Recap #106: Fear Street #14: The Knife by R. L. Stine
Title: Fear Street #14: The Knife by R. L. Stine
Summary: Welcome to Fear Street
Don’t listen to the stories they tell you about Fear Street. Wouldn’t you rather explore it yourself…and see if its dark terrors and unexplained mysteries are true? You’re not afraid, are you?
Quiet — hospital!
Sshh. There are a lot of things they want to keep quiet at Shadyside Hospital. In fact, just about every private room holds a private secret of its own. Poor Laurie Masters. The student volunteer innocently happened to stumble onto the hospital’s sickest secret of all. Laurie has seen too much — and now the doctors and nurses are taking a close look at Laurie. What they come up with is a deadly diagnosis. Laurie may not be sick, but she’s getting a prescription anyway — a prescription for horror!
[Wing: Oh god, that summary. That last line. I am dying. This is terrible.]
Tagline: In this hospital people are dying — to get out.
I’ve never read this one before, and thank god I wrote this recap before I read that summary, or might have never read it at all. The book is a billion times better than that summary.
Oh dear god, we start with a prologue. In it, Laurie is running through a forbidden door, ignoring DANGER! KEEP OUT! signs, and hoping that “he” didn’t see her or follow her, hoping that she’s safe. She’s in a new construction site, and there are wires along the floor and dangling from the ceiling, which is certainly safe.
The Muffin Man has followed her inside and tells her that she can’t hide from him, that all he wants to do is talk and explain, but she won’t let him; he promises he won’t hurt her, and Laurie wonders if he said that to “her” too, right before he stabbed her.
He grabs her and pulls her to him, slaps his hand over her mouth to keep her from screaming, and all she can think is: Where is the knife?
I’m not going to give it a cliffhanger counter, because I think it is actually effective as a cliffhanger, though not as effective as it would have been later in the story when we actually give a fuck about Laurie.
Besides, the worse sin here is that chapter one starts one week earlier. I fucking hate that writing choice, whether in books or movies or tv shows. It feels like a cheap way to get people’s attention, and it annoys me to no end.
Anyway, one week earlier, Laurie sees her bff Skye (short, cute, dark hair) carrying a giant cloud of silver balloons. She’s taking them to a kid in room 901, and he’s got so many toys and flowers there’s no room left for him.
Laurie’s on the children’s floor because she’s been assigned there after spending time on the orthopedic floor, where she’s been boggling over how many ways people find to break their bones. That sounds interesting, Laurie. Tell me more.
I have to say, I like both Skye and Laurie quite a bit right now, simply based on them volunteering at a hospital.
Laurie teases Skye about trying to meet this handsome med student, and Skye grumbles over how good Laurie looks in the drab tan tunics all the student volunteers wear at Shadyside Hospital. When Laurie says after Skye meets him, she can quit and enjoy the rest of her summer, Skye admits that she wouldn’t quit, she actually kind of likes it. Aww, I like you two and your friendship so much right now.
… any bets on how long it takes for Stine to ruin that for me?
Nurse Edith Wilton tells them to stop chatting and get back to work, which is valid. Skye tells Laurie to stay out of her way, and warns her that Nurse Wilton never smiles.
A new wing is being built onto the hospital, which I’m guessing is where she ends up in a week. It’s the Franklin Fear Wing, and it is being built with 10 million dollars that Franklin Fear donated to the hospital. There’s a cute little bit about how Franklin shares a family trait with Simon Fear, which is that they both like having things named for them. That does explain why things all over Shadyside are named Fear, as if that isn’t prime horror story naming conventions.
Laurie agrees with me and finds it a creepy name for a hospital wing, which delights me to no end.
She stops to listen to the construction workers, and starts to hear a child sobbing nearby. It’s coming from room 903, and when she goes inside, she finds a small boy crying himself hoarse. The room is empty of toys or flowers, and doesn’t have anything in it to cheer up a sick child.
The little boy is Toby Deane, and he’s in the hospital for pneumonia. He stops crying when she says she’s come to visit him, but he refuses to look at her. From reading his chart, she thinks he’ll go home soon and doesn’t understand why he’s so unhappy.
Laurie introduces herself and explains what she does at the hospital, which includes visiting people who are sad and lonely away from home. When she asks if he feels that way, he nods and lets her clean the tears from his face.
She can’t get him to talk to her, so she offers to read him a book instead. Before she can, though, Nurse Wilton comes in and demands to know what she’s doing in there. She goes on to say that Toby won’t talk to anyone and all Laurie is doing is bothering him.
Laurie’s upset about her sharp tone, but then reminds herself that nurses are terribly overworked and of course could get grouchy. Laurie. I kind of fucking love you right now. How are you so logical and great?
In fact, one of her friends, Mayra Barnes, says that her nurse mother is always tired and cranky.
Laurie looks back at Toby as she leaves the room, and finds him staring at her from behind Nurse Wilton’s back. (Her “broad back” which, knowing Stine, means that she’s a bad guy.) Laurie thinks that Toby is silently pleading with her to save him.
At lunch, Skye and Laurie joke around about the terrible hospital food, which includes some sort of blue meat in the stew. (I have to say, hospital food has gotten a lot better since the 80s and 90s. I spent a lot of time in the hospital with my mother a few years ago, and the food was often decent and sometimes delicious.)
Laurie wants to borrow some of the balloons from room 901 to give to Toby to cheer him up. Skye thinks that’s a good idea, and says the kid in room 901 will never miss them.
They go on to talk about the raffle tickets; the hospital is raffling off a red Mercedes-Benz sports car to raise money for the Franklin Fear Wing. UMM. What, that 10 million wasn’t enough to build it?
Laurie wants to hang out with Skye on Saturday, but Skye has a date. Or, rather, two dates, Jim Farrow and Eric Porter. GET IT, SKYE. Oh, wait, nevermind, she’s not going on two dates, she’ll choose which one to break later. Well damn, never mind, that’s kind of shitty.
