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Recap #127: Goosebumps Series 2000 #17: The Werewolf In The Living Room by R.L. Stine, a.k.a. “Are You There God? It’s Me, Aaron”

Title: Goosebumps Series 2000 #17 – The Werewolf in the Living Room

Author: R.L. Stine

Cover Artist: Tim Jacobus [Wing: That is one of the creepier werewolves I’ve seen in cover art, and that includes on adult horror novels.]

Tagline: Home sweet horror.

Summary:

The creature had the face of a wolf. And the back and chest of a man.

He stared at me with those black, gleaming eyes. He curled back his thick lips. I stared in horror at long, curved fangs.

Then – before I could run – the werewolf leaned back on his haunches.

Raised his head in a fierce howl.

And sank his fangs deep into my skin.

Initial Thoughts

Surprise, Wing! It’s your favorite thing! WEREWOLVES. I know you mentioned reading “The Werewolf of Fever Swamp,” but I decided to go with one of the books you were less likely to have read before. At least, I hope so. [Wing: Good call! I’ve never read this one before, and I am so, so excited about it.]

The Goosebumps 2000 books were Scholastic’s attempt to revitalize the series for the new century, even though they were published three years before the actual millennium. [Wing: … strange.] The books definitely have a tone and feel independent of the original series, but overall were a bit disappointing compared to the first 62 books. They were more heavy on stuff like blood and vomit, and many of them were broken into separate parts. They got two Slappy books, an official sequel to “One Day at Horrorland,” and a spiritual sequel to “Ghost Camp.” Two books, “Bride of the Living Dummy” and “Cry of the Cat” were adapted into TV episodes, and “Invasion of the Body Squeezers” got a follow up under the “Give Yourself Goosebumps” line. The last book in the series, “The Incredible Shrinking Fifth Grader,” was cancelled before it got released, and R.L. Stine re-purposed the script for a separate book. Thankfully, Tim Jacobus sent the Goosebumps wiki the unused but completed cover art.

The 2000 books as a whole have largely been ignored following the revitalization of the franchise, with one or two exceptions. The Body Squeezers, the Haunted Car, and the Graveyard Ghouls were featured in the movie, so the books including the latter two got reprinted in the “Classic Goosebumps” line. Meanwhile, “Creature Teacher” got a sequel in “Goosebumps Most Wanted.”

So why did I choose this for you, Wing? First off, admittedly, it’s a seasonal thing. One winter a couple of years ago I began acquiring more entries in the 2000 line, this one, “Full Moon Fever,” “The Haunted Car,” “Horrors of the Black Ring,” and it sort of, I dunno, I get comfortable reading them during the last week of December and the earlier weeks of January. Beyond that, well, before you walk into this unwarned, there’s plenty of talk about how one of the characters is crazy. I know you won’t like that, but I really think you’re gonna love the implications of the ending.

[Wing: We will see. I am damn excited about the werewolves, though. I’ve never read any of the Series 2000 books.]

Recap

PART ONE

In a dark, cold forest late at night, Aaron Freidus’ dad tells him to stop making his footprints sound like a charging elephant so they don’t alert THEM to their presence. Aaron doesn’t care, hoping to scare THEM away. Who is THEM? Why, the werewolves, of course. [Wing: MY HEART IS GROWING ALREADY.]

Aaron gives his life story. He repeatedly likes to start his narrating by going “I – Aaron Freidus.” He’s an eleven year old kid with red hair, freckles, and pale skin (So, you know, Instant Goosebumps Loser), a mom who died when he was nine, and a dad who’s a self styled werewolf hunter. Problem is, his dad’s never found a werewolf, so being a single father he did the only sensible thing to do and dragged his preteen son with him to prowl the forests of Bratvia to find and capture a werewolf. And since Mr. Freidus is a massively built guy and their town’s sheriff, everyone’s too scared to make fun of him or question his beliefs. [Wing: I am dying over Mr Freidus, oh my god. Also, wondering what this would look like crossed over with Never Cry Werewolf.] So instead, Aaron’s friends make fun of HIM for having a dad who be acting so cray-cray. Cuz, you know, that logic totally works. Aaron lied to his friends and said he was spending mid-winter break in Florida with his grandma so they wouldn’t tease him for going to a tiny European country to hunt for werewolves. [Wing: DUDE. Don’t you know you’re supposed to be thrilled about a trip to Europe?] But does he believe in werewolves too? Let’s find out.

