Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Knife

*I apologize beforehand for all the animosity in this post.*

Book Description:

Shhh. There are a lot of things they want to keep quiet at Shadyside Hospital. In fact, just about every private room holds a private secret of it's own. Poor Laurie Masters. The student volunteer innocently happened to stumble onto the hospital's sickest secret of all. Laurie has seen too much and now the doctors and nurses are taking a close look at Laurie. What they come up with is a deadly diagnosis. Laurie may not be sick, but she's getting a prescription anyway--a prescription for horror!

*That description is totally off. This book would have been more interesting if any of those things were true! Prescription for horror my ass.*

My Description:

Always with the damn prologue! Anyway, this is short. Laurie is running from a creepy dude. She hides, he finds her, he blows his hot nasty breath on her cheek, she wonders where he's hiding the titular knife, and the next page begins chapter one...

It's one week earlier and Laurie is talking with her friend Skye. They're high school students who are spending their summer vacation volunteering on the children's floor at Shadyside Hospital. Skye is hurrying to take some balloons to a sick little boy. I think we're supposed to admire these girls for sacrificing their entire summer to take care of sick kiddies without getting paid. I guess Laurie is admirable, but I think Skye just wants to meet hot doctors. Typical. While Skye is delivering her balloons, Laurie looks at the new wing of the hospital, the Franklin Fear Wing (still under construction). I hate that every aspect of this God forsaken town is consumed by Fear! In a hospital, who wants to be staying in the Fear Wing? Not exactly comforting. Suddenly Laurie hears a soft crying coming from Room 903. She steps inside and spots a small boy lying in bed with tears streaming down his face. She tells him that she's there to visit which is a total lie that doesn't even calm him down. She checks his chart and finds out that his name is Toby Deane; he's three years old and has pneumonia. She tries talking to him, but he won't speak so she just holds his hand instead. This Hallmark moment is making my frozen heart feel again. Bravo, Stine, you win this round. The moment is broken by Nurse Edith Wilton, a real ballbuster who will...well, she'll bust your balls. She's harsh like that. She bustles in and tells Laurie that she really needs to leave now. Ok...

Laurie and Skye go to get lunch in the busy hospital cafeteria. Unfortunately, the food isn't up to par ("What kind of meat is blue?" Today's stew, in case you were wondering.) and Skye finds ample time to complain. Shut up, Skye. You're not there for a gourmet feast, you're there to work! The girls discuss the raffle the hospital is currently holding. The prize? A red Mercedes Benz. Ooo la la. Skye is convinced that she's the one who is going to win it and has bought several tickets from herself, natch. Then Skye laments about the fact that she has two dates for Saturday night. I've said it once and I'll say it again: SHUT UP, SKYE. Laurie says that she has a date with Andy Price, the hospital administrator's son. She isn't too excited, though, because Andy is an immature whiny doofus without merit. Being a typical Fear Street heroine, Laurie is too spineless to tell the moron to fuck off. Anyway, the girls notice a hot guy enter the cafeteria. Skye proclaims that it's Tom Cruise. WOOO! Of course he takes a seat at their table and chats them up. His name is Rick Spencer. He's a college student who is spending his summer volunteering on the surgical floor. Skye is slobbering all over herself with thoughts of dating this hot college guy. Unfortunately for her, Rick seems to have eyes for Laurie only. Hahaha! That's what you get for being so full of yourself, Skye! Suddenly a voice over the intercom announces a code blue for room 903. Laurie freaks out and runs out of the cafeteria because 903 is Toby's room. She reaches the room and bursts inside only to find the crabby Nurse Wilton. Turns out the code blue was for room 503. Wilton kicks Laurie out and Laurie heads to the nurse's station to chat with the less prickly Nurse Girard. Girard is already talking to someone, though...*gasp* It's Toby's mom! And she's upset because she wants her kid back! And I'm just grasping at straws because there's nothing even remotely exciting about this! Mom leaves and at the same time, Wilton exits Toby's room and goes inside the Fear Wing. She's followed by none other than our resident hottie Rick. Wow. Secret affairs in the hospital...that's some soap opera shit right there. What the hell am I saying? They're not making sweet passionate love. They're probably killing each other.

