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 . . ."

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