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

Recap #169: Graveyard School #9: The Abominable Snow Monster by Tom B. Stone

GS School #9 Cover

He’s still not as scary as Michael Keaton

Title: Graveyard School #9 – The Abominable Snow Monster, a.k.a. “Where’s Global Warming When You Need It?”

Author: Tom B. Stone, a.k.a. Nola Thacker, a.k.a. D.E. Athkins

Cover Artist: Came DeLeon

Summary: There Must Have Been Some Magic…

Kyle’s convinced – he’s created a monster! But what else is there to do when Grove Hill gets hit with thirteen snow storms?

Now his sinister snowman is on the loose, and Kyle has to figure out a way to melt him down. If Kyle fails, the snow monster is sure to go on a rampage – and he won’t be a jolly happy soul!

Initial Thoughts

Nothing puts you in the mood for summer than a nice story about a killer snowman. It’s interesting to me that Kyle Chilton would only be the main character in two books that are both about winter, but the placement is odd because I have to believe this takes place AFTER “Here Comes Santa Claws.” The book explicitly ends during the last few days of winter when spring is around the corner. For some reason, online bookstores like Amazon made it sound like “Here Comes Santa Claws” was a sequel to this book, even though it’s NOT. There’s mention of a great aunt’s funeral, but it definitely didn’t sound like Mab’s.

So take your mind off the July weather by imagining all the trimmings of winter. Roaring fires in the hearth, delicious mugs of piping hot chocolate, thick wool socks on your feet, plush and cuddly quilts and comforters to keep you nice and toasty, and the sound of hot radiator steam fogging your windows.

[Wing: You son of a bitch.]

Recap

Grove Hill was in the middle of the twelfth straight snowstorm they had this winter, and so far this one was the worst. Dr. Morthouse wasn’t going to let a little thing like a major blizzard make her close the school, nor was she going to let the students skip out on recess because of it. Cold? Dr. Morthouse scorned at the idea that THIS was too cold, reminiscing on how she used to march through 15 miles of weather three times as bad when she was a child. Stacey Carter muttered this is why the blood’s frozen in their principal’s veins. As the good doctor smiled her supposedly silver fanged smile, Kyle Chilton mused it wasn’t a fang, but an icicle.

Practically shoving the student body out into the freezing cold single-handily, Dr. Morthouse watched as teachers and kids alike trudged onto the unforgiving tundra which was once the school playground.  The teachers huddled together as close to the school doors as possible, under an excuse of watching the kids like the cowards they are. The sixth graders tried to stay huddled up too, but Park Addams figured this wasn’t a good idea and feared they would all freeze together like some hideous jell-o mold of parkas and death (he’s seen animal documentaries to back that up). Jaws Bennett, the boy who could eat anything (even roadkill), bemoaned he would have to wait to thaw his frozen jelly beans for a snack, while puke perfect Polly Hannah kept complaining about how cold it was. The kids started to attempt at playing to keep their blood pumping and work up a sweat. Park made a snowball to practice pitching and got some of the others to join in a game of catch, while a few decided to try sledding. Vickie Wheilson complained to her cousin Skate McGraw about why they couldn’t sled off Graveyard Hill instead of the baby hill in the playground. Skate only responded “Because.”

While all this was going on, Kyle Chilton had wandered off and was assessing the snow-covered bones of the playground equipment. In the rapidly falling snow, the outlines of the buried swings, slides, and jungle gym looked like dinosaur bones. He thought about Dr. Morthouse’s statement on when she was a kid, but he just couldn’t see it. The most he could imagine was a mini Dr. Morthouse, pushing aside mountains of snow with one hand on her way to school. After all, everyone knew Dr. Morthouse was not human so there was no way she was ever a kid. The thought gave him no comfort, and he wished he could stick her outside in the freezing weather and see how she’d like it. Reaching the area where the chain link fence of the playground met the white picket fence of the graveyard, Kyle started kicking up snow when he felt his foot hit something hard. Jumping back in pain, Kyle wondered if he’d kicked some big rock and started to dig through the snow. Boy was he in for a surprise, because the thing he’d unearth wasn’t a rock but it was sure made of stone. Marble, to be exact. It was a perfectly carved, smooth marble stone…

In the shape of an eye.

