* If your brain is still bleeding from Part One, do not continue. *
A Little Taste of Death by Patricia Windsor
"Louey had taken to reading the newspaper at breakfast every morning." I can already tell this story is going to be full of HORROR! Epic proportions the likes of which the world has never seen! *sigh* Sarcasm is ugly. But seriously, the first three pages consist of nothing but Louey (who is a girl. A girl named Louey. Yeah.) scouring the newspaper. Ok, if your story is only 12 pages long, it's not in your best interest to waste page after page on classified ads and obituaries. I'm looking at you, Patricia! Anyway, Louey only finds one thing of particular interest in the paper--an ad that says "Remember the lollipop? The man in a white hat?" Below that it lists a number for anyone who remembers the man and his lollipop (GROSS) to call. "It could save your life." I'm sure. Is the guy a serial rapist or something? How long has he been eluding the cops, offering his lollipop to unsuspecting passerby? We're not safe!!!
The rest of the day is a total bore. Louey is spending the summer with her bitchy, uptight grandma in a dull town called Dolonga. I guess that's why she's so into the paper--there's nothing else to do. Sad. She wonders around outside before coming inside to call the number about the lollipop man. Yes, Louey ate a lollipop. I'm having a hard time taking this seriously. Just when I think I've reached a decent level of maturity, the lollipop man comes along and ruins everything. Anyway, a man picks up and asks Louey a few questions about her lollipop experience. Then he tells her there's a meeting Thursday night and it would be in her best interest to come because "when you ate that lollipop, you ate death." Uhh...ok...?
Louey has no intentions of going to the meeting, but when Thursday evening rolls around, she finds herself heading for the unsavory part of town and searching for the address of the house where the meeting will be taking place. When she finds it, she hesitates before going in. A boy comes up to her and she asks if he got a lollipop, too. He says yes and they enter the house together. There are lots of people of various ages sitting around. A man stands and introduces himself as James and announces to everyone that they have two newcomers (Louey and Bobby Lee, the boy she just met). James tells the two a little about what they do here: "Louey, Bobby Lee, we'd like to tell you about our experiences. That's what we do here; share to give each other support. All of us have been called." Then the "sharing" begins and Louey listens in shock as people talk about all the nasty things they've done (no details). Is this Nymphomaniacs Anonymous? Because Louey's deep embarrassment makes me think it might be. It's only a matter of time before everyone unveils their lollipops. Then it's Louey's turn to talk and she blushes, saying she doesn't have any stories like THOSE. Finally she tells them about receiving her cherry lollipop. She was on a train with her mom when some guy in a white cowboy hat comes up to her and tells her everything is bigger in Texas and he can prove it. Ok, ok, I'll stop. He actually says "Look what I've got for you!" and hands her the lollipop before walking off. Her mother tells her not to eat it, but Louey does anyway because it looks fine to her. Don't take candy from strangers, fool! Otherwise you'll end up in a room full of probable sex crazed perverts who will try to pull you into their cultish world. Or something. Everyone starts talking about guilt and death and evil and I really wish I knew what the fuck is going on. Bobby Lee says they should all kill themselves (mass suicide? Maybe it IS a cult.) before it gets worse. Before WHAT gets worse?!?
Louey flees the room thinking about how crazy these people are. "Crazier than a bunch of pickled goats, her daddy would say." Are you fucking kidding me? PICKLED GOATS?!? What the hell?! This story is turning my brain into a useless lump of spaghetti. The sad thing is, I KNOW Patricia Windsor can do better because I've read a few of her books and they weren't bad. What the hell happened? Never mind. I don't wanna know. She must've suffered some severe psychological trauma to churn out something like this.
The next morning, Louey trudges down to breakfast and Grandma tells her there's a huge mess in the living room. What kind of mess? "The smell stopped [Louey]. Cloying and sickly sweet, and some undercurrent of the unmentionable. Smells that shouldn't be in living rooms." Apparently Grandma got mad because Louey stayed out too late last night and decided to throw the contents of her diaper across the room. Louey decides not to read the newspaper today. NOOOO! She mopes around in her room, thinking about the night before until she comes to the conclusion that Bobby Lee must have been joking about the suicide thing. Because suicide is an hilarious punch line. *sigh* Finally she decides to go back to the meeting place. There's a crowd outside and a few policemen gathered. Surprise surprise--James has slit his throat.
