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Recap #81 Fear Hall: The Conclusion by R. L. Stine A.K.A. “And You Thought Student Loans Were Scary!”

Title: Fear Hall: The Conclusion (obviously follows Fear Hall: The Beginning)

Author: R.L. Stine

Cover Artist: Franco Accornero

Tagline: “Welcome back to the most terrifying dorm on campus!”

Summary: “A Special Message From R.L. Stine”

Dear Readers:

I hope you’ll join me for the conclusion of Fear Hall. I think it’s one of my scariest finishes ever!

Where will Hope go now that her secret has been revealed? Does she realize that her friends aren’t real friends? Does she know who the vicious killer really is? Are there more shocking surprises in store for her?

Find out the answers in FEAR HALL: The Conclusion. I had so much evil fun writing it, I scared myself!

[Wing: I am still both charmed and confused by Stine’s special message on these books. Why? How? … Why?]

Initial Thoughts

Back to Fear Hall for the last time. Were you guys scared by R.L. Stine’s take on mental illness? I know I was!

[Wing: “Scared” might not be the right word for my response last time… I do hope this goes better. I doubt it will. Also, student loans are terrifying.]

The ending of this tragedy follows directly after the last book’s climax, and believe me, everything that can go wrong, does go wrong. If you haven’t read the recap for the first book, I insist you do so because otherwise it’s gonna be difficult to understand what’s going on and why, even with the short recap.

Recap

PREVIOUSLY: Hope Mathis thought everything was going great at Ivy State University with her three best friends and devoted boyfriend living in Fear Hall. I mean sure she had some nasty snoops for neighbors but at least she got away from her abusive bitch mother’s weight shaming.

But then Hope’s boyfriend Darryl killed two guys thinking Hope was cheating on him when it was really her roommates Angel and Eden who dated the guys in question. After repeatedly getting threatened by Darryl and stressing out from hiding his secrets, the girls convinced Hope to let them turn him in to the police. But once they did, Darryl singled Eden out as the snitch and snapped her spine in two against his knee. Hope and her surviving roommates hid on the fire escape when the police and Hope’s hated enemies the Three Ms burst into their apartment. The police question the Three Ms, and Hope overhears them talking about how Hope’s room is big enough for only one girl. They say no one named Darryl lives in Fear Hall because Fear Hall’s girls only. And they say Hope is always talking to herself in public. Melanie says she’s always been worried about Hope, but any time she asked how Hope was doing Hope would snub her.

Hope’s friends and lover are revealed to be split personalities she has, but Hope is so enraged at the “lies” the Three Ms are spreading she promises she’s going to make them suffer.

For the sake of avoiding confusion, Angel, Jasmine, and Darryl will still be referred to as separate characters instead of figments of Hope’s mind.

HOPE: Having enough of the Three Ms besmirching her mental health, Hope and her surviving roommates decide to flee away from this den of inequity when Hope bangs her foot on the fire escape and alerts the officers to her presence. One cop is quick enough to grab Hope before she gets away. It looks like this is the end for Hope, but since this is the opening chapter, Hope wishes for Darryl to save her and he miraculously appears, strangling the cop with one hand until he lets go. [Wing: I have questions about how Hope manages to do this.] Hope scurries down the fire escape trying to catch up with Angel and Jasmine, but since the cops are right behind her she makes a desperate move and jumps off the fire escape. Wishing she wasn’t “a whale” like her mother always said she was Hope hoists herself over the escape and begins to fall. And then she died.

Except she didn’t. COME ON, STINE. But despite the pain in her ankle and despite being “a whale” Hope is able to outrun the police and finds herself in the part of the town where the fraternity and sorority houses are located. Angel and Jasmine stop Hope and ask why they’re running from the police when they did nothing wrong. Hope argues there’s no way they could’ve stayed because the cops thought Hope was crazy and the one responsible for killing those boys. Angel tries to disagree, but Jasmine cuts her off and sides with Hope. Hope tries not to let them see she’s on the verge of tears thinking about Eden’s death and what Darryl has done to their lives. Hope directs the girls to a place they can hide out. They arrive at an empty house, previously used by the Phi Beta sorority before it shut down. [Wing: Wait, I want that story! Is it elsewhere in Fear Street? Was there going to be more to this series?] Hope knew this place because she’d had tutoring sessions in the neighborhood the previous September. The girls discuss what to do about money (Jasmine even says she has her cash card on her) until one of them gets a job, but as Hope scopes the place out she fears they’re not alone. But it’s okay, it’s only a stray cat. Hope names the cat Lucky while Angel and Jasmine check out the living room. Hope’s attempt to look on the bright side quickly flounders when she thinks about how the Three Ms have ruined her life. Her desire to make them suffer calls up Darryl.

