Posts Tagged ‘Alternate Pop Culture 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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April 20th, 1999 Tri-Country High School, Plainfield Wisconsin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Hey don’t you insult Tupac!”

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

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

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

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

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

12/31/1998 Plainfield, Wisconsin.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 “That totally sucks.” Ben responded.

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

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

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

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

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

“Nanna!” Lindsey blushed in embarrassment.

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

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

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

“Mother baked some cookies.” Franklin answered.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Stole it from my dad’s cabinet.”

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

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

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

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

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

Once again Ben was confused. “What trailer?”

“You know, on the Sci-Fi channel.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I bit in, and I stayed alive.” 

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 1993

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Godless feeling in me

night after night

Godless feeling in me

Born of their lives”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Ed who?” Emily asked, confused.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Grandma?”

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

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

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

2003

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No Gein II: A Second Helping

Chapter Two: Terror Remade

Mann’s Chinese Theater, Hollywood California, August 15th, 2003

Paparazzi crowded the approaching limousine which was soon bathed in a sea of flashbulbs. A beautiful blonde woman stepped out of the limo and waved to the cameras. As the lens of one particular camera zoomed in on her, the man behind the lens admired her dress, but wished it exposed more skin the way other starlets did. The dress did expose her back, which is where her partner placed his hand as he nervously waved to the cameras. The cameraman didn’t recognize this couple and could tell no one else did either as the sea of camera flashes quickly faded away. As the couple slowly walked the red carpet, it was obvious this was a new experience to them. “Who is that?” The cameraman asked Vanita, the reporter he was accompanying. “She’s gorgeous.”

“I think that’s the director’ s sister.” the woman explained. “The square must be her husband.”

“Yeah, like I care who the dude is Vanita.” 

“Just shut your mouth and keep recording.” Vanita ordered as an older couple stepped out of the same limo. Once again, the woman, an older but still attractive redhead, also in a conservative dress, waved happily to the crowd, while her partner, who was dressed to the nines, waved timidly to the cameras.

“That’s the director’s dad and I think his new wife.” Vanita explained.

“Wasn’t asking.” The camera man said.

“You’re going to be asking for a new job if you don’t lose the attitude, Bill.”

Another wave of camera flashes swept the area, this time maintaining their intensity as a young man emerged from the same limousine. He posed to the crowd with a confident smile and a voluptuous woman on his arm. “Now that’s what I’m talking about!” Bill shouted as his lens zoomed on the woman’s exposed cleavage, he then moved the camera up and down her body, allowing his lens to capture all the exposed flesh her dress revealed. Billy was quickly yanked out of his own private fantasy by Vanita’s voice shouting “Let’s go!” 

Vanita shoved through the sea of reporters all making their way to the young couple. She almost reached him when another reporter pushed ahead of her and got the man’s attention. “We are with George Kohler, the director of tonight’s world premiere.” The reporter said. “George this isn’t your first rodeo, but are you confident about how your audience will receive this?”

“Honestly, I am always nervous whenever a project is done.” The young director spoke modestly. “I never assume anyone will like it. The original film is such a classic in the eyes of horror fans, and I hope I have done it justice.”

“The early buzz is this film is quite scary.” The reporter followed up with his next question. “Your name is fast becoming associated with horror films. What is next for you?” 

“Well,” George said looking over the crowd of spectators, “this is all great and I really do appreciate it, but I’m going right back to the set of my next film tomorrow and getting back to work.”

Finally, managing to squeeze her way through the crowd, Vanita reached George. “Vanita Williams, Inside Entertainment. Word is you’ve added elements of cannibalism and other shocking content to what you refer to as a classic. There is already some controversy surrounding this film, as some say this was inspired by the late Wisconsin serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer.”

Billy loved it when Vanita got under someone’s skin. He smirked as he could see George’s face instantly shifted from being happy go lucky to irritated and stern as he answered “Dahmer was a sick man and I in no way took influence from him. This movie is a period piece, and I hope it lives up to the original and the legacy it left for so many of us.” Vanita had one more question, and she knew this one would be the killer.