That night, Laurie is sitting alone in the home she shares with her Aunt Hillary in North Hills (remember North Hills?! That's where those silly asstards in "Bad Dreams" were from!) Laurie's mom and dad were killed in a boating accident when Laurie was little and she's lived with her aunt ever since. Anyway, Auntie Hillary is a workaholic and rarely gets home before Laurie goes to bed. Laurie is sitting in the library partaking of a little chronic before bed (ok, fine. She's READING.) when the phone rings. No-one is on the line. Chills. A few seconds later it rings again. This time it's Rick (keep your shirts on, ladies). Laurie asks if he called a few minutes ago and he says "Yes, but the line was busy." Sir, you couldn't be more transparent if you tried. Then he asks her out for Saturday night, but she has to decline because she's already tied to that stupid Andy kid. Before they hang up, Laurie asks him how he got her number. He says that Skye gave it to him. *cough*LIAR*cough* They hang up and Laurie immediately calls Skye. Of course Skye says she didn't give him no stinkin' number and Laurie hangs up with an uneasy feeling. The last line of the chapter? "Laurie didn't understand much, but she knew one thing for sure--Rick Spencer was a liar!" And it only took you 30 pages to figure that out. Good one, Sherlock.

The next morning, Laurie finds a note from her aunt in the kitchen. I won't transcribe it because it starts with "Hi, cookie" which kind of makes me wanna kill myself for some reason. Anyway, the gist of it is that Hillary will be working late again. Why bother writing a note when you're ALWAYS late, Hil? Laurie has come to expect your perpetual absence and she doesn't seem to give a shit. Laurie is about to leave when the phone rings. It's Dr. Price, Andy's dad. GAG! The first thing out of his mouth? I'm so glad you asked: "I have a special assignment for you today. I want you to skip work and play tennis with my son." Rocks can't play tennis, doc. For a doctor, you sure are dumb. Oh wait! I've been conned! It was Andy PRETENDING to be his dad. Two words, Andy: fuck off. Laurie is too nice to be so vulgar and she tells him she'll see him after work at Patsy's Pizzeria. Skye will be there, too, with her flavor of the week, Jim Farrow. It's a party...God help us all.

Laurie finally hauls ass to the hospital. Once there, she buys a teddy bear for Toby in the gift shop and goes straight to his room. She finds his bed empty and automatically assumes he died in the night. *eye roll* She finds Toby standing beside his mother at the nurse's station. His mom is talking to Rick (this guy gets around) and Toby catches Laurie's eye. He walks over and she gives him the bear. Laurie tells him he has to go to his mom now and Toby replies "She's not my mommy." Well, just who the hell is she then? Look, I used to get pissed at my mom, too, and tell perfect strangers that she wasn't my mom at all (and such beatings I received for those shenanigans!) so I don't know why Laurie flips out. Kids say crap like that all the time. The "mom" yells at Toby that it's time to go and he scampers off while Laurie stares in confusion. Rick tells Laurie that he was telling Mrs. Deane (the alleged mother) where the pharmacy is. Laurie is immediately suspicious because apparently Rick is new to the area so how would he know where the pharmacy was? Laurie, lay off the reefer. You're way too paranoid. The phone rings then and Rick picks up. Laurie walks a few feet away and after Rick hangs up, he slips a box of surgical knives into his pocket. Laurie can't believe that Rick is a thief in addition to being a big fat liar!

