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Recap #203: Goosebumps #61: I Live In Your Basement! by R.L. Stine

It’s Very David Lynch

Title: Goosebumps #61 – I Live In Your Basement! a.k.a. “Egg Yolkeo’s Revenge”

Author: R.L. Stine

Cover Artist: Tim Jacobus

Tagline: Talk about a MONSTER nightmare!

Summary: He’s Got The Basement Blues!

“Don’t do this! Watch out for that!” Marco’s mom thinks the whole world is a danger zone. She won’t even let Marco play softball.

But Marco just wants to have fun. So he sneaks off to a game. And that’s when it happens. He gets hit in the head with a baseball bat.

Now things are getting really fuzzy. Really scary. Because when Marco gets home he gets the strangest call. From someone who says he lives in Marco’s basement…

Initial Thoughts

I promised someone on tumblr I would do a recap of this book come November. I just hope they’re still on the site after tumblr deleted all those blogs. INCLUDING MINE.

(UPDATE: My blog has been restored, although who knows what’ll happen after December 17th.)

This is one of most diverse entries in the original series, and serves as the penultimate volume before #62 and the end of the run. Troy Steele on “Blogger Beware” claimed this, alongside the two that preceded it (Werewolf Skin, The Haunted School) felt like last minute strokes of genius for Stine. And I agree with him.

Of course, I kind of wish Stine had saved some of that genius for “Monster Blood IV” which is such a clusterfuck.

“I Live In Your Basement” is bizarre, confusing, and rather endearing. It depends upon a more primal fear yet at the same time a rather unexpected fear. This idea that there is a total stranger living inside your home but you have no way to prove it. Coupled with the fact the main character is having a hard time keeping track of what’s real and what’s not due to the aforementioned stranger and his head injury.

BUT DON’T WORRY this isn’t a split personality thing.

Recap

Marco’s mom has a warning for absolutely EVERYTHING, and it annoys him to no end. Just the other night she warned him not to sharpen his pencils in case he poked his eye out. His friend Jeremy thinks it’s funny, but Marco’s not in the laughing mood. Any day now, he’s expecting his mom to warn him not to breathe so hard or he’ll break his nose. And if she’s not warning him about doing something, she’s lecturing him about germs. It’s always “Germs, germs, germs!” I’m surprised she even lets them keep a dog.

So this afternoon Marco was sneaking to the playground for a game of softball with his friends. He knew his mom wouldn’t let him, warning him he’d be likely to break every bone in his body. According to her, it happens every day. At the very least, Marco’s mom never punishes him. She’ll just warn him. And warn him. And warn him some more.

Lucky for Marco, school ended earlier than usual because of a teacher’s meeting. The only person at his house was Tyler, their family’s pet dog. This gave Marco the chance to sneak in, grab his catcher’s mitt, and head for the school playground. There, the boys see Gwynnie Evans, Leo Murphy, Lauren Blank, and the Wakfield Tw-I MEAN, the Franklin Twins arguing as usual.

The team captains are Gwynnie and Lauren. Marco explains Gwynnie’s a tough gal always trying to prove she’s better at sports than the boys in school. She’s half a foot taller than Marco, has big shoulders, and is always pushing people around. No one particularly likes Gwynnie, but it’s better to have her on your team because she ALWAYS wins. Especially when it comes to arguing, because Gwynnie yells the loudest.

Marco ran up to Gwynnie on the pitcher’s mound, but she didn’t see him. She didn’t see him while she pulled back that bat and swung it as hard as she could. Marco didn’t see the bat in time to-THUNK!

At first, I didn’t feel a thing.

The ground tilted up.

But I still didn’t feel anything.

Then the pain exploded in my head.

Exploded… exploded… exploded.

Everything flashed bright red.

So bright, I had to shut my eyes.

I heard myself shrieking. Neighing like a horse. A shrill wail I never heard before.

And then the ground flew up to swallow me.

When Marco comes to, he finds his mother looking over him and she appears to be crying. He’s on the couch in his den, with a big bandage on his forehead. Marco feels dizzy and his vision’s blurry for a moment before things start to clear up. He loathes what’s coming next, knowing his mom’s gonna say “I told you so.”

And she does.

