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 Three:
D is for God
Mike turned on his computer and watched the screen. It turned grey, and the apple chime sounded. “Don’t you dare,” he whispered.
It was 4:38 AM, and he had just risen from bed. He hadn’t logged on since Tobias came over the morning before. The Ellen virus (as he thought of it) had scared him so badly that he could hardly look at his computer last night. This morning he had to see.
The grey apple shimmered as the operating system loaded. “Don’t you fucking dare,” he repeated.
The desktop appeared, and with it the scene from Hard Candy where he and Tobias had left off. The image looked normal, if “normal” could describe any scene from Hard Candy. Hayley had Jeff strapped to a chair and was threatening to pour bleach down his throat. He would have to watch the film again. It was at this scene he had fallen hard in love with Ellen Page.
He realized he was hard, partly from thinking of Ellen, but also because he hadn’t masturbated in two days. Since Wednesday night his nerves had been too preoccupied for a good jerk-off. He got on the bed to beat off before his morning shower.
His computer sounded a boing!, and he yelped. Tucking his cock back in his sweatpants, he flashed a guilty look towards the door, and then the computer screen. The next Hard Candy image had cycled, and it looked fine. The boing! had come from his Yahoo Instant Messenger, which was up and flashing on the right side of the screen. Who the hell would be messaging him this early? He used Yahoo mostly to chat with Tobias, and Tobias was never up this early.
The message was from someone he didn’t know: &%#!$*@yahoo.com. The username glowed yellow in his menu, which meant that he had accepted this user as a friend at some point. Which he most certainly had not. He enlarged the window so that it filled his screen, and stared at the message:
— Do you know what she did?
He frowned, not understanding. Do I know what she did? “She” presumably referred to Ellen Page, or Bliss Cavender, or whoever had perverted Bliss’s persona on his screen. He thought for a moment, and then typed back:
— wtf are you???
He intended ambiguity with the acronym, so that “w” could stand for who as much as what. Mike didn’t know who or what he was dealing with. He saw under the message window that &%#!$* was typing a response. It came in seconds:
— You’re going to die up here.
His testicles froze at the threat. This had to be a messed up joke. He thought of Tobias again, but this wasn’t his style, let alone his time of day. Who had the hacking skills to force-friend him? Sweat broke out over his body. He read the threat again, and decided to roll with it. He typed:
— maybe u can die in bed with me. 🙂
&%#!$* was already responding furiously. The message came:
— I make the questions, and I do the answers!
This was getting old fast. He closed the discussion:
— removing u from my friends. bye
In the space of a few clicks, he unfriended &%#!$*. Make your questions and answers now, bitch.
As if in answer, &%#!$* reappeared in his friends list seconds after being removed. The circle next to the username glowed yellow, mocking his inability to get rid of it.
Furious, Mike closed Yahoo messenger — and got slammed by the picture waiting on his screen. It almost broke his sanity.
It was a perversion of Hayley Stark that made her Hard Candy psychosis seem mild. Unlike the endearing Bliss, the character of Hayley already came with nasty looks. Mike had chosen plenty of those looks for his screensaver. What displayed on his screen now was something else entirely. Hayley looked possessed. She was in her black tank top against the blue-grey background of Jeff Kohlver’s kitchen, just like in the film. But she had traded in righteous fury for the cruel insanity of the Kubrick stare. Mike had seen many of Stanley Kubrick’s films, and this was Ellen Page as if she had been directed by Kubrick, in a tight close-up shot, looking up with her eyes while keeping her head angled down. She was Alex DeLarge in A Clockwork Orange; Jack Torrance in The Shining; and Gomer Pyle in Full Metal Jacket.
And she was grinning exactly like Gomer Pyle.
He felt his bladder empty, soaking his sweatpants. Tearing his gaze from the evil distortion, he scrambled for the computer’s back switch, but the pain came like an avalanche, before his finger could find the button. It was a blinding pain, worse than Wednesday night’s episode. He had never been this invasively attacked in his own home.
He found the button and held it down for a long time, already knowing it was in vain. He repeated his Wednesday night abortion, and pulled the plug.
Later that day, when he was walking home from school, it hit him. The messages sent by &%#!$* were lines from The Exorcist. He had seen the movie two years ago when his Uncle Will visited. His other uncles called him “Will the Wise”. He lived in Fishers, Indiana, where he served as the deputy director of the town’s public library. The Exorcist was Uncle Will’s favorite movie, which Mike found surprising. Uncle Will had been possessed by an awful creature at the age of thirteen and almost killed by it.
