Goosebumps Series 2000 # 25 Ghost in the Mirror
Jason is constantly being tormented by his older sister, Claudia. One time she tied a string to a dead rat and made Jason think it was alive (Claudia somehow thought she came out the winner on that prank). Another time she threw cooked spaghetti in between his sheets and he freaked out because he thought they were snakes. Snakes. Yes Jason, shoestring snakes, that's a perfectly logical conclusion to reach. She even torments him by mocking the fact that he still has to sleep in modified baby furnishings because his family can't afford to upgrade his bedroom set. This is just adding insult to injury, though, as suffering through Tiny Furniture is certainly punishment enough already.
Several weeks later, Jason's parents surprise him with some new wares they picked up at a garage sale: A battered dresser with a couple jammed drawers and a large antique mirror. Jason admires the new additions but finds himself uncomfortably drawn to the mirror, despite possessing neither a digital camera nor a MySpace account.
Somewhat inexplicably, Jason calls his friend Fred over to come see his new mirror and dresser. These new acquisitions lack much drawering power for Fred, even after Jason brags about how the mirror reflects the posters on his wall. What is the proper reaction from his friend supposed to be, exactly? "Holy shit, dude, you mean that mirror is a mirror?!"
As though looking at second-hand furniture wasn't exciting enough, the book kicks it into high gear with a couple pages of the two boys playing a video game called "NBA Basketball." I guess there might be a way to make a long description of someone else playing a video game interesting, but we'll never know with lines like this:
The crowd on the screen cheered. The score changed.For some reason, Fred wants to leave all this excitement and go home. On his way out, he mentions that he spied something weird moving in the mirror. On the floor in front of the glass, Jason spies a yellowed sheet of paper with a threat penned in "old-fashioned-looking, fancy writing." Calligrapher beware, you're in for a scare! Jason blames his sister, who denies having written the note, but uses the opportunity to trick him into seeing a ghost, which causes Jason to let out a cry and spill his Coke on the carpet. RL Stine apparently forgot what he was writing almost as fast as his readers, because in the next paragraph Jason's using a mop to clean up the spilled soda. The reader is tragically deprived of several pages of detailed cleaning, even though it would be about as or more exciting than the video game play by play which preceded.
As disinterested as Jason's best friend is in the mirror, at least man's best friend gets something out of it: Jason finds his dog, Buzzy, barking at the mirror. A dog barking at a mirror is awarded an entire chapter. When the dog later starts growling and attacks Jason by trying to tear out his throat, we're given a couple paragraphs. Because that clearly is nowhere near as interesting as a video game about basketball.
Or hockey. Fred and Jason are passing around the puck in their video game when Fred takes a break to look at himself in the mirror. That's when the two boys notice that the mirror is reflecting Buzzy, even though he's not in the room. So much excitement makes Jason thirsty, so he excuses himself from his room to grab a Coke to spill when he returns to find Fred has vanished. While looking around the house for his missing friend, his parents tell him they rented "an old Hitchcock movie," which is good, because renting a new one would be some feat. They assure him that it's a "scary" one, but Jason wisely opts out of watching Topaz.
Jason checks back in his room again and hears something in his closet. Upon opening the door, a red-eyed creature leaps out at him, causing him to respond, "Oh no, not an esoteric representation of the impermeability of death in Thai culture!" Turns out it's just Sister Claudia Who Can Recall Her Past Halloween Costumes, as she has just slipped on a mask to spook the easily spookable Jason. Okay, in all fairness, if I'm already in an emotionally vulnerable state and someone jumps out of my closet at me, I'd probably spill the metaphorical Coke too.
As he drifts off to sleep that night, Jason can hear the odd barks of his dog, locked up in the garage so as to prevent more throat-attacks/Coke-spillings. Jason is soon distracted by another noise though, that of Buzzy's whimpering, which is coming from inside the mirror. Despite being terrified, he does not spill any further Coke.
Fred reappears at school the next day, only, like Shirley MacLaine and Audrey Hepburn before him, he's... different. His sports abilities go from Lane to Kobe Bryant and this newfound prowess leads Jason to jokingly suggest that he's "possessed." In an intense moment that nearly causes Jason to spill his Gatorade, Fred gets very exorcist-off and tells Jason to never say that. It's then Fred's turn to spill some choke, as he knocks Jason to the ground and begins attacking and pummeling his friend's face until his nose bloodies.
