Title: Hit and Run
Author: R.L. Stine
Published: June 1992
Tagline: Look before you cross . . . .
Description: License to drive. License to kill.
Eddie, Scott, Winks, and Cassie. They went out for a drive one night. Just to practice, so Eddie would be sure and get his license.
Then Eddie had a little accident. Now four friends share a terrible secret.
Because Eddie hit someone and killed him.
This came out a couple months before my 11th birthday, and I’m pretty sure I remember reading it around that time, but I had only the vaguest recollection of the book itself. It started coming back to me as I read it, but I think I would have figured this one out pretty quick even if it hadn’t. It wasn’t hard, especially taking into account the fact that R.L. Stine was almost vehemently opposed to anything supernatural going on in his Point Horror novels. Rule of thumb? If it appears to be zombies, it’s really just an elaborate prank set up by your shitty friends. (Spoilers.) Which is why I thought this recap would be perfect for April Fool’s Day. I considered doing Richie Tankersley Cusick’s April Fools, but I couldn’t handle another RTC so soon after recapping The Lifeguard. I’m still scarred by that one, guys.
So, apparently the copy of this book I bought at a used book sale a few months ago belonged to Thelma. I hope Thelma enjoyed it more than I did.
The book opens with us being introduced to our heroine, Cassie Martin, and her in turn introducing us to the cast of characters we’re about to meet. Sigh. Robot Roll Call?
Cassie Martin: Our hero. Crimped blonde hair (hi there, 1992!), green eyes, freckles, looks about 12 although she’s almost 16. Hangs out with three boys and is sporty.
Scott Baldwin: The guy friend Cassie is hot for. Big dumb jock, except he’s smart, too. Has an annoying high-pitched giggle, because this is apparently one of Stine’s fetishes. He can’t go a book without giving someone this trait.
Bruce Winkleman: Everyone calls him Winks. Obnoxious practical joker, although Cassie claims he’s a good guy. (He’s not.) Stringy brown hair down to his shoulders, slender, Buddy Holly glasses.
Eddie Katz: The perpetual victim of literally every practical joker within a hundred mile radius. Nicknamed Scaredy Katz by his “friend” Winks. Short, wiry, quiet, and serious.
The story picks up on a chilly winter Wednesday night, with Cassie helping Scott wash the dinner dishes. Winks just walks on into Scott’s house uninvited and teases them about looking like a married couple, leading to Cassie joking that they got married that morning, because these kids “joke” around like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. I know Stine thinks he’s a comedian, but Christ is this shit grating. To distract Winks, Scott asks him what’s in the box he’s carrying.
It’s a human eye. Yup. Winks just has an eye rolling around in this cardboard box. He got it from Eddie’s cousin Jerry, who works at the morgue. Keep Cousin Jerry in mind, because there’s a reason Stine decided to make him a morgue attendant, and it has nothing to do with this stupid eye prank. Winks insists they call Eddie so he can play a trick on him, and asks Scott if he ever got the new Polaroid camera he was talking about. See, he wants a picture of Eddie’s face when he plays the “eye trick” on him. Cassie doesn’t think they should play so many tricks on Eddie, but does fuck all to stop this bullying, so she’s useless.
They call up Eddie and invite him over. When he gets there, they talk a little about taking their driver’s tests, then Winks comes stumbling into the room with his hands over his eye. We all see where this is going, right? He claims there’s something in his eye, then lowers his hands, with the eyeball in his hand, and screams. Eddie faints while Scott takes pictures and Cassie laughs. Because, you know, they’re all such good friends. At least it wasn’t a girl fainting dead away this time. Equal opportunity tropes in this one, guys!
Winks is delighted, because Winks is a garbage person. Cassie finally realizes Eddie might actually be hurt or something, but he’s fine. He comes to with a headache, but I’m sure head injuries aren’t serious business or anything. Winks and Cassie crack some jokes about where Winks got the eyeball (it was on his lunch tray, there were two but he ate one) because it’s a madcap vaudeville routine up in this mug, y’all! Eddie’s ready to leave since he clearly knows his “friends” only invited him over to be the butt of their joke, but then Winks suggests they practice their driving. Which in reality could be called “stealing a car and going joyriding,” but whatevs. Scott protests, but of course they end up taking out his parents’ Volvo. What is with Stine and Volvos? Is that the only car he knows for sure exists? Every time a specific car is mentioned in a Stine book, it’s a fucking Volvo. From these working-to-middle class kids, all the way up to Miss Rich Bitch herself, Reva Dalby, everyone has a fucking Volvo! Was Stine at least getting paid for this egregious product placement?
