Title: The Pool by T. S. Rue (Part 3 of the Nightmare Inn/Arcadia series)
Summary: Kelly is elated when she lands her dream job as a lifeguard at the New Arcadia Inn pool, but a string of bizarre poolside accidents soon convinces her that someone, or something, is after the lifeguards.
Tagline: Don’t go in the water…
Note: I will use “Bad Guy” throughout my reviews to refer to the anonymous killer/prankster/whatever. Doesn’t mean it’s a guy. Also doesn’t mean it’s ever successful at killing/pranking/whatevering.
I remember all of these books being generally awful, but 1 and 3 being less awful than the others. It worked out well for me that Wing had to review 2 and 4. Also, it helps that I don’t really like the water. It doubly helps that I’ve just had to skim-read Room 13, and that’s probably the worst book we’ve had to recap for this site. So far. The Attic (Part 4) could be worse. I can’t remember.
Edit – 3 March 2015: I finally bought a copy of the book from eBay so I could have a nice high quality scan of the front cover, which is just as pretty as I remember. (I originally owned the book, then lost it, then replaced it with a 3-in-1 and now I have the lovely cover again. *blissful sigh*)
So, we open with Kelly being woken up by a fat, greasy bus driver. In case you missed it, T. S. Rue really hates fatties.
[Wing: T. S. Rue, someday the fatties are coming for you.]
The bus was full when she went to sleep, but now she’s the only one left, and they have arrived at her stop.
“Where’d everyone go?” Kelly asked, still drowsy.
“Where’d they go?” The bus driver grinned. “I murdered ‘em and dumped them in a ditch… Where do you think they went?”
Kelly eyed the bus driver nervously. His jaw was covered with whiskers, and his uniform looked as though it hadn’t been washed in weeks. He was just creepy enough for Kelly to wonder if he actually might have killed the other passengers.
FATTIES! THEY CANNOT BE TRUSTED.
[Wing: See? Fatties coming for you.]
There’s not even a bus stop, she’s in the middle of nowhere and it’s pitch black out. She suddenly wonders about the wisdom of taking a lifeguard job miles away from home.
She plays some music on her portable CD player. Some things about the nineties make me very nostalgic, but how to listen to music outside of the home is not one of them. Batteries cost a fortune, CDs skip as you walk, god bless Apple for the wonder that is an iPod!
[Wing: Why the hell is she walking around with a boombox?]
By the third song she’s freaking out about being alone, and she muses that she doesn’t even remember sending an application letter to the Arcadia. She rationalises that the name may have changed, or the owner might know someone she applied to and passed her details along, but since it’s Nightmare Inn, we smugly know that this is the job of doooooooooooooom.
[Wing: Why the hell didn’t she do any research on this “dream job” of hers? Pretty sure this deserves a stupid point.]
She’s now on song five and starting to panic, because still nobody arrives. And then she hears a twig snap and a “dark figure was standing behind her”.
Dun-Dun-DUNNNNN! 1 (needlessly dramatic chapter end) – I’m giving this a point, even though it’s not like Book 1, where a chapter ended on Sarah’s roommate opening the bathroom door. However, it’s chapter 1 and we know that these books are not structured to be a thrill-ride from beginning to end.
So, the dark figure turns out to be Martin. Hi Martin, we met you last book, during which nothing happened. Also, Martin is a dick, because Kelly asks who he is, and he’s evasive. Kelly threatens to scream, and he’s all, “do you think anyone will hear you”. Way to put the teenage girl at ease on her first interaction with the Arcadia staff, Martin.
All my friends are a bag of dicks: 1
[Wing: Martin is much worse in book four. Enjoy.]
Kelly picked up her CD player and followed. “You walked here?”
“Yeah. The inn’s not real big on giving out cars.” Martin crossed the road and headed into the trees. Kelly followed him to the edge of the woods, then stopped. Martin looked back at her. “Now what’s wrong?”
“I’m sorry, Martin,” Kelly said. “You came out of nowhere. I have no idea who you are. I feel a little funny following you into the woods in the middle of the night.”
“Well, I was going to take a shortcut,” Martin said. “It’s about half a mile through the woods. If we stay on the road it’s more like two miles.”
Kelly thought it over. “I think I’d prefer the road.”
Two things: 1) doesn’t the Arcadia have an ISUZU TROOPER knocking about somewhere? and 2) Kelly, sweetie, am I actually going to like you a little? You have an air of Funhouse Tess, who had no clue she was in a Point Horror and stubbornly acted like a rational human being throughout.
“Are you the one who hired me?” she asked.
“What do you do at the inn?”
“I’m in charge of teen recreation.”
“Then you’re my boss.”
“Well, no. Running the pool is separate,” Martin said.
“Is this your first year?”
“At the inn?” Martin asked. “Nope.”
“I’ll tell you, Kelly,” he said. “It seems like I’ve been there forever.”
“Forever, huh? What’s it like?”
