Stranger Things: The New Generation (Chapter 2)

This eight-chapter novella is a sequel to Stranger Things: The College Years, which should be read beforehand. Both are works of fan fiction based on the Stranger Things TV series. I do not profit from them and they are not part of the official Stranger Things canon. They are stories that came to me as I imagined the Stranger Things characters well after the period of the television seasons. There is plenty 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 these stories down.

                         Stranger Things, The New Generation — Chapter Two:

                                Tempus Fugit

“You must jack off to Ellen Page every day.”

“Shut up.” Mike resented Tobias’s remark, precisely because he did jack off to Ellen Page every day.

“Which one was it?” Tobias was in his desk chair, and Mike was looking over his shoulder at the contents of the screensaver folder.

“That one.”

“This one?” Tobias pointed with the mouse.


“Okay. I’m opening it.” Tobias double-clicked.

The Whip It! image filled the screen as it should have. Ellen was gentle Bliss Cavender again.

“Maybe the screensaver program triggers it somehow.”

“I don’t know, Mike. That’s not usually how viruses work.”

“Well, try it anyway!”

Tobias started the screensaver, with the offending JPEG set to rotate as the first image. He set the images to change every five seconds instead of five minutes, because they had to get to school. “If I didn’t know you better, I’d say you were on crack and imagined it.”

“I’m not on anything and I know what I saw.”

The screenshot displayed normally.

“You’re fantasies of this girl are messing with you.”

“Bullshit,” Mike whispered. The scene faded after a five seconds, and the next Whip It! image took its place.

They waited and watched the change of scenes. He and Tobias usually met at the corner of 79th Avenue and Tibbetts on their walk to school, but he had called Tobias this morning and told him to come over after his breakfast. He had kept his computer off since Ellen terrorized him last night, and refused to turn it back on until Tobias arrived.

The images cycled normally. Tobias made small-talk: “You know Ellen Page is gay, right?”

“Shut up.”

“I’m serious.”

“No she’s not.”

“Uh, yeah, she is.”

“Where did you hear that?”

“I didn’t hear it anywhere. It’s as clear as day.”

“You’re fucked in the head.”

“She’s a closet lez, and has no more interest in your cock than any other guy’s.” Mike knew Tobias was just trying to piss him off, and it was working given his frame of mind. He was still scared by what the screensaver had done.

The images turned to Hard Candy, and they too displayed without any signs of corruption.

“It all looks fine to me, dude. Want me to trash the JPEG anyway?”

“Yeah.” Just to be safe. But Mike knew that wasn’t the problem. The JPEG wasn’t corrupted. It had been corrupted by… something… but it was fine now. As crazy as that sounded.

Tobias went into the folder and trashed it, and they left for school.


Later that day they sat in the cafeteria, enjoying as much lunch as they could tolerate. Mike ate half his pork pie, toyed with his greens, and decided he’d had enough.

“I’m done,” he said.

“Hold on.” Tobias shoved his tray aside and took out his iPhone. “I want to sit for a few.”

“You want to play WordFu.”

Tobias began playing the game he had been addicted to for months. Kung-fu noises brayed from the cell as he hurried to make words of the letters that tumbled on the screen. He glanced at Mike. “What are you waiting for?”

“Play with yourself,” said Mike. They often engaged in WordFu competitions on their iPhones, but today it was the last thing on Mike’s mind. Instead he browsed forums where people complained about weird hacking problems involving JPEG files.

“Yuppies.” The jeer came from the next table.

Tobias didn’t look up. “When I want your opinion, Kate, I’ll smack it out of you.” Mike and Tobias were among the few kids at Marshall High who had iPhones. Most students had the standard fare: Blackberries, Razrs, Nokias. Mike was confident that iPhones would rule the new decade.

“iPhones suck,” said Kate, as if reading his mind.

Tobias let out a huge fart. Kate gagged and swore at him, though one of her friends laughed. But when the fumes lingered, they all got up and went to another table.

“You clear a place out, dude,” said Mike. He breathed through his mouth. When Tobias let loose, it was low tide at a swamp.

“Hopper.” A shadow fell over him, and he looked up to see Dominic Bragdon with his three usuals in tow: Darrel, Curtis, and Todd. All four were staring at him, and Mike felt his stomach tighten. “Move,” said Dom. “We want this table.” What they actually wanted was to pick a fight.

“Sit somewhere else,” said Mike. A stupid thing to say, but he wasn’t quite as scared as he should have been. After what Ellen did to him last night, bullies seemed a minor annoyance.

What did you say, Hopper?”

“He said your balls stink and your mouth is an unwiped shithole,” said Tobias without looking up from WordFu.

The four heads turned on Tobias. At other tables, kids looked on nervously.

“You’re dead, Powell,” said Curtis.

“He’s fucking dead, all right,” said Dom, moving around the table to stand over Tobias. “Give me that stupid phone.”

WordFu spat out its clacking noises, as if mocking Dom’s demand. Tobias ignored Dom completely.

“Did you hear me, shithead?” Dom was about to take this to the next level.

