When the Devil's Elbow roller coaster goes off its track and several teenagers are hurt, everyone thinks it was just an accident. So no-one listens when Tess says she saw someone tampering with the track. But one person knows it's true. That person is playing a deadly game and is going to make sure Tess doesn't get in the way. Tess soon finds she's being terrorized with threatening notes, menacing phone calls, slashed tires, and nasty pranks. When another "accident" occurs in the Funhouse, Tess is sure that SHE was the intended victim. Who is committing these horrifying acts? And why? Tess is just beginning to realize that the Funhouse can scare you...to death.
Tess Landers is reminiscing about where she was and what she was doing when the Devil's Elbow went off the tracks: eating a hot dog and drinking a Coke (Diane Hoh has obviously been conspiring with Stine on his pro-Coke campaign). Wow. How interesting. Now, before I fall asleep, tell me of the maiming that occurred: "The crash killed Dade Lewis, destroyed Sheree Buchanan's face, and seperated Joey Furman forever from his left leg." What a cheery way to start off this book. If I smiled any harder, my face would look like Sheree Buchanan's. Ooo...too soon? Anyway, the next few paragraphs are descriptions of the surroundings: beautiful, sunny California. Please God tell me there are no size six twins with sparkling blue eyes anywhere in the vicinity. Anyway, in addition to remembering what she was doing on that fateful evening, Tess also recalls what she was wearing: jeans, boots, white sweater. She had been waiting for her best friend, Gina Giambone, a sassy Italian who never manages to be on time. Since Diane Hoh seems incapable of focusing on one thing at a time, the next few paragraphs are a mish-mash of Tess's broken family (mom died, dad remarried a much younger woman named Shelley who is a total bitch, brother lives with dad and Tess lives with Shelley because Shelley left dad and took Tess with her. What the hell? How could the evil stepmother gain custody over the biological father? Oh well.), Gina's ugly sweater, mustard, and a guy named Doss Beacham that Gina finds sexy but Tess thinks is a neanderthal. Remind me how these things are related. Oh that's right--they aren't.
The subject changes to Gina's boyfriend Beak. Yes, I said BEAK. Then Gina pisses Tess off by bringing up Sam Oliver, Tess's boyfriend? Ex-boyfriend? Their relationship is unclearand I really don't care about this shit. Unless Sam is the psycho, I don't wanna hear another word about him. (Unfortunately, we all know there will be page after page about their crappy "relationship" later because high school boyfriends are SO IMPORTANT. You NEED them! Your life is nothing but a big dookie pie if you don't have one! WAHHHH!) Tess walks off alone and finds herself standing by the Devil's Elbow. One second later, the car plunges off the tracks, crashing into the Boardwalk below. Tess, you're bad luck, babe.
Now it's time for Lunatics Wear Ski Masks And Hide In The Shadows Outside The Girls Restroom Like Dirty Perverts Looking For A Good Time theater! "Even without darkness, total chaos on the Boardwalk would have made it difficult for anyone to notice the figure or the long, thick, steel pipe in its hands." Uh, you can't do that in a public place, pervert. Anyway, the weirdo runs off with his pipe and a shit-eating grin plastered to his face like he just accomplished something. Tess spots him running, but doesn't think too much about it because the place is total chaos.
*sigh* Now we get a page devoted to the weirdo's private thoughts. Just the usual REVENGE! scenario: all those people on the Devil's Elbo deserved what they got (it isn't explained why) and rigging the crash was so easy (with a thick steel pipe in your hands, anything is possible!) and now that Dade, Sheree, and Joey are out of the picture, there are five more people to go. And he's gotta cut this short because he has to plan the next step in his diabolical plan...hopefully this one doesn't involve public masturbation.
