NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET: INNOCENT DEMON
Chapter V: "Son of a Hundred Maniacs"REVISED EDITION
Written by Diane N. Tran, with Abri Isgrig and Liz Hartley
Thirty-eight years ago.
Dressed in a tight pair of shabby overalls and striped shirt two sizes too large, his hair unkempt and in desperate need of a cut, a six-year-old boy sat on his knees in the playground sandbox at the Cincinnati Orphanage. His striking blue eyes studied a grey, scruffy-looking tabby cat that tip-toed towards him, as he held out an orange cheese puff to it. With a cautious sniff and a curious swing of its tail, the feline gawked at the boy for a moment with a pair of bronze eyes, licking its uneven whiskers eagerly, before it began craned its neck on nibble on the tip of the flavoured chip held between the boy's chubby fingers. The child gave it a second and third piece, which the cat greedily munched, as he stroked its furry back, watching the creature with quiet fascination — too quiet, in fact — before he gave a rough tug upon its tail.
Startled, the cat whipped its head around and gave an irritated hiss, but the child tightened his grip on the flea-ridden tail and stood up, lifting half of the filthy beast in the air when it attempted to flee. It struggled from side to side, attacking his old sneakers, before he brought his foot upward and struck its furry head with a deafening crack, causing it to fall unconscious upon the ground.
Dragging the limp, little ragdoll of a cat into the sandbox, he dumped it into a generous hole he dug in the corner, the six-year-old barely registered the little pink tongue that jutted out between a pair of broken fangs and the ruptured eye that bled down its striped cheek. The boy pulled out a pair of shoestrings from his large overall pockets then began to bind the wrists and followed suit with the ankles. Just as he finished tightening the final knot, the animal came to and started to struggle while the boy pulled out a box cutter from his overall pocket. With his plump thumb, he slid the sharp blade out and it locked in place with a click.
With a delighted glint in his blue eyes and a smirk crawling across his lips, the child began to slit the yowling animal's open with the imperfection of a clumsy surgeon. He started with the sides first — slice, slice — to prevent the blood from gushing on him when he went for the chest and stomach — slice, slice, slice.
As the sandy pit slowly began to fill and puddle with crimson, the boy's hand explored inside the flesh. Warm and wet and wonderful. He encircled around something slippery and pulled out a twist of pink intestines, which were as thin and fragile as noodles. They stretched and snapped between his fingers and out poured a wiggling swarm of roundworms and unprocessed faeces, but the boy simply beamed at the sight and the smell, that awful smell, encouraged him to continue. He picked up a worm and squished it between his fingers, hearing its fleshy body give out with an audible pop.
The injured tabby strangled out its last few heavy, laboured breaths and the six-year-old paused from his work: It had stopped moving, breathing, and (above all) screaming. Frowning, the child gave a dissatisfying grunt. That was his favourite part. They were no fun when they died and he was just beginning to really enjoy himself. Stupid creature. It didn't last nearly as long as the last one.
Kicking several inches of sand over the corpse, he skipped his way to the drinking fountain, reaching for it on his tip-toes, and began to clean up. Drying his hands on his overalls, he hid the box cutter back into his pocket. He looked up when the morning bell at the orphanage rang and he frowned. He had forgotten the time and he had forgotten the day.
Kicking a rock with a grunt of frustration and hanging his head, he didn't know whether to cry or to scream. He stood there in the playground, mulling over what he could possibly do, whether he should run away, or whether he should brave through yet another day. When the second bell rang, he shut his eyes with a mournful groan, or was it a growl, as he made his way into the building and disappeared within the crowd of children, young and old, small and large, who were rushing through the hallways and ducking into their respected rooms.
He was going to stay...
As long as he could remember, Frederick Charles Krueger was not like the other children. He knew it and everyone else knew it, too. They never asked what was wrong with him, nor did they seem interested in understanding why, but he was somehow singled out from the hundreds of other orphaned children as the screw-up, the black sheep, the weirdo, the freak, and he so longed to be like everyone else. But there was a problem with being like everyone else because, no matter how hard he tried, he was always the odd one out — the last one picked at everything, or the one that was never picked at all. He tried his best to appear indifferent, that it didn't bother him, but the other children didn't have the same sentiments.
He had no friends. He had no acquaintances. He had no allies, even among the facilitators and the teachers, for they were too understaffed to give any of the children any proper attention. He was often alone and he preferred it that way. He stopped interacting all together. While the other children cavorted with one another with their games of house, tag, and hide n' seek, he was content in sitting alone in a quiet corner of the playroom with his crayons. If, by chance, someone came too close, he learned that a furrowing of his brow usually kept them away — and that was the face he had to put on every day.
Bombarding the teacher with excuses, not that she cared to hear them, he was allowed to skip recess and squirreled himself away in the schoolroom. To put it simply, he did not want to be on the playground at all when there was a sea of children already there. Even under the "watchful" gaze of the adults, they were blind to the comings and goings of the orphanage. Few knew them as well as Frederick Charles Krueger.
From the hallway, his heart skipped a beat at the sound of all-too-familiar voices hushing each other from behind the classroom door. Scooping up his small pile of papers and his box of crayons into his scrawny arms, he crouched underneath the table, pulling his knees to his chest in a desperate effort to stop them from trembling, and held his breath when he heard the door creak open. He could hear the loud thumping of his heart, fearing the sound would give him away, as he watch the long, stretching shadows dance upon the flooring and squeezed his eyes shut. For a long moment, there was silence, but he abruptly let out a shrilling yelp when something grabbed his ankle and he was dragged away of his hiding place.
"Hey, here's the retard!" said one of the monstrous shadows. There were three of them, each one progressively meaner than the next. "Thought ya could hide, huh?"
