Recap #110: More & More Tales To Give You Goosebumps by R. L. Stine, A.K.A. “It Just Doesn’t Die!”
Title: More & More Tales To Give You Goosebumps
Author: R.L. Stine (And possibly Carolyn Crimi)
Cover Artist: Tim Jacobus
Summary: Reader Beware – You’re In For Ten More Scares!
Will Aunt Vera’s book of magic spells spell scary trouble for Kari? Is Jeffrey a musical genius or is the old guitar he stole truly haunted? Are Mike and his brother Ray house sitting for a monstrous ghost?
[Wing: Haunted guitar? Sign me up immediately.]
This is one of the two short stories I was able to find at a church tag sale near my house. It still has its last check out slip from the library. I use it as a bookmark.
This one’s by far the most eclectic collection of short stories Stine has done for the franchise. The antagonists are also far more colorful than the first three books. But Wing, hon, I’m sorry to say there aren’t any werewolves in this book. [Wing: We had a really great October. I suppose that will carry me through the end of the year with few werewolves. I suppose.]
As a side note, this one originally came with a hat (like the ones the skeleton frogs on the cover are wearing). So far the most disappointing bonus of the short story books. [Wing: I would find a hat a weird bonus, except I STILL REMEMBER THE BOXERS.]
For this recap, I’ll be including music, having selected a different track from the soundtrack to “Umineko: When They Cry” for every short story recap, including name and artist.
The Haunted Guitar (Terminal Entrance by ZTS)
Jeffrey wants you to know right now he is NOT lazy. He works very hard… at finding the easiest way to do things, his friend Beth adds. Like that time he tried to get rid of the weeds in the garden by using a vacuum cleaner. [Wing: So, a little lazy, a lot creative, a touch clever.]
On the way home from school, Jeffrey and Beth try to hurry through the bad part of town before it starts to rain, when Jeffrey discovers the recently burnt remains of a music store. [Wing: Heartbreaking.] Against Beth’s wishes, Jeffrey wanders into what used to be Sal’s Music Store, checking out all the burned, melted, and singed musical instruments. To his surprise, Jeffrey finds an old wooden guitar still intact but covered in soot. Jeffrey decides to take the guitar even as Beth warns him that’s stealing. Jeffrey’s not worried since the store’s a wreck, and who would notice one missing guitar amid the mess? Beth feels nothing good’s gonna come from this. [Wing: In many, many ways, Beth is not wrong.]
Jeffrey tells his dad “a friend” loaned him the guitar, which Mr. Jeffrey’s Dad believes will give him the opportunity to see if he likes playing the guitar for real. Jeffrey considers signing up for lessons the next day, but rethinks that and figures he’ll sign up next week. Yeah. After dinner, Jeffrey calls Beth for the answers to their math homework, which she gives even as she calls him the Laziest Kid In The World. Well maybe stop enabling him Beth! Anyway, Jeffrey goes to bed thinking Beth is hella wrong when he hears guitar music coming from the corner of his room. On a chair up against the wall, he sees somebody playing a sad tune on the old guitar. A shape begins to visualize, a black man in jeans and a faded sweater. GASP! A person of color in a Goosebumps book? As my friend Hedonism-bot would say:
The ghostly intruder says his name is Memphis Willy because of course it is, and the name of his faithful guitar is Gertie because of course it is because this is Goosebumps. SIIIIIIIIGH. Willy says he was a famous Blues musician (Black AND he plays the Blues this is like right out of Shakespeare) and he loved playing the guitar, so much so that not even death could stop him. Willy asks if Jeffrey wants to play like him, and suddenly Jeffrey is strumming on the guitar like a pro. Willy asks if Jeffrey wants to play like this all the time, which he can if Jeffrey agrees to become his living partner. Jeffrey’s all fuck yeah and sees himself being rich and famous as he plays… and plays… and keeps playing… because Willy says he can never stop, and now he doesn’t have to because Jeffrey’s his partner. No matter how hard Jeffrey tries to pull his hands free of the strings, no matter how much they hurt, Willy’s ghost refuses to let Jeffrey stop.
(Memphis Willy by Kaitlyn Van Dorn)
Jeffrey’s father comes into the room and, hearing how good Jeffrey is playing, tells Mrs. Jeffrey’s Mom to come in and listen, and orders Jeffrey not to stop.
[Wing: This is a real red shoes moment, and I love it. Also, I’m a little weirded out by how often I have referenced that story over the past month, here and at Sweet Valley Online.]
Tune In Tomorrow (Stupefaction by ZTS)
Elizabeth Stephens was bored. She’d been living in the town of Westgate for six months and had already gotten into a routine of doing stuff with her new best friend Lauren. Only her plans for the weekend have been ruined by a tropical storm. With nothing else to do, Elizabeth figures she’ll let her brain veg out and turns on Channel 6, where she discovers a soap opera called “Looking Towards Tomorrow.” The main character is a girl named Elinor, who bemoans how boring her small town life is. In this episode, Elinor is supposed to be hearing from an old friend. Elinor drops a glass when she gets frightened by the sound of her grandfather clock. Elizabeth has ALSO dropped a glass when she gets frightened by her dog. And just as Elinor receives a letter delivered to her neighbor by mistake, a letter which contains distressing news, Elizabeth ALSO receives a letter delivered to her neighbor by mistake. The letter is from her old best friend Mary back in Philadelphia, and it starts off normally, until Mary reveals she won’t be visiting Elizabeth for the summer AND that the hamster they took care of together is now dead. So, you know, Mary’s dead to her.