Back at the Boardwalk, ambulances have arrived to carry off the injured/dead. Gina, Doss, and Sam crowd around Tess to make sure she's okay (she is). Doss describes someone finding Joey Furman's amputated leg before walking off like nothing happened. Tess hates him for this and no-one else cares. Nice. Sam runs off with Doss because he cares so much about Tess (NOT) and Tess and Gina wander aimlessly around. Why has no-one told everyone to go the hell home? Oh well. They come upon Tess's brother, Guy Joe (what is up with these names?) and Sam's sister Candace. Guy scolds Tess for being too close to the Devil's Elbow when it crashed, but he ain't her daddy so she isn't listening. Big baby. Some chick wearing a red leotard comes loping up like a giant jackrabbit. Her name is Trudy Slaughter and apparently she's really popular and violent. She asks if anyone has seen her little brother and Gina says he's fine. Trudy acts like she doesn't really give a damn about what happened until Tess confesses that she saw someone running away. She can't provide any concrete details about the person other than "there was something familiar about the way he moved." Does he have a peg leg? Is he pigeon toed? What's so familiar? Okay, don't tell me. The group finally decides to head home.
Another weirdo chapter. I can't hide my (nonexistant) excitement. For some reason, he's digging through an attic looking for ski clothes, but comes upon an old journal instead. It belonged to someone named Lila O'Hare. She was married to some guy named Tully O'Hare who once owned the Boardwalk. Blah blah money woes blah going to see Buddy about a loan blah blah we must take care of the child! blah.
Sam walks Tess to her car and then decides he'll take her home and she can come back for her car tomorrow. She says no which pisses him off so he storms away like the little crybaby he is. As Tess pulls away, she thinks about the person she saw running in the darkness. Then her mind drifts to the fact that she'll be alone tonight because Shelley is trotting around Europe. Once home, Gina calls Tess to make sure she arrived. They talk about the accident until they're both sick of the subject and hang up. Then Tess turns and spots *GASP* a note! Written in purple Magic Marker and shoved under the door! THE HUMANITY! P.S. If you're trying to freak someone out, don't use a happy purple marker. The note reads:
Dade and Sheree went up the hill,
With Joey right behind them,
Now Dade is dead and Sheree's ill,
And Joey's leg can't find him.
Just like the rhymes Mom used to read me. *sigh* Those were the days. Oh wait. There's more:
If Dade was one and Sheree two,
And Joey number three,
Who will be next? Could it be you?
Why don't we wait and see?
Let's not and say we didn't, weirdo.
Lock the doors and bar the windows, kids--it's another psycho chapter! Did I mention I really hate these? Because I really hate these. Anyway, he wrote the purple note to Tess. He wrote the rhyme because he's an aspiring poet and used purple because Tinky Winky is his favorite Teletubby. He talks more about Lila O'Hare's journal. To sum up what he read: money trouble, Buddy wouldn't lend them money and ended up buying the Boardwalk which means that the O'Hares were officially screwed over. For God's sake, think of the child!!! *sigh*
Back to Tess. She's freaked out and tries to think of someone who would do such a thing. She's a total wreck so she calls Guy Joe who isn't home. Then she wanders around the house holding a fire poker until she gets tired and falls asleep. The next morning is Sunday and Tess heads to the police station about the note. Does she really think anyone is going to take this seriously? A stupid poem that looks like it was written by a fifth grade girl. Oh well. The sergeant at the desk informs Tess that the chief isn't in, but he himself would be happy to take a look at it. The damned idiot thinks it's a love note. A fucking love note! He asks if Tess had a fight with her boyfriend. My cat has puked up things more intelligent than this fool. Tess finally gets pissed and asks to have the note back, but Sergeant Shitwhip says he'd better hang on to it. *sigh* Just go, Tess.
Later, Tess meets Gina (who is wearing a red silk dress, her church dress of choice) at the local ice cream shop to talk about the note and such. Memo: STOP BEATING A DEAD HORSE. Gina says that her father told her that some guy hanged himself in the Funhouse long ago. Cheery. The girls leave and Gina pipes up with "Let's wait and see what Chief Chalmers comes up with before you start running around town like Henny-Penny, shouting that the sky is falling. Okay?" First of all, who the hell talks like that? Second, if the good Chief is as stupid as his sergeant, you're all screwed. Tess ends up spending the night at Gina's house, but she can't put the note out of her mind.
Another psycho chapter. Grrrr. He knows that Tess took the note to the cops and he also knows that they didn't take it seriously. More from Lila O'Hare's journal: Tully committed suicide (in the Funhouse?) and Lila thought it was because he wanted her to get a bunch of insurance money from his death (unfortunately, the insurance company didn't give her anything because it was a suicide). The woman thought of her husband as some kind of martyr. It never crossed her mind that he was a selfish screw-up. Mercifully this chapter ends so I don't have to think about this anymore.