Don’t worry, guys. This isn’t the hit and run practice drive that both the title and the description have promised us. No sense in moving the plot along that quickly. On Eddie’s turn, Winks suddenly screams at him to watch out, causing Eddie to slam on the brakes and send the car into a spin. Of course this was another of Winks’s hilarious “jokes.” It’s a good thing they were driving on a deserted road, or else they really could have had a serious accident. Sixteen year old boys are the fucking worst, man.
Eddie’s so pissed off at his shitty friends that he starts to walk home, but Cassie convinces him to get back in the car. I dunno. He might be safer walking than in the car with these jackasses. Scott starts driving them home, increasing his speed to over eighty miles per hour to beat his parents home, then plays his own “joke” by pretending the brakes have gone out. Jesus, these kids are insufferable. I wish a zombie really was after them. He doesn’t fool anybody, and pouts about it like a toddler, asking Eddie over and over “but you fell for it, right?” but Eddie isn’t speaking to him. Word of advice? Dump these pricks, Eddie. Find friends who have hobbies that don’t include torturing you, okay?
On Saturday, Cassie and Scott are at the mall, and Cassie is teasing Scott about paying forty dollars more for sneakers that pump up. Oh. My. God. I remember those shoes! For all you kids out there:
Or, as Scott says, they’re way cool. He points out a two-for-one sale on sweatpants, giving Cassie the chance to say, “Thrills.” But, Stine, where are the chills? You can’t have thrills without chills! Also, is Scott suggesting they buy matching sweatpants? I know this isn’t a Fear Street novel, so they’re not in Shadyside, but does this town also have a shop called Two Cute that sells matching outfits for couples? I want to believe it does. It’s an obnoxious enough concept to fit in nicely with this book universe.
They run into Winks, who is wearing a bright yellow sweater. Jokes abound, because these kids don’t interact with each other like human beings. Is this another case of aliens pretending to be human? Anyway, Winks informs them that the day before, someone de-pantsed Eddie. Except they didn’t, because pantsing (or “de-pantsing” if you like) someone refers to pulling their pants down in front of people, and is pretty universally considered some form of sexual assault these days. All that happened here is that someone stole Eddie’s pants out of his locker while he was in gym class, so he had to go through the rest of the day in his gym shorts, which was apparently humiliating. I’m not sure what’s so bad about it, but okay. I’d be more concerned with the fact that Eddie seems like he doesn’t have much money, and that might legit be his only pair of pants. Then Winks reveals that the “someone” who stole Eddie’s (possibly only pair of) pants was him. Because of course it fucking was, you waste of skin.
After all their mall fun, Scott kisses Cassie in front of her house. It’s awkward because it was a surprise kiss, but then Cassie kisses him back. Then she worries that this will mess up their friendship and runs into her house. It’s a roller coaster of teenage hormones and emotion.
The group go to Eddie’s house to hang out that night, and his house is small, has threadbare carpet, and smells of meatloaf. Yup, he’s a Poor. They’re bored and looking for something to do. Scott suggests a dance at the school, because they’re having a DJ and a live band (um, one or the other, you don’t need both, Stine) called the RapManiacs. I’m cringing just reading the name. Then Eddie says that they’re putrid; they really rot, and I honestly can’t tell if this is an insult or Stine trying to start some new teen slang. Then Eddie suggests they go for a drive, and (spoilers!) that should really be everyone’s first clue that something’s hinky. He claims he just really wants the practice and he wants to make up for being such a baby earlier in the week. Uh-huh. Anyway, they can take his parents’ car because they’re at a party two blocks away and won’t be home til late. Great plan, yeah?
They drive out to whatever deserted road they’ve been practicing on, and it’s mentioned that the car is a Chevy Nova, and it’s treated like it’s a shit car. Um, my parents had a Nova in the 70’s, and when they drove onto a car lot one day, the salesman came running up salivating and wanting to know if they were trading it in, and was super disappointed to find out they weren’t. Novas were in high demand at one point, kids.