The next day Elizabeth eagerly awaits the next episode of “Looking Towards Tomorrow.” Mrs. Stephens can’t believe her daughter is interested in a dumb soap opera, but Elizabeth argues the show’s incredibly realistic. On today’s episode, Elinor’s mother is caught in an explosion in their basement and has lost her memory thanks to a head injury. Elizabeth hears a crash in her mother’s bedroom, and sees a tree limb has broken through the window because of the storm. Mrs. Stephens is on the floor with a head wound, and when she gets up she has no clue who Elizabeth is.
At the hospital, Elizabeth doesn’t have a chance to tell her dad about what’s been going on with the TV. Before Mr. Stephens goes to see his wife, he suggests Elizabeth hang out with Lauren to take her mind off things. Elizabeth goes to Lauren’s house and explains everything that’s happened because of “Looking Towards Tomorrow.” Lauren’s never heard of the show, and thinks Elizabeth’s gone nuts from worrying about her mom as Elizabeth explains she has to keep watching the show to find out what will happen to her mom. The next day Elizabeth nervously watches as Elinor opens her front door and is greeted by a rabid dog when the screen goes blank! Elizabeth panics and calls Lauren asking if she saw the rest of the episode, but Lauren reveals she only got static on Channel 6. Elizabeth phones the cable company, who makes things worse when the operator explains they don’t HAVE a Channel 6. And that’s when Elizabeth hears something coming from behind the front door. She goes to turn the knob and…
The TV gets shut off, because it turns out “Life With Elizabeth” is another stupid soap opera where the characters make dumb decisions.
Lisa sighed. “I thought Life with Elizabeth was going to be really good. But it’s just another stupid soap opera.”
“Yeah,” I agreed. “Why are people on TV so dumb?”
[Wing: … … … … … what.]
Live Bait (Fishy Aroma by Luck Ganriki)
Before this story begins, Timmy wants you to know he. Fucking. HATES. FISH! Hates the taste, hates the smell, hates the feel, hates the look, hates everything about it. [Wing: Aww, Timmy, you’re really missing out. Sister Canary also hates fish, which really just leaves me for me, I suppose. (My family is just thrilled by how I keep giving them bird names. Sister Canary is so called because she is bright and friendly and chirpy.)]
But every summer his parents drag him to Lake Bigelow, where he’s surrounded by fish, where his dad fishes every day, his mom cooks fish every night, and he’s expected to eat fish EVERY NIGHT.
And the only other kid he can hang out with is a douchebag by the name of Duke. Duke taunts Timmy that he’s actually scared of fish, until finally Timmy decides to prove he’s not scared by renting a boat and doing some fishing of his own. Which he immediately regrets because Duke offers to pay for the boat rental, and makes it a contest to see who can catch the bigger fish. As they search the piers on the lake for a boat to rent, Duke takes the time to be gross by picking up a dead fish and popping its eyes into his mouth. Timmy’s foot then falls through a rotted plank and he freaks because it feels like the fish in the water are trying to eat his leg. Duke finds this hilarious.
The boys find a creepy looking shop at the far end of the piers. The old man inside the house has got shelves filled with any and every kind of bait there is. He claims to be a baiting expert. Duke exclaims they plan to catch some really big fish, and since they don’t really have enough money for a boat, the old man offers to let them use the boat if they give him the biggest fish they catch. Armed with fishing poles and bait, the boys row to the middle of the lake… where almost immediately they’re attacked by THE BIGGEST FISH ANYONE’S EVER SEEN. The fish is so massive Timmy and Duke try to fight it off with their oars, when suddenly it gets very, very dark. And that’s when they realize the fish has SWALLOWED THEM WHOLE, BOAT AND ALL. [Wing: JONAH, IS THAT YOU?] The boys freak out trying to figure how they’ll escape, when something powerful jerks the fish through the water. The boys and the boat pop out of the fish’s mouth in time to see they’ve pulled back to the old man’s shop and pier. He congratulates them on being the perfect bait he needed to catch Old Jumbo, and before they can react he puts a net over them and hoists them into a big jar. The label on the jar says:
[INSERT TITLE HERE]
[Wing: Okay, that is kind of great.]
Something Strange About Marci (Where By Pre-Holder)
Fair warning guys, I suggest you hunt down this book and read the story by yourself because it’s one of those things where, you read the ending once, that’s it, the shock doesn’t work anymore.
Okay, I warned you.
