Sunday, November 9, 2014
Super Scary Stories for Sleep-overs
Charlie's sad because it started to rain, so he can't play soccer with his friends. His dad suggests that he go to the museum, but he declines. Charlie's father says "Well, I tried," and leaves. He sure did. But Charlie decides to go anyway, because there will be a real mummy there, which is... something kids are interested in? He calls up his friend Sean, who calls up his friends Gordon and Kristy. Gordon is black, I think, so that's pretty remarkable. And Kristy's a girl. So basically all of these characters are half-assed in the extreme.
They observe the shriveled-up corpse, and read that it was originally an Egyptian prince that liked to drain people's blood to absorb their life-force and live forever. Oh god, a vampire mummy? That sounds like a Q.L. Pearce wet dream. The gang decides to stay in the museum overnight and see if the mummy moves around. They do so, but then decide to leave when they see a creepy mask on the wall. Thank you for these characters, Q.L. Pearce, you couldn't have done better.
They find out that the windows are barred and Sean decides to go to the bathroom. The rest of the group eventually follows him, and finds his crumpled and bloodless body. If there's one thing I respect about this story, it's that the token black character doesn't die first, it's the white best friend. Way to save face, Pearce.
Then the mummy grabs and drains Gordon. Charlie and Kristy first try to help, but upon finding out that the mummy is super strong, they give up. The couple runs and hides under a huge bed, where the story goes from bland to spicy. The mummy grabs Kristy's ankle and pulls her out. Charlie tries to hold on to her hand, but gives up and covers his ears to, and I quote, "block out the sound of her tortured struggle." I knew he was no Bud White, but that's pretty pathetic. He then runs away and breaks the lock on the front door, and he runs out–
Oh, but then the police come and he's dead, and the mummy is free to murder the town folk. Too bad the mummy just might meet his match, the gun.
Conclusion: This story is so bad, it doesn't even do the stereotypes justice.
2. "The Room at the End of the Hall"
Brenda and her family just moved to a new house from California. When Brenda goes upstairs to pick her room, she finds herself oddly off-put by the room at the end of the hall. Huh, wouldn't have guessed it would have been that one. She decides to take a different room, giving the room to her brother Ted instead. How generous. The next morning, Brenda wakes up to find that her brother is gone, and nobody remembers him. Realizing that her brother is now ret gone, Brenda decides that the best course of action would be to let her sister sleep in that same room. This whole concept is a comic book reference, so I can't even try, really.
Her sister disappears, so her parents sleep there. Brenda wakes up later that night and her parents are gone, and people are looking at the house because... it's for sale (dramatic piano)! Turns out they all died in a fire. Thanks, "Nightmare on Sugar Dome" and Clannad!
Conclusion: It wasn't very well-done. There were not many clues, and it just wasn't executed well.
3. "It Waits"
Greg and his friends Valerie and Andre are looking at a newspaper, where there is a badly-taken photograph of the "Silver Bay Monster." Greg's used to this Loch Ness-ripoff propaganda, because he's lived in Silver Bay all his life. But when his cousin Mark comes to visit, Greg decides to take his cousin out boating to prove that the monster doesn't exist. Greg, Mark and Greg's two friends take a boat out, and Greg points out Goose Bank, a bank that gets submerged when there's high tide. This book may not be very scary, or good, so far, but it is pretty dark, I'll give it that. Much like in "Flesh and Blood"– a little too much like in "Flesh and Blood"– all the characters are killed off when the Silver Bay Monster, a giant, dinosaur-like beast, begins attacking.
First, Andre falls out of the boat and is dragged under. Then, the motor floods and Mark and Greg decide to swim to shore. They jump off the boat before it gets flipped over and Valerie goes under. Everybody in this book has to find better friends. Mark disappears, but our protagonist makes it to shore and that's all that matters, right guys? Just kidding, he landed on Goose Bank and the tide is rising.
