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A selection of unsettling stories--one in graphic form along with two poems--by such authors as Ray Bradbury, William Sleator, Robert Service, Edward Gorey, Roald Dahl, Jane Yolen, and Mr. Stine himself.
|The Black Ferris||3|
|The Conjure Brother||19|
|My Sister Is a Werewolf||35|
|The Surprise Guest||39|
|The Judge's House||55|
|The Cremation of Sam McGee||77|
|Joe Is Not a Monster||121|
|Tiger in the Snow||127|
|A Sock for Christmas: A Grim Fairy Tale from The Vault of Horror, Volume 4||139|
|The Terrifying Adventures of the Golem: A Jewish Folktale||147|
|The Girl Who Stood on a Grave||185|
|A Grave Misunderstanding||189|
|Mister Ice Cold||199|
|About the Author||213|
The carnival had come to town like an October wind, like a dark bat flying over the cold lake, bones rattling in the night, mourning, sighing, whispering up the tents in the dark rain. It stayed on for a month by the gray, restless lake of October, in the black weather and increasing storms and leaden skies.
During the third week, at twilight on a Thursday, the two small boys walked along the lakeshore in the cold wind.
"Aw, I don't believe you," said Peter.
"Come on, and I'll show you," said Hank.
They left wads of spit behind them all along the moist brown sand of the crashing shore. They ran to the lonely carnival grounds. It had been raining. The carnival lay by the sounding lake with nobody buying tickets from the flaky black booths, nobody hoping to get the salted hams from the whining roulette wheels, and none of the thin-fat freaks on the big platforms. The midway was silent, all the gray tents hissing on the wind like gigantic prehistoric wings. At eight o'clock perhaps, ghastly lights would flash on, voices would shout, music would go out over the lake. Now there was only a blind hunchback sitting on a black booth, feeling of the cracked china cup from which he was drinking some perfumed brew.
"There," said Hank, pointing.
The black Ferris wheel rose like an immense light-bulbed constellation against the cloudy sky, silent.
"I still don't believe what you said about it," said Peter.
"You wait, I saw it happen. I don't know how, but it did. You know how carnivals are; all funny. Okay; this one's even funnier."
Peter let himself be led to the high green hiding place of a tree.
Suddenly, Hank stiffened. "Hist! There's Mr. Cooger, the carnival man, now!" Hidden, they watched.
Mr. Cooger, a man of some thirty-five years, dressed in sharp bright clothes, a lapel carnation, hair greased with oil, drifted under the tree, a brown derby hat on his head. He had arrived in town three weeks before, shaking his brown derby hat at people on the street from inside his shiny red Ford, tooting the horn.
Now Mr. Cooger nodded at the little blind hunchback, spoke a word. The hunchback blindly, fumbling, locked Mr. Cooger into a black seat and sent him whirling up into the ominous twilight sky. Machinery hummed.
"See!" whispered Hank. "The Ferris wheel's going the wrong way. Backward instead of forward!"
"So what?" said Peter.
The black Ferris wheel whirled twenty-five times around. Then the blind hunchback put out his pale hands and halted the machinery. The Ferris wheel stopped, gently swaying, at a certain black seat.
A ten-year-old boy stepped out. He walked off across the whispering carnival ground, in the shadows.
Peter almost fell from his limb. He searched the Ferris wheel with his eyes. "Where's Mr. Cooger?"
Hank poked him. "You wouldn't believe! Now see!"
"Where's Mr. Cooger at!"
"Come on, quick, run!" Hank dropped and was sprinting before he hit the ground.
Under giant chestnut trees, next to the ravine, the lights were burning in Mrs. Foley's white mansion. Piano music tinkled. Within the warm windows people moved. Outside, it began to rain, despondently, irrevocably, forever and ever.
"I'm so wet," grieved Peter, crouching in the bushes. "Like someone squirted me with a hose. How much longer do we wait?"
"Ssh!" said Hank, cloaked in wet mystery.
They had followed the little boy from the Ferris wheel up through town, down dark streets to Mrs. Foley's ravine house. Now, inside the warm dining room of the house, the strange little boy sat at dinner, forking and spooning rich lamb chops and mashed potatoes.
"I know his name," whispered Hank quickly. "My mom told me about him the other day. She said, 'Hank, you hear about the li'l orphan boy moved in Mrs. Foley's? Well, his name is Joseph Pikes and he just came to Mrs. Foley's one day about two weeks ago and said how he was an orphan run away and could he have something to eat, and him and Mrs. Foley been getting on like hot apple pie ever since.' That's what my mom said," finished Hank, peering through the steamy Foley window. Water dripped from his nose. He held on to Peter, who was twitching with cold. "Pete, I didn't like his looks from the first, I didn't. He looked -- mean."
"I'm scared," said Peter, frankly wailing. "I'm cold and hungry and I don't know what this's all about."
"Gosh, you're dumb!" Hank shook his head, eyes shut in disgust. "Don't you see, three weeks ago the carnival came. And about the same time this little ole orphan shows up at Mrs. Foley's. And Mrs. Foley's son died a long time ago one night one winter, and she's never been the same, so here's this little ole orphan boy who butters her all around." "Oh," said Peter, shaking.
"Come on," said Hank. They marched to the front door and banged the lion knocker.
After a while the door opened and Mrs. Foley looked out.
"You're all wet, come in," she said. "My land." She herded them into the hall. "What do you want?" she said, bending over them, a tall lady with lace on her full bosom and a pale thin face with white hair over it. "You're Henry Walterson, aren't you?"
Hank nodded, glancing fearfully at the dining room, where the strange little boy looked up from his eating. "Can we see you alone, ma'am?" And when the old lady looked palely surprised, Hank crept over and shut the hall door and whispered at her. "We got to warn you about something, it's about that boy come to live with you, that orphan...Beware!
Posted October 22, 2002
R.L Stine I've seen good books from . This one was one of his worst books he ever wrote. I know that you probably like all the other R.L books, but this one is only a horror to read. Maybe the book was a tiny bit good, but trust me to not read it ever. If your looking for a scary story, look for another R.l book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 4, 2011
No text was provided for this review.