The first message from &%#!$* was the question, “Do you know what she did?” It’s what the demon asked Regan’s mother after forcing the girl to masturbate with a crucifix, which was by far the most shocking thing Mike had ever seen in a film. The second message was, “You’re going to die up here.” In the movie the demon said, “You’re going to die up there,” to a young astronaut who was attending Chris McNeil’s party. The demon had been predicting the astronaut’s death in space. By “up here“, what had &%#!$* meant? That Mike would soon die in his own bedroom?
He couldn’t recall the reference for the last message — “I make the questions, and I do the answers” — and had to Google it on his iPhone. He found it. In the movie Regan explains to her mother how she uses a Ouija board: that she makes the questions, and “Captain Howdy” (the demon) makes the answers. Mike had no idea what &%#!$* meant by making both the questions and the answers. Did that imply some kind of mighty omnipotence?
He took a shortcut through an alley between Bush and Rhone. When he got home, he was going to call Uncle Will. He should have done that yesterday instead of pestering Uncle Luc. They called him Will the Wise for good reason.
He thought he heard a sound, and stopped to look behind. He often used this shortcut, though his mother had warned him about alleys. He was about to find out why.
“Faggot.” Dominic Bragdon stepped out from behind a dumpster.
Shit. He didn’t have time for this. “Maybe you’re the faggot, Dom. You’ve been obsessed with me, and now you’re waiting in alleys where no one can find us.” Dom must have somehow learned of Mike’s route home, and gotten ahead of him after school.
Dom looked hard at him as he circled around Mike. “That’s right, Hopper. No one will find us here.”
Mike felt uneasy. “Get lost, Dom.”
“There’s something off about you, Hopper.”
If you only knew.
Dom had moved around so that Mike was now cornered against the alley dumpster. “We never seem to finish our little talks,” he said, closing in.
“Not much to say,” said Mike, and began concentrating.
Dom was watching him closely and decided he didn’t care for that look of concentration. He pounced instantly.
Mike was caught off guard. He jumped sideways, barely evading Dom, and cursed his complacency. He should have tapped his fugit power the moment he saw Dom.
Dom came at him again. Mike tripped dodging him, and landed on his ass, spraining his left ankle. He desperately looked around. He had never cried for help against bullies, because he hadn’t needed to. Dom had finally caught on to him. He needed just a few moments to concentrate. He jumped to his feet, scrambling backwards — and slammed into the dumpster he had forgotten about. There was no escape, and certainly no way around Dom.
Dom swung at his head and Mike barely avoided a hard fist. He was badly frightened. This psychopath wasn’t messing around. Dom launched himself, and Mike yelled, taking the full weight on his sprained ankle in order to kick at Dom with his other foot — a pathetic effort. Dom grabbed his foot and yanked hard, sending Mike down on his ass again. He pulled Mike to his feet.
“You piece of shit, Hopper,” he snarled.
Mike spat in his face.
Dom slammed his fist into Mike’s stomach, and Mike folded to his knees, pulverized. He couldn’t breathe. Dom pulled him up again, spun him around, and threw him. Mike’s head banged against the dumpster, and he sprawled on his hands and knees, scraping both. He tried yelling for help but his throat had forgotten how to inhale. Dom delivered a kick to his left eye, connecting both solidly and wetly. Terror gave Mike his voice back, and he screamed for help so loudly that everyone in the city should have come running.
No one came at all.
Dom grabbed him by the hair. “We’re alone, faggot,” he said, reaching into his back pocket. When Mike saw the knife, he screamed again. It was a Kissing Crane Stiletto, and the blade looked vicious.
“LET ME GO!” Mike bawled.
Dom pressed the tip of the knife into Mike’s neck, drawing blood. “I’ll let you go, as soon as I give you my autograph.”
Mike went limp and gave up all physical resistance. Instead he gathered his will and concentrated fiercely. He knew he needed tranquility, but that was impossible. His mind was a sea of pain. If he couldn’t pull this off, he was in big trouble. He summoned his power and the usual swarm filled his head. But there was that mental wall again, and it was more resistant than it had been yesterday in the cafeteria. He was aware of Dom pulling up his shirt. With renewed fury, he pushed against the wall. Nothing: the swarm buzzed and thundered against the inside of his head, hungry for release. Dom was saying something and grinning; then he held up the blade and repeated whatever asshole question was gratifying him so much. Mike ignored him and pushed again. Lifting a school bus would have been easier. Hayley had betrayed him, taking whatever Bliss had done to the next level. He pushed… pushed… pushed…
… and then screamed as pain tore his stomach. The Kissing Crane went into his gut like a tub of butter, and blood ran everywhere. His power abruptly ceased; the swarm vanished. Dom cut straight down, from the top of Mike’s stomach to his hip. Then he made a curving arc, connecting the top part of the cut to the bottom. Blood flew again. It was the letter “D”. Like the crazy guy in that Stephen King novel, Dom had carved his initial into Mike’s stomach.