“It’s an incredible place,” Martin said. “Once you’ve been there awhile, you’ll probably never want to leave.”
He’s a wealth of information, isn’t he?
They arrive at the Arcadia, and Kelly feels a bit less anxious as it’s not completely abandoned, and Martin gives her a little information about the place (we are told this, not shown it, so no idea what he actually told her, but given the above exchange, I like to believe Kelly had to play a guessing game, and Martin got pissy if he had to say anything but “nope”).
[Wing: Also, when Martin explains the inn only reopened a few months ago, Kelly asks why he says it feels like he’s been there forever, and he says it’s just a figure of speech. So, one logic point for Kelly.
EXCEPT. He not only used a figure of speech, he expressly said that it was not his first year at the inn. EXPLAIN THAT SHIT, MARTIN. EXPLAIN THAT SHIT.]
They then bump into the rest of the cast:
- Eric: curly hair, bad skin, short and with one sentence manages to establish that being short, and having to endure such horror, has made him a cataclysmic bell end.
- Tiffany: who is both “thin” and “athletic looking”, I’m going with no on that. This really bugs me, “thin” means very slight, and if she’s athletic looking, she should have muscle tone, and if she did, you wouldn’t look at her and think “thin”. I’d give you “wiry” but not “thin”. Also, she’s going to be a bitch, even though all she does is introduce herself. Since our protagonist is a girl, it stands to reason that the other girl must be a “thin” hottie, powered by pure spite, because GIRLS HATE EACH OTHER, AMIRIGHT?
- Nick: light brown hair, green eyes (Dove approves), and “really cute”. Also, he is “reserved”. Which is a minor change from “intense”.
Eric and Tiff are lifeguards, Nick is not, but he hangs out with them anyway… wait, didn’t the last book end with some kid called Nick going into Room 13? *checks* Wait, nope. That was someone called Matt, which was also a name they used in Book 1. For a moment I was excited for continuity.
[Wing: Pretty sure Nick turns up again in book four, though.]
Oh god, I’m on 1,200 words and I’m on Chapter 2. FFS.
They’re heading to the disco, Eric is clearly into Kelly already, and, yep, Tiffany is territorial and encourages Kelly not to go with them. It’s slightly better than the usual PH, where the protagonist is deliberately BFFs with complete spite-queens, but still, girls can be nice to each other, even pretty ones. (Hi, Tess and Gina! *kisses*)
They mosey off, and look who it is…
A man with gray hair pulled into a ponytail was standing inside the door. He was wearing paint-stained overalls and a work shirt. Silver-and-turquoise Indian jewelry adorned his fingers and wrists.
SEB! HI THAR SEB! HAVE YOU SEEN MY ISUZU TROOPER LATELY?
[Wing: The Isuzu Trooper has gone to Isuzu Trooper heaven, Dove.]
If Seb’s seen the Trooper, he doesn’t mention it. He’s too busy explaining that Kelly’s room doesn’t lock, and there’s nowhere else she can stay. She could have a cot in the room that Tiffany and Claire’s room (we haven’t met Claire yet), but she decides not to, given that Tiffany is a meanie. She grudgingly agrees, for “a day or two”, since she can leave her valuables in the guest safe at front desk.
Her room overlooks the pool, which sounds really nice.
Kelly stepped to the window and looked out. Below her was the pool. It was shaped like an hourglass, with two wide ends joined by a narrow passage in the middle. One of the wide ends was indoors and enclosed under a steel and glass canopy. The other half was outdoors. Underwater lights shone beneath the surface, turning the water an aqua-blue color.
And the chapter ends without a cliffhanger. This is a massive improvement on the last books.
[Wing: I really like pools that are both indoors and outdoors.]
Kelly gets changed, puts on some makeup and we’re told that she’s pretty. Then she grabs her gold cross necklace and opal ring and heads down to front desk to leave them in the safe.
[Wing: If she’s dressed up for the disco, why doesn’t she wear her fancy jewelry?]
At the front desk a young woman wearing a white blouse and a black bow tie smiled at Kelly. She had curly red hair and haunting eyes. A small name tag above her pocket said her name was Sarah.
SARAH! *snuggles* HI!
Sarah is a bit of a dick and makes a big deal about how it’s a guest safe, not a worker safe, but eventually agrees, then directs Kelly to the disco. Disco. I’m sorry, but nothing screams eighties more than the word “disco”, and yet these were written in the nineties. In other news:
Kelly noticed that Sarah’s eyelids never blinked. She figured that the red-haired girl really wasn’t feeling well.
Sarah’s eyelids never blinked. What’s wrong with “Sarah never blinked”? That’s a weird way to phrase it.
She bumps into Eric and they head to the disco, and, again, Tiffany is a possessive bitch.
Together they walked back into the disco. The music was unbelievably loud inside; the floor shook with the sound coming from the speakers. Eric led Kelly to a booth where Tiffany and Nick were sitting. A pitcher of soda sat on the table, next to some glasses. Tiffany gave Kelly a little smirk. She and Nick were sitting on the same side of the booth, and she slid a little closer to him when Kelly sat down opposite them. Nick gave Kelly a short, mysterious smile.