The marble eyeball fit perfectly in Kyle’s palm. Polly Hannah noticed Kyle’s digging and attempted to stick her nose in his business. For some reason, Kyle didn’t wish to share his discovery with the class snob, but needed to do something to draw attention away from the eye. Noticing a bunch of the younger students were making crude snowmen, Kyle hurriedly began to construct one too. As Polly sneered at the juvenile idea, Kyle declared he wasn’t making a snowman, but a snow MONSTER. When Park’s snowball reached Kyle’s vicinity, Kyle utilized it to help make the base. Seeing what he was doing, inspiration began to flow among most of the sixth graders. Soon everyone was working on snow creations. Park wanted to build a replica of Ty Cobb, the meanest baseball player evah. Maria Medina thought of building a snow woman, while Stacey focused on making a homage to her beloved pet bulldog Morris. Polly continued to complain about how childish everyone was acting; Kyle figured she’d be his snow monster’s first victim.

Due to the severity of the weather, the parents of Grove Hill started a car pool system to get their kids to school. It was clear Dr. Morthouse was as fond of the idea as she was of closing the school, watching with disdain as her wimpy students pack themselves into the cars. Mrs. Chilton arrived with the horn on her four wheel drive modified to sound like a car horn from a super old movie. Since Kyle’s mother and grandfather owned a garage, she liked to try out new horn sounds every once and a while. Kyle’s musician father supplied the tunes. Kyle was not in the mood for his mom’s level of parental humor as she picked up him, Park, Stacey, Maria, and Jaws. And he was super worried about the way she waved to Dr. Morthouse every day. Didn’t she know that was potentially lethal?

As Mrs. Chilton drove the kids to their respective homes, Maria brought up her little sister’s adventure in the backyard the previous day. She fell backwards off their porch and into a snowdrift. Mr. Medina got her out, but she thought it was fun and asked to do it again. The kids mused on the idea of being buried alive in snow, Jaws wondering if you’d starve or freeze to death first, while Stacey declared Morris would eat his way out if it happened to him. When it was down to the Chiltons, Kyle asked how his mother could see anything in this weather. She answered she was still on the road. Probably. And was pretty sure she hadn’t hit anyone… yet.

From

I just keep hitting little boys! What are the odds?

Mrs. Chilton mentioned the storm is supposed to stop at some point that night, but then Kyle gets an odd look in his eyes as he hopes they get one more storm. Lucky thirteen.

Sure enough, the storm had indeed stopped that night and the people of Grove Hill were reminded that the sun was a thing which still existed. For now. Park came to school with sunglasses to avoid getting snow blind, and planned to use the glasses for his Snow-Cobb. Kyle continued to work on the base for his monster, and rolled the huge ball up towards the slide. That way he could use the ladder to get the next two segments onto the base, and so it would be appropriately big. Kyle cared about his monster. When Polly kept making snide remarks, Kyle wondered if she was willing to donate any body parts she didn’t need to make his monster a reality. Like her head. The other kids completed their sculptures while Kyle worked on his monster. Their creations were unlike the usual array of snowmen.

QUIZ TIME: Can you name which previous Graveyard School book is referenced by which sculpture?

The garden of snow creations included:

  1. A skeletal figure on a skateboard.
  2. A bicycle rider with no head.
  3. A family of werewolves.
  4. A T-rex with a small, human foot dangling out of its mouth.

Stacey had given her Snow-Morris one of the real deal’s old collars and a water bowl for authenticity, and even fashioned a snow-bone for it. While Park boasted how excellent his Snow-Cobb was, Stacey and Maria reminded him the real Ty Cobb was a complete douchebag (I have no idea if this is true or not). Maria motions to her snow version of Wilma Rudolph, citing all of Rudolph’s accomplishments alongside being a nice person. Polly, for once in her life, added something positive by saying Bonnie Blair would’ve been a better choice because she won more Olympic medals, including for winter sports.

Kyle didn’t care what the others had to say until after his snow monster was finished. The monster became an obsession for Kyle and he spent so much time working on it he started to get teased by his classmates. As Kyle labored by himself, he looked down upon his so-called friends and thought they’d all regret making fun of him once his pride and joy was complete.

