Recap #92: More Tales To Give You Goosebumps by R. L. Stine
Title: More Tales To Give You Goosebumps
Author: R.L. Stine
Cover Artist: Tim Jacobus
Summary: “Reader Beware – You’re In For Ten Summertime Scares!”
Is Matt’s summer camp being taken over by an evil patch of poison ivy? Will Eric escape from his tank, now that he’s been turned into a fish? Can Tara help the terrified voice she hears inside a beautiful seashell? Find out in these ten creepy Goosebumps short stories perfect for reading around the campfire or under the covers!
This was the first of the short story books I read, and I… I think I actually stole this when I was a kid. No I remember back in elementary school, I found this book in a bag of books inside a closet in one of the classrooms. I think they were going to get rid of these books so I just kept the copy for myself. A few years later when the hardcover collection was released I gave my copy away.
As you could probably tell from the summary and cover art, the stories in this book all take place during the summer and yet surprisingly only two of them involve summer camps. Only one book was adapted for the French Goosebumps illustrated novellas, but none of them were made into TV episodes. One story, “The Cat’s Tale,” genuinely feels like some sort of pilot version for “Cry of the Cat,” the first in the Series 2000 line. I can safely say I found the stories in this one more interesting than the previous one. The original edition also came with a bonus booklight.
For this recap, I’m gonna be doing “3rd Rock from the Sun” jokes for the subtitles. Which means prepare thy selves for a bunch of dick jokes.
I’m also gonna include some of my ideas for potential sequel stories.
[Wing: I don’t know why, but I am so charmed by a creepy summer themed book coming with a booklight. Damn you, Stine!]
The Werewolf’s First Night A.K.A. “Night of the Weredick”
[Wing: YES YES YES YES MOTHERFUCKING YES A FUCKING WEREWOLF STORY RIGHT OFF THE BAT STINE YOU REALLY LOVE ME DON’T YOU YOU REALLY REALLY DO.]
Brian’s family spends every summer at Thunder Lake, a resort with cabins, hiking, golf courses, and day camps for kids and teens. [Wing: At first, I definitely read that as golf courses for kids, and had my doubts that was really a big draw.] But every year Brian doesn’t look forward to it, because he’s heard all the rumors and stories about creatures like werewolves living in the woods around Thunder Lake. [Wing: BRIAN! You should appreciate the good things you have in life, like werewolves living in the woods around Thunder Lake. Which, by the way, sounds like a great adult entertainment show.] Brian’s parents assume he’s just nervous because this year he’ll be allowed into the teen camp. [Wing: At 12? That seems like an early time to make that camp transition. No wonder they think he’s nervous because of that!] His mom assures Brian his anxiety will disappear in time and everything will change for the better. Brian doesn’t believe her, and dreads seeing his parents drive past the Thunder Lake entrance.
The only other twelve year old in the teen camp besides Brian is Kevin, and Stine uses his patented recipe for instant loser character by giving Kevin red hair and incredibly pale, easily sunburned skin. Phil, Don, and Jake are the resident camp tough guys because they’re the oldest. Phil: beady eyes and Bulls t-shirt. Don: short, wide and mean. Jake: Earring. [Wing: LOLOL] While playing baseball, Brian freezes when he sees Don smile for the first time and discovers his teeth are like fangs. But then Don quickly turns away when he realizes Brian saw him, and when he turns back his teeth are normal. Surprisingly, Kevin believes Brian and they both believe Don might be a werewolf, vowing to play it safe when the next full moon rises (which is four nights later). [Wing: WEREWOOOOOOOOOOOOOLF. I am going to be so sad if the twist is there’re no werewolves.]
More weird incidents occur and Brian is convinced he’s surrounded by werewolves. [Wing: WEREWOOOOOOOOOOLVES.] One night when Brian’s in the cabin by himself, he hears terrible howls coming from outside and spies Phil running through the woods like an animal. The next morning he discovers there are claw prints in the dirt outside the cabin. At a lakeside cookout, Brian sees Jake howling at the moon, and when he looks for Kevin, sees him stuff what appears to be raw hamburger into his mouth. [Wing: Though I know Stine wrote Goosebumps so it wouldn’t be actually scary for kids (“You know, they’re not just horror novels,” [Stine] tells Martin. “I don’t really want to terrify kids. Whenever I have something that I think is kind of intense, I throw in something funny to lighten it up.”), this could be such an excellent, somewhat terrifying movie or tv show.]
Brian’s parents are convinced the older boys are simply screwing with Brian’s head and tell him not to give them the satisfaction. Brian tries to get out of the overnight camping trip (the night of the full moon) the teens are taking by feigning sick, but…
“I think it’s my tonsils,” I croaked.
“Brian,” Mom said with a sigh. “You had your tonsils out two years ago.”
[Wing: Oh, Brian. Try harder, kid.]
His parents insist he’s going on the camp out, feeling it’s for his own good not to let the other kids see he’s scared. So Brian’s basically fucked.
