Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Lights Out

* I finally finished this. It's a Christmas miracle! *

Book Description:

"I could kill you!" screamed Geri Marcus. [The psycho is already revealed? Then why the hell do I have to read this thing?] Could she? [Yes.] Would she? [She already did. More than once. But don't tell her I told you so. I'm too young to die!] Something is very wrong at Camp Nightwing and junior counselor Holly Flynn is determined to solve the mystery before it destroys the camp! The trouble begins with frightening acts of vandalism. After each, a red feather is left behind--signature of the culprit. Suddenly, one of the counselors is dead. "An accident," say the police. But Holly knows better and she knows she's next. Holly can't trust anyone now , not even her best friend, as she stalks the camp killer--and hopes that it soon won't be "Lights Out" for her!

My Description:

This one is going to be incredibly difficult. I'm already grinding my teeth and barely resisting the urge the burn Stine's house down. No need to worry, though, kids. I could never do such a thing! I ran out of gasoline and matches weeks ago.

Anyway! Let's get started with Camp Nightwing (this sounds very similar to one of the camps in some Goosebumps book. Am I wrong? I can't remember.) This literary masterpiece begins with a letter to someone called "Chief".

Camp Nightwing

Dear Chief,
Here I am at Camp Nightwing just as I promised. The other counselors are already here-and the lucky campers are arriving tomorrow. Everything looks cool so far. Don't worry about a thing, Chief. I'll make them pay. Every one of them. Just as I promised you. Before I'm through, everyone will be calling it "Camp Nightmare." I'm just trying to figure out where to start. Any ideas, Chief? Please write back and let me know what you think. I'm dying to hear from you.

Yours forever,

Since that was absolutely boring and useless (we've already seen about 1500 variations of it in other books), let's just jump straight into the next chapter. Holly has just spotted a giant spider in her bunk and is busy freaking out over it. She tries to have a reasonable conversation with the nasty little bastard to coax him off her bed, but we all know spiders are inconsiderate jerks so Holly finally picks up the pillow the spider is sitting on and throws it on someone else's bed. "She didn't care what the spider did as long as it didn't do it on her bunk." What the hell could it possibly do? Fornicate? Snort lines of coke off its spindly web? It's a SPIDER, Holly, a SPIDER. Anyway, Holly goes back to unpacking her things and wondering how the hell she ended up at camp. Unfortunately for her, her Uncle Bill owns Camp Nightwing and managed to convince her to work for him as a counselor instead of spending her whole summer rotting on Fear Street. For some unholy reason, Holly actually LIKES Fear Street and wants to hang around her delapidated mansion instead of a cursed camp. Yes, it really seems cursed. Evidence: first year = lightning burned down the rec hall; second year = flood and measles outbreak; third year =camper died in boating accident. Somehow, Uncle Bill has not yet committed suicide and the camp just keeps on truckin'...barely.

Holly breaks her thoughts when she realizes her best friend, Thea Mack, has entered the cabin. They talk about boring camp-related junk, Holly whines about she doesn't have an awesome tan like Thea's and how haaaaarrrrrd it is to be a skinny blonde chick (shut your face!), and then they're interrupted by a blood curdling scream for help. It's poor old Uncle Bill who's done gone and got his dumb ass trapped under a pile of sports equipment in the rec room. The girls manage to drag him out and Bill gets his Sherlock Holmes on, inspecting the cabinet that was holding the equipment before it all cascaded on top of his head. "Do you see how this is designed? With bolts at all four corners? [Just get to the frigging point,, kind sir, before I bury you.] Even in a heavy thunderstorm with high winds, it should stay smack up against the wall [or smack upside your head]. But somehow-somehow the bolts on one side worked loose. I just can't understand it." Can't you, though? Someone wants you dead, Billy boy! Holly brings up the point that he could've been killed, but Bill brushes it off because he has no desire to live anyway. Uncle Bill goes to get his tools to fix the cabinet and Holly and Thea start straightening up the equipment. A moment later, they find a red feather (as the back cover tells us, "signature of the culprit") and basically ignore it. Thea won't shut up about all the hot guys at camp (I pray she's not referring to the kids) and Holly ignores her and wonders aloud where Uncle Bill is. He could be lying in a ditch with a broken neck for all Thea cares. She just wants to gab about some guy named John Hardesty who wrote her a couple letters over the summer which is obviously a sign that they're soul mates. Thea mentions another counselor named Geri Marcus and Holly mildly freaks out. Geri is a redhead from Waynesbridge and apparently, she and Holly used to be close friends. Geri is a total bitch who barely says two words to the girls, opting instead to look down her perfect nose at them as if they're rotten garbage. After Geri trots off, Holly tells Thea that she and Geri were friends, but that ended when Holly wouldn't lie to Geri's parents about Geri's secret boyfriend. They both forget all about this when they hear other counselors outside. Holly gets a boner when she sees this gorgeous girl approaching she and Thea. Her name is Debra Wallach and she's the senior counselor in Holly's cabin; Holly will be her assistant. No word on what that entails. Thea and Holly walk over the to the picnic table where Geri is reading and a boy sitting across from her is writing. Thea slaps the boy on the back and says "Hi ya, Mick. Writing home already?" Mick is described as looking just like Kevin Bacon and writes home often because his mother is one of those rare parents that actually gives a damn about what her kid is doing.

The girls wander back to their cabins. Holly is finishing unpacking when she's attacked by a fat ass bat. She attempts a counterattack with a canoe paddle which results in bat flying at her face and her running out the door...right into Geri and two other girls. This is painful. Debra arrives and gets pissed at Holly for not being a man about the bat. She sends another girl in with a broom, the bat flies off, and the girls head on down to the campfire for smores and ritual sacrifices. Uh, I mean SONGS. At the campfire, Holly finds Thea and they grab a few hot dogs and some of Uncle Bill's (in)famous potato salad. Mick comes up and starts talking to the girls about horror movies which Holly hates. Mick can't believe Holly has never seen the Friday the 13th movies. He recaps a couple scenes from the movie and laughs when Holly says "Gross!" even though he didn't say anything even remotely gross. He runs off for more potato salad while Holly watches Geri talk to some counselors. "This whole thing was a mistake, she thought. How can I make it through a whole summer here?" Will you please get over the whole Geri thing? Have some more potato salad and shut your trap. Anyway, Uncle Bill introduces himself just before someone dressed as Jason Voorhees pops out of the woods with a fake hatchet. It's just some moron named Kit Damon who isn't as awesome as the real Jason.

You've been pwned, Kit. Anyway, all the other counselors introduce themselves...except Thea and Holly. Oh well. Uncle Bill talks about the rules and emphasizes one in particular: "...counselors are absolutely forbidden to date campers." Ok, I'm really not following. I was under the impression that the campers were CHILDREN, but apparently they're near the same age as the junior counselors. I hope. Anyway, everybody starts walking back to their cabins. Holly waits while Thea talks to that John Hardesty guy. She looks up and spots Geri lurking in the shadows and glaring at her like she's really enjoy ripping her head off. Nice.

In case you really enjoyed that earlier letter to the "Chief" (and I can't imagine why you would) here's another one.

Camp Nightwing

Dear Chief,
Things are off to a good start. I've started my work already, just as I promised you. It wasn't easy taking bolts out of the wall, but it worked like a dream-or a nightmare. It's just too bad that the whole cabinet didn't come down. But I have plenty of time. After all, lots of accidents can happen in a summer camp-lots of deadly accidents. [I assume you're somehow related to the kid who died here.] Please write and let me know how you are doing. Remember, Chief, I'm always here for you.

Yours forever,

The next morning, Holly puts on a swimsuit and heads for the lake. First she gets stopped on the path by a hot counselor named Sandy who warns her about the leeches in the lake before jogging off in his tightass sweatpants. Then Mick pops out of nowhere, admires her body like a creepy little perv, and asks if he can walk with her. As they near the lake, Mick flips out because some bad little camper drilled holes in the side of a couple canoes and now they're resting on the sandy bottom. RIP. "Just beside the hole, stuck between the seat of the canoe and the gunwale, was a soggy red feather." Could it be *gasp* the same person who nearly killed Uncle Bill?! *sigh* What the hell is a gunwale?

Later, Holly heads for her cabin to change and then rushes to the parking lot where the campers are arriving. Debra chews her a new one for being late and throws a list of campers who will be in her cabin into her face. There are six girls on the list (Candy, Melissa, Jessica, Tracy, Suzie, and Stacey; the last two are twins) and Holly quickly finds them. The girls are just so gosh darn cute that Holly doesn't mind when they predictably start arguing over who gets what bunk. They figure it out and a few run outside to join a dodgeball game. As Holly is helping Candy with her suitcase, she hears a crash behind her. "Somehow" a top bunk collapsed onto a bottom bunk. Tracy was sitting on the top and starts to cry. To make this scene even shittier, Debra bursts in and completely flips out on Holly because all the girls are now crying and Holly is just sitting there like a log. Although I seriously doubt Debra's demonic shriek is helping either. I hate this woman. You've got over 100 pages to pull out a bullwhip and stripe her ass, Holly. Make me proud. Anyway, Uncle Bill enters this mess and once again proves he's utterly useless. Holly sits down and spots a red feather taped to the bottom of the bunk. Why a red feather? And why stupid little pranks? If you want them dead, anonymous maniac, choose a more direct method.

Holly unloads her campers on Sandy so she can play Nancy Drew. Why is the psychopath making these "accidents" happen near her? Uh...maybe because they're supposed to happen to you? (But you just keep throwing a damn monkey wrench into the plans!) She scampers off to Uncle Bill's office and when she brings up the incidents, he says he doesn't have time to discuss it even though it's obvious he's been doing nothing but picking his nose and scratching his ass. Holly is ticked off at her uncle's indifference and flees the office. Unfortunately, she runs right into Debra. *groan* Deb is her usual bitchy self, poking holes in Holly's soul by giving her a mouthful about what happened earlier. Then she offers up this gem which, I suppose, is meant to explain her acid behavior toward Holly: "Don't think you'll get special treatment just because you're Uncle Bill's niece!" First of all, treating someone with simple respect isn't "special treatment". Second, Holly probably wishes she was in no way related to Uncle Bill and thus does not expect anything as a result of being his niece. I think.

In the mess hall, Thea runs up to Holly and asks what's wrong. Holly doesn't want to talk about it so Thea tells her to meet her by the lake after the campers are asleep. Her campers cheer her up a little, but the mood is ruined when Kit starts screaming about a snake wrapped around his arm. He shakes it off and it lands on Holly's table. Of course the thing is rubber and everyone just thinks it's the funniest damn thing in the history of mankind. Holly completely froze when she saw the snake which Debra sees as a big weakness: "If you're so afraid of snakes, then what are you doing at Camp Nightwing?" Because her brainless suicidal uncle told her to. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, biotch.

That night, Holly meets Thea at the lake as planned. They talk about all the crap that has been happening lately until the conversation unravels with Thea mentioning John Hardesty. *sigh* Who the hell is this guy anyway? He's important enough to be mentioned every 2 seconds so why haven't we been introduced? Oh well. If he's like the other guys in this book, we're probably better off NOT knowing him. Thea says she's meeting him here and Holly says she's tired and begins walking back to her cabin alone. Suddenly the woods seem to be full of noises and Holly is scared! AHHH! They're called ANIMALS, lady! Anyway, the noises actually turn out to be two campers and then she runs into Mick. This guy is a total stalker. He's acting really weird and comes on a little too strong for Holly's taste. After getting violent because Holly doesn't want to do anything with him, he runs off into the woods. I hope he gets eaten by a bear. As Holly nears the cabins, she runs into Sandy. Why the hell are these people wandering the woods in the middle of the night?! They chat for a minute before parting ways. Holly goes into her cabin, gets into bed, and immediately starts screaming when she realizes there's a snake under her pillow. It's actually real and the other girls are freaked out, too. But of course Debra is all calm about it and throws the snake out before going off on Holly: "You're worse than useless!" Instead of punching her in the gut until she passes out, Holly just sits there and takes it, staring at the floor until everybody goes back to bed.