Finally, the big day arrived when Kyle was prepared to finish the monster’s head and give it a face. He was taking a truly gruesome selection of possible facial appendages to school, but had already decided to use the marble eyeball. He’d been using it as a paperweight (a really cold paperweight, for some reason) but knew the eye was destined for better things. He still wasn’t sure what it was supposed to be an eye of, though. The details were so fine and intricate on the eye and its lid he could tell it wasn’t supposed to be human, but what kind of animal? He wondered about the statues on Graveyard Hill and tried to imagine what sort of monument the eye came from. He recalled cleaning off all the snow and crap when he removed the eye, how the melted water and shit looked like real eye gunk. Heading out of his room for school, Kyle flipped the eye in the air once like a coin.

As he left, he had to keep telling himself the eye did not just wink at him.

Vice Principal Hannibal “The Principal is Your Pal (And So Is The Vice Principal)” Lucre marveled as the kids got ready for recess and commented on their unusual sculpture garden. Park sarcastically asked if Lucre wanted to play with them, but a busy man such as he doesn’t have time to play.

“Yeah, if you can’t stand the cold, stay out of the playground,” said Stacey.

Mr. Lucre pretended not to hear.

Kyle was the first one out and made a beeline straight for his faceless monster. Taking out a water pistol, Kyle began to squirt the monster’s head to freeze it and smooth it out, making it perfectly round. Polly was unimpressed by the monster’s blank face, so Kyle offered to make it match hers. Park and Jaws were both worried by how obsessed Kyle was and asked if he wanted to take a break. Kyle didn’t care; he was so close to completing his masterpiece. Eventually, the boys gave up and left Kyle to his work. Once he finished smoothing the head, it was time for Kyle to give it character. First he inserted a pair of huge plastic shark teeth to give the monster a nasty grin. Then he scoured the playground to look for branches, to give the monster arms and clawed hands. He then dug out two holes for the eyes, impressed by how creepy it would look with one empty socket. Kyle took out the marble eyeball and placed it in his monster’s head, truly impressed by his fiendishly ingenious creation.

And then something punched him in the stomach.

Kyle went falling backwards down the slide and landed headfirst in the snow. He had no idea what hit him as Park and the others started to dig him out while a crowd gathered.

Park looked around at the collection of lower-graders who had gathered. “This is a move only professionals should try,” he said. “Do not try it on your own.”

Park asked Kyle what happened, and Kyle’s heart almost stopped when he noticed the snow monster’s branch arms had definitely moved. He convinced himself the wind had moved the arms and that’s how he got knocked over. The other sixth graders began to ooh and aah at Kyle’s hideous creation. He couldn’t help but beam with pride at his child.

The following night was quiet. Too quiet. It was the quietness which awoke Kyle, since the wind had been howling something fierce. He stirred to find an unusually bright winter night; the moon’s glow reflected off the snow was so bright he could’ve probably done his homework by it. When the shadow appeared over the room, Kyle assumed a cloud was blotting the light of the moon… until he saw the thing casting the shadow watching him from his window.

A huge, round white head, hard and white as a bowling ball, was pressed against the window. It had two glowing eyes, red and hot, like coals from the center of a red-hot fire. It had teeth of silver white, sharper than the blades of knives.

Kyle bolted upright. He opened his mouth. No sound came out.

The head turned. The red coal eyes fastened on Kyle.

The snow monster grinned, and the teeth glittered with an evil light of their own. Then one black tree-bone hand came up and scratched softly at the window.

Kyle’s screams woke up his parents, but by the time they’d rushed into the room and turned on the lights the snow monster had vanished. Mr. Chilton figured, in that condescending “I know more than you do because I’m a parent” tone of voice Kyle probably had a bad dream as he tried to reveal what he saw. His father mentions the wind probably spooked him, even though there IS no wind outside. After finally agreeing with his dad to get him off his case, it took Kyle forever to get back to sleep. He was trying to convince himself it really was just a bad dream. If he’d stayed awake a bit longer, he would’ve heard the sound of something huge travelling across the snow-covered ground.

