Monday, October 12, 2009

Thirteen (Part One)

Book Description:

You don't really want to read you? [No.] The masters of horror are waiting to take you on a terrifying ride, and there are thirteen stops. Meet the new guy in town--very handsome, very sexy, and very deadly. [With very dry lips.] Dine on sweet and wonderfully inviting confections--they're good to the last breath. Learn that some spells can never be broken. Inside you'll find the works of thirteen masters of horror. [You use the word 'master' too loosely. And you obviously don't know what it means.] Let Christopher Pike, R.L. Stine, and the rest of our macabre crew show you the beauty in your worst nightmares and the terror in your most exquisite dreams... [Huh?]

My Description:

Collect Call - Part One by Christopher Pike

The first line of this story makes my spirits plummet to some foul nether region I care not to imagine (a.k.a the hamper which houses my brother's dirty underwear. Barf-o-rama.) "The party was a bummer from the start." Now that doesn't seem SO bad, but in the land of Point Horror, that's an indication of shitty things to come. Oh well. I'm armed with a bottle of Klonopin and a tub of Breyers cookies and cream. I can DO this! What the hell was I talking about? Oh, the party. Yeah, it sucks. Janice Adams likes a guy named Bobby Walker. A girl named Caroline Spencer also has a thing in her pants for old Bob. What shenanigans! This will never end well! Har har har! Anyway, Bobby has only been around for a few months "just long enough to get all the girls in Chesterock High sweating." Ooo la la, Mr. Pike. Has he got you sweating, too? Forget I asked. Look, all you need to know about Bobby is that he's Chesterock's James Dean.

A guy named Randy Claud is putting on this party. He's the BMOC and likes to tell people about Republicanism, fine wine, and the stock market. Yep, sounds like every teenage boy I ever knew. Except not. Back to Janice and Caroline (why even bother mentioning Randy? We'll probably never hear from him again because I'm sure this story is gonna be allll about Janice and Caroline's big cat fight over Bobby and tight jeans). Janice hates Caroline because she's a blond cheerleader with big bazongas who can't keep her mouth shut.

The party is extremely dull--everyone just sits around smoking cigarettes and drinking beer that someone probably mooched from their boozy parents. Janice is sitting in a corner with Randy talking about Bobby. She says he probably never takes that leather jacket off and Randy says "He takes his pants off. He's in my P.E. class." Uh...ok. This seems to excite you, Randy. Combine that with the fact that no-one even mentioned Bobby's pants and I'd say you've got a big old gay crush on him. No-one can resist this guy! Janice wants to know what Bobby looks like in his underwear, but that's info that Randy is keeping close to his heart (or crotch). They talk some MORE about Bobby and we learn that he's tough and a loner. So basically he's a giant leather-clad stereotype.

Finally Janice works up the nerve to go talk to him. The conversation is so painful and pathetic I don't even wanna repeat all of it. It mostly consists of Janice making fumbling remarks and Bobby saying things like "You know what I really hate about this scene? The people. All of them except you, Fran." and "You got it, sister." Run, Janice. He's an ass with 2.5 brain cells working at half-mast who can't even remember your name. Thankfully, she's distracted by everyone singing happy birthday to Caroline. OF COURSE it would be her birthday. Barf. After the singing dies down, Bobby calls Caroline over saying he has a present for her. Ew. That's the kind of thing a guy says just before throwing a burlap sack over your head and tossing you into his big dirty van. Janice's spirits sink because she thinks Bobby likes Caroline: "I look like a bookmark next to her." What the hell does that even mean? Oh well. Go ahead and be a bookmark. Anyway, Bobby got Caroline a cassette which he didn't bother wrapping: "I would've wrapped it. But you just would have had to open it." *sigh* Caroline thinks this is hilarious and laughs like a fucking loon before asking who the cassette is by. "The Black Walker" Caroline lies the lies of a liar and says she's heard of him even though she never has. Bobby is a huge fan: "Listen to him and you'll see God." That also works with acid, something you're probably all too familar with. Caroline giggles like the airheaded windbag she is and says she's sure she saw The Black Walker on MTV and Bobby scoffs at this: "The Black Walker doesn't prostitute himself. You can feel him but you can't see him." Shut up, dude.