Skye teases that she’d trade either of them in for Andy Price, whom Laurie is dating. Laurie, though, wants to break up with him. (And has a date with him Saturday night. Were you trying to set up a double date, Laurie?) He’s apparently good-looking and fun, and the son of Dr Raymond Price, one of the most prominent men in Shadyside. Dr Price is the administrator of the hospital, too, and Skye thinks Laurie had better not rock the boat while she’s working at the hospital.
Laurie wants to break up with Andy because he’s such a goof; Skye points out that not everyone is as focused as Laurie, who wants to be a doctor. Oh, Laurie, I like you more and more as this book continues.
Andy is also clinging, and Laurie doesn’t want him to tie her down all the time. She has plenty of interests and sometimes she wants to spend time with other guys. GET IT, LAURIE.
SKye is distracted by a Tom Cruise lookalike, a reference that made me laugh out loud. I do not understand the sexual appeal of Tom Cruise. Anyway, Laurie tells Skye that even if he’s not as old as Tom Cruise (OH MY GOD LOL), he’s still too old for Skye.
But he comes straight over and asks to sit with him. He’s maybe even cuter than Tom Cruise (GOD, SKYE, THIS TOM CRUISE THING IS KILLING ME) (tall, dark blue eyes, tight t-shirt, good muscles). Skye tells him that they’re saving the seat for any student volunteer who wants to help them take over the hospital. Skye, you are adorable.
He’s Rick Spencer, and he’s volunteering on the Surgical Floor. He’s a sophomore at Southbank College, and he’s thinking about going to medical school, too. Okay, a sophomore, he’s probably 20 or 21, and they’re probably 17 or 18 (I’m assuming they are seniors in high school), so he’s not necessarily too old for them, though high school and college are very different experiences.
There’s a code blue called for room 903. OH NO. TOBY!
Laurie catches on a little slower than I do, but does eventually realise that it’s Toby’s room, and she runs off to check on him. They’re not going to let her into the room during a code blue, but I don’t blame her for going.
Nurse Jenny Girard asks where Laurie’s going so fast when she runs past her, but Laurie doesn’t stop. When she gets to room 903, she hears Toby screaming inside, and finds Nurse Wilton bending over his bed while he tries to kick her away. She has a hypodermic needle in her hand, and she demands to know Laurie’s name. When Laurie says that she heard the code blue, Nurse Wilton says that it was really for room 503, not the children’s floor, and she’s trying to draw blood and Laurie’s just making it harder.
Laurie offers to help because Toby looks so afraid, but Nurse Wilton sends her out.
She goes to see Nurse Girard to ask if there is a way she can help Toby without making Nurse Wilton mad, and finds Toby’s mother asking about taking him home. (She’s a large woman in a shapeless dress. Oh dear, Stine does not have a good record with writing fat people in general and fat women in particular.)
Laurie doesn’t want to upset Mrs Deane any further, and then she sees Nurse Wilton headed down the hallway in the other direction, so she takes a moment to pop in and check on Toby, and to tell him that she heard Nurse Girard say that he’ll be going home very soon, maybe even as early as the next day.
When she leaves Toby’s room, she feels like someone is watching the room, or maybe watching her, and sees a man with a tan tunic and a black and white shirt jerk out of site. The same black and white shirt Rick was wearing earlier. I’m confused about whether he’s wearing his tunic yet or whether he’s just carrying it around. If he’s wearing it, how the hell can she see his shirt? Tunics are closed, not open.
At home that night, Laurie is reading and waiting for her aunt Hillary to get home, because their big old house in North Hills gets very lonely. (She’s reading in a large, comfortable library, and I am super envious of it.) Laurie’s proud of her aunt, though, who is one of the most successful financial auditors around. I love that Stine includes that detail, because it’d be really easy to give that sort of job to a male character only.
Laurie can’t remember living anywhere except with Aunt Hillary; her parents died in a boating accident when she was just a child. She and Aunt Hillary look enough alike that people often think they’re mother and daughter. Laurie loves Aunt Hillary, and is usually happy that she gives her a lot of space except when she’s worried. This time, though, Laurie is worried, because it’s after 10 p.m. and her aunt isn’t home yet.
Laurie gets a phone call where there’s only heavy breathing on the other end; before she hangs up, though, she hears the sound of an ambulance siren through it, getting louder and louder, a sound she hears at the hospital every day.
She gets another call shortly after, this one from Rick. He says Skye gave him her number, and Laurie wonders why Skye didn’t tell her. I’d be more worried as to why my friend is giving out my number without asking me if it was okay.
He asks if she’s okay, since she ran out of the cafeteria so fast, and she explains a little of what happened with Toby. She also uses this time to ask if he was on the ninth floor that afternoon, and he says no. She then asks if he called her a few minutes ago, and he says he did, but her line was busy. I like that she’s very blunt in asking these questions. It’d be easy to try to build false tension by having them just not talk to each other, but Stine avoids that here and makes me like Laurie more and more.
Rick has called to see if she’s free Saturday night, but she already has a date. She’s sorry at first, but then wonders if she really did see him on the ninth floor. She ends the call shortly after with the excuse that her aunt might be trying to call. Aww, the days before call waiting, much less cell phones.
Laurie calls Skye immediately after to ask if she gave Rick her number, and Skye says she did not. CREEPY AS FUCK.
She doesn’t see Aunt Hillary that night or the next morning, but does have a note from her saying that she’s working a big job and will continue to be late. I hope that doesn’t mean she’s dead! That would make Laurie sad, and I love Laurie.