That night, Jason is awoken by heavy breathing that appears to come from the mirror. Things take a turn for the What. as Jason spies a mysterious cloud-like figure emerging from the mirror. The being grabs Jason and tries to take him into the mirror or something. Jason passes out and wakes up on his bedroom floor. He then meets his ghost, who tells him that he just died of fright and should therefore come with him into the mirror.
Before Jason can walk through the mirror, he's stopped by the bark of his dog Buzzy and the pleas of his friend Fred. Jason wises up and resists entering the now-black mirror. His ghost grows angry and tries to push him into the mirror. When that doesn't work, the ghost turns itself inside out and reveals, well, let's let Jason take this one:
"You lied to me! You're not my ghost! You're a monster!"The book seriously turns into an acid trip at this point. The weird monster thing tries to drag the kid into the mirror and he resists as long as he can, grabbing a small hand mirror from within the dresser in the process. He throws the smaller mirror in front of the larger one while falling into the big mirror and suddenly the reflections of the reflections of the reflections (c'mon folks, you've seen a mirror before) multiply his monster threat from one to hundreds of monsters all primed to slaughter Jason. Jason backs away as quick as he can and falls back through the mirror again. This probably makes a lot more sense if you're on acid while reading, too.
Jason watches for a little while as the monsters attack each other before hollering for his parents. Because horrible mirror creatures need more victims? His parents arrive and, wouldn't you know it, the monsters are nowhere to be found in the mirror. Jason proves that there were monsters in the mirror by walking into the mirror and injuring his shoulder as he bumps up against the solid glass. His parents chastise him for spilling the awoke.
The next morning, Jason is shocked to discover that Buzzy has apparently burst out of his holding cell in the garage. Riding past Fred's house, he's even more shocked to spy that all of the windows on Fred's home have been shattered. And the rule of threes applies as Jason is finally shocked to discover Fred in the driveway, holding a large car over his head. There are people inside the car and Jason pleas with his friend to quit before he spills the folk. Getting nowhere, Jason speeds away from the scene as a cadre of cops arrive, guns drawn.
That night at dinner, Jason pledges to go back inside the mirror one more time to rescue Fred and Buzzy, who he reasons are stuck inside the mirror. At no point during dinner does his family bring up the fact that his best friend was just swarmed by cops after literally holding up a family. Once in his room, Jason swiftly enters the mirrorworld and falls off a mirror cliff into a mirror hall where he meets up with Fred and Buzzy, neither mirrors. The three journey into a long mirrored corridor until they come upon the mirror that looks out into Jason's room. The two boys try breaking the mirror but have no luck. Jason gets out the magical small mirror from earlier and trains it on Fred, producing multiple Freds to push together on the mirror. This still doesn't work. In frustration, Jason trains the mirror on the mirror and it burns a hole large enough for the three to escape through. Once inside the "real" world, Fred quickly runs home, leaving Jason alone to face off against... Jason. Jason spills the croak on his doppelganger by pulling out his eyes. He then hurls a lamp at the mirror, shattering it into a thousand pieces. The whole family enters upon hearing the noise and Claudia chastises that Jason will get seven years bad luck for spilling the broke.
But the Twist Is
Jason's cleanup is interrupted by a snake-like creature who emerges from the dresser and spills the provoke by asking Jason if he got his warning note.
the Platonic Boy-Girl Relationship
Jason and his sister Claudia, who spills her joke halfway through Jason spilling his Coke.
Jason's parents debate whether they should send Jason to a doctor for help with his delusions, but reason that since he doesn't have a fever, he must be fine.
Early in the book, Claudia points to a closed window and shouts out a warning to Jason about hornets, to which he predictably freaks out. To be fair, maybe he though someone had brought a DVD copy of The Green Hornet into his room, which would certainly threaten the well-being of even the bravest among us.
Late 90s Cultural References
Jason has some sweet WWF posters on his wall-- it's eventually revealed to be the wrestling one, but for a while there I was having fun picturing this kid bragging about having some kick-ass panda pix up in his room.
Out of Context Text Alert
But I could hear the steady breaths at my side...
"Hunnnnh... hunnnnh... hunnnnh..."
I shut my eyes tightly, as if trying to shut out the terrifying sound. My hands suddenly felt cold and wet. I wiped them on my pajama bottoms. Chill after chill swept down my back.
Memorable Cliffhanger Chapter Ending
We've traced the bark, it's coming from inside the mirror!
Great Prose Alert
"Did you watch the wrestling show on cable last night?"
No one moved away or got married. Kind of a lame series finale.
No need to spill the heartbroke: Thanks to a fan at Scholastic who wishes to remain anonymous for obvious reasons, Blogger Beware has a set of Horrorland books ready to go. See you next week, gang.