Title: Goosebumps Triple Header Book 1, a.k.a. “G3”
Author: R.L. Stine
Cover Artist: Tim Jacobus
Tagline: Three Shocking Tales of Terror
Back Summary: It’s One, Two, Three Times The Scares!
It’s the story of a family about to receive a visit from beyond the grave…
It’s the story of two alien beings so disgusting it will turn your stomach inside out…
It’s the story of a game show so deadly you’ll never watch television the same way again…
It’s really killing me how every attempt to be topical in these sections end up being outdated due to how long it’s taking me to finish these recaps. [Wing: To be fair to you, I also take awhile to comment and schedule them.]
The Triple Header collections were a two book series featuring three novellas each. These stories certainly feel like Stine couldn’t stretch them into full-length novels, nor could he shorten them into short stories. They were published around the time the original series drew to a close and the 2000 books began.
Judging from Tim Jacobus’s website and the Goosebumps wiki, Stine might’ve had a third collection planned. I mean, it’d make sense considering this is Triple Header. However, beyond some artwork nothing else has come to light about this supposed book.
I acquired the first book using the money I received for my college graduation, and I prefer the nostalgic feelings from that summer. Out of the three stories, I enjoy “Ghost Granny” the most which is extremely ironic considering my issues about dead grandmothers. I think Wing’ll enjoy “Spin The Wheel Of Horror” more.
1. Ghost Granny, a.k.a. “Granny Deaver is Dead. Long Live Granny Deaver.”
Slim: Any of you guys seen Granny?
Lefty: I saw her this morning. She looked okay.
Righty: Too bad she’s dead.
Lefty: She’s dead? Wow. I thought she’d been awful quiet for the last year!
Slim: Maybe we should take her out of the kitchen and bury her in the backyard.
Lefty: No way! I don’t want to smell up the backyard!
Slim: Well, Ghost Granny is the name of our first story. It’s about a girl named Kelly who is being haunted by her own granny. Granny Deaver is dead and buried. So why is her ghost hanging around the house, howling till all hours of the night? How do you get rid of a ghost that’s ruining your life?
Righty: When you readers find out, you’ll howl too!
Lefty: I like this story. It stays with you – like a really good skin rash!
Slim: I give it six thumbs-up!
Okay look, Kelly knows you shouldn’t hate people in your family. [Wing: That’s a lie, Kelly, poor girl. You can hate your own family just like you can hate anyone else.] Here’s the thing; Granny Deaver wasn’t ACTUALLY her grandma. Or related to Kelly at ALL. She was a friend of Kelly’s great aunt, and came to visit one day. Granny Deaver just… never left.
For three years.
Kelly hon, no. You’re absolutely allowed to hate someone even if they’re in your family or related to you by blood. Being related doesn’t give anyone a pass for treating you like shit. You’re not obligated to love or even like someone if they’re constantly, unapologetically horrible to you and show no signs of changing. Or even WANTING to change. [Wing: …or I could have waited for Jude to address this much better than I did.]
You know who likes to use the excuse you have to automatically love/like someone because they’re family? Abusive fuckwads.
Anyway, the past three years were utter hell for Kelly’s family. For starters, Granny Deaver ate like a pig at every meal. She’d whine and complain about the food, even as she kept eating it. Kelly’s younger brother Jeff had the misfortune of sitting next to Granny Deaver, so she’d often steal from his plate.
Even outside of mealtime, Granny Deaver’s manners were atrocious. One time, Granny Deaver drank milk straight from the carton… and then her dentures fell into it! AND SHE KEPT ON DRINKING. Kelly and Jeff gave up cereal out of fear of any nasty surprises left behind by Granny Deaver.
Alongside her sloppy eating habits, Granny Deaver disrespected boundaries. She cracked jokes about how skinny Kelly and Jeff were, punctuated by grabbing their arms and pinching them. Granny Deaver pinched them a lot. She’d sneak up on the kids and pinch their necks, just for fun. One time, she made Kelly bleed.
Whenever Kelly had friends over, Granny Deaver hovered in the room and acted like her usual charming self. If the kids left the room, Granny Deaver followed them.
Granny Deaver once destroyed a silkscreen art project Kelly spent weeks on. By blowing her nose on it.
[Wing: Granny Deaver is disgusting.]
Granny Deaver’s cat Sammy was even worse. Sammy was an absolute beast, peeing and shitting wherever he pleased, coughing up disgusting things all over the house. Granny Deaver never cleaned up after him, and when Sammy ran away no one was particularly sorry to see him go.
It’s not like Kelly and Jeff didn’t TRY to be nice to Granny Deaver! You could only be patient with someone for so long before their awful behavior wears you down.
Kelly repeatedly begged her parents to throw Granny Deaver out, but Mom and Dad refused. They said Granny Deaver was a poor old lady who had nowhere else to go. Why do they put up with her horrible actions, even if they knew Granny Deaver was insufferable?
“Because we’re nice people,” Dad replied. “We believe in doing what’s right.”
No, you and your wife are self-righteous assholes subjecting your children to an abusive old hag for a brief feeling of moral superiority. Either kick her out or shill the money for a nursing home. Don’t act like you’re good people just for enabling Granny Deaver’s behavior.
