Friday, October 23, 2015

Ghosts of Fear Street #20: Spell of the Screaming Jokers (R.L. Stine)


Brittany is Kristy from the BSC, while her best friend Louisa is like Stacey or Claudia. Louisa cares about fashion, hair, and makeup, and she wants her best friend to look better, which is why she keeps trying to “fix” her hair. Brittany is extremely unhappy because their principal volunteered them to go visit some new kid Max who is too sick to come to school but new in town. He picked them because he caught them petting a rat in the band room. Even though this kid Frankie brought the rat to school, they got in trouble too. Her little brother Jimmy then runs in and does a card trick, which is his favorite thing in the world.

Brittany, Louisa, and Frankie head over to Max's house, which is on Fear Street. Frankie suggests they cut through the yard of Mrs. Marder, an older woman everyone calls Mrs. Murder. Brittany tells them that she cursed a girl named Gina. Gina went in her yard and was never seen again. The older lady also has a ton of black cats hanging around.

Jeff, the other kid tasked with visiting Max, shows up, and he and Frankie cut through the yard. The girls follow, Brittany trips over a cat, and knocks over the woman's herbs. The woman starts shouting at them, so Frankie comes back and kicks over her wheelbarrow. I tell you, kids today.

When they get to Max's house, they find that he's small, quiet, and a little weird. The only thing he wants to do is play hearts. After dealing cards, Frankie starts screaming so loud that Max's mom comes running back in the room. He denies that he screamed and blames it on a gruesome looking joker in his hand. Brittany swears that she sees the joker move too. On the way home, a random guy bumps into Frankie and mumbles something about a joker.

The next day, Frankie has a bruise on his arm that looks just like a card club. He and Brittany start hanging posters in the hallway for a club they're both in when he tells her that the bruise doesn't hurt and that he thought it was dirt but it wouldn't wash off. She leaves him to get some more tape, hears a thud, and then hears him scream.

Brittany finds Frankie on the ground with the posters and ladder on top of him. He tells her that he heard this weird noise, which he also heard the night before. He then saw these two small kids come racing down the hallway and knock the ladder over. Brittany then notices a new mark on his arm in the shape of a red diamond. The diamond and club both look exactly like tattoos, but Jeff and Louisa both claim that they just see normal bruises.

The next time they go to see Max, Frankie cuts through the Murder house yard again. Brittany and Louisa go to get him out, but the little punk knocks over the woman's bird bath and laughs when she runs out and screams at him. Mrs. Davidson, Max's mom, tells them that there's a rumor about Mrs. Murder. She supposedly cursed these kids for cutting through her yard and made little gremlins come after them. Mrs. Davidson calls and tells the older woman about how the kids are helping Max so much but admits the woman is still unhappy.

Cut to Max saying he doesn't like playing cards but wants to play cards again. Louisa screams after getting her hand, Mrs. Davidson rushes in, and takes away yet another joker. Brittany screams when she gets another joker and again when she sees a black cat in the window. By the time everyone else looks, the cat is gone.

Louisa is so unsettled that she asks Brittany to walk her home. When she goes upstairs to look for a magazine, Brittany hears her screaming. She runs to the stairs just in time to see three little figures in black run away and Louisa come tumbling down the stairs. Louisa sprains her ankle and tells Brittany that the little figures said something to her. When she puts it together with what Frankie heard, Brittany realizes that it's a nod to the skull on Mrs. Murder's bird bath.

Brittany decides that the older woman really did curse them. Louisa develops a mark on her elbow that looks like a black club. She believes it even more when she sees a hat sitting on top of a bush on her way home. The hat rises up and she sees Mrs. Murder looking back at her.

The next day, she tells everyone what she saw while they play basketball. Jeff finally tells them that he actually knows the old lady. He delivers groceries to her and while she's cranky, she's not a witch. They convince him to make a fake delivery to her house so they can get inside. Before they can though, the little gremlins come back and push Frankie into the street where he almost gets hit by a big truck. When he gets up, they see a black spade on his arm.

Frankie and Brittany find her bedroom and see a telescope that she's been using to spy on them while they play with Max. All the black cats start coming at them as the woman comes home. They get away and tell Mrs. Davidson what they saw, but she doesn't believe them. Max refuses to play downstairs or play anything but cards. Brittany reveals that she brought her own deck of cards, but when they deal, she winds up with the joker again.

While at home later that night, she hears a strange hissing noise and sees the little figures in her house. They start chanting, and she realizes that they aren't gremlins but jokers. Though she gets away from them, she develops the black club on her arm.

The same jokers later attack her, Louisa, and Jeff when they go to Max's house. Realizing the jokers are threatening Frankie, they run off to help him. They find him at the bottom of some random hole and pull him out. When they get him out, they see that he now has all four suites on his arm. Right in front of their eyes, he transforms into one of the jokers. When he runs away, they run to Max's house.

After telling him what happened, Max's eyes get big and he starts rambling about how she finally did it. They tell Mrs. Davidson a short version of what happened, and she agrees to call the police. Louisa convinces Brittany that they should talk to the police and tell them what happened. They hear Mrs. Davidson on the phone, but when they get downstairs, she's nowhere near the phone.

Max finally tells them the truth. Mrs. Davidson is actually a wicked queen who turns kids into jokers. The more jokers she has, the more power she gains. Max has three of the four suites, isn't her son, and was forced to help her find more victims. Shadyside is actually the fourth town she hit. Before they can get away, she shows up in the doorway.

She puts 10 jokers in the deck and passes out cards, telling them that once they get the right amount of jokers, they'll become part of her army. Brittany is so nervous and scared that she keeps dropping the cards when she tries to cut them. Mrs. Davidson starts yelling at her. Everyone finally gets their cards, but no one gets any jokers. Mrs. Davidson then checks her cards and finds all 10 jokers staring back at her. The little jokers run into the room, surround her, pick her up, and they all disappear.

Brittany then reveals that she stacked the deck so the woman would get all the jokers. The jokers run back into the room, and Max shows them how to turn each one back into a real boy. His real parents later show up and take him home. Brittany goes home and talks to Frankie on the phone until Jimmy runs in with a new card trick. When she picks a card, she sees the face of Mrs. Davidson staring back at her. As the woman starts screaming, Brittany starts screaming too and realizes that she can't stop...

No comments:

Post a Comment