Stranger Things: The College Years (Chapter 6)

This eight-chapter novella is a work of fan fiction based on the Stranger Things TV series. I do not profit from it and it is not part of the official Stranger Things canon. It’s a story that came to me as I imagined the kids in their college years, well after the period of the television seasons. There is a lot of Stranger Things fiction to be found online (see here), but if I learn that the Duffer Brothers do not appreciate fan fiction of their work, or if they order a cease-and-desist, I will gladly pull the story down.

The story assumes the events portrayed in TV seasons 1-2. I was a bit unhappy with season 3, not least for the silly comedy. In my imagination of the summer of 1985, Joyce Byers died fighting the Mind Flayer; there were no Russians under a mall; Eleven defeated the Mind Flayer once and for all; Jim Hopper survived to continue raising Eleven; William and Jonathan Byers stayed in Hawkins, and their Aunt Ruth came to live with them and assume guardianship of Will. Also, Karen Wheeler had an affair with Billy Hargrove, and she aided and abetted him in abducting people for the Mind Flayer until he was killed by the creature. Jim Hopper did engineer a break-up between Eleven and Mike, but not in the silly way portrayed in season 3.

                               Stranger Things, The College Years — Chapter Six:

                                   The Illithid

If there had been any doubts in their minds about Mike’s self-knowledge, Jane knew they were gone now. His reaction to her was undeniable. Hers was compulsory. She caught Mike Wheeler and cried his name like an intercession.

He moaned and clung to her as if fearing an immediate treachery. Apologies bubbled in her throat, and she breathed them into his ear, knowing they weren’t enough. Nothing sufficed here. Mike was alive, but she had destroyed him in too many ways. He tried saying something but could only stutter, and tried again. His mouth twisted. He broke off from her in frustration and screamed at the ceiling.

“Mike!” she yelled. My God, what did that thing do to you?

Mr. Clarke appeared in the doorway, alarmed. “Okay in here?”

“I think so,” said Will, shaken.

“We’re okay, Mr. Clarke,” said Dustin.

Jane was definitely not okay. She was going to tear the Illithid apart, no mistake this time.

She turned to them. “Can we be alone for a while?”

“Yeah, totally,” said Dustin.

“Of course,” said Will.

They knew she could handle Mike if he turned on her.

 

“Do you hate me?” she asked. They were sitting on the edge of the bed.

Mike glared at her, twitching.

She took his hand — and he yanked his hand away and barked something harsh.

“What? What is it?” she asked.

He bellowed again. He was demanding something.

“What do you need?” I promise that thing will never take you again.

His response was to grab the front of her shirt and yank her up close to him. Clenching his fists, he tore the fabric like a veil. He stared at her breasts, held them, and then regarded her. She gaped at him, dumbfounded. He wanted this from her now? Of course he did. He had been reduced to a primitive output. It was the only way he could express himself, certainly to her. And she owed him this a thousand times over.

He gripped her harder and forced her on the bed, starting to work on her pants. Will was right. He’s inhumanly strong. But he was still no match for her. There was hardly a person on earth who could take on Jane Hopper. She could have effortlessly stopped this if she wanted to. She didn’t. Years of guilt and abstinence meshed with simple love for Mike — and desire exploded in her veins. She kept a submissive posture as Mike dropped his full weight on her, tearing off the rest of her clothes like a fevered rapist. She tried helping him out of his own, but he rejected assistance with a snarl. He literally ripped Lucas’s shirt off himself, ruining it. Jane felt a surge of anger when she saw the scars on Mike’s chest. She wanted to kill whatever had done that to him; she had no doubts as to the creature’s identity. Mike shed his pants and stood over her naked, as if daring her to object. Then he was on her again.

There was no foreplay; he hadn’t the capacity for such graces. He was immediately up and inside her — shoving back and forth, slobbering over her, grunting like a hog. She inhaled sharply and felt the heat grow in her sex. She determined to match his thrusts with as much fervor. It wouldn’t be hard. Mike was huger than he had been at fifteen, and his thrusts drew something extra from her in these uncharted waters of bestial passion. She clung to him and heaved upwards, exhaling affirmatives. He growled into her neck; dug his fingers into her back; and pushed in and out — as if worried that she might vanish into air any moment. No. I’m not leaving you again. Ever.

