Monday, 31 October 2016

Goosebumps Chillogy III: The Ghostwriter

The giant worm comes barrelling towards me like a speeding train. I barely have enough time to grab the book tucked into my waistband.
   "AAAGH!" I scream, horrified, twisting the book around. There's a slurping, sucking sound as the worm is pulled back into the pages of its book, over twenty metres of the worm is sucked up like spaghetti into the pages, until with a pop! it reverts back into printed ink. I sigh, collapsing to my knees. "Now, that is a better cliffhanger . . ."
I catch my breath, then get to my feet, collecting up the two Goosebumps books once more, and heading around the side of the house to get back inside. I walk through the garden, as I do, mud seeps into my right sock, since I'd thrown my right shoe at the worm.
  "Really? This is my night . . ." I say, trudging up the cleared patch under the tree at the side of the house which we call the grove. As I pass the rain tank, I hear a soft groaning sound behind me. I whirl around, attack ready, and see men with mud caked all over their bodies, still wet and dripping. I watch as more of them drag themselves up from the wet dirt.
  "You can't scare me," I say, walking around the water tank. I grab the hose, switch on the pump, and spray the monsters. I spray the first one in the face, making it yell out and groan, but the mud washes away leaving behind yellowed bones, which collapse loosely on the ground. There are three mud-zombies in total, but after a minute of washing them off, there's nothing but three piles of loose bones. "Sorry, you're cool, but I just don't have time for you right now."
I walk back around the tank and up the steps, my soggy sock squelching with every second step. I head through the gate and into the barbeque area, where I'd seen the blue monster and viking lady before. But they're no longer there. Instead, in the middle of the barbeque area, is a large, muscular man wearing a blue outfit like some kind of superhero; a cape with armoured chest, blue boots and gloves, and a mask that covers his face and appears to have cheek-guards reminiscent of tusks or stylized mandibles. I recognize him as the Masked Mutant.
As soon as he sees me, he marches towards me and grabs me by the neck, lifting me in the air.
  "Where is the Galloping Gazelle?!" demands the Masked Mutant.
  "Ugh h've nnh uh-duh wuh yrg trg-uh abuh," I choke out. the Mutant drops me and grabs my chin with his other hand.
  "What did you say, kid?"
  "I said . . . fuck you," I say, catching my breath. "Also, I have no idea what you're talking about."
  "I demand you answer me," said the Masked Mutant. "If you don't tell me where he is, I will destroy you!"
  "Mate, if he's not here then he didn't come out of the book!" I say. "There is no Gazelle, you're all that came out of the book!"
  "Do you know who you're talking to?" says the Masked Mutant. "I am the Masked Mutant, the most evil supervillain in the known universe! I can change my form on the molecular level into any known object, substance, creature or human being! Why, even before I'd discover my astounding abilities, I was . . ."
I look around as the Mutant continues to monologue, and I see the axe. I had left it leaning against the wall just inside the sliding door, and now it was resting just four metres away. The Mutant is distracted, so I point at the barbeque and scream.
  "Galloping Gazelle, look out!" The Mutant looks around at the distraction, and I immediately run past him to the door, I slide open the glass and grab the axe in one hand.
  "No, be careful my boy," says a plump man with a white moustache. The man sitting at the piano stands and approaches me. "You should not go swinging around an axe with one hand!"
  "What." I say.
  "Please, you have such . . . wonderful hands!"
I immediately swing the axe at the old man's head. It hits him in the face with a metallic thunk! and a burst of sparks.
  "Sorry, Doctor Shreek. Bigger things right now . . ." I say, I rip the axe out and swing it at his neck, lopping it off. The head rolls off, wires and loose bolts spilling from the stump. Then, I turn back to the Mutant.  "See? I have a weapon and I'm not afraid to use it!"
  "You're not afraid?" says the Mutant, slowly walking towards me. As he does, his skin and costume changes colour to a shiny silver. " . . . you should be."
I back away, in measured paces, until I feel the back of the couch behind me. I turn around to see the living room full of monsters. The pumpkin-aliens, a Horror, Ivanna the Viking, Fleg the blue beast. But all of them were looking at the Masked Mutant, worriedly.
  "All of you should fear me! I am the greatest being in the universe!" the metal Masked Mutant roared, enthusiastically.
  "We beg to differ . . ." said a pumpkin-head, its voice hoarse and dry. The two of them floated up off of the couch, their black robes draping under them loosely, and they flew over the couch to flank me on either side. As they stood their, the flames in their pumpkin head flared up brightly, spilling out of their mouths and eyes. "You are nothing to us . . ." said the other "We eat pitiful creatures like you."
  "Haha, Fools!" said the Mutant. His skin returned to its original colour as he reached into a pouch on the back of his belt and withdrew what looked like a small, yellow, plastic water pistol. He pulled the trigger, and the gun emitted a high-pitched whistle. The pumpkin-head beside be began to glow a bright white. He turned it to the other and pulled the trigger again. The both of them glowed, then burst into crackling electricity as they began to melt. Their flames flickered out as their heads rotted and crumpled, and they shrank smaller and smaller down to nothing, leaving behind only their black cloaks on the floor either side of me.
  "There's no match for the Masked Mutant's Molecular-Melter!"
Seeing the pumpkin-heads melted down to literally nothing, I nope the hell out of there and run into the master bedroom. I close the door behind me and tip over the standing armoire in front of it with a crash! to barricade the doorway. Then turn to face the room.
  "Fuck a duck in a truck . . ." I say, looking around. The entire room is splattered with blank, oily liquid, on the walls, floor, bed and ceiling. By the window, the two Barking Ghost dogs are there, looking like oil-spill victims, shivering and soaked in black. Standing on the bed, holding hands, are three grey schoolkids, all wearing old-fashioned uniforms and their skin is monochrome, black and white like an old photo They turn to me. There's black gunk dripping from their mouths.
  "Turn, turn, turn to grey . . ." they all say in unison, and together they look at me and start walking over the bed towards me. "Turn, turn, turn to grey."
Behind me, there's a high-pitched whistle, and the door starts to glow white and spark with electricity.
  "Thanks, but no thanks!" I say to the kids, and run towards the en suite. I slide open the door and step in, and immediately slip on some blue goo on the floor.
  I grab the counter to regain my balance, and see that the floor and walls are splattered with blue gunk. The blue monster bloods had, as I expected, overpopulated and then destroyed each other, but had left behind a disgusting mess. "What is is with Stine and coloured goo?" I say, closing the door behind me. I hear the muffled sound of the Mutant barging into the room, and monologuing at the kids as the Molecular-Melter fires again.
  "What the hell am I going to do about this guy?"
Tap tap tap.
I turn to the shower to see the mermaid there, behind several splatterings of blue monster blood blood (that's not a typo, that's what it is), tapping on the glass with her nails. She peers through a gap in the muck, then taps her finger on the glass, pointing at the towel rack beside me.
I look at the towel rack, and see that there's no towel there. The en suite had white or red towels, but there was what looked like a furry grey and brown towel with a strange shape, and claws hanging down. I lift the fur off of the rack and open it up. It had four legs, claws, and even a canine face, with teeth, but empty eye-holes.
  "Werewolf Skin!" I cry out, I place one hand on the shower glass. "Thank you."
The mermaid nods, and I pull the Skin over my head, through the split in the belly. I pull my legs through, then my arms. As I do, the skin moulds tight to my body and I feel . . . wild.
I push open the door, and see the Mutant standing in front of the bed, with three empty, grey school uniforms piled atop it; which, if I wasn't currently lycanthropic and aware of the molecule-melting situation, would have set off a lot of alarm bells.
  "I bet you didn't see this coming!" I growl, my voice much deeper and more animalistic. I leap upon the Mutant's back and grab the yellow gun in his hands. His grip is too strop to wrench it away, but I pierce it with my new claws and crush the gun in our hands. The Mutant throws me off of him with his arm, and turns to face me.
  "So, this is your super power, is it?" says the Mutant. " . . . this is mine."
The Mutant's body changes to a slightly off-coloured yellow. I dive forward and bite his shoulder, but my teeth can't break his skin and it just tastes like rubber, so I give him a swift kick that throws him across the room and leave.
I walk into the living room, and see the Horror and Ivanna sitting on the couch.
  "Can I borrow this?" I snarl, pointing at the couch. The two of them stand up, and I grab the couch with my new werewolf strength, cramming it into the doorway. Then I grab the piano and drag it across as well, blocking the way.
I turn around to see Hannah standing there,  gobsmacked.
  "Matt? Is that you?" she says.
  "Yeah, it's . . . just a second." I grunt, and I pull the skin off over my head. "Woah. It's sweaty in this thing,  but really cool."
  "Yeah, that was AWESOME, man!" says a small voice behind me,  making me jump.
  "Cheeses! Who the hell . . .?"
  "Sorry. Hi, I'm Brent. I'm invisible," says the empty air behind me. "I've been watching you guys. So cool . . . I was hoping I could help."
  "I dunno, I guess. Does Stine have all the books?" I ask.
  "I think so. I saw him with another armload of books a moment ago."
  "Fantastic.  Uh, Invisible boy? "
  "Brent. My name's Brent."
  "Okay,  if you want to help, come help us get the monsters back into their books. Follow me."
I lead the way around into the hallway, past the melted vampire-zombie corpses just outside the dining room and towards the spare room. As we approach, Stine steps out, closing the door behind him.
  "Hey, children," he says. "Did you get the books?"
  "Right here," I say, holding them out. Stine steps forward, snatching them. "Excellent, excellent. Now,  we have all of . . . where is your right shoe?"
  "Oh, I threw it at a giant robo-mantis."
  "Right . . . I have all of the books. I just need the monster blood."
  "Monster blood? Why?"
  "I don't have time for stupid questions, get it now!"
  "We need to get it anyway," says Hannah. "Didn't you say it grows over time? We should put it back so it doesn't get too big."
  "Right," I say, glancing at Stine, as he closes the door. "We'll need a bucket."
Hannah opens the laundry door and steps inside. We follow, but as we do Hannah kneels down to the floor.
  "D'awww . . . hey, little guy," she says, and I see she's kneeling down to a small, white bunny rabbit on the floor. "What are you doing in here?"
  "Layin' low while that ape monster's charging around," growls the bunny in a gruff voice.
  "Did that rabbit . . . talk?" asks Brent.
  "I ain't a rabbit," says the bunny. "I look like a rabbit, but I'm a magician. I'm called The Great Amaz-O!"
  "That's so cool! And you're a cute, little bunny too," says Brent,
  "Don't call me c-" suddenly the rabbit flies up in the air by the scruff of its neck. "Woah! Hey! Put me down!"
  "Brent? I assume that's you," I say.
  "This ain't a petting zoo, kid!" shouts Amaz-O, as Brent begins petting him, messing up his fur.
  "Looks like you're having a bad hare day," I say, smirking. Hannah just stares at me blankly. " . . . never mind, it's a stupid reference. Come on, let's get the bucket."
I grab the bucket from the sink and lead the way towards the bathroom, down the hallway.
  "Where are you takin' me?" says Amaz-O.
