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Friday, December 8, 2023

Decemystery (2023) 8: The Creepy Clown in the Bedroom


Coulrophobia is the fear of clowns. Like arachnophobia and agoraphobia (and many others), it’s one of the most common phobias in the world. Personally, I was never afraid of clowns. Many of my friends and family members, however, are, and I get it. They have permanent smiles along with zany makeup and are generally uncanny to look at. Not to mention, some of the most iconic villains are clowns: The Joker and Pennywise are two examples. Couple that with a serial killer like John Wayne Gacy—who worked as Pogo the Clown—and you have a happy-go-lucky image that can easily be warped into nothing less than a monster.

Of course, phobias are irrational fears; clowns aren’t all interdimensional beings, murderous psychopaths who like to screw with a billionaire who dresses up as bats, or unspeakable human trash like John Wayne Gacy. Despite that, phobias can be exceedingly difficult to deal with, and Coulrophobia is no different. That, to me, is what makes stories of creepy clowns so interesting; I’m not someone who’s acutely fearful of them, but I know many who see someone in scary clown makeup and react like I do when I see a spider or any other creepy crawler.

That brings me to today’s Decemystery entry. It’s a very simple tale: no aliens, no cryptids, nothing but a scary sight in the bedroom. So, come along; it’s time to dive into the story of The Creepy Clown in the Bedroom. Look, I couldn’t think of anything snazzier; I’m running on fumes over here.

Clowning Around

I came across this story on the ever-so-amazing Paranormal World Wiki, where it was shared in an article entitled “I Would Know That Stupid Clown Again if I Saw it.” The source cited is Lon Strickler’s website “Phantoms and Monsters,” which cited “Beyond the Darkness” as the source for this account. I decided to check Beyond the Darkness out, and it led to a YouTube channel called “Beyond Creepy,” which I’m vaguely familiar with. However, I couldn’t find a video that featured this story from the date given by Strickler (November 10, 2018, three days before the article was posted). So, I have no idea if the video was taken down or if I missed it—somehow.

As a quick disclaimer, I have no idea when or where it took place; neither detail was given in the Paranormal World Wiki or Phantoms and Monsters. The closest to a possible date comes in the form of a detail about the eyewitness—a woman named Marnie—hearing “the Johnny Carson music” from another room. Carson hosted The Tonight Show from 1962 to 1992. I don’t know if reruns ever aired, but this would mean the story likely occurred at some point during his tenure as the host. So, despite not knowing the date, I’m nonetheless going to give this story the 20th Century tag.

Anyway, on to the story proper. As stated above, this happened to a woman named Marnie, who at the time of this encounter was 5 years old. According to her, she was “sleeping in a double bed” with her 3-year-old brother, whose name is not given; don’t worry, he is unimportant to the story. Unless you want to believe that he was, somehow, the clown, maybe this was intended to promote a spinoff of the horror film Orphan.

I digress; Marnie was having difficulty sleeping. She tossed and turned, but no matter how hard she tried, Marnie couldn’t get to sleep. To make matters worse, she could hear her parents “watching the evening news,” since it was the 10:00 p.m. (22:00 for my 24-hour time readers) news cycle. I remember when I’d try to stay up to watch that. Now, I refuse to watch the news. Oh, how times change.

Eventually, Marnie rolled back and forth out of pure frustration until, out of nowhere, she saw a clown staring down at her, and his breathing was audible. According to Marnie, the clown looked “maniacal” and “scary.” He also has “red hair, the whole thing.” I don’t know what “the whole thing” is, but I’m guessing she meant clown makeup and other prosthetics that clowns have. 

Either way, she later went on to say that, despite appearing “maniacal,” the clown’s outfit wasn’t bloody. Rather, it was “purple and green” with a red tie. That sounds like a hideous combination of colors, but I’m not an artist. Marnie also said that when the furnace kicked on, she could “hear the cheap satin rustling” on the clown’s clothes. This is a very interesting bit of information; I want you to keep it in mind for when we get to the theories section since it’s important.

Eventually, Marnie heard the earlier-mentioned Johnny Carson music come on, to which her parents turned off the lights since they were headed to bed. One thing I find intriguing is that Marnie never specified if the clown turned his attention to her bedroom doorway during this or if he even moved at any point. As far as I can tell, he was as motionless as a statue—and I hope to God that this family owned a clown statue, unlike the many that apparently didn’t.

Despite the urge to scream out for her parents, Marnie didn’t. Instead, she took her arm and snaked it beneath the covers to pinch her brother in an attempt to wake him up. Unfortunately for her, he didn’t; instead, he “pulled away” and resumed sleeping. This left Marnie alone with the clown. As such, it was time for her backup plan: close her eyes and hope that the next time she opened them, Bozo the Clown’s evil twin would be gone. That didn’t work.

How long Marnie was awake, staring at the clown, is unknown; Marnie said that it felt like the ordeal “went on for hours.” Eventually, she succumbed to sleep thanks to “exhaustion and terror.” It’s here where I want to mention that Marnie later said that the clown never blinked. Suffice it to say, Marnie absolutely lost the staring contest with this thing. Better luck next time, girl.

The following morning, Marnie awoke to find no sign of the rejected extra from one of Rob Zombie’s films. However, believing that what she saw was real and not the product of a night terror, she went to inform her parents about her experience. To her dismay, though, they believed it to have been a dream. Despite this, her brother still had a bruise on his arm from where she’d pinched him the previous night.