All the kids take their turns driving uneventfully, subjecting us to their “jokes” the whole time. Eddie takes over on the drive home, and everything is going fine until they approach the Hanson Underpass and a man suddenly appears standing in the road directly in front of them! Eddie slams on the brakes, but still careens into the man. Cassie has time to note that he’s wearing a tie, jacket, and baseball cap (weird sartorial combination, that) and his expression never changes, when they slam into him, send him flying straight up in the air, then somehow run over him. Wouldn’t he have gone over the car if he flew up over the windshield? Stine still hasn’t figured out the physics of getting hit by a car. I, on the other hand, have watched multiple seasons of Mythbusters.
Cassie has a flashback of the fluffy white kitten she had when she was seven or eight getting run over by a car because she took it outside when she wasn’t supposed to, and I want to know why the fuck Stine is always killing cats and dogs in his books. A cat or dog dies, usually horribly, in almost every one of his books, and I want answers, Bob! Who hurt you?!
The kids get out of the car and check on the man (who is somehow in front of the car, despite the “front tires running over the man”), confirming that he is, indeed, as dead as all the dogs and cats Stine writes. Eddie starts shrieking that he killed the guy, and Winks checks the dude’s wallet, momentarily causing Cassie to worry that he’s robbing the corpse. I mean, would we really put it past him? But no, he’s checking for the dude’s name, which is Brandt Tinkers. Sounds fake, but okay. Eddie shrieks that if his parents found out he took the car, they’ll kill him. Um, priorities, Eddie. Frankly, I think they’ll be slightly more upset that you killed someone. Winks suggests they just leave since there’s nothing they can do for Mr. Tinkers (which sounds like the name for a precocious chimpanzee), and Scott agrees, adding that the police will fry their butts – they could even go to jail! Uh, yeah, jail is indeed a place you could go after driving without a license and killing someone. Well done, Scott. Gold stars all around.
They decide to leave the scene of the accident, and Cassie and Scott drag Mr. Tinkers the not-chimpanzee to the side of the road and throw him in the ditch with dignity and respect. At least these kids recognize their own laziness and don’t bother trying to dig him a shallow grave like the kids in Christopher Pike’s Chain Letter or Nick Baron’s Spring Break. Hmm. Hit and runs are the inciting event in a wild number of teen thrillers. What if all teens were responsible and just went to the cops instead of burying the corpse and/or running away from the scene of the crime? I guess we wouldn’t have these wonderful pieces of teen literature. *eyeroll*
When they get back to Eddie’s house, two uniformed police officers are waiting for them on the porch!
. . . but it’s only because they were driving by and saw the front door wide open. The kids forgot to close it behind them in their rush to drive illegally and commit vehicular manslaughter. Whew, that was close!
The kids stay with Eddie for a while, calming him down and making sure he won’t tell anyone about what happened. First of all, he’s absolutely not going to tell anyone because of reasons that may or may not be glaringly obvious at this point, but so what if he did tell someone? He was the one driving, he would be the one in trouble, so isn’t that his call? Surely passengers aren’t responsible for the driver mowing down innocent pedestrians standing in the middle of the road at night? Anyway, then Cassie goes home and dreams of driving down a road paved with corpses. Super subtle imagery there, Stine.
Cassie wakes up at five in the morning and can’t get back to sleep, so she gets up and looks in the mirror, surprised to see that her green eyes and crimped blond hair look the same as they did before she killed someone. Now, time out. Stine is aware that crimping is something you have to do to hair, right? I feel like he writes characters with crimped hair thinking it’s the same as having naturally curly hair or something. Nobody has naturally crimped hair, are you kidding me? You have to use a crimping iron on it, and it takes for-fucking-ever. It’s obvious Stine had a teenage son and not a teenage daughter when he wrote these books.
Cassie checks the newspaper on Sunday morning, then again on Monday, but there’s no mention of the hit and run. She talks to Scott after school about how weird it is – hasn’t anyone found the body yet? It’s not like they went to any actual trouble to hide it or anything. Uh, yeah Cassie, it is weird. Maybe you should wonder a little more about that.
