Posts Tagged ‘Alternate History’

December 27th: 1999 Milwaukee Wisconsin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Yeah, sure.” Franklin said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Epilogue: August 25th: 2003

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

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

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

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

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

The End

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

Stay tuned for No Gein III: The Final Cut!

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Milwaukee Wisconsin, August 15th, 1999

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“He plays football?” Patrick said in disgust.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Oh cool, how did you do that?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“They’re here.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Sure.”

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

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

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

“Who’s Patrick?” His mom asked.

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

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

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

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

“God mom, we just watched a DVD.”

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

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

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

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

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

The Final Friday of August, 1993

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Times have changed!”

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

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

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

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

“Cool, the Necronomicon.”

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

 “Who?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“About what.” Walt asked. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is a sequel to No Gein: An Alternate Horror, a story I wrote last year that was an experiment I called Pop Culture Alternate History. The premise was what if real life murder Ed Gein never got caught. To understand this sequel, it may be helpful to read the original here.

No Gein II: A Second Helping

Chapter One The Truth Unearthed

Plainfield Wisconsin, Early August 2003

Bits of earth flew up towards the hot August sun as the dirty steel pierced the ground. The sound of the mini bulldozer engine was partly smothered by the nearby radio on which “These Are the Days” belted out over the small speakers. This song by Burn Victims was now considered a classic from the recently departed decade of the 1990s. Though the 90s were not as far back as Toby’s own childhood, that song still filled him with a sense of nostalgia. While operating his machinery he remembered this tune playing at the Hancock skating rink during his son’s birthday party. Back then Tommy lived for Mortal Kombat and Michael Jordan, now he was a high school student crazy for cars and girls. That was only a few years ago, but, knowing his son now, and remembering him then, it might as well have been another lifetime. 

A different sound now struck his ear, it was a quick scratchy sound, like metal scraping on metal. He gripped the machine lever tight as he noticed his partner waving his arms in the air while standing near the small pit. 

Stepping out of the bulldozer he saw Nick kneeling down holding something in his hand. It was cylindrical and rusted. “Fucking assholes using this for a landfill!” Nick shouted.

“That looks pretty old.” Toby observed as he got a closer look at the decayed coffee can.

Looking around at the flat Wisconsin plain, Nicholas asked, “Well, nobody ever lived out here, did they?”

Turning back, looking at the nothing surrounding them, Toby remembered the stories his grandmother told about the old days of Plainfield. “Actually, I think there used to be a farmhouse about a quarter of a mile from here.” 

“Really, who lived all the way out here?” 

Toby shook his head as he tried to jog his memory. “Don’t remember.”

Tossing the can to the ground, Nick said “Man, if I lived out here….” pointing to the tiny town up the road where they both grew up. “Plainfield is small enough as it is, but living out here, that’d drive a person nuts!”

“Yeah,” Toby agreed. His own son was at that age where he was getting restless, wanting more action than any rural town in the Plain States could offer. His teenage daughter Lindsey was feeling the same way too. “Anyway, I’ll dig the rest of this out,” Toby said as he walked back to the min-dozer. “Probably have to call the garbage company to haul this shit out.” 

The newly exposed pit began to smell as the engine re-started. Steel jaws bit into the earth and more waste was scooped into the machine’s metal mouth. After digging about two feet in, Toby noticed a patch of denim fall out of the metal jaws and back down to the earth. It looked like an ancient pair of overalls, but it appeared they were used to wrap something up. He didn’t register Nick giving a startled look into the pit, but he did notice him fall backwards as he undid the brass button on the overalls, unwrapping their contents, exposing them to the humid air.

“Ah shit!” Toby heard Nick shout as he raced back to his pickup truck to fetch a shovel. Nick then waved his arms into the air, shouting “Stop, stop!” Toby turned the engine off. Stepping out of his machine, he watched Nick digging into the pit with his shovel. He made quick but delicate thrusts into the dirt, as if he were an archaeologist unearthing some prehistoric Babylonian temple. “Shit shit shit!” Nick shouted.

The smell was now becoming overpowering as Toby approached. “What’s wrong?” he asked, but it was a rhetorical question. Given that awful smell, he knew full well what they had just unwittingly discovered.

“We gotta call the police.” Nick coldly said, as they both looked down to see a nearly complete human skeleton, among other human bones buried in the ditch.

Hope you enjoyed this opening appetizer of No Gein II. Come back in a few days to see some old familiar faces at a world premiere of a remake of a classic horror film. Does it have any connection to the awful truth that has just been unearthed? 

Find out in No Gein II: Chapter Two, Terror Remade!

Part Seventeen: These are the Days

August 5th, 1998, Wisconsin

“Boy they sure murder you on this popcorn!’ Bernice said as she put her change back in her purse. Her grandson carried a large tray towards her great grandkids, Tommy and Lindsey, along with their friends. The pre-teens eagerly snatched the bags of popcorn and paper cups filled with soda. Bernice remembered when she could see movies for a whole year on the amount of money she’d just spent, and these were matinee prices!

No matter though, these were her golden years, her platinum years even, in which she not only enjoyed grandchildren, but great-grandchildren, both of whom she spoiled rotten. She’d long sold her hardware store, and she and Ronald, her second husband of over 30 years, now enjoyed all of their free time. 

The screen lit up the darkened theater as the previews began. Bernice smiled as the trailer began with a familiar tune. She figured the kids wouldn’t recognize the song Mr. Sandman by the Chordettes, but to her it brought back fond memories. Then the mood of the trailer shifted as that familiar 90’s preview voice spoke. “It’s 1998, in a California beach side town.” It then cut to a group of kids boasting about having a Halloween party. 

Bernice blushed as the characters joked about having a roaming orgy. “What the hell is this?” her husband Ronald complained, probably not wishing to explain the word “orgy” to the young ins. Bernice just laughed, figuring the kids heard much worse than this, given the kinds of things they put on TV these days.

On screen characters also took issue with the teen’s behavior. An attractive teacher says, “No booze, no drugs, no kidding.” Then the trailer cut to the action. In the nature of trailers these days which gave away half the movie, the kids in the theater laughed and cheered as one by one the horny teens were dispatched by a mysterious shape.

That familiar trailer voice returned saying “The face of evil, will meet the face of good.” Some in the audience laughed, and others groaned, as a familiar, but long forgotten face appeared on the cue of “the face of good.” Ronald smiled as he recognized the face of Sylvester Stallone, whose career had fallen far from the heights of the 1980s. Ronald remembered when a few years back the actor even tried a few comedies. Hopefully, Ronald thought, a horror movie would be Sly’s ticket back over to the top of the movie business.

 “This time,” the voice over said, while images of what looked to be a sea creature floated across the screen, “it’s going to be a fight to the finish.”  

It looked like the eighties all over again as Stallone faced the screen, his wet muscles bulging as his hands gripped a shotgun. In his trademark deep voice, he said “Hey yo,” then, pumping the shotgun, ‘this monster’s gotta go!”  Like the action films of old, bullets were flying, and boats exploded on the water while Stallone spouted out lines like, “I shot it six times!” and “You don’t know what death is!” 

The trailer’s narrator concluded with, “At this beach, terror won’t be taking a vacation.”

The words “Halloween: H20” then appeared onscreen.  

“Cool.” One of Tommy’s friends blurted out. “I hope it’s better than Halloween: Resurrection of the Vampire!” 

“Be quite Franklin!” Tommy said, shushing his friend. Ronald was also annoyed but Bernice just smiled. She presumed the kids would want to see this once it came out in a couple months.

Finally, the feature presentation started. Bernice liked it already, it had the credits upfront the way movies used to, with a shrieking violin orchestrating the soundtrack. One credit got Ronald’s attention “Based on the novel by Robert Bloch.” 

“He was a local author,” he whispered to his wife. Ronald knew Bloch wasn’t from Plainfield of course, but he did graduate high school in Milwaukee. As the movie Psycho properly began, Ronald remembered hearing about the book. It was the author’s last work before he died about four years back. He said nothing as another familiar credit lit the screen. “Directed by George Kohler. He remembered the Kohler family from his home up the road in Amherst.