The rest of the day is a busy blur for Laurie, but despite the chaos, she can't stop thinking about Toby. She just knows something is wrong and she's gotta help him, I tell ya, she's just gotta! Stupid Fear Street girls and their stupid hunches. She finds Toby's file and makes a note of his address. She's devised a cunning plan (and by 'cunning' I mean 'absolutely idiotic') to get to Toby: she'll stop by his house and sell a raffle ticket to his mom! The only hitch is that these poor pathetic cretins live on Fear Street and Laurie doesn't wanna go there alone. After all, she's from North Hills where no-one's pets ever die gruesome deaths and the only ghosts/psychos/haunted beds you see are on TV. North Hills doesn't have a series of novels named after it, though, does it? Booya! (Fear Street: 1 North Hills: -5) Anyway, Laurie puts away Toby's file and is just about to creep out of the file closet (which is not available to student volunteers. Naughty Laurie!) when she hears Nurse Wilton and Nurse Marshall talking. Oh snap! Marshall leaves and Wilton plants her bum behind the desk. Laurie sneaks out when Wilton's back is turned and runs down the hall. Unfortunately, Wilton spotted Laurie anyhow and screams for her to come back. Laurie keeps running and manages to dive into the elevator before the nasty nurse can catch her. But Laurie really should've caught another elevator because this fucking thing has a corpse in it! Never mind...her eyes moved...that "corpse" is alive, man, but just barely. The orderly transporting this poor soul to her room tells Laurie that she's gonna have to get the hell out at the next floor. What a jerk. Oh well. Laurie gets off on an unfamiliar floor; a sign tells her that it's for authorized personnel only, but don't worry--Laurie will snoop around anyway! She gets paranoid (her usual state of mind) that Nurse Wilton will find her soon and dives into a room to hide. I doubt Wilton really gives a shit at this point. She has better things to do than play cat-and-mouse with Laurie all day. Laurie backs into the darkened room and promptly grabs the cold, clammy hand of a REAL corpse lying on a table. Apparently she's in the anatomy room. Spoooooooky. Not. A few seconds later, she hears keys jangling and the lock turning. She's locked inside with an ugly corpse! AHHHH! Look on the bright side--at least Wilton never found her. Laurie manages to unlock the door, fumbling in the dark. She walks down the hall and spots Wilton and Dr. Price talking around the corner. Laurie can't believe the old wind bag would dare tell the hospital administrator about her! How does she know WHAT they're talking about? They could be discussing anything...there are a shit ton of things that are more important than Laurie.

Later, at Patsy's Pizzeria, Laurie tells the gang all about her misadventures. Andy makes gross jokes about the corpse ("All dripping with slime, I bet.") Laurie changes the subject, telling them of her plan to go to Toby's house and sell his mean old mama a raffle ticket. I'm not sure what she thinks will happen. I mean, this woman isn't likely to invite Laurie in for tea and crumpets so how does Laurie think she'll be able to gain anything from this trip? Laurie asks the group if they'll accompany her and they reluctantly agree. Andy has to be a sarcastic asshole about it: "Ooo, that does sound like a thrill! It might be to exciting for me!" Jackassery is ugly. After they eat, they pile into Andy's Volvo and head to Fear Street. They split up because they can't find the house right off the bat. No, it doesn't make any sense, but we're on Fear Street now so everything will only get more convoluted from here. Skye and Laurie find the correct house. Mrs. Deane is as sweet as ever, greeting the girls with "What do you want?" Laurie badgers Mrs. Deane into buying a ticket, but she has to go fetch her purse first. While the girls are waiting, they hear a child crying from somewhere inside the house. Laurie's curiosity gets the best of her and she creeps inside the house to investigate. She sees Toby on the stairs, but he looks thinner and paler. Laurie reaches out to him and suddenly Mrs. Deane comes barreling down the stairs. She yells at Toby to get back in his room (cage?) and tells Laurie to get out. She shoves a dollar at Laurie, grabs the ticket, and slams the door in their faces. Damn. What happened to manners?

At work the next door, a note for Laurie awaits at the nurse's station. It's from Nurse Schneider, supervisor of all nurses everywhere! The note simply says "Please see me as soon as you get in." Uh-oh. The meeting is fairly uneventful. Apparently Nurse Wilton told Nurse Schneider that Laurie was unhelpful, rude, and a total snoop. Wow. So Nurse Schneider is transferring Laurie to the X-ray department on another floor. Laurie is pissed, but at least she gets to stick around. By the end of the day, Laurie is bored to death of X-rays and decides she's going to talk to Nurse Wilton. Idiot. If she makes good with Wilton, maybe she can move back to the children's floor! Again, idiot.

