Welcome to Freaky Friday, the day of the week when we bring you wisdom right out of old paperbacks. Most of that wisdom involves how you should avoid children at all times.
Every child kills in its own unique way, each one a special snowflake of homicide. If you’re in The Children, you are a child’s body with Howard Hughes’s brain transplanted into it and you show up at reporters’ front doors in your private school uniform asking for autographs, then when they bend over to write it you pull out a silenced pistol and blow their brains out. If you’re the young, Jesus-addled child in Mama’s Little Girl, you hate brains, too, but you use a hammer to get at them. If you’re an army of children controlled by an evil psychic child in Piper you wait until Halloween and then you and your friends go on a kill-as-kill-can rampage that sees thousands die at your tiny hands.
And if you are Psychic Spawn, well, you’re going to kill psychically. Also, you’re a Nazi.
As usual, the Nazis are to blame for everything. In the waning days of the Third Reich at a secret underground base, the young and promising Dr. Messner is developing Die Wunderkinder, which even an American knows is not the name of a new teen pop act, but instead means “psychic spawn” in Nazi. Dr. Messner’s breeding program has gotten men and women with “awakened” psychic instincts to hump a super race of “quiet babies with large, mesmerizing eyes” into existence. Known as “psychic positive persons” which sounds much more sensitive than “creepy telepathic freaks” these big-eyed babies pose for Precious Moments statuettes when they’re not using their powers to advance the cause of the Reich.
Dr. Messner is a true believer who keeps beginning sentences with phrases like “After we’ve won the war…” while Dr. Josef Mengele (making a cameo) is more cynical about how the war is going, and more cynical about taking credit. Mengele and Messner bicker over credit with Mengele claiming that because he has more degrees, including one in anthropology, he should be in charge of Die Wunderkinder. The argument comes to a sudden halt when it turns out the war isn’t going so well for Germany after all and their secret mountain laboratory gets bombed into rubble.
Flash forward to 1973 and the Park Avenue Family Planning Center of Dr. Edward Reston. Booked up by the richest and most successful childless New Yorkers, a sudden power failure caused by some hate-mail-sending psychos makes his freezer go kaput and all his eggs and sperms from genius IQ donors and Olympic athletes go rancid. Desperate, he runs to his mentor, Dr. John Heineman, who, like many mentors, is secretly a Nazi. Dr. Heineman is actually Dr. Messner, and he’s got a fridge full of tiny psychic Nazi babies which he loans to Dr. Reston, who sticks them inside the wombs of New York City’s elite, who assume that they are actually getting their muffins glazed with the genetic material of Chinese violin prodigies and Russian chess champions—not embryonic psychic racists.
Flash forward again to 1987 and now all the Wunderkinder are 12 years old with bad table manners and too much mousse in their hair. The future leaders of the Fourth Reich are spoiled brats who lip off to their parents, get suspended from their elite private schools, and hang out in Central Park in a pack. There are 12 of them, led by Brandon Evered, and they’re all malcontents who think their curfews are bogus and their parents are lame. When an aging Dr. Messner tracks them down to tell them that they are the glorious secret legacy of the Third Reich, they listen to him for a full ten seconds before linking their minds and using their psychic powers to make his heart explode. To them, he’s just another dumb adult trying to tell them what to do. He’s also a Nazi. Gross.
With some of their members being exiled to elite boarding schools designed to house the difficult children of the privileged rich, the 12 psychic spawn (who call themselves The Secret Society of Loki for unknown, but probably Nazi-ish, reasons) gang up and murder any parent who is even browsing a brochure for a boarding school. Brandon’s the one who tips their hand, though. A few accidents could be overlooked, but when his dad drops dead of a heart attack while playing racquetball and a week later his mom gets brained by a wrench falling off the top floor of a skyscraper scaffolding, a few guys trying to track down and destroy Die Wunderkinder are alerted. Namely Mr. Stern, a mildly psychic Holocaust survivor whose twin brother killed himself because of the horrors he endured under the ministrations of Dr. Messner and Dr. Mengele.
Stern tries to confront Dr. Reston about the Nazis buns he baked in various elite ovens, shouting “Those embryo children Heineman—Hans Messner—gave you are the products of evil,” but really, what parent hasn’t felt that way about their kids? Aren’t they all the product of evil, on some level? Getting nowhere with Dr. Reston, he tracks down the Secret Society of Loki and confronts them in their secret headquarters, the Museum of Natural History. During this confrontation, the psychic spawn reveal that they’ve got new mind weapons to wield, “The genie was out. That was kid stuff. Laser beams of thought energy were in.”
The kids generate psychic Uzis (it is, after all, 1987) and animate the skeleton of a T. Rex to attack Stern, but ultimately he fights back with psychic powers of his own that set off the fire alarm system and cause a flood. To save the Museum of Natural History, they’re going to have to destroy it. Just to make sure no exhibit emerges unscathed, there’s also a mass electrocution, a huge fire, lots of murders, and in the end the Museum of Natural History is left a smoking, wet ruin, displays destroyed, walls collapsing, bloated corpses of small children scattered all over the exhibits. And yet, it’s a small price to pay to eliminate baby Nazis.
Grady Hendrix has written for publications ranging from Playboy to World Literature Today; his previous novel was Horrorstör, about a haunted IKEA, and his latest novel, My Best Friend’s Exorcism, is basically Beaches meets The Exorcist.