The next morning, Louey is back to her newspaper. I guess we're ignoring the horrible, bloody suicide? Ok then. Over the next few days, Louey recognizes several names in the obituaries. It seems that everyone who was at the meeting is now dropping like flies, offing themselves in various ways. Grandma tells her to stop dwelling on such morbid things and get some fresh air. Louey wanders around outside and thinks that she might be in love with Bobby Lee. First of all, you don't fall in love after spending 15 uncomfortable minutes with someone. Second, what the fuck does this have to do with anything? It's totally random...much like everything else in this story.
Louey has dreams about Bobby Lee every night which is why she thinks she's fallen in love with him. *sigh* In the dreams, they're riding a motorcycle. They stop and he hands her a knife with a coffin shaped handle and tells her to kill for him. Then she wakes up. THAT is love? No thank you.
One night, she has the usual dream, but at the end she stabs herself and Bobby throws her off the motorcycle. Ass. She wakes up, runs downstairs, and finds a dog boiling in a pot on the stove. WHAT? Then the doorbell rings, she answers it, and it's the guy in the white cowboy hat who gave her the lollipop. He tells her it's time to go, but she says she doesn't have to because she didn't eat the entire lollipop. "So I don't have to go with you now because I only had a little taste of death."
Grade: F Dear GOD. That was horrible. I've never read something that made so little sense. There was literally NO PLOT. Just random events smushed together. Get back on your meds, Patricia, and stop torturing us all.
The Doll by Carol Ellis
Some guy is walking along the beach at sunrise (wonder if he put that on his match.com profile) when he comes upon an object wedges between two boulders. Since litterbug assholes frequently dump their garbage here, he assumes it's piece of trash. We're not told directly what it is, but it's gotta be a little box of some kind because the guy is warming up his hands to open the latch. End paragraph one.
Now we're going back three months for no reason. 16 year old Abby Rogers and her family have just moved into a house close to the location where the anonymous man will find the box (or whatever the hell it is). Abby and her younger sister Lindsay hate the house because it looks like the kind of dump you'd find on Fear Street. BURN. Abby's parents are divorced which is why Abby, Lindsay, and their mother Deanna moved here. So their douchebag father kicked them out and kept the old place for himself and his skanky mistress and their illegitimate spawn? Ok, so it doesn't say that, but I'm pretending that's what happened. Anyway, even though Abby is repulsed by the house, she's also drawn to it for some reason.
After dinner on their first night in the house, Mom starts assigning chores for the next day. Abby immediately says she'll clean the attic and her mother thinks she's a nutjob because it's really stuffy up there, but agrees and thinks about how nice it is to have stupid children to do your bidding.
The next day, Mom leaves for work and Abby climbs up to the tiny, hot, dusty attic while Lindsay goes outside to build a treehouse. Why the hell does she get out of working? Brat. Anyway, Abby feels that something is waiting for her in this attic and she won't be able to relax until she finds it. Ok, crazy lady. She digs around the attic until she comes upon a wooden box. Inside is a creepy ass porcelain doll that is described as looking like a dead child. It's wearing a lilac dress and has black hair with giant blue eyes that are boring right into Abby's soul and dammit, I hate dolls! Seriously, I have two porcelain dolls given to me long ago by well meaning relatives and those things have been buried in my closet beneath piles of clothes and blankets because I'm afraid if I pull them out and acknowledge their presence, they'll come to life and strangle me in my sleep with the silky ribbons from their dusty dresses. Yes, I'm insane. But I'm not alone: "The staring sky blue eyes seemed awake, aware, alive, and filled with an emotion so powerful that Abby gasped. For a moment, she thought she saw hatred in those eyes." See? Dolls will infect your once healthy brain with their dolly evil!
After Abby finishes cleaning, she takes the doll to her room. NOOO! She places it on a shelf beside some other junk. Later that evening, Lindsay comes in and tells her the doll is disgusting, but Abby doesn't care what she thinks. "Think of it this way, Lindsay--I just liberated her. She's a free woman now." Yeah, free to rip your eyes from their sockets. Abby goes to bed and wishes the dolls eyes weren't staring out. For some reason, they won't close...
