A Nightmare on Elm Street — Adaptation Excerpts
Adapted by Bob Italia
Transcribed by Rob Nimmo
Tina Gray’s steps quickened as she made her way down the darkened corridor. She could hear insane laughter in the distance, and the slamming of iron doors. Suddenly, a lamb skittered across her path and into the dark. Then she heard another sound, much nearer! It was the slithering scrape of something that sounded like fingernails across slate. Panic-stricken, Tina began running. Tina found herself running among huge boilers, steam pipes, and catwalks. She stopped and listened to more strange sounds – the sound of tiny hooves and the rattle of distant rain.
Then she heard ripping fabric. Someone was shouldering behind a ragged screen of dirty canvas, approaching Tina.
Suddenly, long curved fingerblades punched through and began ripping the canvas with a hideous tearing sound. Tina stumbled backward, hands over her ears. All grew quiet as the fabric flapped free. Then a deep, ragged voice whispered to Tina: “One, two, Freddy’s coming for you.” Tina opened her mouth to scream, but only a dry, yellow dust poured out. Just then, a huge shadowy man with a grimy red and green sweater and a weird hat pulled over his scarred face lunged at her. His fingers were tipped with long blades of steel.
Tina dodged the menacing figure, but the man seized the trailing hem of her nightgown and began hauling her back. Tina shrieked in terror…
…then she woke to the sound of someone knocking on her bedroom door. Tina’s mother poked her head in. “You okay, Tina?” she said with a worried look.
Tina looked around wildly, then sat up and sighed deeply. “Just a dream, ma,” she said. Tina’s mother stepped into the room and gazed at her. “Some dream, judging from that,” she said. Tina looked down at her nightgown. There were four long slashes up its middle, as if cleanly cut by scalpels. “You gotta cut your nails or stop that kind of dreaming, Tina,” her mother said. “One or the other.” She left the room and closed the door behind her. Instantly, Tina snatches the cross that hung over her bed and clutched it to her chest. Her face was as white as her sheets.
The next morning, Tina drove to school with her best friend, Nancy Thompson, and Nancy’s boyfriend, Glen Lantz. When they arrived, several grade-schoolers were playing jump-rope in the parking lot. “Seven, eight,” they sang, “gonna stay up late! Nine, ten, never sleep again!” Tina was amazed.
“That’s what it reminded me of,” she told Nancy and Glen. “That old jump-rope song!” She shuddered. “The worst nightmare I ever had. You wouldn’t believe it!” Nancy nodded. “As a matter of fact, I had a bad dream last night myself.” “So what did you dream?” Tina asked. “Forget it,” Nancy replied. “The point is, everybody has nightmares once in a while. No biggie.”
“Next time you have one,” Glen said, “just tell yourself that’s all it is, right while you’re having it, y’know? That’s the trick. Once you do that, you wake right up. At least it works for me.” Suddenly, the school bell rang. Glen kissed Nancy and rushed into school. “Hey,” Tina shouted, “you have a nightmare too?” The rest of their classmates began crowding them. Tina and Nancy were drawn into the crush.
That night, Nancy and Glen came over to Tina’s house. They gathered in the living room and sat by the fire. “Maybe we should call Rod,” Nancy said to Tina, “have him come over, too.” “Rod and I are done,” Tina said. “He’s too much of a maniac.” “He should join the marines,” Glen said. “They could make something out of him – like a hand grenade.” Tina and Nancy laughed.
“See?” Nancy said. “You’ve forgotten the bad dream. Didn’t I tell you?” Tina shook her head. “All day long I been seeing that guy’s weird face, and hearing those fingernails.” Nancy’s eyes widened. “Fingernails? That’s amazing! It made me remember the dream I had last night!” Tina looked at Nancy in fright. “What did you dream?” “I dreamed about this guy in a dirty red and green sweater,” she said. “He walked into the room I was in – right through the wall, like it was smoke or something! He just stared at me, then he walked out through the wall on the other side – like he’d just come to check me out.”