Darryl promises Hope he’ll help her by killing the Three Ms for her. Hope begs Darryl not to, and he reminds her it’s what she was thinking of.

“How do you know what I was thinking?” I demanded. I could feel my anger growing. My chest felt ready to explode.

A strange grin spread across Darryl’s face. “I know you,” he said. “I know you better than you know yourself, Hope.”

Now I’m beginning to wonder if Darryl realizes on some level he’s really a part of Hope.

But Hope has reached the last of her patience and tells Darryl to get the fuck out of her life. Darryl thinks she’s bullshitting, and says she needs him. Hope tells him to leave, and it looks as though Darryl’s about to hit her before he changes his mind and kicks Lucky against the wall. [Wing: Darryl is the WORST.] Hope begs Darryl not to hurt the cat, and he leaves. Angel and Jasmine are gone too, and soon Lucky slinks away in order to recover. Left alone, Hope notices framed photos of a man and woman on the wall across from the fireplace. The couple in the pictures donated the house to the college, it seems. The sight of the woman’s beehive hairdo reminds Hope a little too much of how her mother looked, triggering Hope into remembering her mother. Hope recalls her mom’s god awful gardenia perfume, the ways Hope tried everything to make her mother love her, and the ways she abused Hope…

HOPE’S HORRIBLE CHILDHOOD – CAMP-TASTROPHE AND BOYFRIEND BLUNDERS

When Hope went to summer camp, her mother managed to alienate her from all the other kids just by sending two letters, both addressed to “Buttertubs Mathis.” But what kind of complete douchebag for a counselor must there have been to actually read that name out loud? The letters themselves asked if “Buttertubs” was getting enough to eat, and to make sure she doesn’t dive into the pool so there’s water for everyone else. Hope spent that entire summer being treated like a freak because of those letters. [Wing: Fuck, but her mother is terrible. When do we learn that she’s dead? Because surely we learn that she’s dead, right?]

When Hope was older and started dating the infamous Mark, her mother refused to leave them alone whenever they were at Hope’s house. She listened to their phone conversations. She’d call Hope names in front of Mark. She’d suggest they play games together, like “Let’s All Count Hope’s Chins.” And then there was Homecoming Night when Hope planned to sneak out and see Mark, and her mother said she had “A surprise” for Hope. Not having much choice, Hope closed her eyes like her mom ordered her to, and when she opened them, they were handcuffed together. [Wing: Well that fucking escalated quickly!] Hope wasn’t freed until the next morning, and got grounded for two weeks. Locked in her room for so long (and I think she was literally locked in her room for two weeks), that was when Hope first “met” Angel, Eden, and Jasmine. And no matter what, Hope’s mother couldn’t keep them away from her.

“We were so close, the four of us. Like one person.”

It’s confirmed Hope’s roommates, by the logic Stine’s using on mental illness, all manifested out of her desperation for someone to care about her after being abused by her mother for so long. Mrs. Mathis abused her daughter so badly her mind snapped into four people because she needed someone, ANYone, to tell her she mattered and was worth caring about. [Wing: No, really, Mama Mathis is dead, right?]

Hope’s anger at her mother reaches its boiling point, and she savagely attacks the picture. Still seeing her mother’s face, Hope shatters the glass with her fists and starts clawing at the photo, screaming “STOP FOLLOWING ME! STOP FOLLOWING ME!” She rips her fingernails off in the process but doesn’t notice the pain as the blood from her hands flows down the ruined photo, down what she believes is her mother’s face.

MELANIE: Why yes, Melanie gets the spotlight for once! But don’t hold your breath because it’s the only time she does.

