Where evil twins and friends come together to lovingly snark Point Horror and other teen genre fiction
 

Recap #150: Goosebumps #10: The Ghost Next Door by R.L. Stine

Title: Goosebumps – The Ghost Next Door

Author: R.L. Stine

Cover Artist: Tim Jacobus

Tagline: There’s a strange new kid on the block…

Summary: “How Come I’ve Never Seen You Before?”

Hannah’s neighborhood has gotten a little-weird. Ever since that new boy moved in next door.

But when did he move in? Wasn’t the house empty when Hannah went to sleep the night before? Why does it still look so deserted?

Shes not getting any answers from her new neighbor. He just keeps disappearing in the oddest ways. And he’s so pale…

Is Hannah being haunted by…

…the ghost next door???

[Wing: Adorable summary.]

Initial Thoughts

Now we’ve reached one of the true classics of the original series, the tenth of the first twenty books back when Stine was still establishing the trends and style of the franchise. For those who’ve read the early books, you know already a number of them had an atmosphere that hasn’t been properly revisited in any of the later works. They seemed to carry with them a sense of real despair and fear before Stine began to realize the books might’ve been too scary for kids. [Wing: Which is a shame. Kids are better at scary things than adults want to give them credit for handling.] I think he’s mentioned if he got the chance he’d rewrite “Welcome to Dead House” to make it funnier. Which I hope he never does.

This one’s got a twist in it most people might already be familiar with considering it was adapted for the trading card series, the TV show, as well as the movie. Well, I’m not spoiling it for new readers just yet, and since I don’t have any commissions related to this one I’m gonna be scanning the three trading cards depicting certain scenes. Luckily they were illustrated by Walter Velez, who provided some of the best artwork for the card series.

This is also going to be the last post in my series of discussions on my best friend’s death, and I feel like I dragged the discussion on for too long beyond “Magic Fire.” I’m sorry.

Recap

Hannah Fairchild woke up to discover her room was on fire. She was surrounded by crackling yellow flames burning away her most treasured belongings. The wallpaper, the closet, even the mirror had burned away. With nowhere to run, Hannah screamed…

And found she was looking out her window to discover it was another beautiful summer day. Hannah sighed, thankful to have awoken from such a terrifying nightmare. Unfortunately, it was one of those dreams that hung on the peripheral edge of your mind once you wake up; you can’t really remember everything that happened but the feelings are still there. [Wing: Ugh, that is both a scary dream and a horrible feeling in real life, the way terrible dreams can linger.] Hannah was glad her dreams were at the very least exciting, because this summer had been the most boring one of her life. All of her friends were away on vacation or at camp, which left Hannah stuck at home in the boring town of Greenwood Falls with no one to hang with but her parents and brothers.

The terror of her bad dream left Hannah feeling happy to be alive, so she excitedly got dressed in her usual Day-Glo colors (which her parents often teased her about) and went downstairs to breakfast. Her little brothers Herb and Bill were already annoying their mom by throwing a rubber ball back and forth over the kitchen table. Mrs. Fairchild was surprised to see Hannah in such a good mood, knowing how bored her daughter was and so was apologetic they couldn’t send her to camp like her friends. Hannah told her mom not to worry about it and didn’t mind her brothers being a couple of pests like they usually were. Hannah reminded the twins how scared they were the previous night when she told them those ghost stories in the backyard. Herb and Bill insist they weren’t scared before asking Hannah for some orange juice. She jokes the juice is 100% pulp, grossing the boys out. Hannah happily gets them apple juice and milk as they complain to their mom about her choice of orange juice, impressing Mrs. Fairchild with her good mood.

Hannah decided to spend the day going on a bike ride in an effort to beat the monotony. It’s still a beautiful, cloudless day and all the summer flowers are in bloom, so Hannah can enjoy the scenery. That’s when someone almost runs Hannah down with their bike!

Hannah gets knocked to the ground, looking up to see a pale, freckled boy with short orange hair, on a bike. The boy repeatedly apologizes to Hannah claiming he didn’t see her, which Hannah wonders how he couldn’t when she’s practically dressed like a neon crayon. [Wing: She’s not wrong. That outfit sounds eye-searing.] The boy didn’t know he was riding in Hannah’s yard since he didn’t know she lives next door to him. Hannah doesn’t believe he lives in the house next door since that house has been empty for years. In fact, she was sure it was empty the previous day, but the boy claims he’s lived in the house for a while. The boy introduces himself as Danny Anderson and explains he lives in the house with his mom. Before Hannah explains why Danny couldn’t possibly have lived in the house for that long, Bill calls from the house saying Herb stole his Game Boy. Hannah shouts back to get their mom to help and turns back to discover Danny’s gone.