The next morning, Holly decides to go to Uncle Bill with her red feather collection and explain her theory that someone is attempting to target her (fortunately for her, this person is incredibly dim and inept). Bill doesn't buy any of it, telling her that feathers don't prove anything because there are feathers all over the damn place which is true. But apparently Bill is unaware that he's in a Fear Street novel and feathers are never just feathers. He basically just tells her to quit worrying about it and stay out of his freaking office. Nice.

Of course we must update the dear old Chief on what's been happening in the vaguest way possible.

Camp Nightwing

Dear Chief,
I haven't heard from you in a long time now. A lot of things have been happening. Bad things. But they're also good if you know what I mean. I've been doing everything I promised and more. Now I'm ready to take the next step. The big step. Someone in this camp is going to die. I promised and I'm going to deliver. Very soon. It will be the person who deserves it the most. Too bad. She's kind of cute. I'll write and tell you all about it. Please write back, Chief. I've been waiting so long for a letter.

Yours forever,

Those letters are so freaking useless! GRR. Anyway, Holly feels better after telling Uncle Bill even though she would have been better off taking her problems to a squirrel. She thinks the person responsible is a counselor and to figure out which one, she turns to TV: "She thought back to all the mystery shows she'd seen on television. One of the first things the detective always did was get to know as much as possible about the suspects. So what she had to do was clear--she had to get the other counselors as well as she could." Although old and nearly forgotten, Columbo, Matlock, and Jessica Fletcher can still serve a purpose. Later that afternoon, Camp Nightwing plays a big softball game against Camp Starlight (Starlight kicks Nightwing's ass.) After the game, Mick comes over to Holly and says "So, did you see anything you like?" Holly doesn't understand so Mick happily spells it out: "Well, you've been staring at me all day." Doubtful. "So I though I'd invite you to do some more staring up close and personal." I'd rather stare into a plumber's cavernous hairy buttcrack for an hour than look at you for 5 seconds. But Holly doesn't share my opinion: "Sure. Sounds like fun. I'll meet you after the campers are in bed." This won't end well.

That evening, Holly meets Mick on the dock and he almost immediately accuses her of leading him on. What a creep! He tries to force her to kiss him, but that just ends up with him splashing into the lake. HA. As Holly storms off to her cabin, she comes upon Geri who has apparently lost her frigging mind: "I saw and heard everything. I know what you're up to, Holly. I know everything. First you ruined my life back in Waynesbridge. And now you're trying to steal Mick from me. Well, you won't get away with it, Holly. You won't get away with it!" WHAT? Who the hell would want Mick? This chick is broken.

The next morning, Holly is totally zonked out. On her way to the mess hall, she almost gets smacked in the head with a softball, but Sandy saves her. He notices something is bothering her and offers his services: "What's bothering you? Tell Uncle Sandy." EW. Holly doesn't consider it at all weird that someone nearly her own age wants her to call him 'uncle' and she tells him all about her recent problems. "Uncle Sandy" says Holly will feel so much better after the wilderness trip next week. She'll be assistant boating counselor and good old Uncle Sandy just knows she'll have the time of her life! Uncle Sandy is as dense as everyone else there--we all know the really bad stuff starts happening when there's a big trip involved. The psycho will strike and someone will die. What do you say to that, Uncle Sandy? "It'll be great." Moron.

Later, Holly meets up with Thea who is sobbing because John Hardesty would rather write letters than be with her. Thea's tears dry up about 1.5 seconds later when she starts talking about Mick and Uncle Sandra. She thinks Holly likes them both even though one is a total perv and the other is damned crazy. Thea is glad Holly feels nothing for Sandy because she wants him. No comment. Thea goes on her merry way and Holly enters the craft cabin where Debra immediately shoots her a dirty look. Well, fuck you, too. Holly is showing the girls a clay pot that Debra made and *cringe* she accidentally breaks it, effectively incurring Debra's wrath. "What have you done? Can't you do anything right?" Shut. Up.

That night, Holly drops the campers off at the campfire and starts walking back to the cabin. Unfortunately, Kit pops out of nowhere and starts harrassing her about Geri. She tries to run, but he catches up to her and pins her arms behind her. Then Mick steps up (seriously, where do these fools come from? Do they just hang out in the woods all night, sleeping in trees?) and says they're inviting her to their party. Geri steps out of the darkness holding a bucket full of leeches. She says that Holly deliberately tried to ruin her life and now she's getting even. Then she says "You don't look perfect. You probably need a bath." before pushing Holly into a nearby creek and dumping the leeches in after her. Up until now, Holly has seemed almost catatonic, but this is the last straw. She completely loses it, screaming at all of them. The guys try to pretend this is all part of an initiation for all new counselors which is obviously total bullshit. She looks over their shoulders and sees Sandy standing there grinning. Finally they all walk off because it's time for dinner and bullying makes a person hungry. Holly is stunned, but a moment later someone's scream snaps her out of it. She walks through the woods, sees someone running (she can't tell who) and John Hardesty appears from behind a tree holding something behind his back. He acts like a total asshole and accuses her of spying on him. She's covered in mud and leech juice. The last thing on her mind is spying on you! He runs off and Holly starts running toward her cabin. OF COURSE she's intercepted by Sandy. Memo to Nightwing counselors: get out of the fucking woods! Who is looking after the kids? Uncle Bill? Doubtful. He'd rather hole up in his office reminiscing about the good old days when he actually had a life and a job he didn't hate. Damn that's depressing. Anyway, Sandy acts like he doesn't know what happened to Holly and she plays along instead of snapping his neck. He gives her a list of who's going on the wilderness trip before running back to his treehouse. The six counselors going: Sandy, Holly, Stuart Winchester (archery man), Mick, Kit, and Geri. Fanfreakingtastic.

Holly has finished showering and is in her cabin getting dressed when Thea stops by. Holly vents about Geri and Debra and then it's time to gather the campers and take them to dinner. When they reach the mess hall, they spot Kit in the rafters wearing a gorilla mask and throwing pieces of banana at campers. Har har har. Holly ignores this and worries about the fact that she hasn't seen Debra. Good riddance. Holly decides to search for her. She heads for the craft cabin...where she finds Debra's stone cold corpse. "The thing that [Holly] saw had once been a human face, but was now a bloody mass of raw pulp." More details? Sure thing: "It was Debra who sat slumped over the table, her face nearly rubbed off by the pottery wheel. Only the long black braids identified her as Debra." Holly actually checks her pulse, unaware that you just don't wake up from a pottery wheel facial. She stumbles outside into the arms of John Hardesty. She frantically tells him what happened and he leaves her while he runs to fetch Uncle Bill. Holly takes another peek inside and spots the cursed red feather.

Camp Nightwing

Dear Chief,
Guess what? I decided to take up pottery. [sigh] I found it worthwhile. Quite worthwhile. I guess even the crafts counselor didn't know that making pots could be so dangerous. That pendant looked so nice around her neck-but not as nice as my two hands. The local police came by for a while. They questioned everyone. But they're sure it was an accident. A tragic accident. They didn't even notice my calling card. And I left it right where they couldn't miss it. Well, that's about all for now. What do you think, Chief? Should I kill the other one? It's up to you. Please write soon and let me know what you want me to do.

Yours forever,

I don't think the Chief really gives a damn at this point. I know I don't. Anyway, it's now the next morning and Geri is busy harrassing Holly. "Guess you're glad Debra's gone, aren't you?" Isn't everyone? Geri insinuates that Holly had something to do with Debra's death. It's time for you to start kicking ass and taking names, Holly. Stop letting this wench stomp all over you! Instead of beating Geri black and blue, Holly runs to Uncle Bill's office. But it isn't Bill she finds; it's a detective. Holly makes herself look like an ass by mentioning the red feather, etc. She truly is a glutton for punishment. Predictably, he doesn't really buy it and sends her on her way. She goes to the rec room where she finds Uncle Bill. She nearly craps her pants when he tells her that Geri will be taking Debra's place. Could this possibly get any more painful? I know Holly doesn't actually exist, but I feel horrible for her. Uncle Bill is a total bitch when Holly explains that she and Geri don't get along so she just walks out.

At the cookout that evening, Kit convinces Uncle Bill to let them have a ghost story contest. Holly is glad that everyone will be distracted because it will allow her to put her dimwitted plan into action. She's going to sneak into the cabins of Kit, Mick, and John to see if she can find any clues as to who may have murdered Debra. I'm sure it'll go smoothly and she'll get all the info she needs. *sigh* She starts with Cabin Nine where Kit and John are assigned. Beneath John's bed she finds a metal box and just as she prepares to open it, John enters. Holly says she lost something (sanity? dignity?) and she tries to leave, but John demands to know what she was really doing. Holly just tells the truth rather than kicking him in the junk and running away. Before he lets Holly leave, he says "If you ever say anything about any of this-to anyone-you'll be sorry. Very, very sorry." which makes no sense because nothing happened. Shut up, John. Instead of going back to the cookout, Holly detours past Mick's cabin. She sees him writing something and spots a thingamajig hanging over his desk with red feathers all over it OH NO! That really proves nothing, once again.

Camp Nightwing

Dear Chief,
One of the counselors is getting suspicious. Too bad. I can't have that. I can't have anyone interfering with the things I have to do. Too bad she didn't mind her own business. But it's too late now. She'll be next, Chief. But I'll wait for the canoe trip. I'll let you know how it goes.

Yours forever,

The next morning, Uncle Bill makes all the counselors come to the mess hall early so he can talk to them about all the freaky junk that's been taking place. He says if anything else happens, he'll have to shut down the camp. Yay! After he stops yapping, Holly goes to...well, I'm really not sure what her intentions were, but he ends up getting pissed off because Holly dared question his judgement. I think. *sigh* Both of them are unstable beings who shouldn't be in positions of authority over children.

The following morning, Holly gets up early to prepare for the big wilderness trip that will be more about figuring out who the psycho is than anything related to nature. She's horrified when she finds out that she and Mick will be partners. Mick is not the lunatic; there are too many signs that he is which is why he isn't. Anyway, Holly isn't too comfortable in the canoe: "Paddling down the White River, Holly wondered how she had managed to make so many enemies in such a short time. The other counselors were barely speaking to her." That pretty sums up the rest of the day. No-one acknowledges her presence AT ALL. When they finally reach the campsite, it's dark. Spooooky. As Holly is making a pit for the campfire, she hears someone sobbing in the distance. Just as Holly is about to go rescue the forest sobber, someone says "Hello, Holly." She turns and John is standing there with a big knife. Then some girl named Courtney appears out of nowhere and tells him to stop. She was the one who was crying because she and John were having an argument and John was being a real asshole. Then they both go on about their hidden love affair which is forbidden by Courtney's parents and the law--Courtney is 15 and John is 18. But they're so in love! Damn the parents! Damn the statutory rape laws! Dude, seriously, find someone your own age. They beg Holly not to say anything to anyone and she says "I won't say anything. But I won't lie for you. I can't." which reminds her of what she told Geri when Geri wanted her to lie for her. Why does any of this shit matter? Unless Geri is the maniac, none of this is remotely relevant right now.