The room fell deathly quiet. “So what about the fingernails?” Tina asked meekly.
Nancy stared blankly at Tina. “He scraped his fingernails along things. Actually, they were more like fingerknives or something, like he’d made them himself. Anyway, they made this horrible noise.” Tina’s face turned white. “Nancy, you dreamed about the same creep I did!” The girls stared in terror at each other. “That’s impossible!” Glen said. Suddenly, he looked away as if he heard something.
“What?” Tina whispered.
“Nothing,” Glen replied unconvincingly.
“There’s somebody out there, isn’t there!” Tina said.
“I didn’t hear anything,” Nancy said.
Just then, they heard a distinct scraping against the house, just outside the window. Nancy’s mouth opened in horror. Glen rushed to the front door and opened it. Then he stepped into the night. “I’m gonna punch out your ugly lights, whoever you are!” he shouted. Then he turned to face the girls. “It’s just a stupid cat,” he said. Suddenly, the girls screamed as a large figure pounced on Glen, knocking him to the ground. Then the figure jumped up. “And it’s number thirty-six, Rod Lane,” the figure shouted as if he were a sportscaster, “bringing down Glen Lantz just three yards from the goal with a brilliant tackle! And the fans go wild!”
Tina felt relieved. “What are you doing here?” “Came to make up,” Rod said. “No big deal. Your ma home?” “Of course,” Tina said, looking at Rod’s hand. “What’s that?” Rod took the spindly hand rake and scraped the house wall. It made a terrible scratching sound. He grinned and tossed the rake aside. “So what’s happening?” “Maybe a funeral, you jerk!” Glen said angrily. Rod whirled around with a knife in his hand. “Just a sleep-over date,” Nancy said, stepping between Glen and Rod. “Just Tina and me. Glen was just leaving.” Rod stared at Glen and laughed, flipping the knife closed. Then he put it in his pocket. “You ma ain’t home, is she?” he said to Tina. “We got stuff to discuss.” He walked into the house.
“We should get out of here,” Nancy said to Glen. “Hey, you guys are hanging around, right?” Tina shouted from the door. “I need all the company I can get. Please?” Glen looked at Nancy. “So we’ll guard her together. Why’s she so bothered by a stupid nightmare, anyway?” “Because he was scary,” Nancy said, “that’s why.” “Who was scary?” Glen asked. Nancy frowned. “Don’t you think it’s weird, her and me dreaming about the same guy?” Glen nervously looked away. Nancy’s eyes widened. “You didn’t have a bad dream last night, did you?” she said. Glen flashed a funny look. “Me? I don’t dream.” Glen followed Nancy to the house. He stopped in the doorway, glanced around with concern, then closed the door and locked it.
Glen slept on the couch while Nancy slept in Tina’s bedroom. Tina and Rod slept in twin beds in the master bedroom. Tina was too afraid to be alone. “You feel better now, right?” Rod said. “No more fights?” “No more fights,” Tina replied. “Good,” Rod said, “no more nightmares for either of us then.” He pulled the covers over his head. Tina frowned. “When did you have a nightmare?” “Guys can have nightmares, too, y’ know,” he stated. “You ain’t got a corner on the market or something.” Rod rolled over and pulled another cover over his head – a dirty red and green cover!
Tina sleepily glanced at he cover. “Where’d you get that snotty old thing?” She yawned and turned off the light. Then she pulled her cover over herself. Meanwhile, in Tina’s bedroom, Nancy was sitting up in bed staring at the ceiling. Something troubled her. Her heart was pounding. Nancy sighed, turned on her side, and closed her eyes. Just then, the ceiling turned a faint reddish hue with a broad yellow smear across its center. The ceiling began to pulse in rhythm with her heartbeat. Suddenly, something strange pressed against the ceiling. The plaster bulged as if it were elastic – taking the shape of a man’s face! The face opened its mouth. Then knives raked through the ceiling. Plaster dust snowed down on Nancy. Nancy’s eyes flew open and she bolted upright. The face disappeared from the ceiling. Nancy touched her hair and felt the plaster dust. Then she looked to the ceiling. There were three parallel cuts in the plaster, about eight inches long. They looked as if they had been cut by sharp knives.
