Title: Fear Street: Cat, a.k.a. “I Really, Really, REALLY Hate Barry Allen”
Author: R.L. Stine
Cover Artist: Bill Schmidt
Tagline: C-A-T- spells murder.
Summary: The cat came back… [Wing: Damn it, I have been earwormed.]
Marty never liked the cat – it always got in the way at basketball practice. But he never meant to kill it.
Now Marty thinks he’s going crazy. He sees cats wherever he goes. He has nightmares about them. He knows they want revenge.
Too bad Marty doesn’t have nine lives. Because his first one is almost over.
So, sorry there wasn’t a Fear Street recap in January. I realized too late I was a bit burned out from everything I worked on in December, and asked to put the Fear Street recap off til February.
Cat is another of those entries that sort of lurked in the background for me for a long time. I’ve only read it a couple of times but thought this one would peak Wing’s interest after reading some of her comments on my Goosebumps recaps. Although I was originally planning on doing a different book for her birthday with a similar concept, this one grabbed my attention for a reason I will get into during the recap.
This one was sort of weird for me, because I think the main character might seem the most human of the protagonists I’ve read in these books. He’s not entirely likable, but he’s not someone you hate with every fiber of your being.
And as always, watch out for some ableism.
[Wing: I’ve never read this one before, but based on that cover, I’m going to assume it involves cat shapeshifters, which is something I love. Shocking, I’m sure.]
Content: Obviously, some animal harm.
Marty does not like cats, and he’s got two good reasons for that. For one, he’s really allergic to them. Second, they just really creep him out. However, he clarifies just because he’s not a cat person doesn’t mean he INTENDED to kill the cat that was living in the school gymnasium. It was annoying as hell and always messed up basketball practice. But he had no idea of knowing more deaths would follow… of course since this is Shadyside I have no idea how Marty’s surprised.
[Wing: Marty and I have some things in common here: cat allergies, finding them creepy — and, okay, that’s it, because I would absolutely expect deaths to follow in Shadyside. Also, I don’t like basketball.]
Marty is on the senior basketball team under the watchful eye of the lovable Coach Griffin. Playing alongside Marty are his two best friends, Dwayne Clarke and Barry Allen. Together the three are called “The Three Musketeers” or “The Three Stooges” by the coach. As Marty puts it:
- Dwayne: Short and chubby joker with a penchant for Hawaiian shirts. The team even had a special basketball jersey commissioned with a Hawaiian pattern for him. [Wing: What.]
- Barry: Tall and thin and super serious, with an anger problem. With his glasses he looks like Clark Kent.
Marty often finds himself in the middle between them, being of average height and average build and average temperament.
Finding out Barry’s last name was “Allen” made me pause and flip my shit, however.
See, for those of you who aren’t comic fans or readers, Barry Allen is the secret identity of the second Flash from DC Comics. He was created during the 1950s as part of a wave of brand new versions of characters DC owned from the 1930s and 40s. He was killed off during the 1980s and replaced by his sidekick Wally West. Barry stayed dead until the late 2000s where he essentially usurped the main role of the Flash back from Wally. As a DC fan and a comic book fan I. Fucking. HATE BARRY ALLEN. WITH EVERY FIBER OF MY BEING. He’s the reason why I and so many other DC fans have been miserable since 2011, because he was responsible for destroying the DC Universe and its subsequent recreation as part of DC’s “The New 52,” stripping the entire line of its history and what made us love the characters in the first place. Not only that, but he’s never been made to answer for what he did and the company has gone out of its way to try and absolve him of it in the stupidest manner possible. What admittedly does not help his case with me is that I also think he’s fucking boring as hell and I would rather be reading about cool old guy Jay Garrick or Wally West and his family, or especially Barry’s granddaughter XS from the Legion of Super-Heroes (who doesn’t even exist anymore because of him). The only format I’m still able to stomach without seething at the mere sight of his presence is the short-lived 90s TV show.
So the minute I realized a character in this book had the name “Barry Allen” I began hoping that Stine would gruesomely murder him as a means to sate my bloodlust for the actual Barry Allen’s death. For the time being.
[Wing: I’m a Marvel fan, myself, so have no horse in this race.]
Even though Marty tries not to be egotistical about this, he does believe he’s an excellent player. His chemistry with Dwayne and Barry is possibly the reason why the Shadyside Tigers basketball team has had such a good year so far. [Wing: I’m not sure I knew that the Shadyside mascot was the tiger. Is this consistent with earlier books?] This is super important to Marty as he’s depending on receiving a college basketball scholarship, so if the Tigers aren’t winning that would put a damper on his chances. God knows a scholarship would make things super easier for his parents instead of making them pay for everything. [Wing: Can they pay for everything even without the scholarship? I have very little sympathy then.] When Dwayne makes a joke about the scholarship, Marty gets defensive and says that’s not the only reason why he tries to play well. Marty only gets the sense that Dwayne is a little jealous, while Barry is completely jealous.