At the end of the day, Laurie hangs around the nurse's station waiting for Nurse Wilton. She spots her heading into the deserted Fear Wing. Then, a few minutes later, she sees Rick go inside the Fear Wing. This seems so terribly risque! But it isn't, of course. Remember: Shadyside residents do not have sexual urges of any kind. Sex is purely for producing psychotic spawn. Laurie waits for several minutes for one of them to come out, but she eventually loses patience and decides to head inside the Fear Wing instead of taking her dumb ass home like she should have done an hour ago. She stumbles around in the darkness and comes upon...Nurse Wilton's corpse! With a surgical knife sticking out of her throat! This isn't as exciting as I'm attempting to make it seem! In fact, I've grown so bored with this book that I'm beginning to wish someone would stab ME with a big knife! Huzzah! Laurie runs away to the nurse's station where she tells Nurse Girard and Skye that Nurse Wilton has been officially shut down. Nurse Girard calls a doctor who shows up with two guards. Laurie leads the group to the Fear Wing and I'm certain you know what happens next. The body is gone and everyone thinks Laurie is playing a sick joke. So. Predictable. It. Hurts. Laurie believes that Rick killed her. She also believes that this incident is somehow connected with Toby. Are you fucking kidding me? Yeah, little Toby didn't the care he required (i.e. ice cream every hour on the hour) from Nurse Wilton so he hired someone to kill her. Whatever! Stop being so naive, Laurie. And quit with the Nancy Drew crap! Laurie decides to visit Fear Street AGAIN and she's going to check Toby's file AGAIN to see if she can find out anything else. But Toby's file is missing. Take me home, Jesus, I don't wanna live anymore...

After work the next day, Laurie goes home and puts on some ratty clothes and ties a scarf around her head in preparation for her visit to Fear Street. Um, why? What would it make any difference whatsoever what she was wearing? And what the hell does she plan to do once she reaches Toby's house? She drives to Fear Street in the dark and hides in the bushes. From her position, she can see Toby sitting at the kitchen table. An unknown female is talking to him. A man comes into the room with a little suitcase. They lead Toby out to their car and drive away with him. Laurie is about to move away from the bushes when she hears a child's bloodcurdling shriek coming from inside the house. Surprisingly, Laurie doesn't rush inside. She walks to her car and drives away with a plan: she'll talk to Dr. Price the next day and everything will be A-ok! Please excuse me, kids...I think I need a drink...maybe a couple hundred...

As Laurie is driving, a Honda pulls out in front of her and stops, blocking her path. Rick gets out of the car and starts walking towards her. At this point, I'm not concerned about Rick. I'm more interested in his T-shirt: " old black Batman shirt with the weird design that looked like an open mouth with dangling tonsils." What? Dangling tonsils? Someone enlighten me because I'm lost. Anyway, instead of running him over, Laurie simply burns rubber in the opposite direction. Once home, she runs upstairs to call Andy. She wants to talk to his dad, but like a good boyfriend, Andy ignores her and rambles on about a horror movie he's watching. Laurie finally screams at him and he tells her his dad won't be home until after midnight. He asks why she needs to talk to him anyway and she lies: "Uh, I'm doing an independent summer work project and I, uh, need to interview your dad." Convincing. Andy invites Laurie over for a little somethin' somethin', but Laurie makes up some excuse for not being able to and hangs up. Why doesn't she just tell him that she's totally repulsed by him? Subtle signals don't work on morons like Andy, Laurie. You've gotta amp up your game....or something. Laurie calls Skye and asks if she can stay the night because Aunt Hillary won't be home for hours and she really doesn't wanna be alone. As soon as Skye agrees, Laurie hears someone coming up the stairs. She tells Skye that Hillary just got home and hangs up. But fear of all fears! It isn't Hillary! Laurie doesn't get a glimpse of the intruder; he/she runs away once the real Hillary arrives. Laurie runs up to her aunt and tells her what happened. Laurie has a feeling that it was Rick, but Hillary mentions that she saw Andy's car parked at the curb. Laurie ends up spilling the entire story about Toby, etc. She says that she wants to talk to Dr. Price and Hillary offers to talk to him for her (Hil has been doing a job for the "prestigious" Board of Trustees so she sees Dr. Price all the time). Laurie acts like a bitch about it, saying she doesn't need help from anyone. Actually, dear, some psychiatric help would do you good. In the mean time, do us all a favor and kindly shut the fuck up.