Eddie comes over and they have the same conversation with him, probably to pad out the word count, and Cassie keeps trying to convince them to go out and see if the body is still there. Hmm. What if it was? What then? Phone in an anonymous tip to the police? Finally imitate their counterparts in other teen thrillers and dig a shallow grave for him? I guess it’s a moot point, as the boys shoot down the idea. Then Scott remembers Eddie’s cousin Jerry who works at the morgue, although not for the reason he ought to be remembering him, and suggests that he would know if any new hit and run corpses came in.
They call Cousin Jerry and put him on speaker phone, and he tells them that a hit and run named Brandt Tinkers did indeed come in, and the family is keeping it quiet to help the cops catch the perpetrators. Pretty sure in a hit and run you would want to get the word out in case someone saw something that could help the cops, but sure. We won’t question it any more than Cassie and company do.
As soon as they hang up, someone pounds on the front door. It must be the cops, but how did they find out so fast, and know that everyone had congregated at Scott’s house?! Uh, they didn’t. It’s a neighbor returning a toolbox to Scott’s dad. Jesus Christ. Get your shit together, you criminal masterminds, you. Eddie is totes freaked, and starts saying he’s going to turn himself in, but Scott and Cassie talk him out of it like the amazing, selfless friends they are not. Eddie laments that he keeps hoping it’s all just one of Winks’s terrible jokes, but it’s not a joke. Hahahaha, are you sure? Are you sure you’re sure, Eddie? Then Jerry calls back to tell them that Brandt Tinkers’s body is no longer at the morgue – it’s like he got up and walked out! Dun-dun-DUN!
At school Tuesday, Eddie tells Cassie and Scott that he thinks stealing the corpse is the sort of prank Winks would pull just to fuck with him, but they insist taking an eyeball from the morgue is as far as Winks would go. Then they come up with the perfect solution to finding out the truth – asking Winks himself! On the one hand, points for directness. On the other, who the fuck just walks up to their friend and asks if they’re a body-snatcher?
They go to Winks’s house after school and find out he’s grounded because his mom found the rotting human eyeball in his room and didn’t believe his bullshit story about it being a science experiment. Why in the fuck did he still have the eye just hanging out in his room . . . ?
Before Winks shuts the door on them, Eddie asks if he stole the corpse, and Winks tells them sure, it’s in his room. Despite the fact that these kids all grew up together and presumably know each others’ personalities, they take Winks seriously. For fuck sake. Of course it was a joke, you fuckwits. They leave, vowing to stop trying to figure out what happened to the corpse and just forget it ever happened. Oh. Okay. That should work. Book’s over now, right?
Wrong. Later that night, Cassie receives a collect call (SCREAMING!) from Brandt Tinkers. She accepts the charges, I’m guessing either out of morbid curiosity or morbid stupidity, and a voice like a dry gust of foul wind (. . . okay . . .) tells her she can’t run away. I mean, she didn’t run away; she drove away, but have it your way, Mystery Voice. Have it your way.
At school the next morning, Cassie finds out that Winks and Eddie received phone calls from the dead man, while Scott didn’t. Weird. Eddie’s caller told him that he knows Eddie was driving. I mean, sure. Corpses are all-knowing, right? The ones capable of making collect phone calls, at least.
Eddie calls Cassie after dinner and insists she come over to talk. She arrives and thinks it’s weird that Mrs. Katz is already in her nightgown and bathrobe even though it’s only seven thirty, but Mrs. Katz just likes to get comfy after work. Look, when I used to get off work in the evening, if I didn’t have anywhere I needed to go I would immediately change into my pajama pants. If it were socially acceptable, I would never wear anything else, okay?
Eddie gets Cassie up to his room because he has something to show her. Yeah, I’ve heard that one before. Don’t worry, the “something” isn’t his dick. It’s something even more unwelcome – Brandt Tinkers’s baseball cap, with a note inside that says “My hat is off to the driver who killed me.” Well, that’s a little on the nose, isn’t it. He found the hat and note hooked over the handle of the front door when he took the trash out. I guess it’s a good thing he was the one who found it. How awkward would it have been if Mom had got to it first?
Saturday morning, Scott calls Cassie to tell her he’s getting sick, and that he dropped his toothbrush in the toilet. Cassie thinks it’s hilarious, but Scott gets her back by sarcastically saying “thrills” when she tells him she’s spending the day scraping paint off the porch with her dad. I guess Stine didn’t add chills to the thrills until he started writing Fear Street.
