Title: Goosebumps #33 – The Horror at Camp Jellyjam, a.k.a. “R.L. <3’s H.P.”
Author: R.L. Stine
Cover Artist: Tim Jacobus
Tagline: Tennis… canoeing… monsters, anyone?
Summary: Sometimes, Winning Is Everything!
Swimming, basketball, roller hockey, King Jellyjam’s Sports Camp has it all. Too bad Wendy isn’t a sports freak like her brother, Elliot. But how excited can you get about softball? It’s just a game, right?
Because Camp Jellyjam is no ordinary sports camp. And Wendy’s about to find out why. Why the counselors seem a little too happy. Why they’re a little too obsessed with winning. And why the ground is always rumbling late at night…
Since it’s now summertime I wanted to surprise everyone with one of the legendary summer camp Goosebumps books. But I couldn’t decide which to choose from. I’d already recapped “Ghost Camp” last year on my birthday, but I decided to go with one of the classic books since I reviewed a 2000 book earlier this summer.
This is one of the most bizarre books from the first 62, and looking back on it as an adult I’ve come to realize this is probably R.L. Stine’s attempt at doing an H.P. Lovecraft-style tale, but for reasons I’ll have to explain in the Final Thoughts. Unfortunately, the big twist in this story has been spoiled numerous times by the various international additions’ covers and the Classic Goosebumps reprint. Even the Goosebumps Graphix adaption (drawn by the legendary Kyle Baker), has the twist spoiled by the cover.
[Wing: Stine doing Lovecraft? I’M SOLD.]
Wendy and her brother Elliot are bored out of their minds. They’ve been stuck in a car with their parents on an excruciatingly long car trip for two days, and all their mom can do for fun is point at the passing fields, landscapes, and animals. Mrs. Wendy’s Mom chides the kids for missing out on such lovely scenery, but the kids can’t help it even if this is the first family vacation they’ve had in three years. They’ve played all the games they could possibly think of to pass the time and they’re still bored. Hell, they’re so bored they can’t even fall asleep!
[Wing: Do you get car sick? If not, read a damn book. That’s still my favourite thing to do on road trips, though since I’m usually driving these days, I’ll listen to audiobooks or podcasts.]
Wendy asks if she and Elliot could hang out in the trailer they’ve been dragging with them everywhere. Their mom worries if it’s safe for the kids to do so, but Elliot promises they’ll be super careful and their dad is all “What could happen?” [Wing: Well, they could die, but that’s no big, right?] So after stopping by the road, the kids are allowed to get inside the small trailer the family’s been sleeping in when they have to stop for the night. The change of pace excites Elliot considerably, but Wendy adds they had no way of knowing this is when their troubles began.
With more space to move around, Wendy and Elliot pass the time arm wrestling on the small card table. Wendy’s only playing for fun, but Elliot’s the type who HAS to win at whatever game or sport he’s playing. Wendy’s gotten caught up in the game and demands they do three out of five, but decides to let Elliot win the next match because she doesn’t want to deal with how nasty he’ll get if he loses. At the moment, the trailer suddenly rocks and the ride becomes bumpier. The kids think at first their mom’s now driving since she has a tendency to drive very… erratically. Until Wendy looks out the trailer window and realizes neither of their parents is driving, because the trailer’s become unhooked from the car!
The trailer careens backwards down the hill, Wendy and Elliot bouncing up and down inside it. Wendy struggles to keep hold of the window and watches to her horror as the trailer rolls off the road and goes down through the woods. Wendy fears they’re going to crash and die as she gets jolted to the floor and feels the trailer crack against something hard. Suddenly, the trailer comes to a halt and the siblings are thrown around. Wendy can barely stand as she asks Elliot if he’s okay when they hear someone knocking on the trailer door. They think it’s their mom and dad, come to save them.
Wendy opens the door and finds herself face to face with a smiling blonde man, dressed in a white shirt and shorts and wearing a purple button that says “ONLY THE BEST!” The man introduces himself as Buddy, constantly smiling as he asks Wendy and Elliot if they’re okay. Inspecting the damage to the trailer, Buddy muses the kids must’ve been very scared and Elliot puts on a fake show of bravado, annoying Wendy. Getting out of the trailer, Wendy sees the unexpected path the trailer took through the forest and realizes they’re lucky to still be alive. Buddy adds they’re luckier than that, because their trailer just happened to land near King Jellyjam’s Sports Camp!