Marci was… different. No one knew when she moved to the neighborhood, who she was, where she lived, what her family was like, what SHE was like. Whenever our nameless protagonist would hang out with their friends and play in the park, Marci would be nearby, watching them. She was invited to join in the fun, but she’d never accept and stayed where she was. When she’d leave, everyone wondered what she seemed so unfriendly. After a while, everyone forgot about Marci, except the protagonist, because they started to learn more about Marci.
One day the protagonist’s group were having a picnic. They tried to be courteous and invited Marci to join them, but Marci simply stood there. It was then the idea arose, the fear that Marci was evil. Over the next few days, her behavior got more suspicious. She began following the protagonist through the forest, and she carried with her a box filled with weird, alien tools, all in black. The protagonist feared Marci wanted to hurt them. One day, the protagonist decided to follow Marci for a change, and discovered she’s living in a tent in the woods. She has no family!
The mystery was finally cleared one day, when Marci, for the first time ever, spoke to the protagonist. Saying “Hello,” Marci bid the protagonist come to her and even brought a peace offering of food. Cautiously, the protagonist went to Marci, and that’s when she took out one of her sinister looking tools AND (last chance to avoid spoilers):
she’s a scientist and he’s a fucking orangutan.
[Wing: I love the hell out of this. MARCI. ORANGUTAN. SCIENCE. HEART EYES.]
The Ghost Sitter (Corridor of the Sands of Purgatory By Pureco)
I like this one for the setting, but unfortunately it’s one I have difficulty reading because it’s a little hard for me to actually envision what’s going on as I’m reading. I’ve never been sure why.
Ray and his older brother Mike have moved into a new house. Their parents promise this is the last time they move after years of refurbishing old homes and then selling them to new owners. Sure the house could use some work with its old paint and crooked chimney, but what’s really bothering Mike is the house next door. During his first day at school, Ray heard all about the town’s haunted house. A house that smells like rotting garbage. A house dogs bark at and cats hiss at. A house filled with angry, evil ghosts. What’s worse is the house is at the dead end of Beech Street, which is where Ray and Mike live! He asks a girl if the haunted house is on the left or right of dead end, and she says the left. Ray figures THAT house would be haunted. It certainly looks haunted.
On their way back from school, Mike doesn’t believe the house is haunted, but when the brothers arrive home Ray gets the feeling someone or something is watching them from one of the upper windows of the other house. Ray looks up, and sees a pair of dark, angry eyes staring down from the window. Of course they quickly disappear when Ray gets his brother’s attention. Ray’s terror multiples when his mother informs the boys she volunteered them to house sit for Mr. and Mrs. Hodge, the couple NEXT DOOR. She tells the boys they only have to do a couple of chores for Hodges while they’re away until Sunday morning. Ray can barely contain his enthusiasm.
The next day Ray and Mike head into the Hodge household, collecting the mail and newspaper. Thinks seem eerily calm until they smell something foul and rotten in the hallway. The stench is coming from an old dumbwaiter, where inside the brothers find a bowl of oatmeal so old it’s turned green. They dump the spoiled food, and Ray gets nervous realizing the dumbwaiter goes up to the attic. In the living room, the discovery of a gnawed, ruined cloth doll with its head missing is followed by several loud noises and groans coming from upstairs. Ray and Mike bolt from the house, and Mike rationalizes they probably heard the typical noises old houses make.
Unfortunately, by Sunday it’s raining pretty badly and now Ray fears something IS in the house with them. Ray feels something soft brush his hand as he flicks the light switch in the living room, and when the lights go ON, the brothers see someone has completely trashed the place, living room AND kitchen, followed by an inhuman moan. Ray and Mike make a hasty exit to tell their parents. They return home to find their dad is nursing an injury, saying his arm got caught in the cellar door, joking the house is out to get him. It’s then Mike realizes he left the Hodges’ keys in their kitchen and forgot to lock the door. Ray begs Mike not to go back, and proves himself correct when the sound of something big and angry begins to chase Mike through the house!
Ray and Mike try to block the front door to stop whatever is on the other side from getting free when they’re blinded by a white light. Ray fears the ghost has gotten free, but it turns out to be Mr. and Mrs. Hodge arriving earlier than they planned. The boys try to warn the Hodges about the devastation, and Mrs. Hodge regrets having left “Him” alone. The door bursts open, and out comes… Walter, the Hodges pet pig. Turns out they keep him in the attic when they’re away because he can get easily frightened and wreck the place, especially during thunderstorms. Everybody laughs… [Wing: But they’re not wrong! Ostrich had a pet pig one time that tore through all the drywall in a room trying to get to an old candy wrapper the builders left inside the wall. Pigs are smart and strong and have an amazing sense of smell. Also: delicious.]
And then the next day at school Ray and Mike find out the girl got mixed up, and it’s not the Hodges’ home that is haunted, but rather, the one next to it with the crooked chimney. Everyone knows the ghosts in that house are really angry and bloodthirsty.
NO ONE survives in THAT house.
[Wing: This entire story, I was waiting for Ray and Mike to be the bloodthirsty ghosts.