Marco’s mom warned him not to play baseball. He corrects her saying it was softball, but she doesn’t care. Because guess what? He went and got his head cracked open like an egg.

Huh?

Marco stammers, wondering if he heard his mom right before asking if he’s going to be okay. His mom hesitates for a moment before saying of course he’ll be fine. But Marco can tell she’s lying. Marco asks her to be truthful, but she goes into the kitchen to put some stuff away.

Marco drifts back to sleep when he hears the phone ringing. When his mom doesn’t answer it, Marco picks it up and almost bangs his head placing the phone near his ear. The person on the phone expresses their hope that Marco is okay. Marco doesn’t recognize the voice and asks who’s calling him. The voice explains they hope Marco is okay because Marco will be taking care of them from now on. Confused and startled, Marco asks who this is.

“It’s me,” the voice replied. “Keith.”

“Keith?”

“Yes. Keith.”

“I-I don’t know you,” I stammered.

“You should,” the boy replied softly. “You should know me, Marco. I live in your basement.”

Marco isn’t sure who hung up first and feels his head spinning. He doesn’t know any Keith from school, nor does he understand why someone would call to scare him like that. Marco remembers Gwynnie swinging the bat when his mom comes into the den. She freshened up and brought Marco a bowl of cereal. After all, if he doesn’t eat, acid will burn a hole in his stomach.

Marco starts telling his mom about the phone when she interrupts saying Jeremy called checking in on him. As he explains to her how he answered the phone in the den and tells her all about the horrible conversation with Keith, Marco’s mom becomes worried again…

Because there’s no phone in the den.

The next morning, Marco wakes up feeling better than yesterday. His bandage is gone and he can see a big purple bruise on his right temple. Heading into the kitchen for breakfast, Marco’s mom warns him not to run or he’ll break his kneecap. That was a new one, but the warning about eating slowly so he doesn’t clog his stomach pipes was an oldie.

Today’s Saturday, but Marco’s mom wants him staying in because he might still be weak. She doesn’t want Marco fainting and hitting his head on the sidewalk. He’s still kind of spooked from that phone call, and gets nervous when someone bangs on the front door. Thankfully it’s just Jeremy. Marco’s mom announces she has to run a few errands so she’s leaving Marco and Jeremy alone. Oh and she also warns Jeremy to eat something if he missed breakfast. She even lectures Marco’s friends!

Jeremy reports that Gwynnie called him the previous night, and she was really upset about hitting Marco. Marco’s surprised she’s not bragging about it, but Jeremy sincerely insists Gwynnie was a mess. Amazingly, Marco doesn’t blame her and takes full responsibility for running up to her while she was warming up. Marco then suggests they play pool in his basement…

Which is when he remembers Keith’s phone call.

Marco hesitates, trying to convince himself he only imagined Keith’s message. There’s no way someone’s living in his basement. Right?

Just to be on the safe side, Marco inspects the basement and the attached laundry room before the boys play. Jeremy asks what the problem is, but Marco doesn’t tell him about Keith and uses the excuse of wanting a lot of light to play. Marco mentions they have a regulation pool table but the basement’s not really big enough to properly play, so they have to move around concrete beams. Jeremy’s a much better player.

During the game, Jeremy brings up how Gwynnie plays pool the same way she plays softball. One day at the rec center, Gwynnie hit a pool ball with her cue stick so hard it went through a window. Marco wonders if Gwynnie thinks she has to get a home run while playing pool.

Jeremy mentions the Franklin Twins got in a fight over which was the 6 ball and which was the 9 ball before smearing blue chalk over each other.

“Why do you think the Franklin twins fight all the time?” I asked.

Jeremy thought about it for a moment. “Because they’re twins,” he said finally. “Even they can’t tell each other apart. And so they have to prove they’re different from each other.”

“That’s very deep,” I replied. I wanted to think about that.

Twins! So different yet so similar!

That’s when Marco hears the scratching noise. Followed by the bumping noise. And even scarier is that Jeremy hears it too. The sound is coming from the cabinet, and Marco hesitates to ask who’s there. He opens the door, and…

*Cue “Psycho” strings*

A squirrel! Marco and Jeremy hurry to get the squirrel out of the basement before Marco’s mom gets home. She’d flip her shit if she knew a wild animal was loose inside her house. The boys open the basement windows and Marco grabs an old fishing net off the wall. Thankfully after some running around the boys manage to herd the squirrel out one of the windows. Marco’s mom calls from upstairs asking what the hell is going on. When Marco responds they’re playing pool, his mom warns them not to poke their eyes out with the cues.