Buddy’s eager to show the kids the camp as Elliot adds they have to wait for their parents. Buddy assures them they can wait for the parents at the camp, and he’ll leave a note in the trailer in case their parents find it. Wendy and Elliot see a banner welcoming them to the camp, alongside a drawing of what looks like a happy little blob of purple gum with a crown on its head. Buddy explains that is King Jellyjam, the camp mascot. Wendy’s confused they’d choose a blob for a sports camp mascot as Buddy reveals he’s head counselor and shows them around. Wendy insists they need to find their parents, but Buddy happily reasons while Wendy and Elliot wait for their parents they can have some fun at the camp to relax after their close call in the trailer. Camp Jellyjam features just about every sport imaginable, they even have marbles tournaments. Elliot’s impressed as Buddy exclaims “Only The Best!” Elliot can’t believe how lucky they are and Wendy almost agrees with him…
Until she sees a little girl hiding behind a tree and warning Wendy to escape while she can!
[Wing: DUN DUN DUNNNNNNNNNN]
Buddy asks Wendy what’s wrong, and when she looks back the girl has disappeared. Wendy puts it out of her mind as she takes in how extraordinary the camp is, a far cry from the rustic summer camps she’s heard about. The place has got two swimming pools, a football field, soccer field, tennis courts, basketball courts, baseball and softball diamonds, even bowling lanes! She wonders if it would be so wrong of her to hope her parents take a couple of days to find her and Elliot so she can have fun at Camp Jellyjam. Hell, she’s even starting to think King Jellyjam’s kind of cute.
The kids are brought to two sleek, two-story white dorms, one for the boy campers and one for the girls. Elliot’s introduced to a counselor named Scooter and is brought to the boys dorm. While on the way to the girls dorm, Wendy asks Buddy if he’s from around the area. Buddy… is not sure. He can’t seem to recall where he comes from. Wendy tries to assure Buddy she forgets stuff all the time, but before she can pry further she’s introduced to a counselor named Holly (BUDDY HOLLY, get it? IT’S A FUCKING PLAY ON WORDS).
Wendy’s amazed by how gorgeous the dorm rooms are, and is going to be sharing a room with three other campers. As Holly leaves Wendy to get settled, Wendy suddenly remembers she’s only got the shirt, shorts, and shoes she has on and worries what she’ll do for clothes. It seems that won’t be a problem for long when she overhears someone outside the room declaring they’ve successfully trapped her!
Three girls burst into the dorm room with frightening expressions and surround Wendy before PSYCH! The girls start to laugh as they reveal they pulled that same joke on a couple of other campers. Wendy’s roommates introduce themselves as Deirdre, Jan, and Ivy, and while they seem nice they don’t have time to chat. The girls are hurrying to get ready for a lap race in the pool. Deirdre offers to let Wendy borrow one of her swimsuits since they’re about the same size. Wendy would love to splash around and relax after her close encounter with the trailer kind, but that bothers the girls. I mean, swimming? For fun? You can’t just have fun at Camp Jellyjam, you have to compete! The girls repeat the camp slogan, “Only The Best,” before they hurry to the pool. Wendy is left feeling confused and disturbed, wondering what they meant.