Fun With Spelling – (Deep Blue Jeer by Luck Ganriki)
Supposedly, according to the Goosebumps wiki, Carolyn Crimi ghostwrote this story. Stine claims he wrote every book and story in the series, but I’ve read on a few websites certain books in the original series, mainly sequel books, were ghostwritten, if only because it feels like the person who wrote them never read the first book.
Kari’s an easily bored, judgmental shrew who had to share her room all week with her visiting wacko aunt, Vera. Aunt Vera says the travel spirits have assured her today’s a good day to fly, so she departs with her lucky garlic clove necklace and fancy straw hat. [Wing: I feel bad for the people on her flight.] Kari immediately goes upstairs to air the garlic stank from her room, but discovers Vera left her a gift as thanks for sharing her space. In place of the typical book of magic tricks Kari was studying (her hobby this week is the art of illusion), her aunt’s left an actual book of spells.
I hope you find this book useful. Thanks again for sharing your room with me. May the good spirits shine on you!
Love, Aunt Vera
May the good spirits shine on you?
What a wacko!
Oh you’re gonna get yours, Kari.
After shooing away her nosy sister Libby, out of bored curiosity Kari flips through the spell book and is intrigued when she comes across “Enemy Spells.” The one person Kari would like to curse is Lisa McFly, the mean and prissy Miss Perfect of Kari’s homeroom. Lisa’s had it out for Kari forever, doing such lovely things like putting an actual dead bird in Kari’s desk and spreading rumors Kari likes the class pariah Timmy Wardell. Kari decides to cast a forgetfulness spell on Lisa as a goof, but starts changing her mind a bit when she sees the jar with the spell inside glowing under the moonlight.
At school, as Kari’s teacher is collecting everyone’s homework, she’s ecstatic when she sees Lisa struggling to find where she put her assignment. As Lisa realizes she forgot her homework, something she’s never done before, Kari decides to cast some more enemy spells and finds the perfect one. The next day, the first thing Lisa does is give her homework from yesterday, but is unable to accept her teacher’s thanks when she starts to belch. Every time Lisa opens her mouth another burp comes out, and soon everyone in the class, including the teacher, is laughing their asses off. By lunch the spell seems to have worn off, and Kari jokes with her friend how Lisa probably wished she could “McFly” out of the class. That gives Kari an idea. She hurries home to find the spellbook, but panics briefly when she can’t find it. Thankfully the book was underneath her mattress, but now Libby’s seen the book and asks what it is. Kari tells Libby to get lost and finds a chapter on how to make your own spells. Kari decides Lisa should live up to her name, and creates a spell that will make Lisa think she can fly whenever someone says her name.
Kari eagerly awaits roll call at school, and sure enough when the teacher calls out “Lisa McFly” she gets out of her seat and starts flapping her arms like wings. Everyone laughs at Lisa shaking her arms up and down, but no one is more surprised than Kari when Lisa is actually able to float a foot off the ground! As Lisa starts floating towards the window, Kari jumps up and tries to pull Lisa down to the floor. The other students try to grab Lisa to stop her from going out the window and falling to her death, and Kari realizes the only thing she can do to stop her is reverse the spell. Sprinting home Kari searches her room for the spellbook, but now it’s gone for really-reals. And then a peculiar feeling comes over Kari. She instinctively does a back-flip before belting out a huge burp. In-between belches and back-flips, Kari screams at Libby if the brat cast a spell on her. Libby waltzes into the room, spellbook in hand, and Lisa flies in through Kari’s bedroom window to thank Libby.
SEQUEL IDEA – “The Spelling Bee”: It’s exactly what you think it is.
Matt’s Lunch Box (Monochrome Clock by M. Zakky)
Matt Green is in one of the worst positions he can be, a skinny kid in a family of eaters. Well, it’s just him and his mom, but his mom’s always asking if he’s hungry because she thinks he’s too thin. Man can I relate to that. I live in a family of eaters, drinkers, and smokers, of which I am none. Who says Goosebumps aren’t relateable?
Matt isn’t usually a forgetful kid most days, but today is not that day because he left his lunch box on the bus ride home. The next day after arriving home from baseball try outs, Matt’s mom surprises him with a brand new lunch box. Matt, however, is less than grateful, because he thinks kids will make fun of him for the cheesy looking cartoon monsters on the box. His mom explains that was the ONLY lunch box she could find this time of year after looking through several different stores. I’m like geez, lady, brown bag that shit. [Wing: Wasteful! Reusable is the way to go! Though I have my doubts she wasn’t able to find a single thing that would work as a lunch box without it being too childish.]
The three monsters on the box look like bats or gargoyles, with red buggy eyes, leathery wings, and pointy fangs. Matt notices the cartoon on the box features the monsters flying out of an eerily similar looking lunch box, and are chasing a poor kid around a kitchen. The cartoon makes Matt feel a little nervous, and when he opens the box a crack, a voice says “We’re hungry, Matt. Let us out!” Matt slams the box shut and tosses it on his dresser. Of course, the following night the voices in the lunch box wake Matt up, and demand they be let out. The box starts to violently convulse on Matt’s dresser before it falls to the floor and opens. Out fly three small monsters identical to the ones on the cartoon (big surprise). There’s a fat monster, a medium monster, and a tiny monster, all proclaiming Matt must keep them fed since he owns the lunch box.