Hannah spends the rest of the afternoon writing a letter to her friend Janey, who’s at camp. Hannah talks about how boring things have been and asking why she hasn’t heard from Janey in a while, even though they promised to write to each other every day. Hannah mentions the makeshift campfire she set up in the backyard the previous evening when she told her brothers those ghost stories and thinks she did a good job of scaring them. [Wing: I want bonfires and ghost stories in my backyard. We need to move outside city limits.] Hannah adds she’s got a new neighbor named Danny, even though she has no idea how he could’ve moved in without her noticing. Hannah caps off her letter reminding Janey of her promise to write back.

If I don’t hear from you, I hope you got poison ivy all over your body – especially in places you can’t scratch!

Love,

Hannah

Hannah heads into town to mail the letter, saying hi to her neighbor Mrs. Quilty and being rudely ignored. After dropping off her letter, Hannah hears a commotion in the alley behind the post office. She sees Danny and two boys she doesn’t recognize getting yelled at by Mr. Chesney, the postmaster. One of the boys, a tall kid, is comforting a dog that seems to be in pain. The tall kid is yelling at Chesney for throwing stones at his dog, while Chesney is ordering them not to loiter in the alley causing trouble. The tall kid threatens to tell his dad what Chesney did, but Chesney isn’t scared thinking the boys are trespassing on government property. He even promises to file a formal complaint that they’re rude and disrespectful before the boys run down the other end of the alley. Chesney stomps right past Hannah back into the post office. [Wing: Fuck you, Chesney. I hope something bites off your face.]

Hannah thinks to herself what an asshole Chesney is; he hates all the kids in Greenwood Falls, and they can’t stand him because he acts so superior since he’s a “Government” official. He’s always ordering some kid to stop doing SOMEthing, regardless if they were bothering him or not. Hannah recalls one Halloween her friends planned to spray paint his windows until they saw him standing on his front porch with a loaded shotgun. He knew the kids hated him, he just didn’t care.

Hannah can’t find Danny or his two friends, and with nothing else to do she heads home with an idea of watching “General Hospital.” On her way home down the shady, tree-lined avenue, Hannah is confronted by a stranger dressed in black. The figure is standing in the shadow of the trees, and Hannah is unable to make out his face as he beckons for Hannah to come closer. Hannah’s not even sure if someone really is there until he begins to call her name. The dark stranger extends its thin, branch-like arms and calls after Hannah over and over again as she begins to run away. Hannah runs down several blocks, horrified that this person knows her name when she finally stops demanding to know what this person wants… and realizes she’s all alone. Hannah looks around the nearby houses trying to figure out where the stranger disappeared to, and wonders if in her boredom she imagined the whole thing.

During dinnertime, Hannah mentions to her parents they’ve got a new neighbor, but neither Mr. or Mrs. Fairchild recall seeing someone move in recently. Hannah asks if they think that’s weird, but her parents are too busy keeping her brothers from killing each other. Hannah excuses herself from dinner and heads to her room, where she has a good view of the house next door and wonders which of the dark windows looks into Danny’s room.

Several days pass by, and Hannah’s boredom has become intolerable. Her friends have all forgotten her, and she had a hard time finding Danny again until she saw him hitting a tennis ball on the side of his house one afternoon. Hannah accidentally startles Danny as she says hi, before bringing up how she hasn’t seen him lately and recalling the incident with Mr. Chesney. Danny doesn’t understand what the problem was since they were only hanging out; Hannah tells him Chesney makes a big deal about everything. Danny explains he’s been spending his time with Alan and Fred, two friends from school. Turns out Danny goes to the same school Hannah does, Maple Avenue Middle School, and they’re both gonna be in eighth grade. Trouble is, Hannah doesn’t remember ever seeing Danny or his friends in their grade, and Danny hasn’t heard of Hannah’s friends. Hannah wonders how they couldn’t know the same classmates.

