Recap #187: Graveyard School #11: April Ghouls’ Day by Tom B. Stone by Jude Deluca
Title: Graveyard School #11 – April Ghouls’ Day, a.k.a. “Maria and Morty’s Totally Awesome Adventure”
Author: Tom B. Stone, a.k.a. Nola Thacker, a.k.a. D.E. Athkins
Cover Artist: Barry Jackson
Summary: Invasion Of The Body Snatchers!
Maria Medina’s not quite sure how it happened. One minute she was just another student at Graveyard School, trying to make it through the first day of April. Then suddenly someone – somehow – set her up in a gruesome body switch.
Now the principal, Dr. Morthouse, is acting really weird – but not as strange as Maria. Body, body, who’s got whose body? On April Fools’ Day, no one is safe at Graveyard School.
This has never been one of my favorites, but it’s not as bad as “Let’s Scare The Teacher To Death” was. This is definitely the funniest book in the series, and the only time Maria Medina gets to be the main character. It also sheds the most spotlight on Dr. Morthouse, who tends to lurk in the background most of the time.
My main complaint is this doesn’t really do justice for Vickie Wheilson’s character.
[Wing: That’s a shame, but I do love body swap stories, so I’m excited for this one!]
Of course puke perfect Polly Hannah had to be a buzzkill while Maria Medina showed off her brand new skates. Vickie Wheilson and Stacey Carter were disgusted by Polly’s nasty attitude and tried to ignore her. Maria was super proud of her blades, especially since she paid for them herself. Polly continued to act like a crank, saying Maria would probably kill herself with those skates. Maria threatened if someone’s gonna die around here, it won’t be her. [Wing: In Graveyard School, that’s probably true … but only probably.]
The girls were hanging with Vickie’s cousin Skate McGraw around Skateboard Hill, close to Graveyard Hill. Polly was only there because she was waiting for her mom to pick her up. She whined over how it wasn’t even a special occasion like Maria’s birthday, or Christmas, or Hanukkah. Maria pointed out April Fools’ Day is tomorrow, when a cold chill blew down from Graveyard Hill. Polly took one final shot, asserting the girls would probably fall off Graveyard Hill and land in an open grave. Vickie knew from personal experience weird things DID happen around Graveyard Hill, but she didn’t like to talk about them. [Wing: What? That’s common knowledge, Vickie! You should share all the things you’ve learned.]
Maria teased Polly by asking if she was scared of ghosts; she said no one ever got buried on Graveyard Hill anymore. The ghosts are probably so old they wouldn’t even bother with Polly. At which point another cold wind emerged from the top of the hill. As Mrs. Hannah sounded off the obnoxious horn on her gas guzzling car, Polly stated she didn’t believe in ghosts before she marched away. She capped off her departure with a smug “I told you so!”
With Polly finally gone, the girls found Skate and made their way through Dead Man’s Curve. Skate complimented Maria on her beautiful blades. She was definitely enjoying the attention she was getting for them. The kids skated until the sun was blood red and sinking below the horizon. They quickly made their way off Skateboard Hill, not wanting to be caught anywhere near Graveyard Hill at night. On the way, Maria proposed they tell Polly they did see a ghost just to screw with her. [Wing: But … there has been at least one ghost on Graveyard Hill, so…] Out of every kid at Graveyard School, Maria hated Polly the most. Skate vetoed the idea, while Vickie reasoned a ghost wouldn’t be caught dead (oxymoron not intended) on a non-Halloween-holiday. As they talked, Maria couldn’t help but feel like something had tugged her rugby shirt.
Maria imagined Polly would be livid if a ghost dared to break stereotype. Hell, she might even try to report it for unorthodox ghostly behavior. Stacey wondered if ghosts prefer having more days to haunt besides October 31st. Maria couldn’t tell if something tugged at her shirt again or if she imagined things. Vickie’s sure Polly would tell Dr. Morthouse the ghost was breaking the rules; God only knows what the dreaded Doc M would do to the ghost if she got her hands on it. The kids agreed if anyone could scare a ghost, it was either Dr. Morthouse or Basement Bart.
As they discussed how Polly was the only kid who liked Dr. Morthouse, Maria wondered what it was like to BE the principal. The rest of the group was repulsed by the idea, but Maria thought about the power such status would bring.
“Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” said Stacey.
Maria didn’t back down from her thoughts and asked if anyone ever thought about switching places with someone else, just to see what it was like. They ran off names like Polly, Basement Bart, even Jaws Bennett, and laughed like hyenas.
No one noticed that particularly arctic gust of wind curl down from Graveyard Hill. Skate looked back for just a moment, wondering if he’d seen someone. And for a moment, Maria’s vision seemed to blur. She couldn’t shake the feeling someone or something was following her home.
Park Addams, Algernon “Algie” Green, and Bentley Jeste walked up the steps to Graveyard School the next morning. From a glance, Park seemed to be talking about his standard subject: baseball.
That meant Park wouldn’t have noticed a dinosaur standing by the school’s front door.
Well, maybe not.
As the boys reached the top of the steps with the rest of the sixth graders, Algie tripped and stumbled over the railing! The boys, Stacey, and Maria hurried to help Algie off the bush he’d landed on when Algie began screaming. Ants! He was covered in ants! Algie begged Park and Bent for help, but all he did was spread the ants to them! The boys were crying, scratching at their skin as they tried to get the tiny, biting insects off their faces. Some of the insects hit Maria right her face!
Polly yelled about reporting the boys to the principal, but Maria and Stacey were taking the joke in stride. It IS April Fools’ Day, after all. [Wing: April Fools’ Day can be fun, but a lot of pranks are really terrible and harmful to people, so keep that in mind.] Stacey complained they should be given the day o-MARIA WHAT ARE DOING GOING INTO THE SCHOOL BEFORE THE BELL RINGS?!
Maria wanted to put her new skates in her locker. Polly decided to follow her so she could get to class early and help the teacher. Watching Polly go into the school, Stacey and Maria bitterly commented on what a teacher’s pet Polly is. Maria felt sorry for the poor teacher about to endure Hurricane Polly. Being reminded of her wish to switch places with Dr. Morthouse, Maria fantasized about all the awful punishments she could inflict on Polly.
Vickie got the drop on Maria in the empty hallway, when she came upon a “brilliant” idea. She motioned to the pristine floors and dubbed them Board City, U.S.A.. Maria immediately told Vickie to get Skate to join her, but he was wisely fearful of getting caught. And besides, the floor’s empty and they know Morthouse and Vice Principal Lucre are lurking by the front doors…
The girls headed for a primo spot on the second floor above where the new boys’ bathroom is (you know, the one that was haunted). Maria finds herself getting intoxicated on the thought of blading over smooth, flat floors instead of bumpy, uneven concrete and asphalt. The idea of getting her blades confiscated, feet included, lingered though. Nevertheless, she decided it was time to put a wheel on the school.
It was like skating on perfect ice. Like taking off in an airplane. Like the plunge from the diving tower at Slime Lake.
The lockers went by faster and faster until they became a blur. The girls’ wheels whirred slickly.
Maria and Vickie skate/blade back and forth down the hallway a few times. Vickie decides to stop when the first morning bells rings (the one warning everyone it’s almost time to head inside), but Maria’s on an adrenaline high and desires one last romp. Maria goads Vickie into skating down the hall and manages to overtake her. She’s going fast. Too fast. So fast shE’S ABOUT TO SLAM INTO DR. MORTHOUSE!
Vickie tried to call out to Maria before it was too late, but it was futile. Maria was going way too fast as their dreaded principal entered the hall. Maria screamed at the principal to move out of the way. Like that was gonna happen.
Dr. Morthouse moved. She crouched down. Her industrial-strength hands reached out for Maria.
In your dreams, thought Maria. You’ll never take me alive.
No matter which direction Maria moved, Dr. Morthouse moved to match her. At the last moment, Maria stood straight up as Doc M crouched low. She was ready to face death with dignity. She didn’t scream.
Maria Medina hit Dr. Morthouse at top speed. The crash shook pictures off walls in the classrooms, forced open locker doors. The whole building seemed to shudder.
In the new downstairs boys’ bathroom, a geyser of water shot up in into the air from the toilet on the end.
In the basement, Bart straightened up. He cocked his head. Then he smiled a terrible smile.
