December 27th: 1999 Milwaukee Wisconsin

Franklin and his family went to the big city for a religious retreat; where they’d be spending New Year’s Eve singing hymns and waiting for the apocalypse, anxiously awaiting the apocalypse in Franklin’s case. Thinking back on the events of this past year, he remembered those kids in Colorado. They were doing us all a favor, taking us one more step into the fiery abyss, burning the whole world down and taking out as many people as they could. Way in the back recesses of Franklin’s mind, he wasn’t entirely sure if the world really was going to end in a few days, but he sure hoped it did. Just in case it did, he had one thing he wanted to do.

Sixty-Seven Wild Rose Lane, Franklin remembered where his friend from the message boards lived. He sent an email saying he’d be coming by, and as he saw his car parked outside so Franklin figured he’d be home. Knocking on the door a couple times, Franklin pacing back in forth in the cold. Soon Patrick opened the door. “Hey, what’s up?” he said.

Franklin said only one thing. “So, can I see it?”

Patrick laughed as opened the door. “Nice to see you too dude. Come on in.” Entering the house, Patrick asked “How was your Christmas? Did you get lots of cool stuff?”

“Yeah, a few things.” Franklin didn’t want to reveal that his family only exchanged a few gifts this year, as his mother earnestly believed there wouldn’t be much time to enjoy Christmas gifts.

Then he saw Patrick look up towards his staircase as annoyed as a female voice spoke from above. “Who is it?”

Patrick lowered his voice to say, “Just handled my business with this girl. Wait here, I’ll go get rid of her though.” Patrick watched his friend ascend back up the steps. Soon he heard faint whispers from upstairs, including that incessant whining of a teenage girl which he heard all the time in school. “I guess girls in the big city bitch too,” Franklin thought to himself while looking around the living room. Hanging from the walls there were a few framed pictures of Patrick and his mother. It was a shame, his mother seemed nice. Franklin wished he would have had cool parents, but with any luck, after a few days it wouldn’t matter anymore.

Once again Franklin heard a pair of footsteps, this time they were descending. Franklin forgot about that annoying female voice when his eyes rested on her toned legs coming down. Each step revealed more, as he soon saw her blue skirt with gold trim, and the rest of her body followed.

Patrick followed behind, or at least Franklin assumed she did. He still wasn’t looking at her face when Patrick said whatever it was her name was. “What’s up,” he heard her voice say. Franklin simply nodded and smiled; her voice no longer annoyed him.

Patrick then said “Well, Franklin and I are gonna chill. I’ll call you later alright?”

“Awesome.” Her now cute voice replied. Her moist wet lips kissed his cheek before she gave Franklin a coy smile and walked away. Both Patrick and Franklin were now watching her legs as they walked toward the door and her body exited the house.

Franklin almost forgot why he came here as the door closed with a thud. The next sound he heard was the voice of his friend saying, “smell that,” as he put two fingers up to Franklin’s nostrils. Franklin’s head jerked back at the wet musty smell that was completely alien to him.

Patrick laughed at his reaction. “Come on man, don’t tell me your not getting any poon tang back home. You got a girl right?”

“Yeah, sure.” Franklin said.

Nodding his head Patrick said “Alright, it’s cool. Let’s go upstairs.”

The two walked up the steps and into Patrick’s bedroom. It looked the same as the last time Franklin was here. His sports posters still adorned the wall and his trophy case remained intact. This hardly looked like the room of someone who’d won the Halloween H2K contest. He watched Patrick going into his closet, from which he pulled out a cardboard box. “This is it man.” Patrick said, placing the box on his bed.

Franklin was shocked. “You put it in the closet?”

“Can’t get head from the head cheerleader with this laying aound my room.” he laughed while removing the lid. Franklin had no understanding of what he meant, but he approahced this holy grail of horror while Patrick removed the contents.

First, Patrick pulled out a werewolf mask. “Halloween Six, Curse of the Werewolf.” Franklin said in reverence. Next, Patrick pulled out a prop ceremonial dagger, fake blood decorated its plastic blade. “Part Five, the Revenge of Samhain.”

Looking on as though witnessing an ancient archaeolofical dig, he heard Patrick say “And the crown jewel.” He slowly raised the mask of the Shape, the mask of Michael Meyers, and presented it to his friend. The dead black hollow eyes of the mask stared at Franklin, who stared back in reverence.

“Can I,” Franklin nearly stammered, “can I put it on.”

“Sure, knock yourself out.” He tossed the mask to Franklin. It made a flopping sound as it landed in his hands. “I owe you one anyway.” Franklin looked down at the mask, tilting his head slightly to the left. This statement was confusing to him. When Franklin thought about all the people that owed him, Patrick was not on that list. “You helped me win that you know?” Patrick said while taking seat at his desk and booting up his computer. “I got stuck on that last code, but then I remembered what you showed me about Easter Eggs on DVDs. That’s how I found the last one.” Franklin wanted to scream, instead he pulled the mask over his face, its rubbery material covered his mouth. He could hear his own breathing as well as the sound of a lighter as Patrick lit up a cigarette. “Want one?” he asked, holding a pack in his direction.  Franklin said nothing, but the smoke from the just lit cigarette already made Franklin cough, ruining the aura of donning the mask. Stepping out of the room he heard Patrick say, “Bathroom is the last door on the left.”

Walking into the bathroom, he looked in the mirror to admire the sight of himself in the mask. The room was silent save the sound of his breathing. He could distantly hear the clacking of the keyboard. While he felt amazing with the mask on, he still felt like Franklin. Looking at the reflection of his skinny body donned in blue jeans and a red sweater, he didn’t feel like the Shape. He intended to relieve himself here, but he stopped cold in his tracks when he saw it. The used condom floating in the toilet was a reminder of what had just occurred in that bedroom. It wasn’t like he didn’t know; the scent of Patrick’s two fingers clued him in, but there floating before him was a mocking reminder of what he never had, what he never would have. Slowly turning away, he again caught his reflection in the mirror. Those dead black eyes stared back at him; his breathing echoed powerfully through the rubber surrounding his face. Now it had finally come, that secret signal had been sent to his brain, and the body standing before him was no longer Franklin, it was merely a shape.

Patrick laughed as the form of his friend stood in the doorway. “You make a good Michael Meyers.” he said sarcastically. The brain underneath that rubber mask screamed, “It’s not Michael Meyers it’s the Shape!” However, no sound emerged from the body’s mouth as it took a slow step forward. Looking back at the computer screen, it appeared Patrick was in some local chat room. “Hey, my friend Shaun is having a party tonight. Let’s check it out. They’re gonna have some wicked egg nogg.”

The body behind Patrick remained silent as the computer shut off. Patrick then stood up and faced his friend saying, “Come on, you’re not going to the party looking like that. We’ll get you some girls and you’ll forget all about this shit.”

The body before him remained motionless, making no sound except his breathing.

“Oh so you’re Michael Meyers now. Come on let me get it back.” Patrick reached up for the mask but the body before him pushed his hands away.  “What the fuck man!” Patrick pushed shoved the person before him, then got pushed back while reaching for this mask with his own hands. Patrick’s hands gripped the rubber mask; but a second pair of hands hung onto it like a petulant child. “You’re gonna rip the mask you asshole!” Patrick swung a body shot which made the shape before him recoil and release his hands. Patrick then ripped the mask off the child’s face. Franklin took a deep breath as beads of sweat fell from his cheeks to the floor.

Patrick then tossed the mask on his bed before saying, “Get the fuck out of my house!”

With all his strength and rage Franklin punched Patrick in the groin, bringing him to his knees. Still feeling the pain in his gut, Franklin knew the truth, he was no Shape. He could never take this guy in a fight. He knew there was only one chance as he reached for the thick power cord below Patrick’s desk. While Patrick’s hands still covered his groin, Franklin wrapped the cord around the teenager’s exposed neck. Patrick desperately tried to pull off, he was the stronger of the two but Franklin the cord tightly wrapped around the boy’s throat. The victim desperately thrashed around the floor, but Franklin couldn’t let him get away. He couldn’t stand knowing someone else had gotten what was rightfully his. Not only did this boy win the prize, but he had friends, girls,…sex.

His victim now had his stomach on the floor. Franklin thrust his hips forward pulling upward on the cord with all his strength. Patrick made one final thrash of his arms before the life left his body.

Rising back to his feet, Patrick looked at the Meyers mask as well as the other prizes that were now his by right of conquest. Grabbing a backpack from the closet, Franklin loaded the items into the bag, and quickly exited the house.

Running back to the Church where his family was staying, the night air chilled his lungs. If the world really was going to end in a few days, then at least he could spend his last days with the only things he loved.

Epilogue: August 25th: 2003

Driving in his car, Franklin long forgot about how the world was supposed to end a few years back. He still felt like most of this planet wasn’t worth a damn, but that was only when he took time to think about it. A few years back, he was actually planning to follow in the footsteps of those kids in Colorado, but then someone called him about a job. This was before he graduated, but someone recommended him to the local nursing home. Bernice and her husband were in there now, and he always got along with them. Now that he was out of school, he was working at the home full time, and he kind of liked it. He was still living at home, but his dad stopped drinking, and his mom wasn’t on his case as much now that he was bringing in some income.

Also, in an amazing turn of events, things were actually a little exciting around town. Just a few weeks ago some remains turned up just a few miles away from where he lived. Looked like someone was trying to wipe out this boring place long before he’d thought of it. “Too bad he didn’t get them all,” he thought to himself. Driving back to work from his lunch break, the radio had the latest news. The local sheriff called a press conference, and a huge bombshell was dropped. The property on which the bodies were found was once the residence of a solitary figure by the name of Edward Gein. Apparently, around 50 years ago, Ed had murdered a local bartender, but that was not the least of his crimes. According to the sheriff, one night, almost half a century ago, the local authorities had discovered, and covered up, the fact that Ed Gein had robbed almost ten graves in the area, before dying and before his property burned to the ground.

Hearing this amazing news, Franklin felt a tingling sensation in his hands while they gripped the steering wheel. He had to pull over to the side of the road as he began hyperventilating. Hearing this news, he could never have imagined, never in his wildest dreams, that something this awesomely gruesome could occur in his own backyard. He knew right then and there this was about to become his new obsession.

Something else occurred to him. Edward Gein, he’d heard that name before, but where? Who would have possibly known him that would ever bring his name up. Looking down at his name badge for the nursing home, he thought perhaps Bernice would know something about this.

Finally catching his breath, he looked at the tree close to him on the side of the road. The branches looked oddly shaped, bending in a way he didn’t think branches could bend. A buzzard sat perched on a thick branch and glared at him with dead black eyes. There below the leaves, a man stood. Frankling hadn’t noticed him before, but he wore a red hunters cap, had a weird lopsided grin, and a saggy baggy eye.

The End

Come back later for Franklin’s awful exploits in the final entry of the No Gein saga.

Stay tuned for No Gein III: The Final Cut!

