Happy October, the spooky time of spooky stories! Like Goosebumps. It’s time for me and Ariel to revisit these books that terrified us when we were little children in the 90s and reflect on how kids are dumb.
This year the poll winner was The Blob That Ate Everyone, which in retrospect isn’t remotely surprising, because the goddamn title is The Blob That Ate Everyone. Out of the original 62 Goosebumps books, this was the 55th, in case you’re already suspicious how much R L Stine was phoning it in by this one. Unlike last year’s One Day at HorrorLand, I’m going in completely blind to this one, and in contrast Ariel remembers this one as one of the scariest when she was a kid! So we’re really feeling the “Reader beware, you’re in for a scare” for this one.
The Blob That Ate Everyone: Chapter 1
We meet Alex, who is twelve and therefore too old to believe in monsters.
“I used to believe in monsters,” Alex said. She pushed her glasses up on her nose. […] “When I was little, I thought that a monster lived in my sock drawer,” Alex told me. “You won’t believe this, Zackie. But I never opened that drawer. I used to wear my sneakers without socks. Sometimes I tried to go barefoot to kindergarten. I was too scared to open that drawer.”
In contrast, I’m twenty-seven and the idea of a child showing up barefoot at kindergarten every day freaks me out way worse than anything else that’s probably going to happen in the rest of this book.
“Now that I’m twelve, I’m a lot smarter,” she said. “Now I know that there is no such thing as monsters.”
That’s what Alex said to me two seconds before we were attacked by the monster.
Zackie pulls the ol’ Goosebumps switcheroo on us and decides, hey, enough about that, let me tell you about an earlier point in the story.
Once, we collected stones that looked like famous people. That didn’t last long. We couldn’t find too many.
If you get the idea that Norwood Village is a boring town—you’re right!
Man, Stine’s got this “quiet, unsuspecting, totally normal town” set-up down to a science. Look at that efficiency and weep, Stephen King!
I’m not sure why Alex has a boy’s name. I think it’s short for Alexandria. But she won’t tell me.
She complains about her name all the time. It gives her a lot of trouble. […] She gets mail addressed to Mr. Alex Iarocci.
How much mail is this 12-year-old getting?
Zackie also complains about how hard his last name is to pronounce, and lest you think this half-page of set-up in the first chapter is just too out there, Zackie pulls off this goddamn Olympic-level save:
Why am I going on about names like this? I think I know why.
You see, when the Blob Monster attacked, I was so scared, I forgot my own name!
You got me there, Zackie.
Zackie tells us that one day they decided to go collect worms, then they “heard a loud, squishy sound behind [them]”, turned around, and “gasped when I saw the monster”. That was really fast this year.
It was pink and wet. And throbbing.
BRUM BRRUUM BRUMMM. It pulsed like a heart.
It had two tiny black eyes. The eyes glowed and stared straight ahead.
[…] thick, purple veins—arteries tied together in a knot [were on top of the blob].
BRRUUUM BRUM BRUMM.
The monster throbbed and bounced. […]
The mouth opened wider. Wider.
Wide enough to swallow a human!
And then a fat purple tongue plopped out. The tongue made a wet SPLAT as it hit the grass. […]
“Run!” Alex cried.
I turned – and tripped […] And looked back – in time to see the drooling, pink mouth open wider as the tongue wrapped around me… pulling me, pulling me in.
This is either the shortest Goosebumps ever or we’re up for one of our classic Goosebumps cliffhanger fake-outs.
Alex stared at me, her mouth open wide. “Zackie, that is awesome!” she declared.
Adam scratched his curly, black hair and made a face. “You call that scary?” He rolled his eyes. “That’s about as scary as Goldilocks and the Three Bears.”
I held the pages of my story in one hand. I rolled them up and took a swing at Adam with them.
Aw, wait, I kind of love this! It was just a story that the character wrote! OR IS IT?
I want to be a writer when I grow up. I write scary stories all the time. Then I read them to Alex and Adam.
They always react in the same way. Alex always likes my stories. […] Adam always says my stories aren’t scary at all. He says he can write better stories with one hand tied behind his back.
But he never does.
…hey, R L Stine. Were you doing alright when you did this one?
“I never get scared by books or stories,” Adam insisted. “Especially stories about dumb monsters.”
“Well—what does scare you?” Alex demanded.
“Nothing,” Adam bragged.
You know the “I feel personally attacked” meme? What’s the opposite of that?
and then he opened his mouth wide in a scream of horror.
All three of us did [as] a terrifying screech rang through the room.
And a black shadow swept over the floor.
Ok, more so than any year previously, I have no idea if Goosebumps is Inception-ing us or not.
Adam’s dad burst into the doorway. […] “Sorry about that!” he exclaimed. “I stepped on the cat.”
Ok, we’ve arrived at normal Goosebumps fakeouts, no more Inception fakeouts.
Adam teases Zackie that the cat scared them more than his story did, and acts like he wasn’t scared at all. And, lo, Zackie is the newest member of the Everyone On This Blog Needs To Get New Friends Club.
Later, Zackie and Alex head home and pass a small row of little shops to discover that the local antique store has hit by lightning during yesterday’s storm, and now the roof and walls are caving in and the windows are all broken. I bet this is completely normal brand new information and not very suspicious brand new information.
Zackie decides to investigate the store, despite Alex’s protests that it’s dangerous. Zackie comes across “a row of ugly antique masks” and a bunch of burned wooden ducks, which seems pretty good for a store that was literally struck by lightning.
I pointed up to an old typewriter. “Wow. My dad used to have one like that when I was real little,” I said.
“Zackie—I’m leaving,” Alex warned.
“I love old typewriters!” I cried. “Look, Alex. I don’t think the fire hurt it. I think it’s in good shape. I just have to check it out. Okay?” […]
I felt a hard shock of pain. It shot through my body. […] I bent over – helpless – as a bright blue flame shot around my body.
Ok. Kid who likes to write scary stories. Eerie old typewriter. Supernatural events. I think I see where this is going. I can’t wait for Zackie to write three or four stories that come true before he figures it out too.
A terrified Alex runs over to Zackie and asks him if he’s alright, since she saw him get shocked and get momentarily absorbed by a blue flame. Zackie is still mostly interested in the typewriter.
“It’s awesome!” I exclaimed. “This typewriter, Alex—it’s perfect for writing scary stories on.”
“Are you crazy?” Alex declared. “Zackie, I think that electric shock messed up your brain!”
Despite clearly not getting the finer points about Zackie’s hipster writer-life aesthetic, Alex makes some good points about personal property.
“You can’t just take it!” she scolded. “It doesn’t belong to you. That’s stealing.”
I made a face at her. “Alex, don’t be dumb. Everything in this store is wrecked. Nobody will care”
And some less good points about how he has a perfectly good printer at home, so he shouldn’t need… something to write with?
Alex rolled her eyes. “You have a brand-new computer at home,” she reminded me. “And your mom gave you her old laser printer—remember?”
“I know, I know,” I muttered.
“You can print eight pages a minute,” Alex continued.
Yeah, the stealing argument might be little stronger than this other one that assumes you can write content as fast as a printer can print it.
Their debate about the concept of ownership is interrupted when they hear noises and realize they aren’t alone in the old store! Will Zackie get the typewriter? Will Adam ever be scared? Will the poor laser printer ever be used? I have so many questions.