The next morning, Holly is snapped out of a cozy dream about the Division Street Mall. Sandy woke her up because he wants her to watch the sunrise with him. Yeah right. Yesterday he hated her and now he wants to curl up and watch the sun with her? I smell a rat. Anyway, he also wants to "scout downriver a little ways to see where it forks." He'll probably dump Holly in the river. Poor stupid girl. So they hop in the canoe and Holly notices that they're getting really far away from the campsite. Sandy says it's all good because he knows this river really well; he camped here last summer. Holly is confused because he previously said he was in the desert last summer. Liar. Uncle Sandy starts acting like a mental patient, babbling about the accident last summer. A kid named Seth drowned and it was all Debra's fault. Seth was Sandy's brother...Sandy called him Chief...I think the mystery is solved, my friends. He says he can't let Holly go now because she knows too much. Such a cliche. They reach a really rough part of the river and Sandy starts giggling like a demented school girl as he tosses his paddle into the water. He stands up and Holly smashes him in the head with her paddle. While he's unconscious, the canoe starts slamming into rocks and Holly is thrown into the water. She manages to get to shore, but she has no clue as to where she is. She starts walking and a few moments later, SANDY comes out of nowhere. How the hell? She runs from him, he grabs a big tree limb, chases her, and smacks her with the branch. She crawls into a cave that apparently just magically sprouted out of the ground, but unfortunately it's full of snakes. She grabs one and throws it at Sandy, causing him to lose his footing and fall down a hill. Is it over yet? She starts walking and comes upon Mick. "Oh Mick!" Oh Mick indeed.

Later, an ambulance takes Sandy away while Holly sips hot broth at the campsite. The camp bus arrives to drag their sorry behinds back to Camp Nightwing. Uncle Bill runs up to Holly. "Maybe now Camp Nightwing can go back to being a happy place again." It was never a happy place, you nut. At camp, Holly and Mick walk to their cabins and discuss the fact that Holly is finally catching on to this place. Dammit.

Conclusion? These people are fucking insane.

Next time: "The Confession" Five friends, one of them a murderer. Who is it and when will they kill again? The suspense (among other things) will kill us all!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

High Tide

Book Description:

Adam Malfitano still has nightmares about the night his girlfriend, Mitzi, died. He sees the blood. He sees her in the water. He is a lifeguard and he can't save her. He wakes up screaming. Even worse, he has begun to see Mitzi while he is awake. He knows it is impossible...but she looks so real. He can see her face decaying. What does she want from him? Why won't she leave him alone? He tried to save her--doesn't she know that? [Obviously not, genius.]

My Description:

Part One

Adam and Mitzi are misbehaving on the ocean on a water...scooter? Never heard of it. "Talk about a great summer!" Oh Adam, I hate to crush your sunny-eyed optimism with the news that your girlfriend will soon croak, but yeah...she's as good as dead, dude. Anyway, Adam is a lifeguard who met Mitzi on the job. Mitz is a hot piece who gets wolf howls wherever she goes and Adam was no exception. He couldn't believe how hot she was: "Long blond hair, legs that went on forever, and a smile that almost knocked me out of the chair." Is that Mitzi up there on the cover? I think so and she doesn't look very tall or hot to me. In fact, she looks like a scared 12 year old who really wishes she hadn't taken a ride on the crazy man's scooter. Too late! Speaking of the cover, I think it's hilarious. I love how they're just speeding past the chick who looks like she's about to be eaten by Jaws or something. Anyway, Adam and Mitzi continue their joy ride until Adam says he has to head back to the beach for his shift. Unfortunately, they're hit by a couple of waves, Mitzi flies off into the water, and when Adam turns around to get her, he runs over her. The blood, the carnage...what a nice day. Adam sees Mitzi frantically splashing in the water, blood gushing from her huge head wound. He dives in to save her and ends up getting his leg sliced open by his beloved scooter. It's possessed by the spirits of everyone else you killed, Adam! So yeah, there's a scooter showdown and Adam wusses out and pulls himself and Mitzi down down down...

...and that was all a dream. A fucking dream. This is why I'm not sure you deserve to live any longer, Stine. Your only goal in life is to hurt people. HURT! *sob* You've made me a mental case with your damn dream sequences. Anyway, Adam wakes up screaming "We're drowning!" until his roomate Ian shakes him out of it. Adam calms down and looks around to see he's only in his apartment, not cutting his girlfriend's face off with a scooter. These nightmares started last summer after Mitzi died. Adam really DID slam into Mitzi with a scooter which lacerated her face, crushed her skull, and sent her to a watery grave. I know it was an accident, but did he receive any punishment beyond the constand psychological torment of knowing he killed his girlfriend? Oh well. It's only 6 am so Ian and Adam decide to try to go back to sleep. As Adam starts to throw his sheet back (he's still in bed) he completely flips out: "My legs! They're gone! My legs are gone! Help me! Ian, where is the rest of me?" They're under the sheet, you imbecile. Dammit, do I REALLY have to spend over 100 more pages with this dumbass?!

Adam goes to visit his psychiatrist, Dr. Thall. The good doctor listens to his maniacal patient's most recent issues and recommends that Adam quit the lifeguard thing and get the hell away from the beach for a while. Since Adam is the star of a Fear Street novel and has next to no working brain cells, he says he's staying put. After the session, Adam heads for the beach. *sigh* He's afraid he'll be late and a big scary lifeguard named Sean Cavanna will give him hell about it. Ok, Sean is just another lifeguard. He's not Adam's boss or supervisior or whatever so who the hell cares what he thinks? Apparently Adam isn't so scared after all because he stops to shoot the breeze with the girl he's been dating this summer. Her name is Leslie Jordan (save yourself, woman!) and she's really smart which means she's not as good looking as Mitzi. I'm not even gonna comment on that bullshit. They sit and talk for a bit before Adam says he's gotta go. He reaches the sand and freaks out because he sees Mitzi...or what passes for Mitzi these days: "Empty eye sockets stared back at me. Dark, empty holes in a gray-white skull. A skull. A skeleton's head with strips of gray flesh dangling from the gleaming bone. Shredded, rotting flesh. Mitzi cocked her head. Her rotting lips, black and peeling, drew back, exposing jagged, broken teeth." Do you still think she's hot, Adam? "Nooooo!" That's what I thought.

Part Two

As a treat, the first few chapters of part two are from Sean Cavanna. I can tell you're excited by the way you're walking away from your computer. Sean is lounging in his lifeguard chair, checking out some girl named Alyce Serkin. "Alyce is a major babe. She's hot!" Thanks for that absolutely useless bit of information. He sees that Alyce is packing up to leave so he jumps from his chair to run to her. What follows is a sickening exchange involving the words "You really are an animal." and a make-out session. Be still my heaving stomach. Sean asks Alyce if they're getting together later. When she says she has other plans, he goes a little psycho, grabbing her arm and saying "I'm warning you. I see you out with another guy, I'll kill him. I really will." Because murdering random people who MIGHT be giving your girl the side eye is always the right thing to do. Nothing too interesting happens. Sean plays his "episode" off as a joke and STILL won't leave the girl alone even though she obviously wants to leave. Finally Adam comes along and interrupts which pisses Sean off so he screams that a shark is a attacking a girl in an attempt to get rid of Adam. Obviously nothing is happening and Adam knows it. I hope Sean drowns...or gets eaten by a shark...or stung by a jellyfish on his private no-no parts.

Alyce leaves and Adam and Sean stand there like trees for a moment before getting back to their chairs. In the mean time, 10 people drowned because they weren't as special as Alyce's ass. Only joking...but that doesn't that sound like something that would happen with these incompetent slobs "on guard"? The guys talk about Alyce and then Sean shares an experience about an ex-girlfriend: "Cindy. Funny, sexy, a great dancer. Crazy about me. At least I thought she was. I actually thought we'd be together forever. She sneaked out on me with some other guy. We were supposed to go to the movies, but at the last minute she said she had something else to do. I knew she was lying. You can always tell, right? I followed her to make sure. I saw her meet up with this guy from school." Blah blah blah she sucks face with the guy, Sean follows them to an amusement park, and his rage makes him act like a gorilla gone wild. So he harrasses the guy constantly at school and finally takes him out to the woods and nearly beats him to death. Adam asks Sean why he's telling him this and Sean replies "Because I saw the way you were looking at Alyce." Alyce seems to really hate you...when she's not sticking her tongue down your throat. Never mind. I'm not analyzing their fucked up relationship.

Later, as Adam is jogging home, he keeps thinking about what Sean said. I don't wanna hear another word about SEAN. At home, Adam and Ian talk about hot chicks, order pizza, and brag about their dates for tonight. Adam is going to be cheating on the brainy Leslie with the Playboy pin-up Alyce. Ian...well, I don't really know what he's doing because all the focus is on lame ass Adam. Adam goes to take a shower (calm down, ladies) and as he steps out, the bedroom phone rings. He yells for Ian to get it, but Ian doesn't respond because Ian is as dead as a doorknob. Adam freaks out...until he sees that what he's looking at isn't Ian's lifeless body, it's just some crumpled clothes. What the hell? I'm really beginning to hate this book. The damn phone is still ringing so Adam picks up and it's Leslie. He tells her what just happened and she says he should be spending more time with Dr. Thall. Then she asks if he'd like her to come over, but he refuses because he has another dish on the side. He gets dressed, realizes he's still hungry (because 500 pieces of pizza just isn't enough), and throws out the rest of the pizza because it's cold. Maybe it's just me, but I love cold pizza. He picks up an apple and notices that it's, um, changing. "I was holding a green, rotting skull. I could smell it. Moldy and putrid with vacant eye sockets and shreds of skin dangling from stumps of black, twisted teeth. As I stared in horror, the wet apple jaws began to move. "Help me, Adam!" a hoarse voice inside the apple croaked. "Help. Don't let me drown!" Wet apple jaws?!? Am I really expected to take this seriously?!

Dammit, more from Sean. I think I'd rather listen to the apple. He's on his way to Alyce's place where he's sure to find something that'll make him quite upset. He pounds on the door screaming "You asleep or something? Wake up, babe! Time to party!" Somebody kill him. Kill him good. Alyce's roomate Kathy opens the door and informs the screeching idiot that Alyce is gone and she doesn't know where she went. This, like so many other things, enrages Sean and he heads for the local movie theater to see if Alyce exits with a guy. He nearly rips some poor guy's head off over a stupid parking spot before marching into the lobby to wait. Eventually Alyce comes out and she's never says. I'm assuming it's Adam, but maybe Stine decided to mix it up a little and add another schlub to this mess. Anyway, Sean completely loses his mind and decides to beat the shit out of this guy. All over a girl who hates his guts. *sigh* He runs into Leslie and barrels past her without stopping to talk. Some teenager makes the mistake of getting in his way so Sean politely shoves the boy into some trash cans and proceeds to beat him bloody until Leslie runs over and begs him to stop. Now might be a good time to look into those anger management classes you've been putting off all these years, Sean, you damn douche.

The next morning, Sean is lounging in his lifeguard chair thinking about last night. After beating the hell out of that kid, Sean kindly gave him $50 to keep his mouth shut and sent him on his way. Tool. Finally Sean snaps out of his thoughts long enough to do his job; he sees that it's HIGH TIDE! and puts out the red warning flags. As he's doing this, he spots Adam flirting with a few girls who are all over him. What is this guy's appeal? He's like this potato chip I once found that kind of resembled Luke Perry--interesting to look at, but lacking in personality (maybe that describes the actual Luke Perry, too. I wouldn't know.) Someday that chip will grow old and stale and then what do you have? Nothing! Where the hell am I and what the hell am I talking about? Oh well...