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October 27th, 1999. Plainfield Wisconsin

“No, no, please God help me!” The voice of a young Ozzy Osbourne bellowed over the speakers on the Black Sabbath track that Franklin selected for this room in the Hell House, the local Church’s Halloween attraction designed to scare patrons into accepting Jesus. Franklin’s skull mask clung tightly to his face as he screamed and made monstrous sounds to the teenagers, some of whom fled in tears. Ghastly imagery of skulls and death adorned his section of this controversial haunted house. He was disappointed the whole attraction was not horror such as this. The Hell House had different rooms the patrons went into which recreated real world scenarios. A man who marries another man ends up dying of AIDS, a young girl gets raped at a party then kills herself, a single mother dies from an abortion. Franklin almost volunteered to do the school shooting simulation, but he managed to talk to the pastor into letting him design the Devil’s lair. Franklin took pride in this little slice of hell he made for himself. He was surprised they let him play Black Sabbath music, but then it occurred to Franklin, the organizers probably didn’t know what Sabbath sounded like.

“I told you I wasn’t gonna like this.” Franklin heard a familiar voice say as a new group of teenagers walked in.

“You knew who was hosting this, what did you think you were going to see?” Ben argued with his girlfriend Lindsey as he followed from behind. Franklin’s heart raced as he saw them both. Rumor around school was everyone’s favorite couple was on the rocks, and now Franklin was seeing it with his own eyes which watched from the skull mask.

“You know we gave these assholes are money for them to spread this shit! Gays are going to hell, single mothers. That girl that got raped, really?” Personally, Franklin enjoyed the skit about the girl who went to a rave and got drugged and raped and then committed suicide. Of course the rapists weren’t portrayed as going to hell.

Otherwise, Franklin was indifferent to the issues Lindsey raised, he was just happy for the chance to scare people, but now he was ignoring the other teenagers who walked by. Some stopped to admire his mask; others ignored him. Franklin didn’t notice them either, as his gaze remained fixed on Lindsey.

“Hey asshole aren’t you supposed to scare us or something?” Franklin turned to see the face of his classmate Ken standing before him.

“Fuck off.” Franklin answered back. His gaze remained on the young couple, who quickly exited the exhibit, not stopping to see the room he worked so hard on.

“Wait, is that you Franklin?” Ken said in surprise, recognizing his classmate’s voice. Looking over his outfit he said “You know that’s actually a cool costume. I dig it.”

“Dig this, asshole.” Franklin gave his classmate the middle finger.

“Come on man, we came here to get scared.”

“Tupac sucks cocks in hell motherfucker!” Franklin shouted as he leaned forward, thrusting his skull mask into Ken’s face.

“Hey fuck off man, what’s your problem?” Ken pushed Franklin away in protest. Franklin pushed him back, shouting and commotion followed.

Soon the minister hosting the event came in. “Hey that’s enough!” Focusing on Ken and his friends, the minister said ‘You guys get out of here, I’ll handle this.”

The others stormed out. “I already told you about your language,” the minister said to Ken, “and now your starting fights?”

“They started it.”

“That’s enough of this, get out of here.”

“But this is still open for another hour?”

“I said get out of here, you’re done!”

Franklin thought to himself it was probably a good thing he got to leave that stupid Church thing early, as today was a day he’d long waited for. Halloween H2K was being released on DVD today. From the Church, Franklin walked to Worden’s hardware store, which carried new DVD releases. Passing the magazine rack, he saw the new issue of World of Wrestling was in. Too bad that Sable slut was on the cover. That bitch couldn’t even wrestle but because since she looks like a damn Barbie doll, she gets the cover. He rolled up the magazine so people couldn’t see what he had as then approached the DVD rack. Of course, they had that stupid Star Wars movie. He also saw copies of the Matrix, Fight Club, but no Halloween. Franklin couldn’t understand. He was told earlier the store would be getting it. His eyes scanned the rack over and over as his heart slowly sunk. He should have known better than to expect this little shit town to keep up with the rest of civilization.

“Can I help you sir.” That dweeb four eyed clerk asked him.

“I thought you were getting H2K?” Franklin said. The confused look the face of this ignoramus gave revealed how clueless they were. “The new Halloween movie?” Franklin added. “It was coming out on DVD this week.”

“Oh yeah, those movies with Michael Meyers.” This guy was a total idiot, Franklin thought to himself, as Michael Meyers hadn’t appeared in Halloween movies in almost 20 years. “Yeah, we had a few of them.” the clerk said. “They must have sold out already.”

Franklin rolled his eyes in disgust. He’d rather they never had it at all than to have it be here then taken away. Bad enough his mom made him take his horror posters down once she started going to Church, but now he missed out on getting the DVD because of this stupid Hell House. “Well,” Franklin held is magazine up in defeat, “I guess I’ll just take this then.”

“That Sable’s pretty hot huh?” the same dorky clerk asked Franklin while at the register.

Franklin shrugged his shoulders as if the question were completely alien to him. “Let me guess,” the clerk said, laughing, “you just read the articles.” Of course, he read it for the articles, Franklin thought to himself as he handed over his cash. Why else would he be buying it?

“Franklin.” He heard an elderly voice as he collected his change. “How are you?” Franklin turned to see elderly Bernice standing before him. “I thought you were working at the Ghost House?”

“Oh, well I was.” His voice trailed off.

“Anyway, come back to the office I have something for you.” Bernice was the long retired owner of Worden’s hardware store, but she still came in once and a while to do odds and ends, mostly for something to do. She led him back to the manager’s office. No one was in at the moment. Flipping the lights on she asked “What do you got there.” referring to the now bagged item Franklin carried.

“Just a wrestling magazine.”

“Oh, I know why you bought that.” Bernice said with a glimmer in her eye. “That Sable’s gorgeous!” Reaching into a bag that rested on the desk she said “I wish they would put the Rock on the cover.” Franklin blushed in embarrassment as Bernice boasted. “He could pin me anytime!”

His mood instantly elevated as she removed the contents of the bag. “I knew you’d like this so I saved one for you. Think of it as an early Christmas present.” Franklin eagerly snatched the item presented to him. It was a DVD case, the cover of which looked like a computer monitor dripping with blood. The green Matrix-like letters read ‘Halloween: H2K.”

“Wow, awesome.”

“I knew you’d like it.”

“Franklin” he’d already turned around by now but stopped in his tracks. When he turned back around she said “You can be a nice boy. Maybe invite some friends over to watch your movie. A boy your age should have friends you know?”

“Yeah, yeah OK thanks.” Franklin said before leaving.

Walking outside, Franklin stared at the DVD reading the contents on the back; audio commentary by the director, behind the scenes features, a stick on the plastic indicated about the contest. This DVD was the key to a contest where he could win the original Michael Meyers Mask. Soon Franklin felt his body bump into something. A mat of brownish hair swatted his face, and for just a second he felt the smooth skin of a female.

The sound of groceries hitting the sidewalk preceded her voice “Oh, Franklin, I’m so sorry.” Lindsey said, kneeling down picking up her items.

Embarrassed, he looked back at Worden’s, where through the window he could see Bernice smiling at him. Seeing the chance before him, he knelt down and helped her pick up her things. “Thanks.” Lindsey said, smiling at him. This was the first time she’d spoken to him in forever. She was wearing a plain brown sweater, not that nice holiday themed one Ben got her last year. His heart raced as he remembered the gossip around school. Word was that she’d broken up with Ben, and what he’d seen earlier tonight seemed to have confirmed this.

She spoke to him again after putting her things in the trunk of her car. “I heard you were working at that Hell House. I didn’t see you there.”

“Yeah, my shift was over so..” his voice trailed off before asking, “Did you like the Hell room?”

“Um, I didn’t stay long. Not my thing you know.” Spying the wrestling magazine in his hand Lindsey said “Is that a wrestling book?” He nodded, embarrassed by the cover he knew she saw.

“Yeah, and I just picked this up.” Franklin held up his new prized possession.

“Oh cool, what is that?” she asked.

“Uh, it’s the new Halloween movie.”

“Oh nice, you always did like that stuff.” Lindsey said as she opened the car door.

“Yeah, uh,” he couldn’t believe he finally had the courage to ask, “would you want to come over and watch it with me?”

“I have to get home.” She answered as she sat down in the car seat. “Besides I’m no good with scary stuff, it’s too much for me.”

Franklin looked back at the store, where on the doorway there was a poster for the upcoming school winter formal.

“Uh Lindsey.”

“Yes.”

“I was thinking about going to the Winter Dance.”

“Really, that’s great.” She smiled at him and reached out and touched his arm.

“I was wondering if you’d want to go with me.”

“Oh Franklin.” For the second time tonight, his heart sank. “You know I’m going out with Ben.”

“I heard you broke up.”

“Since when do you listen to the school gossip.” she giggled before saying, “Ben and I had an argument but we’re fine. I’m sorry Franklin but I’m going to be going with Ben.” Now Franklin was struggling to fight back his tears. “You should ask one of the other girls at school. I’m sure you can find someone to go with.” Someone else? Who else would possibly go with him? A cold wind blew over Franklin, rustling the leaves about him. “I’m sorry Franklin but I have to go. See you.”

He winced at the sound of the door slamming shut before the engine came on. Then, Franklin heard another sound behind him, it was the blaring of a car horn, followed by the blaring of his mother’s voice. “Franklin, stop talking to that girl and get over here. We’re going home.”

Lindsey politely waved goodbye as she drove away. “What happened?” His mother asked. “Why were you getting in fights at the Hell House.”

“I don’t know, they were just some dumb kids.”

“Well why were you talking to that girl? Who is she?”

“It’s just a girl from school mom.”

“Probably some slut.” She said as she drove away.

As soon as they got home they could both smell the beer. Franklin’s father had been sober for a while, but now he was sitting on the couch watching TV while cans of beer lay about.

”Oh,” Franklin’s mother said. “so I guess you didn’t go get a job today?”

Franklin didn’t bother sticking around to watch the argument. He had more important things to do anyway. He forgot all about his parents, the Hell House, and that stupid dance once he popped the DVD in. He turned up the volume, drowning the shouting of his parents below.

He pulled out his notebook while the DVD menu loaded. From the H2K website he solved various online puzzles and answered trivia questions. For his success he was emailed special instructions to find nine hidden codes on this DVD. Whoever emailed the nine codes in first would win the grand prize, which was various props from the Halloween movies, including the original Michael Meyers mask.

Franklin’s eyes scanned every frame of the movie as it played, always searching the background for clues.  Any terror and suspense the movie might have offered was not able to phase this viewer. Soon, however, Franklin was startled not from the content of the movie but from the sound of his door slamming. His drunk father stumbled through the doorway, his eyes lazily looked around the room. “What are you doing?” he slurred. “You don’t have a girl up here do you?” After looking at the strange imagery on the TV screen he said “Of course you don’t.” Stumbling forward, eying the DVD case he added. “Your into all this weird shit. Why don’t you play some sports. Go out and get a girl.” Then, looking back at the TV, he asked  What is this?”

 “Dad don’t!” Franklin said as his father pushed the TV, making the DVD player on top slide part way off.

In response, his father pushed the TV harder, this time making it tip for just a moment. His fingers also accidentally hit the DVD panel. The sound of the DVD tray opening accompanied the banging sound of the whole device hitting the floor.