While Cassie eats her French toast, her mom expresses concern over how unusual it is for a girl her age to spend so much time with three boys, and I don’t know if it’s a slut-shamey thing or a traditional gender roles thing, or what the fuck, but get up outta here with it, whatever it is. She spends the day helping Dad sand and strip the porch, and we find out through her inner monologue that Eddie and Winks both received another phone call from the dead man on Thursday night. Have they checked to make sure the phone line isn’t draped across a tombstone like in that old Twilight Zone episode? Cassie wonders a bit about what the fuck is going on – did someone witness the accident? Is it someone they know? Did R.L. Stine read Chain Letter and lift about half the plot from Christopher Pike?
That evening Cassie calls around to see who’s going to the movies with her – Scott is sick, Eddie’s too bummed out, so that just leaves Winks. Cassie’s not thrilled because despite telling us what a good guy Winks is, she mostly just likes him when the others are around. She calls his house, thinking of cancelling their hangout, but his mom tells her he already left, walking to her house. Since he only lives five blocks away, she decides to start walking and meet him halfway. She turns the corner and sees the neighbor’s floodlights on and someone lying in the street with the neighbors gathered around. It’s Winks, the victim of a hit and run! Irony? Poetic justice? Coincidence? Karma? Padding the word count?
We pick up with Cassie and Winks’s mom in the hospital. He’s still unconscious, with broken ribs, a broken arm, and some internal bleeding, but the doctors think he’ll be all right. Scott and Eddie show up, even though Scott is pretty sick with some kind of virus, and Cassie makes the hilarious joke that he should go home because they don’t want sick people in a hospital. HAHAHAHA FUNNY JOKE!
They all hang around for a while, but with Winks still unconscious there’s not much for them to do. I’m surprised none of them try to create a homunculus out of catheters and piss bags or something. You know, for the lolz.
They call Eddie’s dad to pick them up and take them to Eddie’s house, and on the way home, Mr. Katz shakes his head over what kind of terrible person without a conscience could commit a hit and run. Well . . .
Outside his house, Eddie freaks out, convinced that Winks’s hit and run wasn’t an accident and trying to convince the others. Cassie tells him he’s being dumb, and Scott doesn’t think it’s more than a coincidence, either. Obviously they don’t know that there are no coincidences in Point Horror. I mean, Eddie knows, but maybe Cassie and Company should wonder why he’s so convinced.
When they get to the porch (Eddie’s dad for some reason went around to the back of the house instead of in the front door, don’t fucking ask me why), they find an envelope jammed in the door. It contains a note that says “One down, three to go” and a Polaroid photo of Corpse Brandt Tinkers sitting behind the wheel of Scott’s parents’ car (identifiable by a scratch on the driver’s side), grinning at the camera.
The kids lose their shit, Eddie of course starts going on about how the corpse is after them and going to kill them all, everyone wants to know who took the photo and how the dead man got into Scott’s car, and I’m giddy, guys. I can’t stop laughing. We now know that Stine’s favorite movie is Weekend at Bernie’s! How long before Corpse Brandt shows up on the beach? In a boardroom meeting? On a date at a fancy restaurant? I need a photo album with all of these pictures in it, ASAP!
The kids all go home, and as she tries to fall asleep, Cassie also tries to figure out who’s doing this to them. Can’t be Scott, cuz she wants to fuck him. Can’t be Eddie, cuz he’s too much of a coward. Can’t be Winks, cuz he’s roadkill. The corpse is the only other person who knows what happened! She falls asleep, then wakes up and suddenly knows who’s doing this! Do you, Cassie? Do you really? Because there are still 55+ pages left in the book, so I kinda doubt it.
Sunday morning, Cassie calls Eddie to ask if Cousin Jerry works today, because it has finally occurred to her that someone who works in a fucking morgue might be involved with these corpse shenanigans. Eddie is shocked that Cassie would suspect Jerry, but calls and finds out that Jerry is indeed working today because, as Jerry says, dead people don’t take Sunday off. Cassie rolls her eyes at his joke, but girl. Really? You have less than zero room to be judgmental about bad jokes. Take a look at your life.