Now we're back to Adam's point of view which is just awful. As I said before, he's flirting with some gutter skanks named Joy and Raina who seem to have some kind of freakish obsession with him. Ian joins them and they all have an incredibly vapid conversation about boats and Shadyside High which is how these girls know Adam. They used to think he was sooooo hot, but never had the courage to talk to him. Give me a break. Gary Brandt, Shadyside's favorite man whore, is also mentioned. I think this walking STD shows up in every book. Ian gets bored and wanders off while Adam makes a "date" with Joy and Raina for 7 pm at the Sea Shanty. Nothing like a good shanty to turn the ladies on. The girls take off and Adam turns to see a furious looking Sean heading for him. But then Sean turns and runs away for no reason. I am completely over these idiots. Adam gets back to his post and dear sweet merciful Poseidon, there's a rogue water scooter on the ocean! With a phantom driver! Never mind. It's just another one of Adam's hallucinations.

Later, Adam visits Dr. Thall who, like all psychiatrists that pop up in Fear Street books, has absolutely NOTHING useful to say but encourages future visits because his fat chunk of change ain't fat enough. Flash forward to 7 pm--let's all head on down to the Sea Shanty! Yeeeeeee hawwww! Please kill me. Adam sits down to eat with Raina and Joy after dancing for a while. At one point, he looks up and spots Leslie. Remember her? The GIRLFRIEND? She walks over looking totally pissed, tells him off, and shoves him into the table before storming off and yelling "You hurt me, Adam! And I'm going to find a way to hurt you back!" I look forward to it.

The next day, Adam and Sean get in a little tiff. Sean attempts to impale Adam with one of the high tide flags, but alas, he misses. A few moments later, Joy and Raina come running over to make fun of him for cheating on his girlfriend. I hate these airheads. To make this wonderful day even better, Adam gets distracted by some kids arguing over a red bucket and when he looks back, Joy and Raina are being swept under by the waves. If this is another hallucination, I'm smashing someone's face with a hammer. They're out there drowning so Adam gets his Baywatch on (heaving Pam Anderson boobs not included) and begins running out to them. He's pissed because Sean is nowhere to be found and keeps blowing his whistle as if that'll work. He grabs Raina and Joy pops up, panics, and starts clawing at him like he's a damn scratching post. Forgive me for laughing while Adam screeches like a girl and attempts to get away from her before she drowns him. He manages to swim away with the unconscious Raina who miraculously regains consciousness when they reach the coast. Adam swims back to find Joy, but apparently she's already drowned. You suck, Adam.

Part Three

Adam has just awakened from a dream and is, as usual, shocked to find himself in his apartment instead of dying on a beach somewhere. He begs Ian to tell him that Joy didn't drown after all but of course she did. "I've killed another girl!" Looks that way, don't it? Ian tries to calm him down, but Adam says he just wants to be alone so Ian reluctantly leaves. Why couldn't he be the main character in this farce? He's actually a pretty decent guy. Unfortunately, you don't get your own Fear Street book unless you're a psycho or just a total dumbass. Adam lays around for a while thinking about what a filthy murderer he is before getting up for a bowl of cereal and listening to some heavy metal. Then the phone rings. *sigh8 "Adam, you're going to pay for what you did to me. I promise you. You're going to pay soon." It appears Leslie has gone totally Fatal Attraction. Adam thinks it has to be either Sean or Leslie, both of which would like to castrate him. But then he brushes it off as a prank call. Yeah, that won't come back to bite you in the ass. Fool.

Later, Adam decides to go jogging. At night. After someone just called to threaten his life. If you got any smarter, Adam, your head would explode. He runs along the beach (yet another "D'oh!" moment) but stops when he sees a figure emerging from the fog. It's Joy's mother f*&^ing ghost. She disappears after stating the obvious: "Adam, you let me drown!" No shit, Grossilocks. Adam is actually relieved it was just an hallucination, but when he glances down he sees Joy's footprints in the sand. "Since when do hallucinations leave footprints?" Since the Hallucinations Act of 1995. No, I don't care if that made no sense. I've come undone!

Back at ye olde apartment, Adam is busy losing his freaking mind over the footprints. Finally he wears himself out and goes to bed. But what would a night be without dozens of horrible nightmares? He dreams about the sccoter heading straight for Mitzi, but this time it isn't him at the wheel; it's some stranger whose face he can't see clearly. Mitzi dies as usual and Adam wakes in a sweat, relieved that for once, HE didn't kill Mitzi. No comment. Suddenly he spots someone at the foot of his bed! It's...just Ian. They both fall asleep. (No, not in each other's arms.)

The next morning, the rain is pouring so the beach is closed to swimmers and such. Adam is relieved that he doesn't have to work and gets up for a shower and his morning gruel. Unfortunately, the food supplies are running low so Adam decides to eat at a local restaurant...the one where Leslie happens to work. Before he can leave, though, he gets another call. Ooooo. The creep just tells him to be careful and he'll find out soon what Creepy wants. Ew. Anyway, Adam finally gets to talk to Leslie and is pretty much shot down. Then he mentions Joy's death, Leslie brings out a newspaper, and Adam is shocked to see that there is no mention of it whatsoever. Was Joy always a ghost? Does anyone besides Adam care? Is the fact that I'm paying more attention to an episode of The Simpsons than this book affecting this review? (Probably, no, and most definitely. GO HOMER!) So Adam starts his usual freak out (this guy spend 95% of his life in state of hysteria) and runs away, finding himself at the Boardwalk (down by the seeeaaa...come on, sing with me! It dulls the pain.) He sees foggy Joy again and repeatedly tells her he tried to save her which is kind of a lie, but she disappears. Pointless much? He goes home and finds a interesting surprise. "A butchered sea gull. Its head chopped off. Its body ripped open. It's feathers slick with blood." Oh, and there's a friendly note: "This is you. You're next." Why couldn't the psycho have spared the innocent bird and went right for Adam? Why are the animals always caught in the crossfire?! *sob*

The next day, Adam is back at the beach and Raina immediately runs up to him and tells him to meet her tonight at the dock. She runs off and Adam takes his post. He attempts to make conversation with Sean for some reason, but Sean completely ignores him. Adam keeps on talking, though, because he's such a lonely boy. Sean interrupts with "It's my break time. Be back in twenty minutes." Good riddance.

Later, Adam trudges home, gets some water, and turns to find someone standing in the doorway holding a butcher knife. Run on home, Michael Myers. Even you don't deserve this kind of torture. The intruder attempts to stab Adam, but he runs into his bedroom where the guy slashes up his bed and pillows instead. Yeah, it's Sean. Adam wants to know what the hell is going on. Turns out Sean wants IAN'S head on a stick, not Adam's. Ian has been sneaking around with Alyce. So instead of trying to murder the guy, why don't you go have a talk with Alyce? I didn't think Sean and Alyce were officially a couple anyway so what the fuck does he care? Plus, teenagers never have sex. Ian and Alyce are probably just building birdhouses or something. Adam is shocked to hear the news (I don't know why. Ian is the only guy around who acts like he has any damn sense. No wonder Alyce wants him over Sean or Adam) and wants to know why Sean has been harrassing him instead of Ian. "Because he's your roomate." Heaps of logic. Adam finally gets this nut out of his apartment by promising to talk to Ian.

Ian comes home a little while later, but instead of telling him to take a plane to Mexico and hide until Sean decides he doesn't wanna murder him anymore, Adam says he's got to go meet Raina and leaves. You couldn't AT LEAST warn the guy that someone wants to kill him? People like you disgust me, Adam.

So now we're at the dock. Oh how I'm dreading this shit. Raina says she owes him an apology. "Actually, we BOTH do." Just as she says this, Joy comes walking down the dock. Adam, I fear you are screwed, buddy. Turns out the whole drowning scene was an act and get this shit: "It was Dr. Thall's idea. He asked us to do it. He asked Ian to help, too." You have GOT to be kidding me. I told you this "doctor" was a piece of shit. I doubt he's even a real doctor. Grrr. There's some more crap about Dr. Thall which causes Adam to go crazy and jump on a water scooter tied to the dock. As he's riding along, he sees Ian riding on a scooter and this triggers a memory for him. He stops and Ian comes riding over. Another showdown at the Shithead Corral. Adam remembers what actually happened that fateful summer Mitzi died: Ian borrowed Adam's scooter, took Mitzi for a ride, and Mitzi never returned. Ian ran over Mitzi with the scooter, rode back to the dock where Adam confiscated said scooter to search for Mitzi, and Adam went berserk and convinced himself that HE had killed Mitzi. How stupid and painfully convoluted. Anyway, Ian guns his scooter toward Adam who flies into the water. I guess he's trying to kill him because he knows too much. *snort* Somehow Ian ends up in the water with a broken leg and Adam pulls him to safety. An ambulance arrives a little later and drives away with the busted Ian while Adam walks along the beach until he comes upon Alyce and Sean. They talk a little about what happened before Adam starts walking to his apartment. Once there, Leslie comes to visit and they make out. The end.

Conclusion? Normally I'd be pissed that I wasted so many precious minutes on something so crappy. But this thing is so lame and boring I just feel sorry for it.

Next time: "The Prom Queen" Dead girls in prom dresses. How sad.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

When Nobody's Home: Fifteen Baby-Sitting Tales of Terror (Part Two)

Here are the next 10 stories. Yes, 10--either somebody lied or somebody just plain can't count. Warning: these are PAINFUL. Shitty parenting and completely nonsensical situations abound. The bright side? Most of them are freaking hilarious (sadly, it's not intentional).

#8 - Sitting in Egypt

This is a TRUE STORY (yeah. And I'm Barack Obama.) It's 1981 and our narrator is 10 years old and being baby-sat by her awesome cousin Pete and his less awesome friend Morgan. These lucky ones are hanging out in Cairo because unnamed narrator's dad works for the U.S. government and he's on a TOP SECRET! mission. Uh, so why did he drag the kids along? Just another reason why I scoff at this being a TRUE STORY. Anyway, Pete and Morgan are getting tired of lounging around a cushy hotel room day after day so they decide they'll spend a night in a pyramid. "Out of respect for the tombs and for the ancients who had built them, they would carry neither food nor drink along with them and would take away no memento, not so much as a chip of stone or clay. They had studied the routines of the guards so they knew just how and when they could manage to elude them." I'm sure NOTHING will go wrong. Damn kids.

So one evening, they take the last tour of the day of one of the pyramids, hide, get caught by a guard, attempt to bribe guard, and get thrown out. That went smoothly. On the walk back to their rooms, Pete and Morgan recite some lines in Arabic for no reason other than to amaze the little cousin with their mad language skillz. Alas, 10 year olds don't give a damn about that. When they finally reach their...housing (I'm really unsure as to where these little creeps are staying. I thought it was a hotel, but now I think it's a private residence although why would a TOP SECRET GOVERNMENT AGENT! have a house here and not in the U.S. where his SECRET AGENCY! is based? I think he lied to his poor offspring. He's probably just a goat herder or something.) they learn that the president of Egypt has been assassinated and the pyramids "once closed and locked that night, did not open again for two weeks."

Conclusion? Lame! Almost getting trapped inside a pyramid is not scary. Talk to me when they actually get their asses locked up.