Wendy heads for the lap race, keeping her eye out for Elliot on the way. Deirdre thinks Wendy looks awesome in her swimsuit, but suggests tying her hair back so it won’t slow her down. Wendy realizes Deirdre’s almost as serious about winning as Elliot is as Deirdre declares she’s the best when it comes to swimming. As the girls get ready, Wendy sees Holly watching them while another counselor blows a whistle to begin the race. Wendy dives into the water and for a while, she seems to have caught Deirdre’s enthusiasm and tries to focus on winning. In fact, the two are practically neck and neck during the final lap. Seeing the intense look on Deirdre’s face, Wendy recognizes it’s the same look Elliot gets when he competes. Wendy decides to pull back because she doesn’t really care about winning and Deirdre comes in first place. The other girls congratulate Deirdre because she’s officially won her fifth King Coin. Wendy, of course, has no idea what they’re talking about as Deirdre holds up a gold coin with the graven image of King Jellyjam on it. Deirdre’s added announcement she needs one more King Coin to enter the Winner’s Walk confuses Wendy even more. The other girls hurry for their next events, but Wendy is stopped by Holly because there’s a big problem. Wendy is scared something happened to her brother or their parents, but it’s worse than that. The problem is… Wendy didn’t try her hardest in the race. Holly solemnly explains she saw Wendy pull back in the race, she didn’t try as hard as the other girls. Wendy stammers it was her first race when Holly reminds her of the camp slogan, “Only The Best.”
Only it’s not so much a slogan as it is a warning.
Drying off, Wendy’s trying to figure out what the big deal is. Why should she be worried about winning, so she can acquire those silly play coins? And what was Holly warning her about? She’s heard about these types of sports camps, where only the super serious and determined athletes go, so maybe it’s no-OH SHIT ELLIOT’S PASSED OUT ON THE GROUND!
Only no he’s not it’s a stupid joke he’s pulling. Wendy gets pissed, but Elliot shrugs it off and tells her to come watch him play against this kid Jeff in the Ping-Pong tournament. He makes a crack at Wendy for losing the swim race as he drags her down to the Ping-Pong tables. Wendy’s startled for a moment because Jeff is HUGE and doesn’t think her tiny brother’s gonna stand a chance. Surprisingly, the match turns out to be even and the two boys are giving it their all. Yet while Jeff appears calm, Elliot’s starting to get angry and even slams his paddle on the board. Wendy gives the usual signal, a two-finger whistle, to communicate that Elliot needs to stop being a nip slip. This manages to work in Elliot’s favor, because by calming down he wins! Buddy gives Elliot his first King Coin and compliments his intense style. Wendy’s about to leave so she can change out of Deirdre’s bathing suit when the ground starts to rumble. It’s an earthquake!
The siblings freak out as the ground starts to rock, but Buddy tells them to calm down as these things happen. He explains to the confused kids there are little tremors like this every day, and it doesn’t bother anyone else. Wendy can see the kids over at the chess tables never even looked up from their games the whole time. Wendy wants to know what causes these small earthquakes, but Buddy doesn’t know. Um.
Wendy goes back to the dorm room to change and runs into Jan and Ivy, who ask her a bunch of questions like if she’s won any King Coins, is she having fun, does she want to play tennis? Ivy invites Wendy to play in a doubles tennis match with her, even though Wendy doesn’t get a chance to mention she’s good, but not great. She reminisces on how she often plays for fun with one of her friends back home. But as she decides to play in Ivy’s tennis match, Wendy thinks about her parents and how worried they must be. To play it safe, Wendy plans to find a phone so she can leave a message on the machine back home (Because it was the 90s, you see!). Their dad calls to check the machine every hour or so whenever they’re away. Wendy finds two payphones outside the dorm, and is about to call when someone orders her to drop it!
It’s Deirdre! She apologizes for startling Wendy, but was super excited because she wanted to show off her last King Coin! Now Deirdre can be in the Winners Walk, if only Wendy knew what the hell it means. Deirdre tells Wendy to get a move on to win some King Coins so she can be in the Winners Walk too, and proposes they have a little party later at the dorm that night. Deirdre’s excitement is contagious, so Wendy decides to give the camp a chance for a little bit before she calls her parents. Only The Best!
After dinner, the campers are led outside and Wendy finally learns what the Winners Walk is. There’s a trumpet and fanfare as two counselors lead a parade of all the campers who won their sixth King Coin that day. As of this night there are five boys and three girls, including Deirdre. The campers and counselors applaud and cheer with the camp slogan. Wendy, Ivy, and Jan return to the dorm with only a couple of bags of chips and two cans of soda, all they could swipe from the mess hall, but are looking forward to partying with Deirdre.
Too bad Deirdre doesn’t show up.
Fearing something’s happened to their friend, the girls decide to search for Deirdre even though it’s a few minutes before Lights Out. Wendy mentions she had no way of knowing what would happen as they went to look for Deirdre.