School starts a week later and so do Abby's crazy dreams that are more like premonitions. On Friday night, Abby's friend Erin Gray comes to sleep over. They're in Abby's room talking about boys and such when Erin picks up the doll and asks what's wrong with it. Abby says nothing and changes the subject. You're screwed, Erin. You insulted the damn thing! As they're getting ready for bed, Erin asks if she can turn the doll around because it's big freaky eyes are scaring the crap out of her. Oh Erin. That night, Abby dreams that the doll stuck its tiny hand out near the staircase...and she's awakened by screams. In the hall, Erin tells her that she tripped on the stairs on the way to get a drink of water. Ooo!
A week later, Abby, Erin, and their friend Holly are sitting at Abby's kitchen table doing homework. They WERE in Abby's room, but that damn dirty doll wouldn't stop giving them her wide-eyed stare of DOOM! Everything is cool...until the stained glass lamp hanging over the tabletop falls on Holly's head! And Abby dreamed this the night before, but we get no explanation of how the doll did this or why Abby never said anything about it! And I just remembered that I also have old Barbies in my closet who probably hate me more than the porcelain dolls! I'm sorry for hacking your hair off with my dad's beard trimmer, Gloria! Don't hurt me!!! Ok, I'm cool now. Where were we? Oh yeah, Holly's bloody head. She needs four stitches blahblahblah life goes on.
One night, Abby is jerked out of sleep by her mother's shouts. She and her mother go outside and see that the treehouse where Lindsay is sleeping is on fire and yes, Abby dreamed this would happen. The dream thing pisses me off. It's completely pointless--the terrible events always happen before Abby can do anything about it. Or maybe she just doesn't give a shit. Maybe the doll is an alien cyborg who is planting these images...ok, I'll stop. Anyway, Lindsay miraculously survives with only first degree burns. No-one knows how the fire began. No-one except Abby: "Hours before her mother's cry had pulled her from sleep, she'd seen the match. Not tossed from a car, but torn from a matchbook and struck into flame by a slender white hand." That doll is such a bitch.
A week passes before Abby dreams again. But who gives a damn? Abby finally got asked out by Mark Helpern, her long-time crush! They're at her house and Lindsay passes by with the doll saying it fell. Mark says it's nice...but not as nice as Abby. Then they kiss and my head spins around in a 360 turn as I projectile vomit. Now that it's out of my system, I can tell you that Abby has a dream Friday night about a car crash and a giggling blue-eyed demon in a lilac dress.
It's now Saturday night and only a few hours before Abby's date with the majestic Mark. Unfortunately, Abby can't think of anything but her awful dreams. At 7:00 she showers and as she's digging through her closet for something to wear, she hears that childish giggle she heard in her dream the night before. Uh-oh. Abby ignores this, gets dressed, and finds out later that Mark is dead. She called Mark's mom and apparently Mark swerved to avoid hitting a little girl and hit a tree instead. After hanging up, Abby hears the giggle again and realizes it's coming from that psychotic doll who is maiming all her friends. Abby watches in horror as the doll begins to move. She runs over and shoves the doll into its wooden box and listens as it pounds on the lid with its little hands. I really love that part. Abby drives to a cliffside and tosses the box over the edge, relieved that it's gone for good. Now remember the man at the beginning? He's just pried open the box and is admiring the doll. He decides to give it to his niece for Christmas. Fool.
Grade: B I'm a sucker for a psychotic doll. The only reason it's not getting an A is because of those damn dreams.
House of Horrors by J.B. Stamper
Some dude named Mark is staring in the mirror, horrified at his shitty, haggard ass appearance. Well, that's what you get when you spend most of your life sucking on a crack pipe, buddy. We learn in the next paragraph that Mark's poor looks come from the fact that he's dressed like a vampire (none of that ethereal "Twilight" shit here) for the local House of Horrors. Spoooooky. The doors open and the visitors are led through each room while screaming their heads off like plastic spiders and cardboard coffins are the scariest things they've ever seen. HORRIBLE!
Finally the tour is over and Mark is excited--he's been invited to a party being thrown by the other guides. Considering that these assholes have ignored him since he started working here, this is monumental. And very suspicious. The plan is to hide until the manager, Mr. Hiller, leaves. Then they'll all come out and party. Yee haw! I think. Mark decides to hide in a room filled with wax figures. He waits for quite a while because a girl named Lisa (whom Mark has a raging crush on) told him everyone would meet in this particular room. After a while, Mark gets sick of waiting and creeps out of the room to search for the morons who are probably planning a really ugly surprise for him. Really, he doesn't think it's even a LITTLE odd that they're suddenly treating him like he's an old friend? Guess not because he moves from room to room calling out and getting no answer. When he reaches the dungeon, he realizes that there was no party. They just wanted to trick him into spending the night alone in this place. I hate to say I told you so, Mark, but I fucking told you so.