The monsters search Matt’s room for food, finding a bag of old Halloween candy in his closet. The monsters say this isn’t enough and demand more. Matt says he doesn’t have any food, so the monsters decide they’ll eat HIM instead. The fat monster bites Matt’s arm and Matt starts to bleed.
I ran out the door and down the hall. “Mom!” I screamed. “Help me!”
The big one cut me off. “I wouldn’t do that if I were you.” He bared his teeth again.
Matt dashes into the kitchen and empties the cupboards of all sorts of junk food, cookies, chips, pretzels, and the like. The little monster gets mad that the fat one always hogs the food while the medium one shoves whole pretzels down its throat. In less than three minutes the monsters eat everything, then disappear. Matt spends most of the night watching the lunch box before he falls back asleep, but come morning the monsters return and devour Matt’s breakfast. Naturally, Mrs. Green doesn’t see the monsters, only the clean plate and empty spots where the cookies and crackers were. She beams with pride that her son’s finally developed an appetite.
Matt spends the day without breakfast and lunch, and when he tries to eat some chips at home, the monsters greedily refuse to share.
“Please,” I begged. “Just me have a little something.”
The middle monster turned another somersault and laughed. “Sorry, Matt. When we’re full, it’s your turn.”
“And we’re never full!” The little one laughed.
Matt’s mother whips up a big meal, and tells Matt to help himself. After the monsters finish off Matt’s plate, his mother asks if he’d like seconds. Matt asks his mom to eat with him, figuring the monsters won’t show up if Matt’s mom can see them. But of course she doesn’t, because she claims she had a big lunch and she’s “Really busy.” For fuck’s sake lady just sit down for five minutes it won’t kill you. Matt declares, without hyperbole, he’ll just sit there and starve to death then. The monsters devour Matt’s attempt at a midnight snack and his breakfast the following morning. His mom finally notices how awful he looks, but doesn’t believe it’s because Matt hasn’t eaten in two days straight.
Matt drags himself to the bus stop, but finally catches a break upon seeing a sign for a big yard sale. Remembering the monsters mentioned they belong to whoever owns the lunch box, Matt oh so casually dumps the box on a table marked “Everything 50 Cents” and then hides and waits for some poor woman to purchase the lunch box. Hooray, Matt’s free, while some other kid is gonna starve to death! Matt rushes back home to find something to satisfy his unbearable hunger before going to school, and eagerly stuffs his face during dinnertime. Matt and his mom receive a surprise guest, his traveling salesman uncle Murray. Murray says he heard about Matt’s monster lunch box, and shows what a good uncle he is by giving Matt the matching thermos! Matt is speechless in thanks as a little monster whispers he’s sooooo thirsty…
This one reminded me of a “Tales From the Darkside” episode about a cursed tarot deck. A woman is tricked into owning a deck of tarot cards that predict horrible futures, and the only way she can get rid of it is to trick another person into taking the deck. Which, admittedly, would’ve been the smart thing to do after the other fortune teller did her reading. The first woman dies and now some poor woman is stuck with the cards.
I feel for Matt but I also feel for the poor kid who’s getting the lunch box after him. But those monsters are fucking idiots. If they were smarter, they could’ve arranged things so their owner has enough to eat and doesn’t starve to death, which means they aren’t constantly switching owners and have a consistent supply of food. [Wing: RIGHT? They could have had it made with him in particular, what with his mother wanting him to eat more but him not being all that hungry most of the time. Let him have what he wants, gorge yourselves on the rest. Get your shit together, monsters.]
SEQUEL IDEA – “Monsters Ate My Lunch”: Following up on the poor schmuck who got stuck with the lunch box.
Stuck In 1957 (Parallel by Pre-Holder)
Shanna Smith can’t believe how great her hair looks. That stylist at Chic Cuts sure knew what the fuck they were talking about when they convinced Shanna to get her hair layered in the back. Boy does she have such cute bangs! And hopefully her bangs will make a good first impression for her during her first day at Westwood Middle School. It all depends on how wonderful her hair is.
Shanna’s family is moving into a house her father says was built in 1957. Shanna is convinced the Fifties were cool, what with Elvis, hula hoops, rock and roll. Not to mention racism, the Klan, homophobia, segregation, apartheid, the Cold War, nuclear paranoia, McCarthyism. [Wing: So just like today. It’s the circle of life. Terrible, horrible, never-learn-from-history-so-doomed-to-repeat-it life.] But her dad lays down the 411 it wasn’t all candy and nuts back then. Shanna is then shocked to learn her family’s having dinner at Aunt Gigi’s in half an hour, totally throwing off Shanna’s super-detailed post-styling treatment. Inside her new room, Shanna finds a pair of old Catwoman glasses in her new drawers. Putting the glasses on, Shanna’s amused by how Grease-chic she is when she starts to feel funny. Briefly overcome by a dizzy spell, Shanna regains her bearings and sees her room has completely changed.
