Part Nine: Yours Truly, Robert Bloch 

October 26th, 1990. Hallow-Con New York City

George browsed a book vendor while waiting for the auditorium to open for tonight’s panel. A blue covered book caught his eye, on the cover was the Frankenstein Monster and the Wolfman. Flipping through the pages, he remembered reading Movie Monsters by Alan Ormsby as a kid. He put it back, then noticed a few movie novelizations and spin-off books were present. George spotted a Halloween novel. It wasn’t an adaptation of one of the movies though. The title read, “Halloween: The Return of Michael Myers.” by Nicholas Grabowsky. This book also brought back memories, as he borrowed it from Dan back in film school. The novel was an original story where both Michael Myers and Dr. Gavin survived the explosion at the end of Halloween II. Myers awakes from a ten year coma to wreak havoc on Haddonfield. Dr. Gavin returns to again save Laurie Strode, who now has a daughter. Myers is legitimately blown up in the climax, but the novel ends on a great twist when Laurie is killed by her now psychotic eight year old daughter, who has inherited her uncle’s madness.

George then picked up the next book, which he never read. Halloween: The Revenge apparently followed the exploits of the child psychotic. It looked pretty cool, and he soon put it down to browse Halloween: Child’s Play, which was a crossover novel where the killer girl gets with Chucky, the evil doll from the Child’s Play series. The vendor told him a new crossover novel was coming out soon, mixing the two aforementioned series with the new Puppet Master films. “That sounded fun,” George thought to himself.

He put these books back when he noticed two others. American Gothic was a novel he’d read as a teenager. It was about this guy named H. H. Holmes who had a literal torture chamber in his house. George made the mistake of lending the book out in college and it never got back to him. The thing was, this case was actually real. Dr. Holmes Murder Castle, was a factual account of the real life case by the same author of American Gothic, the same author he was going to meet tonight. He hadn’t read the factual account, and decided to buy both books. After paying and putting both books in his bag, he went into the now open auditorium. 

The special topic tonight was the history of the horror film, hosted by the man George sought to meet, Robert Bloch. George was growing to like his work, but he wondered why Bloch was presenting on this topic, since he had little if anything to do with horror movies. As the author was introduced, George now realized, per the MC’s introduction, that Bloch wrote television episodes for shows George liked, such as Monsters, Tales of the Unexpected, and Darkroom. Not only that, but he also wrote episodes of the original Star Trek, Night Gallery, and the Man from U.N.C.L.E. The MC joked that Robert Bloch had the heart of a young boy, which he keeps in a jar on his desk. This elicited laughter from the audience and Robert Bloch took the stage.

After receiving a warm reception, the author graciously thanked the convention for having him, then jested “You were too cheap to ask Stephen King and you knew I needed lunch money.” The audience laughed some more. George did not expect to find the master of psycho tales to be cracking jokes, but there he was.

Naturally Bloch started with the golden age of horror of the 1930’s and 40’s. He pointed out how the classic monsters like Frankenstein, Dracula, and the Wolfman were all foreigners, and/or characters from European folklore. Then in the 50’s you had the nuclear monsters in the wake of the atomic bomb. George remembered watching those movies. His dad and his sister liked them too. He remembered one time he covered himself with a blanket trying to scare his sister while they watched The Blob. He rolled over to her in his disguise and Helen just laughed hysterically.

There wasn’t as much to cover in the 1960s, but Bloch noted that the 1970s brought a pronounced change. George cheered ferociously at the mention of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  Hearing such an exuberant response, Bloch pointed to George and said “I bet you loved the sequel, the Tennessee Slumber Party.” to which George and everyone else howled in laughter. Bloch went on to explain how the Texas Chainsaw Massacre was a 1974 film about a group of hillbillies in rural Texas. The lead villain, a deformed character named Saw-man, dispatched random motorists with his trusty chainsaw. George wished with all his heart that that movie could have turned into a series. In his mind it could have stood up there with the modern franchises like Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street. Unfortunately, in the real world, a sequel never came.

Bloch’s point about Chainsaw was, while it was not a big hit, it marked the beginning of a trend of homegrown American horror, of scary stories of not a foreign or alien menace, but about your neighbor, the guy next door. Other movies mentioned included Last House on the Left, and The Hills Have Eyes, which Bloch joked was followed by the sequel the Woods have Noses. Bloch theorized that in the wake of the Manson murders and the social unrest of the 1960s, audiences were developing a taste for real life and brutality in their horror. George was never academic about his fandom, but he was unsure of Bloch’s theory. After all, as the author himself had said, the aforementioned films were not big hits.

Halloween was mentioned, which brought about a big cheer. “If you remember, the first two Halloween movies weren’t about ghosts and werewolves,” Bloch reminded the audience. “It was about a boy, Michael Myers, who was a psychotic killer. Michael Myers wasn’t from another country or from outer space, he was from anytown USA. Now, hearing the cheers in this crowd, assuming you’re not cheering for me,” to which the audience laughed again, “these movies obviously found an audience.” Another cheer erupted as Bloch continued, “but the truth was these weren’t very successful movies when you look at the box office. Now if you look in the last decade, we seemed to have taken the idea of the home-grown threat, and brought it back to the monster. If you look at Halloween, it did inspire a sub-genre known as the slasher, with movies like the Burning and Sleepaway Camp, but they weren’t huge hits like 1980’s Friday the 13th with it’s Jersey Devil, or like CHUD, or Critters, or the Thing remake. You did have ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’, with Freddy Kreuger being slasher-esque, but he’s also like a ghost, more supernatural. Halloween itself got away from the slasher genre it helped create in its later installments, bringing in witches and ghosts and werewolves. Reportedly the next entry of that series is going to involve vampires. I have an idea for the following one though.” He then suggested, pointing his finger up in the air, “It should be about Jack the Ripper!” Again the audience laughed, especially from those familiar with Bloch’s frequent works involving the infamous London serial killer.

“So what will the 90s bring to horror cinema,” Bloch asked as he reached the end of his speech, “who knows? Sequels for all the big franchises are still in the works, but undoubtedly a new generation will come along with new characters that will make us scream.“

After dinner Dan and Victoria sat in on a presentation on entertainment law. The presenter was a young woman, a lawyer who specialized in the entertainment business. Dan found her quite attractive. She had a certain special poise and intelligence about her, similar to what Dan saw in Victoria.

When the presentation ended the woman stayed to take questions from the audience. As Dan and Victoria approached, the woman greeted Dan with a smile and said “Nice shirt.”

Dan looked down at his Halloween shirt that he forgot he was wearing. “Thanks.” he said. Then looking back up at her he asked. “Are you a Halloween fan?”

“Yeah I got a soft spot for the original.” The lawyer revealed. “Actually I auditioned for a role in it.”

“Wait what!?!” Dan and Victoria were both surprised as Dan asked. “You were an actress?”

“Well my mother was.” The woman said. “You probably never heard of her. Janet Leigh?” 

Dan drew a blank but Victoria recognized that name. “Oh, I know her, she was in the Machurian Candidate and Angels in the Outfield!”

“That’s right!” The woman said, pleasantly surprised.

“And she was in Touch of Fear!” Victoria added enthusiastically.

“The Orson Wells classic.” The woman said. Then pointing at Victoria she said to Dan. “That’s a smart girl you have there.” 

“Thanks,” Dan said, “she’s the best.” 

“Aww that’s so sweet.” The woman said, admiring the young couples affection for each other.

“So what happened?” Victoria asked.

“Well when I was young the acting bug got me, so I dropped out of law school to give it a shot. My big break never came though.” she explained, revealing no remorse over her path in life. “So eventually I went back to school, became an entertainment lawyer, and here I am!”

“That’s really cool.” Victoria said. “Do you ever regret it, not getting to act?”

“Sometimes I think about it, but I like what I’m doing.” she answered.  “Who knows, maybe someday I’ll take a stab at it!” she said laughing while she thrusted her hand in a stabbing motion. “In the meantime if you ever need representation here is my card.”

Both Dan and Victoria took her business card. Dan looked down to read it. “Jamie Curtis.” Looking up he said “Well it was nice to meet you.”

“Nice meeting you too!” Jamie Curtis said. She smiled as the young couple walked away. The lawyer then turned to chat with the last few people remaining in the room.

Star Trek vs the Transformers is a 2019 graphic novel pitting the two titular science fiction franchises against each other. In this story, during the Star Trek timeline, the Transformers came to Earth, but then left during World War Three (World War Three is an official event in the Star Trek timeline). The Autobots left via Fortress Maximus, with the Decipticons on their tale, traveling via Trypticon. Similar to the first episode of the Generation One cartoon, they crash land on a planet and lay dormant for a very long time.

