It’s Like a Pulp Magazine . . . But Not!
It’s Amazeous! Stupendillant! Brilling! W to-the-Ow!
It’s 6.66 days of Thrilling Fiction!!!!
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars. But in ourselves, that we are underlings.–Julius Caesar, by William Shakespeare
Hello. First, you all have my husband to thank (or condemn!) for spurring me to be bold with my writing creativity of late. That and a recent re-watching and -appraisal of some of the “Halloween” franchise movies.
This is my attempt at a longer fan-fiction piece, with tinges of horror, and, as such, inaugurates the 6.66 days of Thrilling Fiction I hope to bring you.
Any feedback is appreciated, as ever; especially on this one, as the movie timelines are conflicting at times. It does not even attempt to take into consideration any “Halloween”-centered novelizations or fan fiction, or, for that matter, any fan videos outside the purview of the several canonical movies with which most people are familiar.
So, anyway, without further ado, on this (fictional character and slasher-man, a.k.a. The Shape), Michael Myers’ 58th birthday: today is his story.
And tomorrow, another’s.
WARNING: Some violence, passing reference to implications of child abuse, and other disturbing or possibly gross depictions here. Also, let it be said that I love nurses and nursing, just not one of them in this story. It was written with a camp, 1970s slasher-film style and sexism in mind.
The Night-Side Apprentice
Nurse Cynthia Lamb enjoyed her job at Smith’s Grove. From bathing patients in the juvenile ward to setting up silly games of pinning the nose on the clown to reading to them, she felt as if she were specially marked out for a mission. To help fragile children and young people, whom her brother David could easily have been.
If she could be completely honest with another human being, like she hadn’t been in years with the snotty girls at Roodhaven High School, she would say she sometimes felt she was a reincarnation of the famous nurse Florence Nightingale.
She’d only been at Smith’s Grove Sanitarium for about three years by the fall of 1978. Back in June 1975, the hospital administrator, Doctor Terence Wynn, had hired her on the spot, just out of Roodhaven Community College, when she’d responded to a newspaper want-ad looking to hire a “new graduate” nurse. His words still stuck to the wall of her inner mind. “Oh, our patients, in particular the males, are going to love you, my dear girl of the twinkling green eyes.”
For all that anyone could tell, the patients seemed to like her, too.
In particular, one patient—one extraordinarily perverse, sublimely malevolent patient—made his sanguine mark in the largely white-washed annals of Smith’s Grove Sanitarium, where patients for the last 89 years had been little more than spectral essences or miasmas.
This is how his story first intersected hers.
Psychiatrist Dr. Sam Loomis, driven in ways that the youthful Cynthia could not understand, stood several feet inside the doorway of Doctor Terence Wynn’s office at the sanitarium, his back to the door.
He seemed to be arguing with someone she could not see. Someone who sounded like Wynn himself, whom Cynthia, since being hired, knew only in the context of staff meetings, where nurses had to give up their seats for any doctor.
“I am telling you, I am not going to be held responsible. You know what happened at the last Halloween party, back in 1971, against which I also advised.” He enunciated his words precisely, like someone snobbish in the theater, she thought. “A-gain-st.”
Cynthia pressed the stack of decorations into her chest, the giant skeleton dangling its disjointed cardboard leg in front of her, kicking out of its hiding place in the box, at her flat stomach. Even with its rictus painted plainly, it was funny how they shared color schemes: her in all white, raven hair. It, all in white, but for its absent spaces between bones.
She didn’t want to get caught eavesdropping, but the pull of the private conversation was too alluring to pass up.
As she listened, she suddenly felt her heart surge and jettison itself up her throat in a frisson of ecstasy.
A voice, strained but clear, had said it: “Michael Audrey Myers.”
Her patient. Her friend.
Like the goofy tombstone cut-outs she clutched—except realistic—stone slabs were the shoes she temporarily imagined for herself, rooted. Listening.
Cynthia had let herself fade into the boring white-and-baby-blue ribboned wallpaper—it was supposed to be relaxing like seawaves, according to the administrators, although it reminded her more of a cage or even a noose. More bickering clanged off the metal door of the office before she realized she should make her escape pronto.
She just barely beat the quick, clomping footsteps as she ducked down a dark side hallway of the sanitarium and back toward the nurse’s station. Hope nestled in her; maybe Nurse Gayle hadn’t yet noticed she hadn’t brought the Halloween supplies. It was October 19th, 1978, the day they took the decorations out of storage—and Michael’s twenty-first birthday.
As she drove home that morning, Cynthia let her thoughts wrestle with reality.
She flashed back to a moment of quiet, when she was supposed to be rotating the patient to ensure he didn’t get bed sores.