Mike sighed. He knew what he had to do. Reaching inward, he summoned his extraordinary power.

It began as usual, like a swarm of bees inside his head that thrummed until the din and pressure demanded release. His power seemed sluggish today. He pushed harder with his mind, but there was a mental wall he’d never come up against. Be calm, his mother’s voice reminded him. It was the key to control. He cleared his thoughts, and heaved again inside his head. The barrier resisted. He pushed again. The wall finally collapsed, and with a firm thought, Mike morphed the swarm-energy into a silent invisible flare — and threw it at Dom and his friends.

The effect was amusing as always.

“Whoa,” said Dom, looking around the cafeteria. “Why are we here?”

“We’re late,” said Curtis. “C’mon.”

Darrel looked like he had forgotten an appointment, and ran off.

Todd looked confused (though to be fair, that was his natural state of mind), and followed Dom out the cafeteria.

Kids at the other tables went back to their lunches, looking puzzled, some of them clearly disappointed there would be no bloodbath.

Tobias put away his iPhone. “I was worried there for a second.”

“I choked,” said Mike, lying. He hadn’t choked. Something had intruded in his psyche. He’d barely knocked down that wall in time to move Dom and his friends along. He wondered about his splitting headache last night. Was someone — whoever was behind the screensaver incident — interfering with his power? That made no sense. The only ones who knew of his power were his mother, his three uncles, and Tobias.

His power was the illusion of tempus fugit “time flying” — which he had discovered at the age of seven. When Mike “fugited” people (his Uncle Dustin had coined the word), one minute seemed like an hour; a half hour seemed like a day. Usually Mike used his fugit power on people he wished to avoid. Just two weeks ago he had gone to the public library and found Dom and his bullies loitering by the front doors; he had conveniently moved them along, as he had done just now. In his more vindictive moods, he could torment those who had no escape. So in history class one day, he had fugited Curtis, who kept looking at the clock furiously, wondering why the last five minutes of class seemed literally like five hours. Curtis had exploded from his seat and cut off Mr. Schubert’s lecture, demanding to know why they were being kept in class long after school ended. The teacher had rewarded Curtis with a week’s worth of detentions.

Mike’s power had recently become more unpredictable. Last spring he had fugited a poor loser who wanted to hang around him and Tobias. He was a nice kid but never showered, and he liked shitty top-40 music. The damn kid wouldn’t leave them alone, and one day after school Mike fugited him. The next day Mike learned that he had done more than just cause the kid to go home. The kid’s body had decided it needed six times the amount of food normally consumed in a day over the next three hours, and so he had gorged himself on nearly half the contents of his refrigerator, and more still from the pantry. That act of gluttony put him in the hospital. Mike still felt terrible about it.

Then there were the two girls at the movie. They had been seated directly behind him and Tobias during Inglourious Basterds, and they wouldn’t shut their yaps. Talking during a movie was bad; talking during a Quentin Tarantino movie was a capital offense. Mike had casually turned around and whispered the line just delivered on screen to the girl fleeing the Nazi, “Au revoir, Shoshanna!”, and fugited the stupid loudmouths. Instead of getting the urge to leave, the girls’ bodies thought they desperately needed sleep, and they passed out in their seats. Which was fine and well — that certainly shut them up. But they didn’t start school in September, and they still hadn’t returned to class. Tobias had done his detective work and discovered that since that August night at the movies, the girls’ sleep at home had been plagued by nightmares so severe they had suffered nervous breakdowns.

Since that incident Mike had used his power sparingly and only on the purist assholes. Like Dom and his thugs. He couldn’t care less if he put them in the hospital or ruined them with anxiety.

“Never seen you choke before,” said Tobias. “The park after school?”

“Not today,” said Mike. “I’m visiting my Uncle Luc.”

“Uncle Awesome.” Tobias thought it cool that Mike’s closest relative after his mother was an African American. Even if not by blood.

“Yeah.” Mike looked at the cafeteria clock. “Shit. Time for class.”

Tobias raised his eyebrows. “When I want your opinion?”

“Oh, fuck off,” said Mike.


After school Mike headed northeast to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Station. It was a little over a mile from Marshall High, about the same walking distance to his home in the other direction. The walk refreshed him after boring classes and bullies in between.

Visiting his uncle always brightened his mood; he adored the man. Lucas Sinclair was one of his mother’s closest friends from childhood, and he had moved out to Portland when Mike was a toddler, after receiving his graduate degree at Yale. He had become something of a surrogate father to Mike, though he had a wife and kids of his own. Mike hoped that Uncle Luc was in the office today. If he was out doing field work, then this walk was for exercise.

He reached the station in twenty minutes, went inside and down the hall. The door on the left was open, and sure enough his uncle was at his computer entering data. When he saw Mike, he swiveled in his chair.

“Mike, my man! Is it that late in the day?” His uncle had a mutilated left ear, thanks to Mike’s father. The sight of it, as always, stirred complicated feelings for the father he never knew.

“Hey,” said Mike, dropping in the chair in front of the desk. “What trouble are you causing?”