Melanie is studying French while Mary asks if she’s seen her blue swimsuit. Not the blue swimsuit, the BLUE blue swimsuit. Melanie asks where Margie is, and Mary mentions she’s at the library studying. Mary jokes Margie’s taking perfect person lessons from Melanie, gesturing to how perfect Melanie’s hair is despite only brushing it once that day. [Wing: Clearly Mary doesn’t have curly hair, or she’d know to never brush.]

“Give me a break,” I sighed. “You’ve lived with me all semester. You know what a total slob I am.”

“Hah!” Mary cried, putting her hands on her hips.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” I demanded.

“It means ‘hah!‘” she replied.

Mary is a very sweet person, and I love her dearly. But she’s not very good at arguing.

So now we got a look at the infamous Three Ms from their perspective. As Melanie puts it:

  • Margie: Is very opinionated and talkative. The great debater, a New England girl like Melanie. She loves deconstructing things and analyzing people. [Wing: Crap, Margie and I are a lot alike.]
  • Mary: From South Carolina. Claims Southerners are too polite to argue. But is easily embarrassed and not very talkative. She doesn’t even like to gossip.

And Melanie herself appears to be somewhat modest, a hard worker, and loves her two friends very much. She wonders if they’ll still be friends after they graduate, and feels the horrible stuff that’s happened has brought them closer together despite being so different.

It seems Hope’s perspective of the Three Ms may indeed have been a very skewered one and despite her belief they were nosy, opinionated snobs, they don’t seem that bad (aside from the ableism, obviously). The three are obviously a contrast to Hope and her roommates. [Wing: I really do like them, and feel very empathetic toward Melanie’s worries about whether they’ll still be friends after graduation.]

Melanie says she’s not going to swim practice because she’s got a make-up test, astounding Mary and wondering how Miss Perfect Person Melanie flunked a test. In all seriousness, Melanie reveals she missed a few classes to see a therapist about the nightmares she’d been having because of the murders. And they confirm it’s only TWO murders, meaning yes, Eden was indeed imaginary.

Mary’s blue eyes studied me. “I guess you’re not perfect after all,” she said softly.

I laughed. “Is that supposed to be a compliment?”

[Wing: Actually, it’s kind of a shit thing to say. Mary! I was just saying how much I enjoy the three of you and your friendship. Don’t fuck it up now.]

But now Melanie and Mary are talking about how extraordinary and impossible the whole situation with Hope is, wondering how she could possibly think she’s five different people. Mary says her mother wants her back home until they catch Hope, surprising Melanie, who didn’t think the murders would’ve reached the lower half of the country. Mary ends the conversation before she gets even more uncomfortable, stating she already feels scared going to practice by herself. Melanie offers to walk Mary to the swim center in order to help her feel a little safer, but Mary tells her not to worry and focus on her studying. And once again Stine spoils it for us by concluding on Melanie wondering if she’d been with Mary she could’ve prevented her death.

Darryl: UGH. This piece of hard shit on burnt, soggy toast.

Darryl’s begun his plan to avenge Hope by murdering the Three Ms, starting with Mary. He’s been following her for days, scoping her out while she practices and memorizing her schedule for the opportunity to get her alone. He blames everything on her and the other Ms, saying it’s their fault he can’t go to classes anymore and why Hope’s mad at him. Not that, you know, he FUCKING MURDERED TWO GUYS. But now Darryl’s going to win Hope back, and to do that, Mary needs to die. [Wing: Because if Hope is mad he murdered two people, murdering a third will totally fix it!]

While Mary and the swim team practice, Darryl sneaks into the locker room, feeling disappointed he couldn’t kill Mary and Melanie at the same time. Inside the shower room Darryl sees the Jacuzzi bath the swimmers use to relax their muscles after practice. He knows Mary always uses the Jacuzzi when she finishes practice, and he also knows where the coach keeps the chlorine to keep the water clean. Darryl empties six gallons of chlorine into the Jacuzzi, then hides in an empty cubby he knows the swimmer don’t use so he can wait for Mary.