The girls wonder if maybe the kids in the Winners Walk were brought to a special party just for them at the main lodge, but they don’t hear any of the usual partying noises. Except for the crickets chirping, the night is totally silent. They have to be really careful though, because the counselors seem to be all over the place and the girls have no idea where they’re going this late. Wendy sees the lights in the dorm windows going out by the time they reach the lodge, and it’s indeed as empty as it looks. Wendy’s in for a real shock though, when the girls see all those bats swooping down out of the trees!
Wendy’s about to panic before Jan shows her the bats are only nomming on the insects fluttering around one of the pools. Needing a new plan, the girls decide to trail behind one of the counselors when the ground rumbles again. Ivy and Jan reveal they’re as clueless about what causes the earthquakes as Buddy is. The three decide to see if Deirdre was simply late going back to the dorm and start arguing about whose idea it was to sneak out when they’re joined by someone Wendy’s met before. That little girl who warned her not to go into the camp has come back, and she’s begging for help!
The girl reveals her name is Alicia, and she’s completely terrified. Unfortunately, she’s so freaked out she can’t tell the girls what’s shaken her so badly. She can only stammer she saw “It” and they all need to escape while they can because no one in the camp is safe. As the girls try to get Alicia to calm down, one of the counselors declares he’s caught them!
The girls rush to hide back in the woods when they realize the counselor wasn’t talking to them, but to another counselor. The two assume the other has been following them around for some reason. Unfortunately, that little shock scared Alicia away, and now the girls don’t know where she went. The surprises don’t end there, for when the girls return to their dorm room Jan finds something awful in the dresser. Because it was dark, she opened Deirdre’s drawer by mistake. Or at least, she THINKS this is Deirdre’s drawer, because all of Deirdre’s clothes are gone. Her stuff’s missing from the closet as well. It’s like Deirdre was never there.
Wendy searches for Deirdre at breakfast, but can’t find her or Alicia. She’s now back to worrying when her parents will arrive as Elliot talks about his plan to win a third King Coin. And no, he’s not too worried about their parents finding them. Learning Wendy still hasn’t won any coins, Elliot jokes they should change the camp slogan for her: “Only The Worst!” Moved by her sibling’s faith in her abilities, Wendy finds Buddy and asks him if he knows where she can find Deirdre. Buddy thinks for a moment, checking his clipboard, and then cheerfully tells Wendy that Deirdre’s gone. Wendy asks where she went; did Deirdre go home? Buddy shrugs, it just says “Gone.” Confused, Wendy asks if he at least knows where Alicia is and starts to describe her appearance.
“Oh, yeah. Alicia,” he said, lowering the clipboard. He grinned at me. A strange grin. A chilling grin. “She’s gone, too.”
Wendy tries to talk to Ivy and Jan about this new development, but they’re too busy. With no one else to turn too, Wendy confides in Elliot. Elliot’s pissed Wendy is holding up his one-on-one basketball game, but Wendy doesn’t care. She tries to explain that kids are missing, and points out isn’t it strange they haven’t heard ANYTHING from their parents yet? It wouldn’t have taken them long to notice the trailer was gone, and they didn’t crash too far away from them. Elliot loses his temper and accuses Wendy of trying to ruin his good time because she sucks at everything and goes to play his dumb basketball game. Shocked at how little Elliot cares about their parents finding them, Wendy decides enough is enough and goes to leave that message like she planned. Only, it looks like it wouldn’t have mattered if she’d called yesterday or the moment they got to the camp, because when she picks up the payphone…
“Hi there, Camper!” Boomed a cheerful, deep voice. “Have a wonderful day at camp! This is King Jellyjam greeting you. Work hard. Play hard. And win. And always remember – Only The Best!“
Wendy’s distraught all the phone does is play a recorded message. She tries all the other phones, and they’re equally useless. She can’t call home! Wendy proceeds to search for a telephone that’s, you know, an actual phone as she walks down the path where she found Alicia the other night. On the way she passes by the basketball court where Elliot’s playing against Jeff. Elliot loses, which means Jeff now has his sixth and last King Coin. Wendy gets the feeling she’s being watched, and turns around to find Buddy staring at her. Buddy informs Wendy it’s time for her to go…
Go find a sport, that is! After all, she can’t simply stand around and do nothing. King Jellyjam wouldn’t approve, you see. Wendy’s officially sick of that stupid blob and wishes she could stomp the little bastard’s guts out as Buddy reveals he’s kindly made up a schedule of stuff she can participate in. First up is a tennis match against an African American girl named Rose.