The following morning at Graveyard School, the students were witnesses to the aftermath of a massacre. Someone or something had plowed through the garden of snow sculptures. Icy body parts were scattered in a frozen sea of vegetable appendages and branch limbs. Polly could barely conceal a note of satisfaction in her voice as she surveyed the mess, and had to quickly add she wasn’t responsible. Kyle’s attention wasn’t on Polly and Maria, as it seemed the two were about to finally duke it out (much to Park’s delight). He was left speechless at the devastation. Nothing had survived the onslaught… except for Kyle’s monster. Which had somehow acquired a snazzy new top hat.

One of the younger kids recognized the hat on Kyle’s monster as the hat he’d put on HIS respective snowman, and Polly commented how odd it was that Kyle’s was the only sculpture still intact. All eyes were on Kyle, who quickly had to think of a reason that didn’t involve his creation gaining sentience. Kyle reasoned the wind had knocked over the other sculptures; the monster hadn’t fallen apart because Kyle’d coated it with ice and used the slide to support it. The younger boy started running towards the monster to get his hat back. Kyle tried to stop the boy when an icy wind blew down from Graveyard Hill. Kyle watched as one of the monster’s branch arms swung and knocked the boy down.

As Kyle tried to dig the boy out of the snow, the lad demanded to know how Kyle had pushed him. Surprisingly, Polly pointed out, in a term that screamed “Are you a moron or what” there was no way Kyle pushed him since he wasn’t even near him. The kid started crying crocodile tears for his beloved hat, so Kyle hurried towards the ladder to shut him up. Unfortunately, being so close to the monster made Kyle more than nervous. He gingerly reached for the top hat and…

Nothing.

Giving the hat back to the little boy, Kyle now had to deal with an onslaught of suspicion. Stacey wondered how the hat stayed perfectly still in that wind, while Polly repeated her previous question of how it got on the monster’s head in the first place. As everyone stared Kyle down, he asked if POLLY knew anything about it. Park realized Polly was the first to notice Kyle’s monster was left standing AND the hat was on the monster before the other kids. She pointed everyone in Kyle’s direction so quickly, it almost seems like she’s trying to frame him. Polly quickly whined Kyle was the one who knocked the sculptures down. Sure Polly, he’d be suicidal enough to sneak into GRAVEYARD SCHOOL in the middle of the night just to wreck some snowmen. Polly seethes in rage at this slander, stomping off and purposefully knocking over some fledgling snowmen in her way. Even Maria is surprised she’d do that. Kyle starts to feel guilty, but the second he opens his mouth Park gets suspicious and wonders if he really is the culprit.

And that’s when the thirteenth snowstorm began.

The rest of the day in school, Kyle’s attention was turned towards the windows overlooking the playground. The snow was falling so fast and so heavy it was like the entire world had gone white. He couldn’t even see his monster anymore. If it was still there. Kyle kept trying to convince himself this stuff only happens in badly written books, and he is not going to change his last name to “Frankenflake.” But deep inside he knew he’d created a monster, and that monster came to life. Because he just HAD to use a marble eyeball which probably came off somebody’s grave.

The snow was so bad that afternoon the kids could barely tell which car belonged to their parents. Yet Dr. Morthouse remind as defiant as ever in the face of such puny weather, openly standing on the top steps with her coat unzipped and practically trying to make the wind stop by glaring it down. The Chilton car pool assembled and headed for Kyle’s mom’s car, when Park’s striped scarf got loose from his neck and blew away. Kyle was sure he could hear the sound of nasty laughter hidden in the blizzard, and prayed it was just Polly being an ass as usual.

Mrs. Chilton can’t believe Dr. Morthouse was stupid enough to keep the school open for the entire day and is considering saying it to her face. The kids are left amazed by the intensity of the snowfall, and Mrs. Chilton adds the storm wasn’t this bad before she got to the school. Gee I wonder why.

The kids discuss the state the playground will be left in from the snow, and realize it’s entirely likely school WILL be closed. Kyle began to perk up, as he wondered if the snow would bury his monster, or maybe it was his imagination all a-SOMETHING JUST KNOCKED INTO THE CAR. Knocked it hard enough it practically fell on its side. Mrs. Chilton and the kids have no idea what hit them, though Kyle’s mom thinks it might’ve been the wind. Then the car was hit again and it began to swerve. Mrs. Chilton ordered the kids in the back to buckle up as she tried to regain control of the car, only to realize she has no idea where they are.