The boys have fun playing a few games, and Marco’s mom made a lunch of soup and sandwiches. She warned them not to burn the skin off their tongues while they ate. Feeling a bit exhausted, Marco decides to take a nap while his mom chides him for overdoing it. Marco was more tired than he thought, because he wakes up a few minutes after midnight. Deciding to get a snack, he heads to the kitchen and sees the basement door is open. As Marco closes the door, he hears footsteps.

Keith asks if Marco forgot about him.

Marco is terrified, screaming Keith doesn’t exist when the light in the basement goes on. Coming up the stairs is Marco’s mom! His mom demands to know why he’s awake, while Marco asks what she was doing down there. Marco’s mom explains she was doing laundry because she couldn’t sleep. It’s her way to relax (something she has in common with Melanie from Stine’s “Fear Hall”). However, Marco wants to get her out of the basement because Keith is down there. His mom doesn’t understand what he’s talking about and asks who this “Keith” is. Marco tries to explain there’s a boy living in their basement, but his mother thinks he’s not feeling well because of his injury.

Keith chides Marco for not listening to his mom.

Unfortunately, Marco’s mom didn’t hear THAT either. Marco tries to run down the basement stairs when Tyler appears and almost knocks him over, so his mom decides he definitely needs to get back in bed. As his mom leads him to his room, Marco looks back toward the basement door. All he sees in the open stairway is darkness. Where is Keith hiding?

On Monday Marco is allowed to go to school. His bruise is still there, but much smaller. The Franklin Twins are able to stop arguing for about five seconds to ask Marco how he’s feeling. Soon Marco’s the talk of the school and everyone’s fussing over him and asking questions.

Things take a turn for the disconcerting when Marco gets to class. His teacher, Miss Mosley, mentions since they’re studying health care, she’d like Marco to tell the students what his trip to the hospital was like.

Uh.

What hospital?

Marco has no idea what Miss Mosley’s talking about. He didn’t go to any hospital! Or did he? Marco can’t remember anything about a hospital. Gwynnie jokes she can hit him in the head again to jog Marco’s memory, but Miss Mosley’s offended by such a poor joke. Memory loss is nothing to joke about, you know. His teacher assures Marco his lost memories will come back in time, but Marco’s disturbed because he didn’t know he had ANY missing memories.

While walking home Marco can’t stop thinking about what Miss Mosley said. When he sees some kids playing softball behind the school, he feels uncomfortable. That’s when Marco hears Gwynnie calling after him. He turns around and sees Gwynnie running towards him, AND SHE HAS A BASEBALL BAT!

Marco fears Gwynnie plans to hit him again and starts to run away before she can do more damage. Once he gets home, his mom sees Marco is out of breath and sweating. She lectures him about overexerting himself and reminds him she wrote a note to get out of gym. Marco’s more worried Gwynnie followed him home and is afraid of asking his mom about the hospital. He doesn’t want her to freak out about him not remembering anything.

Heading up to this room, Marco declares he has a lot of homework which is when he realizes he has a guest sitting on his bed.

He looked about my age. He had wavy black hair around a thin, serious face. He gazed at me with round, dark eyes. Sad eyes. He wore black denim jeans and a loose-fitting plaid flannel shirt.

He didn’t appear at all surprised to see me.

“Who – who are you?” I stammered.

“It’s me. Keith,” he replied softly. “I told you. I live in your basement.”

Marco has to grab the door frame to stop from falling over as Keith cruelly smiles. The strange boy says they should get to know each other since Marco will be taking care of Keith from now on. Marco quickly slams the bedroom door shut and locks it from the outside (he mentions the rooms have locks and keys no one ever uses). He starts screaming at his mom to come upstairs, to prove he didn’t imagine Keith. There’s no way Keith can escape now!

Marco’s mom comes up the stairs demanding to know why he’s so agitated. He hurriedly opens the door to reveal to her…!

Tyler, sitting on his bed.