  "I couldn't just leave you alone in there," says Brent.
  "Fine, then leave me alone in here!" says Amaz-O.
  "Hey, there's no need to be rude," says Brent.
As we open the bathroom door, the ghosts all look over to see us.
  "What's going on?" says a young black ghost with cornrows in her hair. "We heard some strange noises out there."
  "We're just here for the monster blood," I tell her. "Don't worry, this will be dealt with soon."
  "I'll deal with you soon if you don't put me down!" barks Amaz-O.
  "Do you really want me to put you down?" says Brent, and I see Amaz-O float over the bathtub filled with green monster blood. "How about now? Should I put you down now?!"
  "No! Brent, STOP!" I yell out.
After a moment Amaz-O floats away from the tub, and places the rabbit beside the sink, but he's still shaking.
  "I was just joking," says Brent. But as I stare warily at the empty space he's occupying, I remember that in My Best Friend is Invisible (his Goosebumps book) Brent was the antagonist. I make a mental note to be cautious of him.
  "Come on, let's get the blood and go." I say, I take the black bucket and put it at one end of the tub, then scoop along, getting a good lump of blood. I pull the bucket up, but as I do, I feel a tug as the blood pulls back. "Woah, guys, guys! Help!" Hannah appears beside me, and I feel Brent on the other side, grabbing the bucket. All three of us heave, but more blood creeps up and around the bucket. The weight becomes too much and it starts pulling us down towards the tub.
  "It's too strong," says Brent, suddenly letting go.
  "Woah! WAIT!"
As Brent let's go, the force overcomes Hannah and me, and I fall forwards.
  "I gotcha!" calls Hannah, grabbing me by the arm. She helps me get back on my feet and I watch the blood suck the bucket down into it, swallowing it up. I look over at Brent; at least, I look where Brent was a second ago.
  "Damn it, Brent! That was the biggest bucket we have!"
  "I'm sorry," says Brent. "It was hurting my arms."
  "It's fine, we can just get another bucket, right?" says Hannah.
  "Sure," I say. "Come on."
We head right back out of the room, through the hall and back into the laundry. We start opening cupboards and looking around.
  "Damn it . . . I can't find any more buckets."
  "Me either," says Hannah.
  "I know!" says Brent. "What about we suck it up with the vacuum cleaner!"
  "What? No," I say.
  "Trust me, it'll work," says Brent, and I hear footsteps as he runs out of the laundry and opens the broom cupboard, and screams!
  "Brent!" Hannah calls out, and we run out to see an old, man wearing a black cloak stepping out of the broom closet.
  "Count Nightwing . . ." I say. "Help! Stine, we need Vampire Breath!" I call out. Stine angrily steps out of the spare room with a book in his hands.
  "Yes, do you have the vampire breath?" says the old vampire.
Stine silently opens the book, and cries out as he twists it around. The vampire is swiftly sucked up into the book with a pop!, Closing the book, Stine looks at us.
  "Did you get the monster blood?" he asks.
  "Uh . . . no, not yet."
  "Hurry up, then," he says, and he goes back inside, closing the door behind him.
  "How can we get it without a bucket?" asks Hannah.
  "Well, we could get a plant pot from outside," I say, "but we'd need one without holes in it."
  "Sure, let's give it a go," says Brent, enthusiastically. We start heading for the front door, right through the kitchen and past the living room when there's a sudden loud crash! From the master bedroom, a silverback gorilla smashes through the couch, and begins pummeling the piano to break through. With a smash and a crunch, it punches its way out, then stands on its hindlegs. As we watch, it quickly changes, its chest shrinking and legs growing, and the Masked Mutant is revealed once more.
  "Oh no, he's free . . . how are we gonna stop him?" I ask.
  "You! Wolf-boy!" cries out the Masked Mutant, pointing at me. "Did you honestly believe that you could escape my clutches?"
  "Yep!" I call out, and I grab Hannah's hand. "Run!"
We race down the hall, to the other end of the house. But the Mutant runs to follow right behind us.
  "You can't run away so easily. Come back and fight, boy!" calls the Mutant, his cape billowing behind him dramatically.
  "Where can we run?" she says.
  "I've got an idea," I say, and I lead us into the bathroom and stand near the tub.
  "Now what?"
There's a bang, and we both jump, whirling around to see the Mutant there, slamming his fist on the sink top counter.
  "Trapped. In the corner, like rats . . ." says the Mutant, cruelly.
  "You think you're so amazing, don't you?" I say, to the Mutant. "Can become anyone? Anything?"
  "Of course," says the Mutant. "I am the greatest supervillain in the universe!"
  "Fine, prove it." I say, pointing at the tub. "Turn into that."
The Masked Mutant looks at the tub, then at me, then back at the tub. Then bursts into laughter. A loud, hearty cackle.
  "You FOOL!" he says. "Do you really believe I'd be so foolish as that? To transform into a liquid, despite knowing that in an aqueous state, my molecular bonds are too weak to reconstitute myself?"
  "What? That was your plan?" says Hannah.
  "Whu- . . . Why are you cross at me? It worked in the book!" I say, exasperated.
  "I'm smarter than my book," says the Masked Mutant. "Even smarter than Stine. You cannot defeat me with such meager and pitiful attempts at deceit! I am the-"
suddenly, three ghosts appear behind him and shove him hard. The Mutant gasps as he loses his footing and lands with a splat! into the monster blood.
  "You despicable wretch!" cries out the Mutant, as he gets up onto his knees. "Why, I'll get your-" He tries to stand, but his hands are stuck down. "What is this . . . matter?"
The monster blood creeps up and around his cape as he tries to lift his arms, but then the green goo starts to suck him down.
  "No, no!" he cries out. His body begins to shift, and he transforms into a bear. The grizzly writhes and pulls, but can't get loose. So, he changes back, and morphs into rock, and tries punching at the goo, but it continues to suck him down. "No! What is this?!" he cries. He changes into an octopus, and reaches out with tentacles to drag himself out. Then he changes to ice, trying to freeze it and crack it; then a snake; then metal; a horse; sand; a tiger; a plants. He shifts and morphs as quickly as he can, but no matter what he does the monster blood pulls him down lower and lower . . . until finally, he sinks below the surface with a bubble and a bloomp! as he breathes his final breath.
  "Wow, he's gone," says Hannah.
  "Who pushed him in?" I say, looking around "Brent?"
But then three ghosts step forward, an older boy and girl, alongside a much younger boy.
  "He deserved it," says the girl.
  "Oh, thanks, I guess," I say. "Have you seen an invisible boy arou- . . . wait, never mind."
  "Now the tub's so full," says Hannah, "how can we bring it to Stine?"
  "I dunno. Let's just tell him it's messed up, and see what he can do about it . . ."
We head out of the bathroom, towards the spare room, but as we pass by the dining room table, we hear a voice whispering.
  "Hey, don't go in there," says a small voice from the kitchen.
  "Who said that?"
  "Brent?" says Hannah.
  "No, down here," says the voice, and we look over at the benchtop to see a small, green head sitting there, looking up at us.
  "Why don't you want us to go in the room?" I ask it.
  "Because of what I've seen," it says. "You through the weird sponge at the dummy, and it was rolling around for a while, but then the snow-ape came over, and he gave the sponge to it. The thing fell and cut itself on the broken shelf, then the dummy went into the corner room. That's when that goose with the cape came out, and shot it with the disintegrator gun. Killed the poor thing."
  "So, Slappy let out the Mutant?" I say. "That explains why he knew about his weakness . . . he must have read it. But why shouldn't we go in there? We have to deal with all the monsters, eventually. Why not face him again?"
  "That ain't the half of it," says the shrunken head. "Then the writer went in there with more books, and hasn't come out except when you showed up."
  "You think Stine's working with Slappy?" I say.
  "I dunno, I'm just telling you what I saw, but didn't you think he was acting kinda rude?" says the head. "Seems out of character for a kind-looking man like that."
  "That explains why he wants the monster blood," I say. "If Slappy eats the monster blood, he'll grow enormous again. There will be no stopping him then . . ."
  "Slappy must be controlling Stine somehow," says Hannah. "So, if he has the writer, and all of the books . . ."
  "Yeah, not good. But thanks for telling us, Head."
  "Don't mention it," says the shrunken head.
  "I know, I've got an idea!" says Brent's voice.
  "Wait, what?! Brent, how long have you been standing there?" I ask. But there's just silence. "Brent?"
I walk around, looking, but I can't see anything moving from an invisible force.
  "Brent!" I call out.
  "In here!" a voice calls from the lounge room. I head in in time to see something green and rubbery by the TV unit floating up into the air, the Haunted Mask.
  "You used a magic costume last time to fight the Mutant, right?" says Brent, and I see the mask suddenly grow taught around an invisible face as he puts it on.
  "Brent, no! Not the Haunted Mask!"
But it's too late. the Mask looks at the two of us and growls.
  "Now, let's go get us a dummy!" rasps Brent, in the mask. The mask floats towards us, but I stand there firm.
  "Brent, stop. The haunted mask is dangerous. It gets inside your head. Take it off now!"
  "What?!" says Brent. "But I just put it on! Come on, I'll kill the dummy, it will be fun . . ."
  "No." I say.
But the empty sockets of the mask stare at me eerily.
  "That's all you ever say to me. 'No, Brent. Stop, Brent. No no NO, Brent!'. I'm sick of it. This time, we're doing it my way!"
Brent gives me a shove that sends me flying back, and I slam backwards into the pantry cupboard, the handles digging into my spine painfully.
  "Aagh! Damn it, Brent!" I say. Hannah follows the floating mask, heading for the spare room. Holding my sore back, I follow them both.
  "Brent, don't," says Hannah, but he heads into the room.
  "Come here, Slappy, and I'll eat you right up!" growls the mask. Hannah and I follow in after him, and see Stine standing quietly by the window, and the books piled up on the ironing board. But next to the ironing board was Slappy, and he was sitting with his legs hanging off the edge, and a typewriter in his lap.
  "Is that any way to speak to your master?" says Slappy, and he starts hitting the keys with his wooden hands. Suddenly, the mask bursts into flames. Billy starts screaming, and Slappy laughs out loud. Slappy types some more, and Billy stops screaming, but the mask continues, quietly, the rubber of the mask melting and turning black.
  "Hee hee hee! That's more like it!" he says. Then he turns to me.
  "Well, well, well . . . have you brought me my Monster Blood yet, slave?"
  "No," I say. "Also, side-note . . . not your slave. Never will be, so get used to that."
  "Hee hee hee!" Slappy laughs. "Think again, slave. I'm the one writing this story now, not Stine . . ."
Slappy starts tapping the keys, then Brent's burning mask turns to face me. Then so does Hannah. And Stine. They each take a step towards me.
  "Oh my god, what's happening?" says Hannah. "Matt, I can't control myself. I can't move my legs!"
  "Calm down, I understand. It's the typewriter, from The Blob that Ate Everything. If you write on it, what you write happens."
  "Yes," says Slappy. "And what I write on it is 'the foolish boy gets attacked by all of his friends'. Hee hee hee!" Slappy looks at the typewriter, but then stops.
