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.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s