Mark is incredibly pissed and attempts to get out, but the place is locked up tight. He decides to get out of the dungeon and go upstairs, but hears noises nearby that freak him out. It sounds like footsteps creeping through the darkness and after soiling himself, Mark runs for the stairs. He bumps his head after getting distracted by a wax figure he could've sworn was in the library a little earlier, loses his flashlight, and is now running in pitch black. He still hears the footsteps and begins to run. He dashes into a room...and a moment later, a pair of fangs sink into his neck.
The next afternoon, Lisa comes in for work thinking about how funny it would have been to see Mark so scared. You suck. She enters the library and spots a wax figure that looks just like Mark...
Grade: B Me like everything except the ending. Why the fangs?
Where the Deer Are by Caroline B. Cooney
They're in a field. The end. *sigh* If only it were that easy. Moving on. A girl named Tiffany lives on Fawn Hill and hates that all the houses up here are deep in the woods. "Tiffany hated the woods. And the woods knew it." So the woods trips Tiffany with its branches and shoves pinecones up her butt as revenge. Anyway, Tiffany also hates the deer on Fawn Hill: "They were deer-oids." Is that like an android with hooves and hair? I can't believe just asked that question...OF COURSE it's like an android with hooves and hair! *sigh* Apparently Tiffany is terrified of deer because of their dull, lifeless eyes. They have no souls, dammit! Shut up, Tiffany. Deers seem to be quite attracted to Tiff even though she hates them. They're always hanging out in her backyard and she doesn't think they're there for the lush grass: "They had their eyes on her. Even in the dark, Tiffany could feel their eyes on her. Those muddy snow-melting deer-oid eyes." Ok, this chick is certifiably insane. SNOW-MELTING EYES?! Give me a break! It's just a fucking deer! Do you honestly think a damn deer has the capability to stalk you? She's acting like they're reading her diary and watching her shower through a hole in the wall. Weirdo.
Now Tiffany thinks about something ELSE that scares her: Dead Kid Curve. Seriously. This is a spot situated above a cliff where two kids went missing years ago. Everyone assumed the two simply ran away (did no-one think they plunged over the side of the cliff?) but Tiffany knows...well, it's not clear what she knows. Who cares anyway? After all, she's crazy. Maybe the deer kidnapped the kids and dragged them to the woods to be their human slaves. NOOO! Anyway, Tiffany and some of her equally nutty friends are walking to school and as they pass Dead Kid Curve (is it wrong that this name makes me laugh?) the biggest wacko of them all, Janie, starts babbling: "One of us is chosen. The cliff has decided. It just hasn't told. One of us will go today. I know it." Did a deer tell you that? The "leader" Kelso (ok, now I definitely can't take this seriously) tells Janie to shut the hell up and she does because he's such a bad ass. Are you sure?
Tiffany starts freaking out after they spot a deer in the woods. "She could see where the deer were: among creeping roots and strangling branches, past dead moths and roadkills." They're DEER, not Green Berets. They're not hiding in the bushes watching you!!! Dammit, you're gonna be the straw that breaks my back, Tiffany. They're still hanging out on Dead Kid Curve *snicker* and every one of these idiots believes that one of them will be chosen to die here. Don't flatter yourselves. Finally Kelso announces they'll be late for school if they don't leave now, mercifully preventing Tiffany from telling them that the deer are calling her name so she'll probably die soon. Damn you're nuts.
They arrive at school...and realize Janie is missing. Everyone except Tiffany decides to go back and find her. Tiff is just relieved that Janie probably died instead of her. Bitch. She goes to the bathroom, looks into the mirror, and sees a muddy deer instead of her reflection. Then the fucking thing starts climbing out of the mirror and Tiffany runs away. She starts running back home and ends up becoming the next victim of Dead Kid Curve (meaning she fell over the cliff while a damn deer watched).
Grade: F What WAS this?!?!