Some time later, the swimmers arrive into the locker room and Mary announces she’s using the whirlpool to relax her cramped muscles. Darryl eagerly watches as Mary enters the Jacuzzi, the water going up to her head and shoulders, and a few seconds later she’s screaming and writhing in agony. Mary thrashes around the pool, her body practically on fire as Darryl can see her skin’s turning red. Somehow Mary has enough willpower to hoist herself out of the Jacuzzi but it does no good as her entire body starts to blister and peel. Mary cries and begs for someone to make the burning stop. The coach hears her screams and tries to help Mary, but can do nothing. [Wing: FUCK. This is a nasty way to go. Even if I’m not sure I believe that the swim coach actually wouldn’t know how to stop a chlorine burn.]

“I’m burning! Make it stop burning!” Mary wailed.

The towel fell off. Blisters had formed on her shoulders.

The coach grabbed for the towel. “I don’t know what to do!” she screamed.

“Help me! Help me!” Mary wailed, her cries growing weaker.

And then the coach saw Darryl.

HOPE: Hope awakens in her hideout to the sound of Darryl frantically banging on the door. Forgetting how much she fucking hates him because of how excited he seems, Hope opens the door and he runs inside. He’s worried someone might’ve followed him.

Darryl reports to Hope he’s successfully turned the Three Ms into Two Ms, describing Mary’s violent death and the possibility of the coach’s death. Hope is outraged, and Darryl tries to turn on the charm. He caresses Hope’s cheek and says he did it to show her how much he loves her. Hope breaks free and tells him she doesn’t want this, screaming at him to get lost. Hope grabs Darryl and then drags him out of the house. Darryl says he really can’t leave Hope because the two of them are-

Hope cuts him off, saying she doesn’t care what he has to say because he scares her. Darryl screams he knows she wants him to kill the other two but Hope slams the door in his face. Hope listens to make sure Darryl leaves before going back into the living room. On the couch is a piece of paper. The handwriting on the paper looks familiar, but she’s not sure whose it is. The message is not comforting.

I’m coming for you, Hope. You can’t run away from me.

When most people bring a housewarming gift, it’s usually a cake or some of those nice cookies with the rainbow sprinkles. But, you know, ominous threats are a way to go. [Wing: It’s the only approve housewarming gift on the Devil’s Elbow.]

CHRIS: WHO?

Before you say anything, no, Chris wasn’t in the first book. He’s a brand new addition to the cast. And the reason Melanie got ONE fucking chapter.

Chris Sandburg, an Ivy State sophomore, is having trouble moving all his cartons into Fear Hall. Why? Because there was a fire at Chris’ apartment building, so the college is letting some of the guys stay on the second floor of Fear Hall. Chris bemoans how small and wiry he is, but hey, it runs in the family. He also wishes his confidence had gotten that certain special boost after he left high school, and the nickname “Mouse,” behind, but even after starting college he finds it hard to talk to women or socialize. Um, if I’m being honest, I can relate. [Wing: Why are there so many characters nicknamed “Mouse” in these books?]

Chris’ old roommate, Big Al (which is the same name of the evil owner of the Carnival of Horrors from Goosebumps) was absolutely no help, asking Chris to set him up with some of the babes in Fear Hall and enjoying watching Chris struggle with his boxes. So nice. Chris meets his two roommates in 2-J, Matt and Will. Matt and Will fill the “Fat and Skinny Guy” quota respectively. In-between talking about how they’re practically swimming in vajay-jays, Matt and Will share with Chris some of the Fear Hall ghost stories. Like the guy whose bathtub was filled with boiling hot blood. Or the girl who kept seeing the face of a Victorian woman every time she looked in her mirror. Chris is like, “Yeah, and next you’ll be telling me you can get herpes from toilet seats, or that Donald Trump is gonna be president.” [Wing: *weeps*] Chris decides to take a shower, but the minute the water is turned on, blood starts pouring out! Chris stumbles out of the shower covered in blood, when Matt and Will peek their heads in on his blood drenched nekkid ass. Joke’s on you, dude! Turns out Matt and Will put cherry jello powder inside the shower head. Chris realizes the “blood” does indeed smell like cherries. Welcome to Fear Hall, Chris. Hope you survive the experience! [Wing: … fuck, that is actually kind of amazing. I’m filing that one away.]