Later, Laurie receives a call from Rick. He asks why she ran away from him on Fear Street. It was those dangling tonsils, man. They're the scariest thing about this book. Wait, scratch that. The scariest thing about this book is the fact that R.L. Stine probably wrote it while sitting on the john, sent it in, and got paid about a gajillion bucks, leaving us all to suffer. Anyway, Laurie explains why she ran away from Rick: "I saw you steal those surgical knives from the ninth floor nurses' station. You sneaked them into your pocket when you thought no-one was looking. Don't tell me you didn't." So he likes to play with knives. Who doesn't? Rick rationally explains that he was fetching them for a doctor and asks her "What did you think I did with them? Operate on someone? Stab someone?" This only serves to heighten Laurie's paranoia and I've never hated her more. Seriously, lady, lay off the peyote....or whatever your drug of choice happens to be. And don't tell me you're clean, dammit! Laurie asks Rick what he was doing on Fear Street and Rick says "Stay away from Fear Street. You're going to get yourself in trouble." No problem there.

On Saturday night, Laurie heads to the Dr. Price's house to speak with him. Laurie starts the conversation on a cheerful note: "Nurse Wilton was murdered in the Fear Wing. I saw her." *sigh* Dr. Price is shocked and calls the nurse supervisor to find out why he was never informed of this incident. The supervisor tells him that Wilton is on vacation for three weeks. A GHOSTLY vacation? No, shut up. Laurie then launches into her theory about Toby being in trouble. At this point, Dr. Price obviously thinks Laurie is retarded, but he humors her and tells her he'll check Toby's files. Laurie tells him the files are missing and the good doctor simply smiles and says "People AND records--everything seems to be missing." Ha. Laurie asks if she could be transferred back to the children's floor. To placate the little idiot, Dr. Price promises he'll try and sends her on her way.

Later, Laurie and Andy are hanging out. He asks what she was talking to his dad about and she explains yet again. When Laurie says she's doing the "project" for extra credit, Andy replies "How about some extra credit with me?" while trying to kiss her. *puke* She pushes him away as usual. Shouldn't you actually WANT to be around your boyfriend? Why not save him some time and tell him straight up that you don't like him and never will? Why am I still asking questions of a fictional character? Thankfully, these two get in a fight (Andy suspects Laurie is seeing another guy) and Laurie ends up storming off and telling Andy to leave her alone for good. Finally. Laurie drives to the mall to meet Skye and ends up seeing Toby and his mother in the parking lot. She calls to Toby and he waves at her...until his punk of a mother shoves him into the car. The rest of the day sucks because Laurie's mood was ruined by seeing Toby so unhappy. Boo-hoo. I don't get why she is so invested in this kid. Yes, his mother is a monster and that is not right. But Laurie does not know these people and it's none of her business. Plus, if she really wanted to make a difference she would call the proper authorities and have them check up on him instead of prancing around playing amateur detective.

That night, after a solitary meal, Laurie decides to call Toby's house and speak with his mom. You've got to be joking! Laurie calls and pretends that she has an extra ticket and wonders if it's Mrs. Deane's. Mrs. Deane says everything I was thinking: "You're a real nuisance, aren't you? I don't care if I've got my ticket or not, hear? And I'm very busy right now. Goodbye!" Before she can hang up, Laurie begs to say hello to Toby, but Mrs. Deane doesn't like that idea: "No, you can't! And I don't want you snooping around us anymore, Laurie! Just butt out! I mean that! Stay away from us!" Then Laurie hears a slap and a "howl of pain." She struck the child and Laurie must save the day! It's never going to end, is it?

