A Nightmare on Elm Street — Adaptation Excerpts
Adapted by Bob Italia
Transcribed by Rob Nimmo
A few days later, Rod Lane’s casket was lowered into its grave. Nancy was present at the gravesite. So were Lieutenant Thompson, Marge, Tina’s mother and Rod’s parents. They exchanged glances, as if they had gone through this before Tina and Rod were killed. When the brief ceremony was over, the mourners walked away from the grave.
“How’s Nancy doing?” Thompson asked Marge. “I don’t think she’s slept since Tina died,” Marge replied. “She’s always been a delicate kid.” “She’s tougher than you think,” Thompson said. “Any idea how she knew Rod was gonna kill himself?” “No,” Marge said. “All I know is this reminds me too much of ten years ago.” Thompson looked away. “Yeah, well, let’s not start digging up bodies just because we’re in a cemetery.” Thompson and Marge caught up with Nancy in the cemetery parking lot. Marge opened the car door for Nancy. “The killer’s still loose, you know,” Nancy said in a small voice. A chill ran up Marge’s spine. “You saying somebody else killed Tina?” Thompson said. “Who?” Nancy smiled eerily. “I don’t know who he is. But he’s burned, wears a weird hat, a green and red sweater, real dirty, and he uses some sort of knives he’s got made into some sort of… glove. Like giant fingernails.” Marge’s face drained completely of color. “I think you should keep Nancy at home for a few days,” Thompson said to Marge. “I got something better,” Marge said, turning to Nancy. “I’m gonna get you help, baby. So no one will threaten you anymore.” Marge helped Nancy into the car. She locked the door, then climbed into the driver’s seat and sped away.
The next day, Marge took Nancy to the institute for the Study of Sleep Disorders. In a laboratory sleeping chamber, a nurse applied sensors to Nancy’s body as she lay on a simple broad cot. “But I just don’t feel ready to sleep yet,” Nancy complained. “Please, so I have to?” “Don’t worry,” Doctor King said, “you’re not gonna change into the Bride of Frankenstein or anything.”
“I don’t see why you couldn’t just give me a pill to keep me from dreaming,” Nancy said. “Everybody’s got to dream,” Dr. King said. “If you don’t dream, you go crazy. All set?” “No,” Nancy said. “They’re just simple tests, Nan,” Marge said. “We’ll both be right here.”
Dr. King and Marge entered the observation room overlooking Nancy’s sleeping chamber. King monitored Nancy with a bank of instruments – a mass of glowing dials, graphs and meters. King adjusted a dial, watching the EKG graph like a hawk. Then there was a slight alteration in the sound of the EKG. King nodded in satisfaction. “Okay, good. She’s asleep.” Marge looked into the sleeping chamber. Nancy was a motionless bundle in the middle of the cot. “What are dreams, anyway?” “Mysteries,” King said. “Incredible body hocus pocus. The truth is, we still don’t know what they are or where they come from.” The EKG needle dipped to a lower reading. “She’s entering deep sleep now,” King said. “All normal. She could dream at any time now. Right now she’s like a diver on the bottom of an ocean no one’s mapped yet—waiting to see what shows up.” A machine started chirping. King scanned it, liking what he saw. “Okay, she’s started to dream.” “How can you tell?” Marge asked. “R.E.M.’s” King replied. “Rapid eye movements. The eyes follow the dream. Their movement is picked up on this,” he said, pointing to a dial. Then he pointed to a moving graph. The needle began waiving lazily between plus and minus three. King nodded assuredly. “Typical dream parameter,” he said. “A nightmare, now, would be plus or minus five or six. She’s just around three point—”