Dr. Loomis had issued stern warnings to Cynthia when she had first started work in the juvenile ward once she had been set free from her RN preceptor, Nurse Nancy Young, that fall of 1975. “Young woman, in particular, be wary of this boy, Michael Myers. Very wary, indeed. He is the abyss, and he can look into you as well.”
But, then again, her elders could be so wrong. Horribly wrong. Not only was Michael not a boy at age 18, but he also had the deepest-set, most compassionate eyes of anyone she’d ever met. A kind of sprinkled cinnamon powder color occasionally flashing stygian, they danced when she was around, or so she had begun to think.
Cynthia thought herself a very good judge of character, and had grown to doubt Loomis’ initial warnings.
Her Daddy had taught her to judge a man by his actions, not his words, and Michael had never demonstrated anything but a kind gentleness to her and with her. Somehow he’d even convinced Ismael, the floor warden, to smuggle in a fluffy guinea pig for her on her birthday last October. How that piggie had wheep-wheeped in joy when Michael had transferred it from the shoebox he had been given to hold his art supplies in, to her warm hand! She’d put the struggling critter, its dual-colored hair akimbo, white in one direction, brown the other, against her heart and hugged it fiercely. It let out another shrill whistle of joy. She’d hidden its holey box in her locker until going home, named it M&M in his honor.
And, before then, that one day two years earlier had changed it, spun everything on its ear. The day Michael broke out of his shell and first touched her hand.
Being a chatty person, she talked to her patients, regardless of whether they were able to listen or respond. It was no different when she was helping Michael.
She talked to him about college, when she was going to take her boards that first year, how excited she was when she’d passed all the sections, including the obstetrics and psychology ones, her hardest. Cynthia had also told Michael about her own brother, David, who had drowned at the age of 6. “He had jet-black hair and eyes that sometimes looked like obsidian, a smooth, dark stone, just like yours.” She wasn’t sure how much schooling Michael had received before he’d been forced into the sanitarium, and besides, she relished explaining things to willing listeners. Michael loved to sit by the window, at that point, and that day, he had taken her hand, silently, as he sat there, the moonlight spilling onto his face. He had let her cry out her memories of David and smoothed her hair as she lay her head on his shoulder and, later, his lap. He smelled faintly of Brut cologne, and in the back of her mind she registered the question of where he had gotten cologne in the hospital, but it just didn’t seem important then.
Nonetheless, Michael’s actions had meant everything to Cynthia, for she was never allowed to speak of David around her parents—at least not without punishment. They were old-fashioned people, as well as close-minded and even more tight-lipped about death. It was something you just did not dwell on, even in quiet moments with your own family.
Dr. Loomis had shared other details with her over time, only some of which she wrote down in her small nurse’s notebook, which fit nicely in her slim skirt pocket.
With her four-color pen, she had written in blue,
May 1, 1976
Loomis says he has had MM as a patient for 13 years. Says patient MM is putting on a show. Says he murdered his sister, Judith.
Then, July 24, the same year.
M seems to be watching me. His eyes look lively today. I found a smiling sun made of paper on his standing table. It said “Nurse Cynthia, light of my life” written in blue and orange crayon. Note: Must see if Loomis will allow pencil or at least a pen?? Michael is NOT a baby or an idiot!
She flipped forward then, to May 11, 1977, re-relishing the breakthrough day. It had been David’s birthday. He was born the same year as Michael (she knew, she’d peeked into the basic patient files).
It had all passed so quickly since then.
She couldn’t imagine Michael not being a part of her life now. She would have to figure out a way to accompany Loomis and his nurse, Marion Chambers, to Michael’s hearing on October 30th. Perhaps she could be a positive character witness for Michael, to counteract Dr. Loomis’ rantings.
Loomis and Chambers had believed Michael mute. He was anything but. What stories Michael had told Cynthia in the privacy of his room in the open juvenile ward!
He said his father would “beat them regularly, all of them,” his mother, his sister Judith, and he himself. “I know now that it was wrong, but I couldn’t understand it then. I was only 6. He forced us . . . he did terrible things to us. I can’t . . . talk.”
This was what Cynthia lived for; wading into the nitty-gritty of a patient’s problems, helping him (or her) confront all his demons. External, internal, or otherwise.
“I’m going to help you, Michael. I promise you, on my life, I will help you.” She remembered pressing his head to her heart. She told him that that was her guiding purpose: being alive to be there for people like him. Friends.
It was the first time anyone had called him a friend. Michael felt a strange sensation within, something like two enemies fighting. He was not sure what it meant. At all.
He listened to the lub-dub, lub-dub, mesmerized. Was this what love was like?
He had to know more. Feel more. But could he?
She’d sneaked in a chocolate cupcake for Michael, from the Welles bakery. On a plastic stick sat the number 21 in blue and surrounded by a spur of sparkly lines approximating a burst of fireworks or flickering candle. Chocolate had been David’s favorite, so she just knew Michael would enjoy it, too.