Underneath the eerie full moon, Aaron can hear mournful howls and frightening cries throughout the woods. He recalls a few werewolf legends, like people who turn into them by wearing wolf skins (which is apparently the Skin Walker legend, and something Stine wrote about in “Werewolf Skin”) [Wing: Well, sort of. There are skinwalker beliefs in Native American cultures, but there are also legends from various parts of Europe about people turning into wolves by wearing skins, sometimes wolf skins, sometimes human skin, to change. In the aforementioned Never Cry Werewolf, there’s a bit about wearing the skin of hanged criminal (or something like that, it’s kind of a throwaway bit of info despite how it drives some of the plot.]) or by drinking rainwater collected in a werewolf’s paw print (which, apparently, is a real thing). [Wing: It is one of the legends! I love when books reference the lesser-known ones.] Aaron’s heard you can make a werewolf change back by shouting their real name or knocking on their head three times, but will he have a chance to put those methods to the test? He hopes not. [Wing: Well I hope so, because you so rarely see those things.]

Aaron is trying to keep up with his dad as he stalks through the woods, only, when he finally catches up with his dad Aaron is horrified as thick black fur grows out of his dad’s face and his teeth become fangs! He’s a werewolf!

Actually no he’s not, because it’s a dream and Aaron’s safe in his tent. Well, he WAS, until something began scratching up the tent walls and Aaron realized this WASN’T a dream. Aaron, huddled up in his cot, prays for whatever is trying to get in to stop, and after an unbearable eternity the thing on the other side of the tent departs. [Wing: His dad trying to make him braver? A werewolf for some reason deterred by a fucking tent? (Oh, man, this brought to mind that scene in, I think, Dog Soldiers, where a werewolf slowly draws down the zipper on a tent and it is creepy as hell.] Aaron finally leaves the tent remembering his dad also brought him to Bratvia to make him less of a wimp. Oh yeah, stellar parenting as always. Aaron decides to sleep in his dad’s tent, too afraid to be by himself, only his dad is gone. And this is AFTER Aaron remembers his dad lecturing him about not going out in the woods by yourself at night because of the werewolves. BEST DAD EVER.

Aaron hears footsteps and hopes they belong to his dad. Aaron begins following the sound trying to find his dad, wondering why his dad had to leave him alone at the campsite. [Wing: Man, everyone is making such excellent choices in this book. No, wait, I mean the other thing.] Unfortunately, he doesn’t find his dad. Instead, Aaron finds something with the head of a wolf and the body of a man, crouched on all fours deep in the forest. Before he can run, the werewolf lunges at Aaron and sinks its teeth deep in his shoulder.

Aaron wakes up screaming for the werewolf to get away, when his dad assures him he’s safe now. Mr. Freidus reports he saw the werewolf standing over Aaron but it fled back into the woods, so he carried Aaron back to the camp. His dad’s completely giddy, almost feverish with excitement, as he promises Aaron they’re definitely gonna find the werewolf again. Aaron exclaims he wants to go home because it’s too dangerous, briefly confusing his dad as he mentions werewolves have no power during the day. It’s not dangerous at ALL. Mr. Freidus tells Aaron to rest, because tomorrow’s the big day! Aaron lays in his cot, wishing he really was in Florida, wishing he wasn’t in Bratvia, wishing his dad wasn’t obsessed with werewolves. Aaron has another brief nightmare but is lucid enough to force himself awake… and find the werewolf is BACK! The werewolf, sticking his head into the tent, tosses something at Aaron before fleeing. Aaron calls for his dad, who immediately decides to follow the werewolf. Oh yeah and then asks if Aaron’s okay. And AARON is the one who feels guilty when it dawns on him his dad went after the werewolf alone, feeling he should’ve gone with him. Aaron’s about to follow his dad when he finds what the werewolf threw at him. It looks like a wolf’s tooth on a leather string. A pendant? Aaron wonders why the werewolf threw this when his dad returns, explaining the werewolf got away. Seeing the wolf tooth, Mr. Freidus hopes it’ll bring them good luck during their hunt. But the tooth only feels ice cold against Aaron’s skin. Or is that a feeling of pure dread? [Wing: There are so many ridiculous and wonderful things going on in these scenes. SO MANY. Mr Freidus is terrible at parenting but hilarious when it comes to hunting werewolves, and I am charmed by Aaron and his freakouts and, of course, the werewolf itself.]

