Trick or Trapped Cover Art
Trick or Trapped Cover Art

Title: Give Yourself Goosebumps Special Edition #7 – Trick or… Trapped!, a.k.a. “A Thing’s Pumpkin Soup”

Author: R.L. Stine

Cover Artist: Craig White

Summary: No Treats On This Street!

Sunshine Court is the best spot for trick-or-treating this Halloween, and it’s all yours! Your mouth starts watering just thinking about all that candy…

But you better save your spit. There are no treats here! Instead, the five little houses are full of horrible tricks! Now you have to collect the right items to find your way out! Choose your house and your weapons wisely – or you could do battle with angry elves, aliens shaped like your parents, or the freezing Arctic…

The choice is yours in this scary GOOSEBUMPS adventure that is packed with over 20 super-spooky endings!

Initial Thoughts

You know me, the fighting freak Jude

And we’re at Sunshine Court

You ready?

Congratulations to those who managed to make it to October this year with everything being thrown at us. While I started working on this special recap in July, I’m assuming by now there’s no way any of us (at least those of us in America) can have a regular Halloween due to the pandemic. [Wing: But we’re going to celebrate it up around here, like always! Especially with that Halloween full moon that is also a blue moon and, of course, October has two of my three favourite full moons, Harvest and Hunter’s. Werewolf recaps are coming your way, culminating with this year’s Snark at the Moon. Let’s kick this month off right!]

To start off Halloween at Point Horror, I’m recapping the second Halloween-based Give Yourself Goosebumps entry. Fittingly, both of the Halloween books were published under the Special Edition banner.

“Trick or… Trapped!” has only one storyline. It seemingly branches off in different directions, but all roads lead back to the same place no matter what you do. The mechanics involve navigating through colored houses in Sunshine Court to make it to the white mansion, the only place to receive any of the good endings. If you navigate carefully you can actually venture through three of the color houses before the mansion so the story goes longer. Two out of the three houses give you an option to explore the others, while the other three will bring you directly to the white mansion. One of the three houses gives you an item needed to make a longer story.

This is another Special Edition book that requires the use of an inventory, but it’s easier to manage compared to the other books. There’s also no “lucky number” system like in “Weekend at Poison Lake.”

I’m gonna stop the joke about “Jude” as the main character being awful because there’s only so much mileage I can get out of that bit before it’s annoying. Kinda like Jude, BA-ZING!

Recap

Fucking finally! Jude never thought he’d get out of his house on time for Halloween. His mom expected him to do ALL his chores, AND his dad made him finish ALL his math homework, AND he got bit by his sister’s pet poodle. And Jude’s mom had the nerve to blame him for it happening!

Whatever, Jude’s just happy to be free. He’s dressed in his awesome vampire costume and he’s gonna meet his buddies on Pearl Street for the best Halloween evar!

Jude takes a shortcut to reach Pearl Street and suddenly finds himself on a wide lane leading to a tall, wrought iron fence. Beyond the fence, Jude can see a big, white mansion looming in the distance. Below the mansion are five smaller houses, each a different color. It looks like the five houses are somehow blocking the entrance to the white mansion. Weird. Jude doesn’t remember seeing this community before. [Wing: These McMansion neighbourhoods pop up everywhere anymore.]

Almost as if his thoughts are being broadcast for all to hear, a voice informs Jude he’s looking at Sunshine Count. Jude turns around to find none other than Nathan Rickles, the dorkiest, nerdiest kid in school. Nathan’s such a klutz he once set his pants on fire during science class. [Wing: As someone who once set their hair on fire via cake, I feel seen.]

Nathan exclaims Sunshine Court is “candy central!” Not only that, it’s trick-or-treating paradise. A caramel-coated jackpot. Jude rolls his eyes, remembering Nathan’s tendency to repeat the same info in a different way. Nathan stops Jude from leaving by showing him all the awesome candy in his trick-or-treat bag. All that loot came from the six houses, but the white mansion’s the greatest.

Hmm, well, it’s only six houses. Maybe Jude’s got the time to check out Sunshine Court before heading to Pearl Street. God forbid he should get his friends and they can trick-or-treat at Sunshine Court together. Ass.