Honestly, what’s wrong with girls being nice? And, if she and Tiff became friends, I’m sure any decent girl would basically go, “Oh, you and Nick are a thing? Or you want to be? Sure, I respect that.” GIRL FRIENDSHIPS PLEASE!
[Wing: If I have learned anything from media, it’s that girls can never be friends. Never. Ever. Ever.]
Nobody else remembers applying to the Arcadia. It’s funny, the music is “unbelievably loud” and they can still hear each other perfectly. Are they bats? (… do we need a “needs more bats” tag?)
[Wing: NEEDS MOAR BATS.]
Nick is mysterious. In that they ask him how he knew about the Arcadia and he said he heard about it from a friend. I’m sorry, but that’s a perfectly reasonable response. If a stranger asks you that, they don’t want to hear, “Well, I was planning a vacation, and my mum was talking to our next door neighbours, and she said that her niece – the single one that works as a vet, not the one with four young children – had heard that the Arcadia was fairly reasonably priced.”
[Wing: I love you, Dove.]
Some other lifeguards and their friends show up, we don’t meet them, all we learn is one is called Chip. Chip. Moving on. She dances with him and Eric, but Tiff won’t leave Nick’s side long enough to let her talk to him.
Eric insists on walking her back to her room and makes it clear he’s interested. Kelly is not. Claire is mentioned as being nice, but “a little too quiet and scared of her own shadow.”
She finally gets Eric to leave, and lets herself into her room. Someone had been in there. Cue infuriating chapter end.
Actually, maybe someone hadn’t been in there. She doesn’t quite remember leaving stuff as it is now, but she’d been thinking about Nick, so maybe she wasn’t paying attention.
She goes to sleep and wakes up at 8:55, her alarm didn’t go off.
World of fail: 1 (when the “bad things” really are quite lame)
Come on Arcadia, by this point Sarah was fantasising about cutting Matt’s hand off. Step it up.
[Wing: Ah, the good old days of fantasy mutilation.]
At the pool, Tiffany is doing beautiful dives, Eric is clearly a weight-lifter (or roided to the hilt), and Claire is finally there, she is short and has black hair. Chip still exists. Fuck you and your silly name, Chip.
Martin shows her several things, all of which will be plot points later:
- Emergency on-off switch for the pool filter – if the pool level drops, and the filtration system isn’t turned off, it’ll burn out.
- Liquid chlorine, which is only needed every four days or so.
- De-clouder, to keep the water clear and pretty.
She then heads to the office and someone grabs her from behind, with their hand over her mouth.
Creepily, the grabber’s first words are “Promise me you won’t scream.” Naturally it’s Nick, who refuses to explain what he’s doing in her office.
[Wing: While I realise she doesn’t think he’s the killer — mostly because there have been no deaths, boring — he is all creepy like this and yet she wants him to be her lovah.]
He’s been at the inn four days now.
“Where are your parents?”
“Not around,” Nick said.
Parents? What parents? 1
He makes it clear he’s not into Tiffany, and Kelly does the same about Eric. Then he reveals that he got into her office using basically a credit card, and he can get into any room he wants. Kelly promises not to tell anyone about this. Because… he’s cute? Kelly! Come on, I was liking you. You were about to be my next Tess.
[Wing: Come on, Dove, don’t you know you should do anything to win the cute boy?]
The day drags on, Eric shows off his muscular prowess, Kelly isn’t interested, and he does not take the hint. We finally talk to Claire. Claire worries about having to really save someone, as opposed to practice. Kelly is surprised by this. Why? The difference between knowing how to do something academically and actually doing it is a big one. Kelly, I’m starting to dislike you.
[Wing: I would have let this go if Kelly’s surprise was that Claire had never been called to rescue someone, but neither has Kelly. Apparently, Kelly has no such weakness as worry that she might mess up and not save someone’s life.]
When she gets back to her room, she has the creepy feeling someone’s been in there again. Which I’m sure you’d have if you were working on the knowledge that your door doesn’t lock and you’re surrounded by strangers.
And then dinner.
Kelly rolled her eyes as she sat down next to him. Claire took the only other chair available at the table.
Kelly heard a loud crack!
Suddenly Claire disappeared.
She did not disappear, the chair was sabotaged. Claire is pretty shaken. No, I’m not being sarcastic, look:
Shaking a little, Claire stood up and brushed herself off. “Nothing like that’s ever happened to me before.”
I’m sorry, but I demand a better level of fuckery from the Arcadia, we’ve had possession/past lives, and we’ve had a ghost encouraging someone to kill their dad. A collapsing chair and an unplugged alarm clock are not getting the job done.
[Wing: You forget, NOT A GODDAMN THING HAPPENED IN THE BOOK WHERE A GHOST ENCOURAGED SOMEONE TO KILL THEIR DAD.]