After breakfast the next morning, Aaron brings up the idea that maybe werewolves have powers during the day that no one knows about. Mr. Freidus stubbornly insists they do not, and Aaron is hoping his dad will have a proper explanation to back that up so he’ll feel better. [Wing: Considering Mr Freidus hadn’t even seen a damn werewolf until the night before, I am skeptical he knows real things about them.]

My dad knows everything. He knows how to fix a car, a leaky faucet – anything. He knows all about the constellations. He knows when I’m getting sick – before I know it. He even knows how to knit a sweater.

He’ll tell me exactly how he knows werewolves don’t have powers during the day. Then I’ll feel better.

“How do you know that werewolves have no power during the day?” I asked again.

“I don’t know how I know.” Dad shrugged his shoulders. “I just know.”

I didn’t feel better.

He doesn’t feel better. [Wing: I, however, am laughing, so I feel great.]

Their search does not start off very promising. Mr. Freidus mistakes a fox for the werewolf and has to remind himself they turn human during the day. Aaron hopes his dad keeps mistaking other animals instead of finding the real werewolf when they come to a tree filled with hundred of nasty looking blackbirds. Aaron is briefly mesmerized by how angry and creepy the birds look, the sound of their sharp beaks snapping open and shut over and over again becoming a cacophony. Mr. Freidus heads on without Aaron once again, so Aaron’s forced to figure out where he’s going to find his father again. Luckily, Aaron follows a path into a clearing where he finds a small shack. The old woman living inside offers Aaron some shelter, explaining the woods aren’t safe. Aaron recaps his hunting trip so far, and the woman believes Mr. Freidus’s search will bring him to her home eventually. The woman prepares Aaron some tea, and starts to tell him the legend of when the werewolf first appeared in the forest. [Wing: NEVER TAKE TEA FROM STRANGERS IN CABINS HIDDEN DEEP IN THE WOODS. Have you never read a fairy tale, Aaron? NEVER?]

Long ago, back when children used to freely play in the forest, a stranger came to the village. He was a burly man with black hair and black eyes. “Wolf eyes,” they said. The villagers admitted later on they should’ve chased the man off instead of letting him pass through. On the night of the first full moon after the stranger appeared, the villagers heard horrible sounds and howls coming from the forest. They disappeared the following morning, and someone found dozens of dead animals, torn limb from limb, littering the forest floor. Next to the bodies were wolf prints. That night some men led a search party to find whatever caused such a massacre, and they witnessed the stranger transform into a wolf before their eyes. The men fled as the werewolf devoured a rabbit whole. Sadly, another group entered the woods hoping to find and capture the werewolf. They never returned.

The woman finishes her tale saying no one enters the woods anymore because of the werewolf, but whether or not it’s the one from her story or a brand new werewolf is unknown. Aaron gets worried about his father, but the woman calms him pointing out it’s still daytime. In the meantime, the woman offers to do Aaron’s fortune. As Aaron leans over so she can read his palm, the woman sees the tooth pendant and flips her shit. She starts screaming it’s “The Mark Of The Werewolf” and kicks Aaron out of her house. [Wing: I AM DYING. Also, I love stories that include some sort of mark of the werewolf. Cursed, I’m looking at you right this second.] Scared and back in the woods, Aaron wonders why she was so terrified when he gets cornered by a pack of mangy, wild dogs. The dogs attack Aaron and he considers the idea that they might be scared of the tooth as well. Once Aaron’s able to get the pendant out again, the dogs take one look at the thing and flee like their lives depended on it. Aaron finally catches up with his dad, and guess what? He’s caught the werewolf!

Well, Mr. Freidus THINKS he’s caught a werewolf.

All Aaron sees is a short, balding, pudgy guy wearing glasses. Oh and he’s all chained up. Aaron thinks his dad’s werewolf obsession has gone too far, because this guy can’t be a werewolf.

The little guy nodded sadly – and sneezed.

“And he has a cold! Werewolves don’t have colds!”

[Wing: I laughed so hard I cried. Now I need a tissue.]

