Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Goosebumps Hall of Horrors #1: Claws! (R.L. Stine)

Claws opens with an unnamed narrator telling us that these books include some of the scariest stories imaginable and then asking Mickey to tell his tale.

Mickey and his best friend Amanda get a job cat sitting for two of their teachers heading off on vacation. After the teachers leave, Amanda decides that she only wants to do the fun jobs. She'll pet the cat, play with Bella (cat's name), and maybe feed it. Mickey gets stuck scooping the litter box and handling the other crap jobs.

They head over one day and find the door open. Though they try to move fast, Bella immediately escapes and runs into the street where a driver hits her. The truck driver apologizes multiple times, and when he leaves, they realize the cat is gone. While Mickey wants to call his mom for help and then call the Caplans, Amanda decides they should go to a pet store and buy a replacement.

When Mickey agrees, they head to Cat Heaven, a store that sells nothing but cats. Lou, the owner, keeps pushing them to random cats, but they need one that looks just like Bella. Though they find a bunch of black cats, they're all too fat, one has no tail, the eyes are wrong, etc. They find a door with KEEP OUT across the front, have an argument, and accidentally go through the door.

That's where they find a cat that looks exactly like Bella. Lou runs in and shouts at them to get out because they aren't allowed back there and that none of those cats are for sale. Amanda distracts him so that Mickey can sneak back in and steal the cat. Lou chases them through the store and outside, but a bus stops at just the right moment for them to get away.

Things get a little odd when they take Bella 2 back to the Caplan house. The cat immediately goes to Bella's bed and lays down. Then she gets up and runs into the kitchen to the food dish, as if she knew the food dish was there. Mickey finds the whole thing strange, especially when Bella 2 suddenly turns on him. She jumps up, grabs him with her claws, and literally rips his shirt into two pieces.

That night, Mickey hears a cat that sounds like it's right under his bed. After ripping apart his room, he finds that something got into his aquarium, attacked his fish, and left behind random pieces. He then sees a cat shadow in his window and hears a cat yowling outside.

When they go back the next day, Bella 2 hides under the couch and won't come out. Mickey tries to lure her out with cat food, but she refuses to budge. Amanda eventually drags her out and holds her, but when she lets the cat go, Bella 2 goes right back under the couch and starts attacking it, ripping out all the fabric. Since Amanda is clearly a little turd, she just blows it off and says they can clean it later.

Almost as soon as they get outside, they see Lou walking down the street with two other guys and checking out all the houses. Mickey hears Lou say they need to find the kids before something bad happens, which Amanda once again blows off. Mickey then hears the sound of a cat crying while in school, but since no one else can hear it, including Amanda, they all think he's kind of crazy.

Things get even worse for poor Mickey later that day. He opens his backpack and sees Bella 2 perched inside and hissing at him, but when Amanda looks, there is nothing there. He then opens up his lunch bag to find a dead mouse, which causes him to run to the bathroom and cry a little. Something jumps on his leg, and he freaks out before realizing that it's his baseball hat. To top it all off, dozens of cats suddenly appear and attack him. His gym teacher runs into help and finds the room completely empty. Amanda thinks he's going crazy from guilt, which might actually make sense.

Amanda refuses to listen to him or help him in anyway, which sucks for Mickey when he leaves school and runs right into Lou. Lou starts chasing him, Mickey runs back into the school, and he finally hides in a locker. Though he can't get the door open, luckily there's some kid he knows passing by who lets him out.

Mickey goes back to the Caplan house, and Bella attacks him. When he grabs her, he realizes that she has a chunk of fur missing from the exact same spot as the real Bella. Confused and scared, he puts her in a cage and takes her back to Cat Heaven. As soon as they get inside, all the other cats go nuts and start howling and scratching at the cage doors. Lou shows up, shoves the pet carrier he brought her in back in his hands, and drags him outside.

Lou tells him that they were searching for him to warn him that he couldn't take the cat back. Someone else steps forward to tell him the cat is dead, and yet another person shouts at him to get that dead cat away from the store. When he goes back to the Caplan house, Amanda is waiting for him. She doesn't believe him, but when they go inside, they find several cats sitting in the living room.

To make matters worse, the Caplans come home early. When Mickey tells them what happened, Mrs. Caplan tells him that Bella was always a dead cat and that she died four years ago. They tell the kids that Cat Heaven is a place where you can take your dead cats and bring them back to life. The cats upfront are safe, but the ones in the back are dead.

When they learn that Mickey accidentally released some cats during his escape from Bella, they tell him that if anyone other than the true owner takes them, the cats become feral and just plain evil. Mrs. Caplan also tells him that the cats are now his. That's why all that random stuff happened. Mickey tries to make the cats leave before running home, grabbing his pet mouse, and coming back.

The Caplans tell him that if a cat gets out of its home, it will reenact its last moments. Bella has been hit by a truck at least three times in the past. He lets the mouse go, which causes all the cats to run outside. Each one dies again, including Bella, which means the Caplans can pick her up again and that she'll be normal again. A few days later, Mickey is out with his mom when he sees a new store called Mouse Heaven. After running inside, he sees his pet mouse and wonders if he should take him home.

*They get $50 EACH for cat sitting for a week, which is just ridiculous. They go over once before school and once after school, scoop the litter box, and feed her. I have way more than one cat and wouldn't pay that much.

*I so wish Cat Heaven existed. We had the coolest cat when I was younger. Barkley was a black and white tuxedo cat who would actually sit and roll over like a dog. He was 15 when he passed away, and even though we all have other pets and no longer live at home, I'm pretty sure we all still miss him.

*The cat on the cover totally looks like my cat Dini. We adopted her and her brother when their mother abandoned them, bottle fed them, wiped their butts, the whole nine yards. Her name is short for Houdini because she would escape from anything we put her in when she was a baby. She looks like that anytime any other cat in our house comes near her, including her own brother LOL.

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