Later, the party has ended and Janice is stuck giving a drunken Caroline a ride home. The world really does hate you, Jan. In the car, Caroline pops in the tape and both girls are pretty disturbed by the first song. Want the lyrics? Of course you do!

I come from the past.
I eat the night.
I knew you when you were young.
I tell you my story.
But I sleep with a gun.
This is my night.
This is your night.
I'm a black walker, babe.
Touch me softly, you get a fright.

Wow. That fucking sucks. FAIL. The girls talk and Janice can't resist harrassing Caroline about being a cheerleader and Caroline reveals herself to be the raging bitch Janice always knew she was. Janice ends up calling Caroline a slut and Caroline bitch slaps her across the face. MEOW! Jan loses control of the car and it rolls off the road down a rocky embankment. Jan is alive and conscious, but Caroline is gone, baby, gone. Jan really doesn't give a shit: "I wish you had been driving. Things would be so much simpler now." See, Jan is afraid her life will be ruined by this because that's so much more important than the fact that someone was just killed. She's 18 and about to graduate and has all her life to live! What will she do about the bloody corpse in her car?!? WAHHH! She decides she'll tell everyone it was all Caroline's fault. After all, Caroline won't mind. Before dragging the corpse to the driver's seat, she slips the Black Walker tape into her pocket. Just as she gets out of the car and steps back, the damn thing explodes. Jan stands there as Caroline screams bloody murder. Yeah, she was alive and now she's being burned to a crisp. Damn. Jan's callousness is pretty freaky: "Die! Die! Stop screaming!" Jan = daughter of Satan.

Jan is now at the hospital being examined. Dr. Please (no, I'm serious. His freaking name is Dr. Please.) dresses her wounds and then a cop questions her. She lies about the whole thing of course and is completely off the hook. "I feel lucky." You damn well better!

Since her parents are out of town, the officer drives her home. Once inside, she checks the answering machine and nearly shits her dirty, bloody pants when she hears Caroline's voice. No, it isn't a ghostly message from beyond the grave. Caroline called before the party to ask Jan for a ride which makes no sense whatsoever because these two obviously hated each other's guts. Jan also finds the message strange and replays it several times before going to bed. How can she sleep after all the shit that just happened?!

She's only been in bed for 10 minutes when she hears the machine clicking in the next room. Then..."Janice, this is Caroline again. I really need a ride to the party. You're my only hope. If you don't come get me, I won't get to go. Please, Janice. I know you're there." Ok, maybe she IS calling from beyond the grave. You're gonna get yours, Jan! She unplugs the machine, goes back to bed, and hears another message a few moments later. This one is the best of all: "Janice, you know who this is. Pick up the goddamn phone. We're going to the party and you're taking me. There's no way I can drive myself. I have a fever. I'm burning up. If you don't come with me, I'll drive off the road. You got that, girl? Come get me now." Holy shit. Jan freaks out, but decides there must be a logical explanation--Caroline MUST be alive. First, that doesn't explain how an UNPLUGGED answering machine would go on playing messages (no, it doesn't run on batteries. Don't start with me!) Second, even if Caroline is alive, she would be so badly burned that calling you to fuck with your mind would be the last thing on her to-do list.

Jan puts on her blood encrusted clothes (why is it a crime to change into clean clothes?) and heads for the hospital where a dried-up hag of a nurse informs her that Caroline really is dead. She also says she doesn't think Caroline was her name. Jan is feeling pretty uneasy so to calm her fears, she heads for the hospital morgue. *sigh* She finds a body bag tagged with HER name. Once again, she simply shrugs it off as a mistake and leaves a moment later.

In the car, Jan wonders how that Black Walker tape got here...she was sure she left it on top of...the answering machine! Oooo! Of course the tape starts playing messages from Caroline instead of songs. Caroline gives Jan directions to her house, but Jan ends up at the site of the crash. Me thinks you're about to meet your end, dear. Jan climbs down the slope and watches a dream-like sequence--she and Caroline plunging down the slope. She drags Caroline out, but can't get to the other Jan...