This crossover opens with the classic Star Trek crew of Kirk, Spock, Scotty etc, going to the planet Cygnus Seven, close to the Klingon border, where a distress call has been sent out from a Dilithium mine. Immediately the crew encounter the Decepticons, and later a small band of Autobots. 

The really cool thing about this comic is that it is drawn in the style of Star Trek, The Animated Series. So it looks like a meeting between the Star Trek cartoon of the 1970’s and the Transformers cartoon of the 80’s. Two characters that were original to the Star Trek cartoon, Arex, and the female catlike M’Ress, appear in the story. Arex is only shown in a few scenes on the Enterprise, but M’Ress is featured heavily, both fighting and interacting with the Transformers.

Naturally the Klingon’s show up, and side with the Decepticons. After the usual brief misunderstanding the Enterprise crew team up with the Autobots for a mega-showdown on the Klingon home planet of Kronos. Of course the Enterprise gets turned into a giant robot called Fortress Tiberius (Kirk’s middle name) and heavy action ensues. 

This story is heavy on the Star Trek references, the Eugenics Wars are mentioned, and there are a few “I’m a Dr. not a …” gags. There’s not as many references to Transformers lore, though Spock does use the “More than meets the eye” phrase.

The story ends in a way that leaves the door open to more follow up stories. I would be curious to see how Star Trek characters would react to the planet Cybertron, or how Next Generation characters like Data take to the Transformers, not to mention the Borg and Unicron.

In the meantime, Star Trek vs the Transformers was a fun quick read with a plot that figured out how the two popular sci-fi franchises would meet. 

Part Eight: Film School

October 26th: 1990. Hallow-Con, New York City

“Man they kill you on these prices!” Dan complained as he handed cash over for two hamburgers and sodas. He then brought his tray back to the table in the convention venue cafeteria with Victoria and George, who had splurged on a big personal pan pizza and a large soda. 

“Well it was cool running into you.” Victoria said as she took her hamburger from Dan and started eating.

“Yeah man, so really what happened?” Dan’s curiosity was killing him. “You were the big man on campus, then you just disappeared. Some of us wondered if you were dead!”

“Haha, I was dead!” George relished in hearing exaggerated rumors about himself. “That is so great. No, the truth about what happened to me was worse, my fucking dad wouldn’t help me pay for the rest of the school year.” 

“Oh man that sucks.” Dan said.

“Sure does.” George said, taking a bite of his pizza. 

Dan then asked, “So what are you doing now?”

“Back in Bethlehem, working a sucky job. Sometimes I get some gaming in, and I’m working on a few projects.”.

“That’s cool.” Dan said before remembering. “I think the last time we hung out was in the East Village when we saw Macabre.”

“I think you’re right.” George agreed. “I just got the new Slayer album. It’s pretty wicked!”

“Cool,” Dan said. That venue we saw Macabre at is where Victoria and I met.” He then started eating his burger.

“Neato.” George said before taking a drink.

“Yeah, it was a Fibonaccis show.” Victoria happily remembered.

“I remember them. Sucks they broke up.” George pointed to Dan recalling “I remember you playing their album in the dorm. I liked that track Some Men, and the instrumental piece after it, what was it called, Romp of the Meiji Sicophantas?” 

“Sycophants.” Dan corrected.

“Right, not my usual cup of tea,” George said. “but cool stuff.”

“So you two met at school?” Victoria asked.

“Yeah it was at a Herschell Gordon Lewis seminar.” George said.

“Who’s that?” Victoria asked.

“He was this guy who made a bunch of sleazeball films in the 60s and 70s.” George explained.

“Yeah you probably wouldn’t have liked him.” Dan said to Victoria. “I read in an interview once that he thought about doing horror movies, but never followed through with it.”

“Too bad.” George complained. “His style would have fit the genre. He could have been a real wizard of gore!”

“Probably right.” Dan agreed. “So are you ever gonna come back to school?”

“I don’t know, I got more into writing recently, I’m gonna try to bang out a book or two. I tried to get some film projects going a few times, but you know how that is, poeple are stupid and flake on you and all that.”

“I hear you man.” Dan agreed. “I finished but I stuck around because Victoria here is gonna finish next year. We’re gonna get married once she’s done.”

“Cool beans,” George said before finishing off his pizza.

“Yeah, we also got a few projects going on but nothing big.” Victoria explained. “We both got a shit load of debt now, so who knows maybe you dodged a bullet there.” They all had a laugh at that thought.

“Say some of the old gang is meeting in the village.” Dan said. “You should come too. I’m sure a lot of them will be glad to see you.”

“Well I’m going to a panel then I’m gonna meet this author I’ve been corresponding with.” George said as he looked at his watch. “Actually I gotta go.” 

“That’s awesome. Well hey it was great running into you.” Dan said.

“I was happy to talk to you both.” George said as he stood up. 

“It was nice meeting you.” Victoria said.

“Laters.” George then walked away.

As Victoria watched George exit the eating area, carving out a path among the crowd wherever he went, she observed. “He was… interesting.”

“Yeah that’s one way of putting it.” Dan said, to which they both giggled. While watching his friend from film school walk away he said “He’s got an ego the size of Montana, but he was SUPER talented. If he ever got the ball rolling he could make some kickass films.”

Bethlehem, 1989

“This is bullshit!”

“No this is bullshit!” Henry held up a screenplay and slammed it down on George’s table, its front page emblazoned with the title ‘Deranged’. The murderous letters shined back at him in their red ink. “I’m not paying for you to make crap like this!”

“You just don’t want me to succeed!” George yelled defiantly. “You just want me to be like those asshole jocks in Freedom High School!”

Henry was beside himself in both confusion and anger. “You loved football when you were a kid!” he objected. “Then all of a sudden you stopped lifting and stuffed your face with pizza, I didn’t understand it.”

“I didn’t want to win the Superbowl dad, I wanted to make movies! My loan only gets me so far. Even if I have to work 80 hours a week I still can’t afford to finish my degree!”

“That’s not my problem!” Henry desperately tried to reel his emotions back in. “I know I told you I would help you pay for school, but I’m not gonna pay for you to exploit a family tragedy!”

“It’s not a family tragedy Dad! She was probably just high, you know how fucked up she was.”

“She was my sister, you son of a bitch!” Without thinking Henry lunged toward his son, his hands pushed hard on George’s chest, knocking him down to the couch. There was a loud thud when George’s body hit the cushion, followed by the sound of wood cracking as one of the legs of the couch snapped. Henry pulled back and braced himself. He was getting older now, but his son was grossly out of shape. He held his hands up, more than prepared for anything his son might do.

George remained still on the couch, it was now evident he wasn’t going to do a damn thing. Henry couldn’t remember the last time he saw George with tears in his eyes, and he was plenty upset himself. As Henry lowered his trembling hands he could feel his heart racing. He raised his right hand back up, pointing his finger at his son to say “You do what you wanna do, but you’re on your own.” He then picked up the screen play again and squeezed it with his fist. “But if you ever go through with this shit, then I don’t ever want to see you again.” He threw the document back down and walked out of his son’s apartment. 

Henry was brought back to the present by the voice, it was a female voice talking quietly over the microphone. “I remember cabbing home from an artist party, somewhere near my old shrinks building…upper West end, catching all the green lights.” Looking at the small stage Steve was now gone, and in his place was that lovely red haired woman who continued, “Till we hit this wasted eastside corner down in ‘Alphabet’ land.” Henry looked back at the table to make his shot, but he couldn’t stop listening to her voice. “And there was this crowd hissin to the street bitching of some old punk band.” He called eight-ball in the corner pocket. It was an easy shot, so easy he missed it, he missed it and the cue ball sunk. He’d scratched, she won. “When this kid comes up to my window with a chewed up styrofoam cup in his hand… and he says…”you gotta let life go…” Helen gloated as the woman laughed and said “What a rip!” Henry expressed no disappointment in his defeat. He simply put his pool stick down and looked at the stage while the woman slowly sang the words, “You gotta let life go.” In her light gentle voice she continued. “You gotta live, let live.” She looked a little older, maybe she was around his age,”Don’t even, search your soul.” Ha, not likely he thought. “You gotta let life go.” Her bare arms looked fit, and her face was quite pretty, but he could tell by the deepness of her eyes this woman had lived a life. He picked up his beer and took a sip while still watching, still listening. He’d lost the game, but he was starting to enjoy his evening.

