Ready to finish this year’s Goosebumps? Depends… ARE YOU IN FOR A SCARE?
Margaret is hanging out with Diane (the only other character in this book) when her father (the mad scientist who is turning into a plant person – I dunno, maybe you forgot?) announces that he’s leaving to pick up her mother from the airport. After Diane leaves (thanks for reminding us you’re in this book too, Diane!), Carey and Margaret decide to pass the time by flying kites, which sounds totally innocuous, but quickly reveals that these kids aren’t paying any attention to what’s going on in this book.
“Are they in the garage?”
“No,” Casey told her. “I know. They’re in the basement.”
Of course they are.
The plants seemed to bend toward them, to reach out to them as they walked by. Margaret tried to ignore them. […] Casey, down on his knees, started pulling boxes off the bottom shelf. Suddenly, he stopped. “Whoa — Margaret. […] Look at this” […]
Margaret saw that he was holding a pair of black shoes. And a pair of blue trousers.
Blue suit trousers?
His face suddenly pale, [he] reached into the back pocket and pulled out a black leather wallet. […]
“It belongs to Mr. Martinez,” he said, swallowing hard. He raised his eyes to Margaret’s. “This is Mr. Martinez’s stuff.”
I guess Mr. Martinez didn’t heed the warning on the front of the book either.
Confronted with this evidence, Carey realizes a terrifying truth with egregious consequences.
“Dad lied,” Casey said
Oh. See, I would have led with, “Oh, shit, dad murdered someone”, but lying is bad too.
They determine they have to tell someone what’s happening, but don’t know who, which is when the groaning plant conveniently groans again. And a loud banging noise comes from a closet. And the groaning plant’s “leaves clapped against each other softy, quietly”. Okay, what is the groaning plant’s deal? I’m way more disturbed by this thing than mad scientist plant-man dad.
“Do you think we should open the closet?” Casey asked timidly.
A plant groaned as if answering.
They spent some time getting the door unlocked, and then GOOSEBUMPS-STYLE CLIFF HANGER, Y’ALL.
“Huh?” Casey dropped the hammer.
They both squinted into the dark closet.
And screamed in horror when they saw what was inside.
Hopefully you were able to handle the suspense from the previous page, because the contents of the closet are revealed to be…
They both gaped at the weird plants that filled the closet.
Were they plants?
Well, that wasn’t helpful.
Margaret’s eyes darted around the closet. To her horror, she realized that several plants seemed to have human features — green arms, a yellow hand with three fingers poking from it, two stumpy legs where the stem should be.
She and her brother both cried out when they saw the plant with the face. Inside a cluster of broad leaves there appeared to grow a round, green tomato. But the tomato had a human-shaped nose and an open mouth, from which it repeatedly uttered the most mournful sighs and groans.
OH GOD I TAKE IT BACK THIS IS ACTUALLY CREEPY AS HELL NOW
“Margaret — let’s go!” Casey pleaded.
“No. Look. There’s someone back there” […] Ignoring the moans, the sighs, the green arms reaching out to her, the hideous green-tomato faces, she plunged through the plants to the back of the closet.
“Dad!” she cried.
Her father was lying on the floor, his hands and feet tied tightly with plant tendrils, his mouth gagged by a wide strip of elastic tape.
“No — stop!” Casey cried, and pulled her back by the shoulders. […] “It can’t be Dad! […] Dad is at the airport — remember?”
Oh snap! You mean the real dad was being impersonated by doppelganger plant-dad this whole time?!
Margaret turned her eyes to her father’s head. He was bareheaded. No Dodgers cap. He had tufts of green leaves growing where his hair should be.
“We’ve already seen that,” Margaret snapped. “It’s a side effect, remember?”
Or, uh, part of this whole time? Wait, so are there two vaguely-evil dads?
“I’m so glad to see you,” Dr. Brewster said. “Quick! Untie me.”
“How did you get in here?” Casey demanded, standing above him, hands on his hips, staring down at him suspiciously. “We saw you leave for the airport.”
