For "057 Lunch" from the 100 fanart challenge (see 100FanArt on DA).
Hey, you guys remember how Arthur had a parody of Goosebumps called Scare Your Pants Off? In the episode "Night Fright" Sue Ellen tells a few of the other kids the plot of the 1st SYPO video, called The Lunchbox of Notre Dame. That's part of the inspiration for this fic, haha.
"Hey, Slappy — you're gonna love this!" Harrison Cohen's muffled voice came from the other side of the wall of boxes separating the two halves of the attic.
"Love is a pretty loaded term, buddy," the dummy replied dryly without looking up from the collection of vinyl records through which he browsed.
"Just wait," the teenager replied. "You'll plotz!"
"You should leave humor to the professionals."
If he had been in this same position ten years ago, or even seven years ago, Slappy might have followed that up with an insult, perhaps comparing his companion's brain to oatmeal. However, for the past six years, Slappy had had several good reasons to keep up a nice-guy act around Harrison instead of enslaving the boy back when they first met.
For starters, before Harrison, Slappy had lived with a college-aged ventriloquist named Jimmy O'James. Since Jimmy had been a broad-shouldered tree of a man, Slappy had wisely chosen to play nice when Jimmy had first awoken him from his magical slumber, and they had lived as roommates for several months. That had been the first time in which Slappy could move about freely in a human's house. So when he had wound up in Harrison's care, the puppet did not want to go back to playing dead or getting into a physical altercations to enforce his ownership over a slave.
Secondly, he actually liked Harrison, in the way a pet owner might've liked a dodo back before those ugly, unsuspecting birds went extinct. The epitome of a gentle giant, the huge kid had an easy temperament and didn't try to pick him up without his permission like Jimmy had. He didn't grumble when Slappy "requested" he run odd errands. He also laughed at Slappy's insults, not seeming to realize the dummy had made him a butt of a joke. After the first few months of living with him, Slappy had been surprised to discover he considered his human dodo to be something of a friend.
A third reason — but undeniably the most important of any and all he could list — Slappy had discovered being nice to Harrison meant he could spend time with Harrison's best friend Jillian Zinman.
He snuck a glance toward the window on the opposite end of the attic where the radiant girl sorted through some antique knickknacks. Eighteen and a half now, Jillian still didn't seem to realize someone remarkable stared back at her in the mirror — nor did she ever seem to guess the effect she had on Slappy.
But she would. Soon.
Her braided black hair glowed slightly so that it looked brown in the sun spilling through the glass, and something in the large plastic tub made her pause. Her clear, fair face broke into a smile, and her pretty green eyes danced as she bent low and—
"Hey, Slappy! I'm your long lost cousin, Maxie!"
Instead of a bijou among pebbles, Slappy found himself staring at a bucktoothed dummy in a tuxedo. The jaw slid out of sync with Harrison's voice.
"Give me a hug!"
Slappy's eyes trailed to his smiling human. "Because I like you, I'll give you 'til the count of five to get that outta my face."
Harrison laughed. "C'mon, he's awesome! I totally forgot Uncle Josh had a dummy. He must've stored Maxie up here back when I was in kindergarten." He adjusted the lifeless puppet's costume. "I was thinking we could put him in our act—"
"Five!" Slappy's arm snapped up and knocked Maxie's limp body clear out of Harrison's thick hands, sending the thing skidding across the attic.
Harrison blinked in surprise. "Not cool, man," he said, but he chuckled all the same.
While Harrison retrieved the vintage toy, Slappy returned his attention to the lovely sight before him and fixed his bow tie. With shuffling steps, he abandoned the records and started toward Jillian.
She had been terrified of Slappy when they first met, but not through any real fault of the dummy. Another living doll, named Mary-Ellen, had gaslit Jillian into believing he had had it out for her, but Slappy had been unconscious at the time. When Mary-Ellen finally brought him to life, intending to marry him and to enslave Jillian, Slappy had cheerfully ran her through Mr. Zinman's table saw before the plastic doll could breathe a word about his true wicked nature. Upon discovering Mary-Ellen had been the real culprit tormenting her, and learning the doll had enslaved her two little sisters, Jillian's terror toward Slappy had melted into the deepest gratitude. Even now as she lifted her head to look at the approaching dummy, her green eyes sparkled with a warmth which could take a guy's breath away (regardless of whether said guy possessed any lungs).
Slappy widened his natural smile. "Hey, Jillian."
"Hey, buddy," she returned, shifting away from her box to face him. Slappy caught a pleasant whiff of the new perfume she had bought last week, something floral like lavender or violet. "Find anything interesting you want to take home?"