When Danny accidentally hits his tennis ball into the gutter, he gets a ladder from the garage to remove it. Hannah is still puzzled, especially when Danny practically disappears into the shadows under the house as he retrieves the ladder. The same way he disappeared the last time they spoke. Almost like a… ghost. As Danny climbs up to the gutter, Hannah is gripped with a sense of forebode and begs Danny to come down before he gets hurt. Danny tells her not to worry as he stands on the roof, reaching for the ball, but then he loses his balance. Danny falls! Hannah can’t look, but when she opens her eyes, he’s fine! Danny jokes his mom is always calling him “Danny ‘Daredevil’ Anderson,” but Hannah doesn’t think it’s funny. She asks if he does sick shit like that all the time, scaring people like that.

Mrs. Fairchild calls Hannah from the house, asking if she can watch her brothers while she runs some errands. Hannah heads back to her house, unable to stop thinking about how Danny fell. Before Mrs. Fairchild leaves, Hannah asks her mom if she saw Danny, but somehow her mom didn’t. Hannah can’t figure out how her mother couldn’t have seen him when her brothers ask if they can play Chutes And Ladders, and if they can cheat while doing so.

That night, Hannah sneaks over to Danny’s place thinking how the house always seems so dark, and for that matter she’s never seen anyone actually leave or enter. And the house is too silent. Hannah wonders if maybe Danny really IS a ghost, maybe she’s not making up stories to keep herself entertained. She heads towards the dark kitchen window and is startled to find Danny looking back at her. Behind him, Hannah can see a tall blonde woman, most likely his mom, setting the table for dinner. Danny asks if Hannah wants to join them, but Hannah feels too embarrassed and thinks Danny’s laughing at her as she returns home.

The next day, Hannah plans to follow Danny from a distance to figure out what his deal is. She wishes Janey was here to help her, thinking they’d be great spies together. Unfortunately for Hannah, she loses track of Danny when she reaches town. He’s not in the school playground and he’s not in the alley behind the post office again. Disappointed and kicking herself for being such a crappy spy, Hannah bikes back to her place when she realizes the shadowy stranger has returned. Hannah’s so terrified she can’t even move as the shadow reaches toward her. All she can make out is two glowing red eyes in the space where its face should be as it calls her name again. Hannah finally gains the willpower to break free from the shadow’s trance, but tumbles to the ground as her name is called over and over again. Hannah screams for the thing to leave her alone when she realizes the voice has changed and become more familiar. She looks up to see Danny standing over, looking worried for her sake. Danny helps her up asking what happened, because he didn’t see any shadow coming towards her. Hannah looks around and realizes it’s just her and Danny; the shadowy stranger has vanished again. Hannah pleads she definitely saw someone dressed in black coming towards her, but Danny assumes her eyes played a trick on her what with all the shadows in the area. Hannah’s not sure what to believe.

Yet again there’s no letter from Janey, but Hannah writes to her anyway because she needs to tell someone, ANYONE, about what’s been going on. Hannah sits outside underneath the tree in her yard and begins the letter by asking Janey how she could abandon her like this. She follows up by describing the weird stuff that’s been going on with Danny and lists the reasons why she thinks he’s a ghost.

  1. He says he’s lived next door for a while but no one in her family saw anybody moving into the house, nor were they even aware of him until a few days ago.
  2. He claims he’s going to their school but neither of them has ever heard of a “Danny Anderson” and she’s never heard of his friends Fred and Alan.
  3. He’s constantly vanishing whenever she turns her back on him, and he somehow managed to land on his feet after falling off a roof.
  4. She’s been followed by a strange black shadow, and the second time it happened when the shadow disappeared Danny was in its place.

Hannah realizes how ridiculous the letter sounds but begs Janey to believe her. And hopes she finally writes back or hopes something horrible happened to justify why she hasn’t heard from her yet.

I hope you were bitten by a snake and your entire body swelled up, and that’s why I haven’t heard from you.

Otherwise, I’m going to KILL you when you get back! Really!

Love,

Hannah

Hannah wonders if maybe this letter is too stupid to send when Danny appears in front of her. He softly demands Hannah give him the letter, saying he can’t let her send it. He can’t let her tell people the truth about who he is. Hannah is horrified that she was right, that he IS a ghost, and finds herself wondering when and how Danny died. Danny continues to order her to hand over the letter, and he seems to grow brighter and brighter with the sun behind him. Hannah asks what Danny is going to do to her now that she knows, now that she’s…

Awake.