Not long into the movie the teens hooted and hollered at the sight of a beautiful woman taking off her clothes and getting in the shower. “Yeah, let’s see some titties!” Franklin yelled, but much to his disappointment, there were no naked female breasts to be seen.

Ronald didn’t like the outburst, but he did enjoy the sight of the woman in the shower. It was an actress he’d seen in a few other films recently, a Jamie something. She reminded him of Janet Leigh, who was an actress he enjoyed back in the 1960’s. Thoughts of this starlet vanished once he felt his wife’s soft skin squeezing his hand as she whispered, “I remember when I looked like that.”

The elderly couple had seen their share of horror movies, and sitting near the front of the dark theater, they were not frightened, but both were a little disturbed. Not at the murder scene on screen, as what looked like a female form pulled back the shower curtain and stabbed the young beauty to death, but that the kids laughed and cheered while it happened. Franklin particularly took delight at this scene, mimicking the stabbing motions while the violin music played. 

After the movie they all went to the skating rink in Hancock, Bernice and her husband sat down at a table with the kids. Pizza pies and soda were spread out ready to be consumed while the jukebox played a mix of current pop music.

“How did you like the movie? Bernice asked her great grandson Tommy.

“It was great! Tommy said. “It was so scary, and that ending was crazy!”

“Did you like it? Her great grand-daughter Lindsey asked.

“Yeah, I liked it, it was a scary one.” 

Tommy agreed, “Yeah it was, and that ending was nuts!”

As Bernice thought about that ending, with a twist she was sure no one saw coming, she had a strange moment of reflection. “That Norman Bates sure was an odd fellow.” she said, “He kind of reminded me of old Eddie Gein.”

“Who’s Eddie Gein? Lindsey asked.        

“He could have been your great grandfather!” Ronald teased.

“Oh, stop it!” Bernice swatted him on the arm.

“Oh, it’s true,” Ronald persisted, “he used to hit on Bernice all the time.” He then excitedly leaned toward the children, as if about to tell a secret. “He even asked her to come roller skating right here!” His old, wrinkled finger pointed down to the ground as he spoke.

“Oh you!” Bernice’s cheeks were glowing red.

“What happened to him?” Tommy asked.

“Oh, he died in a fire way way back.” Bernice thought hard about exactly when it was but couldn’t recall anymore. “Shame really, poor guy.”

“Well why did he remind you of Norman Bates?” Franklin inserted himself into the conversation.

“Well, the poor man was dominated by his mother all his life, kind of like that Norman.” Bernice noted. “Wouldn’t let him have any friends, I don’t think he ever even had a girlfriend.”

“Did he kill anybody?” Franklin asked excitedly.

“Franklin you’re never gonna have a girlfriend either if you don’t stop talking about serial killers all the time.” Tommy objected.

Bernice laughed, “Oh goodness no, no no no, but he lived all alone in a spooky farmhouse, kind of like the house in the movie. All the kids in town thought it was haunted. Especially after he died, we would all tell stories about seeing his ghost at night and all such things ha-ha. Most people remember him as a good man though. Always willing to help people out, he was harmless,” Bernice remembered, “if not a little odd.” 

“What kind of stories?” Franklin pressed, anxious to hear further details.

“Oh god, we got Franklin started on killers again.” One of the teens said in annoyance. 

“Come on let’s go play some Mortal Kombat.” Tommy said as he and his friends ran to the skating rink’s arcade section.

Franklin remained, still pushing to hear more. “What kind of stories, did you ever see any ghosts?”

“You go run along now.” Ronald said, waving his hand at Franklin in irritation. “Go play with your friends.” 

The kids then spent the rest of the afternoon playing video games and roller skating as the music continued to play. After a while, they all gathered back at the table to sing happy birthday to Tommy. Bernice Worden didn’t know the band Burn Victims, but their lyrics echoed through the skating rink. “These are the days to remember,” with the word “days” drawn out by the female singer. Bernice smiled as the song played. These were the days for her to remember, enjoying the love and the company of four generations of family and friends. As her great grandson blew out the candles on his Michael Jordan birthday cake, she thought about how next year she would be one hundred years old. Regardless of if she even made it that far, she sure felt lucky for what she had.

The End

Happy Halloween! Hope you all are safe and taking care of yourselves, and I hope you enjoyed this experiment in horror and alternate history. How many pop culture deviations did you find? What was the first one you noticed? Feel free to comment below. If you enjoyed this, stay tuned for No Gein Two: A Second Helping! 

Part Sixteen: Course Correction

August 5th, 1991. Plainfield Wisconsin

Henry ordered two drinks at the local bar, while George still felt like he was in a daze. He couldn’t imagine what his father was feeling, having just learning about what happened to his aunt, his father’s sister. “I don’t know what to say dad.” George thought aloud.

Looking up at the TV, Henry replied “Let’s just talk about something else.” George nodded before his father then asked, “George, well,” George wondered what his father was about to say. What he heard was a question. “What do you want to do with yourself?”

“What do you mean?” 

“You still got your whole life ahead of you.” Henry said, still staring at the TV. “What do you want to do with it?”

“I don’t know.” was the best answer George could give.

“I think you do.” Henry said firmly. The bartender brought two bottles of beer to them. After taking a sip of his Henry asked, “Ever read Joseph Cambell?”

George replied, “Isn’t he that philosopher that inspired Star Wars?”

“Yeah, Franki introduced me to some of his books. He says this thing about following your bliss. It’s like, you gotta do what makes you happy. So seriously son, what do you want to do more than anything else?”

George took a drink and then thought for what felt like a long time. Finally, he answered. “I guess I still want to do movies.”

“Well alright then.” Henry raised his bottle to his son then realized out loud, “You know we never had a beer together.”

“You’re right, we never did.” George said with some surprise.

“Two shots!” The father immediately ordered.

Two shots were delivered. George watched his father take his shot without hesitation. He could then see Henry’s eyes on him as he raised the tiny glass to his mouth. George could feel his whole face grimace as he barely got the liquid down his throat. He then heard Henry burst into a much-needed laugh.

“That your first shot son!” A local patron asked.

“First shot with me!” The proud papa proclaimed.

“Well let’s make it a second,” the man said. “Bartender, three more shots.”

“Oh god.” George’s eyes rolled while everyone at the bar laughed.

“Tonight son,” Henry announced while looking across the bar, “you’re gonna learn the true meaning of horror. I see they’ve got some vodka over there.”

Father and son proceeded to drink and mingle with the locals. Neither revealing much regarding the purpose of their visit. Over beer and pool, they mentioned they were originally from a town up north and were just passing through. George watched a side of his father he’d never seen before, boisterous and social, and George found himself being rather reserved, not gaudy and demanding of attention. Perhaps, he thought, because he knew he wasn’t around people that would carry a conversation about splatter movies, video games, or Dungeons and Dragons. He was around regular people, the kind he’d usually look down on.

“He’s going to be a movie director!” His father announced to his new best friends. George looked on in confusion, not knowing how to respond. 

“Oh really!” an older woman said. “What do you think of that psycho in Milwaukee, you could make a movie about him?” His father looked at him with drunk eyes smiling while the woman waited for his response.

Looking back at his father, George soon blurted out, “Nah that guy was sick.”

As the night died down, father and son sat back at the bar. On the television the Brewers were tied with the Baltimore Orioles, that was until Milwaukee’s Robin Yount hit a double to bring Darryl Hamilton home to a 6-5 lead. Pointing to the boxed television set, Henry said “When you were first born, I imagined taking you to a game in Milwaukee.” 

George turned to his father and said, “We did see the Brewers, remember?”

“We did?”

“Yeah, we went to a Phillies game when they played them. You were mad because I was cheering on Mike Schmidt.” George recalled, suddenly remembering a part of his childhood when he actually had sports heroes.

“Well, he was the best third baseman to ever play the game.” His father happily pointed out. “Damn, I forgot all about that.” The two then looked up at the TV to watch the rest of the game. Not too long after, the last Baltimore batter struck out, and Milwaukee won the night. Once it was wrapped up Henry said, “Thanks for coming out here with me.”