You mean besides you?
Slappy jabbed a lazy thumb over his shoulder. "Unky Josh has some jazz records I might sort through."
Harrison's elderly uncle had fought for years to stay in his childhood home, but after breaking his leg, he had finally accepted Mr. and Mrs. Cohen's invitation to move into their guest bedroom. Harrison's parents had hired the two teenagers to clear out the attic, allowing them to take anything that caught their eye as part of their payment.
Slappy leaned against one of the stacks of boxes, hoping he gave off a dashing demeanor. "What about you, Jillian? What's caught your fancy?"
She tilted the nearby box toward him. "Found some odds and ends in here," she said, lifting a tangerine scarf from a ceramic cup. "We could go through them for props to include in our act."
"Ever the entrepreneur, aren't ya?"
"I'm ambitious and proud of it," she replied with a grin. "We could try getting a real gig someplace, not just birthday parties. This summer could be our big break!" Her green eyes radiated as they always did when she started talking about money, as if the chimes of cash registers played a lovely melody in her mind.
Frankly, Slappy found her greed charming, which was a large part of why he supported her conquest for wealth rather than falling back on old habits of sabotaging their ventriloquist act. Well, that, and he liked sitting on her lap.
"Speaking of summer," Slappy said, jumping onto the segue, "you know Harrison's family is heading to Miami in July, right?"
"Yeah, sounds like a lotta fun. You going with them?"
"Well, see, the thing is, sand and humidity ain't really my thing," he said, shifting himself closer to her. "I'd much rather stay with—"
But Harrison's galumphing steps cut him off, and the young man all but dropped a large tub next to the two.
"I can't believe Uncle Josh's kept all this cool stuff up here and never used it!" Harrison smiled broadly.
Harrison, you idiot! Slappy scowled at him, but neither human seemed to notice his irritation as they pawed through the loot. The puppet quickly swapped his glower for a grin and joined the investigation through the old junk.
"Look at this."
Jillian pulled out what looked like an old-fashioned metal lunchbox, the kind construction workers in black-and-white films might have had. She turned it over, tilting her head as she studied the surface. Someone had scratched in markings around the lid: not quite pictures, but something like letters from a non-Latin alphabet.
"Hey, Harrison, this isn't Hebrew, is it?" she asked.
"Not even close," Harrison replied, squinting at it. He took it from Jillian and examined all four sides. "Kinda looks like runes we saw at that field trip to the museum in seventh grade. What was it from, Vikings or Druids?"
"I forget," she admitted. "Slappy, you've seen anything like it?"
The dummy leaned forward to inspect the antique, but he shook his head. "The only other language I know is the ancient dead one my maker used to bring me to life. That ain't it."
Harrison shrugged. "Aw, Uncle Josh could have made his own code when he was a kid," he said, tossing the box onto a nearby stack of sealed boxes. "Like the secret language we made up in third grade, remember, Jill?"
"Sock language," she snorted, shaking her head.
Slappy rose an eyebrow. "What's sock language?"
"Long story," they said in unison. Harrison broke into a laugh, and Jillian gave the boy a secretive smile.
The kind of smile she should have been giving Slappy instead. The dummy inwardly seethed behind his benign grin.
If he had thought for a moment Jillian and Harrison possessed anything more than sibling-like devotion to each other, Slappy would have probably thrown out his Good Guy Act long ago. However, he couldn't deny the two had known each other for twelve years, which cast an undeniable shadow on the mere six Slappy had with Jillian—not the kind of math he relished.
But the day's coming when everything will be made clear, my bride, he thought, gazing up at her sunny face.
Harrison got to his feet and stretched his trunk-like arms, long enough to touch the attic ceiling. "I'm workin' up a real appetite. What'd ya guys say we take a break and get some lunch?" he suggested. "I could go for a turkey hoagie from Wawa—"
Jillian started and looked over her shoulder. "Did something fall?"
"I didn't hear anything," said Harrison, cracking his wide neck.
"I did," Slappy jumped in, turning his head to scan the attic. "Sounded close. I think it came from—"
As if to reply, the sound came again, louder. Thump! Thump!
Jillian jumped to her feet and shuffled back. "Your uncle doesn't got mice, does he?" she asked, casting a nervous sweep across the narrow space.
Harrison snorted. "Don't tell me you're afraid of them. I've seen you feed mice to your pet snakes!"