"Wait . . . I have a better idea. Something more poetic."
Slappy begins typing. As he does, Stine selects a book from the middle of the pile of goosebumps books.
  "You know an awful lot about these books, don't you boy?" says Slappy, as he types. "But tell me, do you know how to kill a monster?"
Stine opens up the book towards me, and with a pop! and a puff of smoke, a tall monster appears, covered in green fur with a crocodile-like  face. I stumble back, tripping over my own feet as the monster roars and falling on my back. I quickly get to my feet, but then stop still.
  "Wait . . . I know that book," I say. I turn around and shove my hand into the crocodile's mouth.
  "What are you doing?!" cries Hannah.
But then, the monster gets a strange look in its bulging eyes, it gags and coughs, backing away.
  "Human?" it says, and I smile.
  "Yes . . . you're allergic to humans, aren't you?"
  The monster grabs its throat, and gags as its eyes roll up in its head, then it collapses onto the carpet. Stone cold dead.
  "WHAT?!" shrieks Slappy. "Allergic to humans?! What kind of writer are you?"
  "I write kids books," says Stine.
Slappy scowls angrily.
  "Fine," he says, tapping the typewriter once more. "Stine, get a monster that's made to kill humans, then!"
Stine rifles through the books, once more. As he does, I see that most of them are empty, with blank pages from the escaped monsters, but then he pulls out A Night in Terror Tower, he opens it and there's another pop and puff of smoke. Through the smoke out steps an executioner, wearing a hood to cover his face, and a large, menacing axe in his bulging arms.
  "Excellent!" says Slappy, typing on the machine again. "Now . . . kill him."
The Executioner advances, and swings his axe. Screaming, I jump back and run out of there, headed for the hallway. I turn towards the living room, then stop. What about the study? I think, and turn around, running into the corner study. I head inside, and close the door behind me. Inside, I see a woman with a pale face whose age I can't place, she has long black hair and a black skirt, but a bright red shawl around her shoulders.
  "Sorry, I need this," I say, pulling the printer stand across, so it's blocking the doorway. "There's a crazy guy with an axe out there,"
  "Thanks for letting me know," says the woman flatly in a deep, slightly croaky voice.
Moments later, the tip of the axe blade slams into the door with a crack! then it's pulled back and slams again, this time further in.
  "Oh, crap . . ." I say, looking around. but this room only has one exit and my murderer is behind it. "Now I wish I'd gone the other way."
  "Be careful what you wish for . . ." says the woman, then she closed her eyes. With a sudden flash of light, the room disappears. I find myself standing in the living room. Several of the monsters turn to look at me again.
  "What's going on?" I say. "What did she say? 'Be careful what . . .' Oh my goodness, she's the witch that grants wishes!" I say. I hear a loud crack! and turn to see the Executioner swinging the axe at the door, but he turns to see me, and turns away from the door again.
  "Wishes that don't always work!" I yell out as I run. I lap around the kitchen and head back around towards the room. Thankfully, the Executioner is big and slow, so I make distance between us by running back around to the study. run up to the door, and peek through one of the new axe holes.
  "Psst, hey!" I call in, seeing the woman once more. "You grant wishes, right?"
  "I can, yes . . ." she says.
  "Can you grant me a wish?"
  "Of course," she says. "What would you like?"
  "Okay, well, uh . . . I wish all these Goosebumps villains were back in their books!" I yell out.
She nods, and closes her fingers. I look into the living room, and can just see Fleg and the horror, but with a flash of light they disappear.
  "Oh, thank goodness . . ." I say, turning around. But as I do, I find myself face to face with the Executioner. He runs towards me raising his axe. I duck down and run through the hallway into the living room. There, I see Ivanna looking around.
  "Where did everyone go?" she says.
  "What? Hey, these guys are still here! Damn it, I said to get rid of all of the villain- . . ." I say, trailing off. That's when I realize. "Villains", but, the Executioner wasn't a villain, he was a minor character! "Ugh, stupid, stupid, stupid 'wish exactitude'!"
But then I notice something by the master bedroom door. The werewolf skin! I grab it and start to pull it on.
  "Well, it's not all bad . . ." I say, pulling the skin over my face. "This isn't a villain, it's a plot device. Rargh!"
The executioner sees me and stops in his tracks. I race right for him, grab him in my powerful werewolf claws, and throw him right out the window! Crash! Smash! Thud!
Then, I head back towards the study, still in the skin. I push the door open, and shove the printer out of the way. The witch looks frightened, until I pull the skin off.
  "Sorry, had to get rid of that guy somehow. You can come out now."
  "Thank you," she says.
  "By the way, why are you helping me?"
  "I've seen how you've been getting everything in order. I thought I could return the favour. You still have a third wish. by the way . . ."
  "Thanks. But, I might just save that for now. Can you help me get the rest of the goosebumps books?"
  "If you wish," she says.
  "No, no wish, I'm just asking," I say.
  "Oh . . . well, alright," she says, and she follows me as I head back to the spare room. I enter the room, and come face to face with Slappy once more.
  "WHAT?!" I cry out. "No no NO! I wished the villains away! You're a villain!" I say, pointing at Slappy.
  "Not in the first book . . ." says Stine, quietly. "He was the twist."
  "Oh, for fuck's . . ."
  "You may have defeated the axe-man, but now you will be my slave!" screams Slappy. I look at Slappy, and Stine, and Hannah, and the pile of books . . . then I get an idea.
  "Y'know, you may think you've won . . ." I say "But there's something you're forgetting."
  "What's that?" says Slappy.
  "This is a Goosebumps homage . . . with a reference or passing mention of Every Single Book in the original series of sixty-two books," I say, nodding at the pile. "But as the writer, I know that there's at least one that I haven't managed to reference yet . . . and I must, before the end of this story."
  "Oh?" says Slappy, "and which book would that be?" asks Slappy.
  "THIS ONE!" I scream. I dive at the pile of books, hands outstretched, and grab the first book I can wrap my fingers around. For the sake of narrative convenience, I grab the exact one I'm thinking of. I turn to Slappy. "Say hello to The Horrors of Camp Jellyjam!!" I scream, opening the book. With a pop! and a puff of smoke, a sudden torrent of purple goop comes flooding out of the book. It fills the room in seconds, and bursts through the door. Everyone gets caught in the shifting goo and we get flushed out the door of the spare room. We wash out through the house, (using a loose definition of the word 'wash') and I flail around, trying to swim through the muck, before managing to break through the surface and crawl out onto kitchen tiles, taking a deep breath. The air is full of the sour smell of a dying purple goo monster. I wipe the muck from my eyes and off of my glasses, then turn back to look at the carnage. A pile of putrid, purple jelly covers the entire dining room. I see the rest of my characters crawling out of the mess, and over by the table is Slappy. He drags the typewriter out of the mess, and starts hitting keys. However, as he does, rather than the reliable click click click sound of typing, it makes a wet squelching noise.
  "Sorry, I think I gummed up the typewriter with Jellyjam goop." I say, with a shrug.
  Slappy looks furious. He gets up onto his feet and points at me.
  "I'll get you, slave!" he screams. "I will be your master!"
  "Yeah . . . y'know what, I'm sick of both listening to, and writing your schtick. Thankfully, I have one more wish . . ." I say, looking over at Clarissa, the Crystal Woman. "I wish I had my Night of the Living Dummy Goosebumps book."
Wiping slime off her skirt, she stands up and closes her eyes. There's a flash of light, and the very book I mentioned appears in my hands. I face the book towards Slappy, and scream, spinning the book. Instantly, Slappy gets sucked into the book, with a fwip!  "Oh, thank god," says R.L. Stine, relieved. "I thought we'd never get rid of that dummy."
  "Indeed," I say. "But, that's all the monsters dealt with . . . now I should get this place cleaned up. Thanks for your help, guys. I honestly couldn't have done it without you."
  "That's alright," says Hannah.
  "I do what I can . . ." says Clarissa flatly, wringing out her shawl.
  "Right," I say. " . . . do any of you know where the 'Camp Jellyjam book got to?"

I take the last book sitting on the ironing board, The Ghost Next Door. and head back into my room.
  "Thanks, Hannah. I guess the movie treated you right, at least . . ."
I stand on my bed, and put the book back where it belongs. The shelf looks full again. I scan over the titles with a smile. "Tonight was a rough night, but it was a lot of fun exploring these old stories again . . ."
I look at the numbers, just to double-check. they've all been returned to their places. As it happens, they're all back . . . except for one, between #62 & #60.
  "Sixty-one?" I say. "Where did you get to?"
I head outside, and something down the hall catches my eye.
The attic. It's open once again. Just in case, I grab a knife from the kitchen block, and head over to the ladder. The light's on upstairs, so I climb up carefully, trying to look around and see what's up there.
  "Hello?" I say, peering over the top of the attic manhole. At the other end of the attic, I see R.L. Stine. He's sitting in our old wheelchair, reading a book.
  "Stine?" I say, "What are you doing?"
  "Oh, hello. Sorry, I was just catching up on a little reading," he says, standing up. "In fact, I was hoping that I wouldn't have to go back into my book."
  "What do you mean? Why not?"
  "Well, to be honest, it's boring. And you never re-read my biography. Even for this post, you just skimmed it," he says, approaching me, looking at his feet. "So, I thought I could live up here. It's nice and cosy."
  "You want to live in my attic?" I say. "Well, I guess so. So long as you don't make a mess."
  "Oh, that's great." says Stine, walking back to the wheelchair to sit down. He opens the book, but then looks at me again. "Oh, one more thing . . . you're writing an homage to my books, right?"
  "Yeah," I say.
  "Well, if this is the end. There's going to be a twist . . . be careful, sometimes they're dangerous."
  "Don't worry, I already have a twist," I say. "This here, this scene now, you in my attic. That's the twist."
  "This? No, no no . . ." says Stine. "That's not a scary twist, they always end on something scary. I admit, sometimes it's contrived, but since you're writing it this . . . oh no. Be very careful, there's something behind you."
  "What?" I say, shaking my head. "No. That's stupid, I'm not doing a random there's a monster behind me cliche.  There's no twi-"
A hand falls on my shoulder, making me jump. I turn around, and I come face to face with a pale, green man, wrapped in vines to hold himself together. His face was bleeding green down the center , and his glasses sat crooked on his face where he hadn't pulled his halves together evenly.
 "So, you didn't like my movie, huh?" says Jack Black, stepping forward to grab my throat. "So tell me, boy . . . Do I give you goosebumps?"

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Goosebumps Chillogy II: Keep Off the Lawn!

  "You can't stop the monsters," says R.L. Stine.
  "Why not?" I say, anxiously.
  "Because you need the books to do that," says Stine. "You need the Goosebumps books in order to put the Goosebumps monsters back into them."
  "Oh . . . well, I kinda figured that. Why'd you say it so melodramatically?"
  "Cliff-hangers," says Stine. "It's keeps kids excited about the next chapter."
  "Even if they're contrived?" I say. "Look, I don't have time for this, it's insane downstairs. There's a wild Werewolf in my backyard, I just fought a Flying Creep and Slappy the Dummy ate some Monster Blood!"
