To summarize everything’s that’s happened so far, Greg has found a camera that takes pictures that predict accidents, such as his friend falling down the stairs, so he decides it’d be a good idea to use this camera to take a picture of a new car. Also, he has a friend nicknamed Bird, so we know Mitt Romney isn’t going to help him out when Greg accidentally harms him with his demon camera.
The last chapter ended with Greg looking at the picture of the car and saying “Oh no!” and then the chapter ended! So now this chapter starts and we find out what the picture looked like! Suspenseful!
The car appeared totaled!
“This is impossible!” Greg uttered aloud.
Greg checks the car outside but sees that it’s still perfectly normal! What’s going on, guys? He sits down with his family at dinner and his dad tells him that, after dinner, they’re all going for a ride in the new car!
AND WILL ALL DIE.
During dinner, Greg tries to get out of going for the family ride in the new car because he doesn’t want something terrible to happen, although he doesn’t seem that concerned about something terrible happening to his family, since he’s not trying to get them to not go in the car or anything.
“I … made plans to go over to Michael’s,” he lied, staring down at his plate.
“Well, call him and tell him you’ll see him tomorrow,” Mr. Banks said, slicing his veal. “That’s no problem.”
Oh, snap, that didn’t work! Better come up with another completely different excuse right away!
“Well, I’m kind of not feeling very well, either,” Greg said.
Will this work?!
“Well, a nice ride might make you feel better,” Greg’s dad said
Because putting sick people in a car often makes them feel better?
They’re all in the car, driving along, all but Greg completely unaware of the horrible unavoidable tragedy that could strike at any moment. Also, they get weirdly excited about some of the car’s features.
“Hey, look – there’s a drink holder that pulls out from the dash!” Greg’s mother exclaimed. “That’s neat!”
And then Greg’s brother, Terry, makes fun of his mom for saying that. Ha! Sucks to suck, Greg’s mom.
They drive down a highway and Terry tells his dad to “Put the pedal to the metal” and he does so “obediently”. There’s some weird power dynamics at play even without the youngest kid being in possession of a demon camera.
“The cruising speed seems to be about sixty,” he said.
“Slow down,” Mrs. Banks scolded. “You know the speed limit is fifty-five.”
Instead of slowing down because he’s speeding by a whole five miles per hour, he speeds up to seventy-five miles per hour! Fuck your noise, Greg’s mom!
“Where’s that stupid light switch? It’s got to be around here somewhere,” Mr. Banks said.
Oh, man, Greg’s dad, you’re a distracted driver and a demon camera has predicted a car crash. This doesn’t look good!
“Dad – look out for that truck!” Greg screamed.
Talk about a self-fulfilling demon camera prophecy, Greg’s dad.
They avoid the accident and slow down to the speed limit. Phew! Greg’s dad wants to get ice cream but everybody wants to go home. OH NO!
“The truck didn’t come that close,” Mr. Banks argued. But he obediently turned off the highway and they headed for home.
Man, that’s the second time in as many chapters that Greg’s dad has done something “obediently”. This dude is whipped by his entire family, and they all want different things from him. You can’t keep this up, Greg’s dad! Stand up for yourself! What do you want?
Back in his room, Greg looks at the photograph of the totaled car and wonders why this prediction didn’t come true. He considers what’s happened so far:
- takes a picture of Michael, picture shows Michael falling down a staircase, Michael falls down a staircase
- takes a picture of a car, picture shows a completely destroyed car, car is fine so far
Weighing the evidence, Greg decides this is the best course of action:
I’ll take a picture of myself in the mirror, he thought.
Greg, please never be a scientist.
He raised the camera, then changed his mind. That won’t work, he realized. The flash will reflect back and spoil the photo.
Also because you might end up killing yourself, but, yeah, the flash reflecting off the mirror is a good reason too. Now we need a good, non-potentially-fatal alternative.
“Terry, can I take your picture?”
Come on, Greg! Sure enough, the picture turns out kinda spooky, with his brother in a completely different place with a frightened expression. Greg isn’t convinced anything supernatural is going on, but he is convinced the camera is broken. But still lets Shari borrow it when she asks to take a picture of their friend Bird, for some reason.
The photo showed Bird sprawled unconscious on his back on the ground, his mouth twisted open, his neck bent at a frightening angle, his eyes shut tight.
Greg, you really gotta stop and think about this whole “taking pictures of everyone you know and love to test a demon camera” plan.
Greg tells Shari about all the pictures and Shari. The baseball game begins. A kid in the bleachers drops a can of soda and he cries about it. A car with teenagers in it drives by. We are given all of this information in this chapter. I’m kind of not sure why. Shari keeps investigating the camera and finds that there’s no place to put in film and, strangest of all, there’s no brand name.
“How can a camera not have a name?” Shari shouted in exasperation.
They look back onto the field and BIRD IS LYING ON THE FIELD UNCONSCIOUS whoa maybe we shouldn’t take pictures of our friends with demon cameras, now, should we?
They run onto the field because apparently nobody else currently playing baseball with Bird is concerned about him, but it turns out he’s just kidding! Mitt Romney will be so upset.
“I just wanted to show you how bogus it is to get all worked up about that dumb camera. […] It’s just broken, that’s all,” Bird said, brushing blades of recently cut grass off his uniform pants. “You think because it showed Michael falling down those stairs, there’s something strange with it. But that’s dumb. Real dumb.”
I like how everybody in this book is perfectly willing to chalk up the camera taking pictures of things that exist in conditions that they aren’t in to the camera merely being broken, not because the camera is strange, and that’s not dumb at all.
The batter hit the next ball hard. It made a loud thunk as it left the bat.
A dozen people – players and spectators – cried out as the ball flew across the diamond, a sharp line drive, and slammed into the side of Bird’s head with another thunk.
Yeah, Bird, I bet you feel real dumb now. Or I bet you would feel dumb if Greg’s experiments on his friends with a demon camera that he already knows harms people hadn’t rendered you unconscious.
Greg and Shari run over to Bird, who is now lying unconscious in the same position as he is in the picture, but Greg is stopped by his brother Terry, wearing a grave expression just like in the picture, who tells him that their dad got into a car accident and the new car is completely wrecked, just like in the picture.
Just in case you haven’t been paying attention to the plot, like, at all, Greg reminds you.
Totaled. The car had been totaled.
Just like in the snapshot.
Thankfully, his dad is alive and conscious.
“I’m okay. Really,” their father insisted. “A few broken bones. That’s it.” He sighed, then winced from some pain. “I guess I’m lucky.”
“You’re very lucky,” Mrs. Banks agreed quickly.
What’s the lucky part? Greg wondered silently to himself?
That… that he’s not dead? Not a hard question, Greg.
Greg decides to try to tell them about the camera at this moment, and his mom’s all “STFU, Greg”, and they leave the hospital.
Does the camera show the future?
Or does it actually cause bad things to happen?
I dunno, Greg, maybe you should test it on, like, a box of Cheerios or something instead of more people? Just a thought.