Before she can head to the hospital, Andy calls, pretending to be his dad and telling her he has a special assignment for her to play tennis with his son. Who is Andy, of course. Laurie teases him that he’ll be under arrest for practicing without a license, and continues to charm her way into my heart. That lighthearted moment fades fast when Andy whines that she’s always busy and he’s barely seen her. She tells him that he could have volunteered with them, there are guys volunteering after all. Andy immediately starts to get jealous, which makes her grumpy, and she tries to end the call. Not before he asks her to meet him for pizza that night. She thinks it’s better than fixing her own dinner and eating alone, so she agrees to go. Oh, Laurie, I hate that you’re lonely at home, dear girl.
She buys a teddy bear for Toby, but finds his room empty when she gets there. Not just empty of him, but completely stripped down. She immediately assumes he’s dead, which seems like quite a fucking leap considering literally just yesterday she told him that he might be leaving soon.
This is a cliffhanger ending, but I’m feeling too pleased with Laurie to give it a point. The next chapter explains that patients are never discharged until after the 11 a.m. doctor rounds, so of course he hasn’t been discharged and something must have happened over night.
BUT NOPE. She sees him at the nurses’ station dressed in Oshkosh overalls and a yellow shirt, standing with his mother. (OSHKOSH. I remember when those were huge for kids. They might still be, I guess.)
Then she realises that Mrs Deane is talking with Rick. She’s suspicious as to why he’s on the children’s floor when he’s assigned to surgical, and what he and Mrs Deane could possibly be talking about.
Toby sees her and slips away to get the bear from her. He’s pleased and she’s charmed and my heart is starting to grow. Damn it. Toby still hasn’t spoken a single word, not even when Laurie asks if he’ll say good-bye to her — but when she tells him that his mommy is waiting for him, he whispers that she’s not his mommy.
Well damn, kid, that is a big statement to say to break your silence.
(Another cliffhanger, but again, I think it works here. Though overall, there are too many, because that is what Stine does. It’s strange that they are all working for me in this book. I think I’m too charmed and delighted by Laurie and Skye to be as critical as normal.)
She asks what he means, but all he’ll say is that he’s not supposed to talk about it and Mrs Deane will get mad if he does.
Sure enough, Mrs Deane calls him back the second she sees him with Laurie; both she and Rick are staring at them.
Once Mrs Deane and Toby leave, Laurie tries to casually pump Rick for information. He tells her that they’ve only recently moved to Shadyside and live on Fear Street, which is a terrible place to live unless you’re up to shenanigans, so I’m assuming shenanigans.
She asks why he was at the hospital so late the night before, but he acts surprised by this question. He then turns the conversation by asking her out again, for that night. Laurie is attracted to him, but reminds him that she can’t trust him at all. She tells him she has plans already, which isn’t a lie.
They’re interrupted by the phone at the nurses’ station ringing, and since there are no nurses around, Laurie goes to answer it, only to be stopped because there is a box of surgical knives on the desk and they freak her out.
She doesn’t understand why she’s so afraid of them, because she knows they’re used to help the sick, not hurt people, and tells herself that she’s too jumpy. She goes to get her bag and tunic out of Toby’s old room, but comes back out just in time to see Rick put the box of surgical knives into his pocket.
CLIFFHANGER. TOO MANY CLIFFHANGERS.
Now she’s sure that he’s a thief as well as a liar.
She’s so distracted by these thoughts, and by the workmen coming out of the service elevator, that she doesn’t see Nurse Girard arrive at the desk, and is startled by her when she goes to answer the next call. She sends Laurie down to pick up yet another package for room 901.
Laurie’s kept hopping the rest of her shift, but she can’t stop thinking about what Toby said. That focus pushes Rick to the back of her mind.
Finally, she decides that Toby is in trouble and she has to do something. The first something is to break into the records office behind the nurses’ station. Well damn, Laurie. That escalated quickly.
She slips in during shift change, and quickly finds Toby’s address, and even manages to come up with an excuse to show up at the house. She’ll use the raffle, and the tickets she’s selling for the hospital, as an excuse.
Except she really doesn’t want to go to Fear Street alone, and really, who could blame her?
Since she’s already meeting people for dinner, she decides she can ask them to go with her. While she’s still in the office, she overhears Cora Marshall talking to Nurse Wilton. Finally, Cora leaves, but Nurse Wilton sits down at the desk to go over charts. Laurie doesn’t want her, of all people, to catch her in the records’ room, but can’t find an opportunity to slip out.
And then, Nurse Wilton drops a sheet of paper and has to bend over to pick it up. Laurie rushes out, but she’s not fast enough, and Nurse Wilton chases her down the hallway, shouting at her for being in there. Laurie manages to slip into the service elevator before Nurse Wilton catches up with her, but since Nurse Wilton knows exactly who the fuck she is, I’m not sure how this is going to help Laurie in the long run.
Unfortunately, there’s an orderly and a very sick woman in the elevator, and when she bumps into the patient’s bed, the orderly orders her out on the next floor. That floor is a restricted floor, though, which is super useful for her.
She doesn’t want to leave the service elevator because she doesn’t recognise anything on the floor, but instead of, I don’t know, pushing the button so she can get on it when the orderly gets off, she watches as it goes all the way back to the children’s floor. She assumes that Nurse Wilton will have seen where she got off the elevator and come after her, but how in the world would Nurse Wilton know that she got off on this floor and not someone else, since the elevator kept moving?
Laurie runs off down the hall, but can’t find an unlocked door, and she’s not sure if she’s headed for another dead end and will be trapped when Nurse Wilton comes looking for her.
Then, around a corner, she finds something small crouched at the end of the hallway.
It’s a cleaning bucket. Thank fuck this wasn’t a cliffhanger chapter ending, because that would have been shit. As it is, it’s kind of adorable; she’s so freaked out her mind is leaping to horrible things immediately.
She ends up in a cold, dark room with a strange smell — geeeeeeeee, I wonder if she’s in the morgue. Sure enough, she accidentally grabs “the cold, clammy shoulder of a corpse!”