Nancy drew the covers around her tightly and shivered. Her eyes remained wide open.
Back in the master bedroom, Tina was awakened by the sound of a pebble striking the window. She sat up and listened for a moment, then another pebble clattered off the pane. “Rod,” she whispered. Rod was snoring. Another pebble rapped the glass. Tina slipped to the window and looked out into the back yard. It seemed deserted, but she couldn’t tell for sure.
Just then another pebble struck the window sharply. Startled, Tina, jumped back. But then she was drawn to the window out of curiosity, straining to see in the dark. It seemed as if the stones were materializing out of thin air. Suddenly, a heavier stone struck the window. A thin crack bristled across the glass. Angered, Tina rushed to the back door. She flicked on the flood lights and peered out. “Somebody there?” she cried. “Tina,” the garbled voice said. Tina straightened, unable to swallow. Then she heard a ragged, obscene giggle. “Who is that?” she shouted. Tina charged across the yard and through the gate into the alley. Then she stopped and whirled around, listening to the wind. She was in the same slashed nightgown she had worn in her previous nightmare.
At that moment, a shambling man appeared in the alley fifty feet behind Tina. Then he spread his arms wide and started for her, something shining on his right hand. Tina was cut off from her home! She began shaking uncontrollably. “Oh, please, no,” she whimpered. Then the man held up his steel-tipped hand. Tina turned and ran for her life. The man chased after her. As she ran, Tina overturned trash cans. But the man was fast. The distance between them closed with each heartbeat. Tina rushed out onto front lawns, screaming for help. But all the porch lights on the block began flicking off. The man roared out from behind a slender tree and nearly caught her. Tina ran in panic all the way to her front door. But the door was locked.
“Nancy! Nancy!” Tina cried as she pounded away. “Open the door!” “She’s still awake,” the man said from behind. “Nancy can’t hear you.” Tina whirled around and looked at the approaching man. He was big and hideous, and wore the same dirty red and green sweater, sagging hat, and leering grin from the first nightmare. On his fingers were the steel talons. The man pressed in. Tina staggered backward, her foot caught inexplicably in bedclothes. She fell over her bed’s comforter, twisted away from the man and pulled the cover over her.
Suddenly, Rod lurched up in the lightless bedroom, half-awakened by a sick, awful giggle that filled the room, then echoed off into infinity. Frowning, Rod looked around for the phantom. “Tina?” When she didn’t reply, he got up and jerked back the bedspread. Then his eyes widened in terror. “NOOOOOOO!” Rod shouted in anguish. Rod’s cries rang throughout the house. Terrified, Nancy sat up, then bolted from the bed and into the dark hall. She crashed into someone who lurched out of the dark before her. She screamed and jumped back. “What’s going on?” Glen said. “Oh, jeez – Glen!” Nancy said. “Something’s wrong!” Nancy and Glen rushed to the bedroom door and tried to open it, but the door was locked. “Rod?” Glen shouted, his voice cracking with fear. “Rod, what’s happening in there?”
Rod erupted into terrible hoarse laughter and sobbing. Nancy and Glen heard breaking glass. Glen stepped away from the door, then barreled toward it like a football player. The frame splintered from the impact. Nancy and Glen rushed into the room.
The bedroom was quiet as a tomb. Glen found the light switch and flicked on the lights. Nancy saw Tina in the center of the bed. Tina was dead. Nancy turned away and stuck her head out the shattered window Rod had used for his escape. She sucked in the cold night air and moaned. “I’m…..I’m gonna call the cops,” Glen said in shock. Then he burst from the room.