Coming out of the school office on the first floor, assistant principal Hannibal Lucre jumped and clutched at his heart. “Oh dear, oh dear,” he muttered, looking wildly around.
Once everything went silent, Vickie cautiously inspected the end of the hall and was horrified by the two bodies sprawled in front of her. Maria and Morthouse lay, skull to skull, knocked out. At least Maria was wearing her helmet. Or did that make it worse?
Maria began to stir; Vickie was relieved she was still breathing. She didn’t want to wake up Morthouse lest the principal kill both of them. Vickie did worry about moving Maria if she injured her neck, but then she heard Lucre approaching. As Maria woke up, Vickie recapped her fatal collision with Doc M and suggested they move their asses. Maria asked if there was an emergency as Vickie hoisted her up, but then she immediately lost her balance. Vickie told Maria to shake it off and thought she could handle her blades.
She could not.
Vickie moved like lightning to get Maria’s skates off and dragged her down the hall before Lucre caught them. She stashed Maria behind the corner as Lucre reached Morthouse’s body and started screaming for help. Feigning innocence, Vickie headed over to the unconscious principal to discreetly retrieve Maria’s skates. Why Vice Principal Lucre, has something terrible befallen our beloved principal? They were joined by Ms. Camp, and while the teacher and vice principal were focused on the head of the school, Vickie quietly reached over for th-
MORTHOUSE SHOOTS UP AND ORDERS VICKIE TO DROP ‘EM!
Vickie dashes through the wave of students and teachers as she heard Dr. Morthouse call her name. She tries to apologize to Maria for not getting the skates back, but Maria’s gone!
Inside the (ghost free) girls’ room, Maria examines the bump on her forehead and tries to remember what happened. She thinks she was skating in the hallway, but that’s impossible. Why would she be skating in the school hallway?
At the same time, Dr. Morthouse announced over the intercom that all students are granted an extra five minutes to get to class and no tardy slips be administered. Stacey and Park immediately think this is Morthouse’s idea of a joke.
Back in the bathroom, Vickie’s trying to help Maria but Maria isn’t in the mood. Vickie believes she deserves Maria’s wrath because it’s her fault Maria lost her skates. She’s worried Maria doesn’t look too good, and tries apologizing saying she had to get her away from Dr. Morthouse in time.
“Dr. Morthouse,” said Maria. She put one hand up and smoothed her bangs down over the lump on her forehead. Then she said, “What, exactly, happened? If you don’t mind telling me?”
The sarcastic tone made Vickie wince. “You don’t remember?”
“Would I have asked if I remembered?” Maria practically shouted. She spun around to face Vickie. Her eyes blazed. Her mouth opened in a spooky snarl.
In spite of herself, Vickie stepped back.
Vickie lays down the 411 and Maria is outraged? Skating? IN THE SCHOOL HALLWAYS?! Vickie winces as Maria keeps shouting and asks her to lower the volume.
“I am not shouting.”
“Well, you’re talking pretty loud.”
“The correct word is loudly.”
“Wow,” Vickie breathed. “You really did take a knock on the head, Maria.”
“Maria Medina, sixth grade. Accomplices are Stacey Carter, Vickie Wheilson.”
Vickie informs Maria she sounds like a warden in an old prison movie when they hear the announcement about the extra five minutes. Maybe that’s a sign today won’t be so bad after all…
Maria is dropped off at her class, but Vickie wonders if she really should see a doctor. Unfortunately, the school no longer had a nurse. Rumor has it she disappeared, or she now worked at a very strange summer camp…
Stacey motioned for Maria to sit by her as always. Entering the room, Maria took note of how Ms. Camp was more interested in reading a book than getting the kids to settle before class began. As Maria sat down, Stacey eagerly talked about the extra five minutes and how someone tried to off “Sick Morthouse.” Maria notes the contempt in Stacey’s voice as she talks about “Doctor Doom” but is left wondering why she feels so off. She asks if the principal got hurt, to which Stacey reminds her how Morthouse is indestructible.
That was when… IT happened.
The teacher walked over to close the door of the classroom – and froze.
A familiar figure shot past her and spun once around the desk. The figure paused at the corner, and her gaze swept across the room.
For one moment, Dr. Morthouse’s steely gray eyes met Maria’s dark brown ones. Then, suit and all, the principal pushed off and out of the room.