Cliffhanger. Fuck, Stine, you already used up all your cliffhanger chapter endings.
Oh, okay, it’s not the morgue, it’s the anatomy lab for the medical school attached to the hospital. Shadyside is big enough to have a medical school? It’s on a floor of the hospital instead of being a building attached to it? I’m so confused.
Laurie gets locked inside the room, and starts to freak out, understandably. She bumps into a skeleton model, grabs an arm missing a hand, and runs into a severed head with part of its scalp peeled back. I was going to say something about how she needs to get used to cadavers if she’s going to medical school, but you know what? Used to them or not, this would be freaky as hell running around in the dark in a locked room when you’re already freaked out.
She bangs on the door, trying to get someone to hear her, and then feels like something in the room behind her is moving.
OKAY THAT IS CREEPY AS HELL. And an understandable use of a cliffhanger, depending on what happens in the next chapter.
The room is still, and she decides she’s hysterical from terror. As she tries to calm down, she also realises that even though the door needed a key to be locked from the outside, she can probably unlock it from the inside without needing a key.
It takes her a few tries to get it open, but she finally does, and goes racing off toward the service elevator. She very nearly runs straight into Nurse Wilton and some guy in a white lab coat. Someone who seems familiar to her. They don’t see her because they’re too deep in conversation, but she can’t hear what they’re saying. When they go to get on the elevator, Laurie realises he looks like Andy’s dad, Dr Price, but she tells herself that there’s no way Nurse Wilton would have called the head of the hospital to complain about a student volunteer (unless she was crazy, fuck off, Stine), and convinces herself that she must be mistaken about who it is.
When she tells the others at Patsy’s Pizzeria, Skye is shocked about where she was locked inside. Patsy’s is near the hospital and filled with hospital staff; it is as loud as the cafeteria, which I guess gives them some cover for their conversation, but I don’t know if I’d be talking about doing things I shouldn’t have been doing when surrounded by people from my job.
Andy teases her about how the body parts must have been dripping with slime; Skye says that she’d rather touch a corpse than eat the anchovies on Jim’s pizza. Oh, Laurie doesn’t tell them why she really ended up in the lab, she just says she got off the elevator on the wrong floor, which is not even really a lie. She then asks if anyone can keep her company on an errand; again, she holds off on the entire story and says that she wants to visit him because he was so sad and lonely.
Jim tries to give Laurie grief about not wanting to go to Fear Street alone, but Skye shuts that right down by reminding him he was the one who told everyone he was chased by something the size of a bear through the Fear Street woods. (I think that’s an earlier book, and I’m excited to read it.)
Skye decides they’ll all go, and even though is grumpy as hell about it, he eventually agrees to join them.
Laurie thinks that Fear Street doesn’t look particularly frightening, but there’s a stillness, a silence, that feels unnatural.
The Deane house is a large gray Victorian with gingerbread cutouts and no identification of house number or owner. The house next door also has no identification, so they decide to try both houses, even though Andy and Jim have literally no idea what Toby looks like. This is going to work well.
No one seems to be home at the house Skye and Laurie visit, and Skye wants to leave, but Laurie hears something like a cat inside. Eventually, the door opens to reveal Mrs Deane, proving they are at the right house. She’s wearing a baggy sweater over a baggy dress that is stained down the front. Because of course she has to be sloppy because she’s fat and fat because she’s evil.
Laurie goes into her raffle ticket cover, but Mrs Deane is super annoyed and is blocking Laurie’s view into the house. Mrs Deane does buy a ticket, but won’t let Laurie inside when she goes to find her purse. I’m shocked that she’s actually buying one.
Skye and Laurie both hear a child crying somewhere deep inside the house. Laurie lets herself inside, and finds the coldest looking and feeling house she’s ever seen; the downstairs is barely furnished and is uncarpeted, and the stairs to the second floor are steep and bare; there are dirty dishes and spilled food in the kitchen. She pities Toby because Mrs Deane is such a slob. See above.
Then she sees Toby standing at the bottom of the stairs. He looks paler and thinner than when he left the hospital that morning. Is that even fucking possible? He won’t let her get near him and doesn’t seem to recognise her.
Mrs Deane catches them, shakes Toby, and yells at him to get back to his room. She goes on shouting at Laurie and kicks her out, though not before buying the damn raffle ticket. Why? What the fuck? This part makes no sense.
Laurie is distracted and confused on the ride home, because Toby looked scared of her, not Mrs Deane, and Mrs Deane was shouting and shoving and terrible.
THe next morning, Laurie is called up to see Nurse Doris Schneider, who is the supervisor of nurses. Laurie is nervous, of course, and she’s right to be. Nurse Schneider is transferring her to the x-ray department because she’s had a serious complaint, that includes going through confidential patient records. She should be kicked out, really, but I guess Nurse Schneider doesn’t want to do that without confirmation. However, shouldn’t they have some sort of security camera system? Apparently not. Plus, Nurse Schneider says otherwise she’s only heard wonderful things about Laurie, which is actually why she’s not kicking her out.
Laurie begs to stay on the floor, but Nurse Schneider holds firm. She’s sympathetic and tells Laurie not to take it personally because all the nurses are overworked (and I love that this is acknowledged so clearly in this book, because often nurses are underappreciated), but she won’t change her mind.
Laurie is super bored in the x-ray department (I guess delivering x-rays around would be boring, but the x-ray department is actually very interesting!), and comes up with a plan to apologise to Nurse Wilton, explain that she was concerned that Toby is being mistreated by his mother, and appeal to the part of Nurse Wilton that wants to help people, which she must have because she’s a nurse.
Skye says she’s brave, but suggests she wait a few days to give Nurse Wilton time to calm down, which is a good point, actually, but Laurie is too passionate to wait.