“No problem.” Struggling to find what to say next, he said “I’m sorry dad, I’m sorry about, I don’t know,” he looked back at the TV hoping to find some inspiration.

He felt his father’s hand on his back while hearing the words “It’s alright son. You were so little; you probably don’t remember her much.”

“I remember her a bit.” George recalled. “I remember when she stayed with us. We went to the store one day and I wanted a magazine.”

“You always were a reader.”

“Yeah, and mom didn’t want me to get this monster magazine, but Sally got it for me.”

“Really? I don’t remember that.”

“You don’t?” This was a surprise to George. “That’s what got me into horror movies.”

Henry’s eyes widened “Wow, really?” He shook his head, took a big gulp of his drink, then stared off into nothing.

“I remember when I was a kid,” Henry said after a while, “we had this teacher who brought in a guest speaker. Jewish guy. I’d never met anyone Jewish before.”

“What did he talk about?” George asked, not realizing when this story would have taken place.

“He’d lived through all the shit.” Henry answered. “It was God awful. He was right there in Auschwitz.”

“Oh my god.”

“What he saw was unbelievable, stacks of bodies, and that awful smell. We were just kids though; we should have known better. We had to stay after school that day.”

“What happened?”

Henry looked almost too embarrassed to admit it, even decades later. He explained “Me and my friends, we were laughing at the guy. We were just dumb kids, but still, we should have known better.” Henry shook his head in disbelief” I guess when it doesn’t happen to you, it’s almost like it’s not even real. With my sister, it was always real to me.”

Local news now came on the television. The Dahmer story was still hot, and the gory details of his crimes were once again the lead. George took another sip of his drink and thought out loud. “That son of a bitch.” Soon the bartender changed the channel and announced last call. Father and son closed the bar that night.

Waking up the next morning, Henry decided they should go to the cemetery to see Fred one more time. George felt odd attending the burial of someone neither he nor his father ever knew. However, it was likely no one noticed, as it seemed all of Plainfield was out. George and his father had to park their rental car down the road from the cemetery gate, as so many cars were already there. Walking on the dirt path, they passed an old couple, “That’s where I’ll be Ronald.” The elderly woman said, passing an empty plot amongst the tombstones. 

“Well don’t rush!” Her elderly companion said, squeezing her arm playfully.

The weather was pleasant that day at the Plainfield cemetery. The crowd gathered around as the priest read the words of Psalm 23, which was common for such occasions.

“The Lord is my Shepard; I shall not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside the still waters.

He restores my soul; he leads me in the path of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for you are with me, your rod and your staff they comfort me.

You have prepared a table before me in the presence of my enemies, you have anointed my head with oil, my cup runs over. 

Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all of the days of my life,

and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

After the service most of the crowd dispersed. George and Henry kept to themselves as Fred made small talk with a few of the locals. After a few minutes, Fred appeared surprised when he saw George and Henry. “Thanks for coming.” he said, to which the two nodded. “Come on over here.” Fred then motioned. George and Henry followed him across the cemetery to a series of graves. “These were his parents.” Fred whispered, pointing to two tombstones on the right which read George Phillip Gein and Augusta Gein. “This was his brother Henry.” he said pointing at the grave to the left. Then, pointing to a grey tombstone between Henry and Augusta, Fred said ‘“and here he is.” George and his father looked down, and there was the tombstone of one Edward Theordore Gein. Here lay the Ghoul of Plainfield, and no one ever knew.

“The Sheriff ‘found the body’ Fred spoke using air quotes, “the next day. We couldn’t bring ourselves to go to the funeral. My wife went; said a lot of people came out. Everyone saw him as this odd guy, but they all remembered him working hard. Kids liked it when he babysat them. In the winter he would have snowball fights with them, in the summer he would buy them ice cream. We figured it was better no one knew.” 

Then he teared up. “I’m sorry.” he took out a handkerchief and blew his nose. “I’m sorry, he was my friend. We just had no idea.”

“It’s ok.” Henry said. “There was no way you could have known. It’s a good thing you came along when you did that night; you know, for my sister.” 

Putting his handkerchief away Fred revealed, “Except for your friend Robert I never told a soul. I mean my wife knew a little I guess, but me and Arthur, we never told anyone.” Looking at Henry he continued. “I don’t blame you for being mad about what we did, but I’m glad you know. You deserved to know. To tell you the truth it feels good to tell someone, as awful as it is.”

Henry gratefully put his hand on the man’s shoulder and said, “Thank you for helping my sister, and, and for everything.”

The two embraced, then Fred pulled away and shook George’s hand before saying “You two take care now.” and left the father and son to themselves. Henry turned to his son and fell into his arms. George held his sobbing father while looking down at the grave. 

There was a time when George would have reveled in the story of Ed Gein. At one time, had he the opportunity, he would have ripped this tombstone right out of the ground and sold it for notoriety and fame, but here it lay, perfectly intact. It’s smooth stone reflecting the sunlight. Only a few people in the whole world ever knew of what the corpse that lay beneath had done in life.

There will be one more chapter of this tale of horrific alternate history tomorrow, just in time for Halloween. In the meantime, be safe.

Part Fifteen: Point of Divergence

Reader advisory, this chapter is graphic.

8/5/1991 Wisconsin

Henry and George were not about to drive all the way to Wisconsin. Flying out of the Lehigh Valley airport, after a short layover they landed in Green Bay. It was late when they landed, and they didn’t talk much as they spent the night at a hotel. The next day they rented a car and headed west. George had forgotten how flat it was out there, with its pink soiled fields that stretched for miles. Later, looking at the road map, George noticed Henry turned on 76 North at the town of Shiocton, when he was expecting to still follow 54 west.

“Why are we going north?” George asked.

Henry’s eyes still kept on the road. “We’re going home,” he answered, “we’re going to see my sister.”

Not long after they rolled into their old home of Amherst and found themselves at the gates of the Greenwood Cemetery. George followed as Henry slowly walked through the graveyard. Still remembering right where Sally was, Henry knelt down and touched his sister’s tombstone with his hand. George stayed a few feet behind, and after a few quiet minutes Henry rose back up. Together they looked down at Sally’s final resting place. Henry remembered how all those years when nobody believed her. Well, that wasn’t true, he believed her. Somehow, he knew she was telling the truth, and he always stood by her. Whatever really did happen, he wished it wouldn’t have. He wished she was there with him now. He wished she could have met Franki, and he wished she could met her grown boy. “She would have liked you.” he said to his son.

“You think?” George asked quietly.

 “Yeah,” Henry nodded, still looking at the stone. “She was, well, she always did her own thing, like she really didn’t know how to do any different.” Finally, he looked away from the stone and said “Well, let’s go find what this shit’s all about.”

Now heading south to Plainfield, Henry was surprised at what good time they were making. He didn’t remember the roads being this good when he was a kid. George kept looking out over the plains, still amazed how you could see so far off into the horizon. “I wouldn’t have been able to grow up here.” he observed.

“It’s where I grew up.” Henry said matter of fact like, still looking at the empty road ahead.

“Why did you leave?”

“Hmm, once Sally was gone,” Henry reflected, “well, people were teasing Helen in school about it, and your mom always wanted to get out of Wisconsin.” He laughed and looked at George to say, “I guess you can see why.” Looking back at the open sky he said, “Bethlehem Steel was always hiring, so off we went.”

George looked back at Henry and added “I think mom wanted out of everything.”

Remembering how she ran around as soon as they settled into their new home, Henry replied, “Yeah I think you’re right George, I think you’re right.”

Later that afternoon they pulled into a motel in Plainfield. George’s eyes scanned the small main street of another identical Wisconsin town and asked. “Did you ever come out here before?” 

“No never.” Henry said looking around.

They checked into the room. Henry previously informed Fred, a local resident, how Bloch got a hold of him and the former Sheriff. Henry had told the man he would call him once he got to town. In the hotel room he got Fred on the phone. “Get me a paper and pen.” he instructed George, who handed him the stationary. “Ok, empty lot on Archer and Second, about 6 miles out of town. You can see me in about an hour? Ok great, thank you.”