The Spell by R.L. Stine
This is the first time I've been relieved to read something by Stine. At least he doesn't write about deers who are part-time peeping toms. Anyway, a girl named Jennifer is staring at the phone wondering whether or not she should call the police about her friend William. She knows she should, but William will be here soon and he was always such a good friend. This leads to Jen thinking about her old group of friends: Erin, Stan, and Marty. And of course the possibly deranged William. They all used to play basketball and baseball together, but Marty would give William such hell about his poor athletic skills that it wasn't much fun. Ass. William prefers musical theater. One afternoon, he tells Jen that he's trying out for "The Music Man". Marty ends up getting the part William wanted. William takes up hypnotism which Marty makes fun of him for. Then Marty gets a job at an Italian restaurant...the job that William wanted. Ok, we get it--Marty is a total douche.
The group kind of falls apart after William loses his shit over the job thing. But one night, when they're all in a good mood, they meet up at a pizza place (yep, Stine definitely wrote this) where William attempts to hypnotize them with a teaspoon. It doesn't work for the obvious reasons and they don't see each other for a few weeks, also for the obvious reasons. When they do meet up again, it's in William's kitchen. Erin and Stan are making out, Marty leaves soon for work, and William asks if anyone wants ice cream. It's Heath Bar Crunch if you were wondering and yes, I would very much like some. After eating, they all go for a walk. William stops and commands Stan and Erin to stand in the middle of the road and they obey. It's...THE SPELL! But when did it happen? Did he put some crazy shit in the ice cream? Jennifer is horrified to see a semi heading right for them, but they don't get hit. William says they won't remember anything when he brings them back and he doesn't want Jen to say a word.
Life becomes nothing but a blur for Jennifer after that. One afternoon in the school parking lot, she's tempted to tell Marty what William did to Stan and Erin, but then she spots William hiding behind a Honda Civic, spying on them. Jen leaves and starts walking home as fast as she can, but William catches up to her. He acts like a complete freak, telling her "So you're on Marty's side, too. There's no point being on Marty's side. Marty is dead meat." Ooooo. He says he's going to hypnotize Stan and force him to kill Marty. Then he walks away. Have a good afternoon, sir. Jennifer runs inside and immediately calls Erin to tell her that William is gonna hypnotize she and Stan (why hypnotize Erin if Stan is doing all the dirty work? Why do I care?!). She tells Erin to pretend to be hypnotized and tell Stan to do the same and they'll figure out what to do with William later.
The next evening, William calls Jennifer and says Stan and Erin are already at his house and she should come join the party. Spare me. Jennifer rushes to William's house and finds them all seated in the kitchen. Erin and Stan are nervous and cackling like demented hyenas. Idiots. William offers them all ice cream (so it is in the damn ice cream. The Blue Bunny company doesn't appreciate this, William.) but before he gives anyone anything, he leans toward Stan and tells him what he wants him to do. The plan is for Stan to grab his baseball bat, head for the restaurant where Marty works, wait for Marty to take out the trash in the dark alley, and bash his head in. Sounds reasonable. Stan and Erin leave and Jennifer wants to go home, but William says no way. Apprently he hynotizes her, too, because the next thing she knows, she's in William's car and they're on the way to restaurant. Jennifer spots Marty's bloody body behind the dumpster and she flees the car, running until she's home.
She gets a call from William a little later. "I took care of Marty. I took care of Stan and Erin because they were on Marty's side. Now you're the only one left." Jennifer says he couldn't have hypnotized Stan and Erin because she told them to resist. "I didn't need to hypnotize them. They were already hypnotized, Jennifer. I hypnotized all three of you that day at the Pizza Palace." He says he gave them a "posthypnotic suggestion" so there was no need to ever hypnotize them again. All that with a damn teaspoon? I say nay. William hangs up the phone and Jennifer sits there staring at it waiting for him to arrive and tell her what to do next.
Grade: C I could take it or leave it. *cough*But I'd rather leave it*cough*
Well, we're finished with another batch of stories. Yes, my head is aching, too. But I know what will make us all feel better--the knowledge that there are still five more to go before we're finished with this book. NOOOO! Oh yes.
1) "Dedicated to the One I Love" Diane Hoh
2) "Hacker" Sinclair Smith
3) "Deathflash" A. Bates
4) "The Boy Next Door" Ellen Emerson White
5) "Collect Call (Part Two): The Black Walker" Christopher Pike
Ohdearsweetmercifulheavens I do NOT want to read that last one...DIE BOBBY!