And suddenly Caroline wakes up. No. No, you've gotta be fucking kidding me, man! Everything I just read was a dream? EVERYTHING?!?! Not cool, Pike. Not. Cool. So yeah, Caroline is in the hospital, Janice is dead, and Bobby Walker is hanging around waiting for Caroline to wake up. Dr. Please (I still can't get over the name for some reason) says he'll go find Bobby. While he's gone, Caroline decides to check her messages. Here we go again. The first one is from Bobby: "Hi, Carol. This is Bobby. Wanted to know if you loved the tape. If it did something for you. I'll see you soon, if you're still alive that is." Bobby Walker = The Black Walker. The second message is from Janice. Uh-oh. "Hi, Caroline. This is Janice. You called me so I'm calling you. But don't try calling me back. I can't answer the phone. The fire burned off my hands. But don't worry, I'll be in touch...soon." The story ends with Caroling screaming her head off just as Bobby enters the room.

Grade: B+ This story wasn't too bad. I hated that almost everything was all a dream, but the dream was creepy so I can overlook that. This would've gotten an A if Bobby hadn't been such a 1950s greaser wannabe. "You got it, sister." Go away!

Lucinda by Lael Littke

"Lucinda" begins with a random person's memories of (you guessed it) Lucinda. Lucinda is standing next to a lake in her red graduation gown because her class just graduated and there's a party going on. Booze-filled high school parties are as foreign to me as the other side of the universe--I was a sober nerd who got drunk on books and dirty articles in Cosmo. Actually, that pretty describes me now. Anyway, Lucinda is fighting with her boyfriend Brandon because she thinks he's been cheating on her with some skank named Holly. Brandon says he's not the only one at fault here; after all, hasn't Lucinda been spending quite a bit of time with Kevin? Ouch. Lucinda dives into the lake because that's the reasonable thing to do and Brandon storms off. I'm glad they could settle things like adults. *sigh* Random person's memory becomes hazy after that. Turns out Lucinda disappeared that night and random person believes it was Brandon's fault.

It's six years later and random person (whose name is Kate) is standing next to the very same lake (which is called Lake Isadora) with her brother Brandon. Yes, THAT Brandon. Their mother is dead so Brandon who is 23 is now Kate's guardian (she's 16). I'm sure she enjoys sharing a home with a probable murderer. They're hanging out at the lake because Brandon wants to take a trip down memory lane. Kate can see the insanity in his eyes and wants to go back home before he flips out like a rabid raccoon and claws her eyes out. He wants to stay, though, even though it's getting dark. He leads Kate into the woods and if this isn't the set-up for a scene ripped right out of a B-movie slasher, I don't know what is. Kate starts thinking about Lucinda and how awful it would e if she and Brandon came upon Lucinda's decayed remains in the woods. She doesn't say any of that, but Brandon seems to be reading her mind and says "Do you believe what they say about how hair grows on a dead body?" I don't even know what to say to that, you fucking nut.

It's now full dark and Brandon insists on leading Kate to where Lucinda's house once stood. He wants to show her Lucinda's "secret place". At this point, I would've ran home, bolted the doors, and spent the rest of the night stuffing my face and watching shitty Lifetime movies. Let the little bastard drive himself crazy. But Kate's soul isn't as soiled as mine and she stands by Brandon until he finally decides he wants to leave.

When they arrive home, Keith (Lucinda's brother) is on the porch waiting. Brandon immediately asks if there are any updates on Lucinda and Keith says last week someone found a red graduation robe at the edge of the lake. Brandon collapses in a chair just as Holly shows up. Why are these people just appearing out of the darkness? Go home! Brandon doesn't really like Holly so I'm not sure why she's here. She says she believes Lucinda is alive somewhere. Shut up, Holly. These fools finally leave and Brandon and Kate go to bed (not together, you pervs).