“SOMEBODY HELP ME!!”
Dom threw Mike over on his stomach and mashed his face into the pavement. “No one’s helping you, ass-wipe! And if you tell anyone I did this, I’ll use this blade to feed you your heart! Do you hear me?”
Mike was crying hysterically, utterly terrified for his life.
Dom yanked him up by the hair and put the knife to his throat. “I said, do you hear me?”
He threw Mike down and stood up. “Good. You have my autograph. That’s ‘D’ for ‘God’. Not ‘G’ for ‘God’. It’s the last letter that matters. Shitheads never get that.”
Mike stayed on the ground, sobbing uncontrollably.
“I’m your God, Hopper. You sound like a fucking sow.”
He walked off.
His mother was dicing peppers when he walked in. She gasped and put down the knife. “What happened?”
Mike ignored her and moved towards the hallway leading to the bathroom. She cut him off and grabbed his shoulders, staring at him. “Oh my God,” she said. He didn’t want to see himself in the mirror.
“I’m okay, mom,” he said in a broken voice.
“I need to use the bathroom.”
“Don’t walk away from me, Mike! Sit down.”
Angry tears came, and he tried to get around her. She touched his shoulder, and he felt a gentle force push him down onto a kitchen chair. His fury exploded: “Don’t do that to me!” he shouted.
She pulled up his blood-stained shirt. He wrestled with her, and swore at her when she used her power again to overcome him. She saw the “D” carved into his stomach, and her face grew furious. “Michael, who did this?”
He started crying again. He had never been assaulted like this, let alone maimed, and he always thought his power could protect him. It shamed him to be like this in front of his mother, and the fact that she had used her own power against him added insult to injury.
She pulled up another chair and held him as he cried, and apologized for humiliating him. Then she got a wet cloth and rubbing alcohol out of the cabinets, and started cleaning his bruised and bloody areas. When he calmed down, he gave a very censored account of what happened. Instead of Dom being his attacker, it was a complete stranger. If he identified his assailant, his mother would call the police, and he didn’t want that. The bite of the law would only escalate Dom’s rage. Nor did he want his mother fighting his battles in any case; not battles like this.
“So you have no idea who it was?” she persisted.
“No. I shouldn’t have provoked him.”
“No, you shouldn’t have. But what about your power? Are you sure it was being blocked, or was it just that you couldn’t concentrate because you were threatened?”
“I’m sure, mom.”
“Did you try using it after the attack?”
“Yes,” he lied. “I tried it coming home. There’s some kind of wall in my mind that’s blocking me all of a sudden. Did that ever happen with you?”
She thought. “No, not exactly. Sometimes I had a hard time calling up my power, but that was more an emotional problem. There was never anything in my head blocking it.”
“Well, I don’t understand it.” He wasn’t about to explain Ellen either. His mother wouldn’t understand his screensaver infestation any more than he or Tobias did. And Ellen was his private world. She was off limits to his mother’s scrutiny. When she had raced up the stairs Wednesday night to find out why he screamed, he gave her a bullshit explanation involving a bat perched outside on his window. “I want to go shower.”
“Mike, you’re shutting me out. You’ve been doing that a lot lately.”
He knew that his father had made an art of shutting her out. “Yeah, well, don’t worry, I’m not going to be like Dad.”
She went rigid. “What did you say?” Her tone signaled that he was on thin ice.
At the moment he was tone deaf. “I’m not going to be a shitty pathetic victim. I won’t turn into a mess.”
“Don’t talk to me about your father like that.”
“I just meant –”
She slapped his face. Hard. He gaped at her wide-eyed. “I know what you meant and you can keep quiet. You have no idea what it is to be a victim, Michael. Your father and I were prisoners for a long time. And he was tortured — beyond anything you can imagine. I’m telling you I want you to be careful so you don’t end up in the hospital or dead. It’s that simple. Don’t take the high ground with me when you don’t know what you’re talking about.”
She was angry — but so was he. He had been branded; his gut was marked. She could cut him some goddamn slack. “Piss off,” he said hoarsely, standing up.
“We’ll be eating in an hour.”
“Save it,” he retorted. “I’m not eating your dinner tonight.”
He went upstairs and didn’t come down until next morning.
Next Chapter: Mike of Melnibone
(Previous Chapter: Tempus Fugit)