To start Jude off, Nathan gives him a DOUBLE-CHOCOLATE-TRIPLE-CARAMEL DELIGHT. That’s actually Jude’s favorite, how nice! Maybe Jude was wrong about Nathan.

Jude’s pleased to see the gate to Sunshine Court’s unlocked, but the moment he steps inside the gate slams shut behind him! He’s locked in, and the gate circles the entire neighborhood!

Looking around, Jude notices Sunshine Court’s eerily quiet. The lawns are all immaculate, but no one’s out. Wait, did something move in the shadows? Jude stop scaring yourself. You can probably get one of the residents to open the gate for you, no problem.

Now then. There’s the RED HOUSE, BLUE HOUSE, ORANGE HOUSE, YELLOW HOUSE, and GREEN HOUSE. Where oh where to start?

Well, since the RED HOUSE appears to be the closest, Jude starts there. Jude heads over to 100 Sunshine Court, rings the bell, and is greeted by… SANTA CLAUS?

The big man in the red suit wishes Jude a Merry Christmas, confusing the fuck out of Jude when a werewolf appears behind St. Nick! The werewolf informs Santa they need more punch. Santa can’t believe it since the party just started. Ohhhh, it’s a costume party. DUR, Jude. While the werewolf lady heads back to the party, Santa whips out his big ol’ sack for Jude to see. [Wing: So fucking dirty.]

Santa pulls out a piece of RED LICORICE, a RED APPLE, and a MANGO POP from the sack. Jude’s told to take one of these and is then invited to join the party. Jude selects the MANGO POP and heads inside the red house. He’s amazed by everyone’s awesome Halloween costumes, yet Jude can’t help but shiver. These costumes seem a bit TOO convincing. Jude thinks maybe he should leave to check out the other houses when he’s blocked by two kids dressed as elves.

Elves with razor-sharp claws.

I mean, it’s not what you’d expect for an elf costume but to each their own. [Wing: Is there a costume that wouldn’t benefit from adding razor-sharp claws?]

One of the elves tries to stop Jude from leaving and grabs his cape, ripping holes in it with his claws. Whoa, maybe those nails aren’t a costume!

One elf tells Jude he has to try the punch before leaving, while the second elf says Jude HAS to check out the rest of the house. Jude ambles over to the punch bowl and downs a glass just to get the first elf off his back and stop ripping his cape. [Wing: Yeah, if someone tries to push a drink at you, don’t drink it. Pretty much always a bad idea.] Amazingly the punch didn’t kill him. Unfortunately, before Jude can leave he’s then approached by both a goblin AND a ghost asking him to dance. The goblin’s light green skin is covered in warts, and the ghost is hovering off the ground. Great “special effects,” huh Wing.

The ghost exclaims it’s always wanted to dance with a vampire but the goblin’s already got its claws around Jude’s wrist. Jude begrudgingly dances with the goblin, complimenting it on its mask. Yeah, “mask.” Once the song’s over Jude tries to leave when, oh no, the goblin wants a kiss! Well Jude only kisses on the third date so he gets the fuck out of there.

Having left the red house with nothing to show for it but a MANGO POP and a dreaded near excursion at first base, Jude’s back in Sunshine Court and no closer to the white mansion. With four houses left to choose, Jude thinks the BLUE HOUSE seems okay.

9 Sunshine Court appears smaller than the other houses, and to complete the color scheme there’s a small blue jay perched on the doorknob. The blue jay flies off when Jude rings the doorbell. But if you thought Santa was weird, wait until you see who’s in the blue house. It’s… JUDE’S FAMILY?

It’s Jude’s dad, mom, sister, even his sis’s annoying poodle Champion! What the hell are they doing here?! Mr. and Mrs. Parents are delighted Jude came home in time for dinner, saying they made Jude’s favorites. Did Sis just kiss Jude on the cheek? And since when did Champion turn so sweet?

[Wing: Creepy.]

The inside of the house looks exactly like Jude’s home. It even has the same green stain in the exact same spot when Jude spilled that concoction from his last science experiment. The ‘rents explain they liked Sunshine Court so much they decided to move here. Adding to the confusion is Mrs. Mom’s prepared hamburgers, fries, and chocolate milkshakes for dinner. She never makes stuff like this.