Coach Griffin tells the three stooges to get off the court until they’re serious about playing again. [Wing: This is not going to help your scholarship chances, Marty.] While the rest of the team practices, Marty notices Kit Morrissey, the hottest girl in school (in this book), is hanging out on the bleachers and watching the team play. But Kit was the type of girl who was so good looking, no guy has had the guts to approach her. And who should show up but none other than Gayle Edgerton and Riki Crawford. Marty dreads seeing Riki, however, but isn’t going to hide just because she’s with Gayle. See, Marty went out with Riki a few times but that was it. That said, Riki took it the wrong way when Marty stopped calling her, accusing him of not bothering to break up with her in person. She’s had a grudge ever since. [Wing: Well, it does sound like he ghosted her, more or less.] Gayle, a reporter for the school paper, is also the only senior who still has braces. Marty admits he’s always admired how confident Gayle acts about them, never trying to hide them when she smiles. Gayle approaches Marty saying she wants to write about him, Dwayne, and Barry, “The Three Musketeers.” She wants to do a story about their teamwork and Marty’s scholarshi-OH SHIT THE CAT IS BACK!
Barry’s spotted the stray cat, gray with a black diamond-shaped mark on its forehead, that’s been living in the school gym for about a month, darting out from underneath the bleachers. It runs out among the basketball team and player Dave Ionello falls over trying not to step on it. Marty, Dwayne, and Barry chase after the cat in an attempt to finally catch it, but Gayle and Riki think this is mean. Seems chasing the cat had almost become a regular part of basketball practice, but no one’s been able to catch it. Some students even left food and water for the cat, and Gayle once wrote about it for the paper with information on the Shadyside Animal Shelter and asking if anyone wanted to officially adopt the cat. [Wing: How, exactly, is anyone going to be able to adopt the cat officially if no one can even catch it?] Marty adds he legitimately thought that was sweet, even if the cat was a nuisance. As Marty and his friends chase the cat around, Marty notices the coach is trying his hardest not to smile before finally telling them to knock it off and get back to practicing. Returning to business as usual, Marty’s attention is divided between the ball and the girls. He sees Gayle and Riki talking and immediately grows concerned, worried Riki is badmouthing him when the coach and Barry order Marty to watch out. Just as Marty sees Riki point to him, he looks down and realizes the cat’s in his path and trips. He hits the floor and hears an angry cry and a loud CRUNCH.
In the nurse’s office, she informs Marty he might’ve sprained his leg and suggests staying off it for a couple of days. Marty is outraged, believing it was the cat’s fault and fearing he’ll miss Friday’s game. Coach says it’s Marty’s own fault for not paying attention to where he was running. Dwayne and Barry are livid since they need Marty to win. This makes Marty hate the cat even more, especially since it got away again. Coach adds Marty and the guys are the one who terrorize the cat on a regular basis, but Marty’s not having it, especially since he knows Marty didn’t even see the cat until it was too late. Coach still isn’t letting him play in the game for Friday. [Wing: Marty, not being able to play on an injury isn’t a punishment, it is smart coaching to make sure that you’re able to finish the season and not end your entire career where you stand.] Back in the gymnasium with Barry, Dwayne, Gayle, and Riki, Marty accidentally lets it slip the real reason why he’s so angry about missing Friday’s game. Mainly, that he actually DOESN’T have his scholarship yet. Everyone thought he’d already gotten it, but it turns out he’s still in consideration. Marty asks Gayle not to put this in her article, that he got too excited when he found out he made the final cut and, after he lied, was too embarrassed to admit the truth. [Wing: OH DAMN.] Surprisingly, Riki tries to be supportive and assure Marty he’ll definitely get that scholarship, and Marty earnestly thanks her for the vote of confidence.
Marty feels pain in his leg as he tries to walk when the five teenagers see the cat has reappeared. Marty immediately orders Barry and Dwayne to get it, another chase sequence ensuing. The two boys race up the bleachers after the cat, while Marty limps behind them. Marty’s one saving grace is his narration clarifying once they capture the cat he’s making sure the Shadyside Animal Shelter will give it a good home instead of wishing it was dead or something. And he doesn’t mean it sarcastically. Unfortunately, things go horribly wrong when, at the top of the bleachers, Marty finally manages to grab the cat by its hind legs. The cat lashes out as you’d expect, scratching and clawing at Marty’s arms and slashing his forehead. As Marty’s wound bleeds over his eyes, he stumbles backwards with the cat in his hands and almost falls off the side of the bleachers. Dwayne reaches out to save Marty, and Marty instinctively lets go of the cat to hold on to Dwayne. Marty looks back to see the cat hit the floor at an angle, and the sound of something loudly cracking is suddenly heard. Gayle begins screaming that Marty killed the cat. [Wing: UGH. Okay, even not being a cat fan, this is terrible.]