During the camp out Brian tries to stay in his tent for the duration of the night, but he doesn’t last long when the howls begin. Trying to escape, Brian learns he’s cornered by a veritable army of werewolves as they emerge from their tents. Phil, Don, Jake, Kevin, and all the others close in on Brian, the howling becoming interminable… before it becomes laughter. Surprise! Turns out Brian’s parents were right all along and this was just a prank to haze the new guy. Ripping off their wolf masks, Kevin and the rest pull the curtain back on their little plan. Fake fangs, recorded howls, carved up shoes, and chopped-up spaghetti and ketchup for that raw hamburger look (that sounds fucking disgusting). As the kids congratulate Brian on taking the joke with stride, Brian realizes his parents were also right about everything changing as he suddenly grows fur, claws, and fangs.
Seems there really are werewolves at Thunder Lake this year, and one of them starts chasing after his friends to join him in a midnight snack.
(Werewolf Brian by spikysideburns)
This was the one adapted into an illustrated novella for the French line, and the last couple of pages show Brian and his werewolf parents hunting after the kids. Because it’s about quality time, not quantity time.
[Wing: My roller coaster of this last part: YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEES NOOOOOOOOOO WAIT WHAT YAAAAAAAAAAAAY WEREWOOOOOOOOOOOOLVES. In summary: werewolves. God, I love this story. Stine, when you do good, you do amazing and are truly a gift.]
P.S. Don’t Write Back A.K.A. “With Love, From Dick”
This one’s my favorite of the collection because there’s a lot that could be done with it in terms of a sequel, and Stine leaves a number of things to our imaginations in terms of what the fuck was going on.
David Stevenson is at Camp Timber Lake Hills for the summer, and, astonishingly for a Goosebumps character, is having the time of his life. [Wing: That is truly surprising. Also, Camp Timber Lake Hills ALSO sounds like a camp full of werewolves. Just a suggestion, Stine. We’re on good terms right now.] His bunkmates are cool and he’s good at sports, so he’s having a blast. His one concern is that his parents haven’t written to him yet. David is only bothered by this because last year his parents sent him four letters and a carton of pretzels, on like the second day! A few days without mail and David wants to call home to make sure his parents are okay, but camp director Sam says no calls unless it’s an emergency (Cell phones? What are those?). [Wing: Even when cell phones were starting to be a thing, as they were when I went to summer camp, we either weren’t allowed to hang onto them at camp, or there was no service.]
A few days later David finally gets his letter, which Sam claims the mail lady found crumpled at the bottom of a drawer. David’s euphoria is cut short by the terse, apathetic contents of the letter. His parents say they aren’t coming for Visiting Day, and his sister misses him. They also write for him not to reply. [Wing: WEIRD.] David doesn’t know where this hostility is coming from, and knows there’s no way his sister could be missing him since she had a dance routine prepared to celebrate him leaving for camp. [Wing: Okay, that is some hilarious sibling relationship stuff right there.] The next letter David receives is even worse. Now David’s parents have decided he’ll be living with his Great-Uncle John, and again they don’t want a reply. David is understandably scared and confused, because his uncle is 87 and lives in a nursing home. Why are his parents being so standoffish and cruel? What the hell is going on at Casa Stevenson?
David reexamines both letters and their envelopes and notices something crucial on the address. The letters aren’t addressed to Timber Lake Hills, but Timber Lane Hills. David’s been getting someone else’s mail by mistake! It was a simple misunderstanding. [Wing: But … is it? I mean, David is a super common name, but how common is Stevenson that there would be two David Stevensons at two similarly named camps so close together? You know what, nevermind. Stine has made me happy enough with that first story that I am just going to suspend my disbelief and go along for the ride.] But now David wants his mail and is prepared to find the other camp and the other David to swap. The night of a scavenger hunt, David slips away and borrows a canoe to row across Timber Lake to find the other camp. David finds a ratty looking dock on the other side of the lake and walks into Camp Timber Lane Hills, which in the evening gloaming seems dark and deserted. A lanky boy silently directs David into a nearby cabin to find Other-David. Other-David is a boy of few words, dressed in worn and torn clothes and with little patience. When David reveals to Other-David he’s been getting Other-David’s mail by mistake, Other-David demands to know who he is. David says he’s David Stevenson too, and Other-David starts screaming at David to leave before “they” see him. David is pushed out of the cabin and sees a circle of kids by a campfire. The kids are moaning and swaying together when the lanky kid, whose eyes are now glowing red, grabs David and tries to drag him into the fire. David breaks free and rows back to his camp like his life depended on it. [Wing: Well that is awesome and creepy as shit.]
At Camp Timber Lake Hills, Sam demands to know where David was because the camp’s been looking for him. He also mentions David’s family called because they went away for a week (which explains why they didn’t write to him) but before Sam can say why, David tells him about Camp Timber Lane Hills and the weird kids. Sam dismisses David, saying the only other camp in the area burned down thirty years ago. Inside his bunk, David insists he was at another camp, but double checking the letters once more, realizes their postmarks are dated from 1964. [Wing: YUP THAT IS DELIGHTFUL. Though now I am wondering why they made the new camp name so similar to the last. This is starting to have a Friday the 13th vibe to it.]