Tess goes home the next day with Trilby, Gina's Siamese cat, for protection. Yeah. That'll work. Gina calls Tess and tells her that her dad wants her to gather some friends and go to the Boardwalk later in the week to show people that it's safe. No comment. It hurts too much. Gina wants to take Tess, Guy Joe, Trudy, Beak, Sam, and Candace. Tess immediately says no, but Gina badgers her until she agrees. What a good friend. They all go to the Boardwalk that evening and the place is pretty much deserted. Tess is overcome by anxiety, but no-one but Guy Joe notices. They talk for a minute before Tess tells him to go ahead with the others. She lags behind to the Funhouse. She makes it through and once she reaches the beach where everyone is waiting, she tells them that she really wants to go home. Unfortunately, she realizes her key case is gone and she must've dropped it in the Funhouse. Gina offers to retrieve it and as soon as she leaves, Doss shows up and makes Tess feel guilty for not getting the case herself so she runs back to the Funhouse (this Doss thing is just an ugly little plot contrivance). She stumbles through and almost falls through a giant hole in the floor. The hole was once filled by a giant rotating disk (no pun intended. I swear.). Who could have removed it so quickly? Tess backtracks and suddenly hears a scream. You guessed it--Gina fell through the hole. But of course we get no details because...
...the stupid psycho chapters are sooooooooo important. BARF. He removed the disk and it was supposed to be Tess who fell so he'll have to punish her for screwing everything up. Ok, one question before we start with the Lila O'Hare shit: how could one person remove a huge, heavy disk in a matter of minutes? Is he a demented version of Superman? A werewolf? A vampire? SOMETHING supernatural with superhuman strength? Throw me a frigging bone here, Hoh! No? Be that way then. Ok, more from Lila's journal: Buddy wanted her to give the baby away when it was born and said he knew a couple who would pay quite a bit for it. Asshole. Lila actually considered this because Buddy was providing for her financially and she felt obligated.
Back to the beach. Gina is unconscious and there's a crowd surrounding her when Tess finally reaches her. The manager of the Boardwalk comes running up and Tess explains what happened. Before he can ask any questions, the paramedics arrive and take Gina away. A moment later, the manager asks Tess to show him where the hole is (everytime I type that, I feel icky). Of course when they reach the spot, everything is in place and looking normal. The manager is a little pissed and says that since Tess was in here when Gina fell, the police will want to speak with her. Oooo. Tess is dragged to the manager's office by the douchey manager himself, her friends following close behind. After the police ask their questions, they move a few feet away to talk about her. They obviously didn't move far enough because she can hear every word. I thought the Shadyside police force was pathetic, but these cops are as useful as mud. Anyway, they simply think that Tess is a bored rich kid craving attention. They let everyone go a moment later.
Tess and friends head for the hospital to check up on Gina. As they sit in the waiting room with Gina's family, Tess thinks about the purple note. Yes, let's make everything about you, Tess. It's not like your friend is in critical condition or anything! Dammit, I hate this book. There. I said it. Sadly, I still have 100 pages to slog through. The only things that will make this bearable is Tess shutting her mouth and the psycho getting out of the damn attic, closing the stupid journal and killing everything in sight. I can't even remember where I was. Anyway, Tess gazes around the room, wondering if any of her friends could be the psycho. I wish. Finally, the doctor (who happens to be Sam's father) comes out and tells them that Gina has a mild concussion and a fractured leg and no-one can see her because the girl is out like a light.
On the way home, Tess has a good cry because her life is falling apart. It isn't all about YOU! I really hate you, Tess, you selfish creep. When she gets home, she see something furry hanging from the light fixture beside the door. If the cat is really dead and this isn't a stupid prank, I'm blowing up the planet.
To add to my impending rage, the next chapter is one of THOSE. "Poor Tess. What a fright that pretty kitty gave her." Shut. Up. More crap about the journal: Lila considered the "adoption". What a waste of paper.