  "Oh no!" cries out Stine, putting a hand over his mouth.
  "It's okay, I used the Cuckoo Clock of Doom to go back in time and stop him, but it's getting insane down there, the plots are getting more complex and intertwining. I need to stop them now."
  "Okay, I understand. Look, it's actually really simple, once you have their book," he says, he glances around and grins when he sees a book nesting quietly in an elbow joint of two woodbeams. He cooes to the book and plucks it from the ceiling, stroking its spine. "They're scary books, they like ledges, shelves and dark places."
  "Okay, okay. How do I stop the monsters?"
  "I'm getting to that . . . ah, look, this is Why I'm Afraid of Bees, one of my sillier instalments. But, like every other book in the series, it ends the same way. With a twist and a scream," Stine turns around and looks at the plants at the far end of the attic, with bees buzzing around them and pollinating flowers. "You end the monsters the same way. With a twist and scream."
Stine demonstrates by holding the book upside-down and opening the blank pages towards the bees. He lets out a scream and turns the book upright, "Aaah!"
With a fwip! and a puff of smoke, the bees all get sucked swiftly into the book. Stine walks towards me and hands me the book. I flip carefully through the pages, and see that the words are once more printed on the pages.
  "Fantastic," I say. "And this works on every single one?"
  "Of course," says Stine. "They're books for children, you wouldn't want to make them too complicated."
  "Okay. But look, I need to make sure we don't have any more crossovers like Slappy or the Creeps, so I need to keep an eye on them, but you're good with these books, could you get the books while I take care of the monsters?"
  "Absolutely," says Stine.
  "Okay, thanks, let's get to it," I say. I tuck the axe under my arm, adjust the camera more comfortably around my neck and climb back down the ladder. Stine follows me, and I close the attic entrance.
  "What's your name by the way?" says Stine.
  "Oh, I'm Matt," I say.
  "Okay, Matt, listen . . ." says Stine, putting a hand on my shoulder. I turn around to face him. "Be careful, you seem like a smart boy, but some of my books are really . . . silly. Being smart isn't always the best way to approach these books."
  "I understand. Thanks."
Stine nods and walks towards the dining room. I turn to the loungeroom, and see green horrors and orange monsters.
  "Here we go," I say.
As soon as I enter the room, all of the monsters sitting on the couches get to their feet. Two tall monsters with jack-o-lanterns for heads hiss.
  "We were just getting hungry . . ." says one of them.
One of the green goblin-looking men with rams horns gets up and walks towards me. As he gets close, I reach out and pinch him on the arm. With a hiss of air, he collapses to the ground, leaving the rest of the monsters dumbstruck.
  "Listen very carefully. I've read the WHOLE damn series of Goosebumps books. I know all of your strengths, I know all of your weaknesses. I know all your tricks, twists and turns. Do not mess with me, or you will meet your End. Got it?"
  "Y'know, you're a real jackass," says a pretty woman in the corner, with black hair and lipstick, in a long, black dress.
  "Just don't get any ideas," I say.
  "Jackass . . ." she mutters.
I turn to the master bedroom, and head inside. By the window, I see two white dogs, they're snarling and growling at the four purple Creeps, backed into the corner. The Creeps hiss nastily, so I raise the camera and take their picture. They make unusual screams and hisses as they shrink down behind the bed. The camera spits out a photo, so I take it out and shake it. It develops into a picture of four blue-tongue lizards, sitting on the carpet.
  "And that is why you don't mess around with the Say Cheese and Die camera . . ." I say to myself. The dogs turn towards me, and sit there, expectantly. "White dogs? You must be the Barking Ghosts. Thanks for helping me with the Creeps. I'm going to assume that means you're the kids, right?"
The dogs glance at each other and nod.
  "Okay, great. I'll get you guys back as soon as I can, just wait in the loungeroom with the horrors, okay?"
The dogs make their way out of the room, and I turn to face the walk-in wardrobe and en suite beyond. The door is slid shut, so I switch on the light, head inside, and slowly open it up to peer inside. There are blue slug-like  freaks with purple mouths and eye-stalks, covering the tiles, walls, ceiling and bathroom counter. I glance in the shower and see a mermaid under the running water. She looks at me, and places a hand to the glass, with a terrified look on her face. She shakes her head.
I close the door so that the blue monster bloods can't get out.
  "Mermaids?" I murmur to myself. "Come on, Stine, even you know that's not scary . . ."
I turn around, and jump as I come face to face with a green empty-eyed monster.
  "Geez . . ." I say, reaching out to grab the Haunted Mask, hanging on the end of the clothes rack. "You're an ugly thing aren't you?"
I roll the rubbery thing around in my hands, when I notice a lot of hair on my arms. I look at the other hand holding the axe, and see it's just as hairy, it looks like someone's wrapped a piece of brown carpet around my forearms.
  "What the hell?"
I walk out of the en suite and approach the mirror in the corner. It's not just my arm, my face is hairy too. Not just with my beard, but my forehead is growing fur as well, and my fingernails are turning black. And my nose?
I step forward, and seeing a pull-chord, I switch the light on to see myself better. As I pull the chord, my image vanishes.
"What on . . ." I pull the chord again and I reappear. "Oh, for fuck's sake, evil mirror?"
I swing the axe one-handed and smash the mirror to pieces.
  "I have a better idea, let's not get invisible!"
I walk out of the master bedroom, dropping the Haunted Mask on the TV unit. As I do, I look outside and see a woman with long, braided blonde hair wearing a helmet with horns. She's standing next to a blue-furred monster with aa pointed head, long neck and a tail.
  "Oh crap . . ." I say. I walk past a white-haired man sitting at the piano and place my axe beside the sliding door so I can open it and step outside.
  "You must take the survival test" says the woman.
  "But you're it. You must play the game of survival."
  "I am not 'it', I am Ivanna, I will give you the silver chest."
  "Will both of you shut up?! Both of your books suck. Like, all of the suck! Viking-lady, you're a robot or something, nobody wants your Egg of Truth, go sit inside" I say to Ivanna. "And you, Spork."
  "My name is Fleg," says the blue beast.
  "Whatever, look, you can't play your game here. I'm Level Seventeen or something, and it's a rule that you can't play your stupid games here."
  "Levels don't go up to seventeen," says Fleg.
  "Do I look like I give a fuck?" I bray, angrily.
  "I think you're lying," says Fleg. "You're it!"
He reaches forward to tag me, but I grab the camera and hold it up to take his photo. But . . . my fingers won't- I look at my hands. My fingers are gone! My blackened fingernails have taken over, so that I have two hooves on the end of each wrist.
  "No, no! Take the picture!" I say, I try to click, but the camera crushes between my hooves.
  "You're changing?" says Fleg.
  "Holy hell, I'm changing . . ."
  "You didn't say you could change shape. that's a Dandy Donkey, a level two move. I'm not level two . . ."
  "My hands, and my . . ." I touch my face with my new hooves. My mouth is sticking out from my face. I'm growing a snout. "Stine, Help!" I cry out. I head inside, as I do I feel something bundling up under my back. I adjust my jeans and discover I've grown a tail. I look around, panicked, when I see the pretty woman in the black dress, hiding an evil grin.
  "What the hell's so funny?" I say. Then I remember. She called me a jackass . . . twice! I point an accusing hoof. "You! You're the Chicken Chicken Witch!"
I storm over, and swiftly smack her in the forehead with my hoof.
  "Hey! How awful are you? You'd punch a woman?!"
  "You're not a woman! And this isn't a punch, this is a kick, because you TURNED ME INTO A DONKEY! You're an evil witch that tortures children for no reason! This is for that awful, awful book!"
  "This is for turning me into a donkey!"
  "And this is for Blogger Beware!"
The witch collapses heavily onto the floor.
  "Do any more of you want to test me? Huh?! Hee-haw!" I scream at the living room, they stare back in stunned silence, so I stumble away. My feet have reduced down to hooves as well, so I fall over, landing on all fours. Trotting down the hallway, I call for Stine, but my voice is getting higher and more horse (haha, puns). After a minute, I see Stine come around the corner, holding several books under his arm.
  "What's all the fuss abou- . . . oh, I see."
  "I'm turni- hee-haw! a donkey!" I bray.
  "No no, it's alright, I have just the thing . . ." says Stine. He takes a book out of the pile, My Hairiest Adventure, and opens it up. With a puff of smoke, a small syringe pops out of the book. He catches it in the air. "Now, this might sting. I'm not a doctor . . ."
He injects me with the syringe, and after a few seconds, I feel my body start to change. The hair recedes back and my fingers return. I stand up, and look at my hands, all back to normal.
  "Thanks, that was kinda freaky. I told you it was getting out of control. There are heaps and heaps of monsters in the loungeroom, do you have any of the books for Attack of the Jack-O-Lanterns or Legend of the Lost Legend?"
  "No, not yet, why?" he says, walking down the hallway towards the spare room.
  "We need to get them back in their books as soon as possible. It's starting to get dangerous down here."
Stine shakes his head and smiles
  "There is absolutely nothing to worry about. Remember, I wrote these stories to be scary, but harmless. The monsters can't hurt us." he opens the spare room door, and gets hit in the chest with a snowball. "Oh no!"
Stine moves to step back out of the way, but the ice and snow covers his whole body, and he freezes in place just beside the open doorway. I look into the spare room to see two snowmen. One living snowman made of snow, the other ape-like and covered in fur. The snowman with the carrot-nose grabs another snowball and throws it. I dodge it, and it hits the brick behind me, freezing it. I grab the books from Stine's frozen arms when, the Abominable Snowman of Pasadena roars and lunges for me. I try to move out of the way, but I can't move that quickly!
Someone grabs my waist and I'm dragged out of the way as
the Snowman slams into the snowy bricks. I turn around to see who grabbed me.
  "Hannah! Where have you been?"
  "The attic. You left me up there. I heard you yelling, so phased through the ceiling. Come on, let's go."
We head around the living room, as we hear the Pasadena Snowman recover himself.
  "I'm sorry, I didn't forget you. I thought you disappeared because we were referencing how in sequels sometimes, ghostwriters ignore hugely important plot points."
We race around the kitchen, but I stop.
  "Wait, I have an idea to stop the snowman!" I say, opening the pantry. I suddenly jump back and yelp, as I see a large green egg with purple veins sitting on the shelf. "Okay, ignore the egg monster . . . candy, candy candy."
  "You're looking for candy, now?"
  "Yes. Wait, what? No, I'm so stupid! Book, not the movie! Trail mix, I need trail mix . . ."
I grab the tub of trail mix, open it and throw it on the floor. The nuts, dried fruit and other bits of whatever is in trail mix spill all over the floor. There's a thump as the snowman turns the corner, but he doesn't look at either of us, instead, he focusses on the floor. He starts picking at the bits one by one and putting them in his mouth.
  "Okay, come on," I whisper. "You too . . ." I pick up the large egg and we head for the spare room. But, as we pass my bedroom, the door slowly opens. Standing on the carpet is Slappy the Dummy. He brushes some rotten, old bandaged off the sleeve of his miniature suit, and steps out.
