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 Four:
Mike of Melnibone
He got up Saturday morning, determined he would not let Dom’s assault ruin the best night of the year. Halloween was his; Elric his best costume ever. The crimson eyes and albino makeup would mask his black eye. He was going to have fun. Mike knew that Dom and his friends wouldn’t be at Ashlee’s. They wouldn’t be seen around people like her.
He still hurt and had to be delicate cleaning himself in the shower. Putting on clothes wasn’t fun either. But nothing was fractured. He dipped into the Elric makeup and spread the whiteness over his black eye. Not perfect: the mirror showed hints of the bruise, but it was hard to tell from a distance. Mike’s fury returned, looking at himself. He needed a strategy for dealing with Dom.
He dialed Tobias, who answered on the usual fourth: “When I want your opinion?”
“I’ll piss in your eyes. Denny’s in fifteen. I’ll be showing up with a shiner, so don’t cream yourself.”
Tobias paused. “Dom?”
“You couldn’t use your power?”
“I’ll explain when I see you. I want my breakfast on the table when I get there.” Tobias’s house was closer to Denny’s.
Mike hung up and went down the stairs. “I’m leaving, mom!” he called out. He hadn’t spoken to her since she slapped him. Right under his black eye. He seethed reliving it.
“Wait.” She was already there, patrolling the front door area.
“What do you want?”
“I’m sorry I hit you. I shouldn’t have done that.”
“No, you shouldn’t have, you cunt.” He felt awful as soon as he said the word.
She was unfazed. His father had called her worse in his crippled years. “Fine. You can say what you want about me. Call me anything. I mean that. But I swear, Mike, I won’t hear you trash your father. If you do it again, you’ll regret it. I won’t hit you — that was wrong. But you’ll wish I had.”
“You remember I was almost killed yesterday, right?”
“I know that,” she snapped. “I want to help you and you’re not letting me.”
“I have to meet Tobias.”
“Can I at least hug you before you go?” She didn’t wait for an answer. “I love you,” she said, holding him.
He couldn’t help staying pissed at her. “Yeah. Can I leave now?”
She released him. “Go ahead. But let’s be clear. You lied yesterday. That was no stranger who attacked you — No, don’t lie to me again. I’m not stupid. If you won’t tell me what’s going on, I’m sure you have your reasons and they’re all bad. That’s your choice.”
“Gee, thanks.” He walked out the door.
Mike and Tobias ate like kings. Especially Mike, who had skipped dinner the night before. He had two omelettes instead of one, two sides of bacon, four slices of toast, sausage on top of that, and a Danish pastry to make it all stick.
They were rehashing Halloween II, Rob Zombie’s latest. If Whip It! was Mike Hopper’s film pick of 2009, Halloween II was Tobias’s. In Tobias’s fringe opinion, it was the best entry in the Halloween franchise. He and Mike had argued about it in August when they came out of the premiere. Mike remembered the debate like it was yesterday:
“No way, dude,” said Mike. “Not even a contest.”
“It buries the other films,” declared Tobias. “It’s the Halloween film I always wanted.”
“It buries all the stupid sequels, sure.” Had there been seven of those? Mike had lost count. “But not the Carpenter classic.”
“Yes it does.”
“And I think Zombie’s remake of that classic was better than this remake.”
“That shows why you’re clueless. This was not a remake. Don’t you remember the first Halloween II?”
“I repressed it from memory,” said Mike.
“Exactly. It sucked balls. But you liked this film.”
“Well yeah, Zombie always does a good job. He can make lemonade from anything.”
“But that’s just it. This film wasn’t a remake of that lemon. Zombie only remade the Carpenter classic. For the sequel, the studio told him to ignore the original Halloween II and do whatever he damn well pleased. And that’s what we just saw. His Halloween II is a masterpiece.”
“I don’t know, dude. It was good, but not that good. The classic is supreme.”
“The classic hasn’t aged well. The high school girls look like ladies in their late twenties — because that’s what they were back then. Except for Jamie Almighty Lee Curtis. Carpenter was a genius for his time, but Halloween is a bit boring by today’s standards.”