Marco freaks out, trying to figure out where Keith is hiding in his room. His mom chides him for locking Tyler in his room, but Marco insists there was a boy in here. Marco’s mom insists he’ll be fine, in a tone of voice that makes it clear she thinks he’s losing it. She decides they have to see Marco’s physician, Dr. Bailey, and promises everything will be just fine.

Dr. Bailey’s waiting room is overwhelming to Marco’s senses. It’s all done in blue and green, and with the giant fish tank against the wall Marco feels like he’s underwater and struggling to breathe. Across from Marco and his mother are a young girl and her dad. The girl won’t stop hiccuping, and claims to have been stuck like this for TEN DAYS. Marco’s mom offers some advice.

“Has she been eating eggs?” Mom asked the father. “Too many eggs can give you the hiccups.”

The man stared at Mom.

“It’s the egg whites,” Mom continued. “They’re too slippery. You can’t digest them.”

The man stared at mom some more. Finally he murmured, “I don’t think it was eggs.”

Marco pleads with his mom he doesn’t have to see the doctor, that he’s okay, but she insists. The hiccuping girl’s not exactly having a picnic either.

“Try holding your breath,” her father instructed her.

“I’ve been holding it for ten days!” she grumbled.

Finally, Marco’s brought in to see Dr. Bailey. A short, bald, chubby guy, Dr. Bailey cheerfully inspects Marco’s bump and asks how he feels. Marco doesn’t hold back from telling the doctor all the awful things that’ve happened, about Keith and not remembering the hospital. Dr. Bailey lets Marco say his piece, then assures mother and son it doesn’t sound too bad. Marco’s mom is revealed, but Dr. Bailey adds he would like to try one thing to make sure Marco’s totally okay.

“I’d like to remove your brain and examine it under a microscope,” Dr. Bailey said.

Marco’s not sure he heard that correctly, but Dr. Bailey is rul serious. He calmly assures Marco it’s a simple procedure; the brain slides out very neatly once the head’s opened up. After all, how can he see the brain if he doesn’t remove it? Marco is horrified and demands to know if Dr. Bailey’s joking. His mom orders Marco to listen to the doctor.

“The doctor knows what he’s talking about. If he says the brain comes out, it comes out.”

It’s not like this is Dr. Bailey’s first time. In fact, he’s had a lot of experience removing brains. Marco asks if he can, um, discuss it with his mom. Dr. Bailey feels it would be best to think it over, and then get back to him about scheduling the de-braining.

Wing I did not make that word up.

Marco hurries out of the doctor’s office, his mom chiding him for being rude and that the doctor knows best. He insists his brain is fine where it is and he’ll never see or think about Keith again.

Jinxed it.

Marco managed to convince his mom to wait a few days before scheduling any “De-braining.” That night Marco is trying to focus on a creative writing assignment with the topic being someone else’s point of view. He figures he’ll write about Tyler when he gets a phone call. He’s scared it might be Keith again, but thankfully it’s Jeremy. Jeremy’s checking to see how Marco feels and mentions he’s doing his assignment on his cat. After they finish chatting, Marco’s about to work on his project when he sees Keith’s face filling the computer screen!

And then someone starts to choke him from behind!

It’s Gwynnie!

Gwynnie jokes she wanted to surprise Marco, but then admits she came over to apologize. She asserts she felt bad about her poor joke in class, and tried to apologize earlier in the afternoon when Marco ran away. Marco reminds her she chased after him with a baseball bat, but Gwynnie declares she only had the bat because she was up next during the game. Did he really think she was going to hit him again? Gwynnie adds she can’t stop thinking about last week when she hit Marco in the head, remembering over and over how scared she was that he could’ve been dead.

Marco tells Gwynnie he’s fine, but starts asking for help with this whole Keith problem. He even motions to the computer, showing her Keith’s face on the screen.

Gwynnie tells him the computer’s not on.

Now Gwynnie’s assuming Marco is pranking her as payback, which is when Marco starts to get a bit hysterical. He frantically tries to convince Gwynnie he’s being stalked by some boy living inside his basement. Gwynnie asks if Marco started seeing Keith BEFORE or AFTER he got hit in the head, but Marco knows Keith is real. He tells Gwynnie all about how Keith wants Marco to take care of him. Even as he sees the patronizing look in Gwynnie’s eyes, Marco asks her to come down to his basement to find Keith.

