When I was in elementary school, the only books I checked out of Mercury Mine Elementary’s library were Goosebumps books by R.L. Stine. I remember slinking down in the stacks and devouring the grotesque, vile, and adventurous horror chapter books. I remember reading one so disturbing I had nightmares about it for weeks and often had to sleep on the floor in my mom and dad’s room (my mom reads this blog and I know she is probably cursing R.L. Stine right about now). And as I got older, I remember sitting outside my dance studio in my pink tights and ballet slippers trembling as I read Fear Street books. A kid got decapitated while skiing down a mountain! (Fear Street: The Face) I will never forget that moment in my life. I credit R.L. as the man who started me down the path I walk today. The path that causes me to do month-long tributes to Halloween and keep fake skeletons in my house year round.
Today I want to e-read to you one of my favorite passages out of one of my favorite Goosebumps books: Stay Out of the Basement. This book was originally printed in 1992, and that was the year I originally read it. I was almost 10 years old. I remember it vividly because you don’t forget this cover. Ever. “Something’s Waiting in the Dark…”
From the back it says:
Live Plants…Dead People?
Dr. Brewer is doing a little plant-testing in his basement. Nothing to worry about. Harmless, really.
But Margaret and Casey Brewer are worried about their father. Especially when they…meet…some of the plants he is growing down there. Then they notice that their father is developing plantlike tendencies. In fact, he is becoming distinctly weedy–and seedy.
Is it just part of their father’s “harmless” experiment? Or has the basement turned into another little shop of horrors?
Reader beware! You’re in for a scare!
“That’s not your father!” Dr. Brewer with the Dodgers cap cried again, moving into the room. “He’s a copy. A plant copy. One of my experiments that went wrong. I locked him in the supply closet because he’s dangerous.”
“You’re the copy!” the other Dr. Brewer accused, and raised the axe again.
Margaret and Casey stood motionless, exchanging terrified glances.
“Kids–what have you done?” Mrs. Brewer cried, her hands pressed against her cheeks, her eyes wide with disbelief.
“What have we done?” Margaret asked her brother in a low voice.
Staring wide-eyed from one man to the other, Casey seemed too frightened to reply.
“I–I don’t know what to do,” Casey managed to whisper.
What can we do? Margaret wondered silently, realizing that her entire body was trembling.
“He has to be destroyed!” the axe-wielding Dr. Brewer shouted, staring at his look-alike across the room.
Beside them, plants quivered and shook, sighing loudly. Tendrils slithered across the dirt. Leaves shimmered and whispered.
“Put down the axe. You’re not fooling anyone,” the other Dr. Brewer said.
“You have to be destroyed!” Dr. Brewer with no cap repeated, his eyes wild, his face scarlet, moving closer, the axe gleaming as if electrified under the white light.
Dad would never act like this, Margaret realized. Casey and I were idiots. We let him out of the closet. And now he is going to kill our real dad. And mom
(skipping forward a bit)
Margaret lowered the axe and took the long-bladed knife from him.
“Margaret–give me the axe,” the man in the Dodgers cap insisted impatiently.
“Margaret, what are you doing?” the man from the supply closet asked, suddenly looking frightened.
“I–I have an idea,” Margaret said hesitantly.
She took a deep breath.
Then she stepped over to the man from the supply closet and pushed the knife blade into his arm.
“Ow!” he cried out as the blade cut through the skin.
Margaret pulled the knife back, having made a puncture hole.
Red blood trickled from the hole.
“He’s our real dad,” she told Casey, sighing with relief. “Here, Dad.” She handed him the axe.
*My favorite part:
“Margaret–you’re wrong!” the 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.
The Dr. Brewer in the cap opened his mouth wide and uttered a hushed cry of alarm. The cry was choked off as the axe cut through his body, slicing him in two…
I’m going to leave it there. Leave it there for you to chew on and figure out if the real Dr. Brewer survived or not…Maybe in a couple of days I will give you the last line of the book…it’s a good one.
And I just want to take a moment to thank R.L. Stine for all the horror he has brought into my life.