Getting down from the bleachers, Marty tries to defend himself saying he dropped the cat by accident, but that’s not what Gayle and Riki saw. From their P.O.V., the three morons harassed an innocent cat, chased it around the gym, and capped it off by Marty grabbing it and swinging it around before he threw it off the bleacher. Dwayne picks up the dead cat and asks if anyone’s interested in “Roadkill Stew.” Oh, and in case you worried I was being unfair to this Barry, he’s the only one who laughs as Dwayne swings around the cat’s dead body before plopping it in the trash. Barry exclaims the cat was no different then a stray rat, being vermin that made practice difficult for everyone. Gayle and Riki are beyond disgusted, and not even Marty finds such behavior funny. Marty tries to plead with Gayle, reminding her about his pet dog Teddy, whom he’s taken care of and loved for years. He asks Gayle and Riki if they genuinely believe he’s capable of murdering an animal in cold blood. But the two girls stick to what they saw and promise to make sure Marty gets punished for it. Dwayne and Barry don’t take any of this seriously before Marty finally snaps and asks why neither of them are helping. The two admit since everyone knows they’re his best friends, people would be less likely to believe them due to bias. As Gayle and Riki stomp away, Marty is left feeling guilty, but not too guilty, about the cat’s death. And adds he had no way of knowing at the time more deaths would occur.
…Hon you live in Shadyside, like, I’m betting at least five other people died that same afternoon. Inside the school. PROBABLY IN THE GYM. And that’s me being generous.
The next day, the Marty hatedom first rears its head in the form of Lydia James being dropped off by her mom for school. She scowls at Marty the moment he says “Hi,” and he turns around to see even Mrs. James looking like she wishes he was dead. Figuring Gayle’s already spreading rumors about the cat, he’s in for a nasty shock when he enters homeroom. His teacher, Mrs. Howe, takes one look at Marty and orders him to sit down and shut the fuck up, adding for good measure she’d give him detention if she could and that he should be ashamed of himself. Several other students, boys and girls, are glaring at Marty as he sits at his desk. At lunch, Dwayne and Barry laugh their asses off when Dwayne makes a joke about cat burgers, earning several angry looks from the people sitting around them. Marty orders them to shut up, saying they’re not helping. The boys explain no one’s listened to their account of what happened, and Marty’s especially not pleased to learn Gayle’s the president of the Animal Rights Club. Marty can only imagine how many members signed up once she told them about Marty being a cat-killing douchebag. Outside the lunch room someone *coughcoughGaylecough* has tacked up a poster with Marty’s picture, the words “CRUELTY TO ANIMALS,” and several photos of tortured animals plus info on an upcoming rally. Once a few people recognize Marty as the guy in the photo, they shake their heads in disgust. And then Marty has an even worse thought. If this got on his school record, so long scholarship.
Marty finds Gayle and Riki hanging out with a few other students and tries to reason with them. Gayle makes it plainly clear she no longer considers Marty a friend. Marty calls Gayle a jerk, angering one of the guys in her group. Barry and Dwayne restrain Marty from getting in a fight, pointing out that’ll really damage his scholarship possibilities if he gets suspended. Gayle blithely saunters away with her friends, adding she’s not done with Marty just yet. Riki stays behind asking what Marty thinks he’s doing, reminding him he’s already benched for Friday’s game AND his leg’s supposed to be injured. As several more people stare at Marty, he begs Riki to try and reason with Gayle. Riki shoots that possibility down, adding she’s still on Gayle’s side and believes as much as she does that Marty should punished. Even if she doesn’t want the team to lose. Marty tries to give his side once more when Riki sees something horrible on Marty’s face. Marty gingerly touches his cheek and discovers blood on his fingertips. Realizing the scratch on his forehead is bleeding again, Marty rushes to the boys room to wash up. On the way out, Marty runs into Coach Griffin and they discuss the cat incident. Marty tries to give his side of the story, but the Coach admits hearing it described that way sounds incredibly lame and unbelievable. However, he knows about Marty’s dog and adds that he along with several other teachers believe Marty didn’t kill the cat on purpose. Astonishingly, Coach levels with Marty and has an honest discussion about what he should do. Rather than use false sympathy or modesty, the Coach admits outright he’s a selfish individual and cares more about the team winning the championship, but this cat thing could be very bad publicity for the school and the team. It’s especially tricky for the parents if they find out their kids are going to school with some asshole going around killing animals for fun (or at least, that’s the conclusion they’ll reach). Coach adds he’s not considering kicking Marty off the team, but this business needs settling and proposes Marty face the matter in Student Court. Marty initially balks at the idea since Gayle’s friends are in said court. The Coach promises it’ll be fair, but Marty’s not too sure.