#9 - Sit!
Isabella is an American girl in Rome, a college student spending a year abroad, a magical enchantress. Seriously, the word 'enchanting' is getting a LOT of use here. She meets a sexy Italian man who is positively ENCHANTED with her (as is all of Italy. Gag me, Mary Sue.) and invites her to tea with him, his mother, and his grandma. "In old-fashioned families in Italy, such an invitation announces that the young man wishes to marry the young lady." Are you bullshitting me? He just met her like five seconds ago! Anyway, during tea time, Isabella excuses herself to use the bathroom and everyone acts as if she just confessed to eating babies or something. One of the sexy Italian guy's female cousins escorts her to a room with no toilet, just a sink and a shower because she assumed Isabella just needed to wash up. Instead of correcting her, Isabella goes inside and whizzes in the sink. Way to go, you filth. No wonder other countries hate Americans! Unfortunately, Isabella's plan backfires when the damn sink rips out of the wall and Isabella slams her head and has to be taken to the hospital. Ok, that's hilarious.

In spite of her disastrous first visit, Isabella is invited back and she accepts. Personally, I'd be so embarrassed I'd have trouble coming out of my room for a while. If ever. Anyway, everything seems to be going well...until Isabella once again proves she's a total fuck up by sitting on one of the grandmother's little dogs, killing it. NOOO!

Conclusion? That had absolutely nothing to do with baby-sitting. And it was also labeled a TRUE STORY. Stop your lies, Judith!

#10 - Toads and Slime

Sounds delicious. The child star of this story is 5 year old Gertruda (WHY?!) and she is a royal brat. Her brattiness gets her in trouble with a nasty adult standing in line behind her and her mother at the supermarket. The adult gets pissed because Gertruda is twisting her (Gertruda's) hair. So? It's HER hair! When the almighty adult tells her to stop, Gertruda sticks her tongue out thus incurring the wrath of the monster: "From your mouth, you rude little girl, will come forth toads, newts, and other creatures every time you open your lips to speak. And from your hair, every time you touch it with your hands, will come snakes, bats, and other flying creatures. And you will be called Toads and Slime. This curse will remain until someone can love you in spite of your loathsome issue!!!" What kind of shitty witch casts spells in the grocery store? What kind of witch even USES the grocery store?

So our little Toads and Slime grows up to be a woman who never speaks and never touches her hair. Not even to wash it? Hello, greaseball. One day, Toads and Slime gets called to watch some orphans because the entire community is too repulsed by them to help out. These kids are siblings whose parents died a few years back and they've basically been supporting themselves somehow. The town doesn't even allow them to attend school. This situation is completely ridiculous so I'm moving on before my head explodes.

Things go smoothly until Toads and Slime gets the hiccups one night at dinner. This triggers the curse and toads, slugs, and snails come pouring out of her mouth and all kinds of crap comes out of her hair when she grabs her head in surprise. After quite some time of this, the kids write to a judge or something and request that her curse be lifted. Instead of lifting it, the court simply makes the things that come out of her mouth prettier (i.e. butterflies).

Conclusion? That was ridonkulous.

#11 - Double Pay

Our narrator (apparently Judith can't be bothered with names. She's too busy peeing in sinks and almost getting trapped in ancient Egyptian pyramids. *snort*) is 13 years old and recently orphaned. Her aunt Rose has taken her in, but only because old Rose feels obligated. The narrator (I'm going to call her Jane baby-sits and gives the money she earns to Rose. Rose normally monitors all the jobs Jane takes, but one Thursday evening when Rose isn't home, a man calls. "...a man with a whisper so creepy it made my hair crawl [What?], a man who said he needed a sitter in half an hour; and I said yes." The guy actually comes to her house to get her and of course he looks just as creepy as he sounds. At this point, I'd be diving out of the car into the highway just to get away from him, but Jane stays put. He lives in a newer subdivision, but his house looks more like something you'd find on Fear Street (yeah, Fear Street, you TAKE it!) The inside isn't much better; the living room holds only a sofa and a bare lightbulb, the entire place smells of wet cement, and it's freezing. The man's wife is just as strange as he is, giving Jane freaky looks instead of actually speaking to her. The man leads Jane to the baby's room. Baby is asleep and Jane notices it's awfully scrawny. They leave after telling Jane they'll be back in two hours and not to worry about the baby because he never wakes in the night. Parents of the year.

Jane settles down to start her homework and not long after that, the baby begins to cry. "He never wakes in the night." Liars! She picks him up and notices that he reeks of urine even though his diaper is dry and that he's not very pretty: "Poor little guy. He was the ugliest baby I'd ever seen, skinny with a long thin neck and bony head, no hair, and big staring eyes." He cries for hours before finally falling asleep. Where the hell are the parents? Two hours my ass! Jane dozes off and when she wakes, the freaky father's big fat head is about two inches from her face. He pays her double because they were late in getting back.

The next afternoon, Jane takes a detour on her way home from school. She walks to the odd family's neighborhood, but doesn't see their house anywhere. She ends up asking a woman passing by about the family and the lady has something shocking to say: "[The house] was there. It burned down three years ago. There is some sort of court case to settle before anyone can build there again. It was awful. Two babies died in the fire. It went so fast. One less than a year, the other nearly three." The woman goes on to say that the parents were creeps who often left the babies alone and on the night of the fire, they were killed in a car accident on the way home. Cursed much?

Nearly a year passes before Jane hears from the man again. "Thank you. My wife and I both thank you. Can you come tonight to comfort our three year old? It won't be for long, not so long as last time. The baby suffered terribly for such a long time. But our daughter lasted only a little while."

Conclusion? This has given me a severe case of the sads.

#12 - Cat-Bit

First we had "Doglicks" and now we get "Cat-Bit". Hopefully the animal fares better in this one. Anyway, the first lines of this story crack me up for some reason: "Ask not my name, age, sex, nor previous condition. Nothing is as it was. Oh yes. I had power. I believed I did, believed, too, that I knew about cats. I believed I possessed them. I believed I owned them." I think I met this guy at PetSmart. Some fool has asked him to pet/house sit (once again, Judith is playing fast and loose with the term 'baby-sit') and he agrees because they have an awesome beach house. I hate them already.

He wakes on his first morning in this house to the sweet sound of a cat growling beneath his bed. As soon as he gets out of bed, the crazed beast flies at his feet and starts gnawing at his ankles. He goes to the doctor, but something is happening to him that no doctor can cure. To make a short story even shorter, he turns into a cat himself. The most hilarious line in this entire book: "I type now with a paw these final words before I return to my master in my new life. I study. I learn. And I warn you. Do not stand between me and any door or window I need for my escape."

Conclusion? A cat typing up threats? Comedy gold.

#13 - Three Brothers

Three brothers live with their dad in a crummy apartment on the bad side of town. One night, the father has to cover for someone at work who is sick which means the kids will be left alone (did you think he'd call a baby-sitter? Not in a book about baby-sitters!) Before leaving, the father commands them to keep the door locked at all times no matter what. The kids play a while before getting ready for bed. Suddenly there's a pounding on the door and a voice calling out to them. They crowd around the door and the oldest brother peeks out the peephole. There stands a man with arms full of food who says he's their great-uncle. A man they've never seen before just happens to randomly show up in the middle of the night just after their father leaves them completely alone. Sounds fine to me, kids, open up and chow down! And that's exactly what they do. *sigh*

The youngest kid hides in his bedroom while his brothers eat and play cards with Great-uncle Chester. After a bit, the living room goes dark and the only sound the youngest brother hears is a cracking noise. He asks what it is and Chester says he's just cracking peanuts. What is that a euphemism for? Then the lights comes back on and the younger brother hears his brother's voices again. A moment later, the dark comes and the cracking begins again. This time, Chester commands the youngest brother to come out and get him some coffee. The boy sees that Chester is actually a giant demon tiger. Yes. A demonic tiger. Chew on that one. Chester the demon tiger (pause for laughter) tells the boy that he is the only one who can see Chester's true form. "You see me as I am, a demon tiger twelve thousand years old!" Why a demon tiger? Why can't he just be a regular demon? Oh well.

Chester confesses he's eaten the other two brothers, but he won't eat the youngest because he's special. The boy says he wants his brothers back and Chester grants him that. Suddenly the brothers are sitting on the couch and Chester is gone.

Conclusion? Two words: demon tiger. That's all I have to say.

#14 - That Knocking on the Wall

Tara doesn't like sitting for disorganized, messy families so she's really dreading the job she's currently headed to. Once she arrives, the mother (Mrs. Beale) basically flees the house. It warms my heart to see a mother run from her children like they're nothing but demonic tigers. The kids are napping so Tara settles down to do some homework. A little later, she hears a banging noise, but doesn't assume it's the kids because they never make noises like that. Really? She searches for the source of the loud banging, but finds nothing. After the kids wake up, Tara dresses them, gives them a snack, and sits back to listen to the incessant pounding. Eventually, she decides to call the cops. An officer arrives and looks around outside, but all he finds is a jacket and a pair of boots on the side porch. Turns out someone is inside the freaking chimney. Don't ask how or why because no-one explains or seems to really care at all. "There's someone's feet with socks and no boots up there in the chimney. I can't see the hands or head, but that's who's pounding. Lucky for him and for the fresh air of your people's house that he won't be alone in there for a month." Huh?

Conclusion? Another TRUE STORY. No comment.

#15 - A Sitter and a Find

Our narrator (who will never be named so I'm calling her Rose) is dreading her upcoming sitting job for the Lombar kids because they're total maniacs. The worst part is that Rose will be watching the terrors in their uncle's auction house (giant plot contrivance); she has to chase them, make sure they don't kill any customers, etc. When she arrives at the auction house, she takes a moment to look at all the goods and buys a small toybox. On the side of the box is written "The children's box. Always room for more." The kids run up then and fight over the box that doesn't belong to them. Suddenly the box flies open and two hands pull both boys inside. REVENGE! When their mom arrives to pick them up, the box pops open and the kids fly out and run off like they weren't just locked in a box for hours.

Conclusion? Zzzzzzzzzz...

#16 - My Guardian Angel

Let's just get this out of the way--the unnamed narrator is now named Meg. Anyway, Meg goes downstairs and into the kitchen where some shit happens that I don't get: "On one of the burners, back to me, was a pointy-butt creature sitting there in the flame with its bare feet resting on the other burner while it toasted marshmallows on my grandma's antique silver serving fork." Judith, if you tell me what you're smoking, I can get you help! *sigh* The creature turns and it's a total freak of nature...a freak of nature that has pretty much completely caught fire at this point. Meg asks what he's doing here and he says he was here first and tells her to get out and go back upstairs. Uh, what the hell is this thing? It's described as having wings, purple-green skin, huge ears, long face, and an extremely bony body. Supposedly he's an angel. An angel who looks like a mutated version of Golom and has a marshmallow fetish? I...I It only goes downhill from there. The last lines of the story: "Today there was a parade and the angels gave each of us a piece of paper and told us to sing because it had arrived, Heaven on Earth. Hoboy." Um. Hoboy? WHAT?!

Conclusion? *crickets*

#17 - New Sitter

Remember the wraparound story? Well, Hane(s) is now tucking the kids into bed after scarring them for life by allowing to read her folder of sordid stories.

It's over. I survived. This has to be one of the craziest books I have ever read. Demonic tigers, alien angels, dead children, dead animals, cats that can type, giant pythons, stories completely unrelated to ANYTHING this book is supposed to be this a nightmare? Am I on a bender?

Fun fact: according to the back cover, this is an ALA Notable Book for Reluctant Readers, a fact I find hilarious because I should think that after reading this, they would only be MORE reluctant...