“Outta my way,” she shouted at the teacher as she elbowed through the door. “I’m trying to think!”
Then she was gone in a whir of wheels down the hall.
The homeroom teacher staggered back and collapsed in her chair.
No one moved. No one spoke.
It was all too horrible to be true.
But it was true.
It was Dr. Morthouse. And she was wearing Maria’s blades.
Maria shot up out of her chair and began to scream.
But what was going on in Dr. Morthouse’s head at the time?
Dr. Morthouse skated on, up and down the halls. She clomped up the stairs and bladed, then slid down the banisters and bladed some more.
Her long legs gave her awesome speed. The wheels of the blades made her tower over everyone else.
She liked that. She also liked the way they shrank back as she went by. She liked the mouths dropping open, the whimpers of fear and shock.
Who cared if she was losing her mind? This was the way to go.
Some time later, Maria hid herself away in the girls’ room. Stacey tried to get her to come out, but Maria wouldn’t listen. The next bell rang and Stacey left to get her backpack, while Maria, or what looked like Maria, listened to some girls joking about Dr. Morthouse. After the girls left talking about “Mad Dog Morthouse” the person in the stall slowly got up and inspected their body.
Dr. Morthouse couldn’t believe this, couldn’t believe she had somehow become trapped in the body of Maria Medina! Stacey returned with Vickie, asking if Maria was still in the stall. I mean, she’s not technically but…
The girls try to comfort “Maria” after Vickie filled Stacey in on what happened. Stacey argues “Unchaining Morthouse’s brain” seems to have done the dreaded doctor a lot of good; Vickie can’t believe she’s hearing that. At least the principal doesn’t realize the blades belong to Maria. They warn her even if Morthouse has had an epiphany, she doesn’t want to go near the principal’s office.
Vickie’s face, upside down, appeared beneath the stall door.
Maria stared down at her.
“Hey! You’re upside down!” said Vickie.
“Feeble, Vick,” Stacey said.
But Maria smiled.
Vickie’s face disappeared abruptly.
Morthouse!Maria tries to play it cool and exits the stall.
There they stood. Her good friend Vickie. Her best friend, Stacey. Nice kids.
Nice kids. What was she thinking.
Morthouse!Maria vetoes going to the office and asking to be sent home because of her bump. No, all she’s focused on is figuring out what happened to her and what she’ll need to do about it.
Meanwhile, the body of Dr. Morthouse skated into the front office and announced over the intercom extra dessert for everyone at lunchtime. She lounged in her office, putting her skate-clad feet on her desk and wondered why she didn’t take things easy more often. So what if she got whacked on the head? So what if she had a small memory problem? She was large and in charge; she could do whatever she wanted. And her first order of business was getting on the phone to Pizza Park after getting a whiff of today’s noxious lunch. Her second order was to get all the faculty together at 12:30 sharp.
Jaws Bennett, the boy who could eat anything (even roadkill), was in nirvana as he chomped down on his chocolate pudding cake and chicken noodle surprise at the same time. Stacey wondered if Jaws ever really ate roadkill; Park translated Jaws would if he could. Morthouse!Maria vigorously ate the surprise, calmly mentioning it was nutritious, wholesome, AND economical. Jaws agrees with her when the voice of the principal announced all the teachers better move they asses to the conference room. The teachers in the cafeteria reluctantly left, and you know what that means.
A geyser of food flew around the ceiling. Across the room, Skip Wolfson jumped up on the chair, cupped his hands around his mouth, and began to howl.
And his parents thought the wolf gene skipped him.
The lunchroom staff did nothing but hide behind the serving counter as pandemonium reigned. Thank God Ms. Stoker wasn’t around for this. Jason Dunnbar and Eddie Hoover engaged in a food flinging duel; Eddie used a second grader as a human shield. The second grader’s older sister retaliated. While chaos reigned, Morthouse!Maria headed to the windows overlooking the school parking lot and saw the pizza delivery trucks.
That’s where all the teachers are, thought Maria. Eating pizza while Grove Hill School burns.
Stacey and Vickie told Morthouse!Maria they had to get out of the cafeteria. Their supposed friend marched through the hurricane of food, but it was like nothing would dare touch her.
She snarled so ferociously at Jason that he fell back in confusion.