Cassie bullies Eddie into agreeing to go to the morgue with her to talk to Jerry, because Cassie is terrible and probably deserves to be hunted by a vengeful zombie. (Side note: since childhood, every Cassie I’ve ever met has been terrible. I apologize to any Cassies reading this, but I’ve had nothing but bad experiences with girls with that name. So I’m probably predisposed to not like this Cassie, but I’m pretty sure she’s objectively terrible.) As she’s heading out the door to catch the bus, her mom reminds her that her driver’s test is the next day and her dad wants to take her to practice her driving, and hopefully not mow down any innocent pedestrians in the process. Man, when I was 15, I took driver’s ed from the adult learning center, took my certificate to the DMV, got my restricted license which automatically turned into a regular license on my 16th birthday, and never once had to take any test at the DMV. I’ve still never had to take an actual driving test outside of driver’s ed. So I guess basically what I’m saying is, nah nah nah nah-nah, Cassie!
When Eddie and Cassie get on the empty bus, the driver jokes, “Try to squeeze in.” Oh, God, it’s contagious. Everyone in Stine’s books thinks they’re a fucking comedian. See the Crowley gif above for my reaction to this.
They spend the ride with Eddie trying to convince Cassie that Jerry couldn’t have had anything to do with this, especially with Winks getting run down, and then warning her not to tell him too much. Um, Eddie, I don’t think she’s planning on announcing the whole vehicular manslaughter thing, but that’s not actually what you’re worried about, is it?
They make their way to the city morgue unimpeded by any receptionists or other responsible adults, and walk down spooky corridors full of body bags. Empty body bags, just stacked up in the hallway. Mmkay. They get to the big room that I always think of as the actual morgue because I watch way too much Law & Order, and find Jerry lying on an exam table with a pool of blood beneath his head. Sigh. Do I even need to tell you this is yet another hilarious prank?
Eddie and Cassie freak the fuck out, and Jerry sits up and laughs at them like it’s the funniest thing ever. It’s cool, though. You have to keep your sense of humor, otherwise it gets really dead around here. I hate Jerry already, guys. And hey, I like bad puns as much as the next girl – recently I was in the used book store with my boyfriend, who unfortunately found a book of corny jokes (that was literally the title of the book) and followed me around the store reading them to me. There was a lot of groan-laughing on my part, then I told him “So, what I hear you saying is that you want to walk home, right?” which started a random stranger laughing because she was sitting behind the bookcase we were standing at and heard our entire conversation. It was pretty funny. Anyway, point is, bad jokes can be fun as fuck when no one’s being obnoxious about it. Stine’s characters are always obnoxious about it, and therefore I hate them all.
Jerry tops this off by pulling out a corpse and tickling its feet. God, someone please stop him. Ugh. It’s never stated how old Jerry is, but if I had to guess I’d say twelve. They ask about Corpse Brandt, and Jerry tells them he’s still missing and there was no way he walked out of the morgue unless he was a zombie! Thanks, Jer, that’s super helpful. Jackass. Cassie shows Jerry the Polaroid of Driving Corpse Brandt, surprising Eddie and confusing Jerry. Eddie does his best to get Cassie to leave right now, and Jerry asks Eddie what’s going on and tells him he’ll call him later. Cassie still doesn’t add two plus two. When they’re outside, she mentions how upset Jerry looked when he saw the photo and heard about the note, says he must know more than he’s letting on, and instructs Eddie to find out what he can when he talks to Jerry later. Four, Cassie. Two plus two is four. Figure it out.
Cassie practices driving with her dad – no vehicular manslaughter, phew! She finds out that Winks is awake and doing well, but not allowed any visitors yet. While she’s studying late that night, she hears a noise at the front door, and looks out her window to see a man in a dark coat running away. She dithers about whether to go check the door or not, gets jump scared by a leaf caught in the door, and finds an envelope jammed into the porch door. Or the front door? Apparently this is an enclosed porch, so there are doors to choose from. Guess what’s in the envelope, guys?
It’s another Polaroid of Corpse Brandt, this time propped up on Cassie’s front porch with his hand on the doorknob, and a note that says “You’re next.” Guys. Just when I’ve reached my limit with this book, it pulls out all the Weekend at Bernie’s stops that perversely manage to endear it to me again. Cassie thinks that the man she saw running away was the corpse (I’m howling!), that Brandt Tinkers is alive, but then no, he was dead, she saw his sunken eyes and could smell that he was dead when they hit him. Um, Cassie? Pretty sure that’s another number you need to add to this equation, because he shouldn’t have been so very smelly and corpsey the instant he died, you know? Let’s see, who do we know with access to corpses and a motive to terrorize you with terrible pranks . . . ?