About an hour later Henry and George pulled into an empty lot on the outskirts of Plainfield. Before making this trip, George asked why they didn’t just call these people on the phone. Whatever the truth was, Henry wanted to find out face to face. 

A blue pickup truck waited for them on the side of the road. The sun was beginning to set when Henry and George arrived. They saw an old man get out of the pickup. Henry was expecting to meet two people. This sole figure had a long grey beard and denim overalls. He was probably a farmer, as Henry’s father had been. Henry pondered how, had George grown up here, they both would have ended up looking like this guy. George probably wouldn’t have liked that. As the man approached, Henry couldn’t help but think he looked familiar, but he couldn’t imagine where he could have seen him before. The man gave him a glance of recognition as well, before pointing at the two of them saying “Henry and George Kohler?” 

“That’s correct sir.” Henry said. 

“Fred.” the man stuck his hand out. “Pleasure to meet you.” He shook hands with both of them. Looking around at the near empty land, Henry could see a house off in the distance. “So, is this where you live?”

“Down the road a bit.” Fred then pointed to the ground to explain, “This was Eddie Gein’s property.”

Henry asked, “Who’s Eddie Gein?”

The night was slowly creeping in while the trio walked down the road by the empty field. It was here that the man began his tale. “It would have been around this spot where I found the car.” The father and son followed behind as they heard Fred say, “I was driving home that night when I saw it,” turning back to look at Henry he said “what would have been your sister’s car, pulled over on the side of the road. Figured it was outta gas or something. Got out to take a look, that’s when I heard the gunshots. Wasn’t hunting season yet.” Pointing to a pile of rubble he said “I knew this property was right down the road. I figured someone was pulling a prank on poor Ed.”

“A prank?” Henry asked.

“People took advantage of Ed.” Fred explained. “He was a simple fellow, people borrowed money from him and didn’t pay him back, borrowed shit from him and kept it. One time somebody put a smoke bomb under the hood of his truck.” He shook his head, taking no pleasure in recounting this story. “Boy he was mad at that one. He was so mad he could have, could’ve….”

“Could have killed somebody?” George finished the sentence.

“Yeah.” Fred shook his head before speaking again. “Anyway, I head on down the road, next thing I know this girl is jumping up and down waving her arms around right in front of me. Almost ran her over honestly, but I just barely managed to spin the truck around without getting into a damn wreck. She hopped in the cab and screamed ‘Go go go!” Fred motioned with his arm. “I heard another gunshot and hit the gas. Couldn’t see anybody else out here, but I could have sworn I heard some squealing sound, like a hog got loose or something. You know,” he stopped and shook his head, “I never thought much of that sound until just now. Too much going on at the time for me to think of it, but Ed hadn’t had livestock for years.”

“So, the girl you picked up,” Henry asked, “this was my sister?” 

“That would be her,” Fred answered, “she was hysterical. Got her back to my place, the wife made her some tea and tried to get her to calm down. She was babbling all this stuff about bodies and what not.” He looked at Henry to say, “I’m sorry to say this sir, but I thought she was whacked out on dope.”

“It’s ok.” Henry assured him.

“Anyway,” Fred continued, “hearing those gunshots I was worried someone was harassing Eddie. So, I called the Sheriff and told him to meet me at the Gein property.”

Now walking off the road onto the former Gein property, Fred pointed to the ground and noted that Eddie had a woodshed right around this spot. “I pulled my truck up and looked around. It was all dark, but that was to be expected, Ed didn’t have no electricity. I called out to him a few times but there was no answer. I couldn’t make heads or tails out of most of what your sister was saying, but she insisted there was a body in the woodshed. I was half afraid somebody killed Ed and put his body in there! So, I went in.” Fred was now getting visibly upset. He lit a cigarette, took a puff, then looked at George and Henry and asked, “Do you hunt?” 

George nodded no but his father said, “Sure I do.” 

“So, you’ve gutted a deer?” 

Henry nodded and George asked, “So, there was a deer inside?”

“No, it was a person!” Fred nearly shouted as both George and Henry gasped. “She was hanging upside down off a crossbar that was shoved right through her ankles. Her arms were tied taught with rope to the crossbar, and she hung there naked as the day she was born.” Fred sniffled as he took a drag of his cigarette. “Gutted like a damn animal, big gashing hole in her, her…”

“Jesus.” Henry said. He now understood how his sister suffered for what she had seen, and also knew this man also lived through his life with this memory.

“I ran out the shed and puked right then and there, probably right where he’s standing.” Fred pointed to George, who calmly took a step back. “The Sheriff, Arthur his name was, he arrived by that point,” Fred managed a smirk while he took time to wipe his eyes. “Bastard was laughing at me for puking, but his laughing scared the shit out of me. He comes up behind me and puts his hands on my shoulder asking if I was OK.” Now laughing himself he recalled “I almost shot him. He wasn’t laughing then, but he must have noticed the shed door open, so he went in and took a look. Next thing I know he comes running out and now he’s puking right next to me.”

“Jesus, I’m so sorry.” Henry said, astonished. 

“Who was in the shed?” George asked.

“You know,” Fred remembered, “I don’t think I even noticed her head was taken off, but later he told me her head was laying in that shed. Said it was someone we knew, someone who had just died. Arthur and I were both at her funeral just the week before.”

“Wait, so her grave was robbed?” George said in disgust.

Fred nodded before continuing. “The Sheriff stormed to the porch. Even then I don’t think I realized what Ed had done. I think in that moment, I was still thinking somebody else did it. But the Sheriff was pounding on the door, he was hot. ‘Eddie! Eddie!” Fred mimicked knocking on an invisible door. “Get your ass out here now!’ He didn’t wait for an answer and just kicked his damn door in. I followed behind. I was still worried about Ed. I remember yelling ‘Ed it’s Fredrick, are you okay?”

Pointing to an area in the now empty field, Fred continued, “It would have been right around here where we went in. The first thing we noticed was the smell. It was awful. There was no electricity in the house but we both had our flashlights. Apparently, Ed lit his house with kerosene lamps, so a few of those were around. Eddie’s mom died years before, he was really close to her. I think once she died, he just fell apart. His place was a wreck. We could see coffee cans stuffed with chewing gum, cracked yellow dentures laying around. There was a washtub filled with sand, piles of these old mystery magazines. It was a mess, and we didn’t even see the worst of it yet.”

“So was Ed in the house then?” Henry wondered aloud.

Fred nodded slowly. “We heard that sound, that squealing sound, almost like an animal crying.  We went in the next room, which looked like a bedroom, that’s where the sound was coming from. There it was, sitting on the bed, it was rocking back and forth, cradling a rifle in its hands.”

“Was it Ed?” George asked.

By now it was dark, the only light they had was from the moon, and the burning red glow of the cigarette. “I don’t know what made me say it.” Fred thought back to that horrible moment. “I didn’t think it could be Ed, I just didn’t think it could be. It had long grey hair like a woman, and its skin was old and wrinkled. I don’t know what made me say it, but I looked at this thing and said his name, ‘Ed?”

“Oh my god” Henry shuddered at the realization.

“It wasn’t Eddie’s face, but it was his eyes, Ed had this fleshy growth under his left eye, and I could see it. Those familiar eyes looked at me, but they had a hate in them I’d never known. It let out this horrible shriek and charged at me. Now Eddie was a small man, but he was farmer strong, knocked me down and got right on top of me. His hands flailed at me. I reached up and pushed the face away, that face, it felt so strange, really oily and unnatural.” Pushing his hands in an upwards motion he said “the whole face pushed to the side, but his head stayed still like his skin was sliding on his skull. Then I saw his whole body get ripped off of me. Sheriff grabbed him by the collar and threw him hard into the wall. Then Arthur smashed the thing’s skull with the butt of his rifle. Now it just lay there, perfectly still on the ground. By then I knew what it was, but I didn’t want to admit it. Only when I got back to my feet, and the Sheriff pulled the mask off, did I face the fact that underneath was Ed Gein.”

George asked, “Wait, what was this mask he was wearing?” 