So what was the deal with this story? Mainly, what was Camp Timber Lane Hills and why did it burn down? My theory is the camp wasn’t so much a “camp” but a detention center sort of thing for juvenile delinquents, which is why Other-David’s parents weren’t so keen on him in the letters.
I would also like to mention one of David’s bunkmates got sent a “Mutant Rat-Man” comic, and once again I’m astonished and appalled at Stine’s made-up comic titles.
SEQUEL IDEA: “P.S. NEVER Write Back.” A year later, David receives an invitation to Horrorland in the mail, and then a letter from Other-David trying to warn David the kids in Timber Lane Hills know about him and want him back. David rides one of the water slides at Horrorland and it transports him back to the camp. [Wing: Fun! Also, do all the other Lane campers have matched names at other summer camps? Because that could lead to some rollicking scary good times.]
Something Fishy A.K.A. “Fishing For Dick”
Eric is going to boil alive this summer because his newly divorced mother doesn’t have the money to rent their cabin by the lake like they used to do. June’s just started and already the temperature inside the apartment has hit triple digits. And since all of Eric’s friends are away on vacation, he’s got nothing to do. The only thing he has to focus on is his aquarium, and starts using his allowance to buy decorations for it.
One incredibly hot night, Eric’s unable to sleep, and checking on the fish in the aquarium, he does something strange. No, he does NOT fuck the fish if that’s where you think this is going.
I raised my left index finger and touched the cool water. I dipped my finger deeper into the tank and twirled it.
My finger seemed to have a mind of its own.
(HE REALLY DOESN’T FUCK THE FISH) [Wing: I think thou doth protest too much.]
It moved in a circle, then drew a perfect figure eight. It formed another, and then another. Five times clockwise. Two counterclockwise. Three to the side. Again, and again, and again.
In the hall, I heard the clock strike ten times. I drew one more figure eight through the water with my index finger.
And then, as I sat there with my eyes half closed, the weirdest thing happened.
As the clock struck ten, I suddenly felt wet. And cold.
Somehow, the motions Eric made in the water were able to magically shrink him down into the fish tank. Not only that, but it enabled him to breath underwater too. The fish are gigantic compared to Eric, almost the size of whales, and Eric’s ecstatic because now he can swim and cool off like he’s desperately wanted since the season began. [Wing: …. sure. Rolling with this. First two stories were great (one greater than the other, obviously), so Stine, I’m going along for the ride again.]
Eric has the time of his life swimming and diving within the fish tank. But he just HAD to kick some water in front of his goldfish, pissing the fish off enough it swims straight towards him with a look of menace in its beady eyes. See Eric this is why you can’t have nice things. Eric goes to hide inside the toy rowboat inside the tank, and eventually falls asleep as the goldfish circles the boat. Come morning, Eric tries to get his sister’s attention inside the tank, but he’s so small she doesn’t see or hear him.
The story then dovetails into a type of “Jaws + Finding Nemo” situation where Eric must battle his goldfish to live. Grabbing the spear from the plastic diver figure, Eric remembers the saying “Kill or Be Killed” and is forced to stab his pet goldfish to death in order to survive. [Wing: O.O O.O O.O OKAY THAT IS AMAZING, STINE.] Briefly overcome with the horror of committing pet homicide, Eric readies himself in case the other fish get any ideas. However, Eric’s mom and sister notice the dead fish in the tank and prepare to scoop it out. Eric hustles to get inside the small net his mom’s using to remove the dead goldfish, but since he’s still too small for her to see or hear, realizes he’s gonna get flushed down the toilet with the fish. Eric begs his mom not to as he fears his life is about to literally go down the drain, but as he’s dumped out of the net, instead of landing in the toilet he somehow zooms back up to his normal size in front of his mom. Eric theorizes the hot air in the apartment dried him off and reverted him to normal. Since this story is running on the logic of making things up as it goes along, let’s just believe that.
Eric promises he’ll stay this size forever… which lasts for two days, because he’s still unable to take the heat. Making necessary preparations, Eric sets up a wall in the fish tank so he has one side to enjoy for himself without worrying about the fish. Repeating the sequence he used before, Eric shrinks down to swim to his heart’s content. Too bad though, because his mom’s got a surprise for him. She adds a couple of new additions into the side of the tank Eric’s swimming in. Two Siamese fighting fish, the meanest, angriest fish in the world.
Such a good mom.
[Wing: Wait, she knows he can shrink down and she still puts fighting fish in the tank? EASY MURDER RIGHT THERE.]
On a side note, I’m intrigued at the details Stine put about Eric’s life in this story, if only because the mention of his parents divorcing and his friends are done in a somewhat matter-of-fact way. Eric doesn’t go into detail too much about what happened between his parents, and the way he lists his friends is done so it’s like we’d already know who they are. It’s the kind of thing which leaves me wondering what everyone’s deal is.