Following yet another failed discussion, Kelly found Granny Deaver rummaging through Kelly’s closet and tossing Kelly’s clothes around. Granny Deaver thought Kelly’s closet was bigger and wanted to hang her clothes in there, causing Kelly to scream in frustration.
Imagine how surprised Kelly was when Granny Deaver died the following night.
Granny Deaver’s funeral was the first funeral Kelly and Jeff ever attended, and it was a downer. I mean funerals aren’t usually happy occasions but this was BAD. The flowers their parents purchased did little to brighten the dark, gloomy chapel while an old man played sad organ music.
Kelly’s family were the only people in attendance; not even the great aunt Granny Deaver was supposedly friends with showed up. While the pastor/reverend/minister/whatever delivered the eulogy, Kelly thought about how she simply could not feel sad. Yeah, Granny Deaver died, but Kelly couldn’t force herself to feel bad when the old lady was so horrible.
All Kelly could think about was her birthday party. It was SO like Granny Deaver, dying right before Kelly’s birthday. Throughout the funeral, Kelly only felt a desire to jump up and dance to the sad organ music. The fact that she didn’t shows remarkable restraint on Kelly’s part. I’m surprised none of them kicked the coffin on their way out.
Throughout dinner the following evening, Granny Deaver’s absence clearly left Kelly’s family lighter than they’ve felt in ages. They were giddy, laughing, even though no one made any jokes. Kelly, Jeff, and their parents felt like they could finally be the people they were before Granny Deaver dragged them down for three years.
Too bad that giddy feeling didn’t last, because around midnight Kelly heard a noise in the kitchen. Who did she find standing in front of the fridge?
And unlike Meryl Streep and Goldie Hawn, death did NOT become her.
The rosy red color had faded from her cheeks. As she smiled at me, her skin was a sickly green. And her tiny eyes had sunk back into her eye sockets.
“I’m back!” she declared in a throaty whisper.
“But – but -” I stuttered, my whole body stiff with horror.
“I couldn’t stay away,” Granny Deaver whispered, smiling with peeling blue lips. “Too much to do.”
Before I could back away, she rushed at me. She threw her bony green arms around me, trying to hug me.
So cold… her arms were so cold.
The only people more horrified than Kelly are Jeff were their parents. Mrs. Mom belted out a loud “No” and Mr. Dad almost collapsed onto the floor. Jeff screamed as Granny Deaver pinched his cheek, her fingers making a horrible cracking sound as she did while JEFF collapsed. Granny Deaver of course thought it hilarious.
When Mom managed to ask why-I MEAN WHAT she was doing here, Granny Deaver stated she “didn’t want them to miss her.” Oh don’t mind her, she was fine going back to her drafty, cramped attic room. After all, Granny Deaver’s died so why should she care?
After Granny Deaver floated up the stairs, the family was left wondering what the fuck just happened. Granny Deaver died, but she’s back. Mom’s dazed, Jeff’s terrified, Dad’s frightened, and Kelly wanted to know what they’re going to do.
Turns out nothing.
Well, the ‘rental units weren’t sure what to do even as Jeff pointed out THERE IS A DEAD WOMAN LIVING IN THEIR ATTIC. Mumsy and Daddums were too exhausted to figure out how to rid the house of their unwanted grandmama, while vainly promising Kelly the old bat wouldn’t ruin her birthday party the next day. After all, Granny Deaver’s a ghost. She couldn’t stick around forever. She had to go to where ghosts go, like… um… ghost… land.
That was hella convincing, mom.
Jeff was so frightened he asked if he had to sleep in his own room, and the parents were totally convincing as they were sure Granny Deaver wouldn’t hurt him OR Kelly. Ignoring the multiple pinching/physical abuse incidents when the old lady was alive. [Wing: And the recent pinch after death! Whether it actually connects or not, that’s still some abuse.]
In bed, Kelly thought with horror and disgust knowing Granny Deaver’s ghost was hanging around in the attic right above her room. As Kelly finally fell asleep, she felt something brush against her cheek. Kelly could barely scream as Granny Deaver tried to pinch her cheek, the fake grandmother’s finger bones making more cracking sounds. However, while Kelly felt the cold, she couldn’t feel the pinch.
Granny Deaver droned on about how she couldn’t sleep, how maybe the dead don’t ever sleep and insisted Kelly keep her company. Boy, Kelly’s room is so much nicer and warmer than Granny Deaver’s attic room. Maybe Granny Deaver will live in Kelly’s room from now on. The dead need to stay close to the living, after all. As Granny Deaver tried to hug Kelly, Kelly did her best not to puke.
Rambling on, Granny Deaver talks about all the “nice people” she met at the cemetery. Well if they’re so nice why the fuck were you hanging out here? Granny Deaver went on about how she never believed in ghosts until she became a ghost.
“Oh, I did meet some ugly ghosts at the cemetery. You and your brother aren’t exactly the greatest-looking people in the world. But believe me, Kelly – you’re a beauty compared to them. These ghosts were ugly with a capital Ugh.”
“Thanks a bunch,” I muttered under my breath.
“They were falling apart,” Granny Deaver continued. “Just falling apart, piece by piece.”
She shook her head, frowning. “I said to them, ‘Listen to me. Just because you’re dead, you shouldn’t stop worrying about your appearance.'”
She sighed again. “But they were all so nice. Such good new friends. That’s the thing about dead people. They stick together. And they stick up for each other.”