King stopped as the graph plunged, then surged well above the eight mark. Staring in disbelief, he rapped his finger on the glass that covered the graph. “This can’t be,” he said with alarm. “It never gets this high!” Suddenly, a warning beeper pierced the air. The instruments lit up like a Christmas tree. In the sleeping chamber, Nancy contorted as if shot through with a thousand volts. King knocked over is chair and sprinted for the door. Marge raced after him. When they reached Nancy, she was flailing and screaming as if the devil were after her. King grabbed her and shook her awake. Nancy’s glazed eyes widened in terror. Instantly, her fist shot out with incredible force, knocking King to the floor. King prepared a hypodermic needle in his quaking hands and struggled to his feet. “Nancy!” Marge screamed at the top of her lungs. “It’s Mom, Nancy!” The glaze on Nancy’s eyes disappeared. All that was left was terror and fury—but she was awake! Drenched in her sweat, Nancy stared around like a cornered animal, her purple face gasping out gut-wrenching sobs. King approached with the needle. “Now this is just going to let you relax and sleep, Nan—” With incredible swiftness, Nancy backhanded the hypodermic needle into a far wall, shattering it into a thousand pieces. “No,” she said with fire in her eyes, “that’s enough sleep.” “Okay, kid, okay,” King said. “Fair enough.” Exhausted, Nancy sagged back on her pillow. Then King stared at her dumbfoundedly. Across her left forearm, four cuts bled freely, as if made by very sharp instruments. “Get the kit!” King said to the nurse. The nurse scrambled away as King clapped his hand over the wounds. Then he looked into Nancy’s face. What he saw frightened him even more. Nancy’s haunted, ghost-like eyes turned from him to her mother. A terrible, chilling smile opened across Nancy’s white lips. “You believe this?” she said. Nancy pulled her free arm from beneath the sheets and revealed a strange hat, filthy and worn—the killer’s hat! The sight of it frightened Marge, more than anything she had seen before. She turned deathly pale. “Where did you get that?” Nancy stared at her. “I grabbed it off his head.” Marge stared at the hat as if it held her whole future—a future filled with horror.
The next day, Marge was on the telephone in her kitchen. She held the dirty hat in her free hand. “She said she snatched it off his head in a dream!” Marge cried into the phone. Then she paused. “No, I’m not crazy—I’ve got the thing in my hand!” Again, she paused. “I know we did, we all—” Marge heard Nancy approaching. “Gotta go,” she said. Then she hung up the phone and stuffed the hat into a drawer. Nancy entered the kitchen. The horrible events of the past week had taken their toll. Nancy’s hair was ashen, her skin translucent, and her eyes dark-ringed. Her right forearm was heavily bandaged over the slashes. Though she did her best to hide it, Marge was frightened of her daughter. “You didn’t sleep, did you? The doctor says you have to sleep or you’ll—”
“Go even crazier?” Nancy said, pouring a cup of black coffee.
“I don’t think you’re crazy—and stop drinking that coffee!”
“Did you ask Daddy to have the hat examined?”
“I threw that filthy thing away,” Marge said. “I don’t know what you’re trying to prove with it, but—”
Nancy stepped closer to her mother. “What I learned in the dream clinic—that’s what I’m trying to prove. Rod didn’t kill Tina, and he didn’t hang himself. It’s this guy—he’s after us in our dreams.” “But that’s just not reality, Nancy!” Furious, Nancy yanked open the drawer before Marge can stop her. Nancy waved the hat triumphantly. “It’s real, Mama—feel it! His name is even in it… written right here… Fred Krueger… Fred Krueger! You know who that is, Mama? You better tell me, ‘cause now he’s after me!” “Fred Krueger can’t be after you, Nancy,” Marge said angrily. “He’s dead!” The room fell silent. Nancy and Marge stared at each other. “Fred Krueger is dead,” Marge insisted. “Dead and gone. Believe me, I know. Now go to bed. I order you, go to bed.” Nancy was furious. She felt betrayed. “You knew about him all this time, and you’ve been acting like he was someone I made up!” Marge pulled away. “You’re sick, Nancy. Imagining things. You need to sleep, it’s as simple as that.” “Forget sleep!” Nancy said, racing to the front door. “Nancy, it’s only a nightmare!” Marge shouted. “That’s enough!” Nancy said. She stepped outside and slammed the door.
