It started with his foot, as these things often do. Tony awoke to a throbbing beneath the covers that was unlike the normal morning throbbing he had been used to all of his life. Well, had been used to since the age of thirteen anyway. He steeled himself for the worst and flung back the covers. It was just as he suspected. He had the beginnings of clown foot. He rummaged in his bedside drawer to find the official government pamphlet on what to do in the early stages.
Step One: To prevent widespread panic, do not roam the streets in your condition
Step Two: Call 1-800-Zombie-Clown
Step Three: Sit calmly in your bathtub/shower and wait for assistance or liquefaction to arrive
Tony was a rule following kind of chap; he found that it made life in general easier. In that particular way, among many others, he was very unlike his twin brother Reggie. His brother Reggie was as touchy as a shaved monkey and felt that anyone who told him no was to be crushed like a bug. Tony didn't know how Reggie's wife, Claire, bore up under Reggie's constant aggression.
Tony thought of Claire and her lovely calm eyes as he punched in the number on the pamphlet, spoke to the operator and then went to sit in his shower stall. It was a bit cramped, what with his rapidly expanding foot, but he managed to wedge himself in and sat calmly waiting, knowing that help would soon arrive. The government liked to contain these outbreaks quickly. They didn't want a recurrence of Poughkeepsie Walmart 2016. Tony shuddered at the memory of the public service announcement film footage. It opened of course with the meteor strike and then there was the horror of all of those zombie clowns lurching through the aisles throwing cream pies at one another, pouring laundry soap and other handy items down one another's trousers and generally being incredibly unentertaining. It had been such a relief when the tank commanders rolled in, bolted the doors and imploded the building.
Tony and Claire had met in high school that very week. Reggie, since he'd skipped a grade, had been away at college, but when he came home for the holidays he took one look at Claire and determined she would be his. Two years of full court press later, they were married. That night he gave Claire her first black eye. Tony's phone rang jarring him back to the present. There was a delay. Was there someone he could call to make sure he didn't leave the apartment? Tony called Claire. She came right away, assessed the situation and made him a cup of tea; adding three sugars since it was dire.
They read the rest of the pamphlet together in order to track Tony's symptoms. He seemed to be one of the slow transformers. Some went right to raging homicidal mania, then liquefied, some lurched about for a bit walking invisible dogs on stiff leashes, throwing buckets of confetti on unsuspecting strangers; eventually committing suicide in unoriginal ways.
For the public good, the Zombie-Clown Agency took no chances these days. They nipped any outbreak in the bud by euthanizing the stricken as soon as transformation was evident.
Some hours later, Claire signed the official form on the official clipboard for the official agent. Tears streamed down her cheeks as she recounted the harrowing events of the afternoon. Tony had dressed himself in full clown regalia and lurched to the roof. His brother Reggie had arrived in time to try to talk him down, but failed. A struggle had ensued, and Tony had leaped off the building, narrowly missing a bus of German tourists. The tourists had the whole thing on film. The agent watched the film which ended in a freeze frame of himself flaming the body.
Claire played a slightly different version of the events in her mind's eye, but she kept that version to herself. The agent didn't need to know that Reggie had burst into Tony's apartment and found Claire snuggled in Tony's lap kissing him in the shower stall. He didn't need to know that Reggie had called Tony a dumb ass, thrown a bottle of benadryl at his head, and reminded Tony that he had once swelled up the same way when he was four after a bee sting. He didn't need to know that Reggie had pulled Claire out of the shower by her hair. He didn't need to know that during the ensuing struggle Tony had shoved him and Reggie had hit his temple on the sink top. He didn't need to know that determined eyes had locked over Reggie's unconscious body in mutual understanding. He especially didn't need to know that they had dressed Reggie as a clown, manhandled him to the roof and Tony had tossed Reggie off. He also didn't need to know that Claire had three busted ribs waiting to be re taped under her sweater.
Claire came back to the task at hand, swiped her face with her sleeve, handed the official clip board back to the official agent and accepted his official condolences on the official loss
of her brother-in-law.
Tony woke to a throbbing under the covers. He rolled over to Claire and pressed it against her warm thigh. Claire opened her eyes and smiled sleepily at him.
Tony kissed her and cuddled her gently into his embrace. Soon he'd have to get up to go to grief counseling. Reggie's transformation from an abusive prick to a caring husband over time with professional assistance would be believable to those near and dear to Claire. After all, it's a shock losing your twin brother in such a gruesome manner; and would of course make you want to cherish those left to you and live life to the fullest.
For her part, Claire determined to thank the zombie clowns from space for arriving on Earth at least once a day. Simple gratitude, she had always felt, along with morning wood, were two of the best things in life.