As the girls waded through the hurricane of noodles, chicken, dried oranges, and cake, it seemed someone else wasn’t dodging as well as Morthouse!Maria.
But the person who reeled up to them was clothed in food.
“Kill them!” Polly Hannah shrieked, flinging noodles far and wide as she waved her arms and pointed. “Kill them!”
Yeah I’m sure Polly’s doing fine right now.
Morthouse!Maria decides enough is enough and is off to get the (body of the) principal. Stacey and Vickie try to talk her out of it, saying the principal would rip her apart like a rabid dog. Reduce her to hallkill in the schoolhouse of life.
“I get your point. I don’t believe Dr. Morthouse would resort to such drastic extremes.” Maria smiled, and Stacey and Vickie frowned. An involuntary shudder ran through Vickie. Where had she seen that smile before?
Maria added, “Unless, of course, she had good cause.”
Morthouse!Maria asks what has the principal ever done to Stacey and Vickie, so now the girls believe this is an April Fools’ joke “Maria” is playing on them. Morthouse!Maria tells them to act like it’s the second day of April as she leaves the lunchroom.
The principal-trapped-in-a-student’s body marched down the halls, watching how all the classrooms had devolved into a frenzy of turmoil while the teachers nommed on pizza. Morthouse!Maria was not going to let Graveyard-I MEAN, Grove Hill School, go down like this. As she got closer to the conference room, she could hear the faculty braying like a bunch of jackasses.
“…give me i!”
“Give me an o!”
“Give me an n!”
“What’s it spell?”
“I can’t hear you…”
Morthouse!Maria burst into the room, watching teachers dancing on chairs, flinging pepperoni slices into their mouths. Their boss tried to make them stop, but all they saw was a student and screamed “April Fools’!”
Meanwhile, the body of Dr. Morthouse was weaving through an obstacle course of pizza boxes. Lucre loudly applauded “Morty’s” dexterity.
Cheers broke out around the room. Dr. Morthouse swooped around the last chair and spun gracefully to bow to the room at large.
“Pizza on, dudes!” she screamed, and everyone applauded.
Morthouse!Maria grabbed the older woman and drew her close until they were eye level. The principal’s body was a total mess as the younger girl told her to get a grip. What looked like the principal didn’t seem to recognize the girl before she ordered the older woman to take a good, long look. “Dr. Morthouse” told Lucre she was having a conference with a student. The principal threatened she could have the girl expelled, but the girl wondered if she really could.
The body of Maria Medina smiled.
The body of Dr. Morthouse screamed.
“Dr. Morthouse” skated out of the room, leaving the door open for all the teachers to hear the noise caused by the riots in the classrooms and cafeteria. Maria’s body started to chase after the principal’s body as the teachers realized what hell had erupted in their absence and tried to restore order. Morthouse!Maria saw her body heading for the back emergency exit of the school, which she knew was broken and scheduled for repairs later in the day. Which meant she didn’t have to run as fast.
“I know something you don’t know,” she singsonged like a first-grader.
Trapped at the bottom of the stairs, Maria Medina, trapped in the body of Dr. Morthouse, turned around and screamed again.
While this went on, Vickie wondered where Maria was and remembered Maria asking what it would be like to switch places with Dr. Morthouse. Vickie tried to imagine what it wold be like to switch places with Polly Hannah. It was not a pleasant thought.
Morthouse ordered Maria to stop screaming as she contemplated what to do. Maria was left wondering why she ever wished to switch places with the principal, and remembered how this started. She woke up after the crash thinking her hearing and vision was screwed up, because for some reason Vice Principal Lucre was acting like MARIA was the principal. Then she remembered Vickie trying to run off with her skates for some reason. She remembered looking down and realizing she now looked like the head of Graveyard School. Morthouse inched closer down the stairs as Maria remembered the way Mr. Kinderbane gave her coffee, and then some Coca-Cola, almost like he worshiped the ground she skated on. So maybe she could take advantage of this situation for a while…
Only now, as Maria watched her body snarl at her, she wished she could take it all back. Morthouse demanded Maria give her body back, but couldn’t finish her threat when Lucre appeared. Lucre placed his hand on Maria’s body, asking if there was a problem. Morthouse snarled as Maria saw her way out, claiming this “Student” was trying to sneak out of school. After all, Maria still had the body of an adult. What could Dr. Morthouse really do to her in the state she was in? Morthouse promised Maria this wasn’t over as Lucre led her away.