"Heard ya skinn'd another flea-bagger," mocked another shadow. "Probably sucks its blood like some kind of a psycho!"
The third shadow sneered, watching his prey struggle against his grip, kicking and clawing only to miss every time: "Bet his entire family were a bunch of psychos and maniacs, too!"
"Son of a hundred maniacs! Son of a hundred maniacs! Son of a hundred maniacs!" guffawed one of the shadows, pointing and prodding the boy like a piece of hanging meat, as he struggled to free himself.
"How 'bout we check 'im with an exam, boys, and see how a psycho works? Get ya pants down, ya goddamn queer, and we'll cut it off an—errrrrggghh, mudderfucker!"
Whipping his tiny body around, Frederick forcibly latched on to the shadow's arm, dug his tiny teeth into his knuckles, tore through the skin, and he could taste the rush of garnets across his lips. Warm and wet and wonderful.
"I won't let you!" screamed the boy in a high and panicky tone, spitting of blood from his teeth and trickling of tears from his eyes, as he pulled the box cutter from his pocket and lunged at his attacker who fell to his knees on the floor — slice, slice. He grounded and grinded its short blade into the layers of fabric and flesh — slice, slice, slice — and cried out unrelentingly: "I won't let you cut it off! I won't! I won't! I won't!"
The shadow wrenched and caught a fraction of breath before exploding a long, deafening scream, a scream that bounced along the four walls of the classroom and echoed all around them in a hundred voices, a scream that sprayed out a volcano of crimson that splattered across the linoleum flooring, a scream that could shatter glass, a scream of pain and anguish, raw and unimaginable, a scream that could send chills riveting down the spines of all whom heard it — and did so.
Staring aimlessly through long strands of his hair at the ambulance stretcher that rattled and rolled pass him, the six-year-old sat quietly on an enormous bench, stooping his head low in an attempt to hide in full view, several feet outside the main entrance of the orphanage, awaiting his punishment, whatever it might be, as the director gravely prattled on with the paramedics and technicians out of earshot.
"Did we come at a bad time?" interrupted a woman with her husband at arm.
"Are you Mr. and Mrs. Underwood?" the director turned to the couple.
"Yes, we have an appointment for an adoption?" nodded the husband. "But if you're busy with an emergen—."
"Who is that?" asked the wife, peeking behind the director's shoulder and pointing to the small child in dirty overalls and overgrown hair sitting on the bench by his lonesome.
The director frowned when he glanced behind him and began to whisper the situation to the couple. The husband gave the appearance of a mild-mannered, suburban man, but carried an obsessive need to control things around him, such as his headstrong wife, as he thinned his lips, grimacing and shaking his head, while he listened to the laundry list of troubling offences associated with the boy. His wife, however, with her mass of short, golden cotton-candy hair and youthful, girlish appearance listened in half-attention and would shift her sapphire eyes back to the boy sympathetically every few minutes with a twinkle behind them.
When the director finished, the wife tugged at her husband's arm, pleading with him with a pair of sweet, sugary eyes, and they began to argue, starting off as petty begging before it quickly escalated into a screaming match. The director flinched and took a step back when the husband raised the back of his hand, but the wife stood her ground contumaciously and he grated his teeth at her, uncertain if he was impressed by her persistence in the matter, annoyed by it, or downright baffled by it. Berating her one final time with a forewarning finger, as one would with a child, he swung around and grumbled off straight into the director's office.
The wife merely wrinkled her little nose at her husband and gave a smug, little smile when she got her way. Nodding to the director of the orphanage, she straightened herself up and knelt down to eye level of the boy who sat alone on the bench.
"Hello," she greeted in a soft, delicate tone.
The boy didn't speak in a futile attempt to turn invisible in front of the grown-up. He didn't trust grown-ups. Grown-ups never gave him much reason to trust them. They always, always, had a hidden agenda.
"Do you mind if I sit here?"
Again, the boy said nothing. He didn't even move, that is, until:
- SON OF A HUNDRED MANIACS! SON OF A HUNDRED MANIACS! SON OF A HUNDRED MANIACS!
The boy's shoulders slumped further, his nails clenched into the textile of his overalls over his knees, and his body began to tremble. He had buried his emotions deep inside him, all the frustration, all the pain; he had built the walls around him and built them well, but the pressure became too much to handle now and, sometimes, that's all it took. The emotional dam cracked and burst forth, exposing himself for the first time — and before a grown-up, no less.
The woman cooed and wrapped her arms around the weeping six-year-old, which caused him to flinch unexpectedly. As she tenderly petted and gently rocked his tiny body into her lap, her palms rubbed his back and squeezed his thigh. On any other day, he would have shoved her off him and ran off to hide, but the sheer onslaught of emotions flooded through every extremity of his person, making it all the more unbearable: He couldn't run if he wanted to. He couldn't hide if he tried. He simply couldn't move. He instinctively buried his little face into the comforting folds of her dress and permitted the tears to stream down his eyes freely.
"It's okay, little one," she whispered sweetly, cradling him close against her. "They won't ever hurt you again."
The child valiantly took in a deep breath, albeit a shaky one, and sniffled: "They'll... never stop..."
The corner of the woman's lips slipped into a smile when the boy opened up enough to speak to her. "So, what's your name, cutie?"
"Fr—Frederick," the boy replied lowly, shamefully gazing down at the splattering of bloodstains and teardrops upon his clothes.
"Hello, Frederick," she brushed his long hair from his face and lifted his chin up, allowing his striking blue eyes, redden by tears, to meet hers, with a magnificent grin, "my name's Bonnie. I'm going to be your new mother."
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