When Laurie goes upstairs, only Nurse Girard around, and she is trying to simultaneous write a note from a phone call, flip through files, and fend off a construction worker who won’t stop flirting with her. UGH. DUDE. Laurie points out that he’s very good-looking, but oh my god, this is shitty behaviour on his part. Take a hint, dude. Men seriously need to learn to back off when a woman clearly isn’t interested.
When Nurse Girard is free, Laurie asks where Nurse Wilton is, and Nurse Girard brushes her off. Why? Up until this point, Nurse Girard has been nice to Laurie. I guess we’ll hand wave it as she’s overworked too, which she clearly is.
Luckily, Laurie sees Nurse Wilton leave a room and head down the hall. She follows her to talk to her, but when Nurse Wilton slips into the under construction Fear Wing, Laurie is confused. She decides to wait, and goes back to the nurses’ station to call her aunt (or leave a message, because her aunt is working late yet again). While she’s leaving the message, she sees Rick also slip into the Fear Wing.
She finds this weird, which it fucking is, and wonders whether it is a planned meeting or Rick is following the nurse?
She gets tired of waiting for them to come back out, and makes her way into Fear Wing herself, even though she doesn’t want to get caught and be accused of spying on them. Which is exactly what you’re about to do, Laurie.
Fear Wing is creepy and dark and quiet, and the workmen’s equipment makes grotesque shapes on the floor. I really do love how Laurie so often sees things in creepy ways before she realises what they actually are, which is such a realistic detail.
Laurie goes looking for them, but can’t find them, and nearly falls into a hole in the floor where the elevator shaft will be.
And then she finds Nurse Wilton with a surgical knife in her throat.
WELL THAT ESCALATED FUCKING QUICKLY.
(Though actually no, there’s been very little actual knife murder in this book so far.)
Laurie runs out of Fear Wing, but instead of calling for Nurse Girard, who is talking to Skye, she calls Skye over. Pardon me while I go bang my head against the wall. COME ON, LAURIE. You were doing so well.
Skye is the one who makes them go talk to Nurse Girard, who doesn’t believe them at first, but eventually calls for security. Shockingly, there’s no body to be found. SHOCKING.
Even Skye thinks that she’s making up sick stories, which is a terrible idea when she’s already in so much trouble at the hospital. She believes Laurie even less when Laurie says that Rick must be the killer because she saw him follow Nurse Wilton into the wing.
Before they get to argue about it for long, Nurse Girard wants to know what’s going on. Dr Sherman, the cute resident, says that it is his fault, and he’s sorry that Nurse Girard got dragged into it. Apparently, Dr Brooks has a running prank war with Dr Sherman (because that’s useful in a hospital), and this must have been a setup for that.
Nurse Girard agrees with me, but doesn’t punish anyone, only storms off.
Dr Sherman asks them not to tell Dr Brooks what happened; Dr Brooks is mad because Dr Sherman put a cadaver in his locker (WTF), and if nothing happens, it will really annoy Dr Brooks.
Skye and Laurie argue a little more about Laurie telling stories, and then Skye goes off on a date, leaving Laurie to wait to talk to Nurse Wilton and apologise like she said she would earlier. Laurie gives up on trying to convince her of the truth.
Laurie hangs around and then goes back into the patient records room. Again. Because that went so well for her last time. (I’m banging my head against the wall again.)
This time, she can’t find Toby’s records. It’s a mystery! She goes about it very logically (might have been misfiled alphabetically, might have been put in with new patient records, might have been placed somewhere around the room), but nope, it is just gone, as if he’d never been a patient at the hospital.
The next day, Skye drools over the red Mercedes. Laurie tells her she has enough tickets already, and Skye teases her about how just because she’s happy with her fancy white BMW doesn’t mean that Skye doesn’t care about the raffle.
Even though Skye hasn’t seen Nurse Wilton, she still doesn’t believe she’s dead, but maybe has a day off or maybe is on the night shift now. Laurie again decides it’s not worth it to try to convince Skye, when Skye is absolutely sure that Nurse Wilton is still alive and Laurie is being ridiculous.
Laurie has too many questions without answers; the only way to solve the problem is to return to Fear Street.
(Aunt Hillary still hasn’t come home, or at least not that Laurie has seen. Is she dead? Please don’t let her be dead. I don’t want Laurie to be unhappy.)
On Fear Street, Laurie leaves her car unlocked so she can make a quick getaway if she needs to. I love that logic, but can’t stop thinking about how that could mean someone hides in her backseat.
She’s scared, but makes herself brave by reminding herself about how frightened and sad Toby was. She sees Toby through an open window, but she can’t hear what the woman (whom she doesn’t recognise) is telling him. He’s fully dressed and there’s a small suitcase near him. No sign of the teddy bear, though.
The woman is younger than Mrs Deane, and seems frustrated with Toby. She’s soon joined by Mrs Deane and another stranger, a man this time. He and the strange woman take Toby and the suitcase to a car parked around back. Laurie knows she can’t get to her own car in time to follow them, and it’s too dark for her to make out the license number. I love that she uses that sort of logic, though.
Laurie stays hidden until Mrs Deane goes inside, but before she can leave, she hears a child shrieking and sobbing hysterically inside the house.
Laurie’s confused by everything, why Toby has been sent away by his own mother (… guess you’ve stopped believing Toby about that whole not his mother thing), who the people were, and who is the child screaming inside.
She tries to review everything methodically, and decides that since everything started on the children’s floor, what she needs to do is return to the hospital and talk to Dr Price. It’s his hospital. He would care if something terrible was happening.
Back at her car, she feels like she’s being followed, and sees a banged-up blue Honda with dim headlights creeping down the road. She rushes into the woods, wondering if she was spotted, but the car doesn’t stop. It’s too dark for her to see the driver, and she doesn’t really want to. All she wants is to get away.