She could have easily drowned in this — in him, the sweetness, the pain, and the unchecked power that made it seem like she was flying. She envisioned herself high above open plains with stampeding buffalo barely visible, as they raced below to outmatch her. No chance: Mike’s thrusts lent her lightning speed. Nothing existed outside these Elysian fields and the painful world of give-and-take: humping and moaning in sheer oblivion. Then her climax came.

It flooded her like waves of lava, and the ecstasy practically blinded her for a few moments. She never dreamed sex could be this rewarding. It hadn’t been like this at all on the Christmas of ’86, when they had both been fifteen, nervous and far too delicate with each other. On that night Mike had been trembling, shaking like a high-rise on the verge of collapse; he spent himself quickly. The pleasure had been all his, and over in seconds. His climax this time came long after hers, and he fell on her, groaning an undecipherable lament. She shifted onto her side and looked into his eyes. Tears and sullen resentment stirred, and she cursed the abysmal night she’d broken up with him. “I’m sorry, Mike,” she whispered. “So sorry.” It’s not enough, I know.

It seemed enough for him now. They went to sleep in each others arms.

 

“El!”

Dustin –?

“ELEVEN!” He was pounding on the door.

She clambered out of the smog of sleep, and pried herself from Mike’s arms. He was waking up too. Why was Dustin yelling?

The door burst open, and she squinted as light poured in from the hallway. Dustin came in. He was alarmed about something. “Holy shit. You guys need to get dressed. We’ve got a problem.”

Mike growled.

“Yeah, keep that attitude, Mike. You’ll need it.”

“Dustin, what’s happening?” asked Jane.

“Will was outside on the porch. He saw the Illithid in a neighbor’s yard.”

Mike reacted by moaning in agony. Either he understood what Dustin was conveying, or he could sense the nearby presence of his tormentor. Jane thought it might be both. She leaped from the bed, pulling Mike with her. “We’re coming!” she said.

Dustin fled the room. She threw on her clothes and told Mike to do the same. He groped her and made mewling noises as she helped him into Lucas’s pants.

There was a sudden noise down the hallway, and a loud crash. Then a terrible scream from the living room.

“Stay here,” she ordered Mike. His eyes were round O’s of terror.

An electrostatic concussion suddenly boomed from the living room, and rocked the entire house. The air of a walk-in refrigerator came pouring through the bedroom door. She heard Will and Dustin shouting Mr. Clarke’s name hysterically. She didn’t like the way that sounded. She stepped into the hallway, preparing herself. She had to do it right this time. She would kill the creature —

From down the hallway and around the corner, stepped the Illithid.

The thing was as hideous as she remembered it. It had a humanoid body with an octopus-like head, and four tentacles moved sickeningly around a lamprey-like mouth. A pair of hateful eyes glared at her; it hissed and oozed coldness. The sight of it made her quiver with revulsion; the knowledge of what it had done to Mike fueled her rage. She felt her power build, and she readied to throw force at it.

From her blind spot she sensed a dash of movement. Mike.

No.

Mike leaped past her and threw himself at the Illithid; a bold and helpless gesture. The creature raised a clawed hand, and Mike’s body slammed against an invisible force field. He folded to the floor.

Jane screamed and unleashed her force, but the creature had quick reflexes. Its other hand shot up and deflected the wave of telekinetic fury that would have sent it smashing into Mr. Clarke’s wall. Its eyes were feral, promising murder. Then it spoke:

“Sa lizz gia.”

The voice was demonic and guttural.

“El-e-ven.”

Taunting.

She recalled the creature’s fluency in all languages plus its own. No matter: she had no intention of reciprocating conversation. Blood was flowing down her nose; she ignored that too. Raising both arms, she prepared to blast.

The creature tittered and she froze in horror. A spasm went through Mike’s body on the floor, and he was suddenly standing upright between them, his lips pulled back in an obscene smile. That smile indicated ecstasy and torment in equal measure. He was cross-eyed and drooling spit, and his head snapped left and right; his limbs jerked sideways. He was being played like a marionette.