Fred took another long puff of his cigarette and said, “It was the face of the woman we found in the shed.”

“Jesus Christ, are you fucking serious?” George exclaimed.

“So, what happened to Ed then?” Henry asked. “He didn’t go to jail?”

“Jail, huh, it was too late for that.” 

“Don’t tell me,” Henry said, “don’t tell me you…”

Thinking back to his former friend lying face down in a pool of blood, remembering this accidental death, this awful homicide, Fred explained, “Sheriff checked his pulse, he was gone.” Fred stated. “He then asked me if I was alright. I sat down on the bed to catch my breath. When I put my hand on the bedpost,” holding up his hand palm down he said “I noticed it felt weird, then my hand jerked back, like it knew before I did. Jesus.” He took another puff of his cigarette.

“What was it?” Henry asked.

He then stated the horrible truth. “There were human skulls on his bed posts.”

“What?” George was astonished.

“Yeah. And while this was scaring the shit out of me the Sheriff examined the body. It wasn’t just the face Ed was wearing.”

Henry asked, “What do you mean?”

“He was wearing a whole torso of human skin. It was a woman’s skin; the breasts were intact.” George and Henry listened in shock. “We didn’t even notice till later, but he was also wearing leggings made of human skin.”

“And you were his friend, and you never knew!” Henry began to grow angry.

“Nobody knew!” Fred insisted. “Nobody was at his house for years; didn’t let people hunt on his property. The guy didn’t even hunt deer because he couldn’t stand the site of blood!” 

Then George asked, “How many bodies do you think were in there?”

“We think ten.” 

“Why ten?” George asked.

“Because between the two rooms, there were eight other skin masks hanging from the walls, some of them were preserved with oil and still looked lifelike. Some were stuffed with paper, some even had lipstick on them.” Fred wiped the tears from his eyes as he recalled “we could actually recognize some of the faces. Also pinned to the walls were nine obituaries from the newspaper. We think he dug graves of women that reminded him of his mother.”

“Why would he do that?” Henry asked.

“I’m not a shrink.” Fred answered. “I don’t know. Maybe he thought he could bring her back.”

“Wait, you said there were nine obituaries,” George observed, “but you think there were ten bodies?”

“In the kitchen, the Sheriff found a brown paper bag.” Fred explained. “I don’t know what made him reach in it, just instinct I guess, but he reached his hand in and grabbed a clump of hair. When he pulled his hand out, he realized he’d found another skin mask, and we both recognized the face.”

“Who was it?” George wondered.

“It was a woman named Mary, she ran a tavern up the road in Pine Grove and disappeared a few years before this. Rumor had it she was mixed up with the mob, all we knew was she disappeared one day. A cartridge was found on the floor of her tavern along with a pool of blood. We always figured someone from her days in Chicago caught up with her, but there she was. The Sheriff put her face down in a bowl, before realizing that bowl was made of a human skull.”

George’s father broke down weeping, almost falling into his son’s arms. “My god my god!” he wailed, fully comprehending both the horror his poor sister suffered, and the madness she escaped. 

George was tearing up himself. “Ok we’ve heard enough” he said, holding his hand up toward Fred.

“No, no,” Henry looked back up. “No tell us everything, we came all this way to hear this.” Wiping his eyes, he insisted, “Go on. I wanna know everything you saw.”

Having already begun his grotesque story, and knowing his audience fully accepted its insanity, Fred recounted the rest of the facts as if he were merely reading from an encyclopedia. “In the kitchen there were four chairs that were covered in human skin.” he recounted. “We also found human skin lampshades, bracelets, human skin covering a wastebasket, and on the sheath of a hunting knife. There was a belt made of nipples, and on the shade pull to the curtains was a pair of human lips.”

George fell to his knees, no longer able to contain the bile in his stomach, he leaned over and vomited on the ground, just as Fred and the Sheriff had all those years ago. His father wrapped his son in his arms and helped him back to his feet. Wiping his mouth with his son’s handkerchief George looked up and said, “Go on.”

“We found a box with nine vulvas’ inside,” Fred stated, still in a monotone voice, “one was dabbed with silver paint and trimmed with red ribbon, the one on top seemed the freshest. Art noticed they were covered in small crystals, then we realized they were sprinkled with salt. In another box were four noses, and in a cardboard Quaker Oates container were scraps of human innards.”

Having recounted the last of the gruesome details Fred apologized to Henry.” I’m really sorry sir, but I have no doubt that whatever your sister told you was probably true.”

George wondered. “What about the rest of the house?”

“The other rooms were boarded up,” Fred recalled, “so naturally we thought ‘Jesus Christ what are we gonna find next?’ I didn’t want to know, but we had to find out. I closed my eyes as Arthur kicked down a locked door to a room downstairs.” 

“What did you find? George asked in dreaded anticipation.

“It was nothing. Apparently, he only used the kitchen and the adjacent bedroom, all the other rooms in the house were abandoned. There were five whole rooms upstairs that went completely unused. His mother’s upstairs bedroom was like a shrine to her. He had her Bible sitting on the nightstand, and this painting of Christ looking up at an angel was still hanging on the wall. The room was perfectly preserved, he didn’t even go in there to dust. It was downright creepy how untouched those rooms were. So that was it,” Fred concluded, “that was everything we found.”

Looking at the empty space where the house once stood, Henry asked, “So, what happened to the house?”

“Arthur was pretty adamant, if word ever got out about this, every freak show in a thousand miles would come take a look.” George nodded in perfect understanding as Fred explained. “Carnies would be showing off his car and would have turned the home into a spook house.” Randomly pointing to a few spots around the land he revealed “We gathered up what remains we could and buried them in a few spots around the property. Not deep enough, as your buddy Robert found out last time, but we buried them. Gein’s house was lit by kerosene lamps, and luckily there was plenty of kerosene lying around. So, we left Ed’s body in there and burned the place to the ground.” 

“And nobody ever found out? Henry said.

“Arthur made sure nothing turned up.” Fred then dropped his cigarette and stomped it out.

“How do you know he didn’t kill anyone else?” Henry asked angrily. “There could be someone else out there just like me with relation that ran across this maniac and maybe got killed and the family never knew!”

“You think I never wrestled with that?” Fred answered back. “Mary was the only suspected murder case in the area. I mean sometimes a hunter would go missing or something like that. I remember this teenage girl disappeared years before, but that was nowhere near here. The Sheriff insisted this be kept quiet, and I wasn’t gonna disobey him.” Raising his hands up he said “I’m not saying what we did was right, but we did what we did, it’s done. I’m really sorry about what happened to your sister.” 

Henry was still angered at what had just been revealed, but he kept quiet while George asked, “What did you tell Sally then?” 

“She was still pretty upset when we went back,” Fred answered, “but I think it was some relief to her once she saw us again. I told my wife to go upstairs while we talked to her in the kitchen. We assured her the man was dead and told her about the fire.” He puffed his cigarette again. “I’m sorry to say it, but the Sheriff got a little hard on her. Made her swear she’d never tell anyone what she saw and told her to never come to this town again. He threatened to plant dope on her and throw her in jail. I didn’t like that he did that, but she promised. We let her sleep in our spare room that night. The Sheriff slept on my couch, though I don’t know if he did much sleeping. The next day we got her some gas and took her home. I actually drove her car back, and she rode with the Sheriff.” 

“I remember you now!” Henry recalled. “I remember the Sheriff bringing her home that day. I was wondering why someone else was driving my dad’s car.” Henry said, remembering his childhood innocence. 

“Shit that was your dad’s car!” Fred exclaimed almost laughing.

“My sister and him got into an argument that night and she took off with it.”

“Well god damn!” Fred exclaimed, shaking his head. “I guess you would have been just a little kid then huh?”

“Yeah” Henry said sternly, still upset about the secret he’d just learned.

George interjected, “You said the sheriff is still here?” Both George and Henry anticipated talking to him as well.

Fred looked down. “Well, he was. He just passed away actually. Funeral is tomorrow.” He thought for a minute, then said “You should come by the cemetery. I’d, I’d like to show you something.” 

