-Max Headroom: 20 Minutes Into The Future-


(Disclaimer: Most of the characters in this story are the property of David Hansen, Paul Owen, and Wes Craven. Enjoy!)

-Chapter 01-

Network 23 was mostly dark, save for one room with no windows. The room was, oddly enough, on the thirteenth floor. That floor was occupied by the Research and Development department, which was headed by Bryce Lynch. Bryce was, in fact, pretty much was the only staff member in the entire department. That was probably due to the fact that most of the adult staff had left, feeling uncomfortable with having a teenager as their boss.

Bryce was up late, as usual, working on a new project for the Network, or so he claimed. Anyone who had looked in on him would have sworn he was actually playing. He was the only Head of Research and Development to use a Slinky as a research prop. He yawned and tried to convince himself that he wasn't tired. Not a bit. He started to fall forward toward his computer, but caught himself and went back to work on the project he'd been at for the past several hours despite the fact that it was about two in the morning.

He was in the middle of typing when his eyes drifted closed. He opened them again and was slightly alarmed to see that his studio door was open. He moved to close it, then noticed that the hallway had somehow been replaced by a run-down room. He stepped carefully past the threshold and felt a wave of dizziness. Looking back, he saw that his studio was gone. In its place was a stairwell leading into a basement that smelled of mildew and decay. Overcome with curiosity, he made his way down the stairs, wondering just what was going on.

He heard breathing behind him and turned to see who it was.

"Who are you?" he asked.

The man tipped his hat and sneered. "You're not like the other teenagers I've killed," he scoffed. "It took me a lot more effort to bring you here."

"Where are we?" Bryce inquired.

"Your worst nightmare," the badly burned man told him, waving what looked like a raking glove at Bryce.

"Nightmare?" Bryce blinked. "But, I don't dream."

"First time, huh?" the older man asked, suddenly at Bryce's shoulder, whispering in the young genius's ear. "Don't worry. I'll be gentle."

"Why don't I believe you?" Bryce asked. "Now. Your name."

"Freddy," the man finally introduced himself. He ran a single claw across Bryce's abdomen, drawing blood.

Bryce gave a cry and woke. He looked down at his abdomen, instinctively, and was alarmed to see a long gash in the same place he'd been slashed in his nightmare.

He called the Network physician. "Dr. Duncan," he said, sounding more frightened than he intended. "I need stitches. I can't explain how I got hurt. But..."

"That looks pretty bad," Dr. Duncan told him. "It looks like you might need surgery as well as stitches. I'm calling the hospital. Try not to move too much. We don't want you to aggravate your injury."

Bryce nodded, trying to remain calm, despite the fact that he was bleeding badly. He wanted to lean back, but knew that doing so would cause the wound to open up more than it already was.

With tears of pain in his eyes, he sat there and waited for the ambulance to arrive.

The paramedics rushed into the room and carefully got Bryce onto the stretcher.

"Another slasher victim," the man in charge radioed the ambulance as they wheeled the stretcher onto the elevator.

"That's the fifth one this week," the ambulance driver replied, "I hope this one survives."

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