Kyle’s mom tried to remain calm; they’re still on the road and the car’s still working. They just need to get to a house and then they can wait out the storm. Maria had this to add.

“Yeah. That’ll be cool. Like in this book I read about these guys who got trapped in a blizzard? Well, they stopped their car, see, and the snowplows didn’t see them? And they ran right over them!”

“Thanks for sharing, Maria,” said Stacey, rolling her eyes.

Jaws said, “Are we gonna miss dinner?”

Park said to Jaws, “You’re kidding, right?”

Jaws frowned.

Shh! Nobody say anything about the Donner Party or you might give Jaws certain ideas.

Another “Gust of wind” hit the car and it spun around. Everyone was screaming, except for Kyle. Because he’d seen the bony, claw-like hand that smacked the car and was too terrified to scream. Only the hand was sharper and nastier looking than it had been when he’d previously seen it at school.

As the car skidded around, Mrs. Chilton kept her cool like a responsible adult, even though the front window had been smashed. Kyle’s mom assessed the situation and feared they’d hit something besides a tree branch. When the car stopped, Kyle saw his mom had her hand on the door and begged her not to leave. Mrs. Chilton explained she was getting the emergency supplies out of the trunk and put a flare near the car so no one would hit them. For added security, she plans to tie a rope to the door handle so she doesn’t get lost while looking for help. Stacey was glad Mrs. Chilton knew what she was doing, but Kyle had no way to convince her they were all in danger of being murdered by a creature he’d created.

A few minutes later, Mrs. Chilton returned with a few sleeping bags and a blanket from the trunk. After the kids tried to cover themselves as best they could, Mrs. Chilton set off to figure out where they were. Yet Kyle was still terrified for his mother’s well being. What if the rope broke? Or worse, it was bitten in two?

Kyle had a sudden, sickening vision of a fishing trip to nearby Slime Lake when he was younger. He’d pulled and pulled on his fishing line. Suddenly it had come flying up in the air.

Nothing was on the end of it: no bait, no hook, no cork, no sinker. Something had bitten the whole end of his fishing line off.

“Must have been a big one. A monster fish,” he could hear his father saying.

Kyle is now kicking himself for giving the monster those stupid shark teeth. He might as well have given it a loaded shotgun and armor-piercing bullets.

Thankfully, Mrs. Chilton’s returned and reports the car has stopped in the Banks (the rich people neighborhood, not-so-affectionately called the Moneybanks). It turns out they hit the front gate of a Mr. King, one of the people who stores their cars in the Chilton family’s garage. Mrs. Chilton plans to follow the fence separating the pasture on the King resident up to the affluent home to get help. Kyle thinks she should stay in the car before his mom reminds him the front window’s broken and they’ll freeze if they stay. Kyle’s more worried about being eaten than he is freezing. But his mom orders the kids to stay under the blankets and sleeping bags to conserve heat until she returns. She gives them the emergency kit with extra flares in case they think another car is coming.

Jaws got in the back with the other four so they could huddle together and share whatever warmth was left. Stacey and Maria suggested the kids could stay warmer by zipping the sleeping bags together and making a little tent. Jaws immediately asked if there was trail mix in the emergency kit, but the kids were adamant on saving it unless it was absolutely necessary. Kyle tried to keep his attention focused on the outside of the car, straining to hear any familiar sounds like his mother or her grandmonster. But it was taking so long, and Kyle started to feel sleepy before Stacey jabbed him with her elbow. She said he could freeze to death if he fell asleep in the cold. Luckily the blankets and sleeping bags were doing what they could to keep the kids moderately heated. It was then Maria heard something, something that might’ve been the snowplows. They were saved! But as she reached for the flares, Kyle stopped her. He knew what that sound was.

The monster had found them.

The kids think this is a poor joke at the wrong time until Kyle reveals what happened the previous night. The kids have a hard time believing him and are more worried about how dark it’s getting outside. Kyle wanted to wait for his mother to get back, but wondered if no one was home in the King household. Or if they were, would they turn her away?