Gwynnie feels this is dumb, but agrees to help Marco. She marches into Marco’s basement and starts asking where this so-called boy is. Come on Keith, don’t be shy, it’s just Marco and Gwynnie. They’re about halfway into the laundry room when HOLY SHIT GWYNNIE SEES KEITH!

Actually no, she doesn’t because Gwynnie didn’t believe Keith was real. She went along with Marco because she thought he was fooling her as revenge. She wasn’t scared of Keith at all! And she’s gonna show Marco why. Marco, perplexed, watches Gwynnie as she stands at the top of the basement stairs and opens her mouth. At first he thinks she’s horking up a wad of bubblegum, until he realizes that’s not gum.

At first, I thought she had a big gob of bubblegum in there. But as the pink gunk flowed up from her throat, the mouth pulled open even further, and her head disappeared behind it.

And I realized…

I realized…

I realized I wasn’t staring at bubblegum.

I was staring at Gwynnie’s insides!

I saw yellow organs clinging to the glistening pink flesh. Something long and gray twisted out of her mouth, wrapped around itself.

Dark purple lungs slid over the drooping tongue.

And then her red heard – so red, so startlingly red – plopped from her open mouth, throbbing, throbbing steadily, throbbing wetly.

Marco can’t look away at this grotesque display, as Gwynnie turns herself inside out. And that’s when Marco starts to scream. He screams and screams and…

Wakes up in the hospital.

Marco’s under some soft white sheets in a white bed in a white hospital room. His mom’s standing over him, her face a mess from all the crying she’s done. She tells Marco he got hit in the head playing baseball, and an ambulance brought him to the hospital an hour ago. Marco tries to tell her about Gwynnie and Keith, but his mom explains he was out cold and must’ve had a nightmare.

Marco reviews everything that happened in his dream when oh shit Gwynnie’s back! He freaks out and fears Gwynnie’s gonna hit him again, but his mom tells him to calm down. She says Gwynnie wasn’t at the playground when Marco got hurt. He has no reason to be afraid of his little sister.

That’s when it starts to come back to Marco, that Gwynnie is indeed his younger sister (even though she’s taller than him). He starts to realize his dream mixed everything up, and Gwynnie adds JEREMY is the one who hit Marco, not her. Their mom says it might take a while for him to remember everything, but Dr. Bailey’s sure he’ll be okay. Gwynnie adds he’ll be stupid though, because he was already stupid before the accident. She even asks him what four plus four is. Marco wants to grab Gwynnie for that joke, but he’s tangled up in the sheets. He suddenly asks his mom to confirm there really isn’t someone living in their basement, to which his sister responds of COURSE there are!

There’s about 20 people living down in their basement. They call themselves the Basement Club and they use everyone’s stuff when Marco’s family is out of the house. Mom tells Gwynnie to back off and stop picking on Marco when he’s clearly frazzled. The two leave so Marco can get more rest and calm down, explaining the doctor said he can leave if he’s feeling okay. But Gwynnie still wants an answer to her question.

“One last question. How much is four and four?”

“Gwynnie-!” Mom shoved Gwynnie down the hall.

“Nine!” I called after them.

Gwynnie laughed. “Hey – you got it right!”

Marco sleeps for a bit when Dr. Bailey comes into the room. Only he’s completely different from the doctor in his dream. This Dr. Bailey is thin, blonde, and tanned, like he came out of a TV show. He does a quick inspection of Marco, asks if he’s ready to go home, but then announces he has to do one little test. Dr. Bailey asks Marco to open his mouth, and then he pulls out Marco’s tongue! Marco can’t scream or protest, but somehow, no matter how hard Dr. Bailey pulls, Marco’s tongue isn’t ripped out!

Dr. Bailey tugged hard on my tongue. It slid out of my mouth, as long as a hot dog.

I struggled to squirm away. But he held my chest down with one hand while he pulled my tongue with the other.

Pulled… pulled…

My tongue was a yard long. It drooped down the side of the bed.

Dr. Bailey reached deeper into my mouth and pulled.

Pulled out more tongue. More…

Yard after yard. My tongue curled on the floor, wet and pink.

I tossed my head back and struggled to breathe.