Part Seven: The Master of Horror

October 26th, 1990. Hallow-Con, New York City

Victoria, like most everyone else at the convention, was excited to meet Tom Savini, the master of gory special effects. Savini did effects work for such classics as Dawn of the Dead, Maniac, The Burning, Creepshow, and Friday the 13th, hence the long line at the Friday the 13th booth for his autograph. While waiting with Dan she rolled her eyes as George bragged about the all the times he’d already met him.

Strategically adjacent to Savini was the booth for the current Friday the 13th TV series. Dan and Victoria were happy to meet Chris Wiggins, Eliaz Zarou, and Steve Monarque while moving along in line. Talking to the cast of the series, they got to look at a few props from the show, which was about cursed items from a pawn shop and had nothing to do with the films. Dan took Victoria’s picture while she tried on the cursed apron, which was worn in an episode by a distraught camp cook whose son drowned in a lake. George picked up a hockey mask laying among the props, and Victoria remembered another episode where a guy got ahold of that mask, which turned him into an unkillable psychopath. Victoria and Dan both agreed that would have made a good movie.

The mask fit perfectly over George’s face, and through the eyeholes he could see across the aisle to the Nightmare on Elm street booth. Its star, Kane Hodder, who played Freddy Krueger, was present signing autographs. As usual, unable to contain his excitement, George screamed “Kane Hodder!” Kane laughed as he looked across the aisle to see this big man wearing a hockey mask waving at him. Kane waved back and smiled politely as he continued signing autographs for his fans.

Victoria and her fiance were both glowing as they finally reached the end of the line. “Hey big guy!” Tom seemed to recognize George from past conventions and happily shook his hand. Victoria was afraid George would yap with him forever, but fortunately he did not, and her and Dan were next.

“I’m so thrilled to meet you!” Victoria blushed. Tom graciously shook her hand as a rush of excitement went through her. She flashed back to all those times as a young teenager, watching horror movies on her dirty couch, never even daring to dream that someday she would be here before him. To Victoria and her fiance, this moment was like what meeting Michael Jordan or Joe Montana would be to the people outside these convention walls. The couple were absolutely thrilled to talk with Tom, who could not have been more friendly.

To George, meeting Savini may have become old hat, but he was still excited due to what was standing right next to the horror effects master. There it was, decked out in full costume straight out of the movies, what was considered to be Tom’s greatest creation. It was massive, lumbering, evil. While her fiance made small talk with Tom, Victoria noticed George looking over the creature the way most men would look over her. His eyes went up and down the monstrous body, appreciating every little detail, from the fangs and claws down to the last little bloody scar. There before him, stood the Jersey Devil of the Friday the 13th series. 

Naturally Dan and Victoria admired the beast as well. “I always wanted to ask you this.” Dan said nervously.  “Is it true you there was a different story in mind for the first Friday the 13th film?”

“Well I didn’t write the script, but most of the people on the crew were big fans of Halloween.” The master explained while pointing to Dan’s Halloween shirt. “From what I remember, the original story was going to have a human killer.” Looking at Victoria he added “If I recall they were even thinking of a female villain. Thing was, Halloween wasn’t a huge hit, so the financiers were a little gun shy.” 

“Really!” Dan wondered aloud. “I thought Halloween was awesome!”

“Sure, I mean the people that come to shows like this love it,” Tom said, “but remember it wasn’t really a successful movie. Some of it was great, but they needed a better lead actress.”

“I loved that red head!” George motioned with his hands. “She had that nice big rack!”

“Uh, yeah,” Tom nervously laughed. “She couldn’t act though, they needed someone to play Laurie Strode with some vulnerability. Michael Myers was such a great villain, and Donald Pleasence was pitch perfect as Dr. Gavin, If they’d just cast a good lead that could have put the movie over the top.” George continued admiring the creature while Victoria and Dan nodded in understanding.

“Anyway, Sean Cunningham got a new group of investors for the film,” Tom went on to explain, “and these new investors pushed for a monster. There hadn’t been a good monster movie in a while, and we thought, hell since we’re filming in New Jersey anyway, why not make it the Jersey Devil?”

“Too bad about not having a female killer.” Victoria thought out loud. “We don’t get too many of those, aside from Carrie I guess.”

“And Mary Lou from the Prom Night Sequels.” Dan added.

“That’s why I love you dear.” Victoria’s eyes twinkled at her fellow horror nerd.

“It’s probably all for the best though.” George said, pointing to the Devil. ”That thing is awesome. So who is under the mask? Is it C. J. Graham or Dan Bradley?”

“That’s the one and only Tim Mirkovich, straight from Part Eight!” Savini revealed.

“Oh sweet, straight from Part Eight. I wasn’t sure if you were going to be here!’ George said excitedly.

Then the young couple got their pictures taken with both Tom and the Devil. George also got his Friday the 13th Part 8: The Devil Takes Manhattan poster autographed. “This is the best Friday ever!” George said. “I loved that chase scene on the Brooklyn Bridge, and that scene where the Devil dives off the Statue of Liberty was so cool!”

“Thank you.” Tom said. “Those were really hard scenes to shoot, we’re sure glad you appreciate them.“

“So what’s the next movie going to be about?” Victoria asked.

“Well we don’t know where else to take him.” Tom started thinking on his feet. “We did Jersey, we did New York, maybe next the Devil should go back to hell. haha.”

“That would rule!” George said, his eyes still on the beast. More fans were gathered around to meet Savini, so the trio and Tom made their final greetings. Walking away with the autographs and pictures, Victoria could have gone home right then and there and would have been happy.

October 26th, 1990. Bethlehem Pennsylvania

The Second Street Tavern was filled with music as Henry watched her daughter take a shot. He’d long dispatched Phil from the pool table, who was now on stage jamming with Steve. Henry was growing to like the local music scene. He liked it more when an attractive red head walked in with a guitar slung around her back. He gave her a quick smile as he heard her daughter say “Shit!” after the sound of the cue ball hitting the side of the pool table for a scratch. “Your shot dad.” 

He remembered his daughter being a better player than this as he looked over the table. She’d missed an easy corner shot that set him up to knock one of his own in the side pocket.  Looking at her while he set up his shot, she seemed annoyed.

“What’s wrong hon?” He asked while easily making the shot.

“I don’t know, I’m still upset George didn’t come out.”

“You’re here, that’s what counts.” he said while eying up his next shot.

“But it’s our family. I guess I just expected him to be here, you know, because this was the night.”

“Well, he probably doesn’t remember her too much.” He said as he sank another ball. “Do you remember her?”

“Yeah a little. I remember going to see her in the hospital, and I remember when she stayed with us for a while. She would let me watch cartoons when you wanted me to do my homework.”

“Yeah,” Henry laughed while looking over his next shot, “she was a free spirit. Our parents were really tough on both of us, and she just had it in her so much to rebel.“ He went on to reveal, “Sometimes mom and I knew she was letting you watch movies or sneaking you treats. We let her go, figured she should have some fun with you while she could.”

“Were things really that bad for her?”

Sinking another solid Henry said “She was in and out of trouble as long as I could remember.” He looked over at the bar sign indicating the date bartenders referred to when checking ages. “Once she was gone, I mean it was devastating, but nobody was really surprised.” He then looked at the table to set up his final shot. “None of this is on George though, he’s got to go his own way.”

“When’s the last time you even talked to him?” Helen asked.

Eyeing up his final shot, about to win another game he said “I don’t know, it’s been a while.”

Part Six: The Thing

October 26th, 1990. Bethlehem Pennsylvania

Helen parked on Broad street, and remembered how she used to live close by here. She passed a tattoo shop when she got out of her car, where in a window hung a sign for that horror convention. She hoped her brother was having fun, but she wished he would’ve been here with her now. Coming into the Second Street Tavern she could feel everyone’s eyes undressing her. She imagined them sneering when the older man waved to her, she then walked past the pool table and embraced him.

“Thanks for coming hon.” The older man said as he held her tight.

“No problem dad.” Helen said as they both sat down.

A cute woman around Helen’s age with black curly hair and glasses came over to their booth. She smiled at Helen and playfully jabbed her father’s shoulder, saying “Boy Henry, do you have to know every pretty girl in the Lehigh Valley?”

Helen was both amused and slightly startled by her jest. “Only the very pretty ones.” her father laughed before explaining “This is my daughter. You can tell she gets her looks from me.”

“Oh is that right!?!” Helen shot back.

Then her father said “Honey this is Lisa, she works here.”

“Hope he doesn’t give you a hard time.” Helen teased.

“Oh he’s a sweetheart. So what can I get you?”

Helen ordered a Yuengling, her father already had a drink which he took a sip of as Lisa walked away. Helen took off her jacket while her father said  “Thanks for coming out. I appreciate it.”