Then go bother them, lady. Jesus.
As Granny Deaver floated around the ceiling, she exclaimed she’s flying like in Peter Pan.
That’s when Granny Deaver notices Kelly isn’t paying attention. How rude. Doesn’t she know a dead person’s talking to her? Kelly stammers she IS listening. She’s also really frightened.
Well Granny Deaver knows how to take a hint. She knows when she’s not wanted, yes she does.
Bitterly wishing Kelly pleasant dreams, Granny Deaver floats back up to the attic…
And starts howling.
The next morning Kelly hurried downstairs into the kitchen to brainstorm with her parents, only to find Granny Deaver hovering next to Jeff at the table. Mom’s really not handling this very well; Kelly notes her mother’s eye is twitching again.
Granny Deaver was too busy complaining about how runny the eggs supposedly are to notice or care about Kelly’s mom. She went further complaining what difference it makes. Granny Deaver’s dead, she can’t even taste them even if they are bad. Is it fair the dead can’t taste anything?
Rambling on as usual, Granny Deaver tells Kelly not to gawk as if she’s seen a ghost. Then laughs at her joke, quipping she’s certainly got spirit. [Wing: Oh no, I laughed.]
Kelly tries to see if Jeff’s okay when Granny Deaver snaps at them not to whisper, figuring they’re whispering about her. She won’t abide whispering or rudeness. Kelly then asks why Granny Deaver was howling all night, but Granny Deaver’s all “Iunno.” As Kelly complains about how loud the ghostly old woman was, Granny Deaver gets offended. She’s dead, she’s a ghost. Ghosts are supposed to howl. You’re so selfish Kelly. Don’t you ever think about someone else? And stop slouching, Jeff!
Jeff can’t ever get a break from Granny Deaver, in life OR death.
With Granny Deaver floating around, Kelly’s family can’t discuss how to get rid of her. Not to mention Granny Deaver’s super livid discovering they’re still having Kelly’s birthday party today. Oh, and is Granny Deaver invited?
That’s when Kelly finally snaps, screaming they’ve been planning this for weeks and no. Granny Deaver’s NOT invited, even if she IS a ghost! So why don’t you back the fuck off you geriatric Night of the Living BEYOTCH?!
Granny Deaver says nothing, only growing paler. She finally whispers she knows when she’s not wanted and floats through the kitchen door. Jeff hopes Granny Deaver might’ve finally disappeared for good. Too bad Dad saw her floating up the stairs. They have no idea if she’ll disrupt Kelly’s party.
After breakfast, Kelly’s family prepare for her birthday party. After decorating, Kelly’s dad gets the cake from the bakery while Mom prepares two homemade pizzas. Kelly’s friends Gina, Wendy, and Nedra arrive and wish her a happy birthday alongside condolences on her “grandma’s” death.
Worrying about Granny Deaver’s ghost ruining everything, Kelly’s nevertheless able to have fun with her friends and family. She opens her gifts, everyone has pizza, and then Mom comes in with Kelly’s birthday cake…
At which point Granny Deaver appears (now missing one eye), asking if Kelly saved some cake for her dear, dead granny.
Kelly’s friends flip their shit and run out of the house screaming their heads off. In the chaos, Mom drops the birthday cake on the floor. Kelly tries to get her friends to come back, while Granny Deaver bitches about the cake. Who gets chocolate for a birthday cake? Much too rich, in her opinion. Kelly loses her shit again and starts screaming at Granny Deaver for ruining her birthday, showing more of a spine than either of her parents ever had.
Raising her fists, Kelly lunges at the ghostly old woman and starts batting at her incorporeal form. Kelly screams at her over and over again to go away. At this, Granny Deaver recoils like a feral cat and hisses. The ghost’s eyes glow red, her teeth turn into fangs and her nails sharpen into claws.
“Kelly…” she rasped through her fangs. “Kelly… be careful. I’m a ghost, Kelly. I’m dead. I have my evil side now. You don’t really want to see my evil side – do you?”
If this is her evil side, then what the fuck was she when she was alive?
Startled, Kelly shrinks back and thinks for a moment this might not BE Granny Deaver. What if this is really some sort of creature that’s taken Granny Deaver’s form?
Actually that’s a good point. Some cultures postulate that a person’s anger and negative emotions can take on a form similar to them after they die. This could just be what was left of Granny Deaver when the rest of her got dragged into Hell.
Although considering what an absolute monster she was BEFORE she died, Kelly and I could be reaching.
Before Granny Deaver attacks, she suddenly stops. Her claws and fangs shrink and her eyes stop glowing red. All of sudden Granny Deaver seems very tired, very drained, and slowly floats back up to the attic.
While trying to clean up the cake splattered over the carpet, the family discusses what just occurred with Granny Deaver. She seemed weak now, but she also seemed weak at breakfast. Yet she came back stronger when she appeared at Kelly’s party. No one can come up with an answer as to how to get rid of Granny Deaver.
That night the family went out to eat dinner, dreading the return home. Kelly suggests they could sell the house and move without telling Granny Deaver their new address. But even Dad’s unwilling to trick a person into buying a house haunted by Granny Deaver.
While trying to sleep, Kelly’s once again accosted by Granny Deaver’s awful howling when she hears another sound. The doorbell.
