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!!

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