That evening, a mixer is organized for the new arrivals of Fear Hall to meet and mingle with the girls. There’s snacks, soda, and music, but no one’s really in the mood to party. Most of the residents are clustered together in groups of 2 and 3. While trying to get a soda, Chris bumps into Melanie and Margie. The Two Ms introduce themselves, and Margie offers Chris a soda. Small talk ensues but doesn’t get far, because Melanie and Margie are still grieving Mary’s death. Chris realizes they mean the girl who died at the pool, but mentioning what she looked like on the news [Wing: Wait, what? They showed a picture of her burned body on the news?] is not something Margie wants to hear. Chris quickly apologizes, but the girls assure him it’s okay.

Melanie slide a comforting arm around Margie’s waist. “It’s okay,” she said to me. “Margie and I probably shouldn’t have come tonight. We’re both still pretty messed up. Mary was… such a good friend. We really can’t believe it happened.”

Melanie and Margie decide to leave, feeling the mixer was a bad idea because it’s clear they’re not ready to be around other people just yet. Chris apologizes once more, and spends some time at the mixer before deciding to leave as well. When Chris mentions how uncomfortable he felt, and that some people just aren’t party animals, I empathized too. I’m not a party person myself and I have trouble socializing too, so I know how he feels. Chris goes to Java Jim’s, a coffee shop on the edge of the campus. Ordering a coffee and a big chocolate chip cookie (oh God I hope it’s one of those giant ones that are covered in chips instead of baked inside, I love those), Chris notices a pretty brunette girl sipping a mocha on the other side of the counter. Chris breaks the ice asking if she’s a student at Ivy State. The girl responds she dropped out for the semester. The girl is obviously tense about something from the way she keeps looking at the cafe entrance. Chris says he moved into Fear Hall, startling the girl into mentioning she just got out of an abusive relationship and her ex is a bit dangerous. Chris, realizing how tense she is, tries to give her some space, but asks if he can call her. The girl says no… but she can meet him the day after tomorrow. Before she leaves, the girl says her name is “Karen.”

“Karen.” I repeated the name out loud. “What a nice name.”

HOPE-I MEAN KAREN: [Wing: Goddamn it, Hope, I am starting to struggle keeping up with all these names.] Hope eagerly rushes back to her abandoned home away from home to tell Angel and Jasmine how she’s finally met the love of her life. The girls tell her to calm down and then explain what she means. Hope first says dyeing her hair was the smartest thing she’s ever done, because no one would be looking for her if she had brown hair instead of blonde.

Hope tells the girls all about those five minutes of heaven with Chris, and that he thinks her name is Karen. She’s so excited because it feels like her bad luck is about to end. That’s when Angel asks what, exactly, she’s done about Darryl. Angel insists Hope has to stop Darryl from murdering the Two Ms, but Hope claims Darryl won’t listen to her. Jasmine warns Hope unless she deals with Darryl for good, they aren’t safe, and neither is Chris. Hope knows they’re right when they hear someone approaching the front door. Hope and the girls hide when they hear someone say “We’ve finally found her.” *Gasp* The po-po!

But no, it’s just a couple of late looky-loos and a real estate agent checking out the house. The man and woman say they’re definitely interested in the house, which means Hope needs to find another hiding spot pretty soon. Then the phone rings, startling Hope because who the fuck is calling HERE? Surprise surprise, it’s Darryl, who reasserts his promise to take care of the Two Ms because of their luv.

DARRYL: Darry’s rully tense thinking about Margie. He’s been following her all day and he thinks Margie knows someone’s following her. He’s clenching his fists so tightly his nails cut his palm, and he says he can’t stand the sight of blood… when it’s his own! A-ha-ha no one likes you Darryl and you should die in a garbage can.

Darryl is contemplating how much he’d like to take Margie’s cute little turned up nose and smash it into pulp with a brick. He’s followed her to her job at Marv’lous Dry Cleaners, a laundry place run by, you guessed it, Marv. [Wing: NO.] He checked the place out three days before and brought some shirts to be cleaned to see the inside. He’s taking this job very seriously, because it’s for Hope. Hope is always testing Darryl, and sometimes he passes, sometimes he fails. But today Darryl is going to get an A+…in MURDER! [Wing: ALSO NO.] On the way into the cleaners Darryl bumps into a woman with a baby stroller, and considers throwing the stroller down the street just because the woman didn’t say “Excuse me.” Some people are so rude.