“Oh it’s not a problem.” she assured him.

“Have you talked to George lately?”

“Yeah I had breakfast with him this morning.” Helen said. “He couldn’t make it. He’s at, he’s…” she didn’t have the heart to tell him why his son wasn’t here when he needed him.

“He’s at one of those horror shows isn’t he?”

“Yeah, yeah he is.” She felt disgusted, almost sick to the stomach as her mouth formed those words. “He should be here”, she thought to herself. This time of year was always rough on Henry, and especially this particular day. “I’m sorry dad.” she said as Lisa returned with Helen’s drink.

His response surprised her. “He’s got to live his own life.” Henry said, taking a drink. “not be stuck in the past like me. How did he look anyway?”

She again felt hesitant as she answered “He’s still been putting on weight. I’m really worried about him actually.”

“Yeah, maybe I should have pushed him harder at sports.” Henry confessed. “He loved football as a kid, I don’t get what happened.”

“I don’t know, I think as a teen he got a different group of friends and then he got all obsessed with his horror movies.”

“Well how come you didn’t go to the show you used to like all that stuff?”

“Yeah,” Helen laughed, “used too.”

The eight ball sank at the nearby pool table. Helen took a drink, and felt a little tense as a man in a denim jacket approached with a pool stick in hand, “Shit,” she thought. She didn’t care to shoot pool right now, especially against strange men. This guy was older too, maybe even her father’s age. Unlike her father he had a scruffy beard to match his long dark brownish hair. The man smiled at her before turning to her father. “You’re next Henry!” the man said.

“Alright!” Henry chugged down his beer before turning to his daughter. “Excuse me hon, I’m gonna knock Phil here off the table. You should put a pair of quarters up next, I’m gonna be playing for a while.”

Helen was happy to see her father’s confidence. Soon the sound of billiard balls being knocked around was accompanied by the twang of a guitar. Looking over at the small stage on the other end of the bar, she saw that trademark tannish colored hat and sunglasses. Steve Brosky, a well known local musician, started his set. While his tunes filled the bar, Helen’s mind drifted back to the days when she lived just down the road. 

October 26th, 1976. Bethlehem Pennsylvania

Mom came home drunk again. Helen could smell the alcohol as soon as her mother got through the door. She never remembered this happening when they lived in Wisconsin, but as soon as  they settled into their new home it seemed to be happening a lot. It was getting to be hard on dad too. At least this time they fought in the bedroom. Helen could still hear them yelling at each other, but at least she could sit in the living room and watch TV. She turned the volume up as The Thing From Another World was on. She figured George would like this. She’d just read the story ‘Who Goes There’ by John W. Cambell, which this movie was based on. She found she liked the book better. She was getting to that age where she started to realize books were often better than movies.

Her little brother hadn’t reached that stage yet. He was sticking with his King Kong and Mummy movies. She tried introducing him to some old scary stories she liked to read, like Yours Truly Jack the Ripper, or Something Wicked This Way Comes, but he found them boring. 

This was boring too apparently, as she saw George fumbling through his Movie Monsters book before going to his comics. She never bothered with Laser Man or Neutron Man or whatever it was he liked to read, but at least he was reading something. She noticed George’s attention did turn back to the TV when a commercial for channel 69 news came on. At 11pm, the newscaster said, they would have an update on the Son of Sam killings. Helen might not have liked comic books, but she really hated how every day George read about Son of Sam in the newspaper. He was fascinated by it, especially since New York City was only a few hours from their home. Maybe he was too young to understand how things like this really happened to people, like that thing that happened to her Aunt. No one ever talked about it, but something really bad happened to Dad’s sister, or maybe it didn’t really happen, she couldn’t tell, but her Aunt got really sick and then she died. In fact, it was a year ago today that she passed. That’s why her dad moved them across the country. It was just too sad for him to stay around Wisconsin. 

At the age of thirteen something was already happening to Helen. There was a boy, Michael, at their new school, he was always looking at her in class. She even caught him following her home one day. She was walking with her friends by the park across from Nitschmann Middle School, and she saw Michael lurking behind a row of bushes. She turned to tell her friends, but when she looked back he was gone. Last Sunday when she was watching football with her family the same thing happened. She looked out the window and she saw him across the street, just standing there, staring. She told her dad about it, but when he looked out the window no one was there. 

The Thing came back on TV, and as she resumed watching she heard a voice. “Helen, Helen.”

She looked around and realized she was now alone in the room. “George, George where are you?”

“George is gone…”  The voice whispered.

Her first instinct was that her little brother was pulling a prank on her, but that voice didn’t sound like George. It was low, almost hoarse like. Still, she shouted “George I’ll kill you if this is a joke!”

Then she saw the curtain move. “You looked really pretty in class today.” She audibly gasped, only one thought screamed in her brain. “Michael is in her house!” Her hand, now trembling, moved to reach the curtain, dreading to reveal the truth that lurked behind it.

A boy’s arms sprung out at her, she screamed as loud as she could. Falling backwards, she knocked a lamp over. There was a flash of light and a puff of smoke as the bulb busted and bits on glass embedded into the carpet. Now the room was only lit by the black white glow from the TV.

“What the hell is going on out here!” Her father shouted as he stormed into the room.

“He scared me!” She pointed at her brother while wiping her tears. George was still laughing, but he stopped that quick once she gave him a good smack.

Her father wasn’t interested in justice, her father was interested in peace and quiet. He angrily turned the TV off and barked “Both of you go to your room!”

Helen desperately pleaded, “but dad!”

“I SAID GO TO YOUR ROOM!”

Part Five: The Blackest Eyes

October 11th, 1974. Madison Wisconsin

Even though he’d lived here his whole life, George never stopped being amazed at how you can see off into forever. His eyes watched the nothingness outside his dad’s car window. He’d long finished his stack of Spiderman comics, but his older sister still had her nose buried in a book. Nothingness soon became something as they approached the two story brick building, in front of which was a sign that read Mendota Mental Health Care Institute. He couldn’t understand why his daddy would bring him to a place like this. He’d rather go to the Outagamie County Fair where that guy did the show with the trick mice. So he asked, “Why are we here daddy?”

“To see our Aunt, stupid!” his sister Helen scowled.

“I’m not stupid!” George fired back, angry at his sister’s insult, and because his mother didn’t intervene. In fact, her reflection in the rear view revealed she even cracked a smile.

“Then why are you reading those stupid comics?” Helen retorted.

“You’re both gonna be stupid when I leave you on the side of the road.” their father said in frustration. “Now knock it off!”

The two tykes piped down and soon they got out of the car. Summer was gone but it wasn’t too cold out yet. His mom dressed him in shorts that day, and he could feel the comfortable autumn breeze on his legs as the four entered the lobby of the hospital. 

“May I help you?” asked the Dr. in the lobby. George assumed he was a Dr. because of his white coat. He couldn’t make out the name on his name tag, it looked something like Strege.

“Yes.” his father said as George now looked up at the two adults. “We’re here to visit my sister, Sally Kohler.” His father seemed like a giant to George’s young eyes. He wondered if he would ever get to be big like him.

The young boy was a little confused as he expected to be going into a hospital room and find Aunt Sally lying in bed, like how they visited grandpa before he died. Instead he found himself in what looked like a big living room and playroom filled with people playing board games, table tennis, and watching TV. “Maybe I should get sick so I could get to play in a place like this,” he thought to himself. He didn’t dare say such a thing out loud, as he was sure his father would spank him. 

The people here didn’t seem sick either. They were moving about of their own strength and conversing with each other. He did notice some of them talked funny, and one of them had a bit of drool coming out his mouth. Looney Tunes was playing on the TV hanging high on the wall, so naturally George wandered over toward it. Approaching a nearby couch, he saw the back of a man’s head, whom George assumed was watching the show. Coming around the couch, he laughed at the cartoon, but when George looked to his left he noticed the man didn’t laugh. In fact, he wasn’t even watching the TV, he was looking at the wall. When George looked closer it seemed the man wasn’t even looking at the wall, but that he was looking past the wall, as if he were watching and waiting for some secret signal that only he would receive.

Then George noticed the man’s eyes, they were the blackest eyes he’d ever seen. His family didn’t go to Church, but he had a friend in school who always talked about the Devil, and who sometimes teased George, saying he had the devil’s eyes. George almost peed himself when the black eyes finally moved, now locking onto him as if he’d just done something very naughty.

George jumped as he felt a hand in his shoulder. He couldn’t scream as he felt the warm embrace, his mouth partly covered with hair and a fleshy cheek. ”George it’s so good to see you. Thank you so much for coming!.”  He finally realized it was Aunt Sally. He hugged her back tightly as she kissed the top of his head and led him to a table where his parents and sister were sitting.