“What is going on in here?” Franklin’s mother burst into the room. His parents resumed they’re argument but at least took it out in the hallway. Franklin quickly knelled down to look at his electronics equipment. The lights were still on on the display of the DVD player, indicating that it still worked. Still, it was too late, the damage was already done. Franklin’s face reflected up at him from part of the DVD, tears fell from his eyes onto part of the disc. These tears wouldn’t change the fact that this DVD that was just gifted to him was now cracked in half.

Milwaukee Wisconsin, August 15th, 1999

“In fulfillment of Bible prophecy, the world today is beginning to speak the same language. We are satellite- and Internet-connected. We are fast moving toward a cashless economy, a one-world government, a one-world court and a one-world church. We are building a universal city with a one-world church whose tower reaches into heaven.”

“Just like the Tower of Babel!” Franklin’s mother shouted in enthusiasm while other members of the congregation clapped and cheered in agreement. Jerry Falwell’s sermon continued.

“But the Trinity has come down and looked us over,” the reverend said, “and it seems that God doesn’t like what he sees. He may be preparing to confound our language, to jam our communications, scatter our efforts and judge us for our sin and rebellion against his lordship. We are hearing from many sources that January 1, 2000, will be a fateful day in the history of the world.”

Franklin stood up and cheered. Caught up in the moment, he briefly forgot about his mind off his nearly passed out drunk father sitting next to him. Since he lost his job last year he’d taken to the bottle while his mom took to religion. Deciding they needed to escape the sin and debauchery that she claimed gripped their tiny town of Plainfield, Franklin’s mother took the family to the big city of Milwaukee for a religious retreat. Franklin was familiar with Falwell. He remembered a few years ago the reverend said something about one of the Teletubbies being gay. Franklin wasn’t sure about that, but he hoped Falwell was right about January first. Back home, the church his mom drug him to preached hard on the Y2K scare that was in the news and how it was a sign of God’s judgement. At first Franklin was annoyed at having to get up early on Sunday mornings, but a wrathful god massacring humanity sounded pretty awesome. In the last few months he’d been obsessed with those Columbine kids who massacred their school. Reading some of their journals that were posted online, and he started to think both them and God had the right idea. Fuck the world and everyone in it, blow this place to smithereens and start again. Maybe almighty God will get creation right next time.

Like all the speakers before him, Falwell started hawking his book and other merchandise to the crowd before him. Franklin looked at his watch impatiently as the program was running over. After hearing one last plug of merch he looked to the door behind him. One of the local ministers made an announcement that after a short break the adults would have special small group sessions and there would be some programming for the youth.

“Oh wonderful, you can make some new friends.” His mom said.  

“Mom I’m going to meet my friend, you know that.”

“Oh, dear just go check it out. It will be fun.” She said before she and Franklin’s dad went to the adult study.

Franklin felt agitated as he got off the bus. According to the horror message board he frequented, Patrick was going to LARP with some people in nearby Cooper Park. Franklin planned to meet him there, but he was late. He never tried Live Action Role Playing Before. No one in his little shit town would have the imagination to try something that cool. He looked around the park and didn’t see anything yet. Then he spotted a girl dressed in all black standing next to a guy that was big like a football player. The girl’s bright red lipstick was noticeable from afar, when he approached, she smiled at him, her exposed jaw revealed a set of plastic vampire teeth.

“Hey Franklin.” He turned around at the sound of a male voice to see a teenager, dressed kind of normal, t shirt, jeans, Air Jordon’s, but he was carrying a plastic crossbow so Franklin presumed he was a LARPer. “Patrick, good to meet you. Sorry you missed the LARP. We ended up starting early.” Nodding his head to the other guy he said, “Tim here has to go in for early football practice.”

“Hey I’m Tim, nice to meet you.” the other teenager said waving his large hand at him. Franklin said nothing as Tim said “Sorry, I gotta head out.”

“Later.” Patrick said as Tim walked away with his arm around the vampire girl.

“He plays football?” Patrick said in disgust.

“Yeah, he’s cool. He also plays in my Shadowrun campaign.” Patrick said, referring to the cyberpunk themed table top role playing game. Patrick couldn’t conceive of a jock being a gamer. He didn’t have a lot of time to ponder this as Patrick asked, “So, you want to hang at my place?”

Later, walking into Patrick’s house, Franklin asked, “Aren’t your parents home?”

“Well, I just live with my dad and he’s at work.”

“Sweet.” Franklin said as he followed Patrick up the steps. He wished he didn’t have to live with his mom. Walking into Patrick’s room, Franklin expected a shrine to horror movies. What he saw were posters of sports figures he didn’t recognize. He looked confused as he stared a few athletic trophies set up in a display case.

“Those are for track.” Patrick explained before asking. “What sports do you do?”

That question was preposterous. “Uh, I’m, I’m not into sports really.”

“All about the scary movies huh?” Patrick said, picking up the Night Skies DVD. “Cool, well, you want to  check this out then.”

Franklin nodded and Patrick loaded the DVD player. Picking its remote control, he said “On the forums you said something about Easter Eggs?”

“Yeah, if you fiddle around on the menu screen.” Franklin took the remote control from Patrick’s hand and pointed to the TV screen.” “Look here,” he explained, “it doesn’t look like the cursor can go here, but watch.” Pushing the left arrow button on the remote, an area of the screen was highlighted that wasn’t highlighted before, indicating this was an item to be selected.

“Oh cool, how did you do that?

“Like this.” he said, holding up the remote. Pushing the directional buttons, Franklin moved the menu icon back and forth. Them after clicking the icon on the hidden spot, a deleted scene was loaded.

“Wow, that’s awesome!” Patrick said as the gigantic star filled sky of the southwestern united states appeared on the screen. The two teenagers watched as the sound of a Native American wind instrument drummed through the speakers of Patrick’s small TV. On the screen, the camera panned down to the image of a campfire. A mother and daughter sat among their fellow tribesmen.  Looking up at the sky, the mother said  “Our people have stories about a tribe that flew on an eagle all way up into the heavens.” The child’s eyes widened with wonder as her mother went on. “They flew so far away they had to live among the stars.”

“Really, they’re speaking English?” Patrick laughed.

“Listen to this part.” Franklin said urgently. To him, this wasn’t hanging out and socializing, this was getting his friend up to speed.

They both resumed watching as the woman explained that that one day this special tribe will come back to their lands. Just then, a flurry of shooting stars streaked across the sky. “Is that them?” The young girl excitedly pointed her tiny finger up to the heavens.

“Maybe,” the mother said, “maybe they’re coming to take you away!” The young girl laughed as her mother proceeded to tickle her. “OK, that’s enough stories. It’s time for you to go to bed.”

Later, while the young girl lay down beneath the open sky, she could not bring her self to close her eyes. Her gaze remained fixed on the sights above her. One of the shooting stars she’d seen seemed to have been moving slower, almost hovering over her people. In fact, it looked like the light was drawing closer. It’s bright white glow grew larger and larger. The rest of her people slept as she watched in wonderment this ball of light landing on the Earth as though it were a giant eagle. No sound was made as it appeared to touch the soil. Her eyes unable to move from it, the young girl said but two words. She drug out the syllables as she spoke, it was a phrase the filmmakers knew the audience would be familiar with.

“They’re here.”

“Cool, I remember I was a little kid when Heather O’ Rourke died.” Patrick said, referring to the child actor who starred in the original Night Skies film, and tragically passed in the late 80’s.  “That really sucked.”

“Yeah, she could have been in the TV show.” Patrick referred to the Night Skies spinoff TV series that aired on the sci-fi channel.

“Uh, yeah,” Patrick said, turning to his computer. The sound of the 56K modem indicated that he was connecting to the internet. “Anyway, you want to watch the movie a bit.” Franklin agreed and selected the ‘play feature’ option on the menu. They continued to make small talk while the movie played and Patrick typed on the keyboard. The familiar bleeping sound of AOL messenger occasionally accompanied the sounds from the movie. Soon Patrick asked, “So, you got a girl back home?”

“Uh, yeah there’s this girl back home. Lindsey.” Her name hung from his lips, like honey on a spoon that was just out of reach.

“Cool.” Patrick continued typing on his keyboard. After a few minutes he said “Hey, what time do you have to get back?”

Looking at his watch, Franklin said “Yeah, I should probably get back soon.”

“That’s cool. I’m gonna go meet this cheerleader chic in a bit, but I can give you a ride if you need it?”

“Sure.”

Later, after saying goodbye to Patrick, Franklin entered the church where he saw his mom kneeling in prayer with the minister. His father looked at him, his eyes betraying no emotion but his mother immediately looked back after the sound of the door opening. “Oh my heavens where were you?” She rushed up to her feet and came toward him. “We were just about to call the police.”

“Told you he was fine.” His father said. Smiling and nodding at his son he speculated, “Probably out with some girl.”

“No,” Franklin responded, frustrated. “I told you I was out with Patrick.”

“Who’s Patrick?” His mom asked.

“I told you who Patrick is.” Franklin couldn’t believe his mother’s ignorance. “That guy I met online.”

“Wait,” The minister interrupted, “So, you met a man online and you went to his house?”

“He’s my age.” Franklin said annoyed. “I came on this trip so I could meet him.

“And what were you doing with him?” His mother said, still concerned.

“God mom, we just watched a DVD.”

“Son,” the minister interupted again, “was this a pornographic DVD?

“No you asshole, it was Night Skies IV!”

“Franklin!” his mother scolded. Meanwhile, his father looked at his watched, appearing just as annoyed as Franklin was.

“It’s OK.” The minister said to Franklin’s mother. “Franklin, you have to be careful about meeting people on the internet.”

“I only came on this trip so I could meet him, and I hardly got to hang out with him because your crap went on all day!” Then, turning to his parents, he said. “Now come on let’s go home.” He stormed out of the church and walked towards his parents’ car. He couldn’t believe in the stupidity of these people. Sitting in the car, fuming, he thought to himself, there was one thing he hoped these people were right about. He hoped the world really did end this year. If he ever would have prayed, he would have prayed for this planet to be obliterated. Watching his mother sobbing while coming out of the church, his father meekly following behind, he cursed his lot at having to be raised by these idiots. As they opened the doors and plopped themselves down in the car seats, he thought to himself, if they’re still alive in the new millennium, he might have to do the finish them off himself.

April 20th, 1999 Tri-Country High School, Plainfield Wisconsin

Franklin was used to the scowls of his fellow students as he walked in the computer lab. To him this single room was the only place in this building that was worth a damn. Certainly better than the gymnasium. Of course some kids were wasting it looking up basketball scores or celebrity gossip. One was reading something about Hitler. That bitch Lynda was sitting next to one of the only open computers. He could feel her skin crawl as he sat down next to her. He wondered what the fuck her problem was anyway. She was sitting there looking up shit about weed. In his mind the TV hanging overhead would come loose and land on her fucking head. Maybe then she’d finally chill the fuck out.  

He forgot about her as soon as the Macintosh booted up. He immediately went to his favorite forum. He dropped a few random posts. Some douche bags had a whole thread on humorous moments in the X-Files series. Stupid assholes, don’t they know X-Files isn’t supposed to be funny? On the Halloween forums he also exchanged a few posts with ShapeDude. He seemed like a cool guy, a fellow Halloween fan who lived in Milwaukee. He wished cool people like him went to this school instead of all these worthless sacks of shit.