Aaron reaches to give the guy a tissue when his father orders him to stay back because he could be dangerous. [Wing: UMM, and yet you don’t seem all that worried that your son has already been bitten by a werewolf.] Mr. Freidus exclaims he followed wolf tracks to the guy’s shack, and is sure he’s the werewolf. The man tries to defend himself saying his name’s Ben Grantley, and he’s a licensed fur trapper. Aaron doesn’t trust his father’s judgment, but Mr. Freidus doesn’t care. He’s too overwhelmed by the idea his dream’s become a reality to listen to Aaron, and orders him to start walking in front as they bring the supposed werewolf back home. Grantley pleads with Aaron and his father that they’re making a mistake. Aaron’s heart goes out to Grantley, but he’s overruled by his dad.

Mr. Freidus brought Grantley to a ship, showing off his sheriff’s credentials claiming Grantley’s a wanted murderer. [Wing: … I don’t think that’s how sheriff’s credentials work, especially in a different country. Come the fuck on, Stine.] They have the poor guy locked in a cage in the cargo hold for the week long journey back to the states. Mr. Freidus spends most of the trip on the phone with his lawyer, setting up press conferences, a web site, and establishing a long line of media endorsements and products.

Werewolf Running Shoes: To Run Ahead of the Pack!

Werewolf Raisin Squares: The Cereal with Bite!

Werewolf Sleepy-time Tea: To Tame the Wild Beast Inside You!

Werewolf Vitamins: For When You’re Not Feeling Quite Human!

[Wing: First of all, raisin squares are a terrible cereal for a werewolf. Second of all, I am fucking dying, and desperately want to be his lawyer.]

Oh and there’s also Werewolf Tampons (For When You Can’t Keep The Beast Inside Any Longer), [Wing: NOPE NOW I AM DYING. OH MY GOD. And I would buy the hell out of werewolf tampons with that slogan.] Werewolf Pregnancy Tests (When Your Pack’s Getting A New Cub!), Werewolf Home Dentistry Kits (To Keep Your Fangs Nice and Sharp!), and Werewolf Enemas (For When You’re A Werewolf And You Need A Fucking Enema).

Mr. Freidus is even trying to get a TV show going.

“A TV show?” Dad ran a hand through his thick brown hair. “Of course, we’ll have a TV show! But it has to be live action. No cartoons! And don’t forget the movie. We’ve got to make a movie deal!”

Okay I hated Mr. Freidus before because of the child abuse but his dislike for cartoons makes me hope he dies in a fire. An ACID fire.

Aaron starts to feel sick, so his dad tells him to walk on the deck for some fresh air. Which would’ve been somewhat sound advice, if only a big storm hadn’t rolled in and AARON ALMOST GOES OVERBOARD. But then he’s saved by the timely intervention of none other than Ben Grantley! He says his chains got loose and he wanted some fresh air. Aaron thanks Grantley, looking in his eyes and refusing to believe he’s really a werewolf when Mr. Freidus shows up demanding to know how their captive got free and prepared to lock him up again. Aaron begs his father to let Grantley return home, but he doesn’t listen. At night, Aaron feels queasy again and his shoulder starts to throb when he sees the clouds breaking apart and a half moon appears. Aaron apparently hadn’t mentioned to his dad about the werewolf biting his shoulder. [Wing: … And his dad never noticed the fucking bite wound after finding a werewolf standing over his son. I am head desking so hard.] He goes to rub where the pain is, but is in for a rude surprise. Running into the cabin background, Aaron inspects his shoulder in the mirror… and discovers a patch of disgusting fur growing where he was bitten! [Wing: YES OH MY GOD I LOVE THIS PART. I love when fur grows out of the wound.] Aaron tries to rub and yank the fur off, but it’s not going anywhere, so he attempts to show his dad but Mr. Freidus is too busy talking to his lawyer. [Wing: Seriously, I want to be this lawyer, god. I had a client dealing with Bigfoot (an amazing, sharp, smart, witty client), but never a werewolf.]

Seeing how happy his dad is, Aaron wonders, maybe he should wait a bit before he says anything.

I mean, it’s just a little fur, right?

PART TWO

Aaron starts off by talking about how he – Aaron Freidus, is a kid with a werewolf in an iron cage inside his living room.

On the way home from school his best friend Ashlee begged and pleaded relentlessly to see the infamous werewolf before anyone else, even though Mr. Freidus has refused to let anyone see the werewolf until the full moon, which is tomorrow night. Oh, but wait, I have to describe Ashlee for all of you.

Ashlee almost never shuts up. She talks way too much. In fact, almost everything about Ashlee is too much!

She has wild blond hair that hangs down to her waist. Very bushy, very curly. But she puffs it up to make it look even bigger.