For most of Henry’s life he kept a lot of stuff to himself. That changed was Franki came into his life, as well as when he reconciled with his son a few years back. Now here they all were at a Hollywood movie premier, something he never dared dream of working all those years at Bethlehem Steel. As he watched George taking questions from reporters Henry thought how things happened so fast and his son had been so busy that he never got to tell George yet how proud he was of him. 

“He looks a little upset?” Franki whispered, squeezing his hand and whispered into his ear as he also noticed George appeared a little agitated as he stormed away from a reporter. 

As George approached his family at the entrance to the theater his father asked “What’s wrong son, that reporter piss you off? They didn’t say jack shit to me!” Henry laughed. 

Holding his date’s hand tightly, George answered “I’ll tell you later.”

Entering the theater, George felt more nervous than usual. Since cutting weight he felt more capable of dealing with all the stress the film business has to offer, but he put extra pressure on himself tonight. This latest project was a lot to live up to. Beads of sweat formed on his forehead as he pulled out a handkerchief to wipe his face. “You’re sweating again.” His date said sternly as they sat down. Her nagging only heightened the tension as he looked around at the packed theater. 

While the lights dimmed George remembered the breathing exercises Franki taught him, breathe in, breathe out, focus on what is right in front of you, be present in the moment. In a moment the curtains pulled back, and a beam of light shot through the darkened theater hitting the white screen ahead.  Soon the color switched to green as an MPAA rating was shown for the upcoming trailer. 

“In 1980,” the white letters read on the now black screen, “terror was born.” These words faded, before being replaced with “In 1984, the nightmare began.”

“Yes!” George pumped his fist while his date looked at him confused. “I heard this was coming!”

A series of images involving blades and claws flashed by the screen before words reappeared reading “2003, the legends come together.” 

“Warn your friends,” the voice of a little girl now filled the theater, “warn everyone.” Then the words “face to face” appeared. 

The whole audience cheered as Kane Hodder burst onto the screen as Freddy Krueger, the villain from the Nightmare on Elm Street series. The tall muscular actor spouted out lines “Welcome to my nightmare,” and “Why won’t you die!” as he battled what appeared to be a vicious monster. 

“This Halloween,” the screen read, “evil will battle evil.” before a female character appeared saying “Place your bets.” According to the end of the trailer, on October 17th, after years of the characters being in literal hell and, what was worse in the eyes of fandom, Hollywood development hell, Freddy vs the Devil would finally be released. The crossover between Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th would at last see the light of day. George yelled out a cheer that everyone soon followed. He was almost as enthusiastic for this as he was for his own movie premiere. “Someday I’ll direct one of those.” George proudly stated as his date checked her makeup in her pocket-sized mirror.

A few other trailers followed, and part of George wished these previews would go on forever. As the feature presentation was about to begin, he felt the anxiety creep back up on him. His heart raced as the studio logo hit the screen. This was it, the moment of truth. George remembered Franki’s advice being present in the here and now. George concentrated his whole attention on each second of the now rolling film. As the introduction commenced, he remembered how thrilled he was when he managed to get John Larroquette to reprise his role as the film’s narrator to the opening crawl. The actor, now known for his role in the 80’s sitcom Night Court, explained what the audience was about to see was one of the most bizarre crimes in the annals of American history. It wasn’t really a true story, but that added touch always gave this title an extra sense of dread. George’s adrenaline washed away his anxiety as the audience cheered again for the opening of this highly anticipated remake, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

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 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 Fourteen: A Bloch Letter

July 26th, 1991. Bethlehem Pennsylvania

George spent the afternoon at the comic store to blow off some steam. He’d just quit his sucky job, tired of working for such stupid people, but at least he didn’t have to deal with them anymore. Now he drifted away into the Marvel Universe. George picked up several comics, including the new issue of the Ghost Rider. The flame-skulled supernatural hero was fighting alongside the Punisher, who himself had a skull logo painted on his Kevlar vest. Ghost Rider and the Punisher together killing ninjas, what else was there in life?

