Monday, 6 April 2009

13 Tales of Horror - Various

What's better than one Point Horror story?

THIRTEEN Point Horror stories, that's what.

First off, for the most part, this anthology is fucking awesome and I am extremely grateful it was suggested. Sure there are a few stinkers in here, but I'm pretty sure I had this book and loved it at the time as well. Oh God, I can't even joke about this, it is so seriously good. Let's get into it.

Oh, and to keep in the spirit of short stories, I'll provide a one sentence synopsis at the bottom of each recap.

Collect Call – Christopher Pike

Janice Adams likes Bobby Walker. Caroline Spencer also likes Bobby Walker. Caroline Spencer is a cheerleader. Janice Adams is NOT a cheerleader. This one opens at party – most definitely a Christopher Pike party. I mean, the kids are drinking beer and smoking cigarettes and talking about penises. My invite must have gotten lost in the post.

Janice manages to corner Bobby, who is of the slicked back black hair, tight black jeans, leather jacket and deathly cold breath variety of bad boy.

Unfortunately, Bobby calls Caroline over to join their chat, which makes Janice feel , well, feel as if “I look like a bookmark next to her.” Which is sort of weird.

So, it’s Caroline’s birthday and Bobby gives her a tape cassette by a singer called The Black Walker. Aren’t band names in books just the cringiest thing ever? According to Bobby, “The Black Walker doesn’t prostitute himself. You can feel him but you can’t see him. He’s never been on TV.” Sounds like The Black Walker needs a better publicist.

The party ends, Bobby’s left, and circumstances dictate that Janice has to give Caroline a ride home.

Here’s a weird sentence for you to mull over. “Caroline shrugged, staring forward, her head bowed slightly as if she were wearing a fat hat.” What the fuck? A FAT hat?

(that picture is going to give me terrible nightmares)

Anyway, Caroline and Jan decide to listen to The Black Walker tape. According to Christopher Pike, the lyrics are “powerful stuff.” Here’s a sample so you can judge for yourself:

“This is my night, this is your night.
I’m a black walker, babe.
Touch me softly and you get a fright.”

Oh right, I didn’t realise The Black Walker was, like, a 12 year old girl. The concept of a fat hat has affected me far more deeply and cruelly than these lyrics ever will. Jan starts being nasty to Caroline and, predictably, the girls start arguing over Bobby. Caroline ends up punching Jan in the face, which is pretty stupid considering Jan is trying to drive the car.

They crash off a cliff or something and the tape turns itself on for a second. Spookz. Janice realises that Caroline is totally dunzo and Janice panics about drink driving and the murder and the prison. So Janice decides to move Caroline’s body into the driving seat. Yeah, that always works out well. And then the car explodes. Janice is thrown clear but she hears Caroline’s screams as she burns. Uh oh, should have checked that pulse first eh Janice. You know what they say, assume makes an ass of u and me.

Rather than trying to save Caroline, Janice just feels a bit guilty whilst waiting for her to die. Janice wakes up in hospital being questioned by a police officer. Her doctor is called Dr Please. I’m trying to figure out if this is supposed to be some sort of clever joke?

Rather than being kept in overnight or anything after this horrific accident, Janice gets taken back to her home, which naturally is 100% parent free. Creepily, there’s a message on her answering machine...from Caroline, presumably left earlier in the evening, to ask for a lift to the party. Janice goes to bed to try to forget about it...when the answer machine starts beeping again and there’s a NEW message from Caroline, begging for a ride to the party.

Caroline keeps leaving like a million messages asking for a ride, sounding angrier and angrier.

Janice decides that Caroline must have survived so she gets in her car to drive back to the hospital to check. At the hospital, she meets an old woman with a big droopy nose who tells her that the driver of the car definitely died.

Janice does exactly the same as you or I would in the same situation and heads down to the hospital morgue to double check Caroline’s dead. There’s a body bag in the morgue, but it has Jan’s name on it rather than Caroline’s. Jan isn’t panicking yet though, she’s all, “yeah man, they must have just mixed up our names, shit happens right.” But Jan doesn’t have the guts to look inside the bag and she freaks out and runs away.

In her car, The Black Walker tape has somehow made its way into the player again. Umm, but it’s something like it’s actually the tape from the answering machine? This bit is confusing and if I try and read that passage one more time I’m going to get frustrated and upset with my own limitations and start smashing shit up. I’m not very bright.

OK, so Caroline’s voice starts talking on the tape, giving Jan directions to where she has to drive, which Jan follows. Guess where Caroline directs Jan to? Yeah, that’s right, McDonalds and they eat a Big Mac and Ronald McDonald starts breakdancing and then they all make out. Oh wait, sorry, I was daydreaming about Mac and Me again. Jan actually ends up at the site of the crash.