World of fail: 2
Nick sidles over and tells, yes, tells, Kelly to meet him in her room. And yes, he already knows which room and which floor she’s on. Hi, thar, Edward Cullen.
[Wing: NO. NO I AM NOT READING ANOTHER FAKE TWILIGHT NIGHTMARE BOOK. NO.]
T. S. Rue/Stephenie Meyer, same person? Rue gets to the point a lot quicker though.
Also, Eric cannot take social cues. Kelly says she can’t hang out with him because she has to write a letter. He offers to cover her work shift so she can write it then and hang out with him now. Kelly really ought to just say, “Look, you’re coming on kind of strong, I’m not interested, can you pull it back a little, and maybe we can be friends.”
Oh, hey, that letter thing wasn’t actually the lamest lie ever, she actually wants to write to her boyfriend, Tom, who’s really nice and popular and… probably the killer in another PH story out there.
Kelly wrote Dear Tom, and then stared at the blank notepad for a long time. Tom was everything a girl could want, but… well, he wasn’t Nick. There was just something special about Nick. Something about the spark in his eyes and the mysterious smile on his lips both thrilled and frightened Kelly. Tom was easy to boss around. He’d do almost anything Kelly told him to do. On the other hand, Kelly found it hard to say no to Nick.
Stop telling us he’s mysterious. He isn’t. He’s just not given much to do. This is what we call an informed attribute. Linked heavily to telling and not showing. Why am I even bothering? Anyone who reads the recaps knows this, and anyone who wrote the books will never get it. *sigh*
Anyway, Nick tells her he likes her, then notices that there’s a massive puddle by the filtration system.
They hurry down, deciding a pipe has broken. Kelly runs over to switch the filtration system off, and her ankle gets caught. She reaches down into the mud to free it and decides that it doesn’t feel like a branch, actually.
More like bone, actually.
[Wing: No. She says it is hard like a branch. Then she says it is hard and therefore can’t be a branch. And I want to ram the branch/bone/pipe through her ear.]
She flails a bit, then Nick pulls her free. She’s still panicking, as they stand in the storage building.
Kelly stared up at him. She knew it would sound crazy. It was crazy. But she had felt it herself, had touched those bony fingers… “It was a skeleton,” she whispered. “A skeleton’s hand.”
Mental health: with tact and sensitivity: 1
Seb and Martin show up.
Nick glanced at Kelly, then back at Sebastian. “What would cause a pipe to rupture like that? I mean, those things are buried deep in the ground, aren’t they?”
“Not all that deep. A couple feet, maybe. But the ground moves,” Sebastian said. “Not like an earthquake or anything. Just gradually. Things settle.”
“Was there ever a graveyard here?” Kelly asked abruptly.
“Here?” Sebastian frowned, then stared at Martin for a moment. “No, I don’t think so. Not that I know of, at least. Anyway, I don’t think they would have built a pool over a graveyard.”
“What if it was really old?” Kelly asked. “Like, here long before this place was built?”
Why don’t we have an “it was an Indian burial ground” trope?
[Wing: Well, wasn’t Seb described as wearing Indian jewelry earlier?]
Also, Seb reasonably points out they might have noticed a boneyard when digging a big fucking hole for two swimming pools.
[Wing: Technically, it is only one pool. It’s all connected. They keep saying two. They are wrong. And have you heard my new band, BONEYARD SWIMMING POOL? First single is “Digging a Fucking Hole”.]
[Dove: I would buy that shit.]
Kelly and Nick do not tell them why they’re asking, and they head back to the hotel. Kelly says she wishes she knew him better, because she’d ask him to stay on her floor. I love the outraged chastity in these books. To be fair, she does barely know him, and this rant would be better placed in Dream Date, where the lead won’t let a boy stay over her house, even with her female BFF there to chaperone.
Anyway, they decide to come back in the morning when the area has drained and see if it really was a hand.
They don’t find it. They do find a string of beads spelling out a name, Laura.
Martin shows up and says the pool is closed, and they’ll get the repair crew to dig up the area and fix the pipe. Kelly is convinced they’re going to find bones.
I’m equally convinced they’re not. THE ARCADIA DOES NOT PLAY BY YOUR RULES, BITCHES!
[Wing: Arcadia plays by the rules of the Isuzu Trooper, bitches.]
They close the pools, rope them off, make signs, and disperse. Nick gets cornered by Tiffany, and Kelly by Eric, and end up politely agreeing to spend the day with them. Good lord, it’s no more rude to say “I don’t want to” than it is to act all irritated and inconvenienced by hanging out with someone.
Kelly’s going to lie on a sun lounger and keep an eye on the digging. Eric’s going to stalk her.
Sitting on her pillow was a torn piece of paper. STAY AWAY FROM THE POOL, the handwriting said. Kelly tore the paper up and threw it in the wastebasket. It was a stupid joke by one of the other lifeguards. Kelly didn’t see the humor in it, though. In the back of her mind she couldn’t help wondering if the warning was serious. She shrugged the idea off. The weirdness at the New Arcadia was just making her nervous.
