Mortal Peril! Such as Missing Persons and Truth or Dare: Say Cheese and Die! Chapters 16-22

Our Bad Books, Good Times horror month is almost at an end! Which is weird, because we’re only halfway through October, but there’s only one more Thursday and Friday before Halloween. Aren’t calendars weird?

Yeah, I bet you’re really excited to read some Goosebumps now.

Chapter Sixteen

Greg remembers that he last saw his friend Bird lying unconscious on the ground a few days ago, so decides to follow up on that.

“Yeah. I know Bird’s okay,” Greg said into the phone receiver. “I saw him yesterday, remember?”

Uh, no, we don’t, Greg. You didn’t bother inviting us!

“Bring it,” Shari demanded. “It’s my birthday.”
“I don’t want to bring the camera. It’s not a good idea. Really,” Greg told her.

Basically, the camera has taken four pictures of perfectly ordinary people/objects that depicted them in accidents or unfortunate circumstances that hadn’t happened yet, but then did happen later. Therefore, Shari wants this camera brought to her birthday party?

“But why, Shari?” Greg demanded.
“It’ll be a goof, that’s all. It takes such weird pictures.”

Shari wants the demon camera at her birthday because 1) she doesn’t believe it’s really a demon camera, and 2) she thinks it’d be fun to take pictures of people that show them in horrible pain and/or dying. …okay, Shari. That’s… that’s really normal.

Chapter Seventeen

Just for fun, pretend you’re reading this out of context:

Greg obediently raised the camera. “Are you sure you want me to do this, Shari?”

Hahaha, okay, we can go back to the demon camera story now.

Remember that scene in Titanic where Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet have sex in a car and it fogs up and her hand presses against the window before sliding back down? It has nothing to do with anything, but you’re thinking about it now.

Shari demands that Greg take her picture with the demon camera. Also, it’s the 90s.

she had on an oversized, silky yellow top that came down over black spandex leggings.

Also, Michael objects to the ratio.

“Hey, are we the only boys invited?” Michael asked, stepping up to Shari.
“Yeah. Just you three,” Shari said. “And nine girls.”
“Oh, wow.” Michael made a face.

Just wait until you get to college, Michael. Things will look up.

Shari wants to play a game for her birthday party and they quickly decide on Truth or Dare.

“Oh, no,” Greg groaned quietly to himself. Truth or dare meant a lot of kissing and awkward, embarrassing stunts.

Wait, how old are these kids again? Their games of Truth or Dare regularly involve “a lot of kissing”? If these fucking kids out-college me, I’m gonna be pissed. I’ve played too many games of Never Have I Ever and learned/shared too many horribly awkward things to get shown up by these little shits.

Never Have I Ever is a great game if you want to look at people you know and ONLY SEE NIGHTMARES.

But thankfully they’re distracted by the demon camera once again. Shari asks to see the now-developed picture Greg took of her, but SHE ISN’T IN THE PICTURE. Unconcerned, they all go into the woods to play Truth or Dare with “more privacy”.

“I must be a pretty bad mom,” Mrs. Walker joked, “allowing you all to go off into the woods by yourselves.”
Some of the girls laughed.

Kids.

They start to cut the cake, then realize Shari isn’t there, and they go to look for her, but SHARI HAS VANISHED JUST LIKE IN THE PICTURE maybe you should, you know, stop using the- oh, fuck it. These kids don’t listen.

Chapter Eighteen

Policemen show up to investigate and Greg decides to explain to one of them that he has a camera that makes bad things happen to people and he took a picture of Shari but she wasn’t in it and now she’s gone missing.

“Go ahead, son,” Riddick urged softly. “Do you know where Shari is?”
“It’s this camera,” Greg blurted out.

It goes about as well as you’d expect.

Chapter Nineteen

The policeman assumes Greg reacted badly to a traumatic experience and needs to be taken home.

I knew he wouldn’t believe me, Greg thought angrily.

So Greg goes home, finds the house empty, feels bad his misuse of a demon camera made one of his closest friends disappear, blah blah blah.

He stopped in the doorway, blinked twice, then uttered a cry of horror. […] Someone had been in Greg’s room – and had turned it upside down!

Chapter Twenty

A frightened Greg turns his attentions towards the new issue and hand and has the answer!

Who would tear apart my room like this? He realized that he knew the answer. He knew who would do it, who had done it.

Holy shit, Greg’s got it all figured out already? Maybe I underestimated him all this time!

Someone looking for the camera.

Oh. Uh. Good job, Greg.

Just… good job, Greg.

But then Greg thinks for, like two more sentences and decides it’s the only other character in this book with any tenuous connection to the camera: Spidey!

Once again, this meme makes my job so much easier.

Chapter Twenty-One

Greg decides to rally the troops (Michael and Bird, in case you weren’t sure) because he has a plan he hasn’t told us yet. His family still isn’t back, and for some reason this event in conjunction with his missing best friend and that his house had been broken into doesn’t give him any concerns about his family’s safety. Nope. Instead we’re gonna watch a squirrel.

A squirrel sat under the wide shade of the big tree, gnawing furiously at an acorn, another acorn at his feet.

Fascinating.

Greg could see the birthday cake, still sitting forlornly on the deserted table, the places all set, the decorations still standing.
A birthday party for ghosts.

Nothing says horror like a birthday party for ghosts.

Anybody who understands this reference is automatically my new best friend.

Chapter Twenty-Two

Greg wants to break back into the town haunted house (which, as you will recall, every town has) and put the camera back. This way, the scary, desperate, and possibly dangerous man who broke into Greg’s house looking for the camera can get back a camera that takes pictures of people and then bad things will happen to… okay, um, how is this a good plan?

“Here. Give it to me,” Bird said. “We don’t have to go back to that house. He can find it. Right here.”

But Greg refuses to go along with this less immediately dangerous plan that would have the exact same end result!

Greg held tightly to the strap and tried to tug it away.
But Bird grabbed the side of the camera.
“No!” Greg cried out as it flashed. And whirred.
A square of film slid out.
“No!” Greg cried to Bird, horrified, staring at the white square as it started to develop. “You took my picture!”

Next week: the exciting conclusion! SPOOKY SCARY!

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