Laurie races back to her car, but manages to flood the engine before she can get it started. The Honda stops nearby, and a familiar-looking man heads her way. She finally gets her car started, and as she takes off, she sees that it is Rick. He tries to grab the handle of the car as she drives past (well damn), but she gets away.
She’s still freaked out when she pulls into the four-car garage behind her house (goddamn, you rich fuckers), and though she starts to relax when she gets inside the house, that fades quickly, because Aunt Hillary is still not home. (No, really, is she fucking dead?!)
Laurie calls Andy, because she wants to try to talk to Dr Price. He’s been watching horror movies and wants to tell her the entire plot of the one he’s enjoying (… for the first time, I like you, Andy), but she finally interrupts him to ask if his dad is home. He’s not, though, he’s at a fundraising dinner. Andy is suspicious as to why she wants to talk to his dad, which I guess makes sense, but also, she works at the hospital and wants to be a doctor, it’s not really that suspicious.
She brushes it off as an independent summer work project. Andy suggests she come over early in the morning, before his dad leaves for the hospital, and then asks if she wants to come watch the movies with him. When she shoots that down, he asks if he can come over, but she lies to him that her aunt is home and she needs to interview Aunt Hillary, too, so she’d better get that done.
Dude. Laurie. If you dislike spending time with him so much, maybe it’s time to break up with him.
She’s uneasy in the house, and calls Skye to ask if she can come over and spend the night because she doesn’t want to stay alone. Skye says she’s pretty jumpy lately, but wants her to come over anyway.
Laurie is just about to hang up when she hears the back door, and decides that Aunt Hillary is home, and so she won’t spend the night after all. Way to make it look like you’re just flat using her. ALSO, who’s taking bets that it’s not Aunt Hillary?
Laurie hangs up and calls for Aunt Hillary, but no one answers. She does hear someone coming up the back staircase, though, and freaks out.
She hears the footsteps coming closer and closer — and then Aunt Hillary actually arrives home, and whoever is coming for Laurie runs out the back door.
Aunt Hillary sees how freaked out she is, and of course is worried. She also saw a Volvo, like Andy’s car, leave the house in a rush as she got home. Laurie tells her that someone was in the house, and wants to tell her everything. She also doesn’t want Aunt Hillary to call the police, but why the fuck not?! You’re a rich white girl. You’ll be fine!
Oh, because she’s in enough trouble already. That’s actually kind of logical. She tells Aunt Hillary about finding the body and it disappearing and about Toby and all her worries. I love that she’s so honest with Aunt Hillary. Their relationship is great. (Also damn pleased that Aunt Hillary is still alive!)
But then Aunt HIllary suggests she spend the rest of the summer with her grandparents in California, and Laurie blows up at her for thinking she’s making it all up, just like everyone else does. Aunt Hillary says that she believes her, she just doesn’t want her to be in any danger. Ugh, I love them so much.
Laurie reassures her that she’s going to talk to Dr Price and he of course will believe her. Why? Because you’re dating his son? Not sure that logic follows through when you barely recognised him in the hallway that time, and therefore don’t seem to spend much time with him.
Hillary offers to talk to Dr Price instead, because she’s been doing work at the hospital for the Board of Trustees. She didn’t tell Laurie because she didn’t want to crowd her. I love their relationship, but I am now concerned that Aunt Hillary is a part of this mess.
Laurie snaps that she’s treating her like a child and she’s perfectly capable of talking to Dr Price herself. As much as you’ve been wanting someone to believe you and someone to help, it doesn’t make a lot of sense that you’re now pushing her away, but in some ways it does. Teenage reactions and stress and wanting to be an adult.
Rick Spenser calls late that night, waking her up. He wants to know why she ran away from him on Fear Street, what he possibly did to her. Laurie is amazed at his nerve and then snaps at him about stealing the surgical knives. He says he was sent to pick them up for Dr Cortese on the surgical floor. She then wants to know why he followed Nurse Wilton into the Fear Wing, and why he was following her on Fear Street. He’s quiet for a long time, and then he tells her to stay away from Fear Street before she gets herself in a lot of trouble.
CLIFFHANGER. Goddamnit, Stine, you were doing so well.
Skip to Saturday morning (so at least the needlessly dramatic cliffhanger chapter ending isn’t quite so needlessly dramatic because it doesn’t open with the very next sentence explaining the tension away), and she goes to talk to Dr Price. Aunt Hillary is already gone, and Laurie feels a little bad about their fight, but is still determined to solve her own problems.
Laurie. I admire your determination and bravery, but oh. my. god. You think a woman is dead and a child is being abused. IT IS TIME TO GET SOME FUCKING HELP.
Dr Price is really friendly to her, and talks about how important the student volunteers are, and how he wishes he could pay them but their budget is too tight. She tells him about finding Nurse Wilton and how the body was moved and no one believes her. Dr Price is outraged that no one told him about it, even if they didn’t believe Laurie.
Dr Price immediately calls the nurse supervisor to check on Nurse Wilton. He then tells Laurie that Nurse Wilton went on vacation starting on Thursday evening and will be gone for three weeks (three fucking weeks?! That’s a ridiculously long vacation in the USA).
Laurie’s disappointed that he doesn’t believe her, and doesn’t know what else to say when he obviously thinks she’s’ crazy. (Fuck you, Stine.) But she goes on to tell him about Toby because she feels like she has nothing to lose at this point. PRetty sure you have a ton to lose still, but okay.
Dr Price tries to soothe her about why Toby would be so upset while he was at the hospital (which can be scary for kids, so his excuse makes sense), and promises to have the chief pediatrician to put a note in Toby’s file that they have to have a follow-up visit soon. Laurie then tells him that the records are missing. Dr Price smiles a little and says that everything seems to be disappearing.
He then suggests that she needs a vacation more than anyone. Subtle. She’s afraid this means he wants her to quit, but he says it’s up to her, completely. She says she wants to stay, of course, and asks to be transferred back to the children’s floor. You sure are asking a lot, Laurie.