“As for Zombie’s remake of Carpenter, it was good — and slightly better than Carpenter’s, go ahead and cry blasphemy again — but it was trying to be too many things at once.”
“Now you’re a fucking critic. No wonder you talk out your ass.”
“You saw it with me, dude. Zombie’s Halloween was a prequel, a remake, and a Rob Zombie film, and those don’t mix well. What we just saw tonight was pure Rob Zombie.”
“I thought the dream Michael kept having of his mother and the horse was stupid,” said Mike.
“Don’t be dense. This Halloween II did everything sequels should do but never have the balls to do. How many slashers show the serious trauma caused by serial killers? Laurie was a fucking mess in this film. It was searing. Emotionally. A character film and a horror piece, and like I say, name me a single slasher that can match that.”
“Laurie was a mess because of her shrink. That bitch probably had more to do with Laurie’s fucked up mental state than Michael Myers.”
“You’re the one passing gas now.”
“Come on, didn’t you love Loomis?”
Mike laughed. “Zombie got creative there. What an asshole.”
“He stole the show!”
Mike had to admit that Dr. Loomis was an immensely entertaining part of Rob Zombie’s Halloween II. The iconic psychiatrist had devolved into a vain celebrity who no longer gave a professional damn about Michael Myers or his victim Laurie Strode. He attended promotional events for his ridiculous book, scolded audiences who didn’t worship him, and viciously insulted his publicist for offering kind but unwanted opinions.
That last was an ongoing problem. For the past two months, Tobias had overused his favorite Loomis insult to the point that Mike had forgotten its original context. “When I want your opinion,” Loomis had fired, “I’ll beat it out of you.” Tobias had made a question and answer game out of the insult, and Mike had to be the constant creative one in supplying alternative response phrases. By now he had come up with at least eighty variations of “I’ll beat it out of you”. Of course, when Tobias used the insult on anyone other than Mike, he supplied the variations himself, and extremely vulgar ones at that. He had a vulgarity planned for everyone at Ashlee’s.
The waiter brought their bill, and by then Mike had conceded most of Tobias’s points. Zombie’s unusual sequel had grown on him since he downloaded a bootleg and watched it again. It also struck him that Halloween II was incredibly violent. Not banally or gratuitously; it was shot so effectively that you couldn’t help flinching with every vicious plunge of Michael Myers’ blade. That resonated in the wake of his own ass-whipping at the hands of Dom. Mike felt a superstitious dread: that his outing tonight would be marked by an act of extraordinary violence.
“Hallowed ground,” said Tobias.
“Yeah,” said Mike, taking in the night. He loved this place.
They were at Mount Tabor Park, where they had stopped on the way to Ashlee’s. Their first Halloween together had ended here in the wildest of parties conceivable to twelve-year olds, thrown by the rebel students of Mount Tabor Middle. There had been pot, fireworks, and wrestling matches in costume. Mike thought nothing could ever top the excitement of that night. He was about to be proven dead wrong.
A branch snapped, and they looked over to see four costumed figures approaching them. They got closer, and Mike and Tobias recognized them. No.
“Hey, shitheads,” said Dom. He was Jack Sparrow, from Pirates of the Caribbean. That figured. All three Pirates movies were terrible. The other three costumes weren’t much better, though Darrel’s was the most inspired. He was the insane Nazi dentist from Marathon Man. Curtis was a lame version of Dracula, and Todd a generic zombie.
Mike was eyeing Dom’s pirate sword, which looked real. He wasn’t going to have a repeat of yesterday afternoon.
“I wouldn’t have recognized you, Hopper, but we followed you from your house. Your boyfriend is a dead give away. Doesn’t look like he even has a costume.”
“Who are you supposed to be, Powell?” asked Darrel. “The albino’s whore?”
Todd laughed uproariously.
“Dom, we’re not doing this again,” said Mike, as Dom got up in his face: the pirate bearding the Melnibonean. Even through his terror, Mike was disgusted. The real Elric would have carved up Jack Sparrow in seconds.
“Oh, we’re not?” asked Dom.
“Well, whatever you say, your fucking majesty. Do all of you white niggers think you’re so high and goddamn mighty?”