You Gotta Believe Me A.K.A. “Alien Abdicktion”
Stanley our narrator is a normal kid who likes basketball, science fiction stories, and using his telescope to do some stargazing. And, of course, he believes in aliens trying to take over the world. But Stanley’s all “Okay, so you must all think the kid who’s talking about aliens and flying saucers is ackin’ all cray-cray, but I’m not!” [Wing: Alas, alien belief stories always include something about them acting crazy but not really being crazy like those other crazy people. Thanks, Stine, and pretty much every other alien sf writer in the universe.] I like a kid who’s got no illusions about life. Anyway, Stanley insists he saw a flying saucer and not only met some aliens, but saved the world. No one believes him though, not his parents, his siblings, his best friends, or the police. And it all started because of TV.
Stanley’s parents are holdover hippies who believe television is pure evil, so they don’t let Stanley, his sister Laura, or his brother Dan, watch TV. To that end, Stanley’s parents got him a telescope so he can watch the stars. At first, Stanley thought he’d seen lots of flying saucers before he figured out many of them were satellites. Then came the night when he saw a flash of lightning coming from Mr. Tribble’s farm, and discovered the lightning originated from a real flying saucer! But by the time Stanley got to Tribble’s farm, the saucer was gone, and all Stanley found was a pissed off Tribble telling him to get off his property. [Wing: I like where this is going so far.]
The next night Stanley sees the flying saucer return and gets to Tribble’s farm just in time to see the aliens coming out from the ship. Stanley’s not as stealthy as he’d like to think and the aliens find out he’s there. Dragged into their ship, Stanley learns all about their evil plan. For decades the aliens have been using subliminal programming in television signals to make humans weak and stupid so they can take over Earth, which means Stanley’s parents were right about TV being evil. The aliens force Stanley to watch hours of a Star Trek knock off, but the signals in the show don’t effect him because he doesn’t watch enough TV. Stanley simply pretends to be brainwashed when the aliens let him go. [Wing: I JUST LAUGHED SO HARD I STOPPED BREATHING FOR A SECOND. Thanks for trying to murderise me, Stine and Jude.]
Naturally no one believes Stanley so it’s down to only him to stop the aliens. He knows they’re going to send out the final signal to take over Earth through a broadcasting satellite, so Stanley needs to create something to block that signal. Stanley starts to create a giant mirror made out of aluminum foil to reflect the alien signal. He has to borrow money from his friends, as well as his brother’s giant aluminum foil ball (Stanley has a telescope, Laura a boyfriend, and Dan… has got foil) [Wing: One of these things is not like the other…] to ensure his mirror’s big enough to reflect the signal. That evening Stanley awaits for the aliens to return, and when they do he easily bounces their signal back onto their ship. A few moments pass, and the alien ship flies away, Stanley assuming they’re now morons.
Of course no one believes Stanley, but he’s still on the look out for more unwanted visitors from outer space when, look, the alien ship is back! But don’t worry Stanley, we all believe you.
Suckers A.K.A. “Gummy Dicks”
Alex and Jimmy think they’re hot shit in a champagne glass but to Ashley they’re simply cold sperm in a baby bottle. …ew that sounded better in my head. [Wing: Dear god, I hope it did, because that is all terrible. TERRIBLE.]
Ashley’s family is vacationing on Black Island for the summer, and Alex and Jimmy like to bully her, her brother Jack, and her cousin Greg because the three are “Summer People.” Alex and Jimmy live on the island all year, and in their eyes, “Summer People” are a blight on society and must be sequestered into special camps so they don’t taint decent, God-fearing citizens. [Wing: I love Local v. Tourist stories (or Town v. Gown, which is a much better phrase due to the rhyme).] After harassing Ashley with a dead jellyfish and robbing Greg of his favorite gummy worms, [Wing: This is purely a private joke for Dove, but “WORM?!”] the two saunter off to find an old man they can push down some stairs. Jack says he’d like to unleash some sweet ass karate moves on the two, while Greg is happy they didn’t steal all his gummy worms. Jack and Greg chomp on the squishy sweets much to Ashley’s disgust, when they spy an old trunk washed up at the mouth of a nearby cove. The trunk’s about the size of a coffin, which CERTAINLY doesn’t foreshadow anything bad, so the kids try to jimmy open the lock to see what’s inside. Almost immediately, an oily, puke-green blob oozes from the trunk and latches onto Ashley’s leg with its [INSERT TITLE HERE].