One post got his attention, “New questions are up.” This was on the forum for the H2K contest. He immediately typed h2k.com into the url bar, bringing up the promotional website for the upcoming Direct to DVD release, Halloween: H2K. His mouse immediately clicked on the quiz section and the first question loaded.

What name was Michael Meyers listed as in the credits of Halloween?  “Any idiot knows that.” Franklin thought to himself as he clicked “The Shape.”

Then the next question loaded. The word Samhain was on the screen followed by several phonetic spellings of it. The question was “How do you pronounce Samhain?” In Halloween 2, Donald Pleasance, who plays Dr. Gavin, mispronounces it as Sam-HAYNE. Halloween 5: The Revenge of Samhain, corrected this mistake, which is how Franklin knew the correct answer as he clicked on saa.wn

Franklin shook his fist in triumph as the website scored his points for another correct answer. If he kept answering correctly, he would remain on the leader board, which was one factor in the H2K contest. The grand prize of which was a collection of props from the various Halloween movies, including one of the original Michael Meyers masks from the first Halloween.

“What are you looking at freak?” Franklin turned around to see Ken, one of his classmates. His eyes stared at him judgmentally through his thick rimmed glasses.

“Says the guy looking at dead bodies.” Franklin retorted, commentating on the JPEG image of a black man laying on a steel slab displayed on the light blue Macintosh monitor.

“Dude, do you even know who this is?” Ken sounded shocked at Franklin’s ignorance but, Franklin really didn’t know who it was. He did know no one was supposed to be looking at rotten.com, a website notorious for its graphic pictures of corpses which Ken loaded on his screen.

Deciding to be a smart ass, Franklin replied, “Who is it, your boyfriend?”

“Hey don’t you insult Tupac!”

“X-Pac,” Franklin sarcastically said, “Isn’t that the wrestler?”

“Man shut the fuck up!” Again pointing to his screen Ken nearly shouted “This guy was one of the greatest entertainers of the 20th century, not some fake ass wrestler.”

Franklin wouldn’t reveal this, but once Ken said “Tupac” he did realize who Ken was talking about. Of course Franklin’s frame of reference for Tupac Shakur was his appearance in Halloween: Resurrection of the Vampire. In fact, the only Tupac song he knew was the one that appeared on Resurrection’s soundtrack. This didn’t stop Franklin from answering “Your mom’s tits are fake.”

“Oh, you mother fucker.” Ken sprung out of his seat to approach Franklin. The ruckus finally got the teacher’s attention. “Hey, knock it off guys.” he said in a stern voice. Some students snickered at how the teacher finally payed attention to his students, instead of looking up news about the new Star Wars movie.

Ken stopped in his tracks and Franklin turned his gaze to the doorway as Lindsey walked in. She looked upset. Franklin gasped audibly as she rapidly drew closer. Stopping in front of his chair, her body stretched upwards, lifting the material on her shirt exposing her navel. Her slender fingers pushed the button, and after the electronic buzzing sound the TV turned on. Franklin now watched her fingers frantically flip through the channels before stopping on CNN. The 24 hour news channel broadcast an aerial shot of what looked like a high school. Hundreds of kids were running out, their hands all raised above their heads as police cars surrounded the building. Franklin smirked to himself while other kids gasped at the image of handmade sign reading “I bleeding to death,” followed by footage of police officers helping a bloody teenager come out of a shattered window. The headline below read “Multiple dead at Columbine High School.”

12/31/1998 Plainfield, Wisconsin.

“Man, I can’t believe they ended the streak!” Tommy complained as he carried a case of Coke into the kitchen.

“Wait,” Ben said as he followed behind with several bags of chips. “Goldberg got beat?” Ben was shocked at what he’d just heard. Goldberg, the World Championship Wrestling superstar, had gone 173-0 into his title defense at Starrcarde, a Pay Per View event that occurred just four days prior. Putting the chips on the kitchen table. “That’s bullshit.” Ben protested, putting the chips on the kitchen table. Ben then noticed Bernice, Tommy’s great grandmother and host of their New Year’s Eve party standing right there. “Oh, sorry Mrs. Worden.” he said.  

“Oh, that’s OK dear.” Bernice laughed, waving her hand dismissively.

Her husband Ronnie sat next to her and laughed as well, adding “Yeah, you kids hear worse than that on South Park.”  

“You know that wrestling’s all just a show, right?” Lindsey rhetorically asked while bringing in a bag of popcorn.

“I know, but it’s still bullshit.” Ben answered his girlfriend before asking Lindsey’s brother Tommy, “So how did they do it?”

Tommy then gave a recap of the predetermined bout. “Scott Hall came down to ringside and zapped Goldberg with a taser. Then Nash power bombed him and got the pin.”

 “That totally sucks.” Ben responded.

“Well, I don’t mind seeing more of Kevin Nash.” Bernice’s round face lit up as she chimed in. “They don’t call him big sexy for nothing!”

Tommy turned to his great grandfather via marriage and joked “You hear that, Ronald? You might have some competition.”

Ronald responded by holding up his cane and boasting “I’ll take him on in a steel cage!” Adding, “Wouldn’t be the first time I had to fight for her.”

“Maybe they’ll book a Bernice Worden on a pole match.” Ben joked, referring to one of the gimmick matches used on wrestling programming.

“Oh, trust me, there’s no competition for my Ronnie.” Bernice playfully put his arm around her husband of forty years before saying, “As a matter of fact, I’ve started calling him big sexy!”

“Nanna!” Lindsey blushed in embarrassment.

“You laugh but you’ll get old someday too.” Ronnie retorted, squeezing his wife’s hand. They’d been blessed with a long happy marriage. Ronnie, in fact, was Bernice’s second husband, but Bernice had been the longtime owner of the local Worden’s hardware store. It never bothered Ronnie that most people in the town still called her Mrs. Worden.

Soon Tommy, Lindsey and Ben went into the living room where they joined some of their other high school classmates watching Dick Clark on the big screen TV. Bernice and Ronald followed behind when they heard a knock at the door. “Come in.” Bernice said. Ben felt a little uncomfortable seeing the scowls some of his classmates gave as his childhood friend Franklin walking through the door.

Bernice, however, was happy to see him. “Oh Franklin. How are you?” she happily greeted. Then, noticing the stack of Tupperware containers he was carrying she asked, “What do you have there?”

“Mother baked some cookies.” Franklin answered.

“Oh, that’s great well you can put them in the kitchen.” Bernice said.

Ben then stood up, saying “Here I’ll give you a hand with those.” before taking one of the containers off his friend.

Following Franklin into the kitchen Ben asked, “We were just talking about Starrcade, did you see it?”

“Yeah, you know Nash is the booker now, right?” Ben was confused at this ‘booker’ term his friend used, not knowing it referred to the person in a wrestling company who determines the outcomes of the matches. “So, of course he booked himself to win the title.” Franklin prattled on. “Did you see Nash challenged Goldberg for a rematch for next Monday. I bet it ends with a run in from Hall. Same old predictable shit!” he concluded while carelessly tossed the Tupperware container he was carrying on the kitchen table.

Ben was used to Franklin’s conversations going on like a runaway train. In an attempt to derail Franklin’s complaints about the modern state of professional wrestling he said, “OK, well thanks for coming man. We’re gonna have a good time.”

“Yeah, especially because we got this.” Franklin pulled out a bottle of Jack Daniels from his winter coat.

“What are you doing with that?” For the second time tonight, Ben was in shock.

“Stole it from my dad’s cabinet.”

“You can’t be doing that!” Ben nearly shouted. 

“Chill out, he’ll be so blank tonight he won’t even notice it’s gone.”

Looking out in the living room in a panic, Ben insisted “Look it’s disrespectful to Bernice. Put that away!” Ben was no angel, he and Lindsey occasionally snuck a few beers out in the fields, but all their parents trusted Bernice and Ronnie to host a New Year’s Eve party without any shenanigans.

“OK, sorry man.” Franklin said. Ben knew Franklin got the message, as he always got on well with Mrs. Worden.

Tucking the bottle back in his winter coat Franklin asked, “So, you think they’ll want to watch the trailer?”

Once again Ben was confused. “What trailer?”

“You know, on the Sci-Fi channel.”

“The Sci-Fi Channel?” Ben was always patient with Franklin, but his patience was beginning to wear thin. He knew no one else in this house would want to watch the Sci-Fi Channel on New Year’s Eve.

“Yeah, you know,” Franklin’s tone suggested he fully expected his only friend to fully comprehend what he meant. “At midnight the Sci-Fi channel is going to show the H2K trailer.”

“H2K?” Once again, Ben had no idea what his friend was talking about.

“Yeah, the new Halloween movie that will be out next year.”

“Dude, it’s New Year’s Eve! We’re here to watch the ball drop. Besides, the Spice Girls are gonna be on. Wouldn’t you rather see them?” The disappointed look on Franklin’s face suggested he had no interest in the quintet of sexy British singers that were all the rage this past year. He should have expected as much out of his nerdy friend. “Tell you what,” Ben conceded, “I’m sure it will turn up online. You can come over my house later next week and I’ll download it OK?”

Franklin nodded, seemingly agreeing to his friend’s suggestion. Then they both heard the sound of female laughter. From the kitchen Ben could see Lindsey sitting on the living room couch. She was wearing that red and green holiday themed sweater which was his present to her this past week. Her brown hair shined as the still hanging Christmas lights blinked above her like stars floating above a calm sea.

“So,” the voice of his friend brought Ben out of his brief trance. “You’re here with Lindsey?”

In the TV room Ronnie asked, “You playing basketball this year?”  

“Yeah, we’re gonna have a good season.” Lindsey answered confidently, adding “I hope we win districts this year.” She then noticed her friend and teammate Lynda staring blankly off to the side. “What do you think Lynda?” she asked.

“Yeah, I hope so.” Lynda’s voice held no enthusiasm, but she did add, “Amhurst has a good team though.” referring to another school district not terribly far from their tiny little town.

“What’s wrong Lynda, not feeling the holiday spirit?” Lindsey asked.

Staring into the kitchen, Lynda blurted out, “Can I just ask, who invited him?”

Lindsey didn’t like hearing one of the girls complain about Franklin’s presence, but at the same time, she understood. “I think Ben did.” she replied.

“Why?” Lynda asked with a sternness in her voice. “Doesn’t it bother you that he’s friends with that weirdo?”

“Oh, you kids.” Bernice interjected. “Franklin is such a nice boy.”

“You just think he’s nice because he asks you about scary stories all the time. His dad’s a total drunk, you know my mom said he….” Her jaw then froze as she saw Franklin had entered the room with Ben following behind.

Franklin ignored the comment Lynda was about to make, and mostly kept to himself as the night went on. The youths enjoyed the cookies and snacks provided as they watched Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve, and in time Franklin’s presence went almost unnoticed, as if he were an invisible member of the party. As it drew close to midnight, the moment Ben previously spoke about arrived. All the boys grinned as the Spice Girls performed on the TV. While watching them dance Ben felt a pair of arms wrap around his neck. He could feel the wool from the sweater he’d purchased brush against his skin as Lindsey’s red lips whispered in his ear “So, which Spice Girl would I be.”

