Backfire by Aaron J. Housholder



A Flash Fiction Story


Aaron J. Housholder

psycho_clown_by_mattasama-d5hpoccI said, “I’m not sure how many times I’ve told you, boy, to turn off those Christmas lights in your room. You know they burn out quicker if you leave them on all day. Can’t believe they’ve lasted these ten months.”

He ate some cereal, looked away, said nothing.

“Here,” I said, “I have something to show you.” I placed between us on the table a photo of five clowns standing around a bed. “This one in front is named Giggles,” I told him. “This one is Stabby. The one on the side with orange hair and fangs is named Backfire. And those two in back with the black eyeballs are Chomp Chomp and Vincent.”

He stopped chewing and looked at me.

“I know,” I said. “Crazy names. Now. Look closely at those clowns around that bed. And think of how dark your room will be if those lights burn out.” I ruffled his hair. “Do you really want that?”

Well, it worked. He remembered to unplug his lights every morning this week.

Last night, though, our power went out. Heavy black silence replaced our gentle electric hum. After a moment, I heard the boy cry in the dark of his room. “Ah, man,” I said, ready to get up. But he stopped almost immediately, so I went to sleep as well. I figured I’d go easy and tell him over breakfast not to worry about the clowns anymore.

But this morning, when I went to wake him up, his bed was empty.


Aaron J

Aaron J. Housholder teaches creative writing and literature at Taylor University in Upland, IN. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Relief Journal, RiverLit Magazine, the Eunoia Review, and elsewhere. You can find him on Twitter @ProfAJH.