Hannah looks up to see her brothers standing over her, explaining she was talking in her sleep and laughing at her. She’d fallen asleep while writing her letter, and now her back’s all stiff as she gets up. Picking up her letter, she thinks to herself that, sometimes, dreams can tell us things we’re not consciously aware of. She’s more determined than ever to reveal Danny’s secret.

Later the next evening, Hannah goes for a walk and wonders if Danny would like to get ice cream at Harder’s. Heading to the house next door, Hannah’s more relaxed knowing what she’s going to say as she sees a light coming from the kitchen window. Hannah knocks on the back door but no one answers. Confused, Hannah looks through the window again and can definitely see Mrs. Anderson sitting at the table and drinking from a mug. Hannah knocks on the window and calls Mrs. Anderson’s name several times, but the woman doesn’t hear Hannah at ALL. It’s like she’s not even there. Hannah slowly backs away from the window, believing Danny’s mother is a ghost as well. It makes some sense; if Danny’s a ghost, his mother would be too. Going back to her house, she tries to tell her parents what she’s learned but they’re too busy watching TV to listen to her. But why would they believe such a dumb thing anyway, Hannah thinks. [Wing: Hannah’s family are the ghosts, right?]

Hannah treks to Harder’s Ice Cream Parlor, thinking a snack will help calm her nerves. Of course Harder’s is practically the only place in town still open past 8, and Hannah’s overcome with a slight sense of dread from seeing how empty the town square is. She then feels the same premonition she felt when Danny was on the roof as she gets closer to the store. Things get exciting pretty quickly when Hannah is knocked over as she reaches the ice cream shop, watching as Danny and his friends run down the street and are chased by Mr. Harder. Harder demands they come back but he can’t keep up with the boys, too angry to notice Hannah as he heads back inside. Hannah can hear the store owner complaining to his wife about Danny and the other two stealing ice cream (as in, ordering and not paying).

Hannah attempts to follow Danny and his friends, and finds them huddled at a tall hedge near someone’s house. Alan and Fred are laughing their asses off, thinking of how angry Harder got when they ran away. Danny’s standing to the side, eating his ice cream in silence when the other two joke about how scared he was. Danny puts on a tough guy facade saying he was out the door first and they were so slow he figured he’d have to rescue them. Danny admits it was pretty fun, but thinks they shouldn’t be so reckless in the future. Alan tries to make Danny relax, saying it’s not like they killed someone. In fact, they should go back and get TWO scoops. Fred thinks that’s fucking hilarious. Danny suggests they get going when the boys are caught in a car’s headlights. The police!

Actually no it’s just some guy asking for directions.

Hannah’s glad it wasn’t the cops, but the boys have realized they’ve been standing in front of none other than Chesney’s house. They can tell from the hand carved swan mailbox perched in front. Alan and Fred joke about Chesney is soooo proud of his mailbox, but wonder who could possibly want to write to HIM? They start daring Danny to take the mailbox, reminding him he once said he’d never turn down a dare. They wanna see how strong Danny is, if he can pull the swan box off the pole. Hannah begins to approach the boys, that sense of dread returning, in order to stop Danny from getting into more trouble. Yet before she can get close enough, she’s enveloped in darkness. The shadow’s stepped between her and Danny, its red eyes glowing like bloody fires, and it begins to call Hannah’s name in that dry, crackly whisper. Hannah can even smell the shadow’s horrible breath, when the lights from another car wash over her and the shadow dissipates. Up ahead, Danny’s pulling on the mailbox when Mr. Chesney emerges from his house and furiously grabs Danny by the shoulders. In the process, Danny accidentally rips off one of the swan’s wings, distracting Chesney into letting Danny go. As Chesney picks up the broken wing, he screams at the boys if he sees them again he’s getting out his shotgun.

Hannah follows the boys as they run away from Chesney’s house, and like everything else that’s occurred Fred and Alan find it hilarious. Danny’s rightly scared Chesney really will pull his gun on them if they give him any more trouble, but Fred and Alan think he’s full of hot air. Like the “respected” postmaster of Greenwood Falls would dare shoot a bunch of innocent kids. In fact, Fred and Alan think they should indeed pay Chesney another visit. After all, he could’ve hurt Danny really bad the way he grabbed his shoulders. Danny’s not scared, are you Danny?