As the doctor pulled… pulled more tongue from my open mouth.

More tongue. More…

My tongue piled up like an endless wet snake on the floor beside the bed.

Humming to himself, Dr. Bailey continued to pull.

Marco keeps telling himself this is a dream, this is only a dream. He tells himself to wake up, wake up! But he doesn’t.

And then he did.

Alone in his room, Marco is relieved to see his tongue isn’t in a pile on the floor when he hears some heavy footsteps. It’s Dr. Bailey (the third one), and this time he’s a mountain of a man with a black beard. Dr. Bailey says he’s heard about Marco’s dreams as he checks out Marco’s heartbeat. He wants to keep Marco overnight even though the x-rays looked good. The bruise should heal, but the nightmares are troubling.

Before he leaves, Dr. Bailey hands Marco a letter that came for him. Marco doesn’t recognize the handwriting, but he’s familiar with the sender.

Dear Marco,

Please hurry home. It’s time for you to start taking care of me.

I’m waiting for you in the basement.

Keith

When Gwynnie and Mom return with Marco’s favorite candy bar, Marco is terrified. He tries to tell them about how Keith is real after all and is about to show them the letter when he can’t find it! Where did it go? Dr. Bailey comes back into the room and Marco asks him to verify the letter from Keith is real.

Dr. Bailey says he never gave Marco a letter.

Marco has trouble sleeping that night, out of fear he’ll have more bad dreams. The next morning Gwynnie and Mom help Marco get ready to leave. Gwynnie mentions Marco got lucky. While he was out of school he missed a bunch of tests and “A really bad-news assembly with bagpipe players.” Marco’s just happy to be going home, and he even hugs Gwynnie! Yuck!

Back at Marco’s abode, his mom decides to whip up his favorite – her homemade pizza with lots of cheese and hot dog pieces instead of pepperoni. She only makes it on special occasions. Jeremy stops by and tries to apologize for injuring him. Marco owns up to running behind Jeremy when he was clearly warming up. The boys spend the afternoon eating pizza and watching Indiana Jones movies, and Gwynnie joins them. It’s the perfect afternoon…

And then after Jeremy leaves, Marco finds Keith in his bedroom.

Keith is pleased to see Marco, even as Marco screams Keith is just a bad dream. Marco is horrified as Keith reveals he knows all about Marco’s nightmares, since he’s the one who made them happen. Keith calmly states he communicated with Marco in his dreams, telling Marco he existed. Marco backs up onto his bed as Keith declares Marco must now take care of him, towering over Marco and smiling that cruel smile.

“You’re going to do whatever I say, Marco,” Keith insisted. He leaned over me, threatening me.

“Go away! You don’t belong here! You’re frightening me!” I blurted out.

“Get used to it!” he hissed. He leaned closer, so close his face was nearly touching mine.

“Get used to it, Marco,” he said through clenched teeth. “You have no choice. I’m here. I’m real. I live in your basement. You have to take care of me now. You have to take care of everything I need.”

Marco screams in defiance and tries to get away from Keith, but Keith’s not having it. Keith practically turns animalistic, snarling at Marco and threatening he won’t get away. Marco looks for something, anything, to use as a weapon. He grabs a stone owl paperweight Gwynnie gave him for his birthday, and as Keith lunges towards him, Marco bashes him in the head!

Keith goes down like a sack of bricks, but now Marco is horrified he just killed someone. That is, until he realizes Keith’s body is changing. Marco watches as Keith’s face dissolves and his head slides into his neck, like a turtle. Keith’s body seems to withdraw into his sleeves, into his torso. The skin becomes yellow and milky, like some horrible slug. And even worse, the mucus-like yellow blob starts to move towards Marco!

Keith by Jacob Chabot – One of my best Goosebumps commissions

Keith in his blob form rises up and attaches himself to Marco’s waist. The smell is horrendous, and Marco tries to get Keith off but his punches are useless on the spongy creature. Marco wrestles to get Keith off when the blob slides over Marco’s face and starts to suffocate him. He can feel the slime invading his nose and mouth, and Marco tries to escape out of the room to look for help.