She’s really tall – at least a foot taller than I am – but she wears platform shoes to look even taller.

Her clothes are too much too. She likes to wear the layered look. For Ashlee, that means lots and lots of layers.

Today she had on a short-sleeved red T-shirt. Over that, a long-sleeved bright-yellow V-neck sweater. Over that, a low, scoop-neck orange sweatshirt with the sleeves cut off. She always makes sure all the colors show.

The red Lycra leggings she wore were covered with orange boxer shorts. If she could wear two pairs of shoes at the same time, she would. But she can’t. So she wears one purple sneaker and one black one.

Every one of her fingers has a silver ring on it. And she wears three earrings in each ear.

I told you she’s too much.

Dear GOD, this child is some unholy combination of Vickie Wheilson and Sharona Fleming. [Wing: Meanwhile, I am charmed and hope she carries this over-the-topness all the way into adulthood, because she is going to kick ass.]

Aaron, however, doesn’t want anyone to see Ben Grantley either, because he doesn’t want people to see the sad looking man trapped in his living room. Unfortunately, Aaron caves in just to get Ashlee to shut up, but makes her swear not to tell anyone.

Ashlee comes over after walking her mini French poodle, Madame Colette, but she’s… not exactly thrilled by what she sees. Meeting Ben Grantley, Ashlee assumes like everyone else that Aaron’s dad has finally lost it, locking up some poor schmuck like an animal. Aaron’s stuck between a rock and a hard place. He doesn’t believe Grantley’s a werewolf either, but if he isn’t, that would make Aaron the kind of person who would allow his father to keep an innocent human being locked up for no good reason. He’s stuck between pleasing his dad or pleasing the rest of the world. He’s basically not ALLOWED to choose his own opinion. Ashlee gives Grantley a candy bar, and Aaron’s not even sure if his dad’s been feeding him. Grantley begs Ashlee to free him, and she calls Mr. Freidus sick once more before leaving. Aaron feels completely miserable looking at Grantley and hearing the people setting up the satellite equipment badmouthing his father as well.

The next day, Mr. Freidus is giddy as a school girl because tonight’s the night he gets to prove to the world werewolves do exist. Grantley pleads with Aaron one final time, trying to explain his father should’ve checked with the Bratvian forest patrol that his license is on the record. [Wing: … that is not actually proof that you’re not a werewolf, dude.] When he sees the tooth pendant, Grantley recognizes it as the Sign of the Werewolf and asks where Aaron received it, denying he’s the one who gave it to the kid. He makes Aaron consider how humiliated his father will be when it turns out he’s not a werewolf, how both their lives will be ruined forever by this stunt. These new angles weigh on Aaron, thinking about Grantley and how he saved his life, and his dad, so he… frees the guy from the cage.

Rest assured, his father is NOT happy when he comes home an hour later. Aaron tries to reason with his father, saying how everyone’s been laughing at him, but Mr. Freidus starts screaming at Aaron about how all the carnage and bloodshed Grantley’s gonna create will be on Aaron’s hands. WELL MAYBE YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE KEPT THE GUY LOCKED UP IN YOUR FUCKING LIVING ROOM! NO, BETTER YET, YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE DRAGGED YOUR FUCKING PRETEEN CHILD INTO THIS IN THE FIRST PLACE AND PUT THE RESPONSIBILITY ON HIM!!!!

After being ordered into his room, Aaron can overhear his dad barking orders over the phone, getting all his officers and the fire department to go search for the werewolf. The officers think he’s taken this werewolf bit too far but he yells at them not to argue. Aaron argues with himself he did the right thing and nods off for a bit, waking up just in time to see how dark it’s gotten outside.

And that the moon has risen.

I climbed out of bed. Walked past my mirror – and screamed.

Thick black fur sprouted from my face, my arms, my legs. From my wolf snout. From my huge paws.

I curled back my lips – and gasped. I had glistening fangs!

“I’m a werewolf!” I groaned.

(Aaron by nanihoo – a little extra something to give this recap a special pop, including a shout out to “One Day At Horrorland”)

[Wing: That is adorable. Also, I am dying over all that drama only for him to simply groan that he’s a werewolf. Oh, Aaron. You are way too chill.]

Aaron has no control over himself as he jumps through his bedroom window and starts running off into the darkness.