Ashley frantically tries to pry the blob off as it oozes up her body, when the blob is somehow able to smell the gummy worms in Greg’s pocket. Ashley and the boys are disgusted when the blob slurps a gummy worm into its body despite not having a mouth, and they try to use the candy to get the blob off Ashley. Once its free of Ashley, the blob attaches itself to Greg in an effort to chase that gummy dragon. Greg is all out of worms and tells Ashley and Jack to check his room for more, unfortunately Greg hasn’t heard of moderation because his room is devoid of gummy worms. Ashley and Jack quickly head to the nearby general store and load their arms with as many bags of gummy worms as they can. But it’s then they realize they don’t have any money. Ashley begs Mr. Simpson, the store owner, to give them a break because the worms are for Greg. When he learns the candy’s for Greg, surprisingly, Mr. Simpson lets the kids take the candy without paying. He says he’ll add it onto their parents’ bill, out of appreciation for Greg being such a good customer. Guess not ALL adults are useless. [Wing: That or Greg is spending a literal fortune on gummy worms this summer.]
Ashley and Jack pedal back to the beach, but Ashley has to go on ahead after Jack’s chain comes loose. It’s then Ashley runs into Prolapsed Rectum A and Prolapsed Rectum B. Alex and Jimmy demand Ashley pay their toll with all her gummy worms, when Jack comes barreling down the street like a bat out of hell and knocks the two douchebags on their asses. Pedaling away as fast they can, Ashley and Jack return just in time to see the blob has completely engulfed Greg and nearly suffocated him to death. Brother and sister leave a trail of gummy worms away from their cousin and back into the trunk, but since the blob is so big they need to hoist up the bloated monstrosity by hand. As they slam the lid back down on the blob, Greg is ecstatic when he sees a bag poking halfway out. Ashley has to stop the idiot from opening the trunk and letting the blob out again when Alex and Jimmy show up to kick Jack’s head in. Ashley and the boys flee, but Alex and Jimmy stop when they see the gummy worm bag sticking out of the trunk. Ashley helpfully lets them know there’s more inside.
Now who are the [INSERT TITLE HERE]?
It’s easy to think of “The Raft” from Creepshow 2 reading this. Honestly this whole thing has a 1980s kids horror movie vibe, you’d think the boys are played by Corey Haim and Corey Feldman. [Wing: Awww, I am having 80s horror-comedy feels right now.]
Dr. Horror’s House of Video A.K.A. “The Doctor Is Dick”
Ben’s your classic horror movie buff born into a family of, ugh, daywalkers. While his parents have rented a house in the country for their summer vacation, Ben would like nothing more than to park his ass in front of the TV and binge on horror tapes (Because it was the 90s, you see!). Only now boredom’s setting in because Ben’s watched the same tapes for like a spillion times.
After Ben speeds through “The Plant That Squeezed St. Louis” [Wing: … WHY IS THIS NOT REAL?! I would watch it in St Louis and everything would be cheesy and wonderful.] once more, him mom says she’s going to the gardening store and she’d like him to come so he could get outside of the house for a change. And by “Like him to come” she means “Get your ass in the car.” Luckily for Ben, he discovers there’s a video store near the gardening shop, and it’s one that specializes in horror films. At [INSERT TITLE HERE] Ben has the honor of meeting Dr. Horror, the big man himself, in person. After Ben gushes he’s seen every horror film ever made, the Doc informs Ben every film in the store was personally directed by yours truly. [Wing: So this is the inspiration for all the small press publishing houses now that basically only publish books by the publishers themselves.] The Doc even creates them in the garage located behind the store. Ben loses himself watching “Lizardman” on a TV in the back of the store when his mom comes up and informs Ben it’s time to go.
The next day Ben bikes down to the House of Video to find out how “Lizardman” ends, but the store’s closed. Like your typical junkie, Ben bangs on the front door begging the Doc for his next fix. Ben sneaks in and decides to stay just so he can watch the end of “Lizardman.” An hour later, having satisfied his craving for some sweet Lizard, Ben tries to leave but is thwarted by a locked door. [Wing: But if it is locked how did you get…never mind. Rolling with it.] He spies a door in the back and tries to exit through there, only to land in front of the infamous Lizardman. Ben is cornered by a number of different monsters, a vampire, mummy, werewolf, and assorted others, [Wing: WEREWOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOLF.] when the good Doc arrives and asks if Ben’s impressed by his actors. Realizing this is the garage studio the Doc mentioned, Ben is in horror movie heaven. But wait, there’s more! Doc asks if Ben would like to be in the sequel to “Lizardman” as Designated Child Victim #4. Ben’s already had experience filming home horror flicks with his friend Jeff, but this could be his big break! Ben calls his mom for her permission, and soon the Doc and his stagehands are prepping Ben for his moment in the limelight.
Scene: Ben has escaped from Lizardman’s rampage, but got lost in the swamp. Exhausted, he looked for a hiding place to rest, but woke up to find Lizardman’s tied him to a tree and is going to eat him.
Ben, however, is not able to focus on acting terrified. He’s too enamored with the detailing and make-up on Lizardman and asks if he can see the actor’s mask. It won’t come off. As if on cue, the rest of the “actors” showcase their fangs, claws, and decayed faces, and Ben finally realizes these aren’t monsters who are really actors. They’re actors who are really monsters! Scared shitless for real-real, not for play-play, Ben struggles to free himself and begs the Doc for help. The Doc then orders everyone to stop what they’re doing because what’s happening isn’t right at all!