“Too bad. Let them eat snow?”

Kyle doesn’t want to get hysterical and worry if the monster ate his mom, when he finally tells everyone where he found the marble eyeball. Maria can’t believe how stupid he’d be to use something he found on Graveyard Hill, when everyone knows it’s… she can’t bring herself to say “Haunted.”

The ground rocks again, and then suddenly it becomes quiet. Kyle could sense the monster lurking outside the car, and for one desperate moment wondered if it just wanted a friend. The memory of that hideous claw squashed that idea pretty quickly. When the car starts to move, Jaws panics and fears the monster is going to eat them all. Before anyone can stop him, Jaws makes a break from the vehicle. Or tries to, because the door won’t open. The car starts rocking and Kyle thinks he sees the branch claw skittering over one of the windows. Jaws is not deterred from his escape and forces the door open… straight into the arms of Mrs. Chilton, who demands to know if Jaws is trying to get himself killed!

The girls and Park are wary, wondering if the monster is trying to trick them. Kyle recognizes his mom’s voice though, especially as she reveals that sound they heard was the snowplow. Mrs. Chilton explains that Mr. King has his own personal snowplow and just cleared a way down from his garage to the gate. Sadly there’s not enough room for all the kids and adults, so only two kids can go inside while the other three and Mrs. Chilton follow behind using the fence and the rope. Kyle immediately vetoes the snowplow making separate trips down, because who knows what would happen while they have to wait? Thankfully, Mrs. Chilton was able to get extra gloves and hats from the King household, which is good because it’s getting colder now that it’s getting dark. Kyle tries not to think about what might’ve happened had his mom taken a minute longer to return.

As the kids and Mrs. Chilton start to follow the snowplow up the driveway, Kyle’s mother explains the walls of snow will protect them from the worst of the wind. But will they protect everyone from what happened to the car?

As they went through the gate onto the driveway, Kyle looked back.

He saw a looming shape above the car. And then he saw the car turn sideways, like a toy being picked up by a little kid, and dive nosefirst into a snowdrift, and disappear.

Kyle and Park struggle up the driveway when Kyle gets a familiar feeling of dread. For one horrible second, the snow stops falling, and Kyle sees they aren’t alone.

The snow monster was standing there, just out of reach. It had grown. It was huge. Its stick arms protruded from enormous shoulders of ice. Its teeth were as long as icicles and looked as sharp as steak knives. Its eyes were red balls of fire. Somewhere along the way, it had acquired a row of buttons, probably from one of the other snowmen it had mangled at the schoolyard. The black top hat, ludicrously small now, was perched on its head once more. And around its neck was Park’s red-and-white-striped scarf.

Boy, puberty hit this kid like a sack of bricks.

Park is angered when he sees his missing scarf. The monster roars in response. Park screams and runs like hell.

Kyle tries to run after Park, but he slips and skids around on the icy ground before falling on his back. He’s not sure if the monster hit him or not and struggles to stand up, but all he sees is snow, snow, and more snow. Kyle tugs on the rope tied around his hand hoping to find Park, only for the loose end to hit him in the face. At the sight of the mangled rope, cut through as if someone shredded it with a knife, Kyle screams for his mom and for Park. What’s worse, he has no idea what direction he’s going in because of the snow and the darkness. Kyle crashes into something hard and white before he finds himself struggling with the monster’s bony claws. The monster lifts a struggling Kyle up in the air, up towards its face.

It stared at Kyle out of burning eyes. The heat of the eyes had melted the sockets a little, so that they were sunk deeply into the monster’s face. Frozen tears from the melted snow tracked down the huge head.

Kyle screamed at the monster to let him go, but figured of course it can’t hear him since he didn’t give it ears. The monster had gotten a carrot nose, however, and the sight of it was enough to turn Kyle off the orange vegetable forever. As Kyle looked into the burning eyes, the monster smiled.

The teeth dripped melting snow. Red melting snow.

Blood.

