FACE TO FACE WITH A NIGHTMARE...
How ugly is Carly Beth's Halloween mask? It's so ugly that it almost scared her little brother to death. So terrifying that even her friends are totally freaked out by it. It's the best Halloween mask ever. It's everything Carly Beth hoped it would be. And more. Maybe too much more. Because Halloween is almost over. And Carly Beth is still wearing that special mask...
Carly Beth and her friend Sabrina are eating lunch and discussing the fact that Carly Beth is scared of damn near everything on this sweet green earth. This fact is proven when she screams twice within five seconds: once when some kid drops his tray and again when this dude Steve (star of The Haunted Mask II!) grabs her shoulder. Steve and his friend Chuck like to scare Carly Beth even though it requires no effort whatsoever. Steve asks Carly Beth if she wants his sandwich and she takes it because the mac and cheese she got is gross and she's still hungry. But of course this sammich is no good: "Then she pulled the bread apart--and saw a big brown worm resting on top of the turkey." She thinks she's going to puke and runs from the cafeteria.
After school, Carly Beth heads home where her mother shows her the Plaster of Paris head she made in Carly Beth's likeness. Her mother also made her a duck costume even though Carly Beth wanted to be something really SCARY this year and ducks are just...quacky (yes, that made plenty of sense). Anyway, Carly Beth remembers the new party store and the creepy masks she saw in the store window. Before she can think anymore about that, her duck costume bursts out of her closet. IT'S ALIVE! QUAAAACK!! But no, it's just her stupid little brother Noah. After Carly Beth's "terrifying" duck encounter is over, Sabrina calls and they talk about their science fair project. I was the QUEEN of shitty, lame, uninspired science projects and even I think their project is pretty damned crappy--the solar system made out of painted ping-pong balls. It's just the planets dangling from strings. How is that a project? Seriously, how could anyone, even a kid, confidently submit that to a science fair? I'm embarrassed for them. I'm even more embarrassed for Carly Beth who nearly wets herself when Steve pinches the back of her leg after some kid announces his tarantula is loose (uh, I'm lost...is the science fair happening NOW or did this happen earlier?). Everybody, even the teachers, laugh at her...she responds as she usually does--by running away and silently vowing revenge. AND REVENGE SHE WILL HAVE! Otherwise we wouldn't be reading this...
It's now Halloween and Carly Beth is on the phone with Sabrina. The girls will meet at Sabrina's and then go trick-or-treating, but Carly Beth has to make a stop at the party store first to buy the scariest mask she can find. The HAUNTED MASK, you might ask? Yes. Thank you for paying attention, dear. Carly Beth creeps out into the cold, windy darkness to run to the store which is closed. But the weirdo shopkeep allows her to come inside and browse because she is absolutely desperate and pathetic looking. When he's distracted by the telephone, Carly Beth sees a door at the back of the store. She enters a small room full of the ugliest masks she's ever seen and OF COURSE nearly poops her pants when she thinks a mask cries out after she touches it. The noise came from the shopkeeper who is not pleased to find her in this room. These particular masks aren't for sale because they're "too scary" and "too real". Carly Beth whines until the man gives in and sells her a mask even though he MUST have an idea of what's going to happen to her. Is it possible she's so annoying he just wanted to get rid of her AT ANY COST? Wow.
Carly Beth scurries back home to try out the mask on her brother. He's in his room, checking out his cockroach costume in the mirror. (Yes, the kid's going as a COCKROACH.) Carly Beth scares the crap out of her brother, the roach, which pleases her to no end. She gets the idea to impale her Plaster of Paris head on the end of a broomstick so she can pretend she was decapitated by this evil beast. "I will be the terror of Maple Avenue tonight!" Big dreams do come true! Unfortunately, so do big nightmares...sorry, Carly Beth.
It's time to go out and Carly Beth wants to make a run for it without explaining to her mom why she isn't wearing the homemade duck costume. She bounces outside while her mom is on the phone and dashes to Sabrina's house where she spots Chuck and Steve on the sidewalk and can't resist scaring them. She scares the shit out of the two boys...who aren't even Chuck and Steve. The kids' mother gives Carly Beth a verbal lashing and Carly Beth considers tearing the woman's skin off, but the lady marches off before that can happen. Sabrina comes to the door in her Cat Woman costume and is shocked at Carly Beth's appearance--the mask is as ugly as sin, after all. Sabrina says Steve and Chuck will meet them later and the girls leave.
Carly Beth notices the mask is making her feel odd. She becomes enraged when Sabrina keeps yapping on and on and Carly Beth attempts to choke the life out of her before catching herself and pretending she was joking. At the first house they go to, a mother with two small kids (who are terrified of Carly Beth) answers the door. Carly Beth ends up telling the mom and little girl that she'll eat them up. Nice. She keeps acting crazy and by the time they see Chuck and Steve, she's stolen some kid's candy and thrown apples at an old man's house. "The mask made me do it." Well, yeah, but no matter the reason, YOU'RE BEING AN ASS. Finally, Chuck and Steve show up. Carly Beth hides behind some bushes, jumps out, and scares the crap out of them both. She demands they give her their candy and then...her plaster head speaks. "Help me. Help me." What. The. Hell. The boys lose their minds and run away while Carly Beth dances and runs around in victory. I guess we're just ignoring the fact that the head can talk? Okay then. Eventually Sabrina catches up to Carly Beth and they go back to Sabrina's house to admire their piles of candy. But Carly Beth can't get the mask off. The girls get particularly scared when Sabrina sees that there is no line between the mask and Carly Beth's skin...the mask IS her skin.
Carly Beth panics and runs out into the night. She runs until she remembers the party store man (who knew something was going to happen but sold her the damned thing anyway)--surely his weird ass can help! "The strange man in the cape. He will help me. He will know what to do." Never trust a man in a cape. The man is waiting for her at the party store because he KNEW she would be back! He tells her the mask is a real face, made by him in his lab and part of a collection he calls The Unloved. He calls them that because they're hideous and no-one wants them...no-one except for the unfortunate souls who venture into the back room and decide to take one. Yes, this asshole has done this before. He tells her the mask can be removed with a symbol of love which means NOTHING to Carly Beth, but before she can beat the answer out of him, the Unloved masks come alive. She runs, but they float after her in the night. She remembers the Plaster of Paris head and realizes THAT is her symbol of love--her mom loved her enough to make a creepy likeness of her that somehow gained the power of speech. Yay! She searches for the head that she dropped earlier when it began begging for help. She finally finds it as the creepy, jabbering, floating masks surround her. She yanks the head down over her REAL head and when she pulls it off a moment later, the floating Unloved are gone and she's able to pull off her own mask. She heads home and has some nice hot cider with her mom. Her stupid brother bursts into the kitchen wearing the mask: "Look at me! How do I look in your mask?" You look like a kid who's about to know HELL.
Thoughts: We need to round up a posse, burn that party store to the ground, salt the earth where it stood, and run that caped nut out on a rail.
Up Next: "The Haunted Mask II" Steve gets his own haunted mask and, well, we already know how that story ends...why the hell does this book exist?
**Note** I'm not going to be doing "Zombie Halloween" or "Wanted: The Haunted Mask" this time around. Those will have to wait until next year to ruin my Halloween. So after "The Haunted Mask II", there will be "Trick Or Treat" and after THAT, you won't be exposed to any more Halloween-y tales. You can stuff your face with candy and watch your scary movies in peace. **End Note**