(Quick side note: In the graphic novel adaptation, Kyle Baker made Wendy and her family Black, but made Rose into a white girl)
Rose mentions she always plays to win, but she turns out to be a real class act. She gives Wendy several tips on how to play better during the game (not in a snotty way) and is overall a good sport. Rose wins, of course, and gets her sixth King Coin as well. The counselor directs Wendy to the softball diamond for her next game, and reminds Wendy to run, don’t walk! Only The Best! Ugh. Wendy joins the other kids and is informed if her team wins they all get King Coins. She decides to warm up by doing a few swings with the bat, but then-
I didn’t see Buddy standing there.
The bat smacked him hard in the chest.
It made a sickening thocccck as it crashed into his ribs.
I let the bat fall from my hands. Then I staggered back. Stunned. Horrified.
Even more horrifying is how Buddy DOESN’T EVEN CARE. He even suggests they could get Wendy a lighter bat! Wendy hurriedly asks if Buddy’s hurt or in pain, but all he’s interested in is seeing Wendy swing with an aluminum bat. In the graphic novel version, Wendy hit Buddy right in the neck, making his head turn at an awful angle.
Wendy tries to tell Ivy and Jan what happened, but they joke her swing isn’t as hard as she thought, or Buddy probably waited til he was alone to start screaming his head off. Wendy knows something is seriously wrong here; no one could take a blow like that and not even cry out a little. She’s unable to stop thinking about the sound she heard when she hit his ribs, even during the Winners Walk when she sees Rose and Jeff with the other six-coiners.
Like Deirdre, Rose and Jeff were gone the next morning. Wendy’s officially done with this awful place and is determined to figure out how to escape with Elliot. She’s still forced to participate in the follow-up softball game, but once that’s over she does her best to avoid Buddy. Her plan for escape involves sneaking away with Elliot following the Winners Walk, going through the woods until they reach the highway and hike to the nearest phone. Simple right? Well Elliot’s not leaving until he got his sixth King Coin, and believes Wendy’s jealous because she has none. Elliot absolutely refuses to go anywhere until after the track meet the next day. Wendy, my heart goes out to you when I say as much as I wish you’d ditch this little fucker, you’d end up abandoning all the other kids. Stay strong, girl.
That night at the Winners Walk, Wendy reminds herself she’s not the only kid freaking out because something definitely unnerved Alicia. Wendy sneaks away and hides in the woods as the Winners Walk ends, and notices the counselors are off to… somewhere. Remembering they were all headed someplace the night she looked for Deirdre, Wendy follows after the counselors to learn what their deal is. She’s shocked to find a building hidden away from the camp on the other side of a hill, low with a white, round roof almost like an igloo. Wendy sneaks inside, a safe distance from the adults, and finds they’re all clustered together in a little theater. Buddy is standing on stage beneath a banner that reads “ONLY THE BEST” and watches as he takes out a King Coin. He starts swinging the coin back and forth on a string, as he announces they must refresh themselves.
“Time to refresh our minds,” Buddy said. “Time to refresh our mission.”
He raised the gold coin high. It glowed in the torchlight as he began to swing it. Back and forth. Slowly.
“Clear your minds,” he instructed them, speaking softly now. “Clear your minds, as I have cleared mine.”
Hidden away in the shadows, Wendy realizes to her horror that Buddy is hypnotizing the other counselors as he reminds them of their great mission.
“Clear your minds to serve the master!” Buddy declared. “For that is why we are here. To serve the master in all his glory!”
“To serve the master!” the counselors all chanted back together.
Who is the master? I asked myself.
What are they talking about?
Buddy continued chanting out slogans to the crowd of counselors. His eyes were wide. He never blinked.