  "You . . ." he says. "Did you really think you could get rid of me that easily? Hee hee hee! and I thought I was the one whose head was hollow!"
I place the egg on the table, and quickly scan the titles of the books in my arms. leaf through all of the books in my hands. The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb; Deep Trouble II; Attack of the Mutant . . . none of the Living Dummy books.
  "Now, you will do as I say. Or else."
  "Or else what? You'll tell more bad jokes?"
  "Or else I'll destroy your life, make you miserable. You have so many precious things in your life. Your books. Your games. Your home . . . If you don't do everything I say, I will destroy everything you love."
  "Huh . . . y'know, you're creepier than I remember."
  "Creepier? You threw me at a pack of gift-wrapped corpses! I hate you!"
  "Hate me, huh?" I flick through the books in my hands once more and take out a book.
  "What are you doing? Going to read me a book? The Dummies' Guide to Dummies?"
  "Actually, this one's called It Came from Beneath the Sink," I say, and I open the book with the printed pages facing the dummy, and with a pop! a yellow sponge pops out shooting towards his face. Quick as a flash, he snatches the sponge out of the air before it hits his head.
  "What is this stupid thing?" says Slappy "This useless thing could never hurt me."
He looks at the sponge in his wooden hand, and as he does the thing starts pulsing and soaking red like a tiny heart, and looks up at him with two black, little eyes.
As he stands there, his feet suddenly slip and he falls onto his face with a sickening crack.
  "Agh! What's happening?!"
  As he struggles to stand, the wall behind him suddenly cracks, and the shelf of cook books and reference material suddenly dislodges and drops several large books on top of him with a loud smack.
  "What's going on?" says Hannah.
  "That's called a Grool," I say. "It's an evil sponge. As in, it is a sponge that soaks up evil and hatred, and uses it to bring misfortune by giving you unreasonably bad luck."
  "Get this off me!" screams Slappy.
  "As you can see," I say, ignoring him as the pile of books inexplicably catches fire, "for something as evil as Slappy, it doesn't take long to reach its hate saturation point." I pick up the egg once more and, heading past the screaming dummy, we enter the spare room.
I place the pile of books on the ironing board. "Stine was really good, he got more than half of them already."
  "Are we going to get the rest?" asks Hannah.
  "No, we need to revive Stine," I say, picking up the three books that were already sitting on the ironing board. "I only got these three in the time he got over two-dozen. I'd need a twenty-part story to get them all, but this is a trilogy."
  "Well, how do we unfreeze him?"
  "In the books, the abominable snowman is actually really warm and was friends with the main characters and gave them a hug or something. At the moment, he's being a bit of a monster, but we just need something as warm as him to unfreeze Stine."
  "Like what?" says Hannah. "Hair dryer?"
  "No . . ." I say, tucking the egg under my arm to scan the titles of the books, when I get an idea. "oh yeah, egg blanket!" I say, grabbing the egg in both hands and leaving the room.
  "What." says Hannah, following.
  "In Egg Monsters from Mars, the eggs merge together to become a blanket. They're very warm."
We get to the spare room once more, where Stine is frozen in place, his arm miming carrying the books I'd taken. We close the door and use the door knob to crack open the Egg. As the yellow yolk spills out, I lift it up and drop it on Stine's head. It lands with a plop like a yellow, alien cowpat, and Stine's blue skin begins to steam.
As the egg monster slides down his face and body it leaves behind a clear goo like raw egg white, but beneath the goo I see the colour  returns to his face.
  "Yuuuck," says Stine, taking off his glasses to flick off the goo and clean them.
  "Sorry, we had to work with what we had," says Hannah, picking up the egg from the floor.
  "Oh no! Where are the books, they're gone!"
  "Hey, it's cool! I took them, they're in the spare room," I say.
  "Oh, thank god," says Stine. "I nearly have them all. There are some more in the living room and on the shelf which I was about to get."
  "Okay, then can we put them all back in their books."
  "Not quite," says Stine. "There are about three or four I still haven't found: twenty-one, thirty-four and fifty-four."
  "Stine, I don't know the numbers by heart . . ."
  "Oh, right, uh . . . Revenge of the Lawn Gnomes, A Shocker on Shock Street & Go Eat Worms."
  "Great, more of the lame ones."
  "Hey!" says Stine.
  "No, sorry, it's a good thing. Means they're easy to deal with. I know how to handle lawn gnomes."
  "Well, they'll be harder to get, they're nowhere to be found inside  the house."
  "Oh, then don't worry," says Hannah. "We got the three books from outside."
  "No, that was 'the Scarecrow Walks' and 'Fever Swamp', these are different books." I explain.
  "But there's no more outside, we've cleared the backyard!"
  "Not the front yard . . ." I say, ominously.
  "Okay, you two kids get the books out the front, and I . . . will wash this gunk off," says Stine, walking towards the bathroom. "Then I'll meet you in the spare room."
Hannah and I head down the hall, past the pumpkin monsters, and unconscious witch in the loungeroom, and open the front door. We immediately see several ugly lawn gnomes staring at us from the driveway and chattering to one another.
  "Yeah, they're outside alright," I say.
  "What are we going to do about them?" asks Hannah. I head for the lightswitch and flick on the two outside lights. The gnomes freeze instantly.
  "Light stops them, it's really easy. Trust me, all of the books in part two have been the lame ones; even the snowmen were easy, there's nothing for us to worry about. You wait here, I'll go get the books quickly."
I open the door, and immediately see three books hanging from the edge of the veranda.
  "See? What did I tell you? This is all of the easy," I say, grabbing the books and talking softly to them "there's a good book, nothing to worry about . . ." I hand them back to Hannah.
  "Wait, this one's different, it's not one of the three Stine was missing," says Hannah, handing one back. The title reads Don't Go to Sleep.
  "Oh, huh," I say, heading down the steps, book in hand. "More books is good, no matter what. Just means there's one still out here. Don't worry about it."
I look around the lawn, and I see something colourful and rectangular resting on the road.
  "There, last one," I say, heading out.
  "Be careful," says Hannah.
  "Of course, there's nothing to worry about," I say, heading down the steps with the book in hand. But, as I leave the light of the house, I remember the title of this part and feel uneasy. "Come on, Matt, nothing to worry about . . ."
I glance over at the Lawn Gnomes. They're as ugly as ever, glaring cruelly. I tuck the book in my hand into the back of my jeans, as I walk across the cool grass in the early evening darkness, and feel the hair on the back of my neck raise from the night air.
No, it's nothing, Matt. Come on . . .
I see the book on the road. Even without seeing the title, I instantly recognize the cover art, Go Eat Worms!. I pick it up, tuck it into the back of my pants with the other book and turn around to head back inside. Then start screaming.
  "AAAAGH!" I cry, as I see the roof. A giant, metal praying mantis, two storeys tall, is waiting on the roof, watching me with black eyes. It shrieked a high pitched whistle, then lunges from the roof. I run as fast as my legs can carry me towards the house, but a long, silver leg pierces the lawn in front of me, making me stop. I turn around, looking the monster in the eye. How can I fight a giant praying mantis?
As it leans in close, spitting out globs of black oily goo from its mouth, it dawns on me . . . A Shocker on Shock Street. That was one of the worst books in the series. How did they defeat the praying mantis robots in those books?
I hop on one foot as I rip the shoe off my left foot, then I throw the shoe at the mantis-bot. The shoe bounces off the metal with a twang! but the robot chitters in panic, tripping over itself as it scampers backwards then runs away.
  "The 'bug' is scared of shoes . . . haha(!) great writing, Stine," I say. "Not like that was a total waste of a cool idea for a monster or anything . . . even the movie did that better."
I walk over to pick up my shoe from the lawn, then I sit on the grass to put it back on. As I untie the laces, I hear something. It's like a cracking, crunching, rumbling sound. I look around, but I hear the sound again, and the ground under me rumbles.
  "What the hell is that?" I say, standing up. I feel the ground shift again, and I nearly lose my balance as the ground bulges beneath me, I see the bulge shift along the grass, when with a great Craaaaaack the ground a few feet away ripped open, and a worm as thick as a tree trunk bursts from the ground.
  "What?! What the fuckity fuck what?! WHAT?!" I scream as the worm curls and coils, then faces its faceless tip at me, the tapered end, probed and stretched towards me. Panicking, I throw my shoe again. It hits near its face, making it recoil, then immediately it dives at me, angrily. I turn and run, as fast as I can, run. But after running a moment ago, I'm tired, I turn to see how close it is, but suddenly get side-swiped by the flailing worm. It knocks me off my feet, with the force of a small, speeding car, and I hit the ground hard.
  "Ugh . . . fffffuck you, worm," I say, winded. I get to my feet, but as I do, the worm moves around me to wrap me up in its coils, like a boa constrictor. I step to move out of the way and whoa! I fall down a hole, I fall through the lawn and out of reality . . .
  . . .
. . . I find myself slowly falling through a white, empty space, when out of the nothingness a wooden cabin fades around me. My feet gently touch the floor, and I discover gravity once more as my weight returns.
  "What the . . . where am I?" I say, looking around.
There's a knock at the door, which I just realize is behind me. I turn around to face it. "Who is it?"
The door opens, and two men in black suits, one tall and one short, enter the room.
  "Good evening," says the short man. "My name is Wayne."
  "And I'm Bruce," says the taller man.
  "We've noticed some disturbing phenomena surrounding you and your house," says Wayne, "It seems as though reality has gone completely out of control."
  "What's why we're here," says Bruce. "We're the Reality Police. You've fallen through a Reality Warp, and we're here to fix it."
  "Reality Police? Oh . . . this is from Don't Go To Sleep."
  "Excuse me?" says Bruce.
  "Look, Bruce, Wayne . . . oh, haha, Bruce Wayne, I get it." I say, smirking. "Sorry, anyway, look, this is all a terrible misunderstanding. I know things all look weird, but this isn't reality."
  "Mr Anderson, I'm sure that this must be confusing," says Wayne.
  "No no no, you've got me wrong. I understand it perfectly. See, this isn't reality, this is fictional. I'm writing a meta-fictional post on my blog. This isn't reality, this kind of thing isn't possible in reality."
  "Fiction?" says Bruce.
  "Yes . . . 'fiction'. And if you guys are the Reality Police, then we're out of your jurisdiction. You don't have any authority in Fiction."
  "Wait . . . are you saying that we're fiction?" says Wayne.
  "Yes. You're fiction. I'm fiction. Well, actually I'm more of an Author Insert Character kind of thing. But either way, doesn't matter. This is fiction, so you don't have any authority here. But even if you did, I am fully within my rights here. I'm an author, I have poetic license, it gives me the authority to adjust this existence as I see fit, within reasonable suspensions of disbelief. So . . ." I blow a raspberry at the two of them.
  "This kid knows his stuff," says Wayne.
  "Indeed," says Bruce. "Look, Mister Anderson, this is a terrible misunderstanding. You're free to go."