While my man Marv argues with a few customers in the front, Darryl slips into the back room and finds Margie by herself. Darryl whacks Margie twice in the head with a staple gun, but she’s not dead. No she doesn’t get off that easy. Instead, Darryl puts her inside the steam press to finish her off. Repeatedly slamming the press on top of Margie’s body, again and again, all Darryl can think about is his love for Hope and all the hard work he does to please her.

HOPE: Hope is beyond relieved to see Chris really did show up at Java Jim’s to meet her again. But Chris is a little despondent, showing “Karen” a newspaper with Margie’s death as the headliner. Hope immediately knows Darryl did it, and Chris notices the cuts on her hand. Hope doesn’t even remember how that happened.

Chris and Hope spend time talking about themselves and their friends over coffee and cookies, and Hope is over the moon when Chris asks to see her again. The two kiss and Hope is so genuinely happy for once, but then Chris asks if he can walk her home. That killed the mood. Hope tells Chris she lives on the far edge of the campus so he doesn’t have to, and Chris gives Hope his number so he can call her. Hope’s joy is immediately cut short when she returns to the abandoned house to find Darryl. Darryl mocks Hope for acting like she owns the house and declares he won’t allow her to see Chris again. Hope takes offense to Darryl’s presumptions, finally asking what she ever saw in him.

“You don’t own me!” I cried. “You can’t say what you’ll allow and what you won’t allow. Do you really think you can control my life? Do you really think you can control who I see and I don’t see?”

Darryl retorts Chris doesn’t really love Hope and will only hurt her just like Mark Grazer did back in high school. And it’s now we finally learn what, exactly, Mark did to Hope.

HOPE’S HORRIBLE CHILDHOOD – ERASED MARKS

We find out Hope actually lived in Shadyside before attending Ivy State, [Wing: Fuck, she had everything stacked against her, didn’t she?] and she was unpopular. But Mark didn’t care. Even after what Hope’s mother did on Homecoming night, Mark still went out with Hope and introduced her to all his friends. For once she actually felt like a normal human being.

And then she got the note.

The day after Hope went out with Mark and his friends, someone left a message in her locker. It said Mark went out with her because he lost a bet.

Honestly who else here thinks Hope’s bitch mother is the one who left that note?

But anyway, Hope felt so thoroughly humiliated thinking the entire school was laughing behind her back she stayed home in her room for an entire week. Angel, Eden, and Jasmine tried to be supportive and told Hope the best thing she could do was move on and pretend nothing happened instead of wallowing in shame. Of course Hope didn’t listen, because that’s when Darryl showed up. Darryl, her knight in abusive armor, the only boy who ever believed in Hope. Who ever loved Hope.

And what could be a more romantic first date than Darryl driving Hope around town, and then running Mark Grazer over with his car several times in a row? And the lovely couple just laughed and laughed and laughed all the way home.

[Wing: WAIT FUCKING WHAT?! That escalated fucking quickly.]

Again, by Stine’s logic, Hope’s imaginary lover manifested the way he did because she’s never really known love or affection that was healthy. Her mother “loves” her and she abuses Hope. The boy Hope thought was in love with her went out with her as a joke. So of course Darryl is abusive.

Hope’s not crazy, she tells herself. She needs her friends, because they’ll never leave her.

But can she stop Darryl from hurting Chris?

CHRIS: This part’s just padding, Chris talking with Will about the lovely Karen before Matt tries to run them down as part of a dumb joke. But Matt’s prank was nothing compared to the horror arriving in the next few days.

DARRYL: And now it’s Melanie’s turn. It’s all Melanie’s fault. She’s always hated Hope, and she’s the one who first told the police Hope’s roommates and Darryl were imaginary. He knows Hope will never be truly happy until Melanie’s gone, and Darryl will kill her inside Fear Hall. With Mary and Margie dead, Melanie will be in 13-A all by herself, and since Melanie’s not the type who pulls all nighters, it’ll be like taking candy from a baby. A DEAD baby. [Wing: NOPE.]

Darryl sneaks past Ollie the guard (seem the campus didn’t pull through on that whole “extra security” thing) and takes the elevator up to the thirteenth floor. Darryl steps into the unlocked 13-A, and is briefly overcome with nausea as a sickly green light is cast from the window in the room. Darryl feels feverish as he approaches the sleeping Melanie, her back turned to him. Darryl’s plans are less visceral this time. He’ll simply smother Melanie with a pillow. Look at her, in her pajamas with her long hair flowing down her-

Wait.

