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.

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 ...