Ben’s hair isn’t properly messed up.
Fixing that, the Doc calls for LIGHTS!
As an extra tidbit, here are some more of Dr. Horror’s movies: TEN TALES FROM THE MUMMY FILES, A BOY AND HIS WEREWOLF, and MONSTERS AT MIDNIGHT
I really wanna watch “Ten Tales from the Mummy Files.”
[Wing: OMG TWO STORIES WITH REAL ACTUAL WEREWOLVES IN ONE BOOK STINE YOU REALLY DO LOVE ME. Also, I would watch the hell out of A Boy and His Werewolf, as well as the sequel, A Girl and Her Werewolf. WEREWOOOOOOOOOLVES.]
The Cat’s Tale A.K.A. “Dick On A Hot Tin Roof”
It was a dark and stormy night, and Marla regretted being a city girl born in a family of country yokels. She wishes her parents hadn’t moved her and her brother Scott from NYC to River Falls. As Scott and their parents told ghost stories, Marla the buzz kill tried to block out the sound of thunder and lightning when the power goes out. [Wing: Marla, get your shit together. This is an awesome setting and thing to do.] Fumbling around in her dark room, Marla is suddenly attacked by something wet and furry breaking in. Her parents burst into her room armed with candles and baseball bats, and Mrs. Marla’s Mom tells her to chill because it’s just a little cat. Of course any experienced Goosebumps reader would know by now Stine fucking hates cats, so if there’s one here it’s a shady little bitch. [Wing: Stine is not wrong about cats being terrible. I say as a dog person who is allergic to cats.]
Seeing the shivering little black cat in her room, Marla’s heart instantly melts and she begs her parents to let it stay with them because God knows she could use a friend in this hick town. Taking inspiration from the misty night, Marla christenings the cat “Misty.” Misty immediately becomes attached to her new owner, up to and including showering with her in the morning. Marla seems confused by this, believing cats hate getting wet, so I guess you could say she’s… Misty-fied. 😀
Marla finds it difficult to leave Misty’s side, because the cat starts meowing and crying if Marla tries to leave. Marla misses out on spending a day at the swim club for spending time with Misty. That night, Marla dreams she’s back in the city with her friends when someone starts to strangle her. But that part’s not a dream because when Marla wakes up, Misty is perched on top of her face suffocating her. Marla pries the cat off and runs to her parents, who somehow misconstrue this blatant attempt on their daughter’s life as the cat trying to keep warm because of the air conditioning. Uh, okay. [Wing: Even I know it is totally normal for a cat to sleep on their person’s face, though. At least, this is what
horror pop culture would lead me to believe.]
The next day Misty’s crying again but Marla’s all “Later fool” and goes to the pool with Scott. Marla climbs the high dive, but suddenly the sight of all that water makes her nervous. It’s then Marla feels a sharp pain in her leg and she topples off the diving board and nearly drowns. A lifeguard pulls her from the water and says she’ll need a bandage for the nasty looking cut on her leg. Scott comes up but instead of asking if Marla’s okay just dumps Misty on her chest asking why the fuck did she bring her along. Seems Misty followed her up the high dive.
At dinner time, Marla turns down her favorite meal of spaghetti and meatballs for leftover tuna casserole and milk. [Wing: Marla is turning into a cat I love this story already!] When night comes, Marla hears someone in her room whispering to her.
“Nine lives, nine lives. I will have thy body before I’ve lived my nine. Thy life is mine, and mine is thy.”
Marla soon wants nothing to do with Misty and begins to doubt her sanity. At the swimming pool the next day, Marla’s attempt to make friends ends with her catching a field mouse with her bare hands. And then the last horse finally reaches the center of the maze, and Marla realizes Misty is trying to take over her body. So Marla does the sensible thing and dumps the evil little snot at the animal shelter, but as soon as she gets home Misty’s waiting for her at the front door. Another night of whispering and Marla schedules Misty for a very long bus trip. Just before morning, Marla bikes to the bus station with Misty in a cat carrier, planning to put Misty on whichever bus she can find. Stopping to get a soda from a vending machine, Marla receives some unexpected help from a driver who doesn’t see Misty crossing the street. Marla’s not exactly tears and moans about the cat pancake in the road…
Until the following night, when she hears the whispering again.
“Surprise, bitch. I’ll bet you thought you’d seen the last of me.”
Well it looks like SOMEBODY needs to be neutered.
SEQUEL IDEA – “The Cat Came Back”: Not an original title I know. I’m working on. Since this is essentially the beta version of “Cry of the Cat” I thought to have Marla and Misty, several lives later, encounter Allison and Rip the Cat and duke it out over who’s got the worst cat problems. I guess you could say it’s a… cat-tastrophe.
[Wing: I really love stories about cats trying to take over people’s bodies and cat people and etc., so this was great.
The terrible puns just made it even better.]