Cassie needs to freak out to someone about this, so she calls Scott, even though he’s sick and it’s past eleven at night. His mom answers and reluctantly gets out of bed to let Scott know Cassie’s on the phone, then comes back to tell Cassie that Scott’s not in his room! He’s missing! Oh no! If Stine didn’t have a penchant for bullshit cliffhangers, I might actually be worried. Ha ha, no I wouldn’t. I don’t care enough about any of these characters.
We pick back up with Cassie walking to school, I presume the next day? A car is following her, then it chases her up on the sidewalk and tries to mow her down. She turns to look, and Corpse Brandt is driving, croaking her name over and over.
Oh, Jesus Christ. A dream? Really, Stine? You better give me some more unintentionally hilarious Weekend at Bernie’s scenes, or we’re through.
Yes, it was a dream. It’s Monday morning, and Cassie’s mom is shaking her awake. I would love to hear Mom’s reaction to being told her voice translated to a zombie’s croak in Cassie’s dreamscape. Mom claims she’s been trying to wake Cassie up for hours, and I can’t help but think Mom is full of shit. Fuck you and your hyperbole! Cassie was up all night torturing herself over where Scott was. She believes he was out taking pictures of corpses and leaving her threatening notes. Cassie thinks all the evidence points to him, because Cassie doesn’t pay fucking attention to anything around her. And also apparently thinks that Scott is the only human being that owns a Polaroid camera. I won’t include any more Crowley gifs, but Cassie is trying my non-patience.
She tries calling Scott, but gets no answer. When she gets to school (without being run over by a joyriding corpse), she exclaims to Eddie that she knows who it is! But before she can elaborate, they have to get to class. She pretty much just walked up to Eddie and shouted “I know!” at him. Yeah, I’m sure that wasn’t a bad idea or anything. All the eyerolling I’m doing is making my headache worse, guys. We know it’s Eddie doing all this, right? I mean, we can fucking add two plus two, can’t we?
Cassie takes and passes her driving test, and is surprised that the instructor is a young woman. Um. Because women drivers, amirite? She’s not as excited as her parents expected, but she can’t exactly tell them why the instructor telling her to drive carefully triggered her, now can she?
She’s reaching for the phone to try calling Scott again when Eddie calls her instead. He wants to know if she’ll take him driving because his test is Friday and his mom said it was okay. Errrr . . . I don’t know what the law was in 1992, but a few years later, when I was driving age, no one under eighteen could take an unlicensed driver out to practice. Eddie’s mom either doesn’t know the law, or doesn’t give a shit. Or Eddie’s lying. There’s always that possibility. Cassie’s not feeling the whole driving lesson thing, but gives in after Eddie begs a little. She walks to his house because he lives too close to drive, and they go out in his parents’ Chevy Nova. But . . . his parents aren’t home, and I got the distinct impression that they’re too poor to own two cars. What is happening right now? Eddie is definitely framed as being a Poor, and when they went out in his parents’ car before, it was indicated that there was just the one car. Are his parents at another neighborhood party? Are they swingers? It’s neighborhood orgy time, I guess.
Eddie is super amped up, not like himself at all, and he tells Cassie he got a phone call from Winks, who sounds like himself. This is supposedly a good thing, but I can’t imagine a universe where Winks acting like himself would ever be a good thing. Cassie tells Eddie all about suspecting Scott, and then they have a tire blowout. This tire has great dramatic timing.
It’s the right rear tire, and Cassie claims they can fix it easy because of all the tire-changing practice they got in driver’s ed. Wait, they took driver’s ed but still had to take driver’s tests at the DMV? Lol, suckers! Eddie freaks out, telling Cassie no, and for some reason Cassie still isn’t doing the simplest of maths here. He keeps telling her he doesn’t have a spare and not to open the trunk, and all she thinks is that poor (Poor) Eddie must have been really freaked out by the blowout. Fucking hell Cassie, how are you still alive?
