Posts Tagged ‘Pop Culture Alternative History’

December 27th: 1999 Milwaukee Wisconsin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Yeah, sure.” Franklin said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Epilogue: August 25th: 2003

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

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

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

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

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

The End

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

Stay tuned for No Gein III: The Final Cut!

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Milwaukee Wisconsin, August 15th, 1999

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“He plays football?” Patrick said in disgust.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Oh cool, how did you do that?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“They’re here.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Sure.”

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

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

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

“Who’s Patrick?” His mom asked.

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

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

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

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

“God mom, we just watched a DVD.”

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

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

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

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

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

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.