Her room looked… different. Sort of lived in.
She picked up a pink pillow. Sparkly silver letters on it spelled out ELVIS.
Shanna put the pillow down. Why hadn’t she noticed it before? And why hadn’t she noticed the ugly black dial phone by her bed? The pink bedspread? The frilly pink curtains.
Shanna gasped. She hadn’t noticed because – a minute ago – they weren’t there!
Boy, nothing gets past you, Shanna. Taking the glasses off, Shanna looks in the mirror and doesn’t see anything wrong with her face or body, but now her suitcases are gone and the closest and drawers are filled with Fifties-style clothing like poodle skirts and pedal pushers in shades of pink and aqua. Shanna’s mom calls for her, but down in the kitchen is a woman Shanna has never seen before. Yet this woman, with her blonde beehive hair and high heels and checkered dress and apron seems to think Shanna is her daughter. Mystery Mom is shocked at Shanna’s jeans and T-shirt, thinking Shanna’s in some science fiction play cast as a kooky alien creature. Shanna wants to know who this fucker is, but New-Mom assumes Shanna’s reading lines from her play and tells her to wash up for dinner. Back in her “room” Shanna sees the Catwoman glasses and realizes they’ve somehow transported her back to 1957!
But… but that’s not how time travel works! You don’t just go back several decades and suddenly you’ve got an entirely separate life with a family you never met before! Stine you’ve done time travel stories before you should know this!
Okay, so, for the sake of argument let us say the glasses didn’t send her back in time, but to an alternate universe in the position of a Shanna Smith who was alive during the 1950s. Being a comic book fan I’m used to alternate reality shit and coming up with nonsense to make someone else’s nonsense work.
Shanna figures she can use the Catwoman glasses to back to her time whenever she wants, so for now she’s gonna see what 1957 was like. Almost immediately she regrets this decision when dinner, with 1957 Mom, Dad, and Little Brother (completely with ratty Davy Crockett coonskin cap) consists of dry meatloaf and canned pineapple salad.
“Where’s your appetite?” the woman asked Shanna.
“I’m not hungry now,” Shanna said. “Maybe later I’ll grab a juice box and nuke a burrito in the micro.”
“You’ll do what?” the man exclaimed.
“Shanna is in a play, darling,” the woman told the man.
Jesus Fuck Shanna way to sound like one of those ludicrous junk food ads they used to run, like those string cheese ads with the cow who had the Hawaiian shirt and the mullet.
After dinner the family enjoys what is probably Mister Ed on a black and white TV, welcoming Shanna to the grim reality of a time when TVs didn’t have remotes, or as she calls them, “Zappers.” The next morning Shanna’s in for a rude awakening when 1957! Mom asks her to sit down for a minute. She takes out a long pair of scissors, and then she ATTACKS! It’s horrible! Poor Shanna!
“Hey, what are you doing with those?” Shanna began. “HEY!”
“Those bangs of yours are so long,” the woman said. “They’re hiding your pretty brown eyes.”
“Don’t touch my hair with those things!” Shanna screamed.
But she heard a SNIP!
“Just a trim,” the woman said. “Stop squirming.”
She snipped another hunk of Shanna’s hair. And another.
Shanna froze. The woman was clearly a maniac!
[Wing: Oh, she is not a maniac, Shanna, fuck off.]
Okay if I wasn’t in her corner I am now. For nearly my entire life I have listened to people tell me “What a handsome face I have” if I didn’t hide it behind my hair. Or if not that I’ve had to listen to complaints about how long or messy my hair looks when I wash it every night. And I LIKE the messy look. I prefer to look natural. No one in my family seems to get the fucking clue that I like having long hair. And I don’t even mean LONG long, like down to my shoulders, front and back. I don’t like experimenting with my hair, I don’t like pulling it back in a ponytail, and I sure as FUCK would murder someone if they tried to give me a manbun. Ugh. Don’t get me wrong, I know I have to look neat and professional for work and interviews that doesn’t bother me, but I HATE having short hair. Not to mention the horrible haircuts I was forced to get because of the douchebags who ran my middle and high schools. I hate brushing my hair back because I hate looking at my forehead, it’s too big and the way my hair looks combed to the side makes me look like an idiot. Hell, strangers compliment me on my hair nearly all the time. It’s the only part of my appearance I feel comfortable with. So Shanna, sweetheart, I mean this from the bottom of my heart when I say fuck that woman.
[Wing: Hair is such a complicated, often political, thing. I don’t understand why people can’t just let other people wear their hair however they want. Well, I do understand, because people are terrible, but still.]
Okay wrapping up that rant, Shanna decides she doesn’t have to take this crap from her fake mom and whips out the Catwoman glasses… which do jack squat. Uh oh, looks like she’s [INSERT TITLE HERE].