“Hmm, that’s a tough choice.” Ben answered as he reached up and playfully squeezed her hands.

A whisper again slipped into his ear as he felt her hot breath say, “Well you can figure it out upstairs.” His eyes then watched her body coyly walk away and ascend up the steps. Ben waited a few minutes before standing up himself. He made like he was going to walk into the kitchen but then quickly turned toward the steps. Quickly glancing back, everyone’s eyes were still on the TV watching the Spice Girl’s performance, except Ronnie. Ben froze as Ronnie looked directly at him, but then Ben noticed the mischievous grin on the old man’s face. Ronnie nodded at him, indicating he knew exactly what the score was before turning his gaze back to the sexy women dancing on the screen.

As Ben climbed to the top of the steps, he saw Lindsey’s slim figure standing in the dark, her arms stretched out waiting for him. She gave a quick kiss on the lips before leading him by hand down the dark corridor. Stopping at a door, she turned around to whisper, “When I was a kid I would stay in this room.” She then audibly gasped, something had startled her. Ben then noticed a faint light coming out the crack of the door, accompanied by inaudible sounds.

“Looks like someone beat you to it.” Ben said, figuring some other couple snuck in here with the same idea. He saw the giddy look on Lindsey’s face as she slowly pushed the door open, expecting to catch some young lovers in the act. Her body then jumped back, in the faint electronic glow Ben could see Lindsey cover her mouth. Before Ben could ask what was wrong, she stormed in her old room and said one word.

“Franklin!” There he was, sitting on the floor by himself, bottle of Jack to his side, and the TV providing the only light in the room. Ben recognized the planet like symbol on the bottom right corner of the TV screen as well as the end credits of show Franklin apparently was just watching. Night Skies, a TV spin-off of that 80’s Spielberg movie about alien abductions, was one of the few things Ben and Franklin shared these days. Franklin came over every week to watch it with him, even though he often complained about it, just like he complained about wrestling; but, like wrestling, he never missed an episode. Sometimes Ben wondered if Franklin just came over to get away from his parents.

“Shh” Franklin was visibly annoyed as he looked back at Lindsey saying, “The trailer’s about to come on.”

Franklin turned back to the TV excited as he watched a clock on the screen counting down. Once it hit zero, he was again visibly annoyed by the cheering downstairs. The new year of 1999 meant nothing to him. The most important thing in his universe at this moment was the trailer for the new Halloween movie.

Leaning closer to the TV screen to turn the volume up, the speakers on the TV emitted sound of keystrokes as digital letters appeared on the screen. Several keystrokes spelled out the words Halloween, apocalypse, then the sound of a 56k modem connecting filled the television speakers as something else was typed on the screen, the number 2000.  

The trailer then cut to some characters who looked like technicians working in a computer lab. One of the female technicians who wore a strange necklace said some lines about the druid calendar. Franklin knew this exposition was just bullshit for the movie, but he listened as the on-screen character explained how the druids believed, according to this movie, that the end of time would not come on January first, as some were predicting with the recent Y2K scare, but on October 31rst. The older male technician said one word in his thick British accent. “Halloween.”

That familiar theme music from the John Carpenter franchise hit as he heard a familiar voice rap over it. Franklin was alien to the world of Hip Hop, but he recognized the voice from Halloween Resurrection of the Vampire. Franklin was pretty sure it was the same rapper from that early 90’s soundtrack that he was hearing now. The lyrics went hard as various characters appeared to come to mysterious deaths. Franklin’s eyes scanned the screen for Easter eggs. It was just a flash of a moment, but on the screen, it was shown someone was looking at a website about the sea monster from Halloween H20. Franklin’s mother took him to see that movie, what was just a few short months ago now seemed like another life, before his dad lost his job, and before his dad found the bottle. Franklin’s momentary lapse in concentration ended as the title Halloween H2K was typed out on the screen. After a quick flash of light another set of text appeared, www.h2k.com

“That was awe…” Franklin excitedly turned around but stopped mid-sentence to see Ben and Lindsey’s embrace. Outside, through the window, fireworks spread across the empty sky. Inside, the couple’s lips were tightly locked, Franklin watched Ben’s hand move up his girlfriend’s torso, inching oh so close to her breast, but it stopped as both their eyes opened to see their nerdy friend kneeling before them, bottle of Jack in hand.

Lindsey gasped aloud as Ben looked down with pity to say. “Oh, sorry bud.” Franklin remained silent. He simply turned away to switch the TV off as he heard Ben say one more thing. “Happy New Year.”

September 2003

Clarice just finished telling her Uncle Milton the story of her first kill.

“You finally brought home dinner.” Emily’s face glowed from the combination of the campfire and the pride she felt for her granddaughter. “He tasted great too!”

“Smokers never tase great.” Walt said as he stood up. The fire was slowly dying out by now, and Clarice’s grandfather poured a pale of water to extinguish the remaining flames.

Milton listened the whole time Clarice told her story. He remained quiet as his family curled up in their sleeping bags in the grass, far off the interstate where no one would see them. Watching the smoke rise from the smoldering pit that was their campfire, he remained sitting, looking out over the darkness while his family began their slumber.

Finally, he layed down on his blanket next to the van. Milton remembered that day so many years ago when he visited the prison Chaplin. Thinking back to that moment as he lay looking up at the stars, he chalked it up to having a weak moment. To his right lay Clarice in her sleeping bag, that teenage boys severed head lay next to her. She was still awake, gazing into the dead head’s eyes, her hands caressed the cold skin as if it were and undead lover. “Yeah, that Clarice is certainly a chip off the old bloc.” He thought to himself. Looking to his left, Milton’s parents were fast asleep. He couldn’t shake the feeling that this while trip was a wild goose chase. Naturally he wouldn’t dare say this aloud, but when passing through their home town he thought about pulling off the interstate and insisting they just go home. However, he could tell this little road trip of death made his father feel alive. Moments like tonight, and in that alleyway in New Jersey, made him feel like it was 1974 all over again. The clan was back together, and mayhem and murder followed. Milton wanted to enjoy every moment he could with both his parents while they were still around. Before they were, before..

Milton now turned upwards to gaze at the stars. He wondered if his brother was up there somewhere. Was it really like they said in those Sunday school stories, was he really up there looking down on him and his family? “Hey  Frost,” he whispered, waving at the stars light years away. “Are you really up there looking down on us?” If so, Milton pondered, then his departed brother could see all the chaos and death he and his family had been causing, and he’d be proud. He’d be be especially proud of his “daughter.” Milton himself never wanted kids, but he remembered Forst always had a soft spot for him. Since the moment he found her as a little baby in the back of that house after dispatching her parents, he loved her like her own. “You’d be proud of her.” he whispered as he again looked over at her, now fast asleep. “She’s a nut like the rest of us.”

“Ah what the hell am I doing, fucking talking to myself.” He muttered while turning to his left side. Past his parents he could see the now extinguished fire pit. The bones and leftover flesh remained burnt on the spit. Remembering the mighty fire that once roared there not long ago, Milton thought to himself. “That’s the kind of place God would send us to, if any of that shit was real.” He remembered those days back in the prison, it was the first time he’d read the holy book since he was a kid. Good stories actually. He particularly liked the Old Testament, all that wrath of God stuff. If those stories are to be believed, then the Almighty stacked more bodies then ten generations of his family could dare dream. The aroma of burnt flesh still tickled his nostrils as Milton thought about the sinners burning in the eternal pit of flames. “Why should he suffer.” Milton pondered. His family would never be that Norman Rockwell slice of Americana. He loved what he did, and he couldn’t imagine living his life any other way.

Rolling over, once again laying on his back, his eyes again scanned the unspeakably large canvas that was the sky above him. “What an amazing work of art this infinite abyss of the cosmos was. Could all of this really be here by accident?” Before his eyes fell asleep, he had one final closing thought. “If there really is something up there,” he muttered to himself before he fell to sleep, “then he created a butcher like me.”

The End 

The Final Friday of August, 1993

“You can’t wear that on a date!” Emily complained regarding her granddaughter’s black t-shirt. It’s white skull like image on the front underneath a Misfits logo didn’t seem very lady like.

“We’re just going to the movies grandma.”

“Times of changed!” Walt laughed while standing in the doorway of her bedroom.

“Tell her grandpa!”Clarice looked in the mirror putting the finishing touches on her makeup. Black lipstick was applied while Danzig’s melodic “Sistinas” played on her CD player.

Resigning to her granddaughters outfit, Emily looked her over. Finally giving her approval, her eyes welled up as she said “Out little girl’s first date. I wish your father were here to see this.”

Clarice’s own eyes grew moist as she replied “I wish my mother were here.”

This sweet moment was interrupted by the sound of a horn blaring. “Oh, that’s him!” Clarice said, quickly wiping her tears. “Shit, my mascara.” she looked in the mirror saw her makeup was slightly running.

“Here dear, I’ll touch it up for you.” her grandmother said approaching the mirror.

“No time!” Clarice said in frustration as she used a tissue to simply remove the makeup she’d just applied. The horn beeped again as she rushed out her bedroom door. “Sorry, I gotta go.”

Her grandparents followed her out of her bedroom to the living room, where out the window they could see the mustang in the driveway waiting to pick her up. “OK honey, have a good time and be safe.”

“OK I will, love you guys.” Clarice said as she rushed out the door.

“Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.” Emily said as the figure of Clarice grew smaller as the distance between them grew.

Remembering his first date with Emily, Walter playfully smacked her bum and said “Honey, there’s not a damn thing you wouldn’t do.” His wife giggled in response.

Watching the car drive away Walter said “That’s a nice car.” Then, something just occurred to him. “You know, he didn’t even come in and introduce himself!”

“Times have changed!”

Darryl looked good with his shoulder length red hair and his Metallica shirt which fit tight to his body. “Hey Darryl.” She said excitedly while her eyes looked him over.

“Hey.” he simply said. He was so cool with his cigarette hanging out of his mouth, it’s glowing red tip bounced slightly as he drove. He removed the cigarette and asked “want some?” She immediately took it in her slender fingers and wrapped her black colored lips around the tip. Her lungs quickly filled with smoke and she coughed heavily. Her face turned beat read from the smoke as well as the embarrassment. Even worse was the sound of Darryl laughing, but it wasn’t a mocking cackling kind of laugh. He made more of a chuckle while taking the cigarette back. He then patted her on the back and asked if she was OK. She shook her head yes as she felt the heat from Darryl’s hand through her cotton made shirt. This sensation more than made up for her embarrassment. “Don’t worry about it, it’s cool.” Everything seemed cool about Darryl, from his jeans to his car to the Iron Maiden cassette tape playing in his stereo.

Naturally they sat in the back of the movie theater. Her body was excited to feel the caress of his hands, but she slowed him down occasionally, not wanting to go too far. When the film’s logo came on the screen, she did allow him to kiss her. His mouth was hot and tasted like ashes, but she didn’t care, she loved the feeling of his tongue inside her while his whiskers brushed against her cheeks. As the movie progressed they fooled around a little, she occasionally giggled which drew the ire of film goers in front of her.