The family spent the afternoon playing Connect Four and various board games together while they all caught up. Sally was happy to hear both her niece and nephew were doing well in school, and that George was doing great in sports. Soon enough, he again got distracted by the television as a Spiderman cartoon came on TV. 

“Stop staring at that!” His father scolded. “We can watch TV at home.”

“It’s ok.” Aunt Sally assured. “Do you like Spiderman?”

“Yeah I love Spiderman! He’s my favorite!” Little George then planted his feet on the seat of his chair and imitated his favorite arachnid hero shooting webs. “Thwap thwap!” he sounded before jumping off the seat and onto the ground. “Did you know his Aunt May almost married Dr. Octopus this year?”

“Oh really!” Sally said. Young George had no awareness of his Aunt’s ignorance of current Spiderman comics, so he prattled on. “Yeah, and he had a new villain called the Punisher, but he’s not really a villain, but he has a skull on his chest! I like him more than Ghost Rider though. He’s too scary!”

Sally smiled as she watched his nephew play as though he were swinging through the skyscrapers of the Big Apple. George’s young mind dreamed of being in New York for real someday, while back in reality his dad scolded “Knock it off this isn’t a playground!” It was too late though, he was off in his own universe as he leapt back onto the seat, then off again. Little Spidey leapt once more onto the chair, but this time its wobbly leg gave out and it sent him tumbling to the hard floor where he scraped his knee. His father panicked when he saw the blood. “Oh my god are you alright!” he said, rushing to his side. 

“He’s fine.” his mom said dismissively. George knew his mom was a nurse and figured she was probably used to seeing a lot of blood. No way was he gonna cry, but he was a little mad when he saw his bratty sister laughing at him. 

At least his Aunt wasn’t laughing. In fact, she looked a little scared. “Oh no.” she cried, still sitting in her chair. “Oh no!” George stood up and brushed himself off. He thought nothing of it when he looked down and saw a piece of skin hanging off his knee, but for his Aunt, it was too late. “No no no, oh no!” Now George was scared as he saw his Aunt shaking her head back and forth, tears streamed down her cheeks as she screamed “Gotta get away, GOTTA GET AWAY!!!!” 

“Watch him!” His father ordered his mother as he rushed to his sister’s side. “Sally are you alright!?!” Two orderlies in white uniforms approached behind her as she babbled “The bodies, the bodies, there’s bodies everywhere!!!” 

“I’m sorry,” the Dr. they met in the lobby came and said. “I’m afraid she’s going to have to come with us.” 

George’s mom looked at her watch while his dad said “It’s ok I understand.” George was now fighting back tears himself. Some superhero he was.

“NO! NO! You gotta believe me!” she pleaded as the pair of orderlies took Sally by the arms and led her away. She didn’t struggle as the doctor pulled out a long syringe, but she continued pleading, “You gotta believe me! There were bodies everywhere, they were everywhere!” 

“I’m sorry dad.” little George fell into his father’s arms, his tears dampening his father’s shirt.

“It’s ok son.” George felt his father holding him tight. “It’s not your fault.” His sister also came over to give him a hug, but George felt guilty inside for triggering such a horrible fear in poor Sally.

That was the last time George ever saw his Aunt, and it was the first time he remembered being really scared.

Part Four: Hallowed Visions

October 26th, 1990. Hallow-con, New York City

Victoria held Dan’s hand as they walked down the aisle looking at all the vendors. She spotted a group of guys sitting around a table with a few hardcover books, sheets of paper, and twenty sided die, “Oh look?” her black lipstick shined as she smiled. “Should we see if we can join this session?” 

“Sure, let’s check it out.” Dan said as they approached the area set up for a table-top role playing game. Every guy at the table shifted his focus as the couple approached. One of the guys nodded in approval of Dan’s shirt from the first Halloween movie. The rest of them grinned at the sight of Victoria in her tight leather top. “You guys playing?” she asked.

“You bet.” one of the gamers said as he stroked his massive beard. “We’re setting up for a Ravenloft session, wanna play?”

“Yeah that would be great.” Victoria said, excited as she and Dan sat at the table.

A pencil thin guy seated with the group looked sharply at Victoria and asked. “Do you know what Ravenloft is?”

Victoria’s pale face lit up as she said “No I don’t, can you tell me!?!”

“Well it’s like Dungeons and Dragons with some horror elements in it.” the man said. His voice was deadpan serious as he asked. “Do you know what Dungeons and Dragons is?”

Putting her finger in her mouth like a valley girl from the recently passed decade, Victoria said “Uh, yeah, like I think I heard of it.”

The man then condescendingly raised a sheet of paper in his hand to explain “Ok, well this is a character sheet that you use to play in the Ravenloft setting.”  While his eyes locked on her cleavage he continued to explain, “You have different skills and abilities, and..”

“And you encounter the Dark Lords like Strahd Von Zarovich, ruler of Barovia who wishes to win back is love Tatyana,”  the jaws of the nerds dropped, some out of surprise, some out of infatuation while she finished “or Vlad Drakov who’s military ambitions ar forever doomed to failure. It’s a pretty dark place, but at least Vecna and Lord Soth managed to escape.” Finally, two of her black nailed fingers pointed back to her face as she knelt toward him and yelled “And by the way, my eyes are up here asshole!” before storming away. 

“Nice job dipshit!” She heard behind her as Dan caught up. 

“Sorry about that,” Dan sounded so embarrassed. “You ok?”

“Nothing to be sorry about.” Victoria then looked at the large back blocking the aisle ahead and said “That guy’s gonna be sorry if he doesn’t stop blocking the way.”   

As the large man looked around, Dan squeezed Victoria’s hand and said “Hey I know that guy.”

Taking a few steps closer she heard him yell out “George! George!” The man turned around and waved as Dan asked, “George it’s really you?”

“Yeah it’s me.” the man answered. 

“Long time no see brother how are you?” Victoria watched Dan excitedly hug the man while other convention goers walked around them..

“I’m good, I’m good.” Dan’s friend said before eying Victoria up.

“This is my fiance Victoria.” Dan introduced. “She got to school after you were gone. She’ll be finishing up next year actually.”

“Nice to meet you.” he said smiling. Victoria then noticed the General Hospital picture he was putting into his black bag. “Oh, you got John York’s autograph!” she said excitedly.

“Yeah,” Victoria was a little confused as he now looked like he could barely hide his irritation. She then understood as he explained. “It’s for my sister.”

“That’s so sweet of you to do that. I’m sure you’re a fan of General Hospital too right?”

She realized by his facial expression he had no idea she was kidding. Thankfully Dan intervened with, “Last season of Werewolf!”

“I know, that totally blows.” Geroge instantly reacted. “I was talking to ‘Eric’ though, and he told me they’re wrapping the story line up. So at least there’s that. I hate when things end on a cliffhanger!”

“Awesome man!” Dan said. ” Well we’re gonna check out some posters at this venue here.”Dan pointed to a booth down the aisle.

“Cool, I want to get the new Friday the 13th poster.” Victoria now realized George would be joining them.

Making their way through the swarm of people, the trio came to a booth that had bins of posters, including several large posters on displays facing out towards the crowd. One of the posters facing out featured a ferocious looking werewolf chasing a young girl through a back alley. 

“Remember when we saw that back in school?” Dan remeniced.

“I do remember that.”  George answered.

Dan pumped his fist remembering. “Man, I was so excited that they finally put a Halloween movie back in the theaters.” 

“Are you a Halloween fan?” Victoria asked George.

“I liked the series,” he said, “but I’m more of a Friday the 13th fan myself. Halloween is cool, but you know, after the second one each entry was its own story.” 

“That was Carpenter’s vision man,” Dan chimed in. “Make it an anthology!” 

“I think that’s a cool idea.” George explained. “I mean, I thought they were good movies. Like that one up there,” George pointed to the ghostly image on the poster for Halloween Four. “That was scary, but I like following a series like Friday the 13th or Nightmare on Elm Street that tells one continous story.”

Victoria pointed up at the display to the poster for Halloween Five, on which a quartet of red robed figures hold sacrificial knives over the near naked body of a voluptuous young woman. “Do you have that one hon?” 

“Yeah I got that one back at my mom’s place.” Dan said. “The only one I never got was number three.”

“I never saw that one anywhere.” George said. 

“That’s the first one they released direct to video,” Dan relayed to George, “and they didn’t make a lot of promotional material for it. Really sucks.”