The meal’s great, but Jude’s ready to get back to trick-or-treating. That’s when the ‘rents stop being happy and tell Jude he’s done enough trick-or-treating! No, tonight is family game night or it’s bedtime! [Wing: Set them on fire, Jude!]

Jude chooses to engage in game night; his “family” is acting so weird he definitely needs to keep an eye on them. Mr. Dad announces they’re playing Word Mix, even though Jude stinks at word games. Sis takes the first turn, and spells out B-L-O-O-D.

“Blood?” [Jude says]. “That’s a bizarre first word.”

“What’s wrong with blood?” your mom asks. You don’t like the way she lingers over the word. As if she loves saying it.

Well I know I love saying the word “gibbons.” It’s just fun to say. Gibbons.

Then Mom uses the “D” in “blood” to spell out her word, “DEATH.”

“Death?” you cry. Now you’re really freaked out.

“What’s the matter with death?” your dad askes with a wink. “Hey! Everybody does it!”

And now it’s Jude’s turn, with his letters being “E, R, A, Q,” and “T.” Mom gives Jude a hint: he can spell out a word related to Halloween using the “T” in “Death.”

Oh! “Treat!”

[Wing: C H E A T I N G.]

Jude’s “family” cheers him and say he can finish the rest of his trick-or-treating. Feeling extremely relieved and certain his life was in danger, Jude’s more than happy to go back to trick-or-treating. Having no clue what the fuck was up with that “family” of his, Jude’s feeling more determined to just get out of Sunshine Court. Now down to three houses, Jude figures he’ll complete the primary set and goes to the YELLOW HOUSE. [Wing: Psh, primary colours, go for the mix, go for the mix!]

Jude’s never been fond of yellow (I mean, with my brown hair if I’m not careful yellow shirts can make me look like a chocolate-coated banana), but 40 Sunshine Court has a sweet look to it. There’s even a garden of yellow roses in the front. Jude’s mom, his REAL mom, is fond of yellow roses. Maybe she’d appreciate one, even though it’s basically stealing from someone’s house. [Wing: Book!Jude’s never read Beauty and the Beast! Though, I guess if you want to end up with a giant library and a hot nearly literal bear of a man, maybe that’s not so much a warning as a guidebook.]

Swiping a YELLOW ROSE, Jude enters the house and discover the inside’s a nightmare. It’s like the haunted house Jude went to at the carnival during the summer. Cool. There are cobwebs and bats and an evil grinning skeleton dangling from one of the walls. Oh gross is that a rat? And where’s that ominous clomping noise coming from?

Because Jude’s no coward, he decides to investigate the clomping noise. He feels like he’s being watched, but all that’s around is that skeleton. Jude figures this place is so OBVIOUSLY scary that it has to be a fake. Like really guys, maybe you’re trying a bit too hard.

Investigating one of the rooms, Jude finds a pristinely wrapped CANDY BAR and it looks absolutely delicious. Jude eats half and then saves the other HALF A CANDY BAR for later. Why would he just eat a candy bar left in a seemingly abandoned house? #BecauseGoosebumps

Moving forward to investigate the rest of the house, Jude’s hit by a cool breeze from one of the hallway doors. Opening it, Jude’s briefly blinded by a bright light before discovering snow! Lots and lots of snow! [Wing: Snow on Halloween? Is that Michigan I see?]

Jude’s not imagining it, and the hallway behind him has vanished! He’s lost in some polar landscape! How’s Jude gonna get out of THIS one?

But wait, those ominous footsteps are back? OH SHIT THEY BELONG TO A POLAR BEAR. The bear heads straight for Jude, who then slips on an ice patch and lands face first. Welp Jude’s dead.

However, the bear doesn’t attack Jude when it gets closer. It… smiles? But in a nice way. The bear starts to dig in the snow and starts to unearth what looks like a big CARAMEL POP. Cautiously, Jude takes the CARAMEL POP. [Wing: There are so many dirty jokes I can make about this. So. Many. Stine, what are you doing?]