Morthouse was led into one of the classrooms, and for a moment Vickie realized “Maria” looked frighteningly like someone else for a moment. Vickie fears “Maria” is still mad about the skates, and offers to steal them back from the principal’s house if it came down to that. Morthouse asks how Vickie would do that, and Vickie proposes they follow “Dr. Morthouse” home.
By the end of the day, Maria was still wondering how the switch occurred. She was glad she wasn’t sharing this body with Dr. Morthouse’s consciousness; that was too terrifying to contemplate. Kinderbane asked “Dr. Morthouse” if she was staying late at the school, but Maria didn’t want to be anywhere near where the real Morthouse could sneak up on her. After the grumpy secretary left, Maria inspected Morthouse’s briefcase-shaped purse. She found nothing out of the ordinary, except her key ring included two heavy, iron keys.
Locking up the school and skating away, Maria wondered what she would do if she encountered Dr. Morthouse again. Sure she bested her once, but the dreaded Doc M was unpredictable. She’d do anything to get her body back. Maria contemplated trying to drive Morthouse’s car, but wisely decided not to. She had no idea where to go though; she couldn’t show up at her own house. So that would mean she’d have to… go to Dr. Morthouse’s place! But first she had to figure out where the principal lived. Maria looked through the purse again and couldn’t find any personal identification; even the checkbook just said “Dr. Morthouse” on it. Did she even HAVE a first name, or was it just “Dr.?” She inspected a utility bill which said the power company would be sending someone to inspect Dr. Morthouse’s meter because the bill had a zero reading.
On the envelope, Maria read “13 MISSING LANE.” So now she knew where Dr. Morthouse lived, she just had to find it.
Vickie silently followed “Dr. Morthouse” with “Maria” trying to catch up.
“She’s still wearing your blades, Maria. Can you believe it?”
“That’s not all of mine she’s wearing,” Vickie thought she heard Maria mutter.
Vickie saw the body of the principal reading a letter. Morthouse muttered how stupid it was that she left the utility bill in her purse. They watched Maria stop a letter carrier and ask where to find 13 Missing Lane, but he didn’t seem to know where it was. Which meant Vickie and Morthouse had to follow Maria around as she asked for directions.
Maria didn’t understand how no one knew where Dr. Morthouse lived or where 13 Missing Lane was located. It was getting late and she was getting hungry, so Maria considered borrowing some of Morthouse’s money to get something to eat when hey! Someone recognizes Dr. Morthouse!
It seems the principal has a friend, a seemingly normal looking man, who inquires about the skates. Maria-as-Morthouse claims she confiscated them from a student. The guy claims he was in the area for business and offers to give “Dr. Morthouse” a ride home. Maria gets into the man’s rather large car…
And then sees the coffin in the back.
She just climbed into a hearse.
Vickie and Morthouse-as-Maria have no choice but to follow the hearse as it cruises through several dark, creepy neighborhoods. It comes to a stop near a street that seems practically deserted because of all the overgrown shrubs. As the hearse driver drops Maria-as-Morthouse off at 13 Missing Lane, he reminds her of their plans for the weekend. *Shudder*
The girls were pleased “Dr. Morthouse” didn’t bother to lock the gate behind her. Vickie didn’t want to climb up the walls of the gate surrounding the house because of the thorns. “Maria” helpfully added they’re a rare species of climbing roses called “Vampire’s Blood.” Vickie thinks she’s joking as they inspect the front of the house.
The driveway ahead was smooth, made of pale red rocks, immaculately kept. It was lined with dark evergreens trimmed into fantastic shapes. In the gathering darkness the evergreens made twisted shadows on the gravel.
Oh and the grass is RED.
Inside the house, Maria was shocked to see the inside was overwhelmingly neat. But she couldn’t get a better look because no matter how many times she flicked the light switch, no power came on. At that moment Maria heard something slithering down the far end of the hall. Maria wondered if someone was expecting the dreaded doctor, but that was ridiculous. Dr. Morthouse had no family.