There was one more stop to make before going home. At Blockbuster video he dropped off his VHS rental, Silence of the Lambs. George loved this movie about a serial killer who liked to dress up in the clothes of his victims.  

Finally coming home to his new apartment, he thumbed through his mail. Usual shit, bills, catalogues, offers for cheap CDs from Columbia House. Then there was an envelope sent via priority mail. Opening the envelope; he found a letter addressed to him. “Cool Robert Bloch wrote to me again.” he thought to himself. He hadn’t heard from him in a while, and he wondered what he had to say. Setting his comic books down he began to read the letter.

“Hello. It has been some time since we had correspondence. I hope this letter finds you well, and that you are still writing and pursuing your creative endeavors. Recently I recalled our prior conversation when we met at that horror convention. I confess that I did not put much stock in the tale of your relative. Please do not take offense to this, I never doubted you had heard the tale you related to me. It is just when you are in my profession, a myriad of people come out of the woodwork to tell you all manner of tales of haunted houses, grisly murders and other such maniacal ramblings. H.P. Lovecraft was a good friend to me, who I miss dearly, and to this day I am approached by those who speculate that Howard was in fact in contact with the Elder things or the Great Old ones, and that Cthulhu really does in fact sleep under the Pacific Ocean and will one day rise up and take back the world he once ruled. But I suppose there are worse problems to face than the grievances of a successful author.

Anyway, I am digressing. I am digressing because even as I write these words, I am afraid to finish them. Even as the ink hits these pages, I speculate on whether I should continue.

But continue I must, as I had recently found myself back in Milwaukee at a high school reunion. From there I took a spontaneous road trip to the northern part of the state to look up an old friend. After my visit I saw a sign for the town of Plainfield. Remembering your tale, and having some time to kill, I spent a day there, taking a look into the local history. I read about an occasional fire or hunting accident, but at the time nothing particularly sensational stood out.

Robert E. Gard and L.G. Sorden wrote, “Wisconsin contains, if the yarns are an indication, more ghosts per square mile than any state in the nation.” If such a statement is true, then the town I stumbled into may be the most haunted place of all.

That evening, at a local tavern, the horrible news broke regarding the murderer in Milwaukee and the gruesome discoveries in his home. I cannot begin to imagine the pain being endured by the families of his victims. It is too much to think of. As an awful supplement to that terror, the bar patrons near me began spinning a yarn about their own local ghoul, an odd eccentric man from decades ago, who lived in a farmhouse near this community. As the tales were told, I sank away in a corner booth, becoming invisible as I jotted down a few points about their tales. Some locals defended this now deceased citizen, insisting he was harmless eccentric, others claimed things much more sinister.

After that night, I pursued my investigation, posing as a friend of your family. I can no longer stall the narrative; I must force myself to simply blurt out the truth. After talking to a firsthand witness, and, after extreme hesitation, hearing the same story from another source, I have reached a terrible conclusion.

The stories of your Aunt were absolutely true.

Had she lived a very very long life, she could not have expected, nor could she have wished to see, as much of the mad and macabre as she saw that night. Enclosed is the contact information of the two eyewitnesses I spoke to, which they have permitted me to share. One, a retired local sheriff, the other, a longtime resident of Plainfield. I do not wish to retell this terrible thing I have heard. I shall if you insist, but I believe it will be better for you not to hear it second hand. I would encourage you to share this information with your father as well. 

In closing, I have no doubt that you have heard of the recent awful crimes in Milwaukee. As I recall, you had a fascination with the outlaw members of our nation. While I confess an irresistible curiosity with these current crimes myself, my interest stems from how such a thing could occur. I would politely suggest to you that if you wish to learn about those who commit such horrible acts, you owe it to the victims to learn about them too.

It is my hope that this information may provide some peace to your family.

Sincerely yours, 

Robert Bloch”

Henry couldn’t remember the last time he played guitar, but after a few minutes of jamming with Franki it was like riding a bike. He loved the way she looked at him while he played, knowing full well he had a lot of catching up to do to match her talent, but she was nothing but encouraging as he strummed his old guitar. 