On a break, she made her way to his room, where Michael seemed to be reading by a lamp. She’d secretly been bringing in books, both requested and unrequested, one or two at a time. If Nurse Gayle—she of the jangling keys to the controlled meds—had found out, Cynthia was prepared to say it was her own private reading material, for the down times when her rounds were done.
His requests over the last year? Rage by Richard Bachman. The Shining. The Ra Expeditions. And Chariots of the Gods?, as well as The Gold of the Gods by von Däniken.
She knocked first, two sharp, quick raps followed by a repetition. Her signal to him. She’d convinced Nurse Gayle it was a way of giving the patient some autonomy in his or her own life and privacy issues, amid grumbles that Michael had “outgrown this ward, long ago.”
It was true. There were other patients, Tony was the youngest now, at only 8 years. Like him, most of whom were younger—and far smaller—than Michael Myers. The eldest, next to Michael, was Richie, now 16 years old. Of others, some had mysteriously died while Michael was a patient. One in a crayon incident. Another in a freak showering issue that resulted in traumatic burns leading to death.
Nurse Gayle, a veteran nurse of 21 years already, said that those were before her time at Smith’s Grove, in the early 1970s. She’d only been transferred there in 1976, so Cynthia had preceded her tenure.
He’d cajoled her into licking the chocolate frosting off the sharpest part of the plastic icon, quietly ensconcing the item in a thin napkin she’d brought in, then putting it into a hidden slit in his state-issued slippers.
She had such a cute giggle, he thought. It brought out the dimple in her chin.
No one would ever suspect the catatonic Michael Myers of such calculation.
No one but Loomis. But he, too, would pay the price.
Soon. And in at least a pound of flesh.
Damn that interfering bastard Loomis!
He had opted to take Nurse Marion Chambers with him to Michael’s court hearing tomorrow, so Cynthia would be stuck at the hospital that evening, waiting, on the edges of eggshells, feeling wretched.
She slipped a note to Michael before her shift, through Ismael:
“Don’t despair, Michael. I’ve got a good feeling things are going to turn out better for you. Yours, Cynthia.”
What she didn’t know was that, regardless of Loomis’ choice, today was the day of reckoning. The day all those hateful people in Michael’s life would be made to answer. He knew they could never offer any valid reason for keeping him imprisoned at Smith’s Grove all those years, like a wild animal.
He who had freed Judith. He who had freed Edith Deborah Myers, too, from the sadistic ravages of her own husband, Michael’s father.
Michael should have been a savior in the world’s eyes.
Not a monster.
I am not a monster, he thought. And then the fury began to build, whispering its mores even into his inner soul. It all went black then, and he slept soundly in his own bed at the sanitarium.
For the last time.
Dr. Samuel Loomis drove on, despite or perhaps in spite of the rising despair. He hoped that the parole board would hear his pleas. Not only should Michael Myers remain hospitalized, but he should be under maximum security. An esteemed psychiatrist, he would impress upon his peers at the court hearing how Michael was merely waiting for the right time to act; he was not without reason, but he was without boundaries, without empathy. Loomis had no idea what Michael intended in his fogged, utterly foreign mindscape, but he felt a surging something in the halls of Smith’s Grove. It made his very blood freeze to consider it.
He’d pleaded with Wynn to increase security beyond just Ismael or other guards when Ismael wasn’t there. To no avail.
He thought of the notes in his briefcase, of Marion next to him in the darkness, poised literally at the apex of her seat, as they traveled to Smith’s Grove in the state seal-emblazoned station wagon. It would allow the safe transport of the patient. Just in case, Loomis had been sure to pocket a small handgun from his own collection, acquired for only this purpose. Normally, he was a peace-loving man, a medical professional intent on helping his patients make their way through a world itself teeming with madness. But Michael was of a different kind, an Other through and through. He sensed nothing in the boy-grown-man that was remotely human or comprehensible in mere corporeal terms anymore. Rather, he was a hostile black miasma, a cancerous mass. Loomis considered it his purpose in life to keep Michael Myers from leaving Smith’s Grove or killing anyone again.
And that is just what he would do at tomorrow’s hearing, come hell or high water.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way.
Michael took the folding butter knife from the secret compartment in his mattress and began carving, one painstaking letter at a time. It would have to do. S-I. The exterior of the door was metal, but inside it was wooden, so it would work nicely. S-T
He’d been planning this surprise for some time now. Ever since, years ago, his mother had brought the little one to a family visit with Michael, the day they said he’d gone “psychotic” and stabbed the old bitch.
Michael’s little sister, sometimes called Laurie Angel Myers.
The E was easy to carve, straight marks like a pitchfork.