Well he’s got more candy, but what’s Jude gonna do now? It seems his only options are to wander the frozen wasteland or trust this seemingly friendly polar bear. [Wing: But does he have armour? Is he a panserbjørn?] I mean, it’s not like this Halloween can get any weirder. Jude begins to follow the polar bear and is led to the entrance of two small caves in a nearby rock shelf. One entrance is shaped like a heart, the other a four-leaf clover. The bear points in the direction of the cave, and then heads off into the snow.

Needing some luck, Jude chooses the clover-shaped entrance. But the cave’s covered in ice and before you know it, Jude’s slipping and sliding all over the place before the floor drops away beneath him! Now Jude’s plummeting down an icy slide, going faster and faster until SPLASH!

Jude’s almost certainly going to freeze to death until he realizes the water’s warm. Oh Christ did he just pee in the-oh wait, no, he’s landed in a pond back in Sunshine Court! Well I mean it’s possible someone DID pee in the water anyway, you never know.

And hey, the pond is directly in front of the white mansion! Jude’s journey is almost over!

108 Sunshine Court is the biggest house in the neighborhood, and it looks a little unfriendly. But after Jude’s last three houses, he just wants to get to Pearl Street already. Ringing the doorbell, Jude can only imagine what sort of hideous ghoul or monster is at this house. The door opens, and Jude gets the biggest shock of the evening. He comes face to face with… NATHAN RICKLES!

Nathan, the kid who told Jude about Sunshine Court in the first place, LIVES in the white mansion! Jude’s relieved to see a (supposedly) familiar face and thinks he’s saved, telling Nathan this is one fucked up neighborhood. Before Jude leaves, Nathan mentions his dad’s out of town and he’s got the whole house to himself. His pantry’s even stocked with all sorts of fantastic candy. Remembering Nathan gave Jude that DOUBLE-CHOCOLATE-TRIPLE-CARAMEL DELIGHT BAR, Jude’s gluttony gets the best of him. Maybe he could stick around for a little bit…

Jude’s amazed by how awesome Nathan’s house appears. Nathan gleefully talks about the music room, gym, swimming pool, and game room with a pool table and bumper cars! Taking the elevator, Nathan brings Jude to the fourth floor. But there’s no kitchen on floor. This is where Jude meets… THE THING!

John Carpenter's Thing
John Carpenter’s Thing

No not THAT Thing.

Thing
Thing

Or THAT Thing.

Ben Grimm
Ben Grimm

Or THIS Thing.

[Wing: Shame, I’m a fan of Ben Grimm. He’d liven things up.]

Inside Nathan’s laboratory, Jude comes face to face with a half-lion, half-human monster gnawing away at the bars of an iron cage. Nathan reveals he MADE the Thing in his spare time, and not only does the Thing love to eat, he loves to play games too! Hide-and-seek is Thing’s favorite. Nathan tells Jude he’s got a one-minute head start before the Thing starts looking for him, and he has to last an hour if he wants to live.

[Wing: YES, MOST DANGEROUS GAME, HERE FOR IT, STINE. HERE. FOR. IT.]

Horrified, Jude demands to know why Nathan’s doing this. Nathan screams he just wanted to be Jude’s friend, but since Jude won’t hang out with him he’s gonna be Thing chow. Yikes. Even the book is in agreement Nathan’s going WAY too far. Jude says they can hang out as much as Nathan wants, but now all Nathan wants is for Jude to squirm.

Nathan starts counting and Jude dashes for the elevator, realizing Nathan baited Jude this whole time so he could kill Jude. Hearing Nathan exclaim the Thing’s on his way, the elevator door closes shut and Jude has to figure out which floor to hide on.

Jude thinks maybe the music room on the first floor would make a good hiding place, but wait! The front door! Jude can just-no wait Nathan locked it. OF COURSE HE FUCKING LOCKED IT. Jude tries to break open a window when he hears the Thing roaring and realizes it’s almost here, so Jude goes back to his original plan to hide in the music room.

Some music room! It’s just a piano, a tuba, and a guitar. There’s nowhere to hide when the Thing bursts through the door! Jude suddenly remembers that saying about music soothing the savage beast and thinks maybe he could calm the Thing down. Grabbing the guitar, Jude strums it the way he’s seen his music teacher do. The Thing appears to settle for a moment, and nudges at Jude to keep playing. Soon Jude’s rocking away on that guitar until oops! Two strings snapped.