And she sees her own car crash with her and Caroline inside it. Future Janice runs down to help the girls and pulls Caroline free. She tries to save the other girl as well, but she can’t. So Jan explodes into fire and dies or something.

This time, Caroline wakes up in hospital. And Bobby Walker is waiting outside to see her.

Whilst she waits for Bobby, Caroline decides to check the messages on her hospital phone. One is from Bobby, to check if he loved the tape and saying he’ll see her soon “if she’s still alive.” That old chestnut. Also, Caroline realises that his voice is exactly the same as The Black Walker. The second message is from Janice, blabbing on about how the fire burned off her hands and she's coming for Caroline, who I guess is dead too and this is some big eternal death circle or some other Christopher Pike style pseudo spiritual thing. Caroline starts screaming and Bobby Walker enters the room with a big ol’ shit eating grin on his face.

The end.

In conclusion, unless I'm missing something major, that story makes, like zero sense? But who cares right, sometimes it's not about the destination, it's about the journey. And baby, this was one good ride.

One sentence synopsis: These two chicks fight over this greaseball guy but then they die in a car accident and the guy turns out to be the devil or Danny Zuko or something.

Onto short story number two:

Lucinda – Lael Littke

Kate has an older brother called Brandon, whose girlfriend, Lucinda, went missing on her graduation night six years ago. Kate saw Lucinda and Brandon argue over Brandon’s relationship with a girl called Holly that night, then saw Lucinda wade out into a river, and then has blocked out whatever the fuck traumatic shit happened next because her puny human mind couldn’t deal with it.

Now Kate is 16 and Brandon is 23 and they’ve been orphaned and decided to move back to the town where it happened. Brandon is all wracked with guilt, STILL and takes Kate on some ghoulish Lucinda themed tour of the town. The lake where Lucinda presumably drowned is all dried up now, so they go for a little stroll through it. Brandon is hoping to find Lucinda’s skeleton or something. Already, I’m not so sure about Brandon.

Brandon takes Kate to the remains of a house that was under the river that Lucinda used to frequent and shows her Lucinda’s “secret place” in the basement part. It’s all snakey and ghost whispery.

Keith arrives to welcome the pair back to the town. Keith was Lucinda’s brother and supposedly he sorta maybe kinda blames Brandon for his sister’s death. Holly also rocks up, and she still has the hots for Brandon. Holly suggests that Lucinda pulled a Lord Lucan and isn’t really dead.

That night, Kate wakes up to find a puddle of water on the floor. Kate, Kate, there’s no need to be ashamed. We all have little accidents from time to time. The water drops somehow lead Kate out of her room towards the foundations of Linda’s old house. That’s some smart water drops right there.

Kate freaks out and runs away, bumping into Holly. Holly walks Kate home, but not before she points out that she can hear a ghostly voice whispering Brandon’s name. How reassuring.

At home, Kate finds Brandon huddled in the corner like a pathetic baby clutching onto a red graduation robe like the one Lucinda was wearing when she disappeared. He says that Lucinda was at the house all dripping wet and creepy and he managed to grab the robe. Brandon's mental health prognosis is not looking so good right about now.

The next day, Kate goes to search Lucinda’s “secret spot” in the river. And sees Lucinda staring there in her red graduation robe. Lucinda attacks Kate, and Kate cleverly realises that her attacker is too strong and...humany to be a ghost. And that the face is actually a porcelain mask made to look like Lucinda. Ummm OK.

The pair tussle and Kate lands on some icky brown skeleton. Kate realises that “Lucinda” is actually Holly, and Kate’s memory of what she saw 6 years ago returns – Holly attacked Lucinda with an axe in the river. Holly admits it, and says she did it because of her love for Brandon. And now she’s back dressed as Lucinda with her fancy porcelain mask so she can torture Brandon in a similar way to how he tortured her by withholding the good stuff. Jeez, these kids.

Kate manages to escape and luckily Keith also arrives in the nick of time to rescue her. So I guess that Keiths are good for something after all.

Conclusion: this one was boring.

I’ve decided to write my one sentence synopsis for this one in the form of an awesome haiku:

If I saw a ghost

I’d be smart enough to check

That it wasn’t actually a vengeful ex-girlfriend wearing a porcelain mask or something

(You might have noticed that I slightly fucked up the haiku at the end there. But if you say it fast enough it sorta works)

The Guiccioli Miniature – Jay Bennett

This one is set in Venice. You can tell because the first paragraph manages to mention the Piazza San Marco, St Mark’s canal, San Giorgio Island and gondolas. Lots and lots of gondolas.