Conclusion: This story is pretty dark and creepy. It's not relatable in the least, at least not to me because I didn't take a motorboat out in dangerous tides when I was twelve. The ending was kind of clever, and it does do a pretty good job of capturing the terrifying feeling of being in the water when there's something dangerous in there with you. God, is there anything scarier? But it's a little too much like the first story, so it's OK.
4. "The Roadside Attraction"
Julianne and her parents are driving when they decide to stop to see "The Amazing Alien Beast" and eat lunch. That sounds like a great place to eat lunch. They enter the performance tent and see a magician, Alonzo the Great, appear as if out of thin air. Well, actually it's more as if out of thin hair, as the man is very hairy and has canine features. See, jokes like this are why I don't have ads on the site. But even more important than self-deprecating humor, you as a reader knows what this means, right? Q.L Pearce has created an alien werewolf. Expect a third world war sometime in the near future.
Alonzo makes a few objects disappear by spraying some liquid on them. Because Julianne's an aspiring magician, she decides to steal the bottle. After vanishing some food items into thin air for her friends, Julianne decides that that's not enough and tries to pour it on a cricket, instead. Her dog jumps in the way, and there goes her terrier... I'm debating whether to say this part. You know what, I'll put it as an asterisk so you can choose to skip it. Anyways, there goes her terrier*. It reappears shortly thereafter, so she sprays herself. She is transported to the wolf-man dimension, where Alonzo tells her that only dog-like things can return to her world. If I ever concoct a trans-dimensional potion, I'll make sure it doesn't have such needlessly specific rules. But she is informed that she would make a great sideshow.
*into thin air-ier. I got very little sleep last night.
Conclusion: Even stupider than my puns made it seem.
5. "The Rocking Horse"
Jason's making an end-table with his grandpa, because he loves woodworking. Then this story gets a dramatic change in tone when it goes from "he loved woodworking" to "ever since his parents had been killed" in literally one sentence with no warning. Jason's been living with his grandparents, and since they don't have much money, Jason decides to make his sister a rocking horse out of wood. When he's almost finished with the horse, Jason decides he needs more wood, so he goes out to chop some from a tree at the cemetery. Because Pearce forbid he do it anywhere else. So he builds the horse and places it in the dining room while his five-year-old sister, Sarah, is asleep, the night before her birthday. He swears he can hear the horse rocking in the night, but ignores it because there's no way it will be relevant in the future.
Sarah loves her horse and takes it everywhere with her for the whole day, which says a lot seeing as how there's only so much to do with a rocking horse. Jason notices that she talks to it, and when he asks why she says that she's talking to her friend Mary Elizabeth. This is the same name on a tombstone near the tree that I may have neglected to mention. Jason hears voices in his sister's room that night and discovers a ghost girl leading his sister to the graveyard. My favorite part is how the ghost girl says, "She is my friend... we are going to be together forever," as soon as Jason steps in the room. No hello or anything.
Jason pursues and burns the tree down with a lighter in the span of, like, a minute. I don't think that's how fire works. He rescues his sister and leaves before he can see the new tree start to sprout. I don't think that's how trees work, either.
Conclusion: Aww, this one was sweet. I thought it wasn't a bad story, overall.
6. "Cave Dwellers"
This one, however, is a different story. It begins after a group of kids watched a movie that, from the description, could be classified as an action-adventure horror Indiana Jones-type tomb exploration thriller zombie flick. They decide that they want to adventure in a tomb themselves, but have only a cave nearby. They heard stories of a mummy, though, so they agree that a cave will do. One mummy story is enough, Pearce. I would say, let's leave it at that, but I think there's more to be said. This story isn't about mummies, it's about invisible bat-people that kill off the kids and are released upon the world. Not only that, but they turn invisible by drinking a special kind of water, then turn visible again by bathing in it. No thanks.
Conclusion: Almost as bad as "The Box," that subpar alien story from the second book, and far too much like it. At least this book had the decency not to have aliens.
7. "A Dead Man's Chest"
Here's a guide on how to make, like, half the stories in this book.