Laurie drives to Fear Street and sneaks into Toby's house through an open window. Her idiocy pays off in the form of someone hitting her in the head and dragging her down to the cellar to be tied to a chair. It's the fabulous Mrs. Deane of course. "Scream all you want. No-one will hear you. I warned you, but you wouldn't listen." She marches back upstairs and Laurie hears her talking on the phone: "It's that girl again. She showed up here, snooping around. She broke into the house, but I've got her. No, she can't get away. She's tied up, good and tight. But you'll have to deal with her yourself. This is more than I signed on for. Ok, take care of her aunt first. Then finish off the girl." Sounds vaguely dirty. Uh, I mean, oh no Aunt Hillary is in trouble! Laurie spots a pair of scissors lying on a worktable and attempts to edge her chair over to it. Someone is coming, though. Laurie frantically thinks of where to hide which is absolutely pointless because she's tied to a freaking chair. There's nothing to hide from anyway--it's just Toby. Laurie gets Toby to use the scissors to cut her free. Then she tells him that she thought he went away with that man and woman. Toby tells her that was Terry. Yes, Toby has a twin. The two creep upstairs and flee outside to Laurie's car. Laurie hears Mrs. Deane screaming at them to come back, but Laurie ignores her and drives away. Poor Toby. Laurie tries to call her aunt from a payphone, but no-one answers. So she calls the hospital and conveniently enough, Hillary left a message there for her. Auntie Hillary's car wouldn't start so she needs Laurie to come get her. Oh, and she'll be waiting at the ninth floor nurse's station. WHY can't she wait on the first floor? Stine, you and your stupid plot contrivances. I need them about as much as I need a hole in my head (which, coincidentally, is looking pretty damn good right about now). Laurie gets back in the car and heads toward the hospital. On the way, Toby flicks on the radio and Laurie hears a stunning news announcement: Nurse Wilton's body was found at the bottom of a ravine among the ruins of a car. Good Lord. As if this is not enough for one evening, Laurie looks in the rearview mirror and sees Rick's beat-up blue Honda trailing her. She speeds up and when she pulls into the parking lot, no-one is following her. She grabs Toby and rushes inside...just as Rick pulls into the lot. Laurie frantically pushes the elevator buttons, praying that Rick won't get to them. See, Hillary? If your stupid ass had just waited in the downstairs lobby, all of you could have gotten the hell out of dodge by now! Laurie manages to dive into the elevator and it's doors close just as Rick steps toward them.

When she reaches the ninth floor, Hillary is nowhere to be seen. Nurse Girard tells Laurie that no-one has been by for over an hour and she allows Laurie to use the phone. Just as Laurie picks up the receiver, though, she spots Rick. Fortunately, Nurse Girard asks him to help her out with something and this leaves Laurie with enough time to run and hide like the chicken she is. I forgot to mention that Laurie left Toby with a kindly nurse in the midst of all this crap so at least he doesn't have to bear witness to how stupid some people can be. Laurie hides in the Fear Wing because that isn't the first place Rick will look or anything. As she's stumbling through the dark, she somehow spots a trapdoor (how can she see so well if it's dark?) and realizes that's how Rick removed Nurse Wilton's body. A trapdoor? You're serious? What purpose would a trapdoor serve in a hospital (or any other place for that matter)? Oh well. Rick enters then and we get the scene from the prologue in which he grabs her and breathes all over her. He has a good reason to grab her, though: she almost fell down an elevator shaft. But even though Rick just saved her ass, Laurie is still creeped out by him and wonders where he's hiding the knife. Laurie, for the love of all things good and holy in this world, just go ahead and throw yourself down that shaft. It'll be the nicest thing you've ever done for anyone.

Someone enters the Fear Wing then and Laurie screams at them to help her. Rick lets her go and goes to contend with the "intruder". Laurie hears sounds of a struggle and then DR. PRICE saying "It's ok, Laurie. You can come out now." She dashes to him, tripping over Rick's unconscious body on the way. Dr. Price hit him in the head with his flashlight, knocking him out cold. But the good doctor obviously didn't hit him hard enough because Rick is gaining consciousness already. Rick tells Laurie that Dr. Price killed Nurse Wilton. Say what? "He's been running an illegal adoption agency out of the hospital! He and Mrs. Deane - or whatever her name is - they've been kidnapping children from out of state and selling them to the highest bidders! Nurse Wilton found out about it and she was blackmailing him. That's why he killed her." I'm speechless. After a short battle in which Rick and Dr. Price wrestle a bit, the doctor ends up falling down the elevator shaft.

Rick and Laurie exit the Fear Wing and Aunt Hillary comes running up to them. After they tell her the whole sordid story, she explains why Price wanted her dead, too: she was working on a secret project and Price was afraid that she was getting too close to the truth. Before Laurie leaves with Hillary, she gives Rick a big kiss. Someone get this book away from me...

Conclusion? This one was Stine's gift to the plot contrivance gods. So very painful.

Attack of the Jack-O'-Lanterns (Goosebumps #48)

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