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!

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 ...