After that encounter, Marnie never saw the clown again. Despite that, all these years later, she insists that she would recognize the clown if she ever saw it again. Whether or not that’s happened in the years since she spoke of this encounter, I don’t know, but I hope for her sake that she didn’t see it again since it sounds terrifying.

Anyway, that’s where Marnie’s story ends. It’s short and strange, but what exactly was the truth behind it? Well, that’s honestly a lot easier to answer than the vast majority of that have been—and will be—featured this month, but I digress. Let’s dive into the few theories there are!


1. An intruder

Growing up, I loved to read urban legends; stories like “The Hook” and “Humans Can Lick Fingers, too,” were among my favorites. They’re short, sweet, and deeply unsettling.

Another one I really liked was “The Clown Statue,” which centers on a babysitter who, after putting the kids she’s sitting to bed, calls the parents to ask if she can cover up a clown statue they have. The parents say they don’t own one and to call the cops. What happens afterward depends on who’s telling the story. In some, the babysitter and kids are slaughtered, the clown statue having been either an escaped mental patient or serial killer. In others, they escape, and the killer is arrested.

This story has so many variations that I could probably make it into a list; if I’m not mistaken, the earliest versions are what helped give rise to the trope of the killer calling from inside the house. I could be wrong, but I want to say that that story later evolved into the clown statue story. If I’m wrong, let me know, but I swear that both featured someone dressed up as a clown. I guess that could be a coincidence, but I digress; let’s get to the theory.

Given how much I love the story of The Clown Statue, I figured I might as well pay respects to it by including the theory that Marnie saw an intruder who was dressed up as a clown. This is incredibly unlikely in this particular scenario since it doesn’t appear that there was any sign of a break-in, nor did the clown do anything (or steal anything). However, there have been cases of people breaking into homes for bizarre reasons. Just take a look at MrSleepyPeople. So, it’s not impossible, though I think it’s more than a little unlikely.

2. Sleep paralysis

This is arguably the only other theory worth discussing. I considered adding in the theory that it was a demon, but given how it only appeared once and never did anything, I figured that’d be a waste of time and effort. So, it’s on to this one.

For those who don’t know, sleep paralysis is the worst thing since strep throat. I’m prone to getting it, and I hate it with a fiery passion. It’s an absolute nightmare to deal with, and knowing that some people deliberately try to get it boggles my mind.

My grievances aside, many odd experiences people have when they see something during the night can sometimes be explained as cases of sleep paralysis. Encounters with the “Hat Man” and other “sleep paralysis demons” are products of hallucinations (which can happen when experiencing sleep paralysis as a part of your brain is still asleep).

In Marnie’s case, it’s likely that the clown was a hallucination caused by sleep paralysis; the breathing she heard may have been from her brother. Additionally, the sound of the clown’s suit may have been the heater causing the blanket, or something else, to be blown a bit. She likely didn’t realize this at the time because I doubt any 5-year-old is going to have a firm grasp on what sleep paralysis is; it’s not something everyone experiences (thankfully), nor is everyone prone to getting it repeatedly (like yours truly).

Of course, it’s hard to prove that this was sleep paralysis since I’m no sleep doctor. Though speaking solely from personal experiences, I would say that this is the most likely explanation, but more on that in a bit. There’s still one other theory I want to go over.

3. Joe Pesci

He’s a real funny guy. Trust me!

My Take

This story sounds like a textbook case of sleep paralysis; heck, on the Paranormal World Wiki, this case was given the “sleep paralysis” tag, and I understand why fully. Marnie’s experience sounds like a few cases I’ve had—albeit with a couple of differences. I can’t say I’ve ever seen a clown. I also haven’t thought that a sleep paralysis hallucination was the source of any noise. However, as stated earlier, the latter of those two could be explained as noises from around Marnie that became a part of her waking nightmare.

With that said, I’ve had sleep paralysis episodes where I’ve awoken, been acutely aware of my surroundings, and seen something truly unbelievable and terrifying nearby. More than once, I felt like the thing was looking at me or staring at me. I’ve recounted my experiences in other write-ups, and I’m certain they’ll be recounted in the future. Today, however, I don’t want to go on a tangent about them. Besides, I’ve already said I’ve never had an experience that was exactly like Marnie’s, so I don’t think I can add anything—at least, not anything worthwhile.

My guess here is that Marnie likely had sleep paralysis and was experiencing a hallucination. Given her young age at the time, I doubt she’d know what sleep paralysis is, nor do I think she’d think that’s what it was if it only happened once.

Of course, it’s technically possible that this was all made up, but I doubt it. This sounds so much like experiences that I’ve had that I would be hard-pressed to view it as anything more than an incredibly scary episode of sleep paralysis. Man, I hate having that so much. It always screws up the next day.


And so, with that, our story finally comes to an end—a rather mundane end, but one that I can say I’m extremely confident in. Of course, I understand if you disagree, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Do you believe it was a case of sleep paralysis or something else? A demon? An alien? Let me know in the comments because unless you feel like sending a carrier pigeon to the middle of nowhere, I doubt there’s any other way you’ll be able to leave your thoughts—and as always, stay happy, stay healthy, and thank you for reading!

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