  "Thank you," I say, taking the Don't Go To Sleep book out from the back of my pants. I hold it out in front of the guys upside-down and scream, slowly turning the book the right way around. With a swift fwip and popping sounds, the guys get sucked onto the pages, and the world around me warps and bends and sucks in a shifting blur of colours. The room around me starts feeling claustrophobic as it shrinks and shrinks until, POP! The world spits me out and I fall onto my backside on the grass.
  "Good grief," I say, standing up. I dust the back of my pants, when I hear a shuffling, rumbling sound beneath my feet. Once again, the giant worm monster bursts from the ground. It wriggles and shakes to throw the dirt off of its body, then strikes! The worm dives right for me, it's going to crush me right into the ground!!

Friday, 28 October 2016

Goosebumps Chillogy I: Night of the Goosebumps

I stare at the television, the credits appearing in a style reminiscent of the Goosebumps cover art. 
"Hannah, and then Invisible Boy? Really? That's your twist?" I say shaking my head. I stand up from the futon, leave the dining room with the television still running, and head into my room. "That's ridiculous. Why did they even call it Goosebumps, when they clearly didn't want to make a Goosebumps movie?" I ask myself.
Dictionary, sitting on my desk, opens a page out of curiosity."
  "Goosebumps?" says dictionary "by /Gūsbumps/, 1. Do you mean the movie starring Jack Black?"
  "No no no, that's not what I mean at all. In fact, that's the point, people now define this movie as 'Goosebumps' but it didn't actually have any Goosebumps in it! I liked the movie, it was fun, it had scary elements that were family friendly. It was funny, it made fun of Steven King! But it wasn't Goosebumps enough."
  "What?" says dictionary. "1. What do you mean by 'wasn't Goosebumps enough?': What do you do to make something 'Goosebumps'."
  "I mean they just . . ." I sigh, and point at my bookshelf. "I have all sixty-two of the original books, Dictionary. I know what Goosebumps is! I wasn't expecting an exact copy, but I remember these books, I remember the characters . . . some of them were stupid, but I was hoping the movie would have fun with that."
I get up on my bed and look at the titles.
  "The Haunted Mask, Monster Blood III, Ghost Camp . . ." I say, reading the titles. "THESE are Goosebumps, not the movie! Hell!"
I put my hands around the series, more than a metre of books stacked side-by-side. "If you want Goosebumps, I'll show you Goosebumps!"
I pull the books out and turn around, throwing them on the floor. But, the books don't touch the floor, Like a flock of birds, or perhaps more aptly 'geese', the books flutter and flap their pages, in a mad mess of manuscripts.
  "Uhh . . . well, that was dumb," I say, looking at the books flying around. "Why did I do that?"
  "Idiot plot," says dictionary. "1. The Main character acts stupid for the sake of setting the story in motion."
  "Well, let's hope this works out . . ."

Almost all of the books fly out of my room, except for three or four that flap around my desk.
  "Okay, come back here," I say. I reach for the books, but all three suddenly snap open with a puff of smoke and a pop spitting out three blobs of green goop, because I can't afford the special effects budget of the movie. There's another puff of smoke, and a I step back as they plop on the floor. There's a puff of smoke behind me, and I turn around to see a regular-looking young kid wearing board shorts and a t-shirt.
  "How did I get here?" he says. "I was at Camp Nightmoon, and now I'm . . . in a house?"
  "Uh, long story. What's your name?"
  "Billy," he says.
  "Ohh . . . no wonder you're so nondescript," I say. "I'm Matt, and since you're a protagonist I think I can trust you, so can you give me a hand? There's Monster Blood on my floor."
  "What's Monster blood?"
  "Well, it's actually a toy that's had a spell put on it, but it's also a science experiment that . . . y'know, if I have to explain the plot of all these books, it's gonna take a while, can you help me get this stuff off the carpet?"
Billy looks around, grabs the wastepaper basket, then hands it to me. I use a stray thong to push each of the blobs into the bin, and sit it upright. I look inside and see the three globs merge and begin to digest the cola can and chip packet inside.
  "That's disgusting," says Billy. "What are you going to do with that stuff?"
  "I dunno, there isn't really an established way to kill monster blood. In one it's magic, in another it's mystical, in a third it's science. For now, let's leave it here and go see what else we can do. Stick with me, Billy, I've read all of the books, I know what to do . . . mostly."
Bin in hand, I head out of my room. The credits are still playing, on the TV, and in front of it are four mummies, each with rotten-looking bandages, groaning. I also see four kids in the kitchen, stirring a bowl of something. The mummies attack the television, ripping it off the wall and throwing it on the floor to stop the noise.
  "Hey, that's expensive!" I yell out, but the mummies turn to me.
  "Peace . . ." groans one of the mummies, "rest in peace . . ." and they begin to walk towards us. Scrape. Scrape. Scrape. They advance towards us.
  "Stay back!" calls out Billy, "I'll keep you safe!" and he runs forward.
  "No!" I cry, but as he runs forward, they grab him and pull him within their tight circle, grabbing his arms and throat.
I stand, confused, then see the open laundry door, and slip inside, but before I can close the door, I turn to see a short ventriloquist dummy, standing on his own two feet, with black, slicked-back hair painted on his stern face.
  "I think we need to have a little talk . . . because you will be my slave."
  "Nope," I say stepping forward, and I give him a swift kick, sending him flying back with a clang against the laundry door. "So much nope."
  "How dare you, slave!" cries Slappy, and he runs forward, and slaps my shin with his hand. The hard wood sends pain all up my leg, and I collapse onto my knees. As I fall, I drop the wastepaper basket onto the floor, spilling green goo over the tile.
  "What's this?" says Slappy, bending down in front of me, and scooping up a handful of the blood. "monster blood . . . hee hee hee."
  "What? . . . wait, no!"
Slappy stuffs the handful of goo in his face, and his mouth chatters up and down as he chews and swallows. Then immediately begins to grow. There's a creaking and cracking sound like swaying oak trees as Slappy grows taller than me, then as tall as the room. Then with a crunch, and falling plaster dust, he grows taller than the ceiling And he grows and grows until all I can see are his skinny, but very tall legs.
  "Now this is more like it. Bow down before me!" cries Slappy, his voice booming, and he raises his foot to stamp down. Screaming, I scramble backwards and out of the room, as the foot slams into the tile with a crack!
I get to my feet, the mummies are to my right, so I run left into the spare room and shut the door.
Some of the Goosebumps books are nestling near the window, and some things look out of place. An old-fashioned camera and a strange piece of furniture by the wall, a grandfather clock . . . but we don't own a grandfather clock.
  "Oh my goodness! The cuckoo clock of doom!" I cry. I step over. "Thank you, thank you, thank you . . . okay, it's been about a minute, right?"
I press against the minute hand with my finger and push it anti-clockwise one click. My vision blurs, and there's a sudden rush of vision . . . Slappy, monster blood, laundry, mummies, kitchen, bedroom door . . . then I find myself standing in my bedroom.
  "What are you going to do with that stuff?" says Billy.
  "I'm gonna keep it away from Slappy, that's for sure," I say, holding the bin to my chest. "Look, this is weird, I just travelled back in time. So trust me, when we go out of my room, don't attack the mummies, okay? They want to rest in peace."
  "Mummies? Uh, okay."
  "Look, follow my lead. I have an idea."
I slowly open the door, in time to see the mummies ripping the television off the wall. I look at Billy, hold a finger to my lips, and head into the spare room. I place the bin of monster blood by the cupboard.
  "Okay, wait here . . ." I say. I head out into the dining room and open the laundry door.
  "I think we need to have a little-" I quickly grab the dummy by the shoulders, and throw him at the mummies. There's angry groans and screaming. "How dare you. Hey! Get your hands off m- . . . let go of me! You will all be my slaves! Get off!"
  "Peace . . . let us rest in peace" groans the mummies, and they pull Slappy with them as they head towards the bedroom.
  "I demand you let me go!" screams Slappy.
As they enter the bedroom, I sneak up and close the door behind them.
  "Well, that's that," I say. I head back into the spare room and see Billy waiting there. "See? I told you I knew what I was doing."
  "When did you say that?" asks Billy.
  "When we . . . oh. Never mind. Oh, can you hand me that camera?" I ask, pointing.
  "Sure," says Billy. "Why?"
  "This will come in handy. It's an evil camera."
  "How can a 'camera' be evil?" asks Billy.
  "Look, it didn't make much sense in the book either," I say, hanging it around my neck with the cord "But trust me, it's a powerful weapon. Grab the monster blood and follow me."
I head into the dining room, and see the four kids standing in the kitchen. A tall, blond kid; a short pimply kid with a red face; a girl with long, black hair and another taller boy.
  "Are you guys planning on attacking me?" I asked them, holding up the camera defensively.
  "No," says the short kid.
  "Why would we attack you?" asked the girl.
  "No reason," I say, lowering the camera. "Just checking."
I turn and walk down the hall, where I see a handsome man in a suit and young read-headed boy standing there, with a small, white terrier at their feet.
  "Huh, I don't know you guys . . ." I say.
  "Good afternoon," says the man, stepping forward. "I'm Compton Dawes."
  "Dawes? Wait a minute, are you from Dark Falls?"
  "Yes, I am actually," he says.
  "Oh, okay. Sorry," I say, and I quickly snap their picture. The man and boy scream and their skin begins to melt off, and the dog whines pitifully, as its fur burns.
  "What the hell?!" cries out Billy. "What did you do?"
  "They're zombie-vampirey things . . . the monsters from 'Welcome to Dead House'. They're killed by light," I say. There's a whirring noise as the camera spits out a polaroid. I take it out a and shake it, airing it out, and it reveals a horrific image of the three melting faces. I put the photo in my pocket and step around the charred bodies at our feet to head down the hall, into the bathroom. The door is open, and inside I see several see-through ghosts, all glowing blue and see-through, as well as one solid girl. A young kid with nice hair, three kids about the same age, a strange looking kid with darker hair and a ghost girl with a kind smile. I hold up the camera threateningly.
  "This is a cursed camera . . . if I take your picture with it, you will be destroyed," I say, taking the photo out of my pocket and holding it up. "These are the last people whose photo I took. So don't go trying to . . . possess me, or steal my head, or you're next; don't test me. We're just here to put the monster blood somewhere safe."
  "In here?" says Billy. "What, in the tub?"
  "Yeah, exactly," I say. Billy wanders past and drops the goop in the bath, but the bin had filled in the meantime, making it splatter around the bath, and the bag fell out with it to be eaten by the monster blood as well. "It will keep growing and growing. At least there it won't go spilling out and we can deal with it later."
  "Hey, do you guys know what's going on here?" says the solid girl, stepping forward. She was young, with brown hair in a ponytail, in fact she looked a lot like . . .
  "Hannah?" I say.
  "Yes?" she says.
  "Wow . . . you look a lot like the one in the movie."
  "What movie?"
  "Well, I guess they did get that right," I mutter to myself. "Look, I'm Matt - that's Billy - We're trying to make some sense of this whole mess. You should be pretty useful. Do you want to help?"
  "Sure," says Hannah. "Anything to get out of here. It's creepy hanging around with a bunch of ghosts."
  " . . . yeah, I'll bet." I say, "Come on."