Later during the film, as she again felt Darryl’s hand on her leg, something caught her attention. It was an evil looking tome, apparently bound in human skin with a horrific facial design on the front cover. Clarice was sure she’d seen it before but she couldn’t remember where, but when one of the characters from the Cult of Vorhees held the book up Darryl identified it.

“Cool, the Necronomicon.”

Clarice wasn’t dating Darryl for his brains, but she was impressed by his knowledge of this mythical book. “Oh, you read H.P. Lovecraft?” she immediately whispered.

 “Who?”

“Lovecraft, the guy that wrote about the Necronomicon.” Clarice explained, referring the the pulp writer who was a bedrock of American horror.

“You mean he wrote Evil Dead?” Darryl asked, thinking she was referring to the Sam Raimi horror flicks in which the tome also appeared.

“No silly, like Call of Cthulu and stuff like that.” This boy might have been cute, but she was getting annoyed by his ignorance as well as some one shushing them a few rows up. From here on out the two of them were quieter. She happily held his hand on her lap, but now her full attention was on the movie. Darryl also turned his gaze to the naked breasts that occasionally graced the screen before the Jersey Devil, the killer of this decade plus long franchise, disposed of the horny teenagers.

The climax of the film had the full attention of both Darryl and his date as the Devil got stabbed with what both Clarice and Darryl recognized as the mythical Kandarian dagger from Evil Dead 2. Clarice cheered the Devil on as it fought off demonic hands that now reached up from the ground trying to pull it down to hell. Then, the whole theater erupted in applause as that familiar bladed glove burst from the dirt. Actor Kane Hodder made a surprise cameo, leaping up from the earth in the role of Freddy Kruger from the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. The film ended with Kruger pulling the Devil down to the depths of hell.

Riding in Darryl’s car after the movie, Clarice was a chatter box. “Wow, I can’t believe they put the Necronomicon in that movie. Do you think that means the Devil is really a Deadite?” she asked, referring to the zombie like creatures of the Evil Dead franchise. Darryl said nothing as he parked the car.

Clarice looked around, realizing her date parked in a secluded spot, she looked at him with a devilish grin saying “Perfect place to get slaughtered.” He then planted his lips on hers, his tongue pushed its away into her mouth again, and in no time they hopped in the back seat.

She was so hot for him, but he was getting a little rough. His lips wandered her cheeks and his teeth grazed her neck when she said “Could you slow down a bit.” He continued kissing her roughly as he lay on top of her, and it was getting hard to breath. Her hands tried pushing against his shoulders trying to make some space between the two of them but he grabbed her wrists and pinned them to the seat cushion.

Now it was getting even harder for her to breath. “Darryl.” she panted as he continued pressing against her body, her head moving down to her chest. “Darryl stop I can’t breath.”  He did not stop as she wiggled underneath him. Finally, in a panic, she kneed him in the groin. He cried out in pain and his body slightly rolled to her right. Her arms frantically reached for the door handle and, while still on her back, she managed to push the door open. Darryl leaned forward towards her and she kicked him in the chest, sending his body back to the opposite door. Tilting her head back she saw a man standing outside the car. It was Ed. Her brain didn’t have time to register why her childhood imaginary friend was here on her first date. She just knew he was standing there, his hands waved in a gesture suggesting “come on.” Her body wiggled out of the back seat of the car. She turned around as her skin hit the damp wet grass below. Brushing herself off as she rose to her feet, she saw Ed walking away, continuing his hand motions suggesting she follow her.

She took a few steps forward when she stopped at the sound of Darryl’s voice. “Fucking bitch.” he said, “You can walk home.” His laid against the back door rubbing his aching crotch when he said what would end up being his last words. “I should have stayed with Diane instead of a cocktease like you.”

Ed shook his head in sorrow as he witnessed the rage boiling in her face. He faded away into nothingness while Clarice turned around and dove back into the car. Lunging towards Darryl, just for a moment he looked excited, perhaps thinking he was about to get the fuck of his life. Her eyes were crazed as she wrapped her hands around his neck, the pain in his crotch was gone, replaced with the aching excitement of adolescent lust. That was the last moment of pleasure he would feel as her teeth sunk into his flesh. Darryl screamed in pain as blood splattered from his body just as it had in the movie they just watched. The car rocked back in forth for the next few minutes. Had there been any witnesses, they would have presumed that what was occurring within that vehicle was pure ecstasy. Ironically, they would have half presumed correctly, it was incredible ecstasy, for one of them.

Back at the homestead, Walt and Emily sat on the porch in separate rocking chairs. Emily, her nose in a book, said aloud. “Clarice was right.”

“About what.” Walt asked. 

“This is better than that Bloch novel.” Emily answered, turning a page of American Psycho.

Walt was not reading a book like he did many nights with his wife. Instead, he sat on his porch and watched the stars. “I hope Clarice is having fun on her date.”

“I’m sure she’s fine. If anything happens, well, she’s feisty like her father was.”

Walt, like his son, was often a man of many words, but this time he replied with a simple, “Yeah.”

Looking up at the stars, Walt figured Frost was up there somewhere watching down on her, on all the family. He missed his son, but he knew full well with the life they chose, some disaster was bound to happen sooner or later. Still, it had been almost twenty years now and he and his wife both still missed him so terribly much. He looked down to wipe his eyes when he noticed the two beams of light approaching; and approaching fast. “Who is that?” Emily asked. 

The engine roared louder as the car approached, it appeared to swerve slightly on the road, as if it were driven by someone behind the wheel for the first time. Feeling this looked like trouble, Walt head for his front door. “I’m gonna get my gun.”

“Wait.” Emily said as the mustang became more visible. As it pulled up to the house Walt heard his wife exclaim “It’s Clarice.” Now parked in the driveway they could both see their granddaughter at the wheel. She leaned over and opened the passenger door. Emily squealed in excitement as the dead teenager that was once Darryl plopped onto the macadam. Walter grinned from ear to ear as the engine shut off. Clarice emerged from the car and said one thing. “I brought home dinner!”

September 2003

On a secluded area off an interstate in the mid-western United States, Milton’s family reminisces about a time they visited him at a New Jersey Prison.

“I remember that trip.” Milton’s mother Emily recalled. “We went into New York afterwards.”

“Yeah,” Clarice, Milton’s niece added, “remember I got lost in the Strand bookstore?”

“I remember you STOLE something from the Strand Bookstore!” Milton’s father and Clarice’s grandmother recalled with a laugh the misadventure they had in the world’s biggest second-hand book shop.

“Oh, those were good times.” Emily said. “We saw Cats on Broadway, and remember we went to see the Twin Towers?”

“Oh yeah, we did.” Clarice said, recalling the two landmark skyscrapers that were destroyed just a few years ago.

“I remember that day.” Milton said. “We didn’t have TV but we all listened to it on the radio.” Then, shaking his head he muttered. “God damn awful.” His family nodded in agreement. Every single person sitting around this campfire had blood on their hands, but even for monsters such as these, they all silently agreed that the evil that day was a step too far.

“Anyway, that was a nice little trip.” Emily said.

Before his niece continued her story leading up to her first kill, Milton thought about his time just after their visit. This was something he hadn’t thought about in a long time, in fact, it’s something he almost forgot himself.

Federal Correctional Institution: Fort Dix, New Jersey August 1993

Milton sat quietly after the religious service. He wasn’t sure what to expect, but he liked the Chaplin. Mr. Savanelli preached about the Flood and Noah’s Ark. Milton always like that story as a kid. Afterwards, he asked the Chaplin for a word in private.

Now alone in the room, the Chaplin asked, “Did you enjoy the service today?”

“Of course. I always liked that story where God drowns everybody.” Milton answered with a smile. “You know I drowned somebody once.” Milton shocked himself by how casually he revealed this. What followed was a sense of panic he hadn’t felt in years. Milton looked behind him to see if the guard was there, but luckily, he was standing outside.

Turning back, the Chaplin maintained his warm friendly smile, but it was evident he’d read the expression Milton wore on his face. “Don’t worry,” Savanalli said, “anything you say here is between us.” 

Milton trusted this God fearing man to be good on his word. “OK” Milton said, wiping his brow. “It wasn’t that fun anyway, almost went under myself.”

“Would you like to sit down?” Savenelli asked.

“Sure.”

As they both sat down the Chaplin said “I don’t recall seeing you before. What brings you to us today?”

That was a good question. What had brought Milton here today? He thought about it before speaking, even though he already the answer. Finally, he said, “I got a visit from my niece recently.” 

“Oh, that was your niece that came? I thought maybe it was your daughter.”

“Wait, you saw her?”

“I saw you with who I assumed was your family when I was visiting with Dr. Pleasance.”

“Dr. Pleasance.” That name brought a smile to his face and wicked thoughts to his mind. “Yeah, we saw her talking to that guy that did the baby-sitter murders. Clarice, my niece that is, was asking about him.”

“I see, is she afraid of him?”

“No she idolizes him.” Milton answered immediately. Then with a chuckle he added, “She thinks he’s awesome.”

“Is that why you’re here?”

Milton answered the question with a question of his own. “Think there’s any hope for a guy like that?

“Well, Jesus preached to those who were far off and those who were near. Scripture says that in Christ we are no longer strangers and aliens, but that we are all fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.”  

“Yeah, yeah, Ephesians 2:19.” Milton responded dismissively. “I mean, do you think they’ll ever let him out?”

“Milton, as I’ve told you,” the Chaplin now sounded more stern, “I won’t share anything you tell me here. I would ask you to understand that I won’t be discussing his case with you.”

Milton shook his head, amused how the Chaplin blocked this line of query. “Alright, well let’s discuss his soul then, if there is such a thing that is.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, your God,” Milton then snapped his fingers as he asked, “couldn’t he do some magic trick to make him good?”

“Milton, I think you know God’s not a parlor magician. He gave us free will.”

Of course Milton knew all about free will. He’d read “Summa Theologica” by Thomas Aquinus as well the writings of John Wesley. He could have easily formulated a counter argument against these classical theologians. Instead, he looked at the iron bars across the window and responded. “Free will to end up in here.”

“Or free will to accept his grace and walk into his light.”

Milton laughed at the response. It brought him back to that time when he was a teenager and a pair of Jehovah’s witnesses knocked on their door. Their flesh tasted tough and chewy, like the leather of their shoes that had walked too many miles. “So, even if a monster like me believes in God’s only son than I shall have eternal life?” he asked, mocking the much quoted verse, John 3:16.

“Even a sinner such as you,” Savenelli answered with his own smirk, “no matter how infamous they may be.”

“So, you know who I am?”

“You’re not the first prestigious inmate I’ve witnessed to.” The Chaplin said proudly. “In fact, many within these walls have come to Christ.”   

“That sounds great chaplin. Hey, do you think the people I butchered would want to be up there in heaven with me?” Milton knew just how to phrase this question. Milton felt proud of himself for stumping him. After a short moment of silence Milton added “Yeah, I didn’t think so,” wrapping a bow on the moment.

The Chaplin pivoted by asking “That elderly couple Clarice was with, were they your parents?”  