Meanwhile, Vickie and Morthouse managed to infiltrate the doctor’s, um, screw it I’m calling it her lair. [Wing: I mean, that’s a pretty apt description. And I love it.]
“Wow, good work, Maria,” Vickie said. “How did you figure out there would be a spare key hidden under the cow’s skull?”
“Puh-lease,” rasped Dr. Morthouse. “Don’t ask.” She’d never liked kids. Being one wasn’t improving her attitude.
The girls had seen through the front windows Maria-as-Morthouse lighting a candle and making her way through the house. Morthouse ordered Vickie to leave her skateboard outside; if she opened the door too far the door would creak and give them away. Vickie asked how “Maria” would know that. Morthouse forced Vickie inside.
That was the problem with students these days. They had no respect for facts. They were nosy and asked questions and they actually expected answers.
Who did they think they were, anyway?
Morthouse lights another candle as Vickie wonders why the house is so dark. Maybe that’s how the good doctor likes it. Morthouse was wondering how to get rid of Vickie so she could confront Maria; the less people who knew about this embarrassing ordeal the better. Vickie refused to let “Maria” confront their monstrous principal by themselves.
“You’re calling Dr. Morthouse a monster?” In spite of herself, Dr. Morthouse couldn’t help the pleased smile that crossed her lips.
Morthouse directed Vickie to the bedroom, advising her to wait for “Dr. Morthouse” to come in and take the skates off. Vickie couldn’t help but realize the steely tone “Maria” used as she ordered Vickie around sounded familiar. Once Vickie finally thinks to ask how “Maria” knew where the bedroom was, the young girl’s body was gone.
Maria was exploring the house, finding most of it looked like it came out of a magazine. That is, it didn’t look like Dr. Morthouse used anything in her house. She heard something above her, but all Maria could see was shadows. And did something slip behind her? Maria saw a phone and wondered if she could call her house; her thoughts trailed to imagining Morthouse showing up at her home. Maria hoped her cat ripped Morthouse apart before she remembered the doctor was wearing her body.
Surprisingly, the phone was on. Even more surprisingly, Mrs. Medina KNEW IT WAS MARIA. After all, a mom knows her own child. Mrs. Medina revealed she thought Maria was at Vickie’s place, but the idea of Vickie inviting Dr. Morthouse over made no sense.
Maria struggled up the stairs wearing the skates and carrying the candle at the same time. She hoped she didn’t set the house on fire or Morthouse really would kill h-SOMETHING JUST GRABBED HER!
Vickie was hiding in the bedroom, which was weird because Dr. Morthouse didn’t have a bed. She was trying to inspect a locked wardrobe to no avail. Unfortunately, all the other rooms on the second floor were completely empty. There was one last door she hadn’t tried at the end of the hall when she heard a scream!
Maria tried to flee from Dr. Morthouse’s currently tiny grip.
Maria fled into the darkness. She crashed against a door and it flew open.
Dr. Morthouse paused and smiled in the darkness. “You’ve had it now, Maria,” she said.
The light of a candle that had almost gone out and had then leaped to life again blazed in front of Dr. Morthouse’s face. Lit up her diabolical smile.
Vickie stood there, her face pale, her eyes enormouse.
“M-Maria? Did you get your skates-”
Dr. Morthouse – in Maria’s body – smiled another evil smile.
Vickie leaped back, “You’re not Maria!” she cried.
“Surprise, surprise!” howled Dr. Morthouse.
Vickie tried to get away realizing who’s wearing Maria’s body, and heads for the door at the end of the hall she didn’t get a chance to inspect. Which is where Maria was hiding. She ran out as she heard Vickie screaming as Morthouse lunged for her. Maria yelled at the principal to stop and everyone froze.
“Maria?” Dr. Morthouse asked in a soft, friendly voice that made Maria’s blood run cold. “Maria, is that you?”
Maria had to keep telling herself she was bigger than Morthouse as Morthouse frowned.
“Quit frowning,” said Maria. “You’re giving me wrinkles.” She stopped, well out of Dr. Morthouse’s reach.
Vickie said, “Maria? Maria? You look… awful!”
Dr. Morthouse snapped, “Watch your language, young lady.”