We head out of the bathroom and towards the kitchen, as I do I look at the laundry and stop dead in my tracks. The laundry door is wide open, and I can see a scarecrow shuffling around the lawn.
  "Oh, crap . . . they're outside!" I say, running out the back door.
  "Wait up!" calls Hannah, running after me.
I see several books hanging from the eaves of the house, with their pages curled around like bats wings. I ignore the scarecrow, and step out and reach up for them, but they get scared and fly off.
  "Ugh, damn it!" I say. As I do, I hear something clatter in the garage. " . . . hello?" I say. I walk around the side of the house and see a man by the workbench stuff something in his mouth as he turns around to face me. There's only a flicker of it as he slurps his lips around it, but it looked disturbingly like the furry, grey tip of a possum's tail. He wanders out from behind the bench.
  "I'm so sorry, I didn't hear you coming," says the man in a high-pitched, scratchy whisper. He was short and stumpy with receding hair and black, beady eyes.
  "Nope nope nope nope nope," I say backing off. "So much nope."
  "What is it?" says the man, Mr Mortman. "What on Earth has got you so frightened?"
I hold up the camera and take his picture. He blinks and looks at me, confused.
  "Huh, it didn't do anything . . ." I say, turning back.
  "Not every monster can have its picture taken," says Hannah.
  "Oh, yeah . . ." I say, "in the book, she can't take his photo, even in his monster form."
  "What?" says Mr Mortman, and his innocent smile drops. His eyes boggle out of his skull and he grows long teeth. "Give me that camera, boy . . ."
  "Guys, get back, he's-" I turn, and see that they're both already inside. "No, by all means, run away without me." I say, jogging inside.
I shut the door and lock it as Mr Mortman runs up and bangs his wet hands against the door.
  "Open. This. Door." says the Monster Mortman
  "Let me think . . . No. No. No," I say.
  "If you don't open this door right now, I-" there's a snapping sound that makes him flinch and look to the side of the house. Then he suddenly looks scared and bangs on the door.
  "Please, please, please, you have to let me inside. Please!"
  "Why would I do that?" I ask.
  "Please, don't let it get-" WEREWOLF! There's a snarl and flash of fur as a werewolf suddenly grabs Mr Mortman in its teeth and claws, tackling him away from the door and ripping violently.
  "Thank goodness," says Billy. "I thought that would be a lot worse."
  "It is," I say, looking at the Goosebumps books hanging like bats from the edge of the shed. "The books are still out there. We need to get them. I went out there to get the books, they're still there."
  "What?" says Hannah.
  "You all came out of the books, I need to stop the books from escaping, or you'll never be able to return to your stories," I say, staring at Hannah. "Wait . . . you. If you run around the house, you can make the werewolf follow you, then I'll go out and grab it."
  "What?! Why me?" she says.
  "Yeah, and that's a werewolf," says Billy.
  "Well . . . the movie!" I say. "In the movie, you easily outran the werewolf of Fever Swamp. It's canon. You have nothing to worry about. Just run, I'll grab the books, then come in. You'll be fine."
  "No, that's insane," she says.
  "Trust me," I say, putting my hand on her shoulder. "I've read all the books. I know what I'm doing."
She nods.
  "Okay. If you're sure."
  "What? No!" says Billy, but she opens the door and runs out.
  "Hey! Wolfie!" she calls, and runs around the house. The werewolf looks at her, snarls, and dashes after her.
  "Dude, what the hell?!" says Billy, as I run out for the books. "You're a jerk, she could die!"
  "No, she can't," I say. I quickly jump up and grab two of the books. "She's already dead, she's 'The Ghost Next Door'. The werewolf can't hurt her."
I grab the other book and head inside.
  "What? But, If she's safe, why didn't you tell her?"
  "In the book - and the movie - she learns the truth just before she moves on. I still might need her help. This is only part one of the trilogy, and we've barely seen all of the books."
  "Open the door!" calls Hannah. we step aside and she runs in, closing and locking the screen door behind her, then Billy shuts the wooden door as well.
  "Did you get them?" says Hannah. I hold up three books, The Girl Who Cried Monster, The Werewolf of Fever Swamp & The Scarecrow Walks at Midnight.
  "Yeah, that's all of the ones outside, I think," I say, heading for the spare room. I place the books on the ironing board and head out, closing the door behind me. Hannah and Billy are waiting, the television is smashed and there are four kids in the kitchen, they were standing over the bowl as one of them was mixing something.
  "What are you guys doing?" I ask.
  "We're making a special mixture," says the lumpy redheaded kid. "It will help you to fly."
  "Really?" says Billy, heading over. "Is that even possible?"
  "Sure," says the girl with black hair, and she picks up a yellow-paged old book on the bench. "The recipe is here in this book, you just stir in the powder," as she reads the book, I see the cover: Flying Lessons
  "And add the seeds now as well," she says. The blond boys pours blue powder into the bowl out of a black envelope, and added an entire bag of black seeds ; then stirs the yellow mixture with a wooden spoon. The bowl bubbles and turns green, popping madly.
  "And that's it," says the blond kid, lifting up the spoon. It looked like half-melted chocolate-chip mint ice-cream on the end of the spoon. "Who wants to learn how to fly?"
  "Heck yeah!" calls out Billy, grabbing the spoon.
  "Wait, Billy, NO!" I cry out, but he'd already taken a mouthful. With a gulp, he turned to Hannah and me, looking worried but after a few seconds his feet lifted off the floor and his smile returned.
  "Oh, wow! I can fly!" he says. But as he spoke, the other four kids started to shift and transform. Their hair receded, their skin became bumpy and purple, and they became large, purple lizard creatures.
  "Creeps?" I say. "Wait, you guys promised me that you wouldn't attack me!"
  "We won't," says one of the Creeps, I can't tell which they all look alike. "Billy?"
We look up at our friend Billy, and his smile drops once more and he cries out as his body is forced to become purple, bumpy and reptilian.
  "Do as we command. Make them eat the batter as well!"
  "Oh, crap. Run Hannah!" I scream, but she's already ahead of me, running for the laundry. I follow her as Creep-Billy suddenly swoops towards us. I feel Billy's sour breath on the back of my neck, so instinctively yell out and run as fast as I can. I run out onto the grass when I see - WEREWOLF!!
  "Aagh!! No no!" I skid to a stop on the wet grass [which is slicked with the viscera of Mr Mortman, but let't not dwell], and leap run to the right in time to hear the Creep hiss and the Werewolf roar. There's vicious growling and the sound of claws swiping air. I turn around to see the Creep flying high, hissing at the werewolf.
I have to fight, I have to . . . weapon. I need a weapon to fight! I glance around the garage for a weapon: Pushbike, mop, cardboard box, towel, pillow . . .
  "Is that pillow here just for a joke?" I ask.
  "Matt, look out!" cries Hannah from behind the cars. I hear the snarl behind me from the werewolf, so when I lay my eyes on the shed, I run at it, throwing my body weight at the door, and quickly reach behind the stack of power tools and grab the handle of what I'm looking for.
I turn around, Axe in hand, and stare down the approaching werewolf.
  "AAAARGH!" I yell, holding it high. The werewolf gets a worried look in its eyes, barks and starts to back away. "Get away, or I'll cut you into pieces, dog-boy!"
The werewolf, intimidated, scampers off towards the wheelie bins in the far corner of the yard.
I look up at the Creep, flying in the sky, he's swooping and flying around in loops. I don't know if it's a remnant of Billy enjoying the night air, or a contrived way for the author to buy time for exposition, but either way I look over to Hannah hiding by cars and workbench.
  "Hannah, come here!" I call. "I need your help."
  "Huh . . . how?" says Hannah, walking over.
  "Hannah, I need you to go up there and grab the Creep, so he doesn't fly away or try to attack us."
  "What?" she says. "I'm not eating that flying goop."
  "No, you don't have to. You're a ghost, Hannah. you can fly and walk through walls and all kinds of things."
  "No way, are you crazy? I'm not a ghost."
  "Yes, you are . . ." I say, and I swing the axe at her head. It phases right through her making her form glow blue, and hits a support beam with a thunk!
Hannah stares daggers at me.
  "It's doing things like that which make ghosts want to haunt people, y'know . . ." she says.
  "Sorry . . . but we're low on time. Please, just grab Billy the Creep and drag him down here."
Hannah looks up at Billy, then her body glows blue and she lifts off the ground, and swiftly flies up to meet him.
  "Hello, Billy," she says, and she grabs him by the arm. Then she stops glowing, and as her weight returns the two of them are dragged back down the Earth. As they land on the grass, I call over to the werewolf.
  "Hey! Come and get it! Free food!" I call out. The werewolf sees Hannah and Billy, and since neither of them have an axe, he happily lunges at the two of them. Hannah's body phases once more as he dives through them, and she watches sadly as the werewolf tears into our mutated friend.
  "Okay, let's . . ." I hear a rustling sound from behind the shed, take two steps towards the scarecrow and swing my axe through it. It's defeated in a burst of straw, so I turn around and move on with the story. "Okay . . . let's go show those Creeps what's what."
Leading the way inside, I hold the axe in front of me, angrily. Behind me, Hannah glows blue and follows, floating half a foot off the ground.
  "Calling all Creeps!" I say, heading towards the kitchen. "I'm only going to say this once. Give me all your identity seeds . . . Now!"
Two of the creeps drop two plastic baggies of black seeds on the ground and then they stumble over one another to run away. One of them tries to grab the green batter, but I step forward and swing the axe. It hits the goop with a Splink! as it resounds off the bench tile, and the Creep falls over itself to follow its friends racing out of the kitchen.
Not skipping a beat, I grab the bowl and tip it down the sink, then rinse my axe under the tap. Hannah grabs the bags of seeds and tips them down the sink as well.
  "Is this really their scary plan? Making people eat seeds?"
  "Hey, it's not the worst Goosebumps book . . . it's actually the first one I ever read," I say. "There was one with these kids that turned into dogs; and another where dogs turned into kids. And don't get me started on the 'Choose the Scare' books, those were-" Whack!
I book suddenly smacks me in the face, making me jump.
  "Ow! . . . That hurt!" I say, looking around at a green and purple book flapping around the kitchen.
"Wow, you're bleeding," says Hannah "Is that one hardcover?"
  "What? No, none of these books are hardcover," I say, but I press a hand to my lip, and look at it. Blood. My lip was bleeding where my skin hit my teeth. "You little shit!" the writer yelled, and bloodied hands, to the book he held; as he shook his fist and ran, compelled, to grab that Goosebumps by the cover . . . sorry, wrong blog post; prose not poetry.
The book flies down the hallway, so I grab the axe from beside the sink and head after it, calling for Hannah to follow. We turn the corner in time to see it fly up the staircase leading to the attic, passign another book that was hanging like a bat from the edge of the ceiling manhole.
  "Is that it?" asks Hannah, looking at the book hanging from the ceiling.
  "No, that's 'Stay Out of the Basement'." I say.
  "What's it doing here?" she asks.
  "Well, we don't have a basement. Maybe it's resting here, where its plot has a higher chance of making sense?"