Pissed off at Jude’s lack of musical finesse, the Thing reaches out to grab Jude. Jude channels his inner El Kabong and whacks the Thing in the head with the guitar.

Jude dashes past the dazed Thing and heads for the staircase, going up to a room marked POOL. Jude sees an Olympic-sized swimming pool and another door at the very end of the pool room. Wondering if the Thing can swim, Jude dives into the deep end of the water just as the Thing enters.

While Jude swims, the Thing angrily paces around the edge of the pool. Jude’s more than willing to tread water until the hour’s over, until Jude hears a nasty giggle. And why is the water churning? Oh no, Nathan turned on a switch to drain the pool!

The Thing eagerly waits for the rest of the water to drain before he attacks when Jude swims to the other side for his candy bag. Maybe the Thing needs to eat a Snickers. He, um, seems to get a little hostile when he’s hungry. Jude starts tossing candy at the Thing, but he bats every sugary morsel away. Yet wait! Jude still has the yellow rose. It’s a little smushed, but maybe this’ll calm the Thing down. After all, giving a yellow rose to someone in a friendly gesture signifies you think they’re a great friend.

The Thing is indeed happy when he receives the yellow rose, sniffing it and seeming very content. Jude takes the opportunity to run. Good thing too, because the Thing quickly grows bored with the rose and throws it away. Jude manages to get to the third floor’s game room and hides under the pool table. He can hear the Thing pounce inside and starts trashing the place, starting with the ping pong table.

From underneath the pool table, Jude watches the Thing head for the bumper cars. Jude thinks he can get away until the Thing starts sniffing the air… and turns around in Jude’s direction. Terrified, Jude quickly grabs a cue ball off the pool table. With all that time spent in Little League, Jude hopes he can bean the Thing to knock him out. Jude just needs the Thing to get closer… closer…

Jude pitches the cue ball and sees it go straight towards the Thing’s teeth!

OH FUCK THE THING CAUGHT THE CUE BALL!

Well that’s it and Jude expects this is the end, except… huh. The Thing’s examining the cue ball before he suddenly looks at Jude and smiles. He starts WAVING at Jude. He wants Jude to go back!

Before you know it, Jude’s playing a game of catch with the Thing in the game room! The Thing’s got a pretty good throw and his catches are amazing. That’s when Nathan comes in and commands the Thing to murder Jude. The Thing’s all “meh” and waves Nathan off. Nathan sobs over how Jude’s ruined his beautiful creation when Jude tells Nathan to can it. Look how much fun the Thing’s having!

“Instead of killing, it looks like the Thing would rather catch some Halloween spirit!”

THE END

Final Thoughts

[Wing: BOO THAT LAST PUN. (I LOVE IT.)]

As I said before, you can navigate through three of the houses in order to make the story go longer. It’s crucial to visit the Red and Blue Houses, but it doesn’t which one you visit first. After that, you can only pick the Yellow, Orange, or Green House before finally heading to the White Mansion. But to make the story reach this point, you’re best choosing the Yellow House to get the rose.

The Orange House brings to an evil scientist named Dr. Hillenthrobben while the Green House is home to a weird guy named R.J. Josiah Billington.

Some of the bad endings for this book include getting sucked into a storybook in Nathan’s house where the Thing kills you during a jousting duel, [Wing: I WANT THAT ENDING PLEASE. JOUSTING.] Billington drilling all your teeth of your head, Hillenthrobben force feeding you candy until you die, [Wing: Stine went all in on kinks this round, didn’t he.] or ending up in the clutches of a monstrous Santa Claus.

 

Monster Santa by Dean Kotz
Monster Santa by Dean Kotz

Despite the rampant oddness of this one, “Trick or… Trapped” is still one of the most coherent GYG books and the inventory system is rather easy to manage compared to some of the other Special Edition books.

Here’s hoping this starts off October on the right note and here’s to a reasonably happy Halloween season.

[Wing: It’s actually kind of cute! If a little perverted, STINE. And I love that part.]

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