Morthouse orders Maria to return her body, but Maria exclaims she doesn’t know how. She hates being stuck in this body and starts yanking at the blouse collar, ripping it. Morthouse wants Maria to stop; Maria realizes Morthouse can’t risk Maria damaging her body. She tells the principal to back off if she wants her body returned without any broken bones. All Vickie can do is whisper “April Fools’ Day” as she realizes it really is Maria. Maria explains she’s been like this since the collision in the hall. Suddenly Vickie’s imagining all the cool things Maria can do as the principal, but Maria’s had enough. It was stupid to wish to be Dr. Morthouse.
At that moment, a clock chimed.
“Midnight?” said Vickie in a puzzled voice.
“Always,” said Dr. Morthouse proudly.
That’s too much for Vickie and she starts to bolt. Morthouse tries to stop her when Maria, wishing to be herself again, runs smack dab into Morthouse. The next thing you know the two girls and adult woman are crashing down the stairs.
Once Maria comes to, she’s overjoyed to discover she’s back in her own body. Vickie still thinks she’s the principal and starts to attack before Maria calls her off. But if Maria’s in her body, that means…
The moment Dr. Morthouse wakes up, she smiles and something silver glints in her mouth. She’s ba-aaaaaaaack. And she’s prepared to show Maria a little joke of her own before Vickie grabs her and they head out the front door. For a moment Maria wonders if this is a trick and Dr. Morthouse is now in Vickie’s body before Vickie busts out some sick moves on her skateboard and they get away.
Far away from 13 Missing Lane, the girls realize it was only midnight at Dr. Morthouse’s lair. The girls discuss how the switch occurred and figured the graveyard was responsible. As they reached Maria’s house, they saw the Medina family was watching “The World of the Weird.” Mr. Medina asked if the girls wanted to join them. Maria figured that was too weird for them.
Maria and Vickie were terrified of entering the school the next day because of what Dr. Morthouse might do. The moment they crossed the threshold, Morthouse placed one hand on both their shoulders; the girls screamed. Morthouse smiled. Everyone else pretended nothing was happening as Morthouse threatened them to never let a repeat of yesterday happen again. As she let them go, she told them to have a nice day and to not run in the hallways.
And then she laughed.
After school at Skateboard Hill, the kids discussed how Dr. Morthouse was keeping Maria’s blades. Maria was fine with that if it meant surviving April Fools’ Day. Vickie was about to make another wish when a cold wind whipped down from the hill and Maria stopped her. As it got later and the kids started to leave, Skate thought he saw something. Vickie asked if it was a skeleton on a skateboard, but Skate thought for a moment he saw an adult in roller blades…
High above the old graveyard, up on Skateboard Hill, a skeleton on a skateboard swept into view. It hung an impossible flip and then landed without a sound. Sparks flew from the wheels of its board as it sped down the hill and onto the road that led through the graveyard and the treacherous stretch of pavement known as Dead Man’s Curve.
Another figured emerged.
Its arms flailed wildly. It wasn’t exactly steady on its feet. But sparks flew from the shining new set of blades strapped to its feet.
“Wait for me,” it shouted. “Wait for meeeeeeee!”
And disappeared into the graveyard.
Oh Dr. Morthouse, when will you learn.
Too bad Maria never bothered to check if Morthouse really does have a silver fang in her mouth. You’d think Vickie would’ve asked her that at some point. But I do enjoy how the spookiness of Morthouse’s smiles aren’t something limited to her physical form; they’re a part of her.
I’m left wondering if it was Maria’s wish that prompted Vickie to suggest they skate in the school hallway, in order for Maria to collide with Dr. Morthouse so they could switch bodies. It’s my vain attempt to interpret why she’d come up with such a stupid idea.
[Wing: It’s a terrible idea, but a great one at the same time. Hallways are very tempting; I don’t even skate and I’ve been tempted to try it down a school hallway. And I love that Morthouse is skating at the end with the skeleton on the skateboard.]
April Fools’ Jokes To Pull On Friends
- Replace the cream filling in a sandwich cookie with toothpaste
- Call a friend (specifically one with a good sense of humor) and tell them everyone at school will be wearing their clothes backwards
- Switch the covers on your friend’s book without them noticing, so they take out their English book for math and vice versa
Polly Hannah’s Wardrobe
- Baby blue headband and tights, pink and blue flowered Laura Ashley dress
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