Next time: I'm heading back to familiar territory--"High Tide" by R.L. Stine (or least one of his many ghostwriters). This book looks shit-tastic, but there's no way it can be worse than the tripe I just read. I pray.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

When Nobody's Home: Fifteen Baby-Sitting Tales of Terror (Part One)

Book Description:

Are you afraid to baby-sit? Meet Sasha. She's terrified to spend the night in someone else's house. But now she's taken a job baby-sitting for seven year old twins who are about to have a horrifying accident... Are you a snooping baby-sitter like June? She never thinks twice about going through other people's stuff. But now June's uncovered a story with a deadly ending. It's about a snooping baby-sitter and it's about to come true... Here is a collection of fifteen terrifying stories. Stories about baby-sitting and the awful things that happen when nobody's home...

My Description:

#1 - New Sitter

On Monday morning, Mom and Dad tell their kids that the old hag who usually baby-sits them won't be coming over this Friday night.

What a loss.

The kids think that this is all a joke and their usual baby-sitter will show up dressed as someone else. Because that makes so much sense. When Friday rolls around, they're surprised to see a different baby-sitter after all. The parents leave and the kiddies size up their new guard: she's wearing all black and a pair of steel-tipped boots and has her long hair hanging in her face like that creepy chick from The Ring.

Ring girl silently makes her way over to the fireplace where she karate chops some kindling to start a fire. The kids are amazed at her mad kung-fu skills and she tells them "You saw something of a discipline so strict that I am forbidden to even utter its name. It requires that one spend years watching the masters and thinking, before you attempt anything with your own body. My name is Hane and I am a housemate of your big sister at UC Berkeley. Your sister thinks I am something of an expert on baby-sitting." I doubt it. She lays down on the couch and says she needs a little nap. That's an "expert" for you. While she snoozes, the kids choose to read a folder full of baby-sitter stories that Hane(s) just happened to bring along...

Conclusion? Hane makes me think of underwear.

#2 - The Snooping Sitter

June is eating an apple and snooping around the house of the people she's sitting for. Nice. She sits down at a desk and begins sifting through papers. She stops when she reaches a page that has the words "Have you heard the one about the snooping baby-sitter?" at the top. It's a little story that ends with the stupid sitter getting her head cut off by a guillotine. A guillotine she found in the closet. Where the hell is she? Medieval France? Anyway, June doesn't view this story as a bad omen or anything and it sure doesn't prevent her from snooping through every room in the house including the bathroom: "The bathroom came next with its storehouse of secrets: medications and evidence of private practices." Private practices? I'm not even going there. She probably digs through the trashcans, too. GAG.

June's next stop is the mommy's closet. Her wardrobe is dull and outdated so June quickly loses interest (God forbid). She makes her way to the hall closet where she gets what we all knew was coming to her: "From the corner of her eye, she saw the blade as it fell, not a shining blade at all. The story lied; this one was all rusty, dark with dried blood."

Conclusion? Who the hell keeps a guillotine in their closet?!?

#3 - Doglicks

Yes, that's really the title; I double checked. Anyway, Sasha is a girl who absolutely loathes even the thought of baby-sitting so naturally it makes perfect sense that she should be in a book all about baby-sitters. *sigh* She turns down job after job because she's terrified of being alone in someone else's house. Actually, she doesn't like being in other people's houses period, especially after sunset. WHY? Has she only been in the homes of murderers (i.e. Chez Leatherface) etc. thus traumatizing her for life? Oh well. It doesn't matter anyway because Sasha has finally agreed to a baby-sitting job because the family has a golden retriever and she loves dogs. (Ok, I just figured out exactly what this story is about which sucks--I've already heard this one about 538375657 times.)

Friday evening arrives and Sasha is surprised to find that baby-sitting isn't all that bad. The Thompson twins are good kids and after watching a few movies with them, she puts them to bed. She decides to go to bed, too (she's staying the weekend) and heads for the guest room. Any time she feels nervous, she throws her hand over the side of the bed so the dog will lick it, comforting her before getting back to grooming his private parts. Ew.

Saturday afternoon consists of nothing but the twins playing in the rain with the dog. They come home, take warm showers, and listen to Sasha curse the heavens because the shower won't stop dripping. They all spend the rest of the evening listening to music and playing games. Even though everything is cool, Sasha can't wait for the weekend to end because she's so nervous. Thankfully, she has the filthy mutt for company (seriously, after a day in the rain and mud, that thing has gotta be stinking up the place). After the twins go to bed, Sasha attempts to sleep, but the dripping noise is keeping her awake. For some reason, this too makes her nervous (doctor, get this girl some Ativan STAT) but after Butt Mutt licks her fingers, she feels better and falls asleep.

The next morning before getting out of bed, Sasha lets the dog lick her hand a few more times. She realizes that the dripping hasn't stopped so she heads for the bathroom. She remembers leaving the door open so when she sees it closed, she assumes one of the twins is inside. NOOO! She knocks before opening the door, but there was really no reason to: "She saw, hanging in the shower, the bodies of the Thompson twins, the body of their large reassuring dog, and more." You've got brass ones, Judith Gorog. The kids AND the dog?!?! Oh, and this quaint message scrawled in blood on the bathroom tiles: "Know, Sasha! Not only a dog can lick your hand in the night."

Conclusion? Even though I've heard versions of this many times before, it never gets old. Sasha sucks, though. Who gets creeped out by a leaky faucet?!

#4 - A Small Child and A Large Sitter

Would you like fries with that? No? Fine, let's get on with this GEM. Caroline Louise Emily Beth (that's a mouthful) is a frail 7 year old and her new baby-sitter is a fat chick who rides up on a big black bicycle (she'll upgrade to a Harley in a few years). These two are both freaks. Caroline acts like a robot and Big Bertha (we never learn her real name) is a cave woman who grunts one word at a time. She offers to play a few board games with Caroline, but Caroline decides to play alone with Legos instead. Caroline doesn't get to play long before Bertha says it's time for bed. Caroline asks if she can finish building something, but Bertha says hell no: "In my country, we strap into their beds at night those wicked, stubborn, nasty little girls who refuse to go to bed at the time they are ordered!" Go back to Narnia and leave the child alone! Caroline is hardly wicked or stubborn. In fact, she's freakishly polite and well-behaved. Bertha is such a sack of crap.

Caroline goes to bed and Bertha settles on the couch to watch re-runs of Dick Van Dyke. Caroline doesn't fall asleep, though. Instead, she creeps out of her room, grabs a glass, and goes outside to fill it with slimy yellow slugs. She creeps into the living room to place them one by one in the sleeping sitter's hair. A few are places on the handlebars of Bertha's bike and the very last one goes in her left ear. Caroline goes back to bed with a smile and never sees Bertha again.

Conclusion? I love REVENGE! Those slugs got a shitty deal, though.

#5 - Lupe and the Forgetful Family

Lupe is worn out, man--she's been working three jobs over the summer. So she's not that happy when her friend asks her to baby-sit for the forgetful people. The friend was supposed to, but she "accidentally" booked another job for the same night and begged Lupe to cover for her. Lupe takes the job and we find out what the family neglected to tell her: they recently got a 9 foot python (yeah, that's what you want around your kids) that likes to take naps while wrapped around a human being and loves peaches. A snake eating peaches. Whatever you say. The little kid she's sitting for left the door open to the room the python normally stays in so who knows where the thing is hiding. The boy carries a bowl full of peaches around the whole house searching for the snake. Lupe finds this strange, but doesn't say anything. Why would she? After all, no-one mentioned the giant snake slithering in the corners! *sigh* I don't see how these fools forgot about a damn python. In a while, she puts the boy to bed and falls asleep in front of the TV with a peach in her hand. She wakes to find the python wrapped around her, eating the peach.

Conclusion? Dullsville. Although if I woke up with a big ass snake wrapped around me, I'd be peeing my pants.

#6 - Poppy

Poppy recently quit school (stay in school, kids) and is now searching for a job. She finally finds someone who needs a sitter desperately--Mr. Banner's wife passed away not long ago and he needs someone to watch his four small children. So on Monday afternoon, Poppy finds herself at the Banner home. Let me just say right now that the children are never mentioned again. Seriously. Poppy is an incredibly shitty baby-sitter who does nothing the entire time but watch TV. She only gets up to make herself a peanut butter sandwich and get a drink of water (she notices every sink in the house smells like urine. GROSS). The house is a total disaster area, but Poppy sure as hell won't clean it because Mr. Banner is too much of a tightwad to give her more money. So he decides to date her and ask her to marry him, his logic being that if she is his wife, he won't have to pay her at all. My skin is crawling. Seriously, this is sick. And the bastard actually manages to convince Poppy to marry him!

As I mentioned before, Dad is a total tightwad in addition to being a worthless pervert. He isn't gonna shell out a dime for Poppy's wedding ring. Instead, he's gonna dig up his dead wife and take HER wedding ring. Are you serious? This guy is a piece of work. He and Poppy drive up to the cemetery one night, dig up the grave, and find that they can't get the ring off the woman's cold dead finger. Eventually, they use their shovel to chop the finger off and as they're admiring the ring, the corpse comes alive and says "Lovely, isn't it?" Then she drags the two creeps down into the netherworld.

Conclusion? The ending was good, but not good enough to make up for all the disgusting shit that took place before it.

#7 - Life as a 900 Number

Say WHAT? Me thinks someone forgot that this is a book for KIDS. You're disturbing me, Judith. Anyway, Bloke (yes, the poor child's parents named him BLOKE.) is a problem child: "He was sweaty, crafty, an outrageous liar, and he very much needed to be baby-sat." What the hell does being sweaty have to do with anything? I'm a little sweaty right now. Does that mean I'm a devious delinquent? Anyway, it's difficult for Bloke's parents to get a sitter because he's such trouble. One of his favorite things to do while he his parents are away is call 900 numbers, rack up the charges, and blame the baby-sitter for it which is why they have no baby-sitter to call when they really need one--they've sent most of them away because they think they're all perverts. The foolish parents never once believed it was Bloke making the calls because they refuse to buy that their kid is a little freaky.

The parents finally find a guy (a male sitter. SHOCK!) who is willing to watch Bloke while they hob nob at the opera. After they leave, Bloke bombards the guy with questions before jogging upstairs to make his 900 calls. He comes down for dinner and goes back up after dinner while the sitter studies. "Upstairs, Bloke carried his parents' telephone into his room. There he dialed the last number on his list, the number that promised to satisfy any desire, any compulsion." That is just wrong on so many levels. It gets worse: "Bloke's veins burst into flame, his muscles contorted in agony. Bloke could not release the receiver. His cry for help strangled before it reached his lips." What. The. Hell. Later, his parents find him dead, his hand still clutching the phone...the phone that is still connected to the 900 number racking up charges...

Conclusion? I'm completely speechless.

Well, that was sufficiently surreal and painful, among other things. To be continued...

Monday, November 2, 2009

Thirteen (Part Three)

Here we go again. The final five. May these stories be less terrible than those that preceded them...

Dedicated to the One I Love by Diane Hoh

Marla Medwick and her friends Lee Drum and Carrie Carbone are hanging out in Marla's room painting their nails. Colors at hand: Peach Pleasure and Frosted Fuschia Frolic. Horrid. I think those are popular with old ladies. Who live in retirement communities. In Boca Raton. Anyway, the girls turn up the radio when the voice of their favorite DJ, Bobby Gee, comes on. "This next song here on Kool-98, the place for all your favorites, is dedicated to Carrie Carbone by someone who loves her. Enjoy, Carrie!" WOWEEE! Carrie isn't too enthused because the song is one she and her ex-boyfriend Richie used to listen to. Until she found out he was cheating on her with Lee and Marla. That's some Jerry Springer shit. And these three are total morons. How the hell could none of them know they were sharing the same piece of trash? Oh well. Who cares. Carrie starts getting nervous because how could anyone know that was their song?! And why would they request it knowing that Richie and Carrie wouldn't be listening to it together?! What a frigging idiot. Make that IDIOTS-all three girls are weirded out by this. I'm not even gonna say anything more about it because it's pissing me right the hell off.