Kyle fears the monster truly did eat his mother and his friends, and now it’s gonna eat him! The monster lifts Kyle up higher, opening its mouth full of bloody shark teeth while Kyle struggled and squirmed. Kyle panicked as he tried to unzip his winter jacket, and at the last second he slipped out as the monster let go. Kyle bounced off the monster’s chest while it chewed and shredded the jacket, bits of wet wool mixing with the falling snow on Kyle’s head. Kyle got up just in time to see the monster spit out the jacket and roar like some horrible amalgamation of a dinosaur and a truck engine. While the monster plucked the rest of Kyle’s jacket from its mouth and smeared into the ground like an angry child, Kyle fled.

It wasn’t soon after Kyle started running that he’d hit something and started to fall down. At first Kyle thought he’d fallen into a well, before he realized it was some kind of feeding trough. He wandered off the driveway into the pasture Mrs. Chilton mentioned. Kyle took a moment to breathe as he laid back on the hay inside the trough, grateful to be out of the snow even though it was still cold. The brief respite renewed Kyle’s energy and he was about to focus on his escape when the roof of the trough caved in.

Kyle rolled out of the way as he saw the monster’s clawed hands trying to find him. The monster leaned its head in and began to sniff around with its carrot nose. Kyle backed up as far as he could, and discovered he was really inside a barn. The moment the monster touched Kyle’s foot he ran out through the trough, keeping one hand on the outside of the building to not get lost. Kyle searched for the barn door when the monster got hold of him again. He attempted to snap one of the monster’s branch fingers, and while it didn’t break the monster howled in pain. Great Kyle now he’s doubly pissed off.

Kyle sees lights in the distance and believes them to be salvation, but the snow between here and there is a problem. Just then the monster grabbed Kyle’s head and off came his hat. Kyle didn’t run so much as he swam through the snow to reach the obscured building while the monster dug like a snowplow out of hell. Kyle falls forward and rolls just as the monster’s teeth almost bit into him. Kyle tosses one of his gloves at the monster’s mouth; as it chews the glove, Kyle gets moving. The more the monster tries to grab Kyle, the more articles of clothing he rips off to throw at the beast. When Kyle tosses his scarf, the monster gets distracted like a cat playing with string. Kyle finally reaches the blessed building and learns the walls are made of glass. He bangs and hollers for help until he sees the building is empty…

Except for a heated swimming pool.

HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLELUJAH!

Of course for Kyle he thinks he’s so freaked out he’s imagining things and starts screaming for help again when the monster reaches for him. Kyle slips out of his sweater and lands on top of the domed ceiling for the indoor pool. The glass starts to give underneath him when the house shakes against the impact of the monster.

It was leaning over the poolhouse, its eyes blazing blood red, its teeth gnashing and clashing. Bits of wool from Kyle’s sweater clung to the teeth like gruesome floss.

Kyle tries to carefully move up the roof away from the monster, figuring if he times it right he can get rid of the monster once and for all. Unfortunately, his strength’s nearly zapped and all he can do is cling to the glass. But as the monster starts to claw its way up, Kyle reaches his limit and starts to wave with one hand, defiantly exclaiming for the monster to finish him off. The monster gets its claws on Kyle just as the roof gives way. Kyle’s last thoughts as he plummets below are whether or not it’s safety glass.

Kyle comes to in a small, closed off room within the poolhouse. His mother is overjoyed he’s alive, while some guy Kyle’s never seen before plans to file a complaint about that shoddy safety glass. Kyle gets up, coughing water, and sees his mom and the other kids, alive and well. The man is Mr. King, who explains they were trying to find Kyle with the snowplow when the alarm for the poolhouse went off. Maria’s about to ask if Kyle saw the monster when Stacey kicks her foot to shut her up. Mr. King isn’t mad at Kyle for the damage to the ceiling and is relieved he’s okay (well okay enough), and offers to lend some of his son’s clothes as well as hot chocolate for everyone. Of course he wonders how Kyle got on the roof in the first place, and Mrs. Chilton wants to know where the rest of Kyle’s clothes are.

And why’s all that crap in the pool?

Inside Mr. King’s house, Park explains he didn’t know the rope had been cut as the others reached the top of the driveway. Kyle confirms it was indeed the monster as he changes into some dry clothes that belonged to one of Mr. King’s sons before he went to college. Alone with Kyle, Park reveals the guy’s lent them all new clothes; he saved everything that belonged to his kids when they were younger. Park’s amazed a rich guy would actually save shit instead of getting rid of it.