  "Maybe," she says. "But . . . this was closed when we came here before, who opened it?"
  ". . . let's find out," I say. I tuck the axe under my armpit, and climb up the ladder to the ceiling.
This is a roof cavity my father actually made, he installed this very ladder, so when I climb up I see roofbeams and rows of shelves made from old wood, between the angled beams and wooden pannels as a makeshift floor. But at the far end, there was a strange man with a black suit, with his back facing to me; he's looking at a pile of green plants that have grown in the far corner, with bees flying around them. I climb up and hold the axe ready in two hands.
  "Hey! What the hell are you doing up here, man?" I say. the man turns around, and smiles timidly. He had a slight hunch to his neck, receding hair on his head, round glasses, and was wearing entirely black trousers and a long-sleeved, black button up shirt. "No way . . ."
  "Hi, I'm R.L. Stine," he says. "I write the Goosebumps books."
  "Yes, you do . . ." I say. "What are you doing here? I thought only monsters from the books were . . . wait, hardcover . . ."
Stine smirks and nods as my mouth drops.
  "It Came from Ohio! I must have dropped your biography as well, that's the only hardcover on that shelf!" Yes, I'm such a dork I even own the Stine biography. Don't look at me like that . . .
  "Well, this is perfect! You wrote the books, you can help!"
  "I'd love to . . . but first, we need to be very careful up here," says Stine. "I saw a book flying around here, I think there's a monster in . . ."
He goes quiet as I hear rapid footsteps clumping around on the wooden floorboards behind me. Another man with a black jacket and jeans steps out of the darkness. He has a round face, a full head of hair, large glasses and a stern look on his face.
  "What are you doing up here?" he says, in a comically exciteable voice.
  "Oh, no . . ." I say, and I sigh as I put my face in my hands.
  "Stay away from him!" says Jack Black. "I'm R.L. stine, not him. He's not the real author. He's not even human! He's a plant!"
  "You're the plant!" says R.L. Stine.
  "Really?" I say. turning to Stine. "Are we really doing this? I mean, that's clearly Jack Black, from the movie."
  "He's dangerous!" says Jack Black. "How could you have let him out of the book!"
Caught in the middle, I stare from the real Stine to the fake, plant, movie Stine. Who was the real Stine? . . . well, I mean, I think it's obvious, but this is a Stay Out of the Basement parody, so . . .
  "That's not the author!" cried out Jack Black. "He's a copy. A plant copy. One of the stories I wrote that went wrong."
  "You're the copy!" cries out R.L. Stine. "He has to be destroyed!"
  "Dude, seriously, this even a Spot the Difference challenge. You don't need to convince me that 'Jack Black' isn't R.L. Stine, I can kinda tell."
  "Put down the axe," says Jack Black.
  "Ugh . . . I'm sick of this." I say. I swing the axe at the Jack Black character, and it cut easily through his body, slicing him in two. A thick green liquid oozed from the cut as he fell, a look of disbelief and horror on his face.
  "Oh, no, who would have guessed(!)" I say sarcastically, "It turns out that Jack Black wasn't the real Stine after all, I never would have blaaah blah blah."
I turn back to Stine.
  "Okay, I know that in real life, you had a butt-load of ghostwriters. But, in the biography, you say that you wrote them all. So, I'm assuming that's canon for your character, right?"
  "Yes, I wrote every single Goosebumps book," says Stine.
  "Okay, cool. That means you know everything about them, right? Like, how I can stop them? Maybe even how I can get them all back into their books?"
  "Oh yes, I know everything about them," says Stine, turning away to pick up his biography, sitting on the shelf. "Every monster, every twist, every single chapter cliff-hanger."
  "So, can you help me?"
  "No, I'm afraid not," says Stine. "I'd love to help you. I love fans of my books, I really do. But you see, you can't stop these monsters. You can't stop them at all . . ."

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Drop Dead

It was one hour after sunset, late afternoon, but out in the bush it looked as dark as midnight. Peter Brown was sitting in the back of his pickup, with a grim look on his face as the cop car pulled off the road. He looked up from under the brim of his akubra, and saw the silent police car approach with its flashing lights.
Instinctively his dog, a blue heeler dog jumped off the back of the truck to see the visitors.
  "Oi! Marky!" barked the farmer, whistling sharply. "Get back here, ya mongrel . . ." the dog ran back onto the truck as told, and Peter walked over to the cops in their dark, blue uniforms.
  "G'day, Pete," said Officer Franklin, a tall, thin man with a thick, salt-and-pepper moustache and wrinkles that made him look fifteen years older than his middle-age. He shook Farmer Brown's hand as he glanced at the trees. "The techies are on their way."
  "So, what’ve we got?" said Officer Henries, a burly young Kiwi with a close-shaved head, bright eyes and a heavy New Zealand accent. “We got a call in for a dead body, is that right?”
  "Yeah . . . it's bloody dreadful," said Peter, turning towards the trees “I’ve never seen anythin’ like it in my life.”
The two officers followed him as he wandered deeper into the trees. Henries whipped out a flashlight to light the way.
  “Is it all the way out here?” said Franklin.
  “Yeah, just a bit down in from the road,” said Peter.
  “So how’d you find ‘em so far out here? Pretty bloody dark.”
  "I got a call from Sandy, said she was driving home from the shops, and saw some trespassers on my property.”
  “This is part of your property?” said Franklin.
  “Yeah, just a foot from the road down.”
  “No fence?”
  “Nah, too fucken expensive,” said Peter, “and the trees keep out most sticky-beaks.”
  “Well, it’s not really tresspassin’ if yer ain’t got a fence, bruv,” says Henries.
  “Nah,” Peter says, waving a hand dismissively. “I don’t give a shit, they can come as they please; the paddock’s fenced, they ain’t gonna steal a cow.”
  “So, why’d you come out here if you don’t care?” asked Franklin.
  “I just worried that some backpacker’d gotten lost. Some of them try to shortcut through to get back to town, but they get turned around in these trees. It looks straight and narrow, but under the canopy it gets craggy . . . here we go.”
Peter stopped by a shallow ditch a good 50 metres from the road. Henries shone his light onto the spot. A young blonde, probably European, was on her back, her pale, dead eyes looking up at the sky, but a nasty, purple bruise covered the right side of her forehead, and scratches down her face that had crusted up with dried blood. Her hands and feet were draped across her, limply.
Peter Brown took his hat off and held it over his chest as he looked down at the sorry sight.
  “It ain’t right . . . pretty young thing.”
  “Is that her bag?” said Franklin, pointing a few metres away to a nearby tree, a huge hiking backpack was resting by it.
  “Yeah . . . I found her facedown,” said Peter. “I thought she’d just tripped, I tried to help her up, but she was limp as a sack o’ potatoes. I took the bag off, so I could try to resuscitate or somethin’, but when I touched her cheek she was stone cold . . .”
The farmer sniffed and exhaled a heavy, wet breath.
  “Goddamned disgrace,” he said, he put his hat on and started walking back towards his truck.
  “Have you ever seen anything like this?” said Franklin, kneeling down beside the body, turning on his own flashlight.
  “Yeah, cuz,” said Henries, sounding unsettled. “Just some bloody boyfriend or somethin’, crack her round the head with a bat, I say.”
  “Hmph . . .” grunted Franklin, stroking his moustache. “It wasn’t a baseball bat. It’s scratched up her face.”
  “She coulda cut her face on a branch or somethin’,” suggested Henries.
  “Do you see any low hangin’ branches?” said Franklin. “No twigs on the ground . . .”
  “Maybe the attacker scratched her,” said Henries.
  “Not unless he had two thumbs,” said Franklin, looking at the shape of the scratch.
  “Well, I dunno, cuz . . . we’ll leave that to the lab boys, eh?”
  “Right . . .” said Franklin standing up again with a grunt.
There was a rattling sound from the trees above that made Henries jump.
  “What’s that?!” he said, shining his torch up. “Is that a snake?!”
  “It’s a possum, ya goose,” said Franklin, patting the man on the back as he walked past. “Come on, we better cordon this place off. You take Pete up to the road and question him properly, get his statement, and I’ll . . .” Franklin looks back with a sigh. “I’ll wrap this up.”

The crime scene techs showed up soon enough. Officer Franklin stood by the blue and white tape and lifted it to let them through, one by one, taking note of the time. Not long after, the detective showed up, wearing a simple business suit and tie. The first thing he did was walk up to Franklin and Henries, introduce himself as Detective Samson and ask what they’d documented so far. Then he headed into the scene. Franklin stood outside, calmly, waiting for the detective to secure the scene, when he heard an angry shout, then some people started screaming.
  “Wait here!” Franklin told Henries, and he ducked under the tape. He ran full-tilt towards the crowd of techies, but their lights were darting around, frantic, and people were stammering, panicked.
  “Is it gone?”
  “Oh my god, are you bleeding?”
  “Get her away from the scene.”
  “Is everyone alright?” called Franklin, shining a torch around. Two of the techs had taken a third aside, a girl who was bleeding from the forehead.
  “Call a goddamned ambulance!” barked the detective.
Officer Franklins grabbed his radio and called it in before going to attend to the crying technician.
  “What the hell happened?” he said.
  “Something dropped out of the tree,” said the detective. “I thought you secured the scene?”
  “I did . . . there was nothing here but possums.”
  “That wasn’t a possum, it was a . . . spotted quokka or somethin’,” said Detective Samson.
  “It bit me!” said the crime scene technician, in an American accent. “Just above my eye.”
In the trees above, they heard some snuffling and rattling.
  “Clear the scene!” said the officer. “Out, out, come on!”
There was a loud screech from above, and Officer Franklin drew his weapon. The explosion of sound echoed across the paddock as he fired twice. There was a cracking of branches then a loud thump as something fell out of the trees.
The other technicians gasped and jumped as it hit the ground.
  “What is that, a koala bear?” said the detective.
  “Koalas aren’t bears, they’re marsupials,” said the policeman, he stepped towards the lump of grey fur, its back mottled with black spots. “And these trees sure as hell aren’t Eucalyptus.”
He gave the thing a nudge with his boot, and felt thick bone under its rump, but it didn’t move otherwise. He rolled it over onto its back to see its face, a grey little snout with a wide forehead, like a wombat, but sharp teeth.
  “Well, bugger . . . they got the drop on another tourist . . .”
  “What?” said the detective, approaching the creature, shaking his head. “No way, you’ve gotta be kidding, it’s a myth. They’re not real are they?”
  “Oh, they’re real, I’ve just never seen one so close to town, before,” said Officer Franklin. “We’d better call in animal control . . .”
Franklin walked out of the crime scene, Henries standing anxiously by the chequered tape.
  “What is it, cuz.”
  “D.B., Henries. Call in animal control,” said Franklin, then he turned to Farmer Brown. “Look, mate, it’s a right tragedy and you’re not at fault. But if you’re not going to fence off this area, I recommend that you put up a sign warning tourists about the drop bears.”
  “What, really? This close to town?”
  “Hey, they’re as scared of us as we are of them,” he said, glancing into the crime scene. “So, if people don’t start taking them seriously, we’re gonna have a real problem on our hands . . .”