Arcadia, seriously, step it the fuck up. By now, Sarah had split into Sarah and Sharon and was running amok. Or, at least, moseying about belligerently.
World of fail: 3
[Wing: Ha, ha, such a funny prank.]
Speaking of Sarah, Kelly goes to front desk to get her valuables, and Sarah is wearing the cross. This is a minor step up from wearing Erin’s sunglasses. Sarah is a dick, and says the manager is away and only he knows the safe combination.
She then heads off to find Seb, presumably to ask about her lock, though she say doesn’t so. She finds him in the boathouse sawing chairs, just like the one that made Claire “disappear”.
World of fail: 4
COME ON ARCADIA, FUCKING STEP UP! DID ALL YOUR FUCKING POWER LIE IN THE ISUZU TROOPER? IS THAT WHY EVERYTHING HAS BEEN SO LAME EVER SINCE BOOK 1? BRING BACK THE FUCKING ISUZU!
[Wing: DED FROM LAUGHTER]
When questioned, Seb says that he is “reinforcing” the chair, breaking it is the “first step”. I’m sorry, Seb, but you were much fucking cooler in the first book. I’m disappointed in you. In fact, I’m giving you a stupid prank counter.
Oh you wacky kids, with your hi-jinks and your pranks: 1
“You know, last night Claire had a nasty fall because the chair she’d been sitting on had had its leg sawed partway through. Weird, huh?” Kelly said coolly.
“Well, er, it’s possible I put one back by accident without finishing the job,” Sebastian said, scratching his head. “I am kind of forgetful. So, uh, how can I help you?”
Also, Seb still hasn’t got time to fix her lock.
Eric turned his lounge around so that it faced the same direction as hers. He took out one of his CDs.
“The Spin Doctors,” he said. “Ever heard of them?”
Way to date the book, Rue.
Also, Kelly’s batteries are dead.
Kelly shook her head and sighed. It seemed as though nothing worked around here. Door locks, chairs, swimming pools, CD players… And she’d only been there two days!
World of fail: 5 – and you’re lucky I don’t give out more points for listing all the weaksauce crap that’s happened thus far.
The chapter ends with the workmen finding something…
… it’s a bit of broken pipe. Although it is weird, because it’s like it’s been cleaved neatly in half, rather than breaking down naturally. Kelly doesn’t understand this though.
The man’s words meant little to Kelly. All she knew was that they’d dug clear down to the pipe and hadn’t found the skeleton. What could have happened to it? Was she just crazy, after all?
Mental health: with tact and sensitivity: 2
Kelly got up and started back toward the inn. Either she was totally nuts, and there had been no skeletal hand, or there had been a hand, and Nick had somehow done something with it. Neither choice was very appealing. But she began to wonder about him again. Why had he been in the lifeguard office? Why was she so trusting of him?
All my friends are a bag of dicks: 2
Mental health: with tact and sensitivity: 3
She finds Nick in her office again. He’s “looking for Laura” apparently. He then reveals that something awful happened at the Arcadia a long time ago, and his parents were there at the time, and it changed his father forever (I’ll assume the mother died then?) and he’s going to get to the bottom of it.
Then they get stuck in the office, and it’s toasty warm.
For some reason, there’s no keyhole on the inside of the door, and Nick can’t use his credit card to open it. Ok, whatevs. I’m not even all that fussed. Nick asked why she left the door open (aside, presumably, to avoid this very situation), [Wing: Except both times she’s caught him in there, the door was shut. So … he’s down with suffocating? Kinky.] and she says that she’s not sure of him. And with that Kelly claws back my respect.
Nick starts beating the door with a hole punch and eventually the hinge pins come out and they escape, woozy and overheated.
Nick decides to go for a dip, and Kelly actually hears the water, then wonders how the pool could be filled so quickly!
Obviously, he does not dive in and crack his skull on the empty pool bottom. He’s the love interest, that means he dies in the last or penultimate chapter. Nobody else has even been so much as inconvenienced yet. Nick is fine. Also:
“The sounds of the pool water.” Nick scowled. “That’s weird. I heard it a second ago. Now I don’t.”
Kelly found a kickboard lying on the floor. She picked it up and tossed it into the pool. Instead of a splash, they heard a dull thud as it hit the pool floor.
“It’s empty. There’s no water,” Nick whispered in amazement. “How did you know?”
Why the fuck can’t they just look in the pool and see if the water is in there? This is not me being slack. There is no paragraph that says they can see water, but can’t hear it (or vice-versa), they are literally relying on sound to work out whether or not the pool has water in it.
Ladies and gentleman, I give you the Head Lifeguard.
DED FROM STUPID: 1 (when stupidity rears its ugly head)
The next day they still don’t work. Kelly spends the day with Nick. They hold hands. And have a quick kiss. And that’s about as much effort as the book put in to conveying those three facts.
