. Said that it was a curse, blah blah blah. She shot us. Plain as can be.“
Zeze’s eyes no longer held tears, but still, sadness lingered.
“I’m sorry about us ending your young lives, truly, I am, but you see…I always wanted children around.” Zeze said.
She was silent for so long that Ariana forgot that she could speak. But when she spoke, it was a voice with clammed up tears, steady sorrow.
All four of the kids felt the weight of their burden, their lives twisted and changed, through the dead wood of the theater, a place once alive and full of eager souls, lost to the universe.
That was why the clowns took them there. Back home, the story would be just a story, no emotions, no feelings crawling in the corners. Just a story breathed into passive ears and forgotten in seconds, as though nothing held any real importance.
The ghosts were about to go home, but then, the damp air around them formed into a dark cloud, followed by a woman’s high, saccharine sweet laughter.
Ariana turned to Zeze, but she was in shock, just like the rest of them.
So who was laughing? Who was with them? Who…who could it be?
A blue-eyed, ginger haired woman in a pink dress and a pink bow stared back at them, teary-eyed, a smile on her face.
“So, you have new friends? And I’m left to suffer?” The woman asked.
“Don’t start. You put us here.” Zuzu said, voice calm, void of the earlier sadness.
Ariana wanted to scream, but nothing came out.
Why did they have to be put in the middle of it?
The swirl stopped, the woman was gone. Ariana found herself on a staircase landing, the staircase in question leading up to a painted blue door.
No one else was with her. It was just her and the stairs.
Ariana tried floating through the walls, but she bounced back to the landing.
Ariana walked up the stairs, shutting out the questions in her head.
Perhaps it was the only way out.
Ariana opened the door, unsure of what to expect. She didn’t know if the room would kill her, take her away…
There was no room at all. Just a forest. The same forest that Ariana and the others were in, before they stepped into the theater.
“Over here!” Emmeranne called out.
Ariana ran towards the sound of her voice, until she saw Emmeranne, Trevelyan, Hadrien, and Amabel all in a circle, watching something.
Ariana joined them, curious to see what it was.
Zeze, Zuzu, and Alessia, all speaking to each other.
“I’m sorry that I killed you both. You were happy, you were in love. I shouldn’t have taken my unhappiness out on you.” Alessia said. She sounded sad, sincere.
“You killed us. Your death kept us locked away. Though we can never forgive you for what you’ve done, I hope that you have changed, that if you happen to be reborn again, you do better. If not, I hope that the afterlife fares you well. Perhaps we’ll meet again sometime.” Zeze said.
The three of them looked at each other one final time and then, they parted their ways, Zeze and Zuzu in one direction, Alessia in another.
“Hey guys!” Zeze said excitedly.
The kids jumped, startled.
“How’d you know where-“
“We knew from the beginning, now come on, let’s go home.” Zeze said, interrupting Amabel.
“Are you finally going to let us go?” Ariana asked. Since they seemed to have resolved things with Alessia, maybe Ariana thought that they’d all be set free.
No reply from either of the clowns.
BACK AT THE HOUSE
When they arrived back home, the clowns had the kids gather around in the living room. All stood nervously, wondering what they had to say. Never were they allowed out of the basement until that very day, when the kids spilt up for a moment.
“None of you are obliged to forgive us. We don’t want your forgiveness. We’ve always known that what we did was wrong. We always knew. We kept you here to fill a void. It wasn’t fair to any one of you. You have lives, you had futures. Our futures were taken from us, but we should have never taken them from you. We’re letting go of your spirits. We have come to terms with our past. Goodbye.” Zuzu said.
Though it wasn’t in his voice, Ariana thought that she saw pain in his eyes. As if he didn’t want them to leave.
“I didn’t know any of you well enough. I wish I did. But I thought that I knew you all because, well, you’re kids. I thought that kids didn’t change, no matter the years.” Zeze said. She seemed to be choking back sobs, seemingly ashamed of the thought.
But that was what Ariana saw. That was what Ariana thought. She didn’t know.
“You all had innocence once. You were all once bright-eyed, full of joy and we-no, I. I started it-“
“You didn’t. I helped. Stop taking all the blame. It was both of us.”
Zeze smiled at Zuzu sweetly before continuing on.
“The point is, you are free. You are are going to the afterlife. Those of you that have died in later times, you will see your family again.”
Everyone but Ariana murmured their excitement. From what she saw, it was still very much her time, which meant that most of her loved ones were still alive.
Zeze looked at Ariana apologetically.
“I don’t want any of you to remember us as Zeze and Zuzu. That’s not who we really are. We’re Andrea and Carter.”
The kids nodded in acknowledgement. Did they care? Ariana wasn’t sure, but she was comforted. She heard their human names, it brought a connection. Though small, it was a connection.
All around her, the kids ascended to Heaven, Danika higher than all. They were flashes of light, different colors, flying into the sky, ethereal and divine.
Then, it was just her and the clowns.
“Aren’t you going to Heaven?” Andrea asked.
“No. I want to say goodbye first.” Ariana said.
There were many people she wanted to say her farewells to, but she only had two in mind.
“Think of those you want to say your goodbyes to and you’ll see them.” Andrea said.
Ariana closed her eyes and thought of her friends.
Ariana opened her eyes. She was in the park, the sun streaming from the sky.
Her friends, Giulia and Emil were sitting on a picnic bench, laughing at videos in Giulia’s phone. No one else paid them any attention.
Ariana floated towards them. They visited her as much as they could. They wanted to help her escape, but the clowns always scared them away.
They wouldn’t be frightened of her.
“Hey.” Ariana said.
They jumped, startled, but when they looked at her, their eyes were full of worry.
“Oh, Ariana. What did they do to you?” Giulia asked.
“They used all kinds of torture weapons against me.” Ariana said, smiling weakly.
“But it’s okay. They’re going to pass on. The other kids have already done so. Now I’m going to.”
“I just wanted to say…goodbye. I love you guys. I really wish that I were alive, so we could all hang out together.”
“Me too.” Giulia said, sobbing a little.
“We talk about you all the time. We think about you all the time. We were just watching this video of when we were little.” Emil said.
“Oh! Can I see?”
“S-sure!” Giulia stuttered through her tears.
It was a bright summer day in the video. The three of them were only six years old, swimming in the town pool, splashing water at each other and laughing their heads off.
“I’ll miss you both.”
“We’ll miss you so so so so much!” Giulia cried.
“There’s only one of you.” Emil said softly.
Ariana’s heart throbbed with warmth that her friends loved her, pierced with pain that she had to leave.
But she simply closed her eyes and let the universe carry her to the afterlife.
Every once in a while, Giulia and Emil were visited by Ariana. Her loved ones couldn’t quite move on, as she was loved dearly, but the world felt lighter.
No longer was there a heavy burden of sorrow upon her family and friends. No longer did the abandoned, lost house to the clowns seem to hold terrible secrets.
The ghosts were free, given the afterlife that they all longed for and deserved.
All was right with the town of Maven Hills.