Nancy walked aimlessly down Main Street. Then she spotted a survivalist bookstore. I’m into survival, she thought. She walked inside. Nancy browsed until she came across a book titled Booby Traps and Improvised Anti-Personnel Devices. She studied the book and decided to buy it. Nancy didn’t return home until later that evening. When she did, she saw a utility truck pulling away from the curb. Then she looked at the house. “Oh, gross,” she muttered. Every window had been covered with brand-new ornamental iron bars bolted deeply into their frames. Nancy entered the house. “Mom,” she shouted, “what’s with the bars?” Nancy found her mother propped up against the headboard of her bed, a crooked shadow of gloom. A fresh bottle of gin glinted in her hand. “Oh, Mom…” Nancy said in despair. Nancy reached for the bottle, but Marge snatched it away. “What’s with the bars?” “Security,” Marge said. Nancy sat on the bed. “Mom, I want to know what you know about Fred Krueger.” “Dead and gone,” Marge said. “I want to know how, where—if you don’t tell me, I’m going to call Daddy.” “Forget Fred Krueger. You don’t want to know, believe me.” “I do want to know,” Nancy said. “He’s not dead and gone—he’s after me! If I sleep, he’ll get me! I’ve got to know!” Marge blinked at her a moment, then cracked a terrible, crooked grin. “All right.”
Marge dragged Nancy headlong down the cellar stairs and across the room with a crazy fury. “You want to know who Fred Krueger was? He was a filthy child killer who got at least twenty kids, kids from our area, kids we all knew. It drove us crazy when we didn’t know who was doing it—but it was even worse when they caught him!” Marge drew herself up with a shake. “Oh the lawyers got fat and the judge got famous,” she continued, “but someone forgot to sign the search warrant in the right place, and Fred Krueger was free, just like that.” “So he’s alive?” Nancy asked. Marge smiled grimly. “He wouldn’t have stopped. The creep would’ve got more kids first chance he got. They found nearly ten bodies in his boiler room as it was! But they couldn’t touch him.” Nancy shivered in fear. “What was needed were some private citizens willing to do what had to be done,” Marge explained. “What did you do, Mother?” Nancy said softly. Marge cradled the gin bottle. “Bunch of us parents tracked him down after they let him go. Found him in an old boiler room, just like before. Saw him lying there in that caked red and green sweater he always wore, drunk an’ asleep with his weird knives by his side… Nancy swallowed hard. “Go on.” “We poured gasoline all around the place, left a trail out the door, locked the door, then—WHOOSH!” Her arms shot up and her eyes widened with the light of that distant fire. Then Marge dropped her arms. “But just when it seemed not even the devil could live in there anymore, he crashed out like a banshee, all on fire—swinging those fingerknives every which direction and screaming he… he was going to get us by killing all our kids.”
Marge stopped with a sudden quake and drank for a long moment. Her face bathed in tears, she looked at Nancy and shook her head. “There were all those men, Nancy—even your father, oh yes, even him. But none could do what had to be done—Krueger rolling and screaming so loud the whole state could hear—no one could take your father’s gun and kill him good and proper. Except me!” Marge swept her hand across the air in a terrible slash. Then she stopped, her hand shaking, her voice hoarse and terrified. “So he’s dead, Nan. He can’t get you. Mommy killed him.” Nancy took her mother in her arms and rocked her. “Who was there?” Nancy said. “Were Tina’s parents? Were Rod’s?” Marge sagged back. “Sure, and Glen’s. All of us. But that’s in the past now, baby. Really. It’s over. We even took his knives.” Marge twisted around and opened the door on an old furnace. She fished inside the cavity. The next moment, she pulled out an object wrapped in rags. She opened it and displayed the long, rusted blades and their glove-like apparatus. Nancy stared at the knives as a chill ran down her spine. “All these years you’ve kept those things buried down here? In our own house?” “Proof he’s declawed,” Marge said. “As for him, we buried him good and deep.” Marge shoved the gloves into their hiding place, then closed the little iron door. “So’s okay, you can sleep.” Marge lurched up and staggered up the stairs. Nancy shivered and looked down at her arm. The cuts beneath her bandage began to bleed again. From inside the furnace, as if from deep below, the pulsing of the boundless nightmare-boiler room could be faintly heard.