Kate wakes up around 3am to the sound of water dripping on the floor. She flips on the light and sees drops of water leading to the living room and out the front door. Guess Lucinda dredged herself from the bottom of the lake to pay you a little visit. Kate actually grabs a flashlight and follows the watery trail which leads to the foundation of Lucinda's old house. Kate peeks into the gaping hole that was once the cellar and sees a big pile of rats. Good times. She starts running, gets lost, and spots a flash of red through the trees. EEEKKK! Never mind--it's just Holly wearing a red jogging suit, not a wet moldy graduation gown. Kate asks Holly what the hell she's doing out here and Holly says she likes to jog every morning. At 3m? At 3am, I can barely form a coherent sentence much less go skipping through the neighborhood. Does anyone around here SLEEP? Anyway, Kate says she still has Lucinda on the brain and Holly offers to walk her home.

At home, Kate finds Brandon crouched in the backyard. "She was here. Lucinda. I saw her face. I ran after her, but she got away. I grabbed her robe." He's holding a wet grad gown and Kate tells him this is Lucinda's way of telling him to let go. Emotional, kids. They go back inside where Brandon finally falls into a restless sleep and Kate stays awake thinking about Lucinda. *sigh* I think it's YOU who needs to let go, Kate.

In the morning, Kate visits Keith and they look at old photos and such. She goes home and hangs out until Brandon wakes up. He goes outside and moons over the gown some more. "It smells like Lucinda. Like flowers. It's her perfume." I feel sorry for this guy.

That night, Kate revisits the old foundation. This time she climbs down into the stinking pit with the rats and snakes. "The old forgotten root cellar was Lucinda's secret place." How do we know this? Because Kate can smell her perfume. Oh, and Lucinda just showed up. At first, Kate thinks Lucinda is alive after all, but then she thinks she sees Lucinda float down the stairs and believes she's a ghost after all. She ties Kate's hands behind her back and Kate decides she must be a human after all because a ghost wouldn't haven't to resort to that. Make up your damn mind! Kate realizes Lucinda is going to lock her in this tiny room and she begs her to stop. Lucinda rips Kate's flashlight out of her hand and shines it in the corner where a filthy skeleton dressed in the remains of a red graduation gown is sitting. Kate realizes that this is all that is left of Lucinda. Someone held her captive down here and Kate is about to suffer the same fate. Who's doing this? Holly. What the hell? First it was Lucinda, then it was her ghost, and now it turns out it was simply Holly. What have you been smoking, Kate?

Turns out Holly bludgeoned Lucinda with an ax and dragged her corpse down to the cellar. Why? I don't even know. She didn't think anyone would ever find out, but Kate just couldn't resist meddling so Holly will have to put an end to her, too. Suddenly Keith springs up out of nowhere and he and Kate manage to tie Holly up. So the bad girl gets punished, Lucinda is given a proper burial, and Kate can't get the scent of flowers out of her room. The end.

Grade: D I am so freaking confused...

The Guiccioli Miniature by Jay Bennett

An American kid named Jerry is hanging out in Italy. It's after midnight and he's standing near St. Mark's canal admiring the view when some weirdo comes out of the darkness. "[Jerry] saw the man put his long hand into his coat pocket and draw out a small object that glistened in the half-darkness." No, it's not a Trojan. It's the Guiccioli miniature, a small picture of a woman named Teresa Guiccioli who was once royalty or something back in the long forgotten old days. The man wants $10 for it and Jerry finally buys it after the guy begs him. He'll probably just buy shots with it. You got ripped, Jerry! The man disappears into the night after informing Jerry he's a doomed man. DOOMED I tell you!

Jerry goes back to the room he's staying in and feels the miniature grow icy. He suddenly feels like HE is the doomed man. I told you, you got ripped off, dude. That weirdo passed his curse on to you. How does it feel to have sold your life away for ten bucks? Jerry pretty much spends most of the night freaking the fuck out. Seriously, he acts like a crack addict going through withdrawals. He ends up throwing the miniature out the window where it lands in a pool of dirty water. Jerry immediately feels better and falls asleep.

The next afternoon, Jerry is on a plane waiting for take off. A stewardess gives him a magazine to read and he flips to an article that describes three men who robbed a GUICCIOLI MINIATURE from Passi Palace. Jerry recognizes the weirdo in the picture and his heart sinks when he realizes he bought something priceless from a criminal and then trashed it. BURN.