“It’s in here somewhere.” The vendor poked his head out from behind the display while finishing a transaction with another customer. “If you dig around here long enough you’ll find it.”

“Cool,” Victoria looked back at him and asked “Do you have the poster for Night Skies?”

“It’s in there somewhere hon.” The vendor winked at her as he answered.

While Victoria started digging through the bins George pointed back to the poster for Halloween Six: Curse of the Werewolf, to say, “I heard there’s a producer’s cut of that movie.”

“There is,” Dan said with a devilish smile on his face before revealing “I saw it.”

“That’s so cool!” George said as he began looking through posters himself. “I wouldn’t mind seeing it.”

“Yeah it’s pretty awesome.” Dan recalled, himself now looking through a bin of posters. “Somebody on campus got a hold of it last year. They explain more of the lore and stuff, but maybe the coolest part is that there’s an extra scene with Donald Pleasance!”

“He played the priest in that one right?’ George asked.

“That’s right, Father John.” Dan answered. “There’s a scene where he mentions he has a cousin in..,” Victoria smiled as she knew Dan loved talking about this, “guess where…” George shrugged his shoulders. “Haddonfield!”

“What!” The wheels were turning in George’s head. “Wait, so it’s linked to the first one?”

“Well who knows,” Victoria looked up at them as she speculated. “It could be just a gag for the fans, just like how in each entry someone is always watching the previous movie.”

“Right?” George recalled. “In part three a commercial for the first one comes on in a bar, right?”

“Correct” Dan said, “and in part four they go see part three in the theater.”

“I can’t remember what happened in the last two!” George said in frustration.

“Part five they rent part four from the local video store,” Dan said, “and part six they are on the set of part five.”

Both Dan and George turned to Victoria as she squealed in excitement. At long last she’d found the poster for the Stephen Spielberg horror film Night Skies. It featured a creepy image of Extra Terrestrial aliens terrorizing a family on their farm, above the image of a little girl read the words “They’re here.” the move’s famous catch phrase. “This scared the shit out of me when I was a kid!” she recalled, as she pulled the poster out of the bin and went to pay for it.

Dan struck gold next. “Here you go George!” George rushed over to Dan who pulled out the last poster in the bin he was searching. It was a poster for last year’s Friday the 13th Part Eight. Dan admired the image of New York City in the background before he handed it off to George. Dan then walked over to the bin George had just been searching.

While George and Victoria paid for their finds, Dan finally struck paydirt. “Bingo!” His face lit up like a Christmas tree as he saw the silver letters that spelled out Halloween III at the top of the poster, on which red skies hung below a silhouette of a trio of trick or treating children. 

“Oh shit!” George excitedly quoted from the film’s poster. “The night no one comes home!” The trio high fived each other as Dan purchased the poster for Halloween Three: Season of the Witch. Victoria looked up at the displays of the other Halloween posters her fiance already owned. There was Halloween Four: Return of the Wraith, next to that was Halloween Five, Revenge of Samhain, then Halloween Six: Curse of the Werewolf. Victoria remembered how that was the first Halloween since number two to be put back in the theaters. It was a great movie, and it made werewolves cool for a couple years. She could see down the aisle where John Yolk was happily signing autographs, and mused that perhaps that cycle has come to a close. 

Victoria had only just met George, but she could tell already he wasn’t often quiet. He too was looking at the Halloween Six poster, and she assumed he must be reminiscing too, but she then realized George fixed his gaze on the woman, the woman and her bare legs, her bare legs and her skinned knee.

George finally stopped zoning when she asked him, “So how long have you been a horror fan?”

 Part Three: Expendable Youth

October 26th, 1990. New Jersey

Cruising down I-78 in his gargantuan Chevy Impala, George was like the captain of a boat cruising through the garden state, while the automobile’s cassette player blasted Slayer’s new album, Seasons of the Abyss. George slowly rocked his head back and forth as he screamed words to Expendable Youth.

‘injured soul lies on the ground

head blown off face down

lying in a pool of blood

an accidental death homicide 

expendable youth

fighting for possession

having control a principal obsession

rivalry and retribution

death the only solution’

As he pulled off the Interstate, he thought about what all he might buy today. He had a lot of his favorite movies on VHS already, and owned a lot of posters and other merchandise. That actor his sister liked never did one of these shows before, so it would be cool to get him. He also didn’t yet have the poster for last year’s Friday the 13th movie, so he would keep an eye out for that. 

Expendable Youth came to an end. The next song on the cassette was Hallowed Point. This was a much faster paced song with the usual intense lyrics.

‘instinctive regression

with intent to kill

no regard of human life

or the blood spilled’

George could care less that any drivers who passed him saw his long mop of hair flopping about the car while he furiously headbanged to the rapid drumbeat and the piercing electric guitars. However, his head suddenly stopped and he quickly turned the dial down as a cop began to tail him. Now he carefully eyed his speedometer as he didn’t need another ticket, and he knew that cops targeted out of state plates. The dead skin on his knuckles cracked as he gripped the wheel. His face shifted from that of a serious metalhead to a still mask of stoicness. 

“Fuck!” he then yelled as Hallowed Point finished, bringing the cassette to the end of side A. He just realized his Zodiac killer mask was still at his apartment.

At least he managed to get his car in one of Hoboken’s parking garages without incident. Soon he took the train across the river into New York City. Once he got to the convention venue, he saw people dressed up as characters from all the classic horror movies; Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street, and his favorite, Friday the 13th. All the psycho’s were out, there were even some old school Frankensteins and Draculas. It totally sucked that he forgot his mask. His Zodiac killer T-shirt would have to do. 

Naturally, George was a seasoned veteran of the convention scene, already having many autographs of the greats that all the noobs now gathered in long lines for. Looking around at the sea of vendors on the convention floor, he calculated his options. Nearby, he saw someone at a table who had a few girls talking to him. Seeing his handsome features George understood why. He wished girls would talk to him like that. He hovered close while he watched the girls woo over the celebrity. After the wenches walked away he went over and introduced himself. 

“Holy shit it’s Eric Cord!” George said excitedly. 

“Pleasure to meet you.” the actor answered politely, not seeming to mind the fan calling him by his character name.

“Man that sucks that Werewolf won’t be back next year.” George complained. “Such a good show, the creature effects were wicked!” 

“Thank you, I appreciate it,” the actor said graciously. “We had a good run though. Anytime you make a TV show, you never know if it’s gonna get past the first season. We were lucky we got as far as we did.”

Reaching his hands out like a beast George said “Well it’s been four seasons of savagery and I loved it! It blows hard that it will be gone next year. Is there anything you can tell me about the rest of the last episodes?” George was anxious to hear his answer, as the fourth and final season was now airing on the Fox network, and would wrap up this spring. 

“Well if I told you too much you wouldn’t watch it right?” The actor laughed. “I can tell you this though, the story will have a definitive ending.”

George about jumped out his skin and asked “You mean Eric is going to finally kill Nicholas Remy and break the curse?” 

“Now I didn’t say that.” The actor cautioned. “I’m just saying all the loose ends will be tied up. We won’t be ending on a cliffhanger or anything like that.”

“That’s such a rarity in this business man.” George said, talking as if he were a Hollywood insider. 

“It sure is.” Gesturing to several photos at his table, the actor asked “So, would you like an autograph?” 

“Definitely, let me see what you got here.” Looking down, he saw several pictures of the actor that were from the show Werewolf, as well as a few from Night of the Creeps, an obscure horror comedy, and a few one off appearances in various TV shows like Murder She Wrote, Family Ties, Hunter, and Dynasty. Another one caught his eye, one of the actor in a white coat. “Oh that’s General Hospital.”George said.

“Yeah that’s right!” The actor sounded surprised. “Do you watch the show?”

George was revolted that anyone would even think to ask him if he watched something as stupid as a daytime soap opera, but he managed to keep his answer to a minimum. “No my sister does.”

“That’s cool. Well I’d be happy to sign a pic for her.” he said as he picked up his sharpie.

George naturally wanted a Werewolf photo, but he didn’t want to seem like a dick in front of the actor, so he reluctantly selected a General Hospital photo and handed over his cash.

“Thanks man, appreciate it.” The actor signed the picture and asked. “What’s your sister’s name?” 

“My sister’s name is Helen.” George said, looking longingly at one of the Werewolf photos. He may have been a horror nerd, but he knew enough not to blow all of his money in one spot.

“Ok, ‘To Helen,” the actor wrote out a brief message for his fan who he didn’t know, and handed the picture to George. “Thank you very much buddy.”