Helen liked her too; he was glad she and Franki had gotten along so well. She was just a kid when he went through with his divorce. It was ugly, but Alice never stopped being good to Helen. Helen never liked it, especially after her mom died, when he started seeing other women, but she was older now and she could tell Franki was a good lady. 

His daughter also had someone in her life now. Chuck was a teacher Helen met at Church. Henry wasn’t ready for that yet; but Franki introduced him to the Course in Miracles, which was something about gaining awareness of the presence of love in your life. He didn’t know about all that either, but right now he knew that he was having a good time jamming on his porch with both new and old people in his life. It felt like old times, but it felt fresh too. Helen accompanied he and Franki with a Tambourine, and Chuck chimed in on his harmonica.

Their jam session was soon drowned out by the loud engine of a Chevy Impala and the metal that blasted out its windows. He didn’t recognize the massive car at first, but he noticed his daughter give a confused look as it miraculously managed to parallel park.

“He was still putting on weight.” Henry thought as his son got out of the car and crossed the street. Looking at the manilla envelope in his hand, he wondered what he wanted.

“Who is that?” Franki whispered to Helen.

Henry saw Franki’s eyes light up with joy as he calmly answered the question directed at his daughter. “It’s my son.”

As George came up the steps Franki greeted him with arms wide open. “It’s so nice to meet you!” She hugged him tight. Pulling back, she said “I’m Franki.”

“Nice to meet you!” George said in a chipper voice. Looking her over, he was impressed his dad landed such a nice lady.

“Hey George!” His sister greeted him with a small hug before introducing him to Chuck.

“Hi,” George said surprised. “What brings you out here?”

“Well, we were just jamming.” Chuck answered.

“Cool beans.” George said as he looked over to his father.

Henry remained in his seat, still holding onto his guitar. Eyeing the envelope in his hand he asked, “What do you got there?”

Glancing nervously at dad’s lady friend, George said “Well I gotta talk to you about something.”

Henry knew Franki to be in tune with other people’s presence, their aura as she called it. He felt a pang of frustration as she said, “Oh ok, well I’ll let you two catch up.” She took a step toward the porch steps, but Henry wouldn’t have it.

“Whatever you have to say to me you can say to her.”

Franki thankfully remained still as George just blurted it out. “I’ve been talking with this author, you wouldn’t know him, but anyway he’s from Wisconsin. I had him look into a few things for me, and well, he found out some things about my Aunt.”

Growing more irritated Henry said, “You still trying to make a movie?”

“No dad, I’m not making movies.” George said defensively, “I think what your sister said was true.”

“Yeah and…” George’s statement was no great revelation to Henry.

Holding up the envelope George explained “I got contact info on two people in this little town in Wisconsin. They can confirm her story.”

Henry shook his head. “That’s all in the past now,” he said dismissively. “What are you doing bringing all that up?”

Still holding the envelope in his hand, George looked confused as he looked around the porch. “Ok, well, have a nice day then…” 

“Oh, but won’t you stay a while.” Franki asked.

“Laters.” George said, not looking at Franki or anyone else as he turned back towards his car. Henry’s daughter gave him a disappointed look as he watched his son walk off the porch and drive away.

“Fucking asshole!” George thought to himself as he slammed his apartment door shut and blasted Macabre’s album Grim Reality. He didn’t understand it. The demonic like vocals to Hot Rods to Hell growled as George vented to himself. Dad spent his whole life defending his sister when everyone thought she was nuts. George remembered his dad standing by Aunt Sally when she was in and out of rehab or the prison or the hospital or wherever the hell she was. Now, here was proof that she wasn’t a total lunatic, and his dad didn’t care. Looking at the letter again with the contact information at the bottom, he thought about calling these people himself, but then he thought, “What’s the use?” and threw Bloch’s letter in the trash.

Now, Natural Disaster, an instrumental track, shredded through his stereo speakers, but he turned it down when he realized someone was banging on his door. Probably a stupid neighbor complaining about the noise again. George opened the door to find his father standing there. George said nothing, but his father just had one question. “You up for a road trip?”  

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….”