Grade: A Not a horror story, but decent nonetheless. Plus, it was short and sweet (only four pages) just how I like it.

Blood Kiss by D.E. Athkins

D + E + Athkins = Deathkins. I really can't stop laughing. I mean, SERIOUSLY?!

Anyway, I get the sinking feeling that this thing is about vampires and that kinda sucks (no pun intended) because I am totally burnt out on the living dead. Oh well. Let's get started...

We're introduced to a gang of friends on the first page. Delia is described as "emphatic" which means she never shuts her damn yapper. Valerie is "frail and waiflike" which means she's the useless one. And Elizabeth (our narrator) is...well, we know nothing about her except that she hates her name. They're busy staring at Ken, the new guy in town. These girls have the fever for Ken: "Gorgeous, but pale. Carved, rugged, but somehow delicate, features. Straight dark brows. Perfect black, black hair. A living doll." Someone has been reading too many romance novels. Elizabeth is certain she's deeply in love. Unfortunately, most people believe he's a vampire.

U-G-L-Y you ain't got no alibi, you ugly, Ken, yeah yeah, you ugly! *cough* Anyway, to learn about the love of her life, Elizabeth does some research at the local library on vampires. Are we in Transylvania? Why do you people actually believe this crap?! Elizabeth finds herself obsessing over Ken, writing his name all over her notebooks and dreaming of dating him. So she's pretty damn crushed when he starts sucking face with a cheerleader named Liz. But that doesn't last long. Valerie theorizes that Ken got all the blood he needed from Liz and dropped her. There's proof--Liz is wearing a turtleneck! NOOOO! Get a life, kids.

Elizabeth is in math class watching everyone file inside and take their seats. Ken walks in with some chick named Louise hanging all over him. He works fast. I'm surprised Elizabeth hasn't slit her wrists yet. Ken and Louside last a few weeks until Ken gets bored and moves on to Delia who throws herself at him like the little hussy she is. Elizabeth is, of course, pissed: "Eat garlic and die, Delia." Ouch. Or something. She manages to stop thinking about Ken long enough to go on a date with Collin Harper, a piece of cardboard who won't be heard from again. They go to a movie...about vampires. Didn't see that one coming. Dammit. Elizabeth spies Delia and Ken making out and tells Collin she's sick and has to leave ASAP.

One day, Delia shows up at school with a scarf around her neck, but she insinuates it's only because Ken left her with a big nasty hickey before breaking up with her. HA. Ken has now moved on to Valerie, Delia is all mopey, and Elizabeth is spending more and more time in the library. She finds out that Valerie has also been reading all these vamp books before Ken asked her out. *sigh* I'm bored. Anyway, Valerie shows up at school wearing a turtleneck AND a scarf. But she isn't all pale and drained. In fact, she looks rosy and positively alive, dahling. It's KEN who is getting paler. Hmm.

Valerie and Ken break up over Thanksgiving so Elizabeth decides to try her luck with him. You people are lame. Seriosuly, get away from him and get a damn hobby! On their first date, they see a horror movie and afterwards they drive to the Point, the local makeout spot. Ken nibbles on her neck and Elizabeth gets pissed because all he did was give her a "world class hickey" and never bit her. But then he basically confesses he is indeed a vampire, but he doesn't bite his victims to turn them into vamps. He feeds them HIS blood. What? Elizabeth drinks from his throat, pulls away, and delivers the last line of the story: "Gimme a kiss." Ugh.

Grade: D My kingdom for a fucking werewolf.

Next time: We continue with these TALES OF HORROR!

1) "A Little Taste of Death" Patricia Windsor
2) "The Doll" Carol Ellis
3) "House of Horrors" J.B. Stamper
4) "Where the Deer Are" Caroline B. Cooney
5) "The Spell" R.L. Stine

Give me strength.

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

PUMPKIN POWER! Nothing beats Halloween. It's Drew Brockman's favorite holiday. And this year will be awesome. Much better ...