Moving with Keith attached to his body is pure agony, and Marco can barely see through Keith’s milky slime. Marco can feel himself falling down the stairs, Keith’s body taking the fall for him. He begins stumbling around, wondering where his mom is, when Marco makes it into the kitchen. Marco’s amazed he hasn’t passed out from the stench and can just make out the kitchen counter. Using all his strength, Marco repeatedly slams into the counter trying to shake Keith off. After multiple attempts, Marco finally shakes Keith off…

Just in time to see Keith has split in two.

The two halves throbbed wetly on the kitchen linoleum. They bobbed helplessly like fat insects on their back.

Marco is still weak and breathless, struggling to call his mom while puking up chunks of Keith into the sink. Thinking he hears his mom in the den, Marco tries to get to her when the two Keith halves latch onto his legs. Marco finally has the strength to call for help as the two halves rejoin and begin to totally envelop Marco. He writhes on the kitchen floor, hoping his mom will find him before he suffocates. And she does!

She just wants to know why he’s thrashing on the floor like that.

Marco gets up and is startled to see Keith has completely vanished. His mom assumes he’s playing some weird game and demands he get off the kitchen floor. Marco thinks this is another dream and tries pinching himself to wake up. He then bashes his head on the counter again just to be absolutely sure. Thankfully his mom didn’t see.

Marco stumbles back into his bedroom, back to Keith who is calmly sitting on Marco’s bed. That’s the limit for Marco. He doesn’t know what Keith is doing to him, if he’s awake or dreaming, and he doesn’t care anymore. He just wants everything to stop. Keith wins.

Keith patronizes Marco, saying he knew Marco would come around because he’s a very smart boy. And because he’s such a smart boy, Marco will take care of Keith for the rest of his life. Keith decides to go back into the basement, so he can work on a nice list of all the things Marco will be doing for him. And when he’s done they can go over it together. First he has to show Marco something.

He took a few steps back into the room. Then he opened his mouth wide.

Shiny pink stuff poured out of his mouth. For a second, I thought he was blowing a bubblegum bubble.

But I quickly realized what was happening.

His glistening, wet insides poured out of his mouth. Yellow organs clung to the pink flesh. His purple heart plopped out from between his teeth, pulsing inside a thick web of blue ropelike veins.

I stared in horror, watching him turn inside out.

Then I started to scream.

And Keith opened his mouth – teeth on the outside – and he screamed too.

Which is the moment when Keith woke up.

Keith, back in Marco’s basement with his mom. Keith’s mom tells him to calm down as she explains he got hit in the head with a baseball bat. He tries to tell her all about his awful nightmares, how he somehow dreamed he was Marco. He says Marco was fighting him, scaring him. Keith’s mom chides him, saying this is why she warned him not to play with human children.

Keith’s heard it all before, how he and his mom are monsters who live in Marco and Gwynnie’s basement. Even though he can look like a human most of the time, he isn’t, and if anyone found out they’d chase Keith and his mom away. Or worse. Keith’s mom said he should’ve known better than to try and be friends with Marco and Jeremy. Keith promises he’ll be more careful, so his mom advises him to turn inside out and get some rest.

For Keith, there’s nothing more relaxing and cleansing than allowing all his organs to spill out of his mouth. So refreshing…

But did he HAVE to do it while Marco was standing at the top of the basement stairs?

The horrified young human boy asks who Keith is, and Keith panics. All he can do is tell Marco he’s actually dreaming.

Does Marco believe him?

Final Thoughts

You guys were probably expecting a woman holding a log at some point, weren’t you?

Like I said, this book is super trippy, but it’s also rather delightful. It’s like some kind of blend between the earlier, darker books with the wackier entries. Really there’s something so simplistic and elegant about the premise. You’ve got a boy being told someone is living in his basement, and he can’t prove it. But then it becomes more radical and surreal as the dreamy qualities get introduced, so there’s a metaphysical fear of losing your grip on reality. The only thing the boy’s sure of is that this person who is stalking him is real no matter how warped his perception gets.

Not to mention the genuine terror in the way Keith threatens Marco. No absurd promises of extreme torture or outlandish escapades. His body language and forceful nature are all Keith needed to cow Marco into submission.

This is actually one of the more popular “Goosebumps” books despite being a lesser known one. Keith was even featured in IDW’s comic series for the second arc.

Keith’s Human Form by Michelle Wong

Keith’s Monster Form by Michelle Wong

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