Student Court’s held the next day in the gym, with Mrs. Howe overseeing the process. Marty reveals he’d told his parents about what happened the night before; both of them were incredibly understanding and wanted to show their support by going to the trial with him. Marty told them not to worry, appearing more confident than he felt. [Wing: Surprise will be that Marty’s parents are dead, y/y?] Marty’s given a defense lawyer and several people, Gayle, Dwayne, and Barry, are asked to give testimony on what happened. Surprisingly, Barry and Dwayne don’t act like assholes, while Gayle embellishes her version adding Marty swung the cat’s dead body around with the other two. Marty jumps up saying it didn’t happen like that, but he’s not helping his case. Things especially look grim when Jessica Wells, the lawyer for the Animal Rights Club, has Marty admit he talked about “getting rid of the cat.” Marty realizes how that makes him look and believes he’s doomed. Yet amazingly, the jury’s final verdict is both good AND bad. Marty is found NOT guilty of murdering the cat (which some people applaud), but he IS found guilty of animal cruelty. Mrs. Howe thanks the jury for doing their job and sentences Marty to 30 hours of community service at the Shadyside Animal Shelter. Marty’s about to protest since he still has homework and practice to worry about, when he sees something underneath the bleachers.
That supposedly dead cat is back.
And it’s watching Marty.
Marty freaks out, exclaiming the cat is alive, but of course when everyone looks where he’s pointing, the cat’s gone. Mrs. Howe thinks he’s joking and orders him to stop.
Later that afternoon, while benched during basketball practice, Marty’s approached by Jessica Wells. She apologizes for grilling Marty during the trial, adding it was something she needed to do for Social Studies class even though she didn’t think Marty hurt that cat on purpose. Marty is happy someone else is willing to believe him and thanks Jessica for not being worried about being seen with him. Unfortunately, Riki is in the gym too. Marty and Jessica both try to be friendly and call her over, but she runs out of there. Jessica wants to know why she seems upset, so Marty explains their past falling out and adds he didn’t call her back because he wasn’t really thinking about being serious with her or anything. Jessica leaves with her friends later on, Marty thanking her for the chat, when he starts to hear something hissing nearby. Thinking it’s the cat, he looks up and instead sees three girls laughing at him. Marty assumes they were making those noises. Or were they? Marty doesn’t know.
After practice ends, Coach gets on Marty’s case about not paying attention to the practice since he wanted input. Marty adds several insightful thoughts to his friends’ skills and performance during the practice, impressing the coach. Coach Griffin then adds he does think the Student Court’s punishment was a bit too much and offers to do what he can to lessen it. Marty, however, finally starts owning up to his behavior and decides he’ll finish the 30 hours anyway to make up for being cruel to the cat. Coach wraps it up saying he thinks Marty’s a good kid, but he better not let anyone know he said that. I mean, after all, the coach has an image to maintain.
Later that night while Marty is trying to study, his dog Teddy snoozing at the end of his bed, Marty mentally recaps the last three days and wonders if he’s imagining things when he gets a phone call. At first, the person on the other end says nothing so Marty hangs up. The phone rings again, and now Marty hears someone threatening that he’ll pay. Marty recognizes Riki’s voice and screams at her that he didn’t kill the cat. Riki shouts back this has nothing to do with the cat, but how he and Jessica Wells practically humiliated her in the gym, flirting with Jessica and waving at Riki like he did nothing wrong. Marty loses his last shred of patience and orders Riki to finally tell him why, exactly, does she care if she hates him for being a cat killer? Riki adds he’s also got the hots for Kit Morrissey, and what really started this was that he lied about dating Lisa Greene. Marty gets fed up, saying yes, he went out with Lisa ONCE and the date sucked. Marty lied about being sick that night because even though they weren’t a couple he didn’t want to hurt Riki’s feelings by telling her he had a date with Lisa. Maybe he was wrong to worry about her feelings, and he certainly was wrong about the idea of being friends with her. Riki screams so loud Marty has to move the phone from his ear, screeching she didn’t want Marty’s pity but instead wanted him to be honest with her. She ends her rant with how much she hates Marty before slamming the phone down.
Yeah I feel bad for both of them because this isn’t as cut and dry as the usual teenage love douchebaggery. Marty and Riki were never boyfriend and girlfriend, but Marty shouldn’t have lied. Of course, he didn’t lie because he was cheating on Riki, and Riki is clearly treating Marty more disproportionately than he deserves even if she does have some right to be angry. The two of them definitely need to keep their distance for a while.
The following day is Friday, the big game. Marty’s parents drop him off so he can be a spectator, but the moment he enters the gym the opposing team starts meowing and making cat-like noises. [Wing: Shitty thing to do, realistic thing to do.] Coach Griffin has to talk with the opposing coach to get the visiting team to stop. Once the game begins, Marty’s joined on the bleachers by Jessica. [Wing: Wait, Marty’s out due to injury, he wasn’t kicked off the team. He should be on the bench with the rest of the team, not in the bleachers.] She mentions the possibility that the meowing wasn’t about the dead cat, but rather, that Marty thinks he saw the cat the previous day. Marty’s insistent there was definitely a cat underneath the bleacher, even if he’s not sure it was the original. Jessica assures Marty this shit about the cat will end after Gayle finally holds the Animal Rights Club rally in a few days. She then turns the conversation towards the subject of Lisa Greene. Marty promises he’s not dating Lisa. Jessica approves.