Then Mike’s mouth opened and spoke English for the first time in years: “Desist, bitch, or your fuck-boy dies for good this time.” Mike. Her rage built.

Behind Mike the Illithid gestured, straining to parry Jane’s forces and manipulate his toy at the same time. It had chosen the battleground wisely. Jane had never fought anything in close quarters like this, and if she didn’t discipline her fury Mike would be collateral. She recalibrated her blast to circumvent him, but it wasn’t easy. Mike was right in front of the damn thing, in a cramped hallway. Then the Illithid cackled, and her world turned.

“Watch this, she-dog!” Mike’s voice was a ruinous parody, but that’s not what made Jane’s blood run cold. He had his hand over his face, and his two front fingers were digging into his eyes. He intended to blind himself.

“Mike!” she screamed.

The sound of Mike Wheeler’s eyeballs popping out was sickening. Rays of blood hit the walls, ceiling, and floor. He dropped to his knees, holding his eyes forth like a penitent begging mercy. He wailed like the damned.

Jane poured herself into an apotheosis of energy. Her telekinesis supplied the power, but it wasn’t the right kind. Her lesson from Kali was useless here. Rage and anger had no place in the confined space with Mike. They would kill him here, possibly even herself. She suspended her wrath, or at least as much as she could. She needed subtlety and finesse; she gave the best answer she had.

She became glacial, a vessel of uncaring steel, by staring into reality. Mike hadn’t been killed, as they all thought. He’d suffered worse than death: enslaved, degraded, and tortured. Now stricken hideously blind. The redress for that wasn’t unbridled passion; it was cold hatred. Almost without transition, her telekinetic waves condensed from a tsunami into a highly concentrated beam. She let it loose straight over Mike’s head and into the Illithid’s, willing murder in every drop of her blood.

But it was fast; too fast. Its reflexes dated to the dawn of creation. It wasn’t huge like the Mind Flayer, but its power was titanic and belied its size. Jane could taste the power as her own clashed with it. Her beam was caught by the creature’s claw and diffused.

She gathered for another assault, her nose a fountain of red, and then Mike screamed horribly. His eyeballs were on the floor, bloody and forgotten, as a new agony tore through him. He was on his side, holding his left leg. There was a grinding noise; he screamed again, and his kneecap shattered. Then he fainted as blood poured from the middle of his leg. Jane began to panic. The Illithid was tearing him apart, piece by piece.

Now or never. Rage broiled in her bowels, but she morphed it into the dispassion she required. The sight of Mike ate at her like venom, but she used that too. She summoned more forces, and let them run through her like a riptide. They gyrated in her atoms until she could barely stand it. Every tendon of her body, and every ligament of her soul, felt strained. She funneled the energy into a new beam that grew so concentrated it looked as tangible as wet ink. At the last moment, she discharged it.

It went straight through the Illithid’s power, obliterating its defensive claw and vaporizing its head. The disintegration was absolute; the creature was headless, and the corpse toppled over. Jane Hopper had finally killed the most dangerous creature from the Upside Down.

And Mike — the old Mike Wheeler — was suddenly screaming in horrendous agony, hunched over on the floor, one leg useless, his hands over his blood-drenched eye sockets. “El! Eleven! Keep him away! Don’t let him take me! DON’T LET HIM TAKE ME AGAIN!!”

She fell next to him and pulled him close, prying his hands away from his face. He howled, shouting pain at her like an accusation. She couldn’t breathe. It’s over, Mike. She tried saying it.

“El?” A shattered voice spoke over her. It sounded like Will. She could barely look up and see him crying. “It killed him,” he said. “It killed Mr. Clarke.” In the other room, Dustin was pouring out grief. The best teacher he ever had. It was too much. Her head felt like a pressure cooker; her nose still ran. Mike went on screaming. Her vision swam.

“Call 911”, she managed to gasp, and blacked out.

 

Next Chapter: That Which is Broken

(Previous Chapter: The Master’s Toy)

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