After the song ends, Lee and Carrie go home. Carrie decides she'll take a hot bath before bed and drags her radio into the bathroom. "You're all I've got to 'turn on' now, now that Richie isn'" *groan* Carrie gets into the tub and a gray blob slides in through the open window. Uh...what?

The next morning, Lee calls Marla in hysterics: "Oh, Marla, Carrie's dead!" Of course she is. Big gray blobs are bad omens. Carrie was electrocuted because she was too damn stupid to know that you keep anything with a plug AWAY from the tub of water you're sitting in. Lee and Marla are too upset to talk and hang up in tears.

The funeral passes and Lee and Marla are now dwelling on the stupid song request. "Bobby Gee had never played a request for Carrie until that night." SO?! They're sitting in the school cafeteria and the kids they're eating with say they never heard a request for Carrie and they were all listening to the same station. Dammit, is this REALLY the direction this is going? Fine. I'm too beaten down to rage over this. They spend most of the day asking people if they heard the request and no-one did so the girls start freaking out and blahblahblah this is so fucking stupid.

The following evening, Marla is studying in her room when Lee calls and tells her to turn on Bobby Gee. Suddenly an evil spirit pops out of their radios and slaughters them both in cold blood. The end! How great would that be? *sigh* Alas, all we REALLY get is a request dedicated to Lee "by someone who loves her." Of course this particular song is one that she and Richie used to dry hump to. Speaking of Richie, the little bastard left town very suddenly, probably fearing for his life (or maybe just his penis) after his three girlfriends discovered he was cheating. Then again, those girls are incredibly stupid and it probably never occurred to them to publicly castrate him with a rusty nail. Anyway, Lee says she heard the requestor's voice and it sounded like Richie. They both act horrified, but WHY? I mean, what the hell does it matter? Why won't you both just shut up?! Later that night, Lee wakes up hungry and on her way to raid the fridge, slips on a gray blob and is now paralyzed. Great. Moving on...

The next day at school, Marla wanders around like a zombie. She thinks about the night she found Lee and Richie together. Do you WANT me to kill myself, Marla? Because I'm about a nanosecond away from jumping into traffic. The story isn't even very juicy--she went to Lee's house one night and found Lee and Richie dancing in the living room. THE HORROR! Then she thinks about the song requests coinciding with Lee's accident and Carrie's death. Where does the gray blob come in? Is Richie a giant lump of gray goo? Stay tuned...(pun definitely NOT intended).

So Marla is horribly depressed. "Food began to taste like mud to Marla." Marla IS mud. She's worried about what will happen to her. She's scared to be without her friends, especially with a rogue blob on the loose. In spite of her fear of being alone, she spends Saturday night at home by herself. What does she do? Yep, she decides to listen to the damn radio. And what happens? Oh yes, someone requests a song dedicated to her. Title: "A Knife in My Heart" So Richie is a goopy jilted lover. So sad. She's suddenly terrified that she'll be killed, but instead of calling her parents or the cops, she calls Bobby Dee, the DJ. Once again, Marla, you are an idiot. She blurts out her story and also accidentally confesses that she, Lee, and Carrie killed Richie. OH. Bobby gets pissed because he thinks it's a joke, but Marla insists Richie is going to kill her. She starts thinking about the night he died. This was shortly after the girls found out he was a lying cheat. The plan was to drive him out to the middle of nowhere (in this case, a swamp) leave him there, and see if he can find his way home. But the plan backfired when his tie somehow got caught in the door and they dragged his ass down the road. Damn. Finally one of them realized he was there ad the car stopped. Needless to say, Richie was basically ground into raw meat. The girls flipped out and threw his body into the swamp. Nice.

Marla realizes that she's just told all of this to Bobby Gee and he thinks she's out of her damn mind. As Marla hangs up, she smells something extremely foul and sees gray slime pooling under her door. Uh-oh. She hears people downstairs and someone screams "Police!" I guess Bobby decided she was telling the truth after all. She's relieved and goes to open her bedroom door. When she does, a knife comes out of nowhere and slashes her throat. Goodbye, Marla. "With a soft, whispered sigh of satisfaction, the swamp sludge allowed itself to be absorbed by the bright red until there wasn't a trace of green anywhere in sight."

Grade: D It doesn't get an F because I have a soft spot for morons.

Hacker by Sinclair Smith

Violet isn't good with computers. In fact, every time she gets near one, something bad happens. So it's no mystery why she's pissed off at her father for making her take a computer class at the local community college. (This was written in 1991, by the way, which is why she has to go to the local college instead of taking the class at her high school. I guess? I dunno, I was 4 in 1991.) Violet already has a big crush on her teacher, Mr. Umberto. So he's a little older! Who cares? The LAW, Violet, the freaking LAW cares. She thinks he's a sensitive, romantic man because he mentioned he likes flowers and gardening and always wears a flower in his buttonhole. Cool down, Violet. For all you know, he's a perverted rapist. Anyway, Violet turns on her Walkman to listen to the radio while everyone else practices programming. The music is interrupted by a SPECIAL NEWS BULLETIN! Another victim of a serial killer the police have dubbed the Hacker has been found. The Hacker always leaves a cheery little message on the victim's computer (that's why he's called the Hacker. Creative. Or something quite the opposite.) This time the message reads "Roses are red, violets are blue, sugar is sweet, toodleooo!" Lame. It's signed 'Everybody's favorite cut-up.' Lamer. Violet is snapped out of her Hacker haze when Mr. Umberto comes up and asks if everything is ok. She's confused about the lesson and he says she should start staying later to practice. Ooo la la. They have a little chat and Violet vows to try harder because Umberto is just so damn pretty.

Violet stays late. Everyone leaves and she goes down the hall to get a candy bar. She spends about 15 minutes reading junk on the bulletin board before going back to the computer room. As soon as she enters the room, she sees the message on her computer: "Roses by the handful, violets by the bunch, should I kill you after breakfast...or wait till after lunch?" Does it matter? Violet freaks out and runs down the hall until she spots Mr. Umberto (suspect #1. It's too big of a coincidence that the guy is in love with flowers and every single message the Hacker leaves is flower related. It seems too obvious, but I'm going with it. I'm watching you, Umberto!) preparing to leave. She catches him and blurts out the story which he assumes is a joke. OF COURSE. She says no way and he claims someone must be playing a joke on HER then. Violet buys this and Umberto leaves.

Later, as Violet is walking home in the pitch black, she feels like someone is watching her. OoOoOo. She reaches her house and is suprised to find the house dark and the door unlocked. There's a weird green glow coming from the living room. Dun dun dun! Surprise--it's a new home computer with a message already typed up. It's supposedly from her dad: "Surprise! Sorry, honey, I was called out of town at the last minute. I hope to be back soon, but I'm not sure when. Here's a present to keep you company while I'm gone. I'll call you. Love, Dad." And by "called out of town at the last minute" he means "hacked into pieces and thrown in the river." Actually, the message isn't suspicious because her dad is always out of town. What IS unsettling is the fact that the door was unlocked--Violet's dad is particularly anal about locking up. Where the hell is her mom? Anyway, a moment later the phone rings. Just your friendly neighborhood psycho calling! He just giggles menacingly and tells her he found her tonight and he'll be seeing her again soon. Violet freaks out, but remembers what Umberto said about someone playing a joke. Screw that! Get the hell out of there! Violet goes to bed. *sigh*

The next morning, Violet gets out of bed, looks out the window, and spots a large package on the porch. It's a giant flowering cactus. Random much? She assumes it's from her father and when he calls later, she mentions it. He says it wasn't from him and she must have a secret admirer. If he only knew...

A few weeks pass wiithout anymore creepy calls or messages and Violet is relieved. One evening, she puts her new computer to use and decides to check her e-mail. Lo and behold, she's received a message from her little friend: "Hi. I told you I'd be in touch. I'd like to be friends. Most of my friends disappoint me, though, by going to the police. You know what happens then. You read the papers. So here is a test to see if I can trust you. My next victim is going to be Mr. Brown. But don't go to the police because I'm always watching you." Violet doesn't know a Mr. Brown, but she agonizes over what to do anyway. She realizes the police can't really do anything (plus, she'll die if she contacts them) but at the same time she wants to do SOMETHING to save the next victim. Finally, she choose to call the police anyway, but they don't seem too interested. The detective she speaks to tells her that most messages like the one she received turn out to be pranks. Grrrr. Would the cops react like this in reality? I hate that everyone keeps telling her it's a joke! It's only a joke until somebody else dies, you assholes.

It's now the evening of Violet's last computer class with Mr. Umberto. *sob!* He announces that he's leaving town soon and Violet decides to stay after class and see if she can find out where he's going. You're veering into stalker territory, lady. At the end of the class, Violet stays put and Umberto goes into his office. She checks her mail while she's waiting for him to return and unfortunately... "I know you went to the police. I saw you make the call. Too bad. Daisies in the garden, posies on your grave, when you're falling out the window...don't forget to wave! I'mrightbehindyouI'mrightbehindyouI'mrightbehindyouI'mrightbehindyou..." Ok, that's fucking creepy. And it's obviously Umberto, Violet, so get your ass in gear and RUN! She goes to his office (NO!) and he's standing in the doorway. Over his shoulder, Violet sees the message she just read flashing on his computer. She asks him why he's doing this and he says "The computer tells me what to do. As long as they've got a computer, I can put them in their place." That makes sense. NOT. He says anytime someone pisses him off, he kills a person with a computer even in that person isn't the one that made him mad. What does he do with the bodies? "I put them in potted plants, however many it takes." Rotting corpse = good fertilizer. Violet is about to run from the psychotic gardener when he suddenly bursts into laughter and says he was just joking. WTF?

Violet doesn't believe a word he says and hides outside in the bushes until she sees him leave. Then she sneaks into his office and attempts to HACK *groan* into his computer. She figures out his password ('rose') pretty quickly. She finds a message for Mr. Bart Brown and types one of her own to send him since she assumes Umberto is on his way to kill the guy right now: "I'm giving you a chance to save yourself, but you'd better hurry. I'm coming to kill you. Hacker." Violet makes a copy of the Hacker's file, happy that she has proof for the cops.

A few days after Violet gets the file to the cops, they catch Umberto hiding outside Bart Brown's house. He confesses to everything and they find out that he would send plants to his intended victims...plants that had pieces of his former victims in the soil. That cactus Violet received? Full of a Mr. Arthur Perez.

Grade: B Yeah, it was kinda ridiculous, but it had some suspenseful parts and I really like that ending.

Deathflash by A. Bates

This story begins in a very confusing way. Marissa is thinking about IT. "IT couldn't get you in the light. IT couldn't get you if you held completely still. IT couldn't get you if you were totally covered up, including your head." She's lying in bed, sweating in fear over IT. Get IT before IT gets you! Then we get some crap about her "childhood dilemma" something something fever dream something something. Then Marissa drifts off into thought about the first time she saw IT...

It was a Thursday afternoon and Marissa stayed late at school to get help with math. Afterward, she had to pick up her little brother, Robbie, and take him to soccer practice. To get to his school quicker, she decides to take the back roads. As she's passing a dank, dark alley, she hits a cat. Dammit, Stine! Oh. Wait. Dammit, Bates! She jumps out of the car to see if it's ok and that's when IT creeps out of the darkness. She watches in horror as IT (which is basically a thick gray mist...thing. I think. Possibly.) does what IT does best: "The cat spasmed again, then lay still. IT hovered, IT's face rapt. There was a sudden small flash of light [DEATHFLASH!] a tiny yet brilliant cat-shaped glow that seemed to be released from the animal as it died. The IT pounced, mouth opened, swallowing the light."