She opens the trunk and finds Corpse Brandt folded up in the trunk. Okay, but is there a spare tire in there? Inquiring minds want to know. Cassie’s all, OMG it’s you, Eddie, I don’t believe it because you’re such a fucking wimp and shit! (Paraphrasing.) Eddie starts going on about how everyone hates him and always plays jokes on him, and Cassie tries to tell him that people play jokes on people they like! Much like me, Eddie doesn’t buy that crock of shit. (When I was six or seven, one of my “friends” took me into the woods, said she had to pee, went off to pee behind a tree, then abandoned me there as a “joke.” Later she said it was because the wolfman was chasing her. I found my way home in tears, told my mom what happened, and got yelled at and sent to my room to think about what I’d done, which was end up in the woods alone through no fault of my own. Giant fail all around on everyone’s part.)
Eddie tells Cassie that he was sick of everyone playing pranks on him, so he was going to play one of his own – first he borrowed the corpse from Jerry, and Cassie stops him here to gasp that they didn’t kill the guy after all! Duh, Cassie, he was already dead. That was the prank. Keep up. He was so stiff that he stood up by himself. The only thing that could make this sound dirtier would be if his name was Dick. Jerry stood the corpse up when he saw their car coming, then took it back when they drove off. Apparently poor Corpse Brandt is just some unclaimed homeless guy, so desecrating his corpse is totes okay, guys!
Eddie wanted his “friends” to be really scared, so he tried to make it seem like the corpse was after them, but they were too smart for that. Uh, sure. Because it takes a genius to realize that it’s not a reanimated corpse trying to kill you. This feels like a plan hatched by a five-year-old who believes in the boogieman. My friends will totally believe a zombie wants to kill them! OooOOooHhhH, spoopy! Anyway, when he realized they didn’t believe it was a dead man trying to kill them, he decided to just punish them for all the pranks over the years, every time they made him feel like a scared little baby. Oh, and Jerry had nothing to do with that. He just supplied the corpse and helped with the initial “make my friends think we vehicular manslaughtered someone” prank. Okay. I mean, it’s all fun and games until someone watches Weekend at Bernie’s.
Eddie pulls a tire iron out of the trunk and tells Cassie he’s going to give her a chance, then screams at her to run. Then he gets in the car and starts chasing her down. With a flat tire. Man, you’re fucking up your rims, bro. You don’t want to have to replace the entire wheel; that shit’s expensive!
Cassie runs, then hears a crash behind her. It’s Scott and his parents’ Volvo to the rescue! He’s crashed into Eddie’s car to stop him. Jerry’s in the passenger seat, and he jumps out to restrain Eddie while Scott runs to sweep Cassie up in a loving embrace. Jerry’s pissed that Eddie took the prank this far and implicated him in it, and Scott figured out where they were because Eddie’s mom told him they were out practicing driving. Also, Scott was missing last night because sometimes he sleepwalks when he has a fever. Cool story.
Cassie tells the boys what happened, and Jerry says he better get the corpse back to the morgue, but when they open Eddie’s trunk, the body is gone! Dun dun DUN!
Two weeks later, the kids plus Jerry and minus Eddie are hanging out at Winks’s house, because he’s home from the hospital and presumably ready to get back to being an obnoxious jackass again. They’re still puzzling over what happened to the corpse, which still hasn’t been found. When they go to leave, the corpse is leaning on the screen door, staring in at them and looking quite the worse for wear. The kids scream, and Winks cries “How did he find us?” and I don’t believe for a second that they wouldn’t suspect it was another shitty prank after all the shitty pranks they’ve experienced so far. It was Jerry. He found the body that night out on the road and I guess just kept it around hoping for an opportunity to terrorize these kids some more? Ugh, I hate them all.
Scott and Cassie start chasing Jerry down the street (what are they going to do when they catch him? Beat him up? Tickle him? Make out with him?), and Winks props Corpse Brandt back up and calls to his parents that there’s someone at the door who wants to see them. If his mom grounded him for having a human eye in his room, what sort of punishment is an entire corpse going to earn him?
Nostalgia Glasses Off
I wish zombies had been coming after them. I hated all of these characters and their inability to even entertain the idea that the guy with the cousin who works at the morgue might be the one fucking with them. Also, how do you not figure out that the body you hit with your car had already been dead for several days? I hate everything about this, except for the ridiculous flashes of Weekend at Bernie’s. I’m convinced that Stine read C. Pike’s Chain Letter, then watched Weekend at Bernie’s and decided to mash them up. Oh, well. At least there were no killer’s POV chapters.