A man came into town today, a very strange man. He looked to be in his thirties, walking with a hunched back with a load of items upon it. He had thinning red hair and tannish skin, as well as an almost skeleton like frame—he was quite small really. It was the big grin on his face that got to me. It was such a large smile, almost inhumanly big. Its edges seemed to stretch beyond his cheekbones and into his eyes.
He strolled into town with that joyful expression on his face, speaking in almost whispers to children who were lined along the road. The children would stare, emotionless as he whispered to them. I couldn’t make out what he was saying from the distance, so I sat on the centerpieces in the town square, waiting for him to cross my path. I was genuinely terrified to be honest, but I didn’t know why—yet, even still, I wanted to wait for him. I couldn’t explain this curiosity, but it had a hold on me that would not be released until I spoke to the eerie man. He slowly began approaching me, the soft thudding of his footsteps was barely audible over the dull roar in the square.
Yet all the same, I could hear it plainly as anything else when I waited in a slight panic for him to reach me. He stopped in front of me, still not facing me. I looked up, to catch his face. He stared forward, and then slowly turned towards me. He never opened his eyes—and the smile never disappeared from his face. Turning his head to me, he opened one eye and stared directly at me with it.
I slumped down; an incredible fear that I had never felt hit me like a wave. He didn’t say a word; he only stared into my eyes with the hawk eye he had opened. I completely lost track of reality, the sounds of the town square around me faded away, and I became immersed in an eerie silence that seemed deafening. I wanted to run but I couldn’t, nothing would move. My body seemed frozen to the bricks I was sitting on.
The smile felt like it was looking at me, almost like there was the true man behind it—not the eyes. I can’t explain it, but to put it the best I can, the smile seemed… ageless, eternal. It echoed in my mind into infinity; my body began leaning away from him. Slowly his head turned back to face the road and he began to go on his way again. I was shaking violently, I felt like I could throw up. As he walked off I realized that there were masks on his back, he must have been a mask collector of sorts.
That night I couldn’t sleep, all I could think about was the meeting with him in the square. He didn’t say anything, but I felt as if he completely disemboweled me with his glance—his piercing eye. I didn’t know what it was, but that man was not human—no he was something else, something very sinister. That ageless feeling wouldn’t go away either, as if he was some sort of ancient demon, wandering the Earth from city to city, town to town. Why though? I wanted to know more, I was becoming obsessed with the very thing that terrified more than anything else. Tomorrow I would search for him and see if he was in town—I had honestly hoped he had left, yet if he hadn’t, I could learn more about him.
The next day I ate breakfast and ran to the square. I saw a small group of people gathered around a small vacant building in the corner. I ran over to see him—the demon—standing in front of everyone. He had his hands together and was speaking about how he was opening his “Happy Masks Shop” here in the square. He preached and preached, "Come one, come all," to the crowd, they all seemed mesmerized by his words. Finally he finished and headed inside the tiny building; a small sign next to it read:
HAPPY MASK SHOP—HAPPINESS IS JUST A MASK AWAY!
I shuttered, what was so scary about this man? I had to know more, so I ran inside. There was already a few people in there, yet it was silent. No one was talking, what was going on? Were they negotiating something? I saw a man, a child next to him, and a woman behind him. Yet none of them were saying anything, they were only staring at the Happy Mask man. He nodded his head—as if they had reached some silent agreement—and handed two masks to the man and child. They turned and walked out, as they passed, I saw a glazed look in their eyes, as if they were completely out of it. The woman was out just behind them; carrying another mask. Then it was me, I was all alone with Him.
He cocked his head, maintaining his silence. He wanted me to speak so I did, asking him about his shop—as well as where he came from. Silence… he didn’t say anything. He just kept grinning, I was beginning to become irritated, yet simultaneously more frightened too. I stepped back towards the door, asking him to answer me. Just then a child walked in, it was a boy—not over five years old. He walked up to the Happy Mask man. The man stood there and hunched over to the boy. The boy held out his hands, expecting a mask perhaps? The Happy Mask man opened his eyes, both of them and stared the most evil glare I had ever seen at the child. I stepped back again, almost tripping as I reached for the doorknob. To my sheer terror, the man grabbed the boy by the neck and picked him up off the ground. I could hear horrific screeches of terror coming from the boy’s throat; he was at least eight feet off of the ground.
Just then the salesman’s mouth began opening, still smiling of course. It grew wider and wider until it was at least a foot wide—I could hear his jaw snapping as it opened. Horrible and inhuman sounds began coming from him as he raised the child higher. Then, all of a sudden the child was halfway down the salesman’s throat. I screamed as I could see the boy’s legs kicking in the salesman’s mouth. Slowly but surely they slid down and disappeared. The boy was gone, I began crying hysterically, yet I still couldn’t move. He turned to me, his mouth still hanging wide open. He then put his hands to his face, a strange glow began to appear around his hands. Slowly he peeled his hands away from his face, a repulsive stretching sound could be heard as skin appeared to be getting pulled off. He arched his back farther and farther until his hands were separated from his face by a clump of flesh at least two feet long. This man—no this thing—was an absolute monster.
The flesh tore off, leaving the same grinning face. He stood there with a mass of skin in his hands. Slowly the skin began molding and contorting, I backed into the corner—what the hell was going on? Before I knew it, the skin had turned into a small shape in his hands. He held his hand out, showing me his new prize. It was the child’s face; he made a mask out of flesh. The horror hit me and I began vomiting into my lap, I heard a small chuckle coming from the Salesman. No—no I had to get out of here, I got up and ran for the door. Upon grabbing the doorknob I heard one more thing, “Do you want a mask, my boy?”
Tears were streaming down my cheeks as I was sobbing and running across the town square. I could hear people gasping and shrieking as I ran by. I’m sure I was a poor sight, a child covered in blood and vomit—I didn’t care though, that thing in there was a demon. I ran to my house and ran straight to my room, both of my parents were out. I sat there, for what must’ve been hours; rocking back and forth, and covered in filth. Finally, I got up and looked out the window. The small building was still there but no one was going into it—the sign was gone.
To this day, I have no idea what happened or what I experienced. I’ve never told anyone because I know no one will believe me. I washed myself and tried to continue my life as normal after that day. The Happy Mask Salesman was gone, I even asked around town and people all claimed they either had no idea what I was talking about, or they weren’t sure. Dead ends were everywhere, had it been a dream? No—I would not make up something like that, and I pity all those who may experience him in the future.
That monster, that thing—may the gods protect all who come into his path. It’s been a few years now, a lot has happened since then but he has never come back, and I dread the day more than anything when he may. If he does, I’ll be sure to stay clear. If you see a man in your hometown claiming to sell masks, a man who looks off and seems to be hiding something sinister—stay away from him, he isn’t human. Whatever he—no it—is, it is the very essence of evil itself.