Gasp! It’s the police!
Seems the neighbors called the cops about all the howling coming from the house. Kelly doesn’t have the patience for their dad to lie about “having a dog,” and exclaims they’re being haunted by a dead woman. The cop will believe it’s a ghost when he sees it.
At which point Granny Deaver appears, her claws and fangs back, roaring like a lion. The cop runs away screaming his head off, while Granny Deaver’s got bigger fish to fry. She demands to know if her so-called family called the pigs on her. Enraged, Granny Deaver barely waits for a response when she rips Kelly’s face off!
Or rather, she’s TRYING to rip Kelly’s face off but it’s not working!
Granny Deaver pathetically tries to slash up Kelly’s face, but Kelly doesn’t feel a thing. Her fear immediately disappears and Kelly starts laughing in Granny Deaver’s putrid face, exclaiming the old lady’s powerless. Realizing her ghostly powers are only for show and unable to handle Kelly’s lack of fear, Granny Deaver screams in despair.
And then she explodes.
Granny Deaver’s confetti like remains vanish while Jeff asks how Kelly got rid of her. Kelly realized Granny Deaver grew weak when she stood up to the ghost at breakfast, and at the party. Despite her appearance, the old ghost couldn’t handle someone talking back to her.
And now she’s gone! Granny Deaver’s gone for good!
But who’s that at the door?
Why, it’s all of Granny Deaver’s friends from the graveyard. They shamble into the house, mentioning how nice Granny Deaver was to invite them over to stay. As the zombies shamble into the house, Kelly’s dad stammers Granny Deaver’s not here.
That’s okay, Granny Deaver’s friends don’t mind waiting for her.
[Wing: Ghosts Go Booooooom. I need more confetti when I go boom.]
2. Spin The Wheel of Horror, a.k.a. “I’m Sorry Your Scream Must Be In The Form Of A Question”
Slim: Are you feeling lucky today?
Lefty: Yeah. A lucky thig happened to me. I found a cute little puppy on the street.
Righty: Wow. That is lucky.
Lefty: I know. It was delicious.
Righty: I’ve got my lucky rabbit’s foot right here.
Slim: But it’s still attached to the rabbit.
Righty: No wonder it won’t fit in my pocket!
Slim: Well, if you’re feeling lucky maybe you’d like to try playing a game.
Righty: Know what my favorite game is?
Righty: Spin the Human.
Slim: That’s not the game I was thinking of. I meant the TV game show in our next story – Spin the Wheel of Horror. A boy named Tyler and his family find the show very exciting. They have only one small problem. They can’t tell where the GAME ends and the HORROR begins…
The Banks Family were some lucky S.O.B.s.
No not THAT Banks Family. Tyler, his younger sister Emmy, and their parents were on their way to win their favorite game show, “The Wheel of Horror.” It’s a game where contestants lose if they scream. [Wing: I love it already.]
The audience and the host all dress up as monsters, the players spin the Wheel of Horror and must navigate throughout whatever setting the wheel lands on without screaming. There’s all sorts of gross, horrible places like the Monster Maze and the Ghoul Garage. People can win up to 100,000 dollars!
Emmy laughed thinking about the previous week’s contestants, who barely made it to the second floor of the Haunted House before they screamed. Tyler hoped they don’t get the Haunted House because he’s not fond of bats. Meanwhile, Dad tried to find the Biggie Burger sign. No they weren’t stopping to eat; Dad assures everyone they’ll have a feast after the show. No, he’s worried he missed the turn and got lost. They should’ve reached the TV studio by now.
Hmm, a TV studio secluded in the middle of a forest with nothing around for miles. Surely that’s not foreboding. [Wing: Funboding. It’s funboding!]
Emmy tells their dad to drive faster when suddenly they hear a siren. Oh of COURSE Tyler’s dad had to get caught in the only speed trap for miles. They’re never gonna get to Wheel of Horror on time. But that might be the least of their problems at the moment when Tyler sees the cop.
I turned to the front – and let out a terrified scream.
It wasn’t a policeman at all. It was the most hideous monster I had ever seen.
I mean, is there a difference?
Green scales covered his face. Three beady red eyes peered out from between the scales. Two of the eyes were in the regular place. The third one was where his nose should’ve been.
Instead of lips, he had a small black hole that made a bubbling, whistling noise as he breathed through it.
Mom immediately screams at her husband (John) to floor it, but Mr. John Banks starts laughing. Boy, it’s a good thing they hadn’t reached the studio or they would’ve lost by now. John obviously thinks the monster cop’s part of the show since everyone on Wheel of Horror dresses up like monsters. He figures they drove through a different entrance.
The monster cop growled and pointed in the direction to the entrance. As Dad drove off, Tyler looked back to see the cop still standing there and staring at the car. Boy, he was really committed to the role.
The Banks Family reached a parking lot and an old, brick building. Mrs. Banks was confused as this seemed too run down to be a TV studio. Even Tyler agreed the building looked like it might collapse at any moment. Dad shrugged, assuming it was the back entrance. Tyler figured this HAD to be the right place. The guard wouldn’t lie. Assuming that WAS a guard.
Upon entering the building, the Banks’ were dismayed to discover the inside was pitch black and seemingly empty. As they went further into the darkness, something grabbed Tyler’s waist!