The next morning, Aaron wakes up on his bedroom floor with no recollection of his transformation. While eating breakfast, Aaron watches the news and is horrified to learn two women and a man were viciously attacked by a “wild, wolf like creature.” No one was killed, but it also ransacked the local dog show, brutalizing and eating SEVERAL dogs. [Wing: OMGWTF. Eat the fucking humans, damn.] Aaron thinks it’s all his fault, but not for the actual reason, assuming it’s because he let Grantley free. [Wing: UMMM. Poor kid.] That belief disappears pretty quickly when he finds bloody clothes in his room, and it all comes back to him. It finally dawns on Aaron the werewolf gave him that pendant because HE’S a werewolf too. Aaron immediately goes to tell his dad, but only finds a note saying he’s at the station house because of the attacks.

Instead of going to school, Aaron goes to the lumberyard, getting a bunch of boards and nails saying his dad needs them, and proceeds to barricade himself in his room. Aaron’s guilty mood intensifies when he gets a call from Ashlee, reporting the werewolf ATE her dog.

I ate Madame Colette last night. I ate my best friend’s dog!

Oh but not before laying into Aaron about how HE let the werewolf loose even though she called his dad crazy for keeping him locked up in the first place.

After putting boards on the door and window of his bedroom, Aaron ties himself to the dresser hoping that’s enough to keep him from getting loose.

It’s not.

Aaron transforms again, but doesn’t black out like the previous night. Now the narration goes into painful detail about the process, as his fur grows and his fangs explode from his gums. It feels like his skull’s on fire as his nose elongates and nails become claws. He bursts free of the house and is overwhelmed by a desire for fresh meat. [Wing: I’m in love with this book, I’m in love with this book, I’m in love with this book.]

Aaron first spots a boy and girl from his sixth grade class walking outside. The kids get the feeling someone’s watching them, and begin to walk faster realizing they’re being followed. Aaron gets the drop on the two kids, but then immediately he hears the shouts of some police officers. Turning around, Aaron spots his father in a patrol car, relaying an order for more officers to capture the werewolf. Aaron runs on all fours as he hears police sirens and sees the red light of patrol cars bearing down on him. He runs into the school yard and finds himself surrounded by his dad and more officers. Several officers jump on Aaron having no clue they’re wrestling their boss’s kid. Aaron tries to bite one officer’s arm but he backs away just in time. Aaron dashes towards a high metal fence and attempts to climb, even as policemen try to shake him off. Aaron changes direction and jumps onto the school roof, learning his dad stationed officers up there as well. [Wing: He couldn’t jump a fence, but he jumped onto the roof?] Desperate, Aaron begins leaping from rooftop to rooftop in order to get away. But, sadly, that’s why the police have helicopters, and they follow Aaron’s trail across multiple buildings.

Aaron begins to lose energy and searches for a place to hide. He hunkers down in someone’s backyard shed, deciding to wait out the night until the sun rises. No good though. The officers have found Aaron and begin to swarm on top of him while one policeman pulls out a gun and aims the trigger… before Mr. Freidus starts screaming the werewolf is his son!

Mr. Freidus closes the shed door and leaves Aaron to run the clock out before sunrise. Aaron can hear his dad arguing with the other men, his officers saying the killer beast must die and that his judgment’s become clouded. Mr. Freidus doesn’t back down, telling his men to stand down. Aaron finally begins to change back as he hears the officers chanting “KILL THE BEAST!” over and over again. The officers open the shed just in time to see it really IS Aaron Freidus… and start demanding he be handed over to their custody. But Mr. Freidus still commands a lot of fear in his subordinates and he orders them to stay away. He says he’ll take Aaron home and is taking responsibility for him, swearing Aaron won’t hurt anyone else. He asks his men not to reveal to the town Aaron’s secret or his life will be ruined.

Back home, Mr. Freidus asks how this happened to Aaron. Aaron finally reveals what happened to him in Bratvia, and Mr. Freidus finally admits what a shit parent he’s been or this wouldn’t have happened. Aaron is then thanked for freeing Grantley, his father realizing he was going to make a colossal ass of himself. Mr. Freidus feverishly swears he’ll devote himself 24/7 to finding a cure for Aaron, but that thought gets sidetracked. Mr. Freidus receives a call informing him a werewolf attacked six people across town. Since Aaron was nowhere near that part, that could only mean Ben Grantley really IS a werewolf too! Aaron’s father was right the whole time! Sucks to be Grantley though, because Mr. Freidus is ordering his men to shoot on sight if they find Grantley again. [Wing: Now wait a fucking minute. It’s fine to go easy on the werewolf when it’s your son, but you’re going to shoot Grantley on sight? THE FUCK.]