Andy comes down when they’re finished and asks what they were talking about. She again excuses it as the report she’s writing. He tries to kiss her, but she pushes him away because she’s not in the mood. Which is totally fair, she has the right to do that at any time. I can’t help wondering, though, why she’s dating him at all when she seems to be completely put out by him at every turn.
He accuses her of meeting someone else, even though she’s actually going to meet Skye. (I’d ship it.) He keeps pushing, and she finally snaps at him. She’s sick of his suspicions, his jealousy, his anger whenever she wants to do something without him. She has plans for her life and she’s not going to stay in one place. He gets madder at this and accuses her, again, of having another date that night and that must be why she’s picking this fight with you.
Andy. FUCKING LISTEN TO THE WORDS COMING OUT OF HER MOUTH.
Laurie drives to the mall to meet Skye, and across the parking lot, sees Mrs Deane with Toby, who is clutching the teddy bear. He looks a lot better than he did when she saw him with that strange couple. (My guess? That wasn’t Toby at all.)
He’s excited to see her, but Mrs Deane throws him into the car and drives away quickly, Toby staring back at Laurie through the rear window.
Laurie’s not having fun shopping, even though she normally likes hanging out with Skye in the mall. Over lunch, she tells Skye about her fight with Andy. Skye’s a little hopeful that it’s serious enough they’re breaking up, because of her crush on Andy. That’s a pretty shitty response, SKYE.
When they leave, a storm is coming, and Laurie’s actually looking forward to a cozy night at home. Laurie, I love you. Let’s hang out and read in your fab library.
Unsurprisingly, Aunt Hillary is not home. Laurie checks all the locks, which is smart, but when she’s headed upstairs, she thinks she hears something on the second floor; she decides it is just the storm.
Even though she was looking forward to a night alone, she’s feeling vulnerable and hopes that Aunt Hillary comes home soon. Her thoughts keep coming back to Toby, and what happened, and who the child was crying at the Deane house after Toby left, and what the connection is between Nurse Wilton, and on and on and on.
She just can’t figure out what to do about it.
Finally, she calls the Deane house, because she apparently memorised the phone number from the chart she briefly looked at days ago.
Mrs Deane answers after a long time. Again, Laurie uses the raffle as a cover (she has an extra ticket and can’t remember if she gave Mrs Deane hers). Laurie asks to say hello to Toby, and Mrs Deane shouts for her to leave them alone. When she says Laurie’s name, which, why would you do that?!, Laurie can hear Toby calling for her in the background and the sound of Mrs Deane hitting him.
Laurie runs straight out of the house at that, because even though she’s making terrible decisions and is impulsive as hell, she’s also badass.
At the Deane house, she breaks in through the kitchen window, because when making terrible decisions, might as well go the full mile. She tries to move around under the cover of the storm, but knocks a bowl off a table. Then someone hits her over the head, and realises that someone had been in the kitchen the entire time, waiting for her. Strangely assuming that she would break in through the window they left open.
She’s dragged down a flight of stairs and then she passes out.
She’s tied tightly to a chair with thick rope, and Mrs Deane is threatening her, telling her to scream all she wants because no one will hear her.
After she’s satisfied that Laurie is tied up, Mrs Deane goes upstairs and makes a phonecall, which Laurie can, conveniently, hear. She’s telling someone that Laurie was snooping around again and is now tied up in the basement. Whoever she’s talking to will have to deal with her, because that’s more than Mrs Deane signed up for, and then she agrees that the Muffin Man can take care of the aunt first and then come finish off Laurie.
AUNT HILLARY NO!
Laurie tries to break the rope, but can’t, then, in a flash of lightning, sees scissors on a nearby worktable. The chair makes too much noise when she tries to drag it across the floor, and tries to wait until she’s sure that Mrs Deane has left the kitchen. Once it has been silent up there for awhile, she makes her way to the scissors slowly, painfully, trying not to make too much noise.
She just about gets the scissors when she hears someone coming down the stairs and freaks out. Again, understandably.
But it’s Toby! With his adorable bear. He gets the scissors for her, and she starts sawing at the ropes while she talks to him. Mrs Deane is in the bedroom, and she doesn’t know Toby came downstairs, because he’s good at being quiet. She asks him about why he didn’t say hello when she came to the house that time, but he doesn’t seem to know what she’s talking about. He’s also confused when she asks about where he went with the couple in the car.
Laurie cuts her wrist accidentally, but also her hands are free, so she ignores the pain so she can cut her feet free.
Toby tells her that Terry, his brother, went away, and he starts to get louder and louder about how he wants to see Terry. Identical twin brothers explain everything!
Laurie promises to help him find Terry, but first they have to be really quiet as they leave the house. They actually make it to her car before anyone in the Deane house realises they’re gone. Way to keep an eye on your prisoners, Mrs Deane.
When they make it to Old Mill Road without any car following them, Laurie risks stopping long enough to try to call Aunt Hillary, but she’s still not home. She then calls the hospital, and the operator there says that she has a message: Aunt Hillary’s having car trouble and asks if Laurie can come get her. They’re supposed to meet at the nurses’ station on the ninth floor.
AND LAURIE FINDS NOTHING WEIRD ABOUT THIS OMG.
Sure, the car, maybe, and needing a ride, but the ninth floor? Where all of this began? Why not the front door? Or the fucking parking lot.
A news report comes on the radio about a car crash that killed the driver: Nurse Wilton. UMM. She’s been dead for days and was STABBED. No way that looks like a car crash, and they’ll be able to tell she’s been dead longer than that.
Laurie thinks the same thing, because Laurie and I should be BFFs.