Darryl suddenly remembers Melanie wears her hair short. GASP! It’s not Melanie! The lights turn on and there are girls Darryl’s never seen before! It seems Melanie moved out of 13-A after Margie was killed. Guess you failed this test, Darryl. But in a move I fucking love, instead of simply screaming, the new girls of 13-A tackle Darryl and try to stop him from escaping. [Wing: Well damn. Get it, girls.] A girl’s got her arms around Darryl’s waist, trying to hold on to him when Darryl smacks her in the face and gets loose. But hey, A for effort on nameless girl’s part.

As Darryl runs down the hall, the other girls scream for someone to stop “Her,” confusing Darryl. He ain’t got no bergina! Darryl is forced to take the stairs instead of the elevator, and it looks like he won’t get away because the door is jammed. Then the fucking idiot remembers he had to PULL, not PUSH, and runs right past Ollie. Darryl doesn’t stop running until he gets to the sorority house, but suddenly everything begins to go black…

HOPE: And then Hope realizes she’s outside and running away, but from what she doesn’t know. Hope doesn’t remember anything of the last few hours but feels scared. She says to herself her name is Hope Mathis, she lives in an abandoned sorority house, and her mother’s name is Helayne. That brings up an amusing anecdote.

HOPE’S HORRIBLE CHILDHOOD – CARD CONUNDRUMS

One year, Hope sent her mother a birthday card that said “Helayne. Rhymes With Insane.” Mrs. Mathis said she would never forgive Hope, but Hope stopped giving a shit. She had her scholarship to Ivy State. She was free.

Oh Hope. You really aren’t.

Hope heads back to the sorority house, seeing a nearby couple and thinking it would be nice to cuddle with Chris. Too bad it looks like Hope had a visitor while she was away, because the living room is a fucking disaster area. The walls, the furniture, everything’s been slashed up by a knife. Said knife is stuck in the wall, along with another anonymous note. This one reads:

You cannot escape from me.

And so we’ve reached the end.

Hope is so terrified despite it’s November, she sleeps on the second floor balcony in a pile of clothes and down jackets. Exhausted and miserable, the next day Hope’s mission is to find a job to earn more money because her supplies are dwindling. Seeing the students carrying on with their lives, studying, talking, having fun, makes Hope feel like more of an outcast when she sees Chris!

And Melanie.

Hope’s anxiety worsens, fearing Melanie is describing to Chris who Hope is and that the girl he’s seeing isn’t really named Karen. Hope dashes away, hurt and scared, and goes back to Java Jim’s to get some coffee. But the weird look some customers give Hope makes her edgy enough she doesn’t stick around for her order. Running back to the alleged safety of the sorority house, Hope stops when she sees Chris at the front door! Chris, guiltily, admits he found out where “Karen” lives because he followed her home one night, out of curiosity since she wouldn’t tell him. They kiss, and Chris asks why she’s living by herself in an empty house. And, of course, Darryl shows up and starts strangling Chris. Chris is only barely able to get free, and tells Hope he doesn’t understand what just happened. Desperately, pathetically, Hope tries to explain Darryl is always doing shit like this because of how much he loves her. Chris has no idea what she’s talking about and runs away. Hope begs and pleads for Chris not to leave her with Darryl, saying she’ll send him away forever. But Chris doesn’t come back, and all Hope can do is apologize to him.

Defeated, Hope drags herself back into the house and finds a third note.

There is no escape, Hope. No escape from yourself.

Hope finally recognizes the handwriting. It’s hers. Moments pass before Darryl returns. Hope asks if he wrote the notes, but he says he’ll do worse if Chris shows up. Angel and Jasmine return, ordering Darryl to leave Hope alone and that’s it finally time for him to stop. Darryl proceeds to have the worst tantrum he’s thrown so far.

“No-!” he shrieked. “No! No! No! I won’t listen to you! I won’t listen to any of you! What do you know? What do you know about anything?”

“Darryl, please-” I pleaded, jumping to my feet.

“What do you know about me?” he cried. “Do you have any idea what I think? What my feelings are? If you cared at all about my feelings-about me-would you be standing out in the middle of the front lawn kissing that guy Chris?”