When she gets back to her room that night, she looks at the pool and…
It was glowing red.
Fucking ROFL. Head Lifeguard doesn’t bother going to find out why the pool is filled with blood, she just goes to bed, telling herself it’s a rusty pipe.
[Wing: KELLY NEEDS HER BEAUTY SLEEP. SHE’S GOT A CREEPY LOVAH.]
This is what happens when you hire teenagers to manage things. Just saying. When I was her age, the boss told me I was in charge for the week while she and the second in line were both on holiday. The office junior and I spent the week buying ice creams with the petty cash, wrapping each other’s monitors in cling film (saran wrap?) or tin foil, taping paperclips to odd places and seeing how long it would take for the other to notice, and feeding bits of paper through a fan to see if it really would produce confetti. (It doesn’t.)
Actually, I’m so genuinely amused by this, I might have to call Wing and tell her. [Note from the future: I did just that.]
[Wing: She did. It was hilarious.]
Also, I’m deducting 20 points from the overall counts at the end of this, because it has fucking made me laugh.
DED FROM STUPID: -19 (we were on 1 to start with)
Oh, god, back to business as usual at the Arcadia. And by this I mean that the pool is closed again, this time it’s all cloudy (not bloody), and won’t clear up when Kelly uses the de-clouder, and all the tests say it’s fine.
Also, someone has fixed the office door that Nick took off the hinges yesterday, but they still haven’t fixed Kelly’s bedroom lock.
Martin turns up and demands she open the pool. He proves how safe it is by diving to the bottom of the pool and Kelly can just about see him because she knew he was there. Martin’s all, “that’s fine. As long as they have the option to kill themselves while swimming, it’s all good.”
So, she goes to see the manager to complain, except for Sarah says the manager is out, no idea when he’ll be back. Kelly then realises she has no idea who the manager is.
Right, back to the pool. Two lifeguards on each pool.
Someone still manages to drown.
He’s dead! He’s dead! HE’S FUCKING DEAD! … oh wait, he survived: 1 (pretty sure this one explains itself)
Fucking prank. Will someone just die already?
[Wing: Where’s the damn prank counter then?
AND. AND. AND.
Two pools. Two lifeguards for each pool, which is really one big pool. The inn offers sailing and jetskis and other such lake games. WHY IS THERE NO FUCKING LIFEGUARD AT THE LAKE?]
Kelly essentially weeps in Nick’s arms, feeling overwhelmed by this shit. I’m sorry, but I don’t remember Sarah weeping at all, and her friends were fucking dying and she thought she was killing them. Come on, Arcadia, step it up!
[Wing: Also, makes her look pretty hypocritical back when she basically mocked Claire for worrying about having to save someone, but Kelly breaks down over a prank of not actually saving someone.]
A week passes and we are told that Nick and Kelly get closer. We don’t fucking see it, but we’re told, so I’m sure I’m rooting for them to stay together forever. They stop eating with the rest of the lifeguards, because of their twoo luv.
One night, they overhear a bunch of new guests who talk about how wild it was at the Arcadia back in the sixties – that they used to come here back then.
[Wing: … convenient.]
“But remember that triple murder? That crazy jealous girl? That one was in all the papers.”
And yet, nobody decides to mention that Sarah is identical to the murderer. Nobody speculates she’s a love child or relative. Nobody things that gossip is worthy of mentioning.
Mental health: with tact and sensitivity: 4
Carrying straight on from that quote:
“Well, sure, but that was the early seventies,” someone said. “By then all the hippies had taken over and the place was just a big commune. They closed it down after that. But a lot of strange stuff went on even before that. I mean, back when it was still being run as an inn.”
“Oh, yeah, wasn’t there a story about some kid whose parents beat him?”
“There was that one. And the one about the girl who drowned and they hid the body.”
Nick sat perfectly still. It seemed to Kelly that the blood was draining out of his face.
“I never heard that story.”
“Well, it seemed there was a party one night. Some kids and lifeguards. Anyway, they were drinking and things got kind of out of hand. The next thing they knew, this girl was lying on the bottom of the pool. They tried to revive her, but she must’ve been on the bottom for a while, because she was stone cold.”
Naturally, these partying morons decided to hide the body instead of telling anyone about it. Because that always turns out so well. Especially when the place is already haunted.
Nick storms out, Kelly follows, bumps into Martin, has a conversation that goes in circles, then finds Nick, and that conversation goes nowhere, and we learn nothing new and I’ve just saved you reading two whole chapters with one paragraph.
They separate and Kelly finds a note on her door from Tiffany (who has been mean every time she’s been around, but I didn’t bother to recount it because when you’ve read one PH, you don’t really need an explanation of why the “alpha bitch” character is not even worthy of recap space) saying that the diving board feels weird and Kelly should test it.