Danny decides to cut out now and wishes the guys a good night. Once he’s finally free of those two morons, Hannah approaches him and mentions she saw what they did. Danny plays off the shenanigans like it was no big deal, defending Alan and Fred. They’re not so bad, Hannah. As she walks alongside Danny back to his house, she finally remembers what happened earlier with his mom. Before she loses her nerve again, Hannah confronts Danny, telling him she knocked and banged on the door but his mom acted like she didn’t exist. She didn’t even react like she was trying to deliberately ignore Hannah. It was like Mrs. Anderson was in a world all her own. Danny seems hesitant as Hannah asks why his mom didn’t answer when she knocked, before he concedes to telling her the truth.

His mom’s deaf.

A couple of years back, Mrs. Anderson got a really bad infection in her ears. The doctors attempted to treat the infection, but by the time they acted it was too late and her hearing was severely impaired. Mrs. Anderson’s good at lip reading, but she doesn’t like telling people about her handicap because she doesn’t want to be pitied.

Hannah feels like absolute garbage for having jumped to such ridiculous conclusions, but makes a smart move by not mentioning she thought Danny and his mom were ghosts. She apologizes for having been rude and promises Danny his mom’s secret is safe with her. Returning home, Hannah still feels foolish. Ghosts. What a moron! Too bad the shadow’s waiting for her by the back door, and this time it manages to say more besides her name. The shadow starts warning Hannah, telling her to stay away. Stay away from Danny, that is. Hannah screams and before the shadow can do anything to her parents burst out of the house having heard her screaming. Hannah points to where the shadow was, but it’s gone. Mr. Fairchild searches the backyard with a flashlight, but doesn’t find any intruders and asks if they should call the police. Hannah tells her parents to forget about and wants to get to bed, but is still so spooked by her encounter she gets scared thinking the shadow really is in her room when it’s not.

In bed, Hannah goes over what she knows and starts thinking Danny lied about his mom being dead. The way the shadow was warning her about Danny makes Hannah believe he really is a ghost. But why is he next door, and are Alan and Fred ghosts as well if he hangs out with them? Is the shadow trying to stop her from proving Danny’s a ghost? Hannah’s thoughts about Danny and the shadow follow her into her dreams and she has another nightmare. Only this time, she’s standing by a fire in a dark cave when the black shadow approaches her.

The black figure, its red eyes glowing brighter than the fire, moved toward Hannah. Closer. And closer.

And when the black figure came so close, close enough for Hannah to reach out and touch it, the shadow figure reached up with its sticklike arms and pulled itself apart.

It reached up with its ebony hands and bonelike fingers, pulled away the darkness where its face should be – revealing Danny underneath.

Danny, leering at her with glowing red eyes that burned into hers – until she woke up gasping for breath.

Looking at the early morning sky, Hannah doesn’t believe her dream. Danny can’t be the shadow, she thinks, but come next morning she finally asks him if he’s a ghost. While Danny’s kicking a soccer ball against the side of his house, he jokes of course he’s a ghost. Hannah insists she’s serious but Danny’s not really listening, talking about what happened the other night with Fred and Alan. Hannah joins him in his impromptu game, but continues asking him questions like if those two really do go to their school, or if they’re ghosts as well. Danny reveals Fred and Alan are actually older than him and will be going into ninth grade, confusing Hannah more. Ninth grade? How does she not know them, Hannah wonders. Then again, Danny asks how come THEY have never seen HER? He slips the two wanna go back to Chesney’s house for more “fun” when Hannah and Danny both dive for the ball. Danny trips and falls, so Hannah reaches down to pull hi-HOLY SHIT HER HANDS WENT THROUGH HIS CHEST!

Hannah reached to pull Danny up – and her hands went right through him!

(Just Passing Through)

It takes a moment before Danny notices what happened, and now Hannah thinks she’s confirmed it. Danny IS a ghost after all! Or is he? Because then Danny manages to put his entire hand through Hannah’s chest, and she doesn’t feel anything at all. Horrified, Danny backs away from Hannah before running into the relative safety of his house. Hannah realizes she got it all wrong, got it backwards.

“Danny’s not the ghost,” Hannah said out loud. “I finally know the truth. Danny’s not the ghost. I am!

Hannah stumbles out of the yard, dazed and confused, not properly processing this revelation when she overhears Mrs. Quilty talking with a friend. The other woman mentions her friend was briefly interested in buying Hannah’s house, even though Hannah’s family lives there! Don’t they?