“Thanks man,” George took the photograph and stepped away from the booth. Before putting it in the small blag bag he carried with him, he stopped in the aisle to take a look. People walked around his massive frame while he read the inscription. “To Helen, thanks for watching. Yours truly, Malcolm ‘Mac’ Scorpio, a.k.a. John J. York.”

October 26th, 1957, Plainfield Wisconsin

In the woodshed Sally felt something brush against her shoulder. She covered her mouth as she gasped. There was no sound, save the awful squealing outside. Nothing but blackness was visible behind her. She wouldn’t dare turn on a flashlight had she possessed one, but she did have a lighter. The small flame lit up the enclosed space, and the first thing Sally noticed were a pair of human feet. They were spread apart, bound to an overhead beam. There before Sally, a female corpse hung upside down, her torso split open, gutted like a deer.

The flame extinguished as she dropped the lighter to the ground. The door made a loud banging sound as it flung open and her own shrieking scream accompanied the howling of the ghoul. Sally ran as hard as she could toward the road, not even trying to see where the fiend was. She could hear it though, crying out somewhere behind her, and she heard its footsteps too.

Now a third sound cracked the empty night air, Sally winced as she heard the shot of the rifle. She thought if she could just get to the tree line she may have a chance. Mercifully, a pair of lights emerged ahead of her. Her legs desperately ran toward them as she put some distance between herself and the fiend. Another gunshot flashed as the pickup truck slowed down. She ran directly toward the front of the vehicle, frantically waving her arms. The truck swerved to her left, nearly knocking her over, it’s tires skidded in the grass as the truck almost flew into the trees. Circling back around, Sally planted her left foot on the rear tire and pushed herself up into the truck’s cab. Slamming her hand into the back window Sally screamed “Go Go!”  She could see the man driving through the back window, he immediately sped away. As she looked back to her left, the road behind her disappeared in the darkness. Sally shed tears of relief, and, she had no thought to what made her do this, but looking back as the shape of the terrible dark house vanished from her sight, she cackled hysterically. 

Whatever that thing was that chased her, she no longer saw it. She didn’t see it frantically throwing itself around the road, it’s rough skinned hands still gripping the rifle as its arms flayed and its body spun around aimlessly in a dance of madness and violence. 

Part Two: Don’t Go In The House

October 26th 1990, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

As soon as she walked in she heard her brother’s loud boisterous voice. “I’m over here!” Helen joined other faces in the dinner turning to see George sitting at a booth slurping his soda. She gave a polite smile as she approached his table. It had been a while since she’d seen him, and it looked like he’d put on more weight, something she was always concerned about for him. What she found more disconcerting was his T-shirt, which she noticed as she sat down at his table.

“Really? The Zodiac killer?” she asked, puzzled.

“Yeah he was awesome,” George grinned as he said “especially since he never got caught!” 

“If you say so.” The waitress then arrived to give George his tall stack of pancakes before taking Helen’s order. 

“Ooh gimmie gimmie!” George reached over to get his massive plate as his sister mader her order. ‘Trouble Me’ by Burn Victims played over the speakers while the two siblings made small talk and the other patrons in the diner ate.

While it had been a while since she talked to George, there wasn’t much new going on with him. She herself had some news. “I met someone recently.” she said. “We went to see a movie at the Boyd a few days ago. He’s really nice.”

“I hope he’s better than the last guy you dated. I thought he was a douchebag.”

“Yeah he was.” she laughed as she recalled. “This one is nicer.” Her next sentence she said a little more timidly. “I met him at Church.”

“Church!” George said, repulsed. “What are you going there for?”

“Well some of my girlfriends at work invited me to First Presbtyrian. They’re really nice people.”

“If you say so.” George said dismissively before taking a bite of his food.

The waitress returned with a plate of French toast and a coffee while Helen asked “What about you, are you dating anyone?”

“Nah, I mean I talk to a few girls around, but prospects don’t look too good around here. You know what I mean?”

“Oh ok.” She responded. “Do you still see your role playing group?”

“No not really.” George complained. “We were just about to kill an acid dragon in the Dragonlance setting too, but Glenn got a new job where he works nights. Then Steve just had a kid, so that sucks.”

“Okay.” Helen tried not to laugh at her brother saying having a kid “sucks.”

“I might see some of the old crew from university though.” George said. Going to Hallow-con after this.”

“Oh, one of your horror conventions?”

“Yeah, it’s gonna be so cool!” He now got more animated as he talked. “Tom Savini is gonna be there again, along with some of the cast from Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street. I mean, a lot of them I met already but it’s always cool to see them. Then there’s this one author I’ve been corresponding with. I’m going to get to talk to him in person tonight. So that will be awesome.”

“That’s neat.” Helen said, revealing no measure of excitement. Then, speaking quietly again she added, “So, I’m going to see dad tonight”

Helen desperately hoped he would remember the signifigance of today’s date, but he simply said “Ok.”

“He’s doing fine by the way.” Helen added, still hoping her brother would take the hint.

“Good to know,” George said, chomping down another bite of his food.

“I’m doing alright too.” Helen continued. “I’ll be finishing my nursing degree this Spring.”

“Wicked.” Suddenly her brother remembered another detail about the convention. “Hey you know who’s going to be there, that guy you like from the soap opera!” 

“Oh, the Doctor?” Now Helen’s face lit up.

“You got it.” George pointed his finger and grinned, knowing she would enjoy this news.

“Cool, well say hi to him for me.”

In a rare moment of graciousness, George said “I sure will.”

October 26th, 1957, Plainfield Wisconsin

The air was silent save the crunching sound of Sally’s feet hitting the rocky path before her. She slowly crept toward the dark ominous building. It appeared to be a decent sized house, two stories that probably had around five bedrooms. The paint was grey and flaking, and the roof was poorly thatched. Rusted equipment sat in the yard, she recognized an old cultivator and manure spreader. She would be happy to never see another fanning mill as long as she lived. 

Also nearby the house was what looked to her like a chicken coup, and a woodshed stood close by. Dead clumps of weeds poked up through the light snow. As she drew closer to the building,  no part of her soul thought don’t go in the house. In fact, she began to think she would have to spend the night on an empty hardwood floor inside, as she could see no lights within the structure. However, she did see two vehicles, a Chevy pickup, and what looked like a maroon colored Sedan.

“Hello!” she shouted desperately. “Is anybody there?” but the air was as empty with sound as the skies were scarce of clouds. The wood creaked as she walked up the splintered steps. She pondered how she may be the first human being to step onto this sagging porch since it was abandoned. Many of the windows were boarded up, but thankfully the door was not. She was relieved to not have to pry plywood boards in order to enter the home. 

“Hello!” Sally instinctively called out again while pushing the creaky door open. Expecting to find emptiness, she was startled to see small lights inside, as a few kerosene lamps were on. However, she could not bring herself to say another word, as once she stepped through that door, it was as though she were stepping into another dimension. No place in the infinite abyss that we call the cosmos could have destroyed her mind as much as this place, this place not far from her own home, in her own country. Ginsberg howled of his generation being swallowed by madness, but neither Ginsberg nor Burroughs, nor any of the Beatniks in their drug induced stream of conscious ramblings could have envisioned the images of the mad and macab that Sally witnessed in that moment. 

Sally shrieked in an inhuman wail as she blindly flew out the door. Her feet stumbled on the sagging steps and she fell and hit the earth below. She banged her knee on the ground and cried out again, this time not in hysteria but in pain. Another shrieking sound followed, but this was more the squeal of an animal, and it came from within the house. Another set of quick footsteps followed, and Sally pushed herself back to her feet. She knew she wasn’t seriously hurt, but for the moment her knee was in pain and she hobbled away as fast as she could. She dared not turn around to look at the awful place again, only catching a glimpse of it when she fled into the woodshed and shut the door behind her. Through the splits in the wood she could just barely see another shape lurking about the darkness. It looked like a woman, at least it had long curly hair like one, but it looked strange and misshapen. It’s skin flopped about as its head darted through the air, still making that awful squealing sound while searching for the intruder to its home. The thing was small in stature, and she could make out that it was carrying a rifle. While kneeling down and rubbing her knee, she took some small consolation that she wasn’t seriously hurt. 