It goes about as well as anything does in the Arcadia the next morning. The board cracks and Kelly belly-flops (or Kelly-flops, do you see what I did there? I’M FUCKING FUNNY!) [Wing: Just snorted water ouch.] into the water.
[Wing: Still want to know how the hell she ended up hitting the water face first from that dive position, but whatever.]
Kelly marches upstairs and confronts Tiffany about this “prank”… wait, up the count…
Oh you wacky kids, with your hi-jinks and your pranks: 2
… and Tiffany’s all “What? I didn’t do anything!” which pisses off Kelly, especially when she finds the note from Tiffany missing.
Finally, Kelly’s all “Fuck this shit, I’m finding Martin and telling him to stick his job up his arse!”
Then she bumps into Nick, who talks her into staying. And we still don’t get his backstory. This still doesn’t make him mysterious, it just means he lacks any depth or personality.
“You know,” Chip said, “I’ve noticed some strange things about this place too. Like in my room the hot and cold water is reversed. And there’s a window in my closet.”
World of fail: 6
ARCADIA, YOU ARE BETTER THAN THIS SHIT. BE MORE WEIRD.
[Wing: But just imagine what might be watching him through that window in his closet. IMAGINE, DOVE. IMAGINE.]
[Dove: … uh, me?]
They have a pool party, and Chip bets the others he can’t stay on the bottom of the pool for a minute. That’ll end well. Or at least, that’ll end with a…
He’s dead! He’s dead! HE’S FUCKING DEAD! … oh wait, he survived: 2
Chip claims he couldn’t swim back up because the current into the drain was too strong. They laugh it off because, lolz, Arcadia, what can you do?, etc. Next up is a water fight, except Chip, who only exists to get hurt, gets a face full of liquid chlorine instead. And the party’s over.
So, they hire a new lifeguard called David to replace Chip, who has been around for all of two scenes, so clearly he was an integral part of this story. But it’s all good, because Tiffany fancies David.
She’s showing off doing her dives when something goes wrong. I don’t know if she breaks her neck or just hurts herself, but Tiffany’s out. Also, when Kelly dove in to save her, she felt something grab her ankle again and heard someone say “too bad, too bad”.
And Kelly’s door still hasn’t been fixed.
Nick nodded and sat down on the bed. “After a while you start to wonder whether this place is a resort or a funny farm. There’s just so much bizarre stuff going on.”
Mental health: with tact and sensitivity: 5
If you can’t tell, I’m getting fed up. *momentarily brightens* Wait, we’re getting Nick’s backstory.
His dad killed himself last year. Mum and Dad used to come to the Arcadia all the time until something happened and they never came back. That’s it? That’s what I have slogged through 22 chapters and 5,000 words of recap for? FFS.
“My father’s friends told me,” Nick said. “After what happened here, my father changed. It was like, before that he was a great, happy guy, and after that he began a long, slow decline. He went to college and became a history professor. But he couldn’t hold a job. The last four years, he was in and out of mental institutions. Finally he convinced them he was better just long enough for them to let him out. Then he killed himself.”
Mental health: with tact and sensitivity: 6
Nick bent his head and ran his fingers through his hair. “I haven’t talked to my mother in years. She walked out on me and my father when I was eight. She left me alone with him when he couldn’t even take care of himself. I had to take care of him. And then when I couldn’t take care of him anymore, they put him in the nuthouse.”
Kelly felt a tear slide out of her eye and roll down her cheek. “You had to start taking care of your father when you were eight?”
Mental health: with tact and sensitivity: 7
Also, Kelly, why are you crying? It didn’t happen to you. It doesn’t make you sensitive to cry over someone’s misfortune, it makes you come across like you’re cashing in on someone else’s misery.
[Wing: Kelly: IT’S ALL ABOUT MEEEEEEEEEE.]
Nick refuses to call his mother for an explanation because he hates her. He would rather put up the nightmare that is living at the Arcadia than have an awkward chat with the maternal body. Fine.
Update: Tiff definitely broke her neck, though no word on whether she’s paralysed. Eric refers to the place as Disaster HQ, and Kelly points out that all the staff have vanished.
David and Claire no longer want to go in the water. I had completely forgotten Claire existed, so that update was refreshing and informative.
They’re not alone in this. When they get to the pool, it’s cloudier than ever, “like soup”. Kelly closes the pool and Eric calls them a bunch of pussies. Well, in nineties/PG-friendly language.
“I’m gonna dive off the bad-luck diving board,” Eric said. “Then I’m gonna swim to the bottom of the evil pool, and then I’m going to get out.”
Yeah, no, son, you’re not.
DED FROM STUPID: -18 (+1)
He dives successfully, he touches the bottom successfully, then he’s eaten by piranhas. Successfully.
And there’s a sentence, even on this blog, I never thought I would type. Wing is glaring at me because I won’t tell her what’s so funny. She’s getting really cross.
[Wing: ADS;LKFJASDFLKJASDKFJHSAD;LFJS. I HATE YOU, DOVE.]