Mrs. Quilty says she can’t stand having an empty house on the block, and even though it’s been five years since the house burned down and was rebuilt no one’s lived in it. The woman’s not familiar with the story since it happened before she moved into town. Quilty explains the house burned down one night and the entire Fairchild family died in the blaze. The source of the destruction was a small campfire the three kids had built in the backyard that hadn’t been properly doused. Hannah mentioned she’d told her brothers some ghost stories in the backyard one evening. Around a campfire.

It was her.

The fire in her dream was real, and it happened because of her.

She’s the reason her family’s been dead for five years!

[Wing: Goddamn, that is a horrific burden to carry.]

It’s become much clearer to Hannah now. Why the days seem to meld together and why none of her friends have written to her all summer. Time has little meaning for ghosts.

Hannah runs back into her house looking for her parents and her brothers, but they’re gone. In fact, the entire house is empty. Hannah’s awareness has destroyed the illusion and all she’s left with is an empty home.

They’ve left me here. A ghost. A ghost all by myself.

“I’ve got to talk to someone,” she said aloud. “Anyone!”

She searched desperately for a telephone until she found a red one on the bare kitchen wall.

Who can I call? Who?

No one.

I’m dead.

I’ve been dead for five years.

Even the phone is dead too, and all Hannah can do is sink to the floor and cry.

Hannah wakes up, discovering it’s now nighttime but not sure if it’s even the same day. Her family is still gone, and all Hannah feels is the warning sense something bad will happen. She remembers Danny mentioned his friends were going back to Chesney’s house and fears what they might do. The minute Danny sees her trying to follow him, he screams at Hannah to leave him alone. Hannah begs Danny not to be scared of her, but it’s no use and he bikes away. Hannah’s still afraid for Danny, so she gets her bike (which, apparently, is still in the garage) and goes after him.

By the time Hannah gets to Chesney’s house, the boys have managed to successfully uproot the swan mailbox. Chesney doesn’t seem to be home; his car’s not in the driveway. Alan and Fred are congratulating each other when they start entertaining certain ideas. Hannah is still across the street and can’t hear what the boys are discussing as they huddle together on Chesney’s driveway, but wishes they would leave now that their dumb prank is over. She’s especially not thrilled when she realizes Alan’s struck a match. Oh crap.

Hannah tries to follow behind the boys just as they sneak directly into Chesney’s house through a window. Unfortunately, the window is too high up for Hannah to follow through and can only hear the boys moving around in the empty house. Hannah tries to scream as loud as she can for Danny and the two giggling idiots to get out before Chesney comes back, but chances are Danny would be the only one who can hear her. It’s then she notices orange-colored light coming out of the window, and Hannah can’t believe the boys are so stupid they’re turning on lights. But once the light becomes brighter and starts to turn yellow and red, Hannah recognizes THE MORONS STARTED A FIRE.

The shadow tries to stop Hannah from getting inside the house to rescue the boys, ordering her to leave and let Danny die.

(Mysterious Menace)

The shadow blocks Hannah from entering the house as Alan and Fred jump out of one of the widows. They’re sure as fuck ain’t laughing now and babble they didn’t mean to make such a big fire. The boys are horrified that Danny is still inside and he can’t get out, the fire’s grown out of control! Neither of them notice Hannah or the shadow and run to get help for Danny, not knowing Hannah needs help of her own. Hannah wrestles with the shadow and is shocked she’s able to grab hold of it, ripping away the darkness covering the face to find DANNY!

Shadow!Danny’s eyes grow bright red, and reveals to Hannah that he is Danny’s ghost.

“I am Danny’s ghost. When he dies in the fire, I will no longer be a shadow. I will be BORN – and Danny will go to the shadow world in my place!”

[Wing: Wait what?]

Hannah refuses to let that happen and fights back against Shadow!Danny, plunging herself through his black body and hoisting herself through one of the windows. Even as a ghost, Hannah can feel how hot the window sill has become. Hannah still hasn’t completely accepted that she’s dead, and must remind herself the fire and smoke can’t hurt her. Hannah searches through the burning living room, looking so much like her bedroom at the beginning of the book, and finds Danny huddled in a corner and surrounded by flames. Hannah takes one final moment to reassure herself she won’t be hurt before she marches through the flames and reaches for Danny’s hand. Danny can’t entirely see Hannah at first until she pleads with him they have to go. Danny is too frightened believing there’s nowhere to go, but Hannah pulls him up and drags him out through the fire.