Then she realises that Rick is following her again. She tries to race away and lose him, but the weather is making fast driving too dangerous. Sure enough, Rick pulls into the parking lot right behind her. Laurie leaves Toby with a nurse on the first floor and races up to the ninth floor. She barely gets the elevator doors closed in time (and Rick is close enough I’m not sure I believe he couldn’t get an arm in there to stop the doors).
(Also, I have some terrible stories about elevator doors closing on arms and doing damage, and also about an elevator that ended up flooded with people inside.)
The ninth floor is quiet, the lights dim, and only Nurse Girard is at the nurses’ station, not Aunt Hillary. Nurse Girard tells her that she hasn’t seen anyone asking for Laurie for the past hour. She starts to call down to the operator to see if there’s another message. Before the call connects, though, Rick gets off the elevator.
He comes after Laurie, but Nurse Girard distracts him a minute by asking for help with a carton.
Laurie takes this chance to race off and find a place to hide. She knows it’s too late to hide in a patient’s room, and she can’t get to the emergency stairs, so she darts into the Fear Wing. Aaaaaand, we’re back to the prologue, finally.
Blah blah blah, read above for the recap, Rick shouts at her for almost falling through the hole in the floor (a-fucking-gain), and then he tells her to be quiet. He says, again, that he won’t hurt her, but he’s not really acting in a way that would convince anyone he’s not lying.
Someone else comes into the Fear Wing, and she runs away from Rick while he’s distracted. She hears something like a low grown, sees two figures fighting, and then Dr Price tells her she can come out. Of course she feels safe.
Right up until she stumbles over Rick on the floor with a knife in his back. Well damn, Dr Price. An actual mine in an actual back? How cliche.
OH WAIT NO. He just hit Rick on the head with his flashlight, and the knife is just a realistic looking decoration on his shirt. Now, this wasn’t a cliffhanger, thank fuck, but I also do not believe him.
Rick wakes up in time to shout for her to stay away from Dr Price, who killed Nurse Wilton and he’ll kill Laurie too. Despite her fear of Rick, she actually hesitates because she’s listening to him. Where the hell did that come from?
Rick says that he killed Nurse Wilton because she found out what he was doing and blackmailed him, but Laurie doesn’t know what’s happening. EXCEPT RICK THEN TELLS LAURIE WHAT’S FUKCING HAPPENING.
Which is that Dr Price is running an illegal adopting right out of the hospital and Mrs Deane is helping him and Nurse Wilton was blackmailing him. Rick is after him because of his little sister, Beth, who disappeared. Laurie doesn’t know whom to believe. Again, why is she even considering believing Rick? She thinks he tried to kill her! Of course he’d blame someone else for everything. (Though, I’ll admit, that’s quite a story to make up just to cover who killed whom.)
Right up until Dr Price grabs Laurie and pulls out a gun and starts monologuing a little. He’s backing toward the opening in the floor, we learn because we’ve head-hopped into Rick’s POV (sloppy, Stine). Rick tries to distract him, but Dr Price keeps backing up until he falls into the hole, pulling Laurie with him.
Rick manages to grab Laurie’s hand so that she dangles over the empty shaft. Dr Price falls to the concrete eight floors down. That’s gotta look terrible. Also, somehow Laurie’s shoulder didn’t come out of the socket when all her weight snaps at it as he grabs her.
Rick saves her life, they wait for Aunt Hillary outside the emergency room, Toby’s in bed on the children’s floor, and they’ve already talked to the police. Oh, and the police found Rick’s little sister already, somehow. Laurie’s grumpy he didn’t trust her with his secret, but by god, Laurie, you didn’t trust him either!
While they talk about how Dr Price got Nurse Wilton out of the Fear Wing, she realises that she saw him when she was running back to the Fear Wing with Nurse Girard and Skye. She nearly crashed into the gurney with the patient on it. How many patient gurneys did you nearly or actually crash into, Laurie?
Once Aunt Hillary shows up, they learn that Dr Price was after her because she found irregularities in their books during her audit. She called the police that afternoon, and that’s how they’ve been finding the kids so fast, because they have Mrs Deane in custody already. (Well damn, Stine is answering all my questions.)
Of course, Laurie and Rick hook up at the end of the book, though she tells him to get rid of his bleeding knife t-shirt. He makes a crack about it being cutting edge, and Laurie leaves with Aunt Hillary, shocking Rick, but she does tell him to call her later.
This was a surprising amount of fun. Laurie made some terrible decisions, but she was an amazing main character, and despite the weirdness with Andy, I loved her friendship with Skye. Could have done with her and Rick getting together at the end, because I hate when a character has been set up as the Muffin Man the whole book only to turn out to be a good guy and those few moments of good guy are enough to make our main character fall for them. Mostly, though, Laurie was wonderful, this book was entertaining, I loved how she used logic most of the time to solve her problems, and that she was driven to save Toby and do the right thing. I love her.
Much more complex than a typical Fear Street, and one of the better ones! I actually strongly suspect this is one of the Fear Street books he didn’t write. Cliffhangers aside (which, let’s face it, even the best Point Horror writers overdo), the writing didn’t feel like his, and like I said, the plot was trickier than what he typically comes up with. “Missing” is another Fear Street I’m certain he didn’t write. Fun fact: “The Thrill Club” is the only confirmed Fear Street book not written by Stine; actually authored by Tom Perrotta.
That’s a really good theory. I didn’t know that “The Thrill Club” was confirmed not written by Stine. Interesting. Wonder why they confirmed that one and none of the others.
It’s because Perrotta himself fessed up (you’re otherwise required to take your ghostwriter secret to the grave, by the sounds of it!) I think if you do a Google search, you can find out the details. Perrotta went on to write books like “Little Children”, which got turned into Oscar winning movies. My favourite Fear Street is “The Best Friend”, and I’m still operating on the assumption Stine wrote that one.
This is one of those earlier books I’ve only read a couple of times, but the part that always stuck with me is when Laurie found out that woman wasn’t the kid’s mom.