At home, Marty tries to do some studying when he overhears two cats getting into a vicious fight outside his window. The howling makes it impossible for him to study when he suddenly hears something scratching at the window. Gasp! Something’s trying to get in! Oh wait it’s just Dwayne and Barry, inviting Marty to join them for a post-game snack at The Corner, Shadyside’s popular teen hangout (in this book). While munching on pizza, Marty is forced to revisit the events at Student Court, insisting between Dwayne and Barry’s laughter that he did indeed see a cat underneath the bleachers. At around 11, the boys proceed to sneak back home and are almost to Marty’s house when WHAM! BARRY TAKES A CAT TO THE HEAD! Dwayne picks up a big branch and is about to whack the cat off before Marty reminds him he’ll hit Barry in the process. Marty’s able to pluck off the cat from Barry’s head and drops it on the ground. Dwayne than kicks the cat away. As Dwayne inspects the cuts on Barry’s head, Barry worriedly asks Marty if that was the dead cat. Marty’s not sure… but he thinks he saw a black diamond on its forehead.
Marty begins his community service at the animal shelter during the weekend. His supervisor, Carolyn Peters, told him his only duties were to sweep up, keep the animals fed, and call her in case of any emergency. Seems simple enough. Marty’s schedule is two hours a night managing the place until the night watchman arrives. [Wing: Yeah, I’m not leaving some kid who is doing volunteer work there because he was found guilty of animal cruelty alone with all the goddamn animals in the shelter. WTF. And even if he was a regular volunteer, this is not really how volunteering works.] Unfortunately, his first night there, something seriously freaks out the cats and dogs in their cages. Marty has no idea what to do, not knowing what caused such behavior, and calls Carolyn to return to the shelter. By the time Marty brings her into the room, all the animals have calmed down once more.
Yeah here we go.
On Monday, Marty tells Dwayne and Barry about what happened but they offer no answers or real support, just jokes. On his way out of the cafeteria, Marty bumps into none other than Kit Morrissey. Marty adds Kit transferred to Shadyside High back in December and instantly made waves as the mysterious hot new girl. Huh. Remember how Justine Cameron made waves as the mysterious hot new girl when she transferred to Shadyside? SURELY Kit doesn’t have sinister motives like Justine did. Marty briefly finds himself lost in Kit’s emerald green-flecked-with-gold eyes before remembering she’d been absent a few days. Kit says she had the flu but is feeling much better. She reveals she heard about the cat incident and asks if it really was just an accident. Marty promises it was, and before you know it he asks if she’d like to get some ice cream or something at The Corner later on. Kit would be delighted.
Marty’s time with Kit is pleasurable, except of course for Riki who just happens to have a booth by herself and has been glaring at Marty all night. As Marty walks Kit to her house on Canyon Road, for the first time in weeks he feels legitimately happy and hopes to continue seeing Kit on a regular basis. Kit invites Marty into her house, asking if he could hang out before going home for dinner. But then the evening takes a strange turn when Marty meets the five cats (three adult cats and two kittens) Kit has for pets. The five of them immediately arch their backs and begin hissing at Marty. Kit tells Marty not to mind the cats, believing they’re only hungry, but they continue to hiss and screech at him like he was pure evil. Marty’s so overwhelmed he decides to head home, disappointing Kit. On his way out, Kit tries to apologize to Marty, saying she’s never seen her cats behave this way with anyone. Seems he has a thing with cats.
And then there’s some random sequence where Dwayne and Barry convince Marty to pull a prank on Gayle and the Animal Rights Club by letting mice loose during their meeting after school, as payback for Gayle’s smear campaign. Really this scene had no transitional build up or establishing beforehand and feels really tacked on. When the prank is pulled, Gayle spots Marty and the other two and promises they’ll be sorry.
Back at The Corner with Kit, he tells her about the mice prank. [Wing: Worst. Secret. Keeper. Ever.] Kit scolds him, but laughs. The two make plans to study math together and to have a date on Saturday. Kit not only says yes, but she kisses Marty too! He’s on Cloud 9. He briefly remembers Jessica Wells, but his thoughts zero back on Kit. Marty’s decided he wants Kit to be the only girl in his life. On his way back home from Canyon Road, Marty’s good mood quickly evaporates when he hears a familiar hissing, and sees a cat following him.
And then another.
Pretty soon, he’s being followed by at least a dozen or so cats, one of whom manages to scratch his leg as he runs for his house. Marty fumbles to get his front door open, but when he turns around, the cats have vanished.
At school the next day, no one said about anything about the prank. Gayle was still pissed at him, and now so was Jessica. Marty assumes Riki got to her first before he could tell Jessica he’s now dating Kit. He feels bad because Jessica’s been so nice to him, but still only wants to be with Kit. The first time Marty sees Riki, she makes clawing motions like a cat towards him. See, Riki, you’re kind of going straight from “reacting to a justified hurt” to “creepy stalker ex chick” and you aren’t helping your case.
Marty is finally allowed back into practice since his leg’s healed, and it’s like he never stopped playing. Unfortunately, later that night he gets another cat-related phone call, but he can’t tell if it’s Riki or not. Thinking about the cat cries, Marty’s not able to get much sleep.