After gobbling the cat's essence, IT takes a hike and Marissa spies another cat hop out of the dumpster. You've got bad timing, buddy. She grabs it and hops into the car. She picks up Robbie from school and on the way to soccer practice, he makes friends with the orange cat. Marissa takes the cat home, feeds it, and lets it into Robbie's room where it hides under the bed. To prevent it from peeing and crapping all over the damn place, she makes a litter box. Empty box + garbage bag + dirt = poor man's litter box for filthy alley cats on the run. Then she hauls out a box of old magazines and finds an article about the deathflash thing. It's all very scientific which is why I didn't pay much attention. She thinks about how evil IT is to literally eat something's life. We don't need to be beaten over the head with the fact that IT is evil.

Skip to the next IT sighting (don't look so excited). Marissa is once again driving to pick up Robbie from school and transport him to soccer practice, avoiding all creepy alleyways along the way. She stops at a red light and IT walks into the street. Jaywalking bastard. IT gives her an evil look and hisses "Soon." before moving along to get to the post office before it closes. Or something. Marissa drives home later and thinks about the glowing shapes she saw swirling inside of it--cats, dogs, parrots, a human hand. I'm most interested in the parrot...maybe IT is a brain hurts. At dinner, Robbie mentions that his friend's father saw a guy get smashed at the plant where he works. Which explains where IT got that human. Marissa silently freaks out because IT is getting stronger and will be coming after her sooooon. AHH!

A few weeks later, Marissa and Robbi find out that the cat they STILL haven't named is going to have kittens. Robbie says he takes her outside sometimes and she acts scared of everything (everything except boy kitties apparently) which leads to Marissa telling Robbie everything about the night she hit the other cat. Robbie seems skeptical as any sane person would, but Marissa keeps going. She says IT has been after her since she was a kid and Robbie says he'll help her if it comes back to eat her soul.

Marissa is in bed trying to sleep, but she has the sinking feeling that tonight is the night IT will comes. She hides under the blankets with a flashlight because IT can't get you if IT can't see you and IT hates light. Robbie runs in with the cat saying something is really wrong with it. Marissa responds by pulling him under the covers and they both sit there in silence while the cat is convulsing. Good one, kids. The IT enters and causes the flashlight and all electricity to go out. As soon as the covers are gone, IT screeches and basically explodes. Why? Because the cat just gave birth all over Marissa's bed and "life has its own flash" which is stronger than evil.

Grade: C The IT sucks, man.

The Boy Next Door by Ellen Emerson White

Dorothy is hanging out alone in the ice cream shop where she works. It's winter and the place isn't getting much business. We get some boring details about cone sizes and blah blah blah. Around 7:30 PM, Dorothy's best friend Jill comes in and we get more boring details: nasty licorice ice cream, a hated teacher's recent death, and the Miss America pageant. Jill leaves after about thirty minutes of talk. *yawn* At 9 PM, Dorothy starts locking up, but a guy she went on one date with and has ignored (he has also ignored her) ever since named Matt Wilson starts tapping on the door. She lets him in and says she can make him something, but it'll have to be fast because she wants to get the hell out of here. He says "I want to see what it's like." What, having a job? Get one and find out. She starts to get a little nervous because Matt has crazy eyes looks none too stable. She keeps babbling until he interrupts: "Open the damn register." You didn't say please. When she doesn't do it fast enough, he grabs the jar on the counter intended for donations for crippled kids and takes the money in it. Robbing crippled children is a sure ticket to hell, sir. He takes the whole $20 out of the register and pulls out a handgun, pressing it to Dorothy's back. He's doing all this for a measly 20 freaking dollars?! He keeps repeating that he's always wanted to do this (guess that answers my question) and Dorothy becomes more convinced that this is all a joke. He's got a gun so I think it's a safe bet to take this seriously.

I take that last statement back: one second he's threatening to kill her and the next they're sitting on the floor talking. Apparently he wants this whole thing to look at realistic as possible. So...uh...WHAT? I don't get this kid. Is it real or not? Make up your damn mind! He says he killed a dog (bastard!) and he chose Dorothy for his human kill because she's special. "You're just THERE. Like, I know you and I see you around, but I don't give you any thought. Like, if you weren't there, I don't think I'd really notice. I don't think anyone will. After the first couple weeks, or--maybe not even THAT long. You know?" No, I don't know. How does any of that make her special, maniac? Dorothy isn't shocked at his complete and utter dementia and when he continues talking about her upcoming death, she doesn't blink an eye. Perhaps she's as nutty as he is...

He makes her lie on the floor with her hands behind her head and she says it's a total waste for him to risk everything like this. He seems interested to hear what else she has to say and she goes on to tell him they could just leave here and forget all this ever happened. He says "You just don't want me to kill you." No shit, Sherlock! He's acting like it would be a privilege to have him blow your brains out. Then Dorothy tells him that she killed Mrs. Creighton (the dead teacher that she and Jill were talking about earlier). he decides to postpone her murder so he can hear about how she offed Creighton. Supposedly she pushed a baby carriage in front of the teacher's car, effectively causing the teacher to fly off the road to her death. Matt is mesmerized and becomes even more so when Dorothy says she's killed other people also. She gets Matt to leave by telling him that she'll tell him all about it tomorrow. As if this would happen! He was absolutely batshit at the beginning and now he's taking off like nothing happened? Nuh-uh.

Dorothy closes up shop and heads over to Jill's house to watch the end of the Miss America thing. As they're watching, Dorothy says they have to do another one. Jill says "We can't. She was going to be the last one." Dorothy tells her it's going to be Matt Wilson and they agree he'll be the last.

Grade: D I really hated this one. I didn't give it an F because Dorothy wasn't lying when she said she killed people.

Collect Call (Part Two): The Black Walker by Christopher Pike

This one takes place a month after Part One. Caroline Spencer has agreed to a date with Bobby Walker. Ugh, I hate Bobby. Caroline has been doing nothing but hanging around the house since her nasty little accident so she only says yes to the date out of boredom. They're obviously soul mates. Anyway, one evening, Bobby pulls up in his '59 Chevy, dressed in his James Dean costume as usual. Gratuitous James Dean pic:

Bobby looks like a moldy turd next to that. Caroline is dressed like Elizabeth Wakefield. BORING. She gets into the car and when Bobby asks what she wants to do, she says "I'll do whatever you want to do." Careful--you're setting yourself up for a big old dose of date rape, dear. Bobby just grins: "It was a curious affair. His lips seemed to crawl off his beautiful teeth rather than simply move into an expression of pleasure." A curious affair? Since when did Christopher Pike become one of the Bronte sisters? And Bobby's lips are falling off his face...DIE ZOMBIE!

Where the hell were we? Oh yeah, the date. Bobby wants to see a horror movie called "The Listeners" and even though Caroline hates stuff like that (it's about a "lizard monster from the past who reincarnates in a twin's body and then begins to rip people apart." Let me save you kids some money--it's gonna suck.) she agrees to go because she has no spine. It's a Tuesday night so the theater is mostly deserted. Caroline stares intently at Bobby's ass as he pulls the tickets out of his back pocket. So he planned the date ahead of time. Why did he even bother asking her what she wanted to do? Did he know she would be hypnotized by his luscious buttocks and agree to anything? Obviously. Caroline says she'd like some popcorn and a drink, but Bobby doesn't offer to pay so she goes to the counter alone. He's probably broke from spending all his money on Dippity Doo and Vaseline (he's gotta have some help in getting in/out of those tight, tight jeans).

As predicted, the movie sucks. Bobby thought it was hilarious and Caroline had her eyes covered the entire time. Mission: date. Status: SUCCESS! They exit the theater and Bobby says they should stay for the 10 PM showing. Caroline says she tires easily since the accident and would like to go home, but Bobby says the accident is precisely why she needs to view the movie again: "Keep your eyes open this time and you'll see." See WHAT? Watching a shitty B-movie multiple times is not going to help her, Dr. Bob. *sigh* They view the movie again (they're the only ones watching) and this time, for no apparent reason whatsoever, Caroline flashes back to the night of the accident. She's relieved when the film is over because she desperately wants to get the hell away from Bobby. Don't we all.

In the parking lot, Caroline makes a comment about the movie's special effects and Bobby asks her how she knows it wasn't real. "It was just a stupid movie, for god's sake. I don't know how you can enjoy crap like that anyway." So sayeth Caroline. Bobby gets pissed off, stares at her like he'd enjoy ripping her head off, and then smiles and says "I'm sorry. To each his own. I guess I sometimes forget that. Hey, you haven't had much fun tonight. Let me make it up to you. Let me take you some place special." No no NO. But once again, Caroline agrees to do what Bobby wants because she could bounce a quarter off his butt. Idiot.

They drive out into the country where Bobby refuses to put the hood up on the convertible because Caroline is cold, saying he likes his women cold. Huh? He finally stops and parks behind a cluster of trees. Caroline asks why they're here and he says "I have to show you what's real." She says she wants to go home and he tells her she's already there. He's totally lost his mind. Bash his head in with a rock and drive away, Caroline! Believe me, no-one will miss him. Not even his parents...if he even has any. He grabs a shovel and says they're going to visit Janice. They walk into the forest until they reach the grave where what was left of Janice is buried. Then Bobby pulls out a tape player, sets it on Janice's tombstone, and presses play. It's that stupid Black walker song. HATE! Caroline recalls slapping Janice in the face, causing her to drive the car off the road. She says Bobby knew about that all along because Bobby is *gasp* the Black Walker! Of course he is. Causing death and destruction since 1991. Caroline thinks Bobby has lost it (NOW it occurs to you!) and she turns and runs. Unfortunately, she trips and Bobby grabs her, drags her back to the grave, and tells her the Black Walker wants to meet her. I thought HE was the Black Walker. Oh well...shut up, Bobby.

Bobby ties Caroline to a tree and she ALSO says she thought HE was the Black Walker. His response is stupid and convoluted: "We are the same as our reflections. When he looked out of the void he asked me to be his mirror. He told me to turn off the light and let his music come into the place of the dead. Then he sang to me and let me use his voice. You see how beautifully we get along?" What the HELL are you huffing?! He continues to ramble like a lunatic and tells Caroline she had to die because the Black Walker wants her real bad: "I bring him pretty girls and he brings me the song of power." I assume by 'song of power' you mean 'LSD and a loaded crack pipe'. He starts digging at Janice's grave because there will be plenty of room inside her coffin for Caroline.

As Bobby digs deeper, Caroline begins singing "Silent Night" in an effort to frown out the Black Walker song. When he climbs out of the hole, he's pissed. He unties and tries to shove her into the hole, but she fights him. He manages to throw her in, she gets out, and finally bashes him with the shovel. She drags him over to the hole, shoves him into the coffin, and even though Bobby is screaming and kicking, she keeps shoveling dirt until he's properly buried. Then she drives home, never to hear from the Black Walker again.

Grade: A Yes, it's getting an A. It was hilarious (no, I don't know why I found this shit funny. I just found myself laughing at random intervals. Maybe I've just gone crazy.) and Bobby was buried alive. What more could I ask for?

Well, I did it...and I'll probably be spending the near future in a psych ward.

Next time: "When Nobody's Home: Fifteen Baby-Sitting Tales of Terror" by Judith Gorog. I'm not sure if I'll do all of these at once or divide it into two parts. It's a shamefully short book so I'm leaning toward doing them all at once. Anyway, I recently got my grubby paws on some Fear Street so I'll probably be back to those after this one. SOB!

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