“I’m compiling all the proof we need.”

Mike looked at him. “Yeah?”

“What we talked about last time you were here?”

“Oh. What was that?”

Uncle Luc sighed. “The marbled murrelet, genius?”

“Oh yeah. It’s going extinct.”

“It’s a threatened species, but those bastards made a petition last year to delist it, unless we could prove it still needs protection. That’s what I’ve been doing since then. I’ll be presenting my case in a couple months.”

“You’re badass, Uncle Luc. Saving the marbled murrelet. Sweet name for a species.”

“And you know what species, right?”

“Yeah.” Mike had forgotten. “It’s a frog.”

“Jesus.” Uncle Luc was disgusted. “I’m sure you must process at least some of what I tell you. Maybe the more simple stuff, like how to put a clean greeting on your cell phone — one that doesn’t ask for a blowjob.”

“Mom made me change that one.”

“I should say so,” said Uncle Luc.

Lucas Sinclair was an endangered species biologist who had raised fifty shades of hell during the years of the Bush administration. When President Obama restored protections for endangered species last March, it had been largely thanks to Uncle Luc’s lobbying efforts. In Uncle Luc’s opinion, George W. Bush was the worst president in history. That was hardly controversial; many people could list plenty of reasons why. But they usually omitted what Uncle Luc considered to be one of Dubya’s most egregious offenses: his last-minute torpedoing of the Endangered Species Act. Thanks to Bush last December, agencies with little or no wildlife expertise had been authorized to make decisions that could spell the death of endangered animals.

President Christ Obama — or PCO, as Mike teasingly referred to him, when he was around Uncle Luc — had reversed that decision in March and preserved the integrity of the Endangered Species Act. Uncle Luc had received a personal letter of commendation from Obama, and that letter had cemented his status as the messiah come again in Uncle Luc’s eyes. It had also ignited a political war between Uncle Luc and Mike’s east-coast uncle, Dustin Henderson. Uncle Dustin was not impressed with President Christ Obama. When the Hawkins Club gathered at the Hoppers’ last summer to celebrate the Fourth, the barbecue had become a battleground. Mike, his mother, Uncle Will, and Nancy Wheeler-Perry could hardly get in a word edgewise as Uncle Luc and Uncle Dustin flamed each other across the picnic table. Uncle Dustin, as usual, had the upper hand: Obama was a war hawk like Bush, and in some ways already worse. He was a fiscal moron, also like Dubya. He clearly had no designs on ending the drug war, and African Americans like Uncle Luc were stupid to think otherwise. Uncle Luc waxed wroth. President Christ Obama was not to be dissed. He fired back at Uncle Dustin — more on the strength of the four beers he had swilled than any reasoned argument. It was the loudest and nastiest holiday Mike had ever experienced; it was the best holiday of his life.

His uncles’ war entertained him like that ’70s sitcom All in the Family, and gratified him on the basest level. He played his uncles against each other, egged them on, and reveled in their discord. The War of the Uncles, as he called it, was still being waged by the end of October, though it had turned cold: Uncle Luc and Uncle Dustin stayed on their respective coasts, and relied on covert attacks and passive-aggressive comments in their texts. Mike wanted a return to open warfare. He asked if Uncle Dustin was coming out for Thanksmas, as they called their early December celebrations.

“You’re asking me?” said Uncle Luc. “He usually stays at your place.”

“I don’t think mom wants him out here with you. The Battle of the Fourth left a foul taste in her mouth.”

“Well, there’s your answer. Maybe Uncle Dustin should keep his distance for a while.”

“It’s such bullshit. People take politics too seriously.”

Uncle Luc frowned. “Is that why you thrive so much on those of us who do take politics seriously?”

“He’d better come out. He’s family, just like you.”

“He’s my best friend, Mike. I certainly have no objections to him visiting. But for a family holiday, maybe not. Until he gets used to our president.”

“Well… he shouldn’t have to show respect for someone just so people won’t get pissed off.”

“Are you trying to piss me off? Is this why you walked over here? To rattle my chain about Uncle Dustin?”

Mike paused. “Not really.”

“Good. Tell me what you did come over here for. I’ve got reams of data that need entering.”

He didn’t tell him about Ellen. He still couldn’t believe his screensaver had done what it did. But he described the incident with Dom in the cafeteria.

“You’ve never had problems using your power?”

“Never. Ever since I realized I could do it years ago, it flows whenever I want it to, basically.”

“Have you had any head injuries — falling down, or anything?”


“I’ve no idea, Mike. You should be talking to your mother about this. She understands this stuff.”

“No, I don’t want her to know. Not yet at least. Please don’t tell her on Saturday.” His mother and Uncle Luc had dinner every Saturday night, alternating between his house and hers. This Saturday was at his place, with his family, over on the west side of the city. Halloween night.

“You have trouble talking to her.” It wasn’t a question.

“She’s too invasive. She hounds the shit out of me.”

“Mothers tend to be like that. My lips are sealed for now. But don’t sit on it too long, okay?”



Next Chapter: D is for God

(Previous Chapter: Elric and Ellen)

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