“We’ll be out of here in the morning.” Henry quickly said. George put his hand on his father’s shoulder and interjected.

“We’ll see how we feel tomorrow.” George said.

Fred breathed a deep sigh and nodded his head. “Alright, you two take care now.” He then went back to his truck, and soon both vehicles drove away from the empty field. 

It was eerily quiet in the rental car as it rode by the empty fields. Henry didn’t even turn the radio on. George stared blankly out the window; he didn’t dare touch the dial. As they approached what few lights shined in the town ahead, he finally looked at his father and said “We ought to go to the cemetery tomorrow. His father remained silent. “Well don’t you want to know what he wanted to show us?” There was no answer as George turned and looked back out the window just in time to watch the sign for their hotel pass by. Continuing down the road, looked back at his father, who was eyeing a neon sign down the street. “Dad, where are we going?”

Parking the rental car near a tavern he looked to George and said “Son, I think we both need a drink.”

Part Thirteen: Mother

July 23rd, 1991. Plainfield Wisconsin

“Just a little odd.” Bloch wondered how many people thought that about him while sitting in his hotel room and looking over his notes. Every town has their own local weirdo, but something about this Eddie character drew him in, as if they were destined to be inextricably linked. Shrunken heads, was it possible they were from the Philippines, or; could the residents of Plainfield have had a ghoul in their midst that went undiscovered? Quite a story it would make, a domineering religiously fanatical mother, a quiet, unassuming, isolated fellow who lived with a terrible secret. Quite a story indeed. 

The light stayed on as Robert lay in the hotel bed. He couldn’t get Gein out of his mind. He also wondered if anyone else was even staying in this hotel. Looking at the old flimsy door to the outer hallway, he was reminded of his long-deceased friend H.P. Lovecraft, In Lovecraft’s story, Shadow of Innsmouth, the main character stumbled across a strange town, and, after staying in a cheap hotel, is almost kidnapped, before narrowly escaping and learning the town’s deadly secrets. Bloch wished for no parallels to his current experience.

In the morning he planned to drive out to what was the Gein property, just to take a look. In the library he made note of the fire that took Gein’s life back in 1957 and of its location. If anyone questioned him, he could just say he got lost. That sheriff that saw him at the bar looked long retired, and he didn’t expect any trouble from the proper authorities. He would check it out in the morning, yeah in the morning. As his head rested on the pillow, he looked at the shower through the open door of the small dingy bathroom. Funny thing, the shower curtain was missing. He needed a good shower. As his eyes grew heavy, he thought he would wash up then get a good night sleep, then in the morning go check out that property.

The walls were glowing white. Laying there in the hospital bed, his mother’s skin looked a pale yellow, almost like she was already to… no, don’t even think it. She’s still there, he’s holding her weak hand in his own. He can’t believe how much smaller she looks, almost as though the cancer actually shrunk her. He’s crying again. Robert hates this part. She’s looking at him now, but only with her eyes as her face remains deathlike in its motionless. He can only bring himself to say one word in that boyish voice he had so long ago. “Mother.” 

Robert hated that dream. He hadn’t had it in a long time, but tonight hit with extra potency. His whole body shook when he woke up. It’s never like in the movies where you sit straight up after a nightmare. He was still laying in his bed, but his chest heaved rapidly as he looked up at the light in his room. 

He couldn’t wait anymore. The shower remained dry as he rushed out the door. The clerk was fast asleep as he walked out to the vacant streets that were soon filled with the sound of the engine of his rental car. 

Robert guessed that back in Ed’s time this drive must have taken longer, but now in the 90’s even godforsaken places like this had paved roads. It didn’t take him long to reach his destination, especially since he felt pulled by some synchronistic force, as if the whole universe conspired to have him drive down this particular road on this particular night.

The former Gein property looked to be an unassuming empty field. Still, as he turned the engine key but left the car light shining, he felt an eerie sensation, as if he had found some long missing link in the chain of madness that was this soon to be ending century.

Stepping out of the car, the headlights revealed nothing special for him to see, but then he heard the sound. It was the sound of dirt flying through the air and hitting the earth. Had some ghoul still lurked in this place, was a spirit haunting these woods? At the edge of the light Bloch spotted a patch of fur, which was soon accompanied by a pair of white fangs. Bloch bounced back at the sound of barking of the two dogs fighting in the darkness, their animalistic growling and grunting filled the night around him. When the two animals rolled into the light, Robert could see they were fighting over a bone. It was a long bone, long and white, still with specks of dirt on it that were now mixing with the dogs’ saliva. Robert couldn’t help but notice how long this bone was, in fact it looked long enough to be, no, it couldn’t be, could it?

“Get out of here!” Bloch shouted as he kicked a bit of dirt towards the dogs. He surprised himself at how loud he shouted. Off in the distance, he could scarcely make out the shape of another house. A second-floor light was on, its white glow almost like a star in the distance. He hoped he hadn’t awakened the occupant from a good night sleep, something he should be having instead of spooking around on an abandoned property.

When the dogs ran off into the trees, Bloch spotted an exposed patch of earth they had dug up. In the dirt illuminated by the car headlights Bloch could see another shade of white. A set of teeth covered in dirt grinned back at him with a deathly smile. He couldn’t admit it, but he suspected as much when he saw the size of the bone the dogs were fighting over. Now, the evidence lay before him plain as day. Robert Bloch was looking at the remains of a human being.

Still, his mind couldn’t believe it, he had to feel it, he had to touch it with his own hands. Without fear he ran to the shallow grave and scooped up the skull. Its eyes, black as the Wisconsin night, stared back at him. What truths did it have to reveal? Robert felt like Shakespeare’s Hamlet, speaking to the remains of Yorick. Perhaps these were the remains of Ed Gein himself. Alas poor Gein, a fellow of infinite strangeness, he carried this town on his back a million times and is now abhorred in the townsfolk’s imagination. Here in Bloch’s hand rests the final fate of all mankind, no matter what fables we write or athletics we achieve, one day all will be bones in the ground such as these. 

Bloch turned to see a second pair of circular lights shining on him, but this set of lights were moving in the darkness. The truck’s engine kept running as the driver’s side door opened, before swiftly slamming shut. Robert heard the ratchet of the shotgun before seeing Fred from the bar angrily step forward.

“What the hell are you doing out here!”

Robert’s trembling hands dropped the skull, it hit the earth below in a low thud as the truck’s engine continued roaring. “Sir, uh, we need to tell the police, there’s…”

“You aint telling the police nothing!” Good God what horror had he stumbled into? Was Robert now looking at a murderer? Bloch glanced down at the small hole in the earth and knew full well this man could shoot him and bury him out here and no one would be the wiser. Country such as this could hide violence for years and never give up its secrets. The man then shot not bullets but words at the helpless author. “What are you doing on this property!”

Robert’s hands still trembled as he held them in the air. Sweat erupted on his face, both from fear and the humid July air. “Sir I’m very sorry to trespass on your property, I was just…”

“This aint my property, it’s not your property either!” Fred shouted. “Sheriff was all riled up when I took him home, said you were writing shit down! You one of those Goddamn reporters?”

“No, no, I promise you I’m not a reporter. I’m a, I’m, I’m a friend of the Kohler family, did you know Sally Kohler?”

Now it was the armed man who bore a look of trepidation. As the shotgun barrel drew away from him Robert spoke more confidently. “I’m a friend of her family, and they asked me to look into something.” The man’s jaw fell, and the shotgun lowered to the ground. “You probably wouldn’t have known her, but she was out here a long time ago. I believe”, Rober looked down to the bones lying at his feet and said, “I believe she may have met Ed Gein.”

Part Twelve: The Ghoul of Plainfield

July 23rd, 1991. Plainfield Wisconsin

Robert Bloch sat at a bar in Plainfield Wisconsin as the local news delivered a shocking report on just discovered local serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, who had been arrested after police found a man fleeing from his home. In Dahmer’s apartment, police found two entire human skeletons, seven human heads, and an assortment of other human anatomy. As the news report continued, the tavern remained eerily quiet. Then, finally, someone broke the silence. “Well, you know who that sounded like?” said an old man at the bar.