“We do not think!” he shouted. “We do not feel! We give ourselves up to serve the master!”
Now Wendy understands why all the counselors are smiling all the time and why Buddy didn’t seem hurt when she swung that bat. He’s hypnotized too, and soon all the counselors begin to chant “ONLY THE BEST!”
And then Wendy sneezed.
Buddy demands to know who’s there, but thankfully Wendy’s still in the dark so no one sees her. She hurries to get away from the theater when she finds the entrance to a steep staircase. Wendy descends to get away from the counselors, but the deeper she goes the hotter and fouler the air becomes. Wendy smells something like sour milk and rotten garbage mixed together when she hears a moan from the end of the tunnel. The smell keeps getting worse and Wendy almost slips in a puddle of water as she approaches the light at the end. She finds herself in some sort of large, underground chamber, and realizes she’s in far deeper shit than she imagined.
Because she’s just met the camp founder.
Live, and in person, give a big round of applause for none other than the one, the only, King Jellyjam!
Not a cute little mascot. But a fat, gross, purple mound of slime, nearly as big as a house. Wearing a gold crown.
Two enormous, watery yellow eyes rolled around in his head. He smacked his fat purple lips and groaned again. Hunks of thick, white goo dripped from his huge, hairy nostrils.
The disgusting odor rolled off his body. Even holding my nose couldn’t keep out the sour stench. He smelled like dead fish, rotting garbage, sour milk, and burning rubber – all at once!
The gold crown bounced on top of his slimy, wet head. His purple stomach heaved, as if an ocean wave was breaking inside him. And he let out a putrid burp that shook the walls.
All around the purple abomination, Wendy sees kids scurrying frantically with mops, buckets, sponges and hoses. They’re all scrubbing King Jellyjam down or soaking him in water.
And as they worked, little round objects rained down on them. Click. Click. Click. The little round things clattered to the floor.
Snails popping out through King Jellyjam’s skin.I started to gag again when I realized the hideous creature was sweating snails!
Wendy doesn’t understand what’s going on or why the kids are washing him, when she recognizes Alicia! She’s frantically scrubbing King Jellyjam’s side and is sobbing the entire time. Soon Wendy sees Jeff and Rose, when someone runs up to Wendy and begs her to save herself. It’s Deirdre!
Deirdre uttered a sob. “Only The Best!” she whispered. “Only The Best get to be King Jellyjam’s slaves!”
Deirdre explains all the kids down here are the six-coiners. Jellyjam gets the strongest kids, the ones who work the hardest, to be his slaves. He forces them to wash him and keep him wet 24/7 because he can’t stand his own horrific stench. And if he catches any of the kids taking a break or stopping to rest, even for a moment, HE EATS THEM!
AND SHE’S SEEN HIM EAT AT LEAST THREE KIDS TODAY!
Deirdre’s babbling about how those earthquakes are when Jellyjam belches and he somehow hypnotized all the counselors into serving him, when King Jellyjam lets out a horrible roar! Deirdre fears she’s about to be eaten, but thankfully that roar was an incentive for the kids to keep working. Deirdre pleads with Wendy to get help!
Running out of the building, Wendy has no idea what she can do but is going to figure out some way to save Deirdre, the six coin winners, as well as all the other kids and her brother. But how? She’s forced to hide back in the woods when she sees the counselors are looking for her with flashlights. Wendy finds a hiding spot deep in the bushes and hunkers down, hoping to wait until the counselors end their search. Unfortunately, Wendy got a bit too comfortable and wakes up the next morning. She has no idea how long she slept until she hears the sounds of cheering and remembers Elliot’s track meet!
Wendy hurries just as she sees her brother about to cross the finish line, and musters all her strength to jump forward and tackle him to the ground. Elliot demands to know what her fucking problem is when she grabs him and screams they have to go. Wendy drags Elliot with her as Buddy and the other counselors try to chase them, and Wendy brings her brother back to the igloo building and shows him what happened to the six coin winners. As they enter the chamber with King Jellyjam and his slaves, Wendy screams “HIT THE FLOOR!”
