Author: R.L. Stine and Cheryl Hotchkiss
Artist: Michael Graeney
And now it’s time for something very special, possibly even rarer than “Goosebumps Haunted Library.”
Disney Adventures magazine held a contest in the 1990s. In their November 1996 issue, they included the opening segment to a Goosebumps short story called “Surprise On The 13th Floor,” written by R.L. Stine. Contestants were to compose a 1200 word middle and ending for the story. The winner, Cheryl Hotchkiss, got a bunch of cool Goosebumps swag and their entry published in the March 1997 issue.
I purchased the March ’97 issue for the sake of reading and recapping the completed story for Point Horror. The magazine included three illustrations by Michael Graeney, but unfortunately due to the size and the spine of the magazine I wasn’t able to include all of them in the post out of fear of ruining my copy. As a consultation prize, I will include a recap of a short story published in the November ’96 issue, “Made In Transylvania.”
[Wing: I had no idea this contest existed, despite liking both Goosebumps and Disney Adventures well into the 90s.]
Jack and Lindsay are on their way to explore the magic shop run by Jack’s uncle. The shop is located on the 12th floor of the building. Jack is looking forward to the tricks and surprises his uncle promised to show the two, but their journey takes an unexpected detour when the elevator stops on the 13th floor. Jack and Lindsay are confused because the 12th floor is supposed to be the last stop. The doors open, and boy, Jack and Lindsay really ARE in for a surprise when they see who’s on the other side. It’s…
Jack and Lindsay find themselves face to face with their mirror images, but what sets these doppelgangers apart are the malevolent looks in their eyes and their creepy grins. Doppel!Jack and Lindsay welcome the original articles to the 13th floor, and the elevator doors close shut. The mirror twins explain they’re acquaintances of Jack’s uncle. As they show Jack and Lindsay around the bare 13th floor, they explain they were created by a failed magic trick. Jack’s uncle was practicing a routine that involved Jack and Lindsay’s reflections doing the opposite of what the kids would do, but somehow the spell created two exact doubles of the kids. To that end, Jack’s uncle created the 13th floor to keep the mirror twins out of trouble.
[Wing: That seems like a huge error in a magic trick.]
Jack is given a first hand demonstration of what the 13th floor’s capable of when he suddenly finds himself on a basketball court, gracefully making a slam dunk to the cheers of thousands of fans. Lindsay, however, has no idea what Jack’s doing. Doppel!Jack and Lindsay explain the 13th floor can make anything you wish a reality, but you have to allow other people to share in the experience or they won’t see what you do. Lindsay gets to find out what it’s like to be a runway model, sashaying down a cat walk only she can see.
On that note, Doppel!Jack and Lindsay wish their originals “Bon Voyage” as they head for the elevator. Jack says they can’t leave, but Doppel!Jack assures him they will take care of all of Jack and Lindsay’s preexisting obligations. Their friends, their families, homework, etc. In the 13th floor Jack and Lindsay can have everything they want, and the mirror twins will step into their old, boring lives for them. They’re sick of the predictability of the 13th floor. The novelty is gone, they say. Jack immediately tries to stop them, realizing at an early age life is only enjoyable as long as there’s adventure and mystery. A room where everything you want is handed to you isn’t a life worth living. Jack and Lindsay fight their counterparts and manage to get inside the elevator before it closes again.
But then Jack notices a similar looking grin on Lindsay’s face…
[Wing: WELL DAMN. That is a fun story.]
Title: Made In Transylvania
Author: Amy McCamphill
“Made In Transylvania” was the winner of a scary story contest the magazine ran. I included it as a bonus because I thought it’d be fun. I just wish I could figure out who was responsible for the illustration included alongside it. I can’t find a name other than the signature “Polly” at the bottom, but whether that’s a first or last name still eludes me. Sorry.
The story was written by Amy McCamphill of New York. I was able to find Miss McCamphill on Facebook to let her know I’ve done a review of the story for Point Horror (and to ask if she knew who did the illustrations) and she let me in on an interesting tidbit. It turns out this story was originally longer but Disney had to trim it for publication. Unfortunately, Miss McCamphill doesn’t remember how the rest of the story went and doesn’t have a draft on hand, but here’s hoping the original might pop up in the future.
Andrea is super stoked because her team (what team, exactly, we don’t know) is going to the state championships. Her family, however, are a bunch of philistines who simply ask she tidy up for dinner instead of breaking into applause. But thankfully her dad was able to find that super scary sound effects tape she wanted for her Halloween party, and suddenly life is worth living again. Andrea finds the black cassette tape (because it was the 90s, you see!) on her bed, the label promising the tape is “Guaranteed To Scare The Life Out Of You!”
Andrea fingered it happily, biting her lower lip.
*GASP* ANDREA! CHILDREN ARE READING THIS!
Andrea’s friend Sherry comes over to see how scary the tape is, and is incredulous when Andrea reveals she hasn’t actually listened to it yet. Sherry laughs at the corny title, thinking the tape’s taking itself a bit too seriously. Popping it in ye old boomie box, Andrea and Sherry take in the sounds of eerie music, wolfish howling, and screaming ladies. Sherry beams and compliments Andrea on what an awesome edition this will be to her Halloween party. [Wing: Werewolves.]
At which point a voice from the stereo asks if he can come to the party too. [Wing: Okay, that is creepy as shit. I love it.]
The girls flip their shit and shut the tape off. Cautiously, they rewind the tape and after several moments, hear nothing but music and sound effects. By the time they pass the mark where they originally stopped the tape, Sherry asks Andrea if either of them really heard anything.
The voice came from the radio again. “Hearing is believing.”
The girls bolt out the door.
No one believes them about the voice on the tape, and Andrea’s mom plays it herself and hears nothing. The next day Sherry is determined to figure out what the problem with the tape is and plays it despite Andrea’s pleas to the contrary. They play the tape, and in a little while their unwanted guest makes his presence known again.
“Hello Andrea. Hello Sherry.”
The girls try not to scream, and ask the voice who he, or it, is.
They shut the tape off, and cry in each other’s arms for the next hour. [Wing: WELL GODDAMN, THIS HAS ESCALATED QUICKLY. Also, that illustration is amazing!]
Andrea tells her dad she can’t use the sound effects tape after all. Her dad’s disappointed she doesn’t like the tape, but lets her use his stereo despite not understanding why she can’t use her’s. Andrea doesn’t want to go anywhere near her stereo because the tape is still in it. Sherry and Andrea tried to ask the voice more questions, but each answer was worse than the last. The voice said it was incredibly old, and it hated the two girls more than they could understand. It was worse than anything a Ouija board could summon.
Halloween came and Andrea’s party was a blast, even if the radio tunes weren’t quite as scary. A friend asked Andrea what happened to that sound effects tape she was hyping up so much, and Andrea simply says it wasn’t a very good Halloween tape after all.
…it’s not like she’s wrong though.
[Wing: I think it was the perfect Halloween tape, but I can see why she maybe doesn’t want to listen to it anymore.]
Cheryl Hotchkiss’ finale for “Surprise on the 13th Floor” was indeed a surprise. I never predicted the story would go in that sort of direction (the title made me think of an “Are You Afraid Of The Dark” episode involving aliens) so kudos for keeping it original.
“Made In Transylvania” was cute. I thought it was fun despite being so short and I enjoyed how ominous the presence on the cassette tape remained without being cheesy. But I love the illustration and how even the boom box is pissed off.