Still proud of stumping the Chaplin and understanding why he changed the subject, Milton answered coyly “You got it.”

“Your parents.” Savanelli then asked, “What about the girl’s parents?”

“Her dad, my brother,” Milton’s emotions now clouded as he explained, “he died when she was just a baby.”

“And the mother?”

With an uncanny gleam in his eye Milton answered “Well, it’s probably best we don’t talk about that.”

Savanelli appeared to accept that answer. Seemingly knowing not to push that subject further he then observed,  “Your parents must be getting up there in age. Raising a teenager must be a lot for them to take on.”

It was then Milton revealed what was truly on his mind. “It’s not my parents I’m worried about.” Milton took a deep breath after those words exited. He felt genuinely startled that this sentence had just come from his own lips. It was as though his words were prisoners escaping from his mouth before it occurred to his mind to close his jaw, keeping his thoughts trapped forever.

The Chaplin immediately pounced on this opening. “Why are you worried about your niece?”

Knowing he was exposed, Milton’s eyes wandered around the room. Looking at the prison walls he answered, “Well, she’s being raised by the same people that raised me.”

“And your concerned Clarice will follow in your footsteps?”

Now speaking freely Milton said “She’s a good kid, she’s so smart, likes to read, not ignorant like other brats her age. I just..I just want her to do good.”

“And there’s not much you can do for her behind these walls.”

The normally articulate Milton replied with one word. “Yeah.”

“Milton, I tell you what we can do. God asks us to pray for him in our times of need, we pray to God especially for things that our out of our hands.” He then extended his own hand and asked. Would you like to pray with me?”

Milton said nothing, he just sat there looking at the man’s hand. “You know Milton, maybe you’re right, maybe praying won’t help.” This was the first thing Milton heard that surprised him. “But it won’t hurt now, will it?”

He took the Chaplin’s hand and closed his eyes before hearing these words. “Father God, I thank you for Milton’s presence this day. He has come humbly before you to ask for your help. Together we lift up his niece Clarice in prayer. She is a wonderful young girl with a bright future ahead of her. We pray for her that she may walk the righteous path. We pray for Milton’s parents, who are raising her, that you may give them the strength to guide her during the trying teenage years. I also pray for Milton that he may be a good influence on his niece, even if from afar. I pray for the four of them that when they journey down the road of life, that all four of them may turn towards the light, the light of your son Jesus. It is in his name we pray, Amen.”

Milton opened his eyes and quickly wiped the tear from his cheek. He knew the Chaplin saw it, but he said nothing of it as he held up his Bible saying “We do have some of these in the library. I hear you’re a voracious reader.”

2003

“Anyway, it was a nice little trip.” Emily said. “We thought on on the way back that would have been your first.”

“What do you mean.” Clarice had forgotten all about it, but as her grandmother started talking about it, she remembered.

1993

Clarice’s hands shook as she held the blade up. All she had to do was swing, just swing it down in one swift motion and it will be all over; but she couldn’t stop looking at his eyes. Those eyes widened in horror, pleading to her for mercy. Her grandparents subdued the hitchhiker they picked up on the way home and tied him up for easy pickings; but as Clarice stood over him in the empty field just off the road, she couldn’t bring herself to do it.  

“Come on honey, make us proud. Make Uncle Milton proud.” Her grandmother prompted. Clarice wanted to, she wanted so desperately to please her family, but something was stopping her. Some invisible force she couldn’t comprehend seemed to lock her arms in place, almost as if she couldn’t move. “Come on,” her grandmother taunted, “kill this bastard!” Clarice closed her eyes tight, her hands gripped the handle of the knife as hard as they could while she took one last deep breath.

She jumped back and screamed as the blood splattered. There was not only blood, but bits of bone and flesh as grandpa’s sledgehammer bashed the skull of the hapless victim. Seeing the graphic site before her, Clarice dropped the knife and fell into the arms of her grandmother. “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.” she cried, feeling deep shame in not living up to the family name.

“It’s okay dear.” Clarice felt her grandmother’s gentle hand stroking her back. “It was hard for me the first time too.”

“It’s either you or them.” Grandfather said as he took out his bag of tools with which he intended to prepare the fresh carcass. “You gotta understand that.” Hearing her continued to sob he added, “Clarice, your grandmother and I love you, but this is the way of our family. One of these days, your going to have to bring home dinner.”

Milton remembered that day Clarice came to visit him in prison. Waiting for them in the visiting room, he saw Dr. Pleasance. She looked good with her red curly hair that fell down to her shoulders, and that British accent turned him on something fierce. She was here to see the inmate who did those Baby-Sitter Murders a few years back. He didn’t get why she bothered, that freak never said a word, but at least he had something to look at while waiting for his family.

Then she walked in. Milton couldn’t believe how tall she’d gotten. No longer that little tom-boyish rugrat who visited not that long ago, Clarice was becoming a woman. All the other inmates as well as some of the guards watched her figure approach the table he sat at. Milton knew full well what they were thinking, and he wanted to rip their spleens out for it.

Milton’s parents came in behind her. It was always a relief to see them. They both looked well, but Milton could see they were getting up there in age. After talking for a while about how everyone in the family was doing and the usual small talk, Clarice handed Milton a book. In a way, Milton was relieved to see at least one thing remained about Clarice. He was also excited to receive this book, being a longtime fan of Robert Bloch who was disappointed the library didn’t get his newest novel. After thanking her he asked, “How did you like it?” safely betting she’d already read it.

“Brett Eliss’s book was better.” was her answer.

“You just liked that one because of all the gore.” Walter chimed in. Milton laughed in agreement.

“Really,” Clarice replied to her family in all seriousness. “You think I’m that shallow. “Bloch’s character is just a lonely motel owner with mommy issues. American Psycho is an exploration of the dehumanizing effects of capitalism.” Continuing her dissertation on the novel, she described the main character, explaining, “Patrick’s descent into madness is caused by his view of everything and everyone around him to be seen as a commodity, to be bought, used, and disposed of.”

As Clarice rattled of her thesis, Milton beamed with pride. “Damn this girl was smart.” He thought to himself. He knew it ran in the family, as much as smarts could run in this family he supposed.

“You can see why she’s so popular with the boys.” Walter joked,

“Grandpa!” She objected.

Noticing how others in the room occasionally glancing at his niece’s legs, Milton asked “Speaking of which, any boys caught your eye.”

“Oh, yeah, tell him about Darryl.” Emily excitedly butted in.

Clarice’s face immediately turned red in embarrassment as Milton asked “Oh, who’s Darryl?”

Later, Milton would remember this moment as the only time he ever saw his niece being meek as she explained, “He’s just a boy from school. He’s really cool.”

“Yeah, she was all disappointed when she had to postpone because we were coming here first.” Walter said.

“No, I wasn’t, I couldn’t wake to see you Uncle Milton” she said, taking her Uncle’s hand. “When I get back, Darryl and I are going to see the new Friday the 13th movie.”

“Still watching that junk.“ Milton jested. Letting go of her hand, he leaned back and said “I suppose that was one good thing about being incarcerated, zero exposure to junk movies.” Milton laughed.

“Yeah, I know it’s not as good as Halloween.” Milton was surprised because he thought she didn’t like that movie. However, Milton then saw her obvious sarcasm as her eyes widened and she leaned forward to say “NOT!!!!”

Milton laughed and said “I’m sure you’ll give me a detailed thesis next time I see you.”

“Oh my god!” Clarice said in excitement. Milton turned around to see Dr. Pleasance walking away, he got a nice view of her tits as they bounced with each step. Milton noticed his father licking his lips as she passed, her hand partly covering her face. Clarice had her eye on something different, she watched the two guards escort the large prisoner away. Even they seemed a little scared of him. She caught a brief glimpse of his face before he turned around and was escorted back to the bloc. “Is that the guy from the Baby-Sitter Murders?” Some of the guards looked her way as she spoke loudly.

Milton put his finger over his lips indicating for her to hush before nodding his head to answer yes.

“Wow, he’s awesome!”

“Do you know what he did?” Milton asked in concern.

“Hell yeah, I know what he did! Killed five bitches in Bethlehem Pennsylvania in 1988.” she said excitedly. “I’m his number one fan.” “Hey,” she turned to her grandparents. “that’s not too far from here, could we stop there on the way back?”

“Honey, we got a long drive ahead of us. We don’t have time to make too many stops.” 

“Yeah,” Milton said, “besides, don’t you want to get back to your date?”

“Yeah, I guess.” she answered disappointed, but her face brightened again at her next thought. “Do you think next time I could visit him?” referring to the culprit of the infamous Bethlehem murders.

“Honey, they don’t let random people visit inmates here.”

“Well, couldn’t you do something to…”

“Look honey,” Milton was now getting impatient. “We don’t have a lot of time left. I really don’t want to argue about this.”

“Oh,” Milton’s mother Emily interrupted, “wasn’t there something else you wanted to ask him?”

“Great” Milton thought to himself, bracing for whatever she might ask of him next. She didn’t understand that his notoriety in fact did not do him any favors in the big house.

“Milton,” she asked, “do you remember when you were a kid and you saw Ed?”

At the sound of that name Milton’s mind was brought back to a time when he barely came up to his daddy’s waste. Back then he hoped to be big and strong like daddy. He remembered one day, when daddy was handing his “special business.” Daddy always took the sledgehammer for his “special business.” Milton was no dummy, he knew that meant daddy was hurting bad people. He just wished the bad people didn’t scream so much. It didn’t matter so much. Sometimes when it was time for daddy to grab the sledgehammer, Ed would come and play with him.

Milton imagined different friends in his mind. Space adventurer Flash Gordon, wrestling champion Lou Thez, the Lone Ranger, he pretended they would come to his house and take him off on adventures. Milton always knew this was in his own head, but Ed was different. Ed came to him. He was exciting and adventurous like the others. He wasn’t dashing either, he had this weird fleshy lump below his one eye and an odd lopsided grin, but he liked to play with Milton. They would go outside and play catch, or they’d watch football games and movies together. In his own way, Ed was fun.

Sometimes Ed even came to dinner, especially when Mom made that special meal to feed “the appetite” as his parents called it. Milton felt funny about the special meal, especially when Ed discouraged him from eating it. Milton loved his mommy and daddy, but they got mad when he wouldn’t eat the special food; and insisted that Ed was no more real than Flash Gordon of the Lone Ranger.

One day his parents outsmarted him. They wouldn’t let him have any food until he tried the special meal. Eventually his tummy was rumbling, and although Ed actually crying, Milton couldn’t resist anymore. He took a bite, and he loved it. He devoured it all like a rabid dog, and when he looked up from the dinner table, Ed was gone. He’d never see him again.

Milton didn’t say much when Clarice told him about seeing Ed again. He merely dismissed it as her imagination, just as he tried to convince himself. Soon the time was up, they said their goodbyes, and his family left.

Milton never told his family what happened after that visit. It was a few days later when Milton was working in the library that he noticed the sign-up sheet. It was probably here every week, and he just never took notice of it. However, on this day, he did see it. Milton put his name down for something he’d never been a part of before.