Shell Shocker A.K.A. “Hermit Dick”
Tara Bennett ruins a perfectly good trip to the beach when she assaults her little brother for his shell. Tara boasts about her great and wonderful shell collection, and how this one shell is so perfect and beautiful it’ll open the door to fame and fortune. Winning the seventh grade science fair. Appearing on Leno. Her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Then spiraling into hard core drug abuse freebasing crack in shells before becoming a born again Christian, and it all starts here.
But Tara is shaken from her euphoria when a tiny voice from inside the shell cries for help. At first assuming her brother’s screwing with her head, Tara discovers the voice is real and claims to be a prisoner inside the shell. The voice says it needs to go to the cave nearby in order to be free, but Tara’s all “Fuck that!” as she imagines her own late night talk show, “Tara And Her Amazing Talking Shell.” (That’s actually IN the story) The voice claims it can do her one better, because inside the cave just happens to be the biggest shell in existence. Tara’s greed gets the best of her and the voice directs her to the cave down the shoreline, assuring her parents won’t even realize she’s gone…
Tara walks for what feels like hours, fear settling in as she realizes she’s all alone on this part of the beach. Soon the cave appears and the voice repeats its promise of Tara becoming rich and famous with this shell. It convinces her to ignore the ear-shattering screech that comes from the cave as just the wind. Inside, the voice directs Tara through the darkness until she seemingly reaches a dead end of a wall… covered in spiders! Almost getting totally covered in prickly, hairy spiders nearly convinces Tara to turn back, but the voice eggs her on. [Wing: WHY IS IT ALWAYS FUCKING SPIDERS GOD I HATE THIS STORY STIIIIIIIIIINE WHYYYYYYYYYY.]
The voice has an excuse for everything. Those giant bones crunching under Tara’s bare feet? Just big fish bones washed up by the water. That big pounding sound? Echoes of the waves. The voice reminds Tara the tide will come in soon so she better hurry. A ray of light directs Tara to an opening in the cave, and sure enough there it is, the biggest shell in the world. Big as house, gleaming pink and white, perfectly formed, Tara almost wets herself with joy at such beauty. Giggling to herself at the thought of how jealous everyone will be, Tara’s given a rude awakening when the voice decides to mention NOW that this shell is also home to the biggest HERMIT CRAB in the world.
A giant, monstrous hermit crab pops out of the giant shell and snaps its claws in front of Tara. Tara’s screams for help are mocked by the voice in the shell, which turns out to be coming from a smaller hermit crab. The smaller crab beams with pride as it shows its mommy it caught another one.
So much for Hollywood.
[Wing: Awww, baby hermit crab. FUCKING SPIDERS.]
Poison Ivy A.K.A. “Itchy Dick”
Camp Wilbur. Who names a camp “Wilbur,” Matt asks you? [Wing: That is a damn good question. Unless the mascot is a pig. A pig who is terrific, radiant, humble, and some pig. Still with the spiders in that story, though. UGH.] But it’s not so bad. The camp’s very lax with its rules, and his bunkmates are okay. Well, most of them, except for *ugh* Brad, a preppy blonde boy with ironed shirts who slathers his face in rancid aftershave thinking it keeps him fresh.
Matt’s a city boy, so he’s not used to all this fresh air and sunshine and [INSERT TITLE HERE]. There’s a big patch of ivy growing on the edges of the softball field, Matt notices during a game of ball he ends up losing. That night, Matt is roused from his sleep by a very loud scratchy noise coming from the direction of the softball field. Unable to fall back asleep until he finds out what’s making that noise, Matt investigates the source. Once the clouds depart, the moonlight shines on the field and reveals to Matt the ivy has come alive and taken the shape of a man! [Wing: … well that escalated quickly.] The ivy creature lumbers after Matt as he runs back to his cabin, but his bunkmates don’t believe him. When Matt’s finally able to fall asleep again, he dreams of green snakes.
The next day the ivy patch has grown over the entire softball field and over most of the camp’s path and soccer field. Because they’re idiots a bunch of kids start throwing clumps of ivy leaves at each other when they’re not showing off by rolling around in it. The camp runs out of lotion before noon and half the campers are scratching themselves raw. Two counselors prepare to battle the ivy patch with weed whackers and repellent. They were never seen again.
The next morning, Matt and the others are unable to leave their cabin because something is blocking the door. It still seems dark outside, until Matt realizes the ivy has grown over the door and the windows. The plant tries to get inside through the cracks in the floor and wall, so Matt and the others try to force the door open. For some reason the plant recoils when it’s near Brad, and Matt assumes the plant can’t stand Brad’s horrible aftershave. Matt sprays the aftershave on the ivy plant and it recedes, but soon the can is empty. Thankfully, Brad reveals he has TWELVE, I repeat, TWELVE more cans of the stuff, but doesn’t want to waste it. Priorities, Brad.
Matt and his bunkmates wage war on the ivy by spraying it with the aftershave, until finally the ivy plant recedes into the nearby lake. Matt’s the camp hero, until the scratching noise is replaced by a loud buzzing sound. As a black tornado makes its way to camp, Brad realizes he forgot to mention his aftershave attracts mosquitoes.