Back at school, Marty stumbles upon Dwayne and Riki having an argument. About him, it seems. Dwayne’s trying to make another misguided attempt to help Marty, or is it? He’s ordering Riki to stop harassing Marty over all this cat business, that she’s making it hard for him to concentrate on the team and generally being an asshole. Riki takes this as Dwayne threatening her (although Dwayne doesn’t actually grab her or anything like that) and snidely asks what he’ll do to her. Dwayne responds he’ll let the entire school know it’s her fault if Marty loses the next game. Marty, however, does not appreciate Dwayne speaking for him. He doesn’t get involved with the argument, but Marty figures he needs to have a talk with Dwayne about what happened. Riki wasn’t at the next basketball game, but Gayle was. The guys figure she showed up to give them the Evil Eye or something. Marty thought to himself there’s no way they’d lose with their line-up.
And then adds the line-up was soon going to permanently change.
STINE. STOP. SPOILING. YOUR. OWN. STORIES.
The Tigers beat the visiting team, which meant they were close to entering the state tournament. Everyone was pumped up, especially Marty. After celebrating in the locker room (“Hey guys, let’s have a soaping party in the shower!” P.S. I’m going to hell) Marty left the school feeling great. But then he remembered he left his book bag in the gym and he has a test on Monday. Driving back to the high school, as Marty parks his car he sees none other than Gayle suddenly emerging from the gym. Wondering what she’s still doing there so late, Marty grabs the door before it slams shut, otherwise it would’ve locked and he’d never get his books back. Once inside, the wind slams the doors closed, spooking Marty. Turning the gym lights back on, Marty finds his bag by the bleacher. And something else.
Attached to a body.
A body on the floor, in a pool of blood, underneath the bleacher.
The body has been shredded and clawed apart, the face unrecognizable. But what IS recognizable is the bloody tatters of a Hawaiian shirt.
Having realized he’s found Dwayne, Marty then hears the faraway cry of a cat somewhere in the gym.
Barry is on the verge of going berserk demanding to know why Marty hadn’t told the cops he saw Gayle leave the gym. Marty refuses to consider Gayle was responsible. The two are leaving the police station after having been questioned. They don’t believe Marty or Barry is the killer, but Marty is still trying to process there will be no more Three Musketeers. No more of Dwayne’s jokes or Hawaiian shirts. No more Dwayne. Barry is sure Gayle did it; Marty argues Gayle’s not capable of such a thing. It’s not just because Marty believes Gayle isn’t capable. What was done to Dwayne, there’s no way a human being would’ve been capable. Barry talks about how you hear that shit on the news all the time, how it’s always the nice, quiet ones who turns out to be psychos.
BARRY YOU AREN’T HELPING MY DESIRE TO SEE YOU SPLIT APART THAT’S FOR SURE.
Marty puts Barry in his place, saying HE didn’t find Dwayne’s body. HE didn’t see what was done to him. HE doesn’t have fucking Dwayne’s blood on his hands and clothes. But Marty doesn’t mention hearing the cat, because he knows Barry wouldn’t believe a cat is the murderer.
Marty calls Kit to tell her the horrible news. She asks if she can do anything to help Marty, but there’s nothing she can do. Marty then goes to speak to Gayle at her house. The minute she opens the door, all that past animosity about the cat vanishes. She’s completely distraught about Dwayne’s death, hugging Marty and crying, trying to apologize for how awful she’s been acting. She talks about how she’s known, she knew, Dwayne since they were freshmen. The first guy who noticed her. Who made her laugh. Marty tries to comfort Gayle and she apologizes again, remembering Marty cared more about Dwayne and that he’s probably suffering more. It turns out Riki is at Gayle’s house as well, and she’s been crying too. Marty finally asks Gayle why she was in the gym, and she admits Dwayne’s death might partially be her fault. She stayed late to use the weight room for gymnastics training but lost track of time. She had a babysitting gig and left in a hurry. Gayle feels awful because, if she hadn’t left in such a rush, maybe she would’ve been able to stop whatever happened to Dwayne. Or at the very least, she could’ve seen who did it. Marty feels a huge relief from this, promising he’ll never doubt Gayle again.
Dwayne’s buried Monday morning. Many kids are late to school but aren’t punished for it. Marty feels like a zombie, and Coach Griffin looks horrible. Hell, the man looks like he’s been crying. He gives the basketball team black armbands to wear, saying they don’t have to if they don’t want to, but the coach adds he’ll be wearing at every practice and tournament game, for Dwayne. Marty quietly tells Coach he isn’t sure how he’ll be able to play without Dwayne. Coach Griffin bypasses all that stuff about the tournament and winning and shit and tells Marty he doesn’t have to play if he doesn’t feel like he can. [Wing: This is some solid adult presence. In a Fear Street book. What.] Barry, however, won’t have it. He accuses Marty of being selfish, asking how he could not want to play and support the team after everything Dwayne did for the team. How much Dwayne wanted to win. How Dwayne was HIS friend too. Reinvigorated, Marty declares they’ll win the basketball tournament for Dwayne.