Jerry is an American tourist in Venice who’s approached by another American man who isn’t looking so hot, eg he’s all stubbly and gross. Stubbly tramp man persuades Jerry to buy a miniature from him that he’s painted. Uh oh. We’re in the second paragraph now and already I fear that this miniature is going to come with some sort of curse that means Jerry will take the Stubbly Tramp’s place wandering the streets of Venice alone for all eternity until he can find another gullible American tourist to buy the miniature.

Anyway, this miniature is a copy of the Guiccioli miniature. It’s of a very beautiful woman, who was apparently Byron’s beezatch number one back in the day.

Jerry goes for a walk and thinks about the miniature and about Bryon and imagines people are following him and starts having a panic attack like a stupid great big girl. So, clearly following the same curse-y line of reasoning as me, he decides to be done with it and throw the painting in a canal (in case you may have forgotten, Jerry is in Venice.)

On the plane back to America the next day, Jerry reads a newspaper article. The old stubbly tramp man is on the front page. He’s dead, because he stole the ACTUAL Guiccioli miniature, which is, like, priceless, and then double crossed his partners and now they’ve tracked him down and killed him. Jerry realises that he is a fucking idiot. The end.

Conclusion – how the hell did this story find its way into a Point Horror anthology.Seriously.

One sentence synopsis:

Yeah, I went there. I used the lolcat.

Blood Kiss – D.E. Athkins

(yessssss, a D.E. Athkins one!)

Elizabeth is with her friends Delia and Valerie, who together are perving over the new boy Ken. He’s aptly named as well, since he apparently looks like a Ken doll.

Ummm, hot, I guess? He also wears dark glass and “long, long coats that looked somehow from another century” so he’s totally rocking Columbine chic.

Elizabeth is totes in love with him, despite the rumours that he’s a vampire. And the fact that she sees herself as kind of a clumsy dweeb. Hmmmm, I wonder if S Meyer is a secret D.E. Athkins fan.

Elizabeth even goes so far as to research vampires, I guess so they could have something to talk about? Like, "hey, you know what I really hate? Garlic. Garlic and crosses." "No way? Me too!" "We have so much in common!" "Let's make out now." *slurp slurp slurp*

Ken gets all these smokin’ girlfriends, but they never last and the break ups are all kind of mysterious. Elizabeth is secretly dying of jealousy but she keeps it quiet so her friends can’t tease her.

Things get worse when her friend Delia starts flirting with Ken until one day Delia arrives at school with a scarf round her neck, although she also denies that Ken got chompy with her. Once those two break up, Ken starts dating Val. Really Elizabeth, he’s totally used goods by now. And there are other vampires in the sea.

Whilst her friends are out getting laid, Elizabeth returns to the library and discovers that some folks believe a vampire needs to bite you more than once before you can be turned. She wonders how vampires kiss each other – “Like, what did they do with their teeth? Was it like wearing glasses or having braces? Could a vampire write to Ann Landers about it?”

Elizabeth decides that Ken is just nibbling all these girls, waiting for his one true love, that he will then bite and turn into a vampire properly.

Val and Ken eventually break up, and, like all the other girls before her, she refuses to talk about it. So Elizabeth approaches Ken and he asks her out on a date. Ugh, Ken is such a man whore, forget vampirism, I’d be more scared of catching the clap.

After watching a movie, they drive up to Point and Elizabeth asks Ken if he’s really a vampire. In response, he gives her a “schoolboy nibble” on her neck. Elizabeth is crushingly disappointed, so she starts getting mad at Ken, asking if he led all the girls on by pretending be a vampire and then refusing to bite them properly. Can I just interject to say two things here – firstly a rousing What The Fuck, and secondly, I love the world that D.E.Athkins lives in. It’s just so....fabulous.

So Ken gets mad back and tells Elizabeth that all the girls liked dating a vampire at first but then they got weird about it and treated him like a pervert once he got serious. Ken is angry because he feels used. The vampire is angry because teenage girls used him. The vampire is upset by being labelled a pervert.

And Ken realises that Elizabeth is different to the other girls and she won’t be such a haemoglobin tease, so she bites his neck and drinks his blood and then is all “gimme a kiss.” Very Angela Carter...if Angela Carter were fabulous.

Conclusion - D.E.Athinks is literally the best writer that ever lived, ever. I can’t even really snark her, she’s just so damn good.

One sentence synopsis – You know Twilight? Imagine if it was actually, like, funny. And didn’t have all those uncomfortable messages about abortion and sex before marriage. And it was only 17 pages long. Yeah, it's that good.

As you may have noticed, so far I have only covered four out of the thirteen promised tales of terror. Come back soon for the remaining nine. ( I actually had to count out on my fingers to figure that out.)