It was then that she felt something brush against her shoulder. Jumping back to her feet, she covered her mouth as she gasped. There was no sound, save the awful squealing outside. Nothing but blackness was visible behind her. She wouldn’t dare turn on a flashlight had she possessed one, but she did have a lighter. The small flame lit up the enclosed space, and the first thing Sally noticed were a pair of human feet

This is a story I wrote about the Ed Gein case. It is not written to glorify the awful things he did. It is written partly to explore the concept of popular culture alternate history. Lots of fiction is written about what if wars and elections turned out differently, here I will apply that concept to popular movies, television, etc. Enjoy

Part One: Hunting Season

October 26th, 1957. Plainfield Wisconsin

Deer season was coming, and Worden’s Hardware Store was packed, at least as packed as a store could get in a town of 700. Irene recognized most of the men she saw in the aisles who, along with her husband Lester, were stocking up on ammunition and other supplies. A few even bought brand new firearms for the new season. Deer were plentiful in the area, and Irene knew that soon on scores of properties across town, carcasses of dead deer would be hung up, skinned and gutted.

Irene’s daughter would not be hunting. Her little one was looking through the comic books. Irene watched her daughter’s tiny hands happily pick out issues of Millie the Model and Archie for mom to buy. She heard the store’s door open behind her and could see her daughter smile as she tugged on her arm. “Look mommy,” she said as the small man entered the store. Both mother and daughter happily recognized the babysitter that had often been to their home.

“Well hello Ed!” Irene warmly greeted. “How are you today?”

“I’m good, I’m good.” The man said, tipping his baseball cap to her as he walked by. “Will you be making those Christmas cookies again this year?’ 

“It’s not Christmas without them!” Irene laughed as she said “You must really like them, we haven’t even survived Halloween yet!.”

“They are pretty great.” Ed said, his light voice raised slightly in enthusiasm. He then looked down at the little girl. He smiled at her with his lopsided grin and asked “And how is this tiny rugrat?” The young girl giggled as she looked up at her babysitter. Ed was a short man, but to her he must have seemed like a giant. He made a gesture with his hands and teased “Got your nose.” She laughed again as she put her little hands over her nose. He then waved his hands to the side of her head and said “Got your ears!” 

She laughed again, and then covered her ears before retaliating, waving her own hand at his stubbled face and boasted “Got your eyeball!”

“Oh no, how am I gonna read now!” Ed mimicked being blind, closing his eyes causing the fleshy growth above his left eyelid to slightly flatten. Irene laughed along with her daughter as somehow he made his way to the magazine rack. Miraculously, he was still able to pick out the new issues of what everyone knew to be his favorite magazines; Inside Crime, Startling Detective, and Man of Action.

“Are you a Man of Action Ed?” Irene heard the voice of her husband behind her. She then felt his hand in hers, as, not waiting for Ed to answer, he said to her, “Let’s get some Halloween candy and then get out of here.”

Ed didn’t answer anyway, he just looked back at Lester, facing him with his meek posture. Irene tugged back on her daughter’s arm and politely said “Well it was nice seeing you Ed. Have a happy Halloween.”

Ed’s head nodded, “Thank you, thank you you too.” He stared blankly at them as Irene while she and her family resumed their shopping. 

Usually there wasn’t a line at Worden’s, but it was getting to be that busy time of year. Irene saw Ed ahead of them in line waiting to check out. He looked antsy, anxious to get to the register. She didn’t blame him, as she wanted to be on her way before her daughter asked her to buy more stuff.

Eventually the line moved along and she felt more relaxed. She noticed Ed appeared more still as well, his head fixed ahead, not fidgety as he is known for being. Now they were close enough that they could see Bernice, the owner of the store. She was now in her late 50s, and was known as a hard working honest woman. She reminded Irene of Ed’s mother, and mused to herself how those in town who remembered Augusta Gein probably would have agreed, except that Bernice was a lot friendlier.

Augusta was long for this world now. Irene felt a little sorry for Ed, which was why she delivered Christmas cookies to him last year. Once again the holiday season was right around the corner, and she wondered how he would be spending it. She then realized she never thanked him for helping her husband with some odds and ends around the house.

“Ed?” He looked startled as she put her hand on his shoulder, but then appeared to relax once he saw Irene’s familiar face. “Ed, I was saying thank you again for fixing the door. It doesn’t squeak at all anymore.”

“Oh, your welcome.” His eyes shifted between her and her husband as he said. “It’s no trouble at all.”

“Next.” A familiar voice sounded. Ed looked to see her standing before him. It was his turn now.

“Hello Ed!” the shop owner greeted as Ed put his items on the counter.

“Hello, hello Bernice.” He said as she rang the items up. “How, how are you today?”

“Well business is booming so I’m good!” she laughed.

“It sure, it sure is busy today.” Ed awkwardly said. Irene blushed behind him as she wondered if he’d planned to open with that line. She wondered, perhaps she distracted him and threw him off his game plan.

“Yes, it sure is.” Bernice answered.  “Are you all ready for deer season?”

“Well I don’t hunt actually,” Looking at the store’s gun rack he added, “but I was wondering about your rifles.”

Bernice turned around to look. “What about them?”

“Well, my Marlin rifle only fires .22 shorts. I was thinking about trading it in for one that could also use long and long rifles.”

Pointing to a particular gun on the store rack, Bernice explained “Well this one should do the trick. It’s my favorite rifle actually, pretty handy.”

“Ok,” Ed nodded, he glanced back at the line behind him, his hands fluttered as if he was nervous and he said “I’ll take a look at it some other time then.”

The two then finished their transaction. Ed reached across the counter to hand his money over. His rough skin brushed against her soft hands as she took his cash saying “Well it will be here waiting. You have a good day now Ed.”

Bernice then looked past him to Irene and her husband, who approached and put their items on the counter. “See you Ed.” Irene said, but she noticed Ed kept his gaze on Bernice, as if he were desperately trying to think of something else to say.  

“Have a, have a good day Bernice.” was all he could do. He at least said her name. 

Once Ed shuffled out the door Lester joked; “Looks like Eddie’s in love.”

Bernice blushed as Irene retorted “Oh don’t tease. Ed’s a nice man, he’s just a little simple.”

Bernice leaned forward. “You know,” she said in a hush, but not too low of a hush, “ last week he asked me to ‘try out the floor’ at the roller skating rink in Hancock.”

“Get out!” Irene said, aghast.

“I didn’t know old Casper Milquetoast could roller skate!” Lester kidded, comparing the local simpleton to a character from the Timid Soul comic strip.

“Well I sure can’t, at least that’s what I told him!” Bernice revealed as the trio burst into laughter.

“Can you move it along up there please?” An impatient customer yelled from the back.

“Alright Ronald, hold your horses.” Bernice barked back. The young couple then paid for their goods and got out of the line. 

“Oh poor Ed.” Irene thought to herself.  “Odd little fellow. Completely harmless though. One day he’ll be gone and people may not even remember him.”

The wind always howled out here as Sally sped down highway 51. She fumbled through the radio stations in her dad’s car, but couldn’t find anything worth listening to. She recognized Moonlight Swim by Anthony Perkins, but immediately turned the dial killing the sappy love song. Her dad loved that music, but to her nothing was worth a damn out here. She recalled from her school days local author Hamlin Garland, who described the great dead heart of Wisconsin as a panorama of delight. Kodak country others called it. Why did she have to be born in such a Godforsaken place? Soon it wouldn’t matter. She figured in a few days she’d be in San Francisco, where she’d be around buildings, around people, around sky-scrapers, and the ocean, instead of being around these massive red barns and silos like silver bullets that dotted the faded pink soil. 

After a while she could see that off to her right, way off in the distance, the sun was setting below the horizon, dimming the lights in this expansive sky. Darkness enclosed in on her, and eventually she could only see by the headlights of the automobile. Her foot slammed the petal while her eyes relentlessly scanned the road ahead. There was little chance of an accident with another vehicle, but there was the odd chance of a stray cow or horse in the road.

This gave her mind time to wander. She wondered how long her stupid parents would even notice the car was missing. They went to bed early tonight, but her annoying little brother was probably still up. Hopefully he didn’t notice and rat her out. If she was lucky, she’d be out of the state before they even knew she was missing. Then there’d be no chance they’d catch her. She’d be long gone, and would be spending her time hanging out with Kerouac and Ginsberg, writing poetry and performing music.

Her path ahead was clear as day, but it would be an interior issue that slowed her down. The engine sputtered and her velocity waned. “Shit!” she thought to herself. She left in such a hurry she didn’t bother to check the gas. Her car sputtered to the side of the road and now she was in trouble. For all she knew nothing was around for miles. Once she shut the car off the air was almost pitch black, save a sliver of moonlight that shined down from the dead empty sky. Looking out over the surrounding trees her eyes faintly made out a blocky like shape not too far ahead. It might be a house. If she was lucky, someone had a farm out here and could help her. If the home was abandoned, she could at least spend the night there and figure her next step in the morning light. 

It wouldn’t be much of a story if Sally didn’t encounter something horrifying now would it? Come back tomorrow to find out what it was!