He didn’t know what had happened to her after his parents’ reported death, but he intended to find her. Michael put the finishing touch on his indelible message: R.
He looked at the wall-mounted clock, up on high. It was nearly 9 p.m. Cynthia would be in before 11, as she promised an early arrival on this crucial night. He patted at the note, which he’d hidden next to his waistband, now unexpectedly straining.
Loomis was due to arrive around 9:40, with his nurse in tow.
Michael went back to his bed and again lay completely rigid. Over the past 10 years, he had trained his heart and respiration rate down to nearly nil every minute, without sleep or loss of consciousness, his chest visibly bereft of movement. He could almost imagine he was dead.
Cynthia would help him play out the rightful ending to this story. He just knew she would. She’d have to.
Sam Loomis was unprepared for the sight.
His headlight beams fell upon three night-gowned patients walking in a field adjacent to the Smith’s Grove Sanitarium.
“What the devil?!” escaped from his lips almost without bidding.
He and Nurse Chambers drove to the gate and could not reach the security guard on the intercom, so they preceded with extreme caution up to the darkened hospital, preparing to transfer patient Michael Myers to his court hearing tomorrow in Springfield.
“Wait here!” he advised sternly. “Lock the doors! Every last goddamned one!”
After a brief meeting of eyes, each person feeling at once inextricably linked, bound even, to the other and yet . . . severed, Loomis ran inside, and that was the last Marion Chambers saw of him for minutes without end, minutes she’d only bother to count in the aftermath. The rain had slowed, now just lightly spitting, but still chilly on an October Illinois evening. She saw Loomis’ huffing, heavy breaths as he sped inside at a run.
She let her mind wander as she waited with the heater on. What a weird way to spend Halloween. The front pane began to fog up as she sat there, wishing she had an extra cigarette. With trembling fingers, she had flipped on the radio and was quietly singing off-key along to the “Witch Doctor” song. After the “Monster Mash” had flattened itself into oblivion, she warbled along with “The Purple People-Eater.”
In the meantime, Nurse Chambers had neglected to notice a shape moving stealthily toward her waiting wagon.
“Dammit, what’s taking Sam so long?” She held her delicate spaghetti-strap watch up to the light coming from the radio, resulting in a strange squelching to the music.
At that precise moment, a shadow-clad figure appeared in her driver’s side window and began beating at it. Like anyone unaccustomed to being attacked, she shrank back in utter stupefaction and fear, almost laying out across the passenger seat.
When the window burst inward, she thought to grab at the steering wheel or disengage the clutch to start the car moving or at least rolling, but by then, it seemed much too late.
The Shape was lunging dark-armed at her, tearing her shawl off her neck, its button zinging off against the dashboard. It ripped off her white cap, disheveling her hair into a mass of frothy tears and the thready saliva of terror, with a cold, dank sweat oozing across her underarms and trickling into a wet pool between her back and blouse as she lay helplessly kicking. Although the man could not reach her and the doors were locked, it was clear he meant to drag her out of the car, through a jagged maw of window.
Everything was going red in the petrified parts of Marion’s mind.
She found herself screaming, didn’t even know her mouth had opened, that spit had flown, that her limbs were whirling for dear life.
Nurse Chambers clawed at the passenger-side door, knowing she was a good sprinter, hoping she could be unpredictable enough to startle the man into not following. At last, it budged open and she almost spilled out onto her knees. Luckily, she had twisted her damp torso before exiting, and hit the ground in a crouch and sprung into a loping run borne of dread and bile.
She almost slammed into Sam Loomis as he barreled out of the sanitarium.
“What?” he screamed as the station wagon spat gravel at him and sped into the night.
“Ismael’s dead, Michael Myers is gone!” he shouted, grasping onto Marion’s trembling arm in the parking lot, wanting to make his spine as stiff as he could, for her sake, but feeling he had failed.
Little did they yet know, Michael had first impaled the floor warden with a cupcake topper in his left eye, spilling a sticky vitreous all over the watchman’s desk. Then he’d slammed the man’s head repeatedly against the desk, ramming the small, sharp rod deeper into his brain.
Michael had read accounts of Phineas Gage, who’d been impaled through the head by a metal railroad rod back in the 1800s. Gage had lived, but not without changes in his personality according to eyewitness accounts.
He himself didn’t know if Ismael had survived or not. There was enough blood to be slippery and leave tracks in the hallways, sanguine reminders of Michael methodically going to different rooms, letting out patient by patient, creating a diversion.
Loomis and Chambers also failed to see that Michael had made a quick stop just down the road from the sanitarium.
He had picked up a passenger. His dark accomplice.
As a duo, The Shape and his night-side assistant were prepared to bring havoc home to Haddonfield. They would be unstoppable.