“Anyone of every race is superior to you, Dom,” said Tobias calmly. “You’re fit for one thing only: to clean the shit out of our cracks with your foul tongue.”
Dom’s friends gasped. Dom kept staring at Mike for a moment, and then slowly turned his head to Tobias. “You know, Powell, you have a pretty foul tongue yourself. I think I’ll do you a favor, and cut it out for you.” He drew his sword — which was very real indeed.
“Yeah!” hollered Todd.
But Mike was already moving. He knew he was being suicidal, but he was still boiling with rage over his black eye and branded stomach. Dom’s attention was focused squarely on Tobias, and Mike was able to deliver a mean and hard kick to his balls. Dom fell to the ground, hissing through his teeth. The other three watched, stunned.
Mike dashed for his life. “Run, Tobias!” he yelled. But he didn’t get far when he heard a scream, and stopped and looked back.
Darrel and Curtis had Tobias pinned on the ground. “Get back here, Hopper!” called Darrel. “Right now!”
Mike felt sick as he walked back. “Let him go, Darrel.”
“I don’t think so. Dom has business with him. Right, Dom?”
Dom’s scrotum was slowly recovering, and he hauled himself to his feet. His face shouted murder. “My business is with the white nigger. You keep that fucking Jew on the ground.”
“Leave him alone, Dom!” shouted Tobias. Darrel kicked his leg.
Mike had to try summoning his power. It was almost two days, since early yesterday morning, that Hayley had torn his mind asunder. Maybe that meant the wall in his mind was gone, or at least weakened. He doubted it, but he had to try. He began concentrating.
Dom charged him, raising his sword. Mike drew Stormbringer, for all the good it would do. Dom’s sword would break his plastic plaything in half with a single cut.
The sight of Stormbringer at least stopped Dom for the moment. “Is that a toy sword, faggot?”
Panicking, Mike summoned the fugit, feeling the swarm fill his head. He pressed and found the wall still there, blocking his ability to translate the buzzing abstraction into anything useful.
Tobias shouted at him, and he barely jumped back in time as Dom’s sword slashed through the air where his head had been. Mike lost his balance but remained standing. He gave another mental push, but in his panic he pushed into the wrong region of his mind.
A wave of vertigo slapped him. Something was shifting inside his head, and seemed to split it down the middle. He dropped Stormbringer and fell to his knees, groaning. Dom’s friends laughed, and Dom shouted something in mockery. Mike had never felt pain this torturous. He could only hold his head and moan, wishing that Dom would hurry up and chop off his head to end his misery. His brain felt like bladed gears working at cross-purposes, or tectonic plates being violently realigned. Then the pain faded, and the wall was suddenly gone — no, not gone; broken down, rather, and reconfigured for a new purpose.
“Mike!” cried Tobias.
Dom’s sword swung in a vicious arc, cutting into Mike’s forehead as he knelt on the ground. Blood splashed, and Mike’s head was again in searing agony.
Roaring applause came from Dom’s friends. They cheered for more. Tobias swore at Dom, demanding that he stop. He tried moving towards Mike, but Darrel and Todd held him down. Mike looked up at Dom with burning fury, as blood poured down his face. Combined with his red Elric eyes, it made for an unnerving sight. Dom looked suddenly uncertain. Mike felt just the opposite. He pushed again — into the new region of his mind that had just opened.
A blast of white flame exploded from Mike’s eyes. He screamed at what he unleashed. And what Tobias saw he never forgot.
The flame shot out and engulfed Dominic Bragdon, turning him into a human torch. But he didn’t burn. The fire did something else entirely. Dom began transforming, and in fifteen seconds looked like a thirty-year old man. He dropped his sword and cried out: “What’s happening to me!” Tobias and the others gaped as Dom’s life played out before their eyes. He turned forty, then fifty. Mike yelled triumphantly, and kept fire pouring from his eyes. Dom’s hair sprouted long and grey. In another set of seconds his skin was spotted and leathery, stretching until it cracked and split. “Help me, somebody,” he croaked, sounding nothing at all like Dom. The skeletal avatar fell to its brittle knees, and its eyeballs shrank back into the skull. Hideously, it looked up at Mike with a silent plea. There was no mercy from that corner. Mike reined in his power until only beads of white flame were dropping from his eyes, like tears. He stooped to pick up Stormbringer. Full of incandescent rage, he swung the sword at Dom’s face. The skull exploded into dust, and the plastic sword was left stunningly intact. The rest of Dom’s skeleton collapsed into dust underneath his clothes.