After their hardest practice ever (the first one where Gayle and Riki weren’t being assholes), Barry asks Marty to drop him off at his house before Marty’s shift at the animal shelter. Barry seemingly takes forever to finish up as Marty waits for him outside, and then he notices the gym door open the same way it was the night Dwayne died. Marty gets a horrible feeling in the pit of his stomach and heads back into the gym. For a moment, he mistakes Barry’s backpack for a dead body before he finds Barry.
When the two finally notice Marty they break it up, Marty mentioning Gayle’s outside looking at her watch. Marty says nothing about Barry swapping tongues with Riki, but tells Barry he’ll visit him when his shift is done.
At the animal shelter, Carolyn scolds Marty just slightly for being late, but understands what he’s dealing with and asks if he’s okay. Marty adds it’s still difficult to process Dwayne’s dead, but he’s handling it. Before Carolyn leaves, she explains they have a new resident: Brutus, a huge mongrel dog that’s being put to sleep the following morning. Marty jokes he didn’t expect they’d be keeping werewolves. *Winks at Wing*
[Wing: On the one hand: werewolf jokes. Yay. On the other hand, WHAT NO DON’T PUT HIM TO SLEEP I WILL TAKE HIM.]
Marty gets into his routine, feeding the animals, including Brutus, who just stares at him as Marty slides the food dish into his cage. But then a short while later Marty hears a soft, scraping sound. And then a clang. Several clangs. The animals start to get noisy again when Marty realizes someone has been opening the cages, and then the cats begin to attack once more. Marty grabs a broom and tries to swat the cats away as more lunge towards him, only then Carolyn has returned and demands to know what Marty has done. Although for some reason it’s not mentioned WHY she came back. Marty says someone opened the cages and let the cats out, but all Carolyn saw was Marty attacking them with the broom. After putting the cats back in their cages, Carolyn brings Marty into her office. She thinks the stress of Dwayne’s death has gotten to Marty, believing he opened the cages and let the cats out. She wants to talk to Marty’s parents and suggest he talk to a therapist to sort out his feelings. Marty asks her not to do that, that he can get a handle on things. Still though, Carolyn is worried working at the shelter is adding more stress and decides he doesn’t have to come back until he feels comfortable enough to do so.
Marty feels too stressed to head straight back home, so he decides to stop by Barry’s place. Where the front door is open. Thankfully, awkwardly, it’s just Barry and Riki together (and thank God he didn’t walk in on the two having *inhales* sexual intercourthe). Barry even has dark red lipstick marks on his face. Riki speaks she thought Marty was coming by later, and he explains to the two what happened at the shelter, but Marty can tell they don’t exactly believe him. Barry asks if Marty would like to call him later, not so subtly motioning to Riki. On the way out, Marty bumps into a man demanding to know who he is. Marty introduces himself as a friend of Barry’s, the man revealing he’s a neighbor who saw Barry’s front door wide open and was worried something happened. Marty says Barry just forgot to close it.
The next morning, Marty’s mother asks him to come down into the kitchen. She enters his room and tells him to hurry. Marty is taken aback when he sees his mother has been crying about something, and is especially not prepared when he learns some police officers want to ask him questions. Marty thinks this is about the animal shelter, but it’s not. Instead, the two officers ask where Marty went after he left the shelter. He recounts visiting Barry’s place and that he’d interrupted Barry and Riki’s make-out session before he left. That’s when it dawns on him why the officers are here.
They inform Marty at some point during the night, Barry Allen was murdered. He was clawed to pieces.
Aw yeah, yeah that, that feeling of pure relief and satisfaction as I read that part. Makes me feel all warm inside imagining Barry Allen ripped to pieces.
What was I doing?
Oh. Well, Marty’s mom tries to comfort him, having officially lost both of his best friends. Things don’t look so good for Marty, as the police know about the dead cat and the other stuff that’s happened, including the incident at the shelter. Marty’s mom reacts as you would think at this point, but luckily Marty AND Riki manage to share alibis since Riki saw Marty leave Barry’s place plus what the neighbor had to say. Riki left a half hour after Marty did. However… it turns out Riki swears Barry locked the door when they arrived at his house. So if Marty found the door open, that could mean the killer was already in the house with him, Barry, and Riki.
School’s canceled and the vice principal calls Marty’s house informing his mother they’re setting up special counseling sessions. Kit talks with Marty over the phone about how bizarre and awful this situation is, wondering what kind of person would claw people to death. Kit can’t even imagine how Riki is handling it, and figures everyone has to be supportive with each other to make it through this.
The school holds an assembly for Dwayne and Barry. Coach Griffin asks the team how they all feel, Marty once more thinking the situation’s hopeless before his teammate Kevin reminds him what he said about Dwayne. The team votes to continue playing. Later on, Marty meets up with Riki and Gayle, and they’re both worried about him. Not just because of how he’s handling Barry’s death, but because, well… they’re worried he’s next. I mean, someone went after Dwayne, then Barry. The Three Musketeers. The girls are scared for Marty.