The following sunset, Mr. Freidus loads his gun with silver bullets, and has Aaron locked in the cage for his own protection. Aaron can’t stop feeling sorry for Grantley though, remembering how the man saved him from going overboard, and doesn’t want his father to kill him. Luckily, Ashlee comes by after Mr. Freidus leaves, and Aaron convinces Ashlee the werewolf tricked him and locked him in the cage. Ashlee searches for the key, but Aaron can feel the transformation beginning and tries his hardest to keep Ashlee from noticing. Ashlee then takes a shit long time to leave after freeing Aaron, which finally allows him to stop holding back on the transformation. A werewolf again, Aaron follows the sounds of a woman screaming and sees what must be Grantley cornering a poor victim. Aaron charges against Grantley, freeing the woman and instigating a fight between werewolves. Aaron tries to call Grantley’s name to make him turn back, but he can’t properly speak. Aaron tries the other method and attempts to knock on Grantley’s head three times, but can’t get close enough to do that without Grantley attacking him. When he finally gets his chance, Aaron tackles Grantley and knocks on his head, but it does zip. [Wing: Of course it does nothing, but this is delightful.]

As Aaron hears his dad and the police getting closer, he quickly takes the tooth pendant and puts it around Grantley’s neck, knowing Mr. Freidus won’t let them shoot the werewolf if they think he’s the boss’s kid. Aaron hides and listens, his father confusing Grantley for his son and ordering his men to bring “Aaron” back home. The officers ambush the werewolf in order to subdue him, entangling his arms and legs and getting a steel muzzle over his snout. Aaron waits until everyone leaves to head back home, where he finds his dad consoling his “son.” Entering the house, Mr. Freidus assumes Aaron is Ben, and decides he must now surrender both to the authorities. Aaron’s heart sinks as he realizes his dad’s going to abandon him and Grantley to the police, not helped by his father promising even if they spend the rest of their lives locked away in cages he’ll devote himself to finding a cure. Aaron is all “FUCK THAT” and tries to think of a way to fix this, when he notices Grantley’s sharp fangs and eureka!

He bites his father.

THAT’S WHAT YOU GET!

THAT’S WHAT YOU GET FOR BEING A SACK OF SHIT TO YOUR KID!

YOU’RE LUCKY HE DIDN’T FUCKING RIP YOUR HEAD OFF!

But don’t worry, we have a happy ending!

Yes, I – Aaron Freidus – am a werewolf.

My father used to be a werewolf hunter. But not anymore. Now he’s a werewolf too.

That’s how I solved our problem. That’s how I saved the day!

My dad used to think a werewolf lived in the woods outside our town. But he never found one. And everyone thought he was crazy. Including me.

But Dad isn’t crazy – at least not anymore.

Because I have a feeling the woods outside our town are going to be crawling with werewolves.

I know it. I just know it.

Final Thoughts

Ableism aside, what’s great about this book is it’s one of the few times a Goosebumps protagonist has the chance to finally get revenge on their horrible parents and not have it backfire on them.

Mr. Freidus is probably one of the WORST parents in the entire franchise because everything that happened here is literally his fault. HE’S the one who dragged Aaron to Bratvia and is thus responsible for him turning into a werewolf. HE didn’t even bother to check to see if his son was injured and could’ve figured out ahead of time what was going to happen. HE’S the one who brought Grantley back home and had him caged in his living room and thus was responsible for two werewolves ravaging the town. And then karma finally bites him in the ass and he’s turned into a werewolf. His obsession LITERALLY overwhelmed him.

I feel sorry for Aaron because he’s clearly an example of an abused child. He didn’t agree with his father but had little agency over his choices and didn’t want to admit to others how awful his dad was being because they’d take it out on him.

[Wing: I’m actually very confused how this fixes things, Aaron, but it sure was a lot of fun.]

As a bonus, here’s the U.K. edition cover

SEQUEL IDEA – “Werewolves In The Bathroom”: It’s about what happens to the first new family to move to Aaron’s town after the werewolf condition spread out, and unfortunately his father took control as the head wolf and has been responsible for murdering several people. Aaron, feeling even more guilty than before, tries to stop his father by teaming up with the new protagonist who has a secret of her own…

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