I’m glad that in my time of confusion, there’s at least Casey paying zero attention to the plot to help me out.
He explains that he’s been locked down there for days, and that the other Dr. Brewster is a “plant copy of me”, and asks that they untie him, as well as the also abound-and-gagged and not-dead Mr. Martinez. Understandably unswayed by the man with leaves growing out of his head’s assertion that he is not that plant doppelganger, Casey demands to know how he’s telling the truth. Dad says that there’s no time, which is good enough for Margaret.
Margaret and Casey both gasped as he picked up an axe.
He spun around to face them, holding the thick axe handle with both hands. His face frozen with determination, he started toward them.
If you all turn into plant-people, Margaret, just know that this is where it all went wrong.
Suddenly, the other Dodgers-cap wearing Dr. Brewster shows up with the kids’ mom, and discovers that, once again, fucking everybody ignored his request to stay out of the basement. Who’s the real victim of this story, really?
He glared accusingly at Margaret and Casey. “What have you done? You let him escape? […] I’m your dad!” the Dr. Brewer at the doorway bellowed. “Not him! He’s not your dad. He’s not even human! He’s a plant!” […]
“You’re the plant!” the bareheaded Dr. Brewer accused, raising the axe.
Shit, this is like the best episode of Maury ever.
The two Dr. Brewsters continue to accuse the other of being an imposter, while Margaret and Casey’s mom has her priorities in order.
“Kids — what have you done?” Mrs. Brewer cried
Margaret decides that her real dad would never threaten to murder someone with an axe, which is pretty optimistic logic.
Margaret leapt forward and grabbed the axe from the imposter’s hands. […] “Get back! Both of you — stay back!” she warned.
But then the dad she found locked up in the closet calls her princess, which she realizes only her real dad would do! So, spotting the bandaged hand on each dad and remembering the incident earlier, she goes with Plan B.
“Casey, there’s a knife on the wall over there […] Get it for me”
She stepped over to the man from the supply closet and pushed the knife blade into his arm.
Supply closet-dad bleeds red blood, which Margaret decides is enough evidence to conclude he’s the real dad.
“He’s our real dad,” she told Casey, sighing with relief. “Here, Dad.” She handed him the axe.
[T]he man in the baseball cap cried in alarm. “He’s tricked you! He’s tricked you!”
The capless Dr. Brewer moved quickly. He picked up the axe, took three steps forward, pulled the axe back, and swung with all his might, [cutting] easily through [the Dr. Brewster in the cap’s] body, slicing him in two.
A thick green liquid oozed from the wound.
“Princess — we’re okay!” Dr. Brewer cried, flinging the axe aside. “You guessed right!”
GUESSED? GIRL, YOU HAD AN AXE.
By dinnertime, things had almost returned to normal.
I feel like it might take me a little more than the time between two meals to recover from finding my dad bound and gagged in a closet in the basement with a plant growing out of his head and then watching him murder his doppelganger with an axe, but that’s just me.
Mr. Martinez gives Dr. Brewster his job back. Dr. Brewster explains that he cut his hand while working on the super plant, accidentally mixing in his DNA, resulting in the plant doppelganger. Which apparently affected him too, giving him leaves on his head, because of a “strong chemical reaction”. Man, kids will accept any old fake-science, huh?
Dr. Brewster destroys the horrible, suffering part-human-plants, transplanting a few of the normal ones in the garden, and life goes back to normal. OR DOES IT?
On Sunday, Margaret found herself standing in back by the garden, staring up at the golden hills.
It’s so peaceful now, she thought happily. […]
She looked down to see a small yellow flower nudging her ankle.
“Margaret,” the flower whispered, “help me. Please — help me. I’m your father. Really! I’m your real father.”
This is simultaneously the stupidest and greatest open ending I’ve ever read in my life.
Question of the Post: What are you doing for Halloween? It is my first Halloween in New York City and I am going to a party! I am terrified.