1. Give some background on the setting
Wright's Cove is a town that used to be ruled by a terrible pirate called The Shark. He had some men stationed there, and he would dock there unless one of his pirates rung a warning bell. Wow, The Shark must have had a pretty big boat; is it safe to say the the townspeople... are gonna need a bigger boat? One day, a brave fisherman named Jeremiah Wright staged a coup, capturing the pirates who would ring the bell and then ambushing The Shark. He made him jump off a cliff, saying that as long as the bell rings, the ocean would be The Shark's grave. Oh, irony. In celebration, there's a big festival put on by the citizens of Wright's Cove where they dress up like pirates and ring the bell at midnight.
2. Main character and his three friends decide to challenge some myth or idea about setting
A yearly tradition is not something you want to announce after killing a villain. So, Peter and his friends Mark, Kyle, and Adam decide to hide the bell. Just for kicks, and also I guess because it will piss off and disappoint their whole town. They somehow fit a bell large enough to echo through a town in a suitcase-sized chest and lug it to the beach, where they plan to hide it in a cave.
3. Have aforementioned myth or some equally stupid random threat actually be true and kill the main characters one by one, except for the protagonist, who survives.
What do you know, the pirates come on shore after all. They capture Adam and Kyle, then grab Mark, taking the bell with him. Peter runs for his life and makes it to town, where he sees and tries to warn his costumed mayor.
4. Just kidding, the main character dies
Just kidding, it wasn't the mayor, it was The Shark.
Conclusion: I'm pretty tired of these.
8. "The Hole in the Ceiling"
Michael always knew that his two-year-old sister, Emily, was special. She can already hold a simple conversation, has an overactive imagination, and can make a mean grilled cheese. Emily walks into Michael's room one day and starts talking about one of her imaginary friends, Pop-pops, for no reason other than to set up a twist. She claims that Pop-pops lives in the ceiling, has wings and can teach her how to make things fly. That night, there's a huge storm, which prompts Michael's mom to recount the night of Emily's birth. There was a massive storm, during which the lights went out multiple times. At one point, the mom can swear that she saw a creepy woman crying in the corner of the hospital room, which is probably the scariest thing I've ever heard but OK we can ignore it.
The next day, Emily develops a blue, scaly rash. The doctor has no explanation, so this story sticks with its theme of ignoring signs of doom. That night, Michael hears Emily giggling, and walks in to see toys flying through the air. He yells at her and she drops them. He then calls his parents back from a neighborhood watch meeting (obviously), but they don't believe his tales of floating toys. He retaliates with the brilliant plan of going to sleep. I get it; the evil not-so-imaginary monster will never see it coming. Of course, the story only gets scarier when Michael is woken up and finds his little sister asking him to go with her into the ceiling. He goes to her room, where scaly blue monsters burst through a portal in the ceiling and toss Michael against a wall.
I often give these books crap for being too predictable, but I'll give Q.L. Pearce credit because I did not see that coming. Michael's parents come in, but the weird gargoyle monster paralyzes them with his mind. Turns out that their daughter and the human daughter were switched at birth, obviously, hence the powers. Oh, I get it, it's just like The Parent Trap but with extra-dimensional monsters. The aliens switch the daughters and leave, wiping the parents' memories. The daughter hugs her parents before levitating some toys and wiping Michael's memory.
Conclusion: I really like this one. Winged blue monster people were a pretty stupid development, but overall it was cool and very terrifying. I'd say it was one of the better stories in this book.
9. "The Family Honor"
Gideon is thrilled that his family decided to go to England on vacation. He loves medieval stuff, and the land of King Arthur is a great place to go castle-exploring. In fact, Gideon's second cousin is the caretaker of a castle that used to be run by Gideon's ancestor, Sir Linovore. There's also this story about how Sir Linovore's oldest son was watching the castle gate when he ran away during an attack. His younger son had to take over, but he got stabbed in the side and is rumored to haunt the place. Now, you may be asking why I'm dishing out this information completely straight, with no jokes or anything. Well, it's to prove a point. During the six pages leading up to the following scene, Gideon complains about a fear of the castle and a strange tingling in his side. On the seventh page of this thirteen page story, Gideon holds the younger son's armor and feels an intense pain in his side when he touches the gap that the blade created. I have not read past this point, so I will skip to the end and see if I'm right in my assumption that he's one of the two sons.