Left with no other options, Shanna goes to school where some girl named Jan seems to know Shanna. Shanna drags herself through the day comforting herself with knowing all the other girls look as freakish as she does. Lunch is just as disgusting as dinner was, and Shanna is wondering where the pizza, the tacos, the salad ba-WHAT SCHOOL HAS A FUCKING SALAD BAR??? [Wing: A lot of them around here. Where Ostrich works does, and I think my high school did, though it’s been awhile. I know it does now, at least.] Anyway, Jan points to Mr. Bolton, the dreamy new science teacher, and Shanna thinks maybe he can help her. But as she explains her situation, Mr. Bolton thinks this is some sort of science fiction deal and ignores her pleas for help.
At the end of the day, Shanna and Jan are about to leave school when Marvin, a nerdy boy with big teeth who was sitting at Mr. Bolton’s table, tells Shanna he might be able to help her. Jan tells Marvin to get lost, but Shanna is so desperate she’ll try anything. Jan doesn’t understand what Shanna’s talking about as Shanna explains who she really is, and gets really insulted when Shanna doesn’t walk home with her. Marvin leads Shanna to his house, which it turns out is on the other side of Shanna’s block. Go fig. In his backyard shed, Marvin takes out a metal helmet with a chord and remote attached to it. Marvin claims someone was able to travel back in time with it, and points to the side of the helmet where Shanna reads “MADE IN HONOLULU, U.S.A..” Shanna doesn’t immediately get what this means, until Marvin points out, as Honolulu is part of Hawaii, at this point in time it’s NOT part of the United States. Shanna realizes he’s right, remembering Hawaii didn’t become a state until 1959. [Wing: Nice detail!] Strapping the helmet onto her head, Shanna is a bit nervous, but with no other options, lets Marvin activate the remote control. There’s a WHOOSH and when Shanna opens her eyes, is now sitting alone in an empty shed with a helmet on her head. Her watch has started working again, so Shanna hopes she’s back in her time/universe and runs back to her house. Thankfully, her real family’s there and Shanna’s relieved… until she sees her reflection and her mutilated hair.
The next morning, Shanna goes through her patented hair care treatment before school starts, but nothing she does can salvage her freakishly short bangs. And then she sees the glasses, and figures at least back in 1957 every other girl looked like a mutant abomination too…
[Wing: What the ever loving fuck, Shanna.]
Mirror, Mirror On The Wall (Mirage Coordinator by ZTS)
Bonnie Sue Bowers would you like you to know she used to be the hottest 12 year old in Mill City. Our darling little narcissist would spend hours staring at herself in mirrors, changing her hair, her clothes, her make-up, trying to make herself even more beautiful than she already was if such a thing were possible. She goes into painstaking detail about all the stuff that made her such a sight for sore eyes… but that’s all changed now. Mirrors were her best friend. Now they’re her greatest enemy.
It all started one day when Bonnie Sue was trying to pick the cutest outfit to wear. As she admired herself in her mirror, her little dirtball of a brother came in and started chasing her around the room. Only, Bonnie Sue was momentarily distracted when she caught sight of her reflection standing perfectly still, long enough for her brother to smear dirt on the back of her shirt. Looking back, Bonnie Sue’s reflection was moving normally again.
Bonnie Sue put the incident out of her mind while she went clothes shopping. At the third store, Bonnie Sue tried out some new clothes in a dressing room. She smiled at her reflection in the dressing room mirror, and her reflection stuck out her tongue! Bonnie Sue blinked and again the reflection seemed normal, until Bonnie Sue turned around and got pinched. Turning back, her reflection’s hand was REACHING OUT OF THE GLASS. [Wing: OMGWTFNO] Bonnie Sue ran home to the safety of her room where it’s just her… and her reflection, who threatens that Bonnie Sue’s in for it now. Reflection Sue goes on a rant saying how sick she is of never doing anything but changing her hair and doing make-up and trying on clothes for hours. Yes, Bonnie Sue is SO vain her reflection came to life in an effort to make her stop. Reflection Sue says she’s waited a long time to switch places with Bonnie Sue, and pops out of the mirror with the intent of dragging Bonnie Sue inside. Bonnie Sue is briefly overwhelmed by the notion that she is literally fighting herself, and losing, as Reflection Sue tries to force her through the glass. Bonnie Sue grabs a bedside lamp and heaves it at the mirror. As the glass shatters, Reflection Sue disappears…
But not for long.
Because now there are dozens of reflections of Bonnie Sue in the broken mirror pieces, and then each one begins to climb out and grow to full size until the room is FILLED with copies of Bonnie Sue. Mrs. Bowers and Bonnie Sue’s brother hear the noise and discover Bonnie Sue and her doppelgangers, each copying everything Bonnie Sue says. Bonnie Sue tries to figure out a way to prove she’s the real deal when she considers the possibility that her copies won’t have reflections like she does. Taking out her compact mirror, none of the Bonnie Sue copies appear in the glass like she does, and the compact seems to suck up the reflections back into the little mirror.
And they all lived happily ever after.
Or at least they did, until Bonnie Sue did her evening primping in the bathroom mirror, and Reflection Sue swapped places with her in there. Now Bonnie Sue’s been trapped as a reflection while Reflection Sue has become a grungy 90s preteen.