[Dove: In Wing-speak, this is a compliment. *preens*]
This is even better than Kelly saying “Pool full of blood? Fuck it! I’m going to bed!”
You know what? Another 50 points deducted from the total score because FUCKING PIRANHAS!
FUCKING PIRANHAS!: -50
[Wing: But I love the piranhas.]
Kelly and Nick converge in his room because it has a lock.
Nick nodded slowly. His expression said that the news wasn’t good. “I called the police and told them that someone had been eaten by piranhas in the pool.”
“They didn’t believe you?” Kelly asked.
“Not only did they not believe me, but they tried to keep me on the line so they could trace the call,” Nick said. “I told them I was calling from the New Arcadia Inn, but they didn’t believe me. They were convinced that it was a crank call.”
Right, the count… this is one of those rare moments where the cops have a fucking point. Wing? Help me. Fuck it. No, I’m deducting a point for using this correctly.
Oh you wacky kids, with your hi-jinks and your pranks: 2 (it was 3 earlier)
[Wing: Deduct away. That definitely sounds like a prank call. I would have gone for someone’s hurt in the pool, CONSIDERING TWO OTHER PEOPLE HAVE BEEN TAKEN AWAY TO HOSPITAL FOR BEING HURT IN OR NEAR A POOL SO FAR.]
They think Claire and David have left… which means all of the named cast is gone. You know what that means? ISUZU TROOPER, BITCHES!
Or, you know, finale where Nick dies and Kelly becomes part of the inn?
There is more bloody talking about how Kelly wants to leave, but Nick talks her into staying, and talk of his dad, which is handled with diplomacy and a respect for all people with mental health issues, and the count gets bumped by three.
Mental health: with tact and sensitivity: 10
Kelly talks Nick into calling his mum, and while they’re in the lobby, Kelly notices it’s empty, most people have left. Nick calls but there’s no answer. He calls again, she answers.
MOAR BACKSTORY. Dad was a lifeguard, mum was a waitress, both at Arcadia. Dad had a friend named Jack, who dated a girl who got all obsessed with him, and she drowned. Jack hid the body because he was old money, and you know how the rich don’t ever own up to murder. Jack’s parents then put Dad through college as hush money. Naturally, dead girl is called Laura.
They theorise Laura might have been buried near the pool.
DED FROM STUPID: -17 (+1)
Nick suggests when the pipe broke, Laura moved from her grave next to the pool to the pool itself. Yeah, sure, let’s go with that.
[Wing: Why, that is perfectly sound logic. I mean, I’m sure no one has ever done maintenance on the pipes since she was buried.]
“I still don’t get it,” he said. “I mean, if it’s really true that the drowning was an accident, why did it drive my father crazy?”
Kelly went over and put her arm around his shoulder. “You’re going to drive yourself crazy trying to come up with answers, Nick. There’s no way you can find out what really happened that night.”
Mental health: with tact and sensitivity: 11
DED FROM STUPID: -16 (+1)
It was probably murder if she was clingy and Jack was an ass. Also, Jack died in a car accident on his way to college. Nick finally admits he’ll never know what happened, and they’ll leave in the morning.
So, everyone is going to die tonight.
Nick sleeps on the floor, Kelly sleeps on the bed, but before she falls asleep, Nick asks whether she heard the voice speak to her in the pool. Why? Oh, no reason. Night.
She wakes up the night and Nick is gone. She figures out his stealthy question and heads to the pool, where she finds him talking to the water, but she can’t hear what’s being said, she can’t get through the glass door because it’s locked. And breaking all that glass is not an option because… nobody thought of it.
Something suddenly grabs him and drags him into the water.
Kelly cried out in horror. The thing clinging to Nick was half human, half skeleton. One arm was bone from the elbow down. Its face was a skull, except for a few patches of flesh and long, stringy hair. But there was no doubt in Kelly’s mind that it was the girl in the picture.
Nick drowns and the door opens.
[Wing: Actually, not a terrible description for a PH.]
Laura doesn’t really clarify whether they killed or just didn’t notice, but she’s bitter either way. She beckons Kelly closer, and Kelly does so, until Laura reaches for her. Kelly grabs her arm, and drags her out of the pool and outside on to the grass, where Laura drowns in air.
Then she goes home. That’s it.
Well, I remember this being a lot more sinister when I was 12. However, it made me laugh out loud twice, and no book either already recapped or on the book list has ever made me do that before, so currently, based on scores, this is the finest PH we own.
[Wing: It is one of the best, but book four, Dove. BOOK FOUR.]
All my friends are a bag of dicks: 2
DED FROM STUPID: -16 (for making Dove laugh her ass off.)
He’s dead! He’s dead! HE’S FUCKING DEAD! … oh wait, he survived: 2
Mental health: with tact and sensitivity: 11
Oh you wacky kids, with your hi-jinks and your pranks: 2
Parents? What parents? 1
World of fail: 6
FUCKING PIRANHAS! -50
Final Score: -28 (a low score is good)