The lights came on, and Tyler could see he was being held by a tall, bony monster!
Gray-white bones jutted through its papery skin. Dark eyes peered at me from deep, bony eye sockets. Its yellow teeth made clicking noises inside its shiny skull.
Oh shit it’s Discount Slenderman, Thinman!
Thinman pushed Tyler forward and made croaking noises like some diseased toad, swinging its bony arms in the air.
Thinman started chasing the Banks Family when-
“Let’s hear a big hand for today’s contestants on The Wheel of Horror!”
Tyler’s family found themselves surrounded by all sorts of monsters. Werewolves, mummies, aliens, you name it. And they were all cheering for the Banks’. Dad was certainly enjoying the validation as Tyler got a good look at their host.
A tall man wearing a dark suit and a swirling black cape strode toward us into the spotlight.
Did I say man?
Make that wolfman.
Emmy thought their host’s costume looked excellent, and Tyler was certainly impressed by the details. All that fur. Those pointy fangs.
[Wing: Hi Mr. Wolfman. Do you need a cohost?]
As the Wheel of Horror MC welcomed the family onto the show, he asked the Banks’ one very important question before the fan began.
“Would you like to be baked?” he asked. “Or fried?”
Well, Mrs. Banks figured baked was much healthier than fried. Tyler was confused. No episode of “The Wheel of Horror” ever opened with this kind of question.
But Tyler, how else do you explain that it’s time to [INSERT TITLE HERE].
The Emcee was joined by a tall, black-haired woman with sharp teeth and pale skin in a slinky red dress as she pulled out the infamous Wheel of Horror.
Today’s choices included:
- The Haunted House
- Slay Land
- The Hotel for Ghouls
- The Tunnel of Terror
- Monster Mall
- Gross National Park
The Banks Family each grabbed the handle and proceed to [INSERT TITLE HERE]. Tyler’s heart almost skipped a beat as the wheel slowed near the Haunted House, but it thankfully landed on the Hotel for Ghouls.
Damn, I’m dying to know what Slay Land’s deal is. [Wing: ME TOO. Do the contestants get stakes and holy water before they go through?]
The Emcee waved his arm and curtains near the back of the stage opened to reveal an old, abandoned hotel lobby.
“Check into the Hotel for Ghouls,” the host declared. “We hope you check out!”
A wall emerged, separating Tyler’s family from the audience. They were now on their own.
Inspecting the front desk, Tyler saw a skeletal hand resting atop a silver bell. Tyler wasn’t scared and swatted the hand away to ring the bell. Nothing.
That’s when Tyler felt a funny sensation…
In his PANTS.
Something wrapped itself around my leg. Under my jeans, right above my ankle. Something smooth and dry.
I could feel it wriggling slowly upward. Climbing my leg.
It was Emmy to the rescue, who dashed forward and clamped a hand over Tyler’s mouth. Like GEEZ Tyler, you wanna lose before the game’s barely started?
That was when Emmy felt something in HER pants too!
Tyler reached into his pants and pulled out a wriggling black snake. Emmy found a similar looking snake in her pants as well. Tyler threw them both away, only to see the hotel floor was literally covered in snakes!
[Wing: This is real gross. I love snakes and yet don’t want a surprise one in my jeans.]
Fighting back the urge to scream, Tyler and Emmy saw their parents on the other side of the room pressed up against the wall. The snakes began to pull Tyler and Emmy downward, wrapping around their arms and legs while they clung to the front desk. Tyler could feel a snake crawling up his back and wrapping itself around his neck.
Cold black eyes stared into mine as it bared its sharp fangs at my face.
Tyler mentally commanded himself not to scream as he fought his way free of the sea of snakes and climbed atop the front desk. Gritting his teeth, Tyler yanked off the snakes on his arms and legs and finally the stubborn serpent around his neck.
Trying to help his sister, Tyler pulled Emmy atop the desk and they worked to free themselves of the remaining snakes. Emmy periodically let out little squeaks of fear to avoid outright screaming, while Tyler gritted his teeth until they almost shattered. After a while, the snakes started swarming around the desk and vanished out of the hotel lobby.
Trouble is, it looked like they took Tyler’s mom and dad with them!
Tyler and Emmy began to look for their missing parents when they heard a low, automatic humming noise. Recognizing it as the sound of an elevator, the Banks’ siblings rushed to the other side of the lobby towards the elevator doors.
Inside the elevator was an operator dressed in a snazzy red and gold uniform with a black brimmed hat. The operator ushered the kids inside and planned to take them to Room 13. Would their parents be there? Maybe…
Once inside the elevator, Tyler and Emmy got a good luck at the operator’s face.
One side of the guy’s face was normal. A dark eyebrow. A blue eye. Mustache. Grinning mouth.
But the other half was a total mess. The eyeball hung out of its socket, oozing thick yellow slime. A scar ran through the eyebrow and down to the lips. Half the teeth were cracked and covered with green fuzz.
Okay so he’s a Two-Face cosplayer. [Wing: Real committed to the costume, I see.]
Tyler and Emmy figured maybe they’d be better off taking the stairs, when the light in the elevator went out. When the light came back on, Tyler and Emmy were all alone. The elevator than plunged downward.
