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?"

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