“Darryl-” I was desperate to stop him before he flew into another wild rage.

“If any of you cared about me,” Darryl screamed, “you wouldn’t tell me to turn myself in. You’d know that everything I did, I do for you!”

It’s interesting Darryl’s not saying he did it for Hope, he did it for “all” of them, adding to my belief he knows what he really is. Angel insists it’s time to stop, but Darryl screams he’ll find Chris and kill him right now. Hope grabs Darryl and swear she’ll stop him when someone knocks on the door. It’s Chris. Darryl, giddy like a nun at Pope Con, tells Hope to let the man in. Hope tells Chris to get away, but Chris won’t leave until he sees her. Darryl opens the door, and in comes Chris…

And Melanie…

And the police.

Melanie sheepishly confirms who Hope is despite her brown hair, disappointing Chris. Chris says he wanted to believe “Karen” wasn’t Hope despite Melanie’s description, but knew it had to be her when Hope strangled him earlier. A young officer approaches Hope.

He reached out a hand, as if inviting me to dance.”Please come with us, Hope,” he said softly.

But, Hope being Hope, she tries to escape up the stairs. Angel tells Hope she can’t run from them, but Jasmine says they’ll protect her and Darryl promises to kill them all. Cornered on the second floor balcony, Hope takes her roommates and boyfriend and embraces them in a hug. She says they were always such good friends to her, always trying to help her. The railing behind Hope starts to break, and had she not been hugging her friends, she could’ve saved herself. But down they went, together in the end.

Chris and Melanie turn away just in time to see Hope’s body plummet to the ground, hearing her head crack open like an egg on the pavement. Melanie starts to cry in Chris’ arms, and the officers tell them they can leave. The police aren’t surprised when Chris says they live in Fear Hall. As the two survivors leave, Chris finds the last note and realizes it came true.

Hope couldn’t escape.

[Wing: Well fuck. Of course she dies at the end. Fucking Stine.]

Final Thoughts

So that’s the end of Fear Hall, and of Hope.

Again, I don’t know how split personalities work so I’m not going to comment on that. It’s just, what’s really sad about all this is Hope honestly did need her “friends” before she left home, but if she hadn’t been so dependent on them while at Ivy State, she could’ve found the people who actually could help her and love her like she always wanted.

I think the notes were being left by a brand new personality because why not.

It’s disappointing Melanie, Angel, and Jasmine didn’t get much focus in favor of Darryl and Chris, who exists more or less for Hope’s chain to get yanked thinking she’s got a chance to be happy for real. I would’ve liked to know what happened to Jasmine’s friendship with Mrs. Jacklin, but I don’t think I could’ve endured reading about that old lady getting killed. Especially since, well, my best friend Pat died last year. [Wing: I’m sorry for your loss. That is difficult.]

Meanwhile, Hope’s mother is still out there and may receive no punishment for her 17 year crusade to DESTROY her daughter’s soul. If anything, the news of Hope being a murderer might humiliate her mom enough her life is basically over.

Fuck you, Helayne Mathis.

[Wing: It feels like Stine front packed this duology a lot, and then was struggling to fill this second half, including throwing in Chris. I’m still fuming over the very premise, but if I put that aside, Hope was sad and sympathetic and wonderful, and I hate that she died rather than getting the help she needed. And I could have done with a billion times less Darryl.]

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3 Comments

  1. Dade
    Posted 22 August 2017 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    Once the cat was let out of the bag at the ending of the first part (which I thought was really well handled, for the time that it was published), this second part was just gratuitous and needless. Not to mention obvious.

    It would have been pretty cool if we could have gotten a Fear Hall series, just like Nightmare Hall!

    • Wing
      Posted 24 August 2017 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

      That’s it exactly! Book two doesn’t do anything at all, really, other than rehash a similar plot as the first book, without any sort of surprise to it.

      I agree. I think Fear Hall could have been interesting as a series.

      • Jude Deluca
        Posted 26 February 2018 at 12:06 am | Permalink

        Yeah, looking back I think this was a rush job. In the first book when Hope mentioned Shadyside, she didn’t add anything about having lived there and the way she described it sounded like she only barely knew about the town.

        But in this one it turns out she lived there?

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