It took a lot of willpower for Tyler and Emmy not to scream when the elevator hit the basement floor. The siblings were thrown about, but still didn’t scream. Prying the elevator doors open, the two found themselves in a scummy, disgusting looking swimming pool area. The pool was filled with steaming, disgusting green slime that smelled as awful as it looked. The walls and floor were covered in equally nasty looking scum.
Tyler and Emmy tried to make their way to the other side of the pool area when Emmy slipped on the scummy floor and began rolling towards the slime-filled pit. Trying to stop his sister from falling in, Tyler struggled to stand up properly when the two realized they weren’t alone.
Afraid of whatever was in the room with them, Tyler and Emmy tried to run but couldn’t due to the slippery, slimy floor. Emmy was content to crawl on her hands and knees through the slime when a voice called out to them. It was Mom and Dad Banks!
Parents tried to reach children as Mr. and Mrs. Banks explained how they fell through a panel in the lobby wall and were stuck wandering around in the dark. Tyler’s mom was thoroughly unnerved, and unsure if this truly was a game show. As best she could remember, “The Wheel of Horror” was never this nasty or unpleasant. And why are they all alone?
Mom went and jinxed it, because the elevator doors slid open to reveal two horrible monsters.
Huge creatures, taller than Dad! Thick fur covered their arms and legs, but their feet and hands were red and glistening, like big pieces of raw meat. Their heads were the size of basketballs, with leathery lips and burning red eyes.
Mom was convinced the monsters were real as they began to chase the family around the pool. Holding hands to stay together, the Banks Family tried to evade the monsters while keeping their balance. Suddenly, the floor began to rise up! Tilted upwards, the Banks Family lost control and began to slide towards the slime pool. Emmy, Dad, Mom, and then Tyler were submerged in the horrific goo.
Choking on the rotted green slime, Tyler couldn’t scream even if he wanted to. As he sunk to the bottom of the pool, the floor tilted once again and Tyler found himself falling downward. The stinking, choking sensation was immediately replaced by applause and laughter.
Opening his eyes, Tyler saw his family trying to clean off the green goo in front of the audience of monsters. The werewolf Emcee appeared to congratulate the family. Tyler couldn’t believe it. His family won “The Wheel of Horror!”
Except the Emcee doesn’t know what “The Wheel of Horror” is.
See, the Banks Family are actually at the Monster Lodge’s annual banquet.
And THEY are being served for lunch!
The Emcee explained that whole thing with the hotel and pool was to get the juices flowing. People taste much better when they’re thoroughly scared and traumatized. The pale woman from earlier reappeared wearing a paper bib with an image of a human on it, and she was pushing forward a huge bowl containing torn up scraps of bread.
After all, who serves up a meal without stuffing?
Dad Banks told his family to run for their lives, but they didn’t get far before encountering the monsters from the pool. The Emcee found their resistance humorous.
“Hey – we didn’t order dinner to go!” he chuckled. “Stick around, folks. Things are just about to get really hot! We’ve got a hungry crowd here.”
Tyler saw all the monsters in the audience were wearing identical bibs, and he started pleading for mercy. The Emcee assured Tyler his family would taste great as they were herded towards a huge, industrial oven.
The Banks Family were pushed towards the roaring oven, and Tyler saw all available exits were blocked by the monster encountered throughout the day. Feeling the heat on his face, Tyler wanted to scream but was too petrified. His entire family were frozen in fear.
And were now THE NEWEST CHAMPIONS ON “THE WHEEL OF HORROR!”
It was all part of the show the entire time! And not once did Tyler, Emmy, or the parents scream. What commitment, Wing! [Wing: Impressive. That shows real dedication.]
With that, the Banks Family were awarded $100,000!
Oh, but they’ve decided not to double their winnings on next week’s show.
They WILL, however, have lunch now.
All that terror really worked up an appetite, and Tyler’s family were super hungry.
I grinned at the emcee.
My fangs slid down over my bottom lip. Razor sharp. Perfect for chewing.
My claws popped out. Long claws. Excellent for slicing.
“Let’s eat!” Mom cried.
“Let’s eat!” Dad agreed.
And all four of us pounced on the emcee.
We didn’t even bother with the stuffing.
…so Tyler’s family just murdered a man in front of an entire studio audience and on live TV.
[Wing: Ahahahahahahaha, they’ll take that money and run.]
3. Teenage Sponge Boys From Outer Space, a.k.a. SpongeDirk SquareDeke
Slim: Hey, Lefty – I washed the car with that new sponge you bought. But it didn’t soak up the water very well.
Lefty: Sponge? What sponge?
Slim: You know. The big gray one.
Lefty: Gray one? That wasn’t a sponge. That was my cat!
Slim: No wonder! I thought it was awfully noisy for a sponge!
Righty: I suppose the next story is about a really scary sponge?
Slim: No. It’s abut some really scary aliens from another planet. It’s called Teenage Sponge Boys from Outer Space. Want to know the moral of the story?
Slim: Stay away from guys who wash the dishes with their heads! Dirk and Deke are the alien sponge boys in this story. They’re definitely a little soft in the head. But as Mac and Becky find out, the sponge boys can get very scary – if they decide to put the squeeze on you…
[Wing: I’m going to skip this one. I have a feeling the image of the sponge heads will trigger some intrusive thoughts.]
Mac and Becky, Becky and Mac. They sure are a couple of characters, they are.