(Bonnie Sue and Reflection Sue by ohhicas)
The moral of the story? Don’t rehash “Let’s Get Invisible” but without the invisibility angle, Stine. [Wing: Oh my god, that piece of art is adorable. I am dying over it.]
What’s Cooking? (The Exeuctioner by ZTS)
It all started a long time ago in 1947, when Susan Chopman was a lunch lady at Mill Road Middle School. Every day, Susan walked to school with a bag of meat and her beloved meat cleaver. The kids hated her cooking, always a different surprise, slimy in one part and gristly in another. She gained the nickname “Chop Suey” because her Chinese Surprise was by far the worst. Or at least it was, until the day she served chopped up hot dogs in tomato soup. The kids thought the pieces were really fingers and revolted. As they chanted “Chop Suey” over and over again, Susan snapped and started attacking the kids with her meat cleaver. Years later, someone came upon her obituary where it turned out she died the way she lived, in a meatpacking plant where she fell on top of her dear cleaver. That’s when the strange incidents occurred in Mill Road Middle School, like cleaver marks on the wall, chopped up rats in the fridge, and eventually a runaway school bus led to the school being shut down.
Robert finishes telling the story to his cousin and best friend Diana as they head to their first day of summer school at the reopened Mill Road Middle School. Diana congratulates Robert on such an imaginative tale, but Robert corrects her on two accounts. He didn’t make up that story, and because of the shame of being voted “Most Imaginative” in class he’s decided to give up on his imagination. Diana, a movie buff, says you can’t give up your imagination and suddenly remembers she HAS heard that story before. Robert left out the part where you can summon Chop Suey’s ghost by standing on your tip toes and saying her name three times.
While trying to figure out where their classroom is (and navigating their way through the handymen who’re still doing work on the school), Robert and Diana find the lunchroom. Inside the old kitchen, Diana feels compelled to try the Chop Suey chant, but Robert doesn’t really care since he’s sure nothing will happen. Diana says the name three times, and then the faucets in the kitchen burst on all at once! Fearing this is a herald of Chop Suey’s return, the kids flee and run into one of the workers. Diana cries Chop Suey is back, but the worker tells them the faucets turned on because he turned the water valve in the basement back on. Feeling like jerks for getting scared, the kids go to their first class, but are in for a rude awakening during lunch. Robert shares his PB&J sandwich with Diana, but it tastes like the peanut butter and jelly are at least 10 years old! They’re shocked to see their sandwiches have raw liver inside, but Robert doesn’t know how that happened since he saw his mom prepare lunch before he left for school! And before they leave school, Diana finds someone has shredded her backpack, almost as if it was hacked up with a cleaver…
The next day, the cafeteria is serving food, but Diana almost shits herself when she sees a big, burly woman behind the counter. Holding a cleaver. Which she then puts down AND PETS IT LIKE IT WAS A PUPPY.
So basically we’re at the part in the movie where we scream
Robert assures Diana the lunch lady’s not Chop Suey, even as she serves them TOMATO SOUP WITH HOT DOG PIECES IN IT.
“Everyone loves Aunt Sue’s cooking,” the woman crooned.
GET THE FUCK OUT OF THERE!!!!
Robert and Diana can’t eat the food, noticing the hot dog pieces are gray and Aunt Sue is watching them. When lunch ends, the kids are shocked when the bulletin board says tomorrow they’re having “Meat Surprise.” Robert still thinks Aunt Sue is simply a weird old lady. The day ends, but Diana has to go back to the lunchroom because she left her math book in there because of course she did. Diana grabs the book, and then turns around to find Aunt Sue blocking the doorway. Enraged they didn’t eat her food, the lunch lady whips out her cleaver and lunges at the kids.
Having FINALLY realized she’s Chop Suey, Robert and Diana try to flee from the cleaver wielding ghost out for blood before she makes them into Meat Surprise. They try to hide inside a classroom, but Chop Suey is floating outside the window and bursts through the glass with her cleaver. Diana uses her knowledge of movies and hypothesizes they could try sending her away by saying her name backwards. The kids split up so Chop Suey can’t get both of them, and further enrage her by using her hated nickname. Diana and Robert chant “Suey Chop” three times, causing her to scream in despair and she gets sucked into a whirlwind and disappears.
Robert runs all the way home to tell his mom what happened while she’s getting the dishes out for dinner. Robert’s mom mentions she ordered Chinese food, and, while standing on her tip toes to reach a plate, recalls how Robert’s dad always wants the same thing. “Chop suey, chop suey, chop suey!”
[Wing: Hahahahahahahaha, oh my god, that is terrible and great.]
So yeah, I really enjoy this book, but a couple of the stories were really boring so it was a little difficult for me to focus on recapping them. I’m glad I had more commissions handy to add to this one. I’m gonna have MUCH more fun with next month’s Goosebumps recaps.
[Wing: This is a weird combo of stories. I like a lot of them individually, but they feel slapped together (which, by this point, they probably were), and there is some weird pacing in them. Still, pretty damn entertaining.]