Well... I was right. Sort of. It was slightly less intelligent than I expected. Or maybe more, I can't really tell. Basically, a sorcerer sent Gideon forward in time to escape certain death, leaving his brother, Cecil, to die. But now Gideon will die, instead, because that makes sense. It makes me very sad to say that I gave this story too much credit, because the bar was pretty dang low.
Conclusion: I'm probably not the most qualified to write this because I skipped, like, 4 pages, but it was pretty bad. It's like seeing a train hit a car in slow motion, and also you're in the car and have been able to see the train for like half an hour. And it's not even that cool looking.
10. "A Face in the Crowd"
Kelly and her family are at the beach when a man washes up on shore. Don't get too attached to him, because he dies immediately. As she's walking toward the car, Kelly sees a tall, dark-haired woman with a long, grey dress that she sort of recognizes. She goes to sleep early and wakes up to find the woman from earlier walking toward her window. She wakes up to discover it was only a dream, and this was as far as I got but I'm gonna take a shot in the dark and say that Kelly is actually dead and that the woman is the angel of death. I don't know, though, this one is less obvious.
Wow, I was so wrong and I'm glad to admit it; it was much better than I had anticipated. The day after the dream, Kelly is talking to her friend Wendy about going to camp that Summer. They pass a field, where Kelly recalls the other time she'd seen someone die. It was during a soccer practice that her coach was hit by a car and the woman in grey showed up. Later, Kelly is sitting with friends when she sees a picture in the paper of the aftermath of a tornado. And standing off to the side is... that's right, David Elliston, from Ghost Writer. Thought that joke was dead? You thought wrong.
Kelly points the woman out, but Wendy insists that it's a joke so her friend Nora doesn't think Kelly's insane, and Kelly reluctantly agrees. I mean... I guess it's kind of funny. On the train to camp, Kelly's finally getting over her fixation when Wendy shows her the picture they took before getting on. The woman in grey is looking through the train window. Conveniently, it's just then that the train crashes or falls off the rails or something. The woman shows up again, but this time for Kelly.
Conclusion: I really liked this one. It's one of the most unique stories in this book, and is able to keep you guessing for a little while. Overall, good story.
11. "Horror in the Center Ring"
Paul is so fed up with his parents wanting him to clean his room, he decides to run away from home with his friend Martin. The pair sees a poster for a circus and decides to join them. Yes, because that's logical and always turns out well. I've seen enough American Horror Story/national news to see where this is going. After a bad fight, Martin runs off without Paul. Paul hears of this from his parents, so naturally he packs up his stuff and follows. When he gets there, the ringleader attempts to capture him, but he evades and decides that he loves home. He finds Martin in one of the tents, where he's been transformed into some sort of half-tiger being. Realizing that his friend has become a furry, Paul decides that Martin is beyond saving and runs away directly into a mirror maze. I'll assume that the other tent exits were as bad or worse than a mirror maze which, if Ray Bradbury has taught us anything, is nothing. What I don't remember from Something Wicked This Way Comes are masks that slowly turn you into human-animal hybrids, which I assume will be wearing cut-off jean shorts and sunglasses, and then later full-on animals. Paul puts on a tiger mask for some reason, and gets thrown in the cage with his friend.
Conclusion: This was a fun story. Not amazingly written, sure, but it had real potential that it could have easily fulfilled if the author had wasted less pages on, say, "The Family Honor," and saved space for stories that couldn't be illustrated on the back of cereal boxes.
Conclusion: This was one of the worst in the series so far. I can safely say that "Super" Scary Stories is false advertising. I want my money back.