Mac’s a budding deconstructionist. He loves to take things apart to see how they work. Unfortunately he’s not very good at putting them back together again. Just like Alan Moore. Mac’s parents are just about fed up with his probing mind due to everything he’s taken apart in their house.
Now Mac somehow has the gall to say Becky is a bit weird. It’s not because Becky loves watching TV. It’s because Becky loves watching the weather channel. She’s got to know about the local forecast and the national planner. Mac had to practically drag Becky out of her house to get to school on time, or she would’ve watched the forecast for every major city in America.
I don’t know if you could call them both neurodivergent or what.
It looked like the two besties were already pretty late because they didn’t see any of their classmates on the way to school. Becky was worried their teacher, Mrs. Mormando, would make them stay after school while Mac argued it was her fault they were behind schedule. Becky defended her interest in the weather channel as best she could.
“I’m sorry. But I have to watch the Weather Channel. What’s here today could be gone tomorrow. But if you watch the Weather Channel – you’ll always know what to expect!”
Oh my God.
Becky started talking about a warm front coming in from the Gulf when the kids heard an explosion that made the ground shake. Naturally the two went off to investigate and checked out the local woods, which are creepy even on the best of days. Mac thought it was strange that the woods were completely silent following that explosion. Becky wanted to head for school but Mac’s inquisitive nature was taking the lead when he tripped on a tree root and stumbled into a white cloud. Initially Becky thought this was fog, but Mac determined it was smoke. They were getting closer.
Mac had finally found the thing which caused the explosion, but Becky found something even better. A pinecone! Not just any pinecone, but a pinecone with its scales open! According to “Weather Wise,” an open-scaled pinecone means the weather will be nice. It’s like a mini Groundhog’s Day!
Well geez Mac, it’s certainly cooler than that moldy tent you apparently found. Geez.
Becky finally dragged Mac to school and they tried to sneak into class, hoping Mrs. Mormando wouldn’t catch them. Too bad for them, because their teacher suddenly announced that she wanted everyone who arrived late to stand up. And she knew who they were.
Oh Mac, Becky, you two were late as well? No she meant Dirk and Deke in the back. Oh well, detention for you too. The four kids would have to stay after school to write compositions on punctuality.
Mac felt more embarrassed for Dirk and Deke, two brothers who began attending school in September. The two didn’t seem to have any friends and were both kind of funny looking. Really tall and really skinny, with bumpy, chalk-white skin. No one knew anything about them.
When it was time to study math, Mrs. Mormando had equations on the chalkboard for everyone to answer. Mac struggled with his when he noticed Dirk was also having a hard time. That was when Mac noticed Dirk erasing the his mistake…
With his HEAD!
Mac tried to act like he didn’t see what Dirk did, but he was certain Dirk noticed. Trying to be discreet, Mac noticed Dirk writing a new answer while he had chalk dust covering his forehead.
During lunch, Mac tried to explain to Becky what he saw Dirk doing but Becky kept cutting him off. She was appalled that Mac had the nerve to call anyone strange. Still sore about being late, Becky told Mac to get drinks for the both of them. After buying two cans of soda, Mac tossed one towards Becky at her urging.
The can sailed through the air…
And hit Deke right in the head!
AND BOUNCED OFF WITH A SOFT THUD.
Deke looked up at Mac and give a scowl identical to his brother’s. Mac watched in horror as the bumps on Deke’s skin turned bright red and shot out. Too terrified to apologize again, Mac hurried over to Becky.
“Did you see the can of soda bounce off Deke?”
“Yeah,” she answered. “He must have a really hard head!”
After school, Mac and Becky dragged themselves down the street. Their hands were sore from writing ten pages each on punctuality. Becky started talking about a cool new show that’s sure to be hip with the youngins.
“It was called Spring Fever and Other Weather Diseases. It was a special program on the Weather Channel. It was all about how the weather affects our bodies.”
“Can’t we talk about something else?” I begged.
Becky started rattling off various weather-based ailments and Mac lied about knowing them all to end the conversation. However, Becky is not one to be fooled so easily when a voice announced Mac doesn’t know anything. Dirk and Deke appeared in front of the kids, and despite Becky’s mood she defended her bestie saying Mac knows lots of stuff. Just not about the weather or math. Dirk and Deke were unamused and grabbed the two kids, dragging them into the woods!
No matter how much they fought and yelled, Mac and Becky couldn’t free themselves from Dirk and Deke. The brothers had something important to show them.
The two guys lifted their hands and placed them on the sides of their heads.
Then they pressed their hands down – and squeezed!
Their heads were soft!
They pushed some more – and pushed on their mushy heads.
I stared in shock as they squeezed and pinched and molded their skulls.
As their heads shrank, their eyes moved in toward each other. Their noses sank into their faces.
They pressed some more – until they had squeezed their heads into two tiny knots.
Then they lifted their hands – and BOING! Their heads sprang back out. Their eyes slid back into place. Their noses popped out.
Mac and Becky were practically at a loss for words as Dirk revealed he and his brother are [INSERT TITLE HERE]. And to prove it – like they needed more proof – the brothers revealed their crashed spaceship. Seems the Sponge Boys just got their licenses and took a spaceship out for a joyride, but crashed on Earth.
“Good thing we have air bags,” Dirk added.