(FIRE!!)

They’re both blinded by the smoke but Hannah doesn’t give up, doesn’t let go of Danny, doesn’t stop moving until she’s gotten him through the front door. Out of the burning house, the two collapse to the ground and Hannah looks up to see the shadow’s demise.

There was the shadow figure near the house, twisting in flames. As the fire consumed it, it raised its dark arms toward the sky – and vanished without making a sound.

Exhausted and practically unconscious, Danny has enough strength left to thank Hannah for saving his life when everything becomes bright.

Hours later, after being examined and treated by paramedics, and driven home in an ambulance, Danny lay in bed, his mother tucking him and checking to see if he was okay. Mrs. Quilty was there to provide support for Mrs. Anderson. Danny is still slightly out of it and asks his mom what happened to Hannah. Danny explains he was saved by Hannah Fairchild, the girl next door. Mrs. Quilty thinks Danny is delirious, explaining to his mother that the Fairchilds died five years ago. Danny is getting upset, exclaiming Hannah’s his friend and he wants to know where she is.

No one knows Hannah is standing in the doorway to Danny’s room, happy he’s alive and believing the reason she came back after five years was to save him from dying the way she had. Hannah’s vision begins to fade as she hears the sweet sound of her mom’s voice, telling her it’s time to come home. The room was fading, no, the Earth was fading away before Hannah’s eyes. The only thing she could still see in the darkness as she floated away was Danny’s face.

“I can see him, Mom,” she said excitedly, brushing the tears off her cheeks. “I can see Danny. In his room. But the light is getting faint. So faint.”

“Hannah, come back. Come back to us,” her mother whispered, calling her home.

“Danny – remember me!” Hannah cried, as Danny’s face appeared clearly in the misty gray.

Could he hear her?

Could he hear her calling to him?

She hoped so.

Final Thoughts

Let’s get this out of the way and assume most of you already knew the twist of Hannah being the ghost and not Danny, that the fire dream at the beginning wasn’t a dream but her dying. [Wing: I didn’t get it there, obviously, but did get it eventually. Somehow, I’ve never been spoiled for this.] This is one of the more famous entries in the series for a reason, and the twist was spoiled in the movie when they used Hannah as “Hannah Stine,” R.L.’s supposed daughter pulled out of the books because he didn’t have kids (which isn’t true in real life).

The TV show adapted this a two-part episode, where the first half ends with Hannah realizing she’s a ghost. The Shadow Spirit gets more screentime where he teaches Hannah how to do things as a ghost, before Hannah realizes there were too many times she’d saved Danny from a number of suspicious accidents. The Shadow Spirit was actively trying to murder Danny to take his place in the world, since he’s not actually a ghost just yet. Danny was trapped in the house when the fire started and passed out. Hannah didn’t have enough energy to move him, but she WAS able to play a song on Chesney’s piano and alerted the man to Danny’s presence so he could save him. Danny was at least able to say “Thank you” to Hannah before it ended.

As a side note, in the TV show his mother was shown using sign language and Danny knew it as well.

I’m not entirely sure what the source of the mythology is, but I’m certain I’ve heard of tales involving proto-spirits, nonliving entities that swap places with people when they die. Sort of like doppelgangers.

This is truly one of the saddest stories in the entire series, and as stupid as it sounds I’m tearing up a little right now thinking about it. There’s that feeling of emptiness and loneliness Hannah suffers from, fearing her friends have abandoned her only to realize they’ve all moved on and she doesn’t have a life anymore. And I’m not just talking about Hannah’s situation. Danny’s life seems to be a pretty sad one as well. His mother’s handicapped and there’s absolutely no mention of his dad, and he doesn’t seem to have any real friends except Alan and Fred. He tries too hard to please those two dipshits and he’s clearly worried about making them think he’s a loser because they’re the only friends he has. Not to mention he’s probably going to be in a lot of trouble for the fire.

[Wing: I don’t think it sounds stupid. It’s a sad story and Hannah is a compelling, interesting character. I empathised with her a lot from the beginning, and her horror over figuring out what she did and what she is was heartbreaking, especially when she came back to an empty home because she broke the illusion. It’s sad.]