A few days later Milton was working in the library when the guard came for him. After being escorted back to his cell block, he was then taken to a part of the prison he’d never been to before. Finally, he realized he’d forgotten all about what he signed up for. As soon as he walked in the room, he thought this was a bad idea. Fred was there. He didn’t like Fred. Milton did bad things in his life, but he never did anything like what Fred did.  Fred laughed when he saw Milton walk in. A man whose frame filled the doorway wasn’t used to being laughed at. “What,” Fred asked mockingly, “are you a man of God now?”

This story is a spin-off from No Gein II Part 12, in which Milton and his cannibalistic family sit around the campfire swapping stories after having just killed some random motorists. The opening line here is the last line from that chapter.

A secluded area off the interstate somewhere in the Mid-western United States. September 2003

“I bit in, and I stayed alive.” 

“You wanna hear about my first taste Uncle Milton?” Clarice asked, smacking her lips on her flesh sandwich.

Taking another bite of his own food, Milton looked up at the night sky as the fire crackled and the stars burned in the heavens. “Let me guess,” he pondered for a moment. Then he remembered. “It was that boy, what was his name,” his eyes searched the lights in the sky above until it came to him. “Darryl.”

“Oh my god, how did you know?” Clarice blushed with excitement, but when she looked at her Uncle Milton, just for a brief moment after that name escaped his lips, he looked a little sad. Clarice wondered why. Perhaps it was because he was coming to know she wasn’t a little girl anymore. Tonight was the first night he’d seen her in action, having helped hunt these three hapless travelers that were tonight’s dinner.

Light from the flames washed over the family while Milton answered, “I remember reading about it in the newspaper. I figured that was you.”

“Oh, that’s so sweet.” Clarice smiled as she looked down and took another bite of her sandwich, glowing from the approval she’d received from her uncle. Looking back up, she noticed Milton was still looking at her. She squinted her eyes and wondered what he wanted.

“Well, let’s hear the story then!” Milton requested.

August 1993

“I’m gonna kill you, you fucking bitch!” The young teenager wasn’t playing around, and the crowd surrounding her knew it as she rubbed the other girls face in the dirt before slapping her. Other kids and even a few adults stood around watching and cheering. Clarice couldn’t breathe as Diane’s hand wrapped furiously around her neck. As one of Diane’s hands went from Clarice’s neck to her smother her mouth, Clarice did the only thing she could think of.

“Ahh!” Diane jerked her hand back pulling her flesh away from the grip of Clarice’s teeth.  “Bitch just fucking bit me!” she cried.  Clarice then grabbed a stone and struck Diane in the side of the head, causing her to fall to the ground. The small audience cheered as Clarice rose to her feet. Diane was in shock as she wiped the blood from her forehead. Clarice wanted to pounce this girl and pound her face into the ground, but she was caught up in the moment. This was the first time in her life people were cheering for her. In reality, they probably didn’t give a damn about her, but in this moment, she was their champion. Shaking the the dust off she could see the faces screaming for blood, but then, there was another face, a face a face that wasn’t cheering, a face she hadn’t seen in a long time.

She didn’t see the fist flying her way, but she felt it land in her stomach before it sent her stumbling back. The crowd roared again as Diane was back on her feet. “Now you’re really fucking dead.” she grunted.

“Hey you kids, get the hell out of here or I’m gonna call the cops!” The crowd booed at the owner of the local burger joint who stormed into the parking lot. ‘You heard me, beat it!” He shouted as the audience dispersed. Diane took off running without saying a word while Clarice gripped her side where she got hit. Watching all the people leave, she didn’t see that face anymore. It must have been just the heat of the moment, at least that’s what she told herself while she tried to catch her breath. Once she calmed down, she slowly walked away; the excitement of the moment had passed.

“Oh my god, what happened honey?” Clarice’s grandmother asked while wiping her granddaughter’s face with a wet towel.

With a smile that took away all her pain, Clarice answered. “A boy asked me out.”

“Wait, you mean a boy did this to you? Who is it?” Her Grandfather Walter interrupted. Clarice had been raised by her grandparents as long as she could remember. Filling the role of the protective father, he picked up his sledgehammer and said in complete seriousness. “I’ll kill him.”

“No, no it wasn’t a boy.” Clarice rushed to explain. She knew full well it wouldn’t have been out of the question for her grandfather to actually murder someone over this. “I think it was his old girlfriend.”

“So, she was jealous huh?” her grandmother Emily said. “Well,” Emily looked over Clarice’s slim figure, donned in cut off jean shorts and a tank top. “you are turning into a real looker.”

“Guess that runs in the family?” Her Grandfather said, playfully patting his wife’s backside while asking, “So, who’s this boy?”

“His name is Darryl.” Clarice answered dreamily. “He goes to school with me. He asked me to the movies this weekend.”

Now Clarice was worried. She didn’t know why her grandparents gave each other that look. Was there some reason they weren’t going to let her go? Then, as soon as her Grandmother spoke, Clarice realized she’d forgotten all about it.

“Honey, we’re going to see Uncle Milton soon.”

As exciting as the prospect of a first date was, she actually wasn’t disappointed at the news.  It had been a while since she what was her Grandfather’s other son. “Uncle Milton!” Clarice exclaimed. “Oh my god, I forgot all about it!”

Her Grandfather said “I was going to remind you to pack. Are you sure you’re not disappointed? We’ll just be gone for a week.”

“No, not at all.” Clarice assured them. “I’ll call Darryl and tell him.”

“Godless feeling in me

night after night

Godless feeling in me

Born of their lives”

Danzig III: How the God’s Kill spun in Clarice’s  CD player she packed her clothes in her room. Figuring she’d need some reading material for the road trip, she perused her shelf that was overflowing with books. Some Halloween novels caught her eye. Author Nicolas Grabowsky wrote a series of novels continuing the Michael Meyers story after Halloween II; unlike the film series which turned into an anthology. She realized she hadn’t read Halloween: Deadly Treats, which was a crossover novel featuring Chucky from Child’s Play, characters from the Demonic Toys films, and Brittany Lloyd, the psychotic child killer introduced in a previous Halloween novel. She grabbed this book off the shelf, figuring she would read it on the way back. She wanted to give a book to Uncle Milton, as the prison allowed visitors to bring one gift. However, Uncle Milton was more refined in his horror tastes and probably wouldn’t care for this one. Then she saw it, it was Robert Bloch’s new novel. She knew her Uncle was always a fan of that author’s work, and it would also answer the question of what to read on the way out.

Finally, there was the question of what to wear for the big day. Looking through her closet of her wardrobe of mostly black outfits, she found just what she was looking for. She pulled out the Charles Manson which read “Charlie Don’t Surf” in the back.

Manson’s eyes looked back from the reflection of the mirror as Clarice held the shirt up over her body. Through the mirror she could see her grandmother standing in the doorway. “Your father would have been so proud if he could see you now.” Emily said.

Looking at the reflection of her own face, Clarice brushed her own cheek with her free hand as she asked “Do I look like him, or do I look more like…” her grandparents talked a lot about her father, who died when Clarice was just a baby, but her mother was never really discussed.

“I can see bits of your father in you.” Emily answered. “Not so much in how you look, but how you are.” Playfully jabbing her on the arm, she said “You’re definitely one of our family. From the time you were little you were spunky,” Emily’s eyes teared up as she remembered her long departed flesh and blood, “just like Frost was.”

Clarice teared up at the mention of her father. She hadn’t heard his name spoken in a long time. Giving her grandmother a hug, a strange question came to mind. 

“Grandma,” Clarice said, “do you remember Ed?”

“Ed who?” Emily asked, confused.

“When I was little.” Clarice recalled. “I had an imaginary friend named Ed.”

Clarice could see Emily’s eyes moving, thinking for a moment, trying to remember. “Oh yeah,” her grandmother said. “You used to go on all the time about him.”

“Grandma,” she hesitated, but the words came out of her mouth. “I saw him today.”

“What do you mean you saw him?” Now Emily’s eyes squinted at her granddaughter, and Clarice worried her grandmother wouldn’t believe her.

“When I had the fight.” Clarice said, “I hit that girl with a rock. She was down on the ground and everyone was cheering around me. I wanted to kill her grandma. I really did. But then I looked in the crowd and I saw Ed. He looked at me real sad, like he was disappointed.” Clarice stopped their, still trying to process what she’d seen, before finishing  “Then the owner came out and chased us off, and Ed was gone.”

“Oh I’m sure it was just the heat and the excitement honey.” Emily said, evidently not thinking much of what  she’d just heard. “Probably just some dirty old man checking out your ass!” Emily jested, giving Clarice a smack on her bottom. “Don’t worry about it. You just finish packing.” she said while she turned away and walked to the bedroom door.

“Grandma?”

“Yes dear.” Emily responded, turning back to face Clarice.

“Didn’t Milton use to see Ed when he was a kid?”

“Now that you mention it,” Emily’s eyes again wandered, as she was again trying to remember moments from so long ago. “I think he did.”

2003

“I remember you talking about Ed.” Whitman said to his son Milton around the campfire. “It was like you understood how other imaginary friends were in your head, but you always insisted Ed was real.”

Milton simply nodded. He’d now finished his food, and stared blankly into the campfire.

“I remember that day, Clarice.” Grandma said. “I was so surprised. You hadn’t seen him since you were little.”

“Well, Milton doesn’t want to hear about your imaginary friends.” Walter interjected. “He wants to hear about your first taste!”

Clarice was about to resume her tale, but there was something she wasn’t going to share. Her grandmother was wrong about one thing. There was another time she saw Ed, it was just a few years before that fight. She was eleven, and she was bleeding. Clarice panicked when she saw the blood on her hands, but her Grandmother explained these things to her. That night, laying in her bed, the darkness around her felt alien, as though she were slipping into a new world she never asked to be in. She hated the feeling of the material between her legs. It felt embarrassing and irritating. She couldn’t yet accept what her grandmother explained to her, that this was going to be her normal life from here on out.

Her feeling of irritation faded as she felt a presence in the room. Her mood lifted when she saw that lopsided grin and saggy baggy eye. The thing was, he didn’t look happy. “What’s wrong Ed?” Clarice asked.

“That’s what’s wrong.” He angrily pointed to her crotch. “You’re becoming one of those dirty harlots. You’re gonna be the type of girl my mother warned about!”

Now Clarice was in shock. “I’m not dirty.” Her voice contained a mixture of fear and anger, with a dash of confusion. She’d never seen Ed upset like this before.

“Yes you are, you’re becoming a dirty bitch!”

“Don’t say that!” Clarice tightly clutched the teddy bear laying next to her as Ed loomed over her. “You’re my friend!” she said desperately.

Ed’s old rough skinned hands grabbed the teddy bear threw it on the ground. “How could I be your friend’s with a dirty slut!”

“Stop it!” she exclaimed, pulling her covers up over the bottom half of her face.

Ed’s own face drew closer, the brim of his hunters cap almost struck her forehead as he shouted “You dirty bitch, you dirty fucking whore!”

Clarice screamed hard until the lights came on. “Honey what’ the matter?” She turned to see her grandfather burst into the room. When she looked back, the tears still flooding her eyes, Ed was gone.

Before she could say anything through her sobs her grandmother entered. “It’s OK honey,” she reassured. Probably just a bad dream.”