Do you two even need them?
The Sponge Boys have been trying to get their ship fixed for months but nothing’s worked. They need to get off Earth. It’s not suitable for Sponges. And they’re only telling Mac and Becky this because they’re going to help the Sponge Boys repair their ship.
If they know what’s good for them.
It’s all because Mac saw Dirk erase that answer with his head, and then when Deke didn’t get hurt after the soda can hit him. They know too much already, so now they have to help.
And they will.
After three days, Mac and Becky were exhausted. Each afternoon and night they were forced into the woods to bring the Sponge Boys tools they needed to fix the ship. Mac and Becky were barely getting any sleep, and this sneaking around was ruining their nerves. While Becky wondered about what the Sponge Boys could do to them, Mac was too scared to find out. Becky was running out of patience because she did NOT appreciate what this was doing to her school work. Mac understood, but what choice did they have?
The Sponge Boys believed their ship was ready to go, but they needed a new power source. That’s where the battery in Mac’s family’s car came into the picture. But the kids had to get the battery out of the car quietly.
“If your dad catches you doing this, you’re going to be in major trouble,” Becky warned.
“Gee, thanks, Becky. I didn’t realize that.”
Mac managed to unhook the battery but Becky dropped a wrench, waking up Mac’s parents. When Mr. Mac’s dad came outside he demanded to know why Mac wasn’t in bed and what Becky was doing here. Concealing their attempted theft, Mac lied about doing astronomy homework.
Despite it being cloudy out.
Their teacher advised them to use their…
Dad apparently bought this lie and told the kids to hurry up before it gets too late.
Becky grumbled about having to pull out the battery and swore she’d never help Mac again. Mac figured if the Sponge Boys don’t kill them, his dad will when he notices the battery’s gone.
…of course, there was no telling if the car battery would actually work on the spaceship.
Mac and Becky met up with Dirk and Deke, who looked positively ghoulish in the light of a battery-powered lamp. Becky shoved the battery into Deke’s arms and hoped that was the end of it, but the Sponge Boys needed Mac to hook the battery up. Mac desperately tried to explain that he was horrible at putting things back together so the Sponge Boys began threatening him. Becky was fed up and demanded to know what, exactly, they could do.
Dirk showed Becky exactly what he and his brother were capable of when he grabbed Mac’s hand. Mac expected to feel pain, but he couldn’t feel, well, anything.
…because Dirk turned his hand INTO A SPONGE!
I raised my hand – and watched my fingers flop in the air.
I touched them.
My skin didn’t feel like skin. My bones were gone!
My fingers felt soft and squishy – like sponges!
The Sponge Boys threatened to do much worse as one of them reached towards Becky’s head! Mac swore they would do whatever the Sponge Boys wanted if they turned his hand back to normal. Dirk clapped his hands twice and Mac’s hand was restored.
Mac was left to fumble around as he struggled to determine the best way to connect the car battery to the inside of the spaceship. He eventually connected half the cables to one side of the battery and vice versa.
Becky hoped they could leave, but the Sponge Boys figured they should take on final inspection before takeoff. The interior of the ship did look pretty impressive to Mac and Becky. The Sponge Boys were glad the kids liked it…
Because they’re taking Becky and Mac home with them!
See, Mac and Becky just know too much about the Sponge Boys. Even as the kids promised they wouldn’t tell anyone about them, Dirk and Deke thought it was too risky to let them go.
Becky quietly told Mac they had to stall the Sponge Boys and keep them from getting inside the ship. They came up with all sorts of excuses. Mac’s shoelace was untied. They had to stretch before entering the cramped ship. They had to say goodbye to everything on Earth.
Good-bye rocks, dirt, school, homework, TV, Dad, Mom, the President, Baywatch, bathtubs, insulin, that one really good episode of Law & Order.
And that’s when it started to rain.
Becky patted herself on the back; she KNEW those were stratocumulus clouds in the sky. The Sponge Boys couldn’t handle the sudden downpour as their bodies soaked up the rain. Their heads swelled up to the size of watermelons and they could barely think. Mac first applauded Becky for her stalling, then they threw the Sponge Boys into the ship, turned on the ignition, and watched as the ship blasted off into the sky.
Bye-bye Sponge Boys!
Mac and Becky went back to their houses when Mac ran into his mom. She wanted to make sure his “astronomy” project was done.
Oh, Mac, what’s that in your hand?
That’s when Mac realized he had a bolt from the space-ship.
And that’s when everyone heard the loud crash in the woods.
It took me five fucking years to finally finish this recap and I’m glad to be done with it. I’m not sure when I’ll ever get to Book Two because I don’t have the stomach for it right now.
My ranking of the three stories goes in the order they’re read. The first is the strongest but they get weaker afterwards. Granny Deaver is a great antagonist and the situation Kelly’s family finds themselves in having to deal with her abuse is one I think a lot of us can relate to. The ending to the second story feels tacked on at the last second. I don’t particularly care for the third, even if Becky’s delightfully weird and the visuals with the Sponge Boys give us an idea of what Vanessa probably did to that one kid in Chicken Chicken.
It’s too bad “Ghost Granny” couldn’t have been its own novel.
[Wing: I think the second story has a lot of potential, but you’re right, the ending felt tacked on. I could do with a lot more of a horror game show with real monsters.]