I’m disappointed Stine didn’t bring back the missing counselors as being controlled by the ivy, like it was wrapped around their bodies and jerking them around like puppets.
[Wing: This reads a little like the kid version of The Ruins by Scott Smith. Which is to say, I liked it quite a bit, actually.]
Spirit of the Harvest Moon A.K.A. “Bad Dick Rising”
I have to give Stine credit for finishing a collection of summer stories with one that takes place at the end of summer. [Wing: SPIRIT OF THE HARVEST MOON THIS BETTER BE ANOTHER FUCKING WEREWOLF STORY. I am sure it is not another fucking werewolf story. Also, random Wing fact: The Harvest Moon is my second favorite full moon.]
Jenny’s parents are the outdoorsy types, so she gets dragged along on their September vacation to Pine Mountain Lodge, “Wood Lake’s Best Kept 100 Year-Old Secret.” Her enthusiasm is matched by her descriptions of the Bass Family, the people who manage the lodge.
- Mr. Bass – Frankenstein
- Mrs. Bass – A sack of laundry
- Tyler Bass – A pale goldfish
- Bravo – The dog. He a’ight.
Mr. Bass mentions the lodge normally doesn’t get people this time of year because it’s too cold, which is his reasoning for locking up Jenny’s door to the outside porch, along with the windows and the heavy wooden shutters… on the inside of the room. With nothing to do Jenny reads a bit before going to sleep, but her sauntering into dreamland is cut short by someone calling her name outside the window. The mysterious voice asking Jenny to let it inside scares Jenny so much she’s not sure if she can sleep, until she blinks and somehow discovers it’s morning. I hate when that happens, when you’re not sure if you’re asleep or not and before you know it morning’s come.
Jenny’s parents go hiking up nearby Devil’s Peak, [Wing: Sounds perfectly safe.] leaving Jenny alone with Tyler and Bravo. They play some horseshoes and explore the lodge, but there’s not much to see. Jenny asks if anyone lives in the area besides Tyler’s family, and mentions the voice she heard in the night. Tyler goes even paler, and feels the need to tell Jenny the story for her own good. Many years ago a hiker got lost on Devil’s Peak, and it’s believed his spirit turns into a wandering mist. Every year on the night of the harvest moon the spirit searches for a new body to wear until the next harvest moon, and the person whose body is stolen spends the year as a mist themselves. [Wing: Okay, that is creepy as shit. I love it.] Jenny thinks Tyler’s just being a jerk and decides not to hang with him anymore. But sure enough, the next night Jenny hears someone asking to be let inside, and she runs to her parents telling them the ghost story. Her parents think she had a bad dream, but Jenny knows. Boy does she know.
The next day Jenny clings to her parents and tries avoiding Tyler as much as possible. At breakfast, Jenny starts believe Tyler is the spirit, noticing he never eats and his dog seems to be afraid of him. To that end, Jenny goes hiking with her parents and refuses to leave their side. But that night, the night of the harvest moon, Jenny learns her parents are playing cards with Mr. and Mrs. Bass and she’ll be all alone. Jenny begs them not to leave for fear of the spirit, but her mom tells her to stop acting like a baby and departs. [Wing: Rock star parenting as usual.]
An hour or so later, Jenny hears someone banging on the door to the porch. It’s Tyler, claiming he lost his key and pleading with Jenny to let him inside because it’s so cold out. Jenny refuses, thinking Tyler’s the ghost and just wants her body. But then it’s Bravo to the rescue! Bravo scares away Tyler, and Jenny opens the door to let the heroic dog in.
Bravo gazed up at me gratefully. His sad brown eyes stared up to meet mine. “Thanks, Jenny,” he said. “It’s cold outside.”
So I’ve always labored under the belief that Tyler actually was the ghost, but then it hopped into Bravo. But that’s just me. I felt maybe this one could’ve been a bit longer, or it definitely could’ve been turned into a full length story. [Wing: I would love to see it as a full length story. I’m not sure if I think the ghost was in Bravo all the time, or if it is now in Bravo for the next year. Either is a pretty terrible situation for that poor dog.]
And that was our third foray into the Goosebumps short story collections. Personally I liked the atmosphere Stine set up in the different tales, particularly “P.S.” and “Spirit,” but my least favorites would have to be the one with the aliens and “Shell Shocker” because the former is too boring and the latter is boring AND the main character’s a jerk.
[Wing: By god, I kind of love this book. Not all the stories are 100% awesome, but they’re all entertaining to some extent or another, and Stine opens by giving me WEREWOLVES. STINE. I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH OUR FEUD RIGHT NOW.]
[Wing: Wait, she knows he can shrink down and she still puts fighting fish in the tank? EASY MURDER RIGHT THERE.]
She actually didn’t know he was in the fish tank or about the shrinking. When the mom brought the fighting fish in she asked Eric’s sister where he was; neither of them knew.