Wendy orders all the kids to stop washing King Jellyjam, drop everything and lie flat on the ground now! She tells them no matter what, DO NOT GET UP! The kids do as Wendy tells them, causing King Jellyjam to roar in outrage. He starts trying to pick up the kids so he can eat them for not working, but he can’t grab hold! His fingers are so thick and huge, he can’t grab the kids as they lay completely flat on the ground! King Jellyjeam shrieks in agony as his B.O. starts to get to him. He desperately tries to pick up one of the hoses or one of the mops to clean himself, but to no avail. Wendy’s plan is working… until KING JELLYJAM REACHES TO GRAB HER!
Wendy can feel the grotesque smell all around her as King Jellyjam grabs her and plans to devour her… but then he lets out one final cry of anguish and falls headfirst to the floor. Kids frantically roll out of the way as the monster drops to the ground, dead. He suffocated on his own nauseating odor. The kids begin to cheer and cry tears of joy, Alicia especially hugs Wendy. They all start to escape from the igloo building, and run smack dab into Buddy and the counselors! The adults are still hypnotized and plan to capture the kids when everyone hears a shrill whistling noise. Buddy and the other seem to collectively snap out of their trance as the kids turn to see police officers on the other side of the building! As Buddy, Holly, and the others try to figure out where they are and what’s going on, the police chief explains they’re from the nearby town and were investigating the source of a horrible smell which seemed to come from the camp.
The police set about reuniting the (surviving) kids with their parents. Wendy and Elliot are overjoyed to see their parents again, who explain they had the police contact the camp several times after they found the trailer. The counselors kept telling the police Wendy and Elliot weren’t there. The parents apologize for what a disaster this trip was and offer to send the kids to a real summer camp next year. Wendy and Elliot are all FUCK NO.
Two weeks later, Wendy and Elliot have a surprise visitor. It’s Buddy! Buddy came to apologize to the kids for what happened at the camp, and also present Elliot with his last King Coin on the grounds he technically did win the race. Elliot’s sure nothing could happen, right?
Ugh but what’s that horrible smell?
Oh no wait Mom is just making brussell sprouts
King Jellyjam Commission Gallery
So why do I think this is R.L.’s H.P. story? Let’s review:
- Isolated location
- Cult like mentality and brainwashing
- Protagonists stumbling upon the plot with no connection to the events beforehand
- A grotesque abomination that for all accounts and purposes should not exist and yet does
- Said abomination is worshiped by those it has total control over
- Even the title is reminiscent of some of Lovecraft’s stories, like “The Dunwich Horror” or “The Horror at Red Hook.”
What WAS King Jellyjam though? In bonus materials, Stine claims he was created when some campers left a bowl of jelly in a radioactive, snail infested cave. Yet one can only wonder how his powers got so strong or how he managed to hypnotize Buddy and the others. And in case you’re wondering, chances are his smell wasn’t nearly as bad until he started getting bigger, otherwise he would’ve probably croaked ages ago. Or at the very least, he probably sat and did nothing while the campers washed him for so long his lungs atrophied, or being cleaned all the time meant he wasn’t used to his own stench anymore and being hit by the full force of it was something he wasn’t prepared for. The character feels like Stine’s attempt at a classic, allegorical villain, a sort of personification of what laziness and gluttony can do to a person. Instead of learning to take care of himself and clean his own body, Jellyjam forced others to take care of him.
Yet he truly is terrifying considering we know he’s devoured God only knows how many children over the past few years, not to mention the ones who probably died from exhaustion. They’re told they can NEVER stop working, and it’s implied they weren’t even allowed to stop and eat so they’d have energy. No guesses how the counselors got rid of the bodies…
There are plenty of parents who won’t be getting their kids back.
Stine adds Jabba the Hutt was one of the inspirations for Jellyjam, and he’s certainly one of the most popular monsters in the fandom even though he’s a stereotypical “Fat = bad” Big Eater Villainous Glutton. [Wing: Yeah, I was really enjoying this book until Jellyjam was presented as real and one of those metaphors for lazy, stinky fat people who do nothing but lie there in their own filth. Fuck off, Stine. Just when I was excited for one of your stories.]
The reprint and foreign covers spoil the reveal that he’s real by placing him right there. Even without context of what he does, it still ruins the surprise.