Australia is already a dangerous place, what with its crocodiles, blue-ringed octopuses, funnel-web spiders and kangaroos (those things will kick your face off before you can even say "G' day mate"). But that's not all there is to fear in the land down under. There're also creepy clowns.
According to one commuter, known only as Karan, a strange person dressed in a freaky clown mask was spotted stalking a Melbourne train station. She called into 774 ABC Radio on Tuesday morning to express her concern and shock regarding the sighting. She explained:
"I sat back expecting the usual relaxing trip ... when I got to Ardeer or Deer Park station a creepy looking guy got on the train wearing a suit. He appeared to be a young man, wearing an angry clown mask and carrying a suitcase."
Karen seemed mostly concerned no-one stopped or even approached the man, although to be honest that's probably a good idea. After moving to the big city I quickly realized you NEVER approach or make eye-contact with the crazy people on public transport. Luckily, someone at the Melbourne station managed to snap a picture of the creepily-clad commuter decked in what appears to be the Joker's clown mask from The Dark Knight:
Karen continued her terrifying tale, explaining he boarded the train and walked almost its entire length before turning around and "starring us all down." She added:
"This is pretty creepy, all these things are running through your mind, it was pretty scary. Various scenarios [went through my mind]: What do I do? what does he have in the bag? What do I do if he pulls out a gun?"
She also explained he acted menacingly "towards young females" after slowly leaving the train in a bizarre manner.
So who is this strange masked clown? This terrifying urbane Pagliacci? This mysterious antipodean font of coulrophobia? Well, it turns out he's nothing more than a 14-year old boy. Admittedly the tallest 14-year old I've ever seen.
Soon after Karen called in, the station received another call from a guy named Andrew. He revealed the masked figure was his 14-year-old step-son, a clowning enthusiast who was on his way to the National Institute of Circus Arts Australia. Apparently in the wake of the incident, the young man can expect to get an earful from his step-father. He explained:
"In the weekend he is working on his different clown personas and costumes. I knew he had that mask, but I did not know he was wearing it on the train and I shall be having words with him. Probably something I should mention to everybody, he is 14 years old. He's 6 foot 3, which is very annoying for me, but he's only 14, so he probably didn't realize the impact he may have on other people."
The young clown-in-training caused such a stir that a spokesman for V-Line, the company which runs the trains, was forced to make a statement. Colin Tyrus of V-Line explained they did investigate reports of someone wearing a clown mask, but deduced he was "just minding his own business." Tyrus, who seems to know a lot about phobias, added:
"There was no threat that the conductor could perceive from this particular gentleman. People might have, I think it's called coulrophobia, a fear of clowns."
He went on to explain that currently there are no guidelines to stop people wearing masks on the trains, and in fact, he revealed it happens more often that you might think. He added:
"We often have, actually, people with masks traveling on trains; in fact, I got on a metro train the other weekend and there were a few zombies on board."
Great. So now we can add zombies to the list of dangerous things in Australia as well.