So Tess is freaking out over the cat when Guy Joe, Trudy, Candace, and Sam show up. It takes of these geniuses to figure out the cat is just a stuffed animal. They calm Tess down while Trudy comes on to Guy Joe. Did I mention she's wearing a pink leather catsuit? More Trudy! They all discuss the creepy shit that's been going down and Candace offers to spend the night with Tess so she won't be alone. When Tess accepts, Sam whines like a little bitch: "Oh, great! Now I not only have to worry about you, I have to worry about my sister, too. That's just perfect!" Shut up, dude. Just...shut...the...yapper. Tess totally burns his ass by telling him that if he's so worried, she'll give him a blanket and he can sleep on the porch. Zing! Everyone except Candace leaves and she and Tess get ready for bed. A few hours later, the ringing phone wakes Tess. Just your friendly neighborhood psychopath: "It's your fault Gina's in the hospital. You messed everything up. You'll have to be punished for that. Soon. Very soon. Did you like my present tonight? Meow!" Nice. Or something.
All he has to do is wait just like Lila waited for Buddy to leave her alone about the baby. These "chapters" (I wouldn't really call half a page a chapter) are so fucking useless. It's basically the little lunatic giggling to himself about his horrible acts of VENGEANCE! and moping over Lila's journal. Wake me when it's over. Zzzzzzz...
The next day at school, the conversation is all about the Devil's Elbow. Take it away, Trudy: "I don't want to talk about this gloomy stuff anymore. I'm sick of it. And I'm having my birthday party Saturday night, on the beach, the way I planned. You'd all better be there or I'll never speak to a single one of you ever again!" Somehow I don't think they view that as such a loss. Everyone thinks she's crazy for throwing a party so close to the Boardwalk, but Trudy doesn't give a shit.
After school, Tess visits Gina at the hospital. Gina is awake and had absolutely no memory of what happened. A few minutes later, the entire group arrives, including Doss. A nurse that Gina calls "Florence Frightingale" comes in and tells them that only two at a time can be in the room. Doss and Tess stay. Gina brings up Trudy's party and asks if they're going. Neither of them really wants to, but Gina begs them to go. What the hell does she care? It's not like she'll be there. Tess leaves a moment later and once in the parking lot, she sees that all four tires on her car are slashed. And it's raining. And her butt is numb from sitting for so long. And a lunatic is stalking her. And no-one is paying attention to her. And...WAH!!! Yep, that's Tess for you. Want some cheese with that w(h)ine?
"Ha ha ha. Shredded tires. Now her car won't go!" No shit, Sherlock. You're the Einstein of your generation! *sigh* This just gets more and more painful. Lila update: she gave the baby up for the illegal adoption and this pisses the psycho off.
Tess stares at her slashed tires and instead of going into the hospital and asking one of her friends for a ride, she decides to walk home through the woods. I'm in awe at her total stupidity. Logic would dictate that you keep your ass out of the darkened woods when a lunatic is on the loose. But logic has no place in a pea-sized brain like Tess's. Of course someone starts following her and calling her name. She panics, starts running, and spots a house nearby. But before she can reach it, she falls into a big hole. What luck.
He could've finished her off, but he chose not to because he has more important things to do. Like planting his ass in the musty attic and reading more of Lila's journal. When is this journal crap going to be relevant to the rest of the story? Lila has the baby, Buddy takes it to its new parents, and gives Lila a check which she promptly rips up because she didn't really want to give the baby up. Too damn late, lady. Why did Buddy want the baby to be given away anyway? It didn't belong to him. Or did it? Oooo! The psycho finally reaches the last page of the journal in which Lila writes of her plans to end her life.
Tess is lying in a big muddy hole listening to a dog barking.
She unsuccessfully attempts to climb out of the pit, but it's too slippery. Finally she gives up and screams at the dog "Quit that stupid barking and go get some help! Didn't you ever hear of Lassie?" Just for that crack, you'll never get the dog's help. Eventually some old guy comes along with a rope and drags her out. She realizes it's Trudy's father and he leads her to the house. He gets her a blanket and drives her home where Sam is waiting in the driveway. Could this night get any better? He wants to take her to her father's house, but she refuses. Ok, idiot, someone nearly killed you tonight so it might be in your best interest to get somewhere relatively safe! She and Sam argue like they always do and Tess runs inside. A moment later, she gets a phone call: "Happy birthday to Trudy, happy birthday to Trudy, happy birthday to Trudy, may she live till you die! Which may be soo-on!" Encore, encore! Tess knows something bad will happen at Trudy's party, but of course she won't do anything about it. She's just too tired from arguing with Sam and whining about her pathetic life to tell her friends that they might be dead soon. Life is so hard! WAHHH!!