“Oh, come on, don’t say it, Lester.” a woman, Bloch presumed to be the man’s wife, replied.

“I’ll say it Irene, because you know we’re all thinking it.”  Lester insisted. “It sounds like old Eddie Gein.” Lester said, half laughing.

Bloch then recognized the clerk at the store earlier, who was probably the youngest patron in this establishment. The young man asked, “Who?” 

“Was before your time,” Lester explained, “and you should be thankful for that. For years Ed Gein was kind of the local hayseed around here.”

“Well why does he remind you of that guy?” The young man asked, pointing to the TV.

“I’ll tell you why.” Another older man interrupted. “When I was a kid me and a buddy was over his house one time.”

“Bullshit, Bob!” Lester objected. “You were in his house?”

“Yeah,” Bob insisted. “God this must have been 40 years on now. But yeah, me and my buddy Jim used to go to movies and football games with him. One day we were over his house playing cards. Well, I wasn’t too into playing cards as a kid, so Ed gave me this tool to play around with that punched holes in paper. I’d run out of paper, so I went in his room to get more. I go in there and, my hand to God, there’s two shrunken heads in the room!”

“Get the hell out!” Lester exclaimed.

“Swear to God!” Bob raised his hand in earnest. “They looked like they were straight out of those African movies. He said he had a cousin that got them from the Philippines during the war.”

“Well, he for damn sure didn’t have any family who fought in the Philippines! The only family he had was that religious nutjob of a mom.” Lester pointed to the screen as the local news story still continued, “Ten to one says that freak had mommy issues.” 

“Did you see anything else?” Irene asked Bob.

“No, but now that I think of it, he didn’t let us over the house anymore after that.”

“Well, these heads you saw, did they look like Phillipino heads?” Lester asked. “Like were they dark skinned?”

Bob’s eyes widened as he thought about the answer. “Well, no, actually, they weren’t.”  

“So what,” another older man said. He sat next to another gentlemen who remained quiet but appeared visibly agitated at the conversation. “We brought all kinds of shit back from the war. Why I had a buddy who fought the Japs in Okinawa. I was over his place one time and he says, ‘Hey look at this!’ He had a necklace made of human ears!”

“Did you take them home with you Fred?” Lester joked. Getting no reply, Lester then said to the quiet man next to Fred. “What about you Sheriff, what was your take on Gein?”

At first the man only glared at Lester. Finally, he answered with a question of his own. “Well do you remember people coming up missing when I was on the force?”

“All right, just saying!” Lester threw up his hands in jest.

“So, this Ed guy,” the younger patron asked, “did he ever kill anybody?” 

While the locals conversed about their local legend, Robert quietly placed an order of French fries, “I’m gonna sit in the booth over there.” he told the bartender, pointing to the back corner. Bloch was now like a fly on the wall. He took out his notebook and wrote down this name that he never heard before, Ed Gein. 

“People always suspected he killed his brother.” Another older woman spoke up. “My dad was on the fire department. During the war there was a fire on some marshland near the Gein property. Ed and his brother Henry went out to deal with it. Ed said later a strong wind came up and spread the fire, and he got separated from his brother. Thing is, when he went for help, he led everyone right to his brother’s body. My dad said it Henry’s body was stretched out on a scorched piece of ground. Dad said Henry had soot on his clothes, but he no signs of burns on his skin.” Bloch could see a row of elderly jaws slowly lower at the last revelation. “My dad said there were bruises on his head though.”

Then another old man chimed in. “Yeah, and there was Mary Hogan who ran that Crossroads Tavern up north in Pine Grove. Ed was always after her, then one day she came up missing.” 

“Now cut the shit!” The former Sheriff protested angrily. 

Fred, sitting next to the ex-lawman, turned a watchful eye to his friend while he added, “Yeah come on, Elmo,” speaking to the man who brought up Mary Hogan. “Everyone knew she was mixed up with the mob. She left Chicago to hide out here, mob probably tracked her down and took care of her.”

“Ed was always in there though.” Elmo insisted. “I think she reminded him of his mother.”

“Bloody Mary reminded Ed of his holier than thou mother?” Lester objected. “I don’t think so!”

 “I’m telling you; I remember when she first went missing.” Elmo began his story. “Ed came down to help out at the sawmill one day, and we were all joking with him about Mary. I remember saying ‘Eddie if you had spent more time courting Mary, she’d be cooking for you instead of being missing.’ He looked at us with that deadpan face of his and said “She’s not missing. She’s down the house now.’ He always joked like that, saying that he went and got her in his pickup truck and took her home.”

Lester then said, “Yeah and when that teenage girl went missing you said she was at your house.”

“Well maybe she was!” Elmo said, bursting into laughter.

“Wait so whatever happened to Ed?” The young man asked.

“He and his place went up in flames back in the 50s.” Bob said, then pointed to Fred and added “Just an empty property now out by where Fred lives. Look I’m not saying he was like that guy.” Bob tried to explain as he pointed to the TV, “but if he did crazy shit like that then he did it right under our noses.”

Irene heard enough “Look you stupid bastard,” she looked at Elmo but pointed to the former policemen “Arthur served this community for years! Are you saying he didn’t do his job?”

“Hey, leave me out of this.” Arthur raised his hands in protest.

“I’m not saying he didn’t do his job. but you know where Ed lived?” Elmo reasoned. ‘He had that farmhouse out of town away from everybody. He could have been doing all kinds of massacres out there and nobody ever would have found out about it.”

“Now that’s enough of this bullshit!” The former sheriff now rose to his feet. 

“Come on man take it easy.” Fred stood up behind him trying to caution his friend.

Arthur practically charged at Elmo shouting “Mary Hogan was into all kinds of crooked shit and it finally caught up with her! Ed died in a fire because the stupid bastard didn’t have electricity and lit himself up with a kerosene lamp! Now that’s the last I wanna hear of this shit!”

“Okay, okay,” Ed raised his hands nervously.” I wasn’t insulting you. I’m sorry, I was just saying.”

“Well stop saying!” Arthur got nose to nose with Elmo. “I’m just saying, I’m saying shut your damn mouth!”

Fred came up behind his friend and patted him on the back. “It’s OK Art, it’s OK let’s just go.” He finally managed to pull his friend away.

“Make sure he gets home ok.” the barkeep requested as Fred escorted the former Sheriff to the door.

“I will.” Fred assured her.

As they walked out the door, Art turned back, Bloch froze as he realized he’d caught the eye of the retired cop. No one else in the bar noticed Robert taking notes. He could rip up the pages if need be, or say he was making a note to call home should the former Sheriff approach. Fortunately, his scribbled notes were safe as Fred re-entered. “Come on buddy I’ll get you home” Fred then helped his friend out the door.

After this the conversation was minimal, but Bloch still kept his ears peeled. “I’m telling you, if you paid Ed a dollar you got a dollar and a half worth of work out of him.” Irene insisted. “He was a hardworking man, just a little odd.”

Part Eleven: What If?

July 23rd, 1991. Wisconsin

Robert Bloch’s high school class always held reunions at odd years. In fact, the thirty-ninth reunion of the class of 1934 was the very first one they ever had. Back then the Cold War was in full swing, so maybe they didn’t want to chance waiting till forty. This summer was their fifty-seventh reunion. Bloch wondered if there was a special name for such an odd number, like the way fifty years is the golden anniversary and sixty-five is the sapphire.

Driving through the plains of Wisconsin, he laughed to himself as he thought back to the reunion a few nights ago. One of his classmates, who really shouldn’t still be wearing those low-cut blouses, leaned over her dinner plate while eying his watch and asked, “What have you been doing since you got out of school?” Robert delighted her with an impromptu story that he ran a garbage truck company. As a matter of fact, he was the top garbage service in three counties. “Trash, manure, medical waste, we haul it all!” he said with a jovial wave of his fist. She wasn’t eyeing up that nice watch of his anymore.

Later at the bar one of his friends looked that old classmate over and said “I don’t know about you Bloch. If you played your cards right, you could have had her in the shower tonight screaming bloody murder!”