Jude on April’s recaps

I have to explain to you guys something about this month and why I’m doing my recaps in this manner.

On April 1st 2016, 10:55 AM, my best friend, Patricia J. Thompson, died. She was a writer and retired professor of women’s studies. She considered herself a Hestian Feminist and had constructed a Hestian/Hermean system on public/private thinking. She was the daughter of famed Russian poet Vladimir Mayakovsky, but spent decades fighting to have her place as his daughter officially recognized.

Despite the massive gap between our ages, Pat was one of the closet friends I’ve ever had in my life. I met her my first semester at Lehman College when I enrolled in her Family Relationships course. We instantly became friends because I was the only person in her class who knew who the Greek goddess Hestia was. Pat became my friend during a very horrible period in my life and her classroom gave me a space to take about my problems at home, plus several other traumatic situations I never really talked about before I entered therapy. I enjoyed hanging out with her before and after classes, just talking about anything. When I took her last course before she retired, Women In Antiquity, she repeatedly praised my final paper on Wonder Woman as one of the best things she ever read. Pat was one of the only people I’ve felt comfortable being alone with and I’d visit her at her apartment in Manhattan, although with my anxiety I didn’t hang out for that long. Still, she cared about me so much she considered me an adopted grandson and frequently called me such. But, really, she felt like more of a mother to me than my birth mother has been.

You guys think I’m putting her on a pedestal because she was my friend, but I’m not. She was truly one of the most loving, kindest, caring people I’ve known. Even my horrible parents and my awful sibling liked her. Hell, my sibling cried after meeting her, exclaiming Pat had treated them so kindly. It still makes me cry thinking about it. Pat was always supportive of who I was and she made me feel like the things I had to say were worth saying and believing. She believed in me as a student, writer, and human being. The only time she ever got mad at me was after my suicide attempt in 2013. She… meant so much to me.

I, I can’t, you guys can’t comprehend what it was like for me to learn she died. It felt like such a horrible April Fool’s joke when I got to the hospital and learned her time of death, which was around the same time I’d left the house to visit her. April Fool’s, she was already dead by the time I left to see her! That month was a nightmare for me. I’d scared more than a few people into thinking I was going to kill myself even though I had no intention to. It wouldn’t have made a difference. Thinking about her death and how she died still makes me sad and angry I just want to, to, UGGGGH it’s so frustrating for me! And knowing she’s dead while so many other people out there keep making the world a horrible place I wanna scream and break stuff and, damn it!

So, look, it’s been two years since she died and I’m not over it. I thought maybe I could do some exploring on my feelings through the posts with this month and the books I’m reviewing. I’m not gonna pretend I’m magically gonna be over Pat’s death come May, but it’s better than doing nothing but stewing in my regrets.

Jude’s analysis

Pat often shared with me her beliefs on what would happen to her when she died. She was never really scared about dying, or maybe she was, I don’t know. It was never really a topic I wanted to discuss with her. She didn’t believe that much in Heaven or Hell, but what she did believe was that she would become part of the energy of the universe and she would be all around when it was eventually her time. I think maybe she said that to comfort me.

I’ve had such a hard time excepting her death because, despite what she said I, I, I can’t feel her. I can’t feel that she’s here in some form. I can’t feel her energy like she always said. Late at night when I go for walks, or when I’m in bed and still awake, I’d stretch out my hand in the open air or on the bed. I’d hold it out and I’d pray and wish to feel something, anything, to feel the slightest hint of her energy to let me know she’s there.

I never do, even though I’d give anything to feel her presence.

Are you there Pat? Have you been there at all since you died, at least some small part of you? I don’t mean to be greedy because I know there are other people you should be spending your time with, but I wish I knew where your energy went. People have told me it’s there when I’m focusing on my writing and actually doing it like she wanted me to, but I don’t believe it because I still don’t feel her.

Does this book give me a shred of hope there is indeed an afterlife out there, and in some way she can see me and watch over me? Maybe. I hope at the very least if there is some part of her still out there, she knows how much I love her and miss her, and how sorry I am I didn’t live up to her expectations.

Epilogue

Guys thank for you allowing me the time this month to attempt at analyzing my deeper rooted feelings about what happened to Pat. I originally had something written during an episode of depression, but I realize that wasn’t appropriate and I was worried it would give everyone the wrong idea.

I promise I’m gonna have something special for the site next month.

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