“When I’m rich, I’m not even going to wash my dirty clothes. I’m just going to give them away.”

“Like Polly?” asked Kyle slyly.

“That was low,” said Park.

Kyle tells Park not to spread it around what happened with the monster and does a recap of the harrowing ordeal. Park’s impressed by Kyle’s quick thinking and reveals what happened when everyone reached the pool. The water was churning and hissing like it was alive while chunks of snow were crashing into the walls. Kyle shudders at the thought of the monster melting to death. Good thing Kyle had unconsciously held onto the gorilla float in the water while this happened. Kyle thanks Park for the way he and Stacey got him out of the pool; Park says he wouldn’t have missed a show like that for anything.

The thirteenth storm ended, and while the landscape was still frozen parts of it were starting to thaw. Spring was coming soon. Mr. King was a nice enough guy he donated a steady supply of hot chocolate to Graveyard School for the rest of the winter. On the stipulation everyone who wanted some got a cup, of course. This confused Polly, who declared she’d have sued Kyle if he trashed her roof. The only problem with the donation was that Dr. Morthouse handed out the drinks (most likely to make herself look good), so no one ever had the nerve to ask for seconds. Well Jaws was trying to muster up the nerve, but still. Polly continued to whine about Kyle and the others getting new clothes when they hadn’t done anything to deserve them besides getting lost. Amazingly, Park refused to depart with his striped scarf even after the monster wore it and after it shrunk in the water.

Mrs. Chilton was so grateful for Mr. King’s hospitality she offered him free towing for life, and she’d also repaired the family car after it got damaged in the storm. As she arrived to pick the kids up, Kyle watched some of the younger students making more snowmen. They were pleased to learn Kyle’s monster had been wiped out and saw it as justice for the schoolyard massacre. Kyle decided not to build another monster, and wondered if he had a future in swimming pools…

Then again, as he felt the marble eyeball in his jacket pocket, he thought anything was possible.

Final Thoughts

When Stone, I mean Thacker, I mean Athkins, goes for the high tension drama they really deliver huh? I love how the cover makes you think the monster is just a fanged snowman when it turns out to be a behemoth with steak knives for teeth, yet is still campy with the buttons, top hat, and carrot nose.

I didn’t want to mention this yet but for the reason why the online stores made “Santa Claws” sound like a sequel to this is they explicitly mention the marble eye and how Kyle should’ve left it alone. Yet as I pointed out that doesn’t make sense because the ending reveals they were just reaching the beginning of springtime. Unless of course my theory about the sixth graders being stuck repeating the final grade in Graveyard School over and over again has some merit.

Oh, and like I said, there was absolutely no mention of any pizza delivery guys in this book. SO WHAT THE FUCK WAS KYLE REFERRING TO?

Trivia

Activities Section:

Create Your Own Monster!

Take a die from a board game and roll it four times. Write down each number you roll, in order. The first number roll will correspond to the Head list below. The second will correspond to the Body list, the third to the Arms, and the fourth to the legs. When you’ve matched each number with a body part, turn the page and draw the dastardly creature. Then start over to make more monster fun!

Example:

You roll 3, 5, 2, and 1.

You have a rolled a monster with a huge eyeball for a head, a shark’s body, lizard arms, and mermaid fin legs!

Head:

  1. Vampire’s head
  2. A clump of worms
  3. A huge eyeball
  4. Werewolf’s head
  5. Crocodile’s head
  6. Rat’s head

Body:

  1. Snake
  2. Human
  3. Horse
  4. Robot
  5. Shark
  6. Tree trunk

Arms:

  1. Carrots
  2. Lizard
  3. Brooms
  4. Knives
  5. Tree branches
  6. Cat paws

Legs:

  1. Mermaid fins
  2. Goat legs
  3. String beans
  4. Metal springs
  5. Wheels
  6. Scissors

Oh look, it’s “My Little Abomination.”

Polly Hannah’s Wardrobe:

  • Baby blue down jacket, matching blue-and-pink flowered scarf, mittens, and hat

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