Utter silence hung in the park. Mike looked down. He had just killed Dominic Bragdon. By a means no one would believe.
“No, no, shit, no.” It was Curtis.
Except for those who had just witnessed it.
“Tobias,” said Mike steadily, “Come over here now.”
Tobias was next to Darrel, rooted in shock.
“Move!” yelled Mike.
Tobias snapped into action, understanding. He moved away from the trio and joined Mike, who surveyed them with grim purpose.
“Hey! No!” said Darrel, clearly about to shit his pants. “Come on, Hopper!”
“Jesus, don’t… don’t kill us, man!” said Todd. “Please!”
Curtis bolted — but not fast enough.
Ignoring his instincts that rebelled against cold-blooded murder, Mike tapped the new window in his mind. White flame gushed from his eyes and swept over Darrel, Curtis, and Todd. They tried to run, but the argent held them firm as pillars. They begged for their lives as they withered into ancient men, and like Dom collapsed into bones and dust. But it was very different this time for Mike. This time he wasn’t fighting in self-defense. He was committing mass murder, so that no one could spread tales of his dreadful power. He truly had become Elric: a figure of devastation with a strained moral compass.
He realized Tobias was saying his name. He was looking at Mike in reverence.
They burned the dusty clothes in a vacated parking lot. The fire roared, and Tobias embraced Mike under the stars. “Do you realize what I witnessed tonight? Elric of Melnibone killed the worst assholes of Marshall High. With sword and sorcery. Right in front of my eyes.”
“Yeah, I was there.”
“It was beautiful, dude. What you did reminds me of this youtube clip I saw of someone who had taken a photo of himself every day for almost thirty years, and then made a slideshow of the pictures. The clip took fifteen minutes to watch, so you could literally watch this guy age thirty years in fifteen minutes. You aged those bastards centuries in less than two fucking minutes.”
“I’m sick. I killed four people.”
“You had to,” said Tobias without hesitation. “Dom completely deserved it, and there’s no way you could have let the others go. The world’s a better place without them.”
Mike rationally agreed, but his body objected. He fell on his knees and threw up again, as he had back in the park. He and Tobias had sworn a pact of secrecy, and to act as if nothing had happened after they burned the clothes. But Mike wasn’t going to Ashlee’s. He needed to be alone and was going straight home. His mother would be at Uncle Luc’s for at least another two or three hours, and for this he was grateful. When she saw the gash in his forehead, she would suffocate him with questions. Hopefully he could treat the wound tonight and disguise the worst of it tomorrow. Right now he was wearing a makeshift bandana torn from Tobias’s shirt.
Tobias said he was going to put in a brief appearance at Ashlee’s. Mike couldn’t believe it.
“Dude, I’ve been waiting since August to be Loomis, and it’s happening. You got to be Elric tonight — really, I mean. I’m going to be Loomis, and that demands a huge audience.”
“I’m sure you had a script planned for everyone. But you need to skip it.”
“I think not.”
“Then think again. You show up without me, everyone knows you and I stick together like glue. When the hunt begins for these four, people will remember I wasn’t with you. I’ll be a suspect.” Not that he was worried about being incriminated. The bullies of Marshall High were dust; their bodies may as well have vanished from the earth. But he didn’t want any interrogations.
“I see your point.” Tobias was crestfallen.
“Just go home and chill. We had enough tonight for twenty Halloweens.”
“See you tomorrow?”
“Yeah, come over in the morning,” said Mike.
“When I want your opinion?”
“I’ll age it out of you, motherfucker.”
“Ja wohl!” Tobias held out for a high five.
Mike could only shake his head.
Next Chapter: Regenesis
(Previous Chapter: D is for God)