“I don’t think my wife would approve!” Robert laughed.

“Who knows?” His mischievous friend said. “Maybe she would have watched!” Robert missed the humor of his classmates, but he also missed his wife. Elly wasn’t up for another trip to the great state of Wisconsin. It was probably for the best though. He learned that night that one of his friends who couldn’t make the reunion was living in one of those little towns in the northern part of the state. He managed to get a hold of him, and via his rental car went out to see him for a few days.

Now that visit was finished, and he was heading back south. Eventually he would turn east and fly back home via Milwaukee. Speeding down the highway he noticed the road sign, ninety miles to Plainfield. Something about that name sounded familiar, Plainfield, but he couldn’t remember. Not long after, he saw another sign, now sixty miles away. About a mile later he finally remembered, that big guy back at that horror convention, and his story about the psycho house. As he drove by the empty fields, he tried to remember the details.

Less than an hour later Plainfield was ahead of him, and on a whim, he decided to get off the highway. Coming into the one-horse town, he stopped in at a general store to get a drink. He couldn’t resist a peek at the magazine rack. Long gone were magazines like Weird Tales and Amazing Stories that writers like himself and old HPL got their breaks in. At least they still had a few comic books. A young man next to him was thumbing through a magazine about professional wrestling. Robert never knew they even printed such things. He didn’t understand what the appeal was, grown men in tights pretending to fight each other. As he looked over the shoulder of the young man, he spied a report about a wrestling event from Japan. A color photograph portrayed a grappler wearing a mask of a deformed face while holding a chainsaw over his head. The caption read this was a new wrestler named Saw-Man. “Saw-Man, ” he thought to himself. Wasn’t that a character from a horror movie?

Either way, Robert grabbed some stationary and a soda and got in line to check out. In front of him were a much older couple who placed a few items on the counter, but the clerk charged them nothing. He’d heard of a senior citizen discount, but this was ridiculous! As Robert paid for his own items, he watched the happy couple walk out of the store. Maybe they used to be the owners or something. As he looked at them, he thought to himself that he hoped he and Elly made it that long.

Robert then walked outside and looked down the street. There was a hotel nearby, he didn’t imagine many people staying here.

“Elly it’s me.” Robert said as the phone picked up.

“Hi honey, how was your visit?” He heard his wife’s sweet voice over the phone.

“It was great, really fun. Listen I decided to stay out here a few extra days.”

“Oh ok, where are you now?”

“I’m in a little town called Plainfield.”

“Plainfield, never heard of it. Who do you know there?”

“Actually no one,” Robert answered, “which is the reason I called. I need you to get something for me.”

“OK.”

He hated the thought of subjecting her to this madness, but he had no other recourse. “In my desk,” he went on to explain, “I think in one of the right-hand drawers there’s a stack of papers from that convention I went to last Halloween, see if you can grab it for me.”

“Sure.”

“There should be a folder with just a few papers in it.” He explained. “There’s stuff written down in there about Plainfield.”

After a few minutes her voice came back on the line. “Ok I got it.”

“Great, there’s just a few papers in there, I want you to read whatever it says, and I’m going to copy it down.“

“OK,” he could hear the papers rustling. He took a deep breath as he remembered what she was about to discover. “Plainfield Wisconsin, October 1957, Sally Kohler,” Robert wrote it all down. “Oh my god,” she exclaimed as she continued reading. “Is this true?” 

He almost regretted calling her now “Well I don’t know honey; I’m going to try to find out.” Then, feeling the need to soldier on, he said “Just keep reading it please.”

She finished the last remaining notes before adding, “Honey please be careful.”

“I will Eleanor, thank you. I’ll be home in a few days, love you.”

It wasn’t that late in the day. Robert managed to find the library, and the old lady helped him find the microfiche of the local newspapers. Given the Plainfield Sun only came out once a week, it didn’t take long for Robert to scan through years’ worth of papers. Not much going on of course. There was the occasional hunting accident or hunter disappearing. News about Evelyn Hartley made its way all the way out here. He remembered that case, poor young girl; disappeared while babysitting. It was the biggest manhunt in state history, and it didn’t turn up a thing.

Locally there was not much else of note. Looked like two times back in the 50’s there was a fire at the same property, an old farmhouse on the edge of town. Also, in the early 50’s there was a woman who ran a bar not far from here that came up missing. Blood and a bullet cartridge were found in the bar. This seemed to be the most serious occurrence in this area he could find. After decades of scant local news whizzed by, he started to feel stupid. What did he think he would find? There was no rash of local disappearances, not even a little nugget that could inspire a good yarn.

Soon nightfall came, and Robert didn’t have many options in terms of entertainment. He imagined he’d write a letter to his young fan tonight, or at least started a new piece of fiction, but there was nothing to write home about. Maybe he should have known better. Lacking in options, he found himself at a local tavern that evening. A few people eyeballed him as he came in, and he thought to himself he might have been the first out of town person to come into this tavern since, maybe ever. Looking around at the mostly older crowd, he would have bet the same people had probably been coming here for years. 

A Brewers game was on. It was an away game against Kansas City. Robert couldn’t remember the last time he even watched a ball game. Way back in his youth, what felt like a thousand years ago now, there was a special father’s and son’s day exhibition game. Robert couldn’t remember who it was against, but he remembered it was hot. As he put down a few dollars for his beer at the bar he remembered the then outrageous price of a dime for a ballpark soda. That day, during the seventh inning stretch, big league player Hack Wilson tossed an autographed ball directly at him. The ball flew perfectly through the air. He reached his hand up to grab it, looking for his first moment of athletic glory, and the ball slipped through his fingers. He watched the white sphere stitched in red fall deep down into the abyss below the open bleacher seats. He never knew if he had disappointed his father. He did just get his first pair of glasses, so at least he had that for an excuse. But what if? 

Sitting at the bar with his drink in his hand, he couldn’t help asking himself this question, a question probably faced by all in their twilight years. What if? What if, by chance he was able to catch that ball? What if he then leapt into the more extroverted world of sports, and what if he never dove into that most introverted world of books? What if he hit home runs or scored touchdowns instead of spinning strange yarns of the Elder Gods and dead Whitechapel murderers? It was too late for such questions now; Robert did not regret his path in life. He did what he loved, but as he saw his reflection in the mirror at the back of the bar, he mulled over how his work never hit the nerve of the American consciousness. While he certainly had a successful career as a novelist, and even wrote a handful of screenplays and television episodes, he never had that one piece of work that captured the public’s imagination the way Stephen King had, or the way his old friend and mentor H. P. Lovecraft had, or, as he watched the ball player on TV hit a homerun to a cheering crowd, the way athletes had. Too bad it was hit by Todd Benzinger of the Royals.

Long lost in thought, he didn’t even notice later when the game ended, a game he’d stopped watching so long ago. The tavern was now filled with the tune of the local news station, whose Breaking News logo emblazoned the screen. The news caster then appeared, he seemed more serious than usual, his voice in fact was almost shaking.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we come to you tonight with extremely disturbing news from right here in our area.” The Wisconsin anchorman said. “We warn you; the following segment may be too disturbing for some viewers. Milwaukee police have arrested thirty-one-year-old Jeffrey Dhamer, after finding an adult male fleeing Dhamer’s apartment with one wrist handcuffed. Police arrested Dhamer in his home, after which they found a scene of pure terror.” After taking a visibly deep breath, the anchor man continued. “Police found seventy-four polaroid photos of corpses at various stages of dismemberment, which were all taken in his home. Dhamer’s apartment was filled with actual human remains, including two entire human skeletons, seven human skulls, a pair of human hands, an entire human torso, two human hearts, and a bag of other human organs.”

As the report went on, and footage from the killer’s home was shown, Bloch looked around to see all eyes were on the screen. At this moment, nobody ordered, nobody drank, solids and stripes remained still on the pool table, the barkeep even turned the jukebox off. Bloch couldn’t put his finger on it, but somehow, he knew this horrific news hit the people of this tiny town with an extra sting.

Finally, an old man at the bar broke the silence. “Well, you know who that sounded like….”