Carolyn’s surprised when Marty shows up at the shelter, saying he really didn’t have to come by considering what’s happened. Marty explains he needed something to do to take his mind off Barry (and what the girls told him). Marty’s also surprised, learning Brutus is still at the shelter. Carolyn mentions someone adopted Brutus for a junkyard guard, but is worried he’s too uncontrollable. After Carolyn leaves for the night, Marty gets to work sweeping and cleaning when the animals once again start to freak out. Only this time, Marty’s definitely not alone in the shelter when he’s visited by none other than Kit. Marty asks what she’s doing here when her only response is that he’s next.
GEE WHO SAW THAT COMING.
Kit lifts her hands, and the animals become deathly quiet as she tells Marty it’s his turn to die. It’s only fair, because he killed her, and his friends laughed about it. Marty is scared and confused by what Kit is saying, until she angrily reveals SHE was the cat in the gym. Kit demands to know why Marty hated her so much, why his friends tried so hard to get rid of her when all she did was love him. She was always there watching him practice, wanting to be near him, and he killed her. Marty thinks the stress and horror of the last few days has overwhelmed Kit when she tells Marty she’s a shapeshifter, one of the last few on Earth. The cats at her house are her siblings. When Marty killed her, it was only one of her nine lives. Marty doesn’t believe any of this until he sees Kit transform right before his eyes, growing smaller and smaller until she turns into the gray cat with the black diamond on its forehead. Unable to comprehend his girlfriend is the cat he killed, he reacts too slowly and Kit leaps forward, slashing his cheeks and ripping away small chunks of flesh. Kit hisses and leaps again, ripping up Marty’s side as he falls backwards onto the dog cages. Marty fumbles around, seeing red as he tries to support himself. And then he sees Brutus’ cage.
Marty quickly tries to open the mongrel dog’s cage, just as Kit attacks again. Marty collapses on the floor as Kit’s attention is now aimed at the future junkyard dog. Through red, Marty watches Kit and Brutus fight, but Brutus has got at least 200 pounds on Kit and he gains the upper hand. Marty hears Kit howl and cry as Brutus sinks his teeth into Kit’s neck and crunches it. Marty passes out just as he sees the last of Kit’s life slip away.
[Wing: So many questions here, though. For one thing, the teen boys certainly have a hundred or more pounds on the fucking cat, too, and yet she manages to kill them. For another, Brutus is going to end up dead, isn’t he? Damn it. For yet another, MARTY ARE YOU SERIOUSLY GOING TO BELIEVE SHE’S DEAD THIS TIME? SHE LITERALLY JUST SAID THAT YOU KILLED ONLY ONE OF HER NINE LIVES.]
Marty comes to in the emergency room, the doctor shocked that a cat somehow managed to do this to him. Marty declares he’s never going back to that shelter; the doctor comment that’s probably a good decision. Marty says nothing to his parents, to anyone, but Kit, knowing they’d never believe him. At home, he gets a phone call from Riki, and apologizes for the way he treated her before all this happened. Marty’s still sore the following week at the next basketball game, but has enough focus to concentrate on getting the next three points to hold on to the win.
And then he sees the familiar green eyes underneath the bleachers.
Marty misses the ball, and as everyone groans, he sees the cat raise its bloody claws.
All Marty can do is scream.
Whew! What a roller coaster.
I’m still not sure what to think about Marty, but I do feel the ending sequence was rushed, the whole thing about Kit being a shapeshifter and what have you. I mean, it was kind of blatantly clear she was the cat. Her name is KIT for God’s sake, plus she had five cats and she was missing for a while after the cat was supposedly killed. At the very least, the name was a giveaway she had some association with the cat. Her motivation was dumb, though. The team thought she was a nuisance because she kept running around them while they practiced. Had she left them alone and just watched from the bleachers it probably would’ve spared everyone a world of heartache.
I did enjoy Gayle and Riki dropping their animosity after Dwayne was killed, that they weren’t going to hold on to all that when someone actually died. It would’ve been easy to really make them super unlikable had they kept treating Marty like shit and I’m surprised Stine didn’t. And I liked Marty never considered either of them were responsible despite how they treated him.
What really surprised me was the adults who tried to be supportive in this book, the coach’s understanding and Marty’s parents not being shitty.
Also Wing you have no idea how worried I was that Stine was going to kill off Marty’s dog the minute he was brought up because I knew you would hate that. Looks like Stine exceeded our expectations with this one a little bit, huh?
[Wing: I had the same worry! I also agree that the ending of this is weirdly rushed, considering all that foreshadowing for Kit being the cat. The whole thing with the cat in the gym and interrupting practice makes even less sense when it’s supposed to be a shapeshifter with human thoughts. Why was Kit interrupting practice? Why did she trip Marty if she loved him so much? Why did she keep doing things that made the team miserable if she supported him? I’m so confused by the logic of this all.
HOWEVER, CAT SHAPESHIFTERS. Almost as good as werewolves. I’m delighted.]