The psycho is pissed because an announcement is being made that the Devil's Elbow crash was accidental which means that he won't be getting his due credit. And by the way, he's Lila O'Hare's son. SHOCK!
Finally it's the night of Trudy's party! Check out these outfits: Trudy is wearing a bright yellow jumpsuit, Candace is in a blue muu-muu (WHY?!), and Sam and Guy Joe are dressed in cut off shorts and sweatshirts with the sleeves chopped off (fug. I picture those shorts are being really short...Sam and Joe Boy probably look like Chippendale rejects). Tess and Sam take a walk on the beach while everyone else stays behind to stuff their faces with brownies. Tess almost immediately starts a fight with Sam because he doesn't really believe there's a psycho after her. Don't be dense, Sam. He tells her if she's so freaked out, she needs to go somewhere where she'd be relatively safe rather than spending the night in the condo alone. Agreed. They keep fussing until Sam gets fed up and storms off (I should have a macro for that phrase. I feel like I've written it 500 times already). Tess sits in the sand and finds a stone that looks like it came from a class ring. She slips it into her pocket and begins walking back to the party. Unfortunately, the party has pretty much died because everyone except Sam and Trudy are writhing on the ground in pain...Trudy runs to call an ambulance and Tess and Sam figure out that someone must've poisoned the brownies. Everyone who ate one is now on death's doorstep. Bad little psycho! BAD!
Sam, Trudy, and Tess follow the ambulance. Their parents all show up at the hospital and a detective enters to inform them of what happened: "These kids are telling you the truth. It wasn't drugs or booze. Their friends were poisoned." We got that, Captain Obvious. The poor poisoned ones have had their stomachs pumped and they'll be okay. Tess ends up spending the night in Gina's room sleeping in a chair.
So the psycho is freaking out because he finally knows who he really is and he's angry because he's been lied to for most of his life. Since the people who helped Buddy with the Boardwalk are the parents of his friends, he's chosen to attack his friends in order to hurt their parents. "The only thing left to do is punish Tess. I'm going to take her with me when I go." Just do it and let me have my life back, dammit!
The next morning, Tess actually goes home with her father and Guy Joe. She takes a shower and sleeps until 6:30 PM when she has a very awkward dinner with her father. Afterward, she goes on a search for some old yearbooks that she knows Gina will get a kick out of. She turns on her Walkman and starts rummaging through junk. She comes upon some interesting bits--a purple marker, a monogrammed napkin from Trudy's b-day party, and a class ring with a missing stone. She doesn't hear Guy Joe enter the room, but she does hear him say "A shrine. To my mother, actually." OH.
Guy Joe was responsible for all the "accidents" that have been occurring lately. Why? Well, I guess he'll get to that eventually. But first he wants Tess to come with him so he can kill her and himself. He drags her to the car and drives to the Boardwalk. He decides to kill her in the Funhouse and says he's not sure where his father (Tully O'Hare) died so he'll just pick a spot of his own. Somehow Tess manages to get away from him, he falls through a hole (where the hell did it come from? None of this makes any sense!) and Sam comes to Tess's rescue. What the hell just happened?
Guy Joe is being shipped off to the "loony bin" where he will wait until he can escape and kill Buddy (a.k.a. Mr. Slaughter, Trudy's dear old dad). Yeeee hawww.
Conclusion? It hurrrrrrrrrrrrts.
Next time: "Thirteen: 13 Tales of Horror by 13 Masters of Horror" I wouldn't call them masters of anything except TRASHY SCHLOCK, but whatever, man. I'm going to divide this one up so next week I'll be doing the first four stories:
1) "Collect Call (Part One)" Christopher Pike
2) "Collect Call (Part Two: The Black Walker)" C. Pike
3) "Lucinda" Lael Littke
4) "The Guiccioli Miniature" Jay Bennett