"Pre-frozen mice that aren't crawling with diseases," Jillian retorted, hugging herself. "I just can't stand wild ones. They make my skin crawl." She shuddered with a squeaky groan. "Bleh!"
Slappy took a deliberate step in the direction of the noise. "Your friendly neighborhood puppet will keep you safe, Jillian."
Slappy halted as his eyes caught sight of a bit of movement among the boxes. It was then he realized the noise had a metallic sound to it.
"I don't think that's a mouse," he said, gawking at the source. "Look."
The two humans drew near to him, both a little nervous. Jillian knelt beside him, trying to see at his level. Slappy got a fresh whiff of her perfume, but for once it barely registered in his mind.
The thump returned, and this time Jillian and Harrison saw it.
"The lunchbox?" the girl breathed, gaping at the rectangular shape.
Harrison, however, gave a laugh. He shook his head as he gazed down at the dummy. "Is it one of your magic tricks, Slappy? Pretty convincing, but I'm not falling for that."
Slappy shook his head. "Not me." His hollow torso felt a little cooler.
Jillian straightened her shoulders, her tension fading. "Well, you wouldn't come right out and tell us, would you?" she chuckled, starting to push herself to her feet. "What, is it a can-of-worms trick if we open it?"
Slappy grabbed her wrist, tugging her back. She shot him a look of surprise, and he met her green eyes. "It's — not — me," he hissed.
He glared into her eyes, hoping she would see his sincerity. He tried to maintain control, but he knew magic had a fifty-fifty chance of being malignant, himself being a prime example. If this was one of these cases, he wanted to keep himself, his intended, and his dodo far from danger.
Jillian hesitated, glancing from him to Harrison. Then she shook her head, smiling. "You can't trick me with reverse psychology, buddy. I'm not touching that thing now."
"Good," Slappy growled.
Harrison chuckled. "C'mon, let's get back to work— Hey, what's that smell?" His squat nose twitched as he swiveled his head. "Is that... turkey cooking?"
"We should get out of here," Slappy said. He attempted to guide Jillian toward the stairs, but she resisted.
"Slappy, we promised we'd get this job done for Uncle Josh," she reminded him, trying to shrug off his hand so she could stand. "Stop your lunchbox gag, and let's get back to work."
"If it means that much to him, let's just open the dumb thing so he can have his laugh." Harrison crossed over to the metal box.
Slappy gripped Jillian's arm and kept her beside him. "Morons, that's not my magic!" he insisted. "I don't know what that thing is, but I'm not interested in finding out without a proper plan!"
"Ver-r-ry convincing," Harrison replied, rolling his eyes good-naturedly. He fiddled with the latch. "Look, I'm opening it, so you can just stop—" Harrison halted, staring down into the opened box.
Slappy put his arm in front of Jillian, just in case.
Then Harrison's shock switched to delight. "Dunkaroos! I haven't had those since I was a kid. Remember these, Jillian?" He held up a green snack pack.
"Wait, what?" Jillian blinked.
Slappy braced himself, reaching for her hand.
"Hey, look!" He held up a long sandwich wrapped in cellophane. "It's a turkey hoagie! And it smells awesome! Just it came from Wawa."
Jillian's head snapped toward Slappy. "You don't have that kinda magic," she gaped. She whirled around. "Harrison, drop that thing!"
Slappy latched onto her waist. "Stay back!" he charged, pulling her against him. She fell back and struggled to break free, but he focused his magic to keep himself rooted to the floor, hanging on tight. "Harrison, if you can hear me, drop that stupid sub."
Harrison's thick fingers fiddled with the translucent wrapping. "Aw, what's your problem, Slappy?" he laughed. "One bite couldn't hurt."
"Harrison!" Jillian shrieked.
Harrison didn't even glance at them, too mesmerized with his hero sandwich. He sank his teeth eagerly into one end and tore off a large chunk. He began to chew. "Not bad," he said, spraying flecks as he spoke.
He swallowed cheerfully, his Adam's apple bouncing as the food entered his esophagus and plunged to his stomach.
Then white smoke erupted around him.
Jillian screamed, struggling for her friend, but Slappy held on until the smoke cleared.
When it did, a large turkey waddled in Harrison's place. It had feathers the same dark brown as the boy's hair. The large sandwich had vanished completely. The turkey gobbled and looked about, not seeming to register what had happened.
"Whoa…" Slappy rasped out, surprising his own ears at how aghast he sounded. He gawked as his pet human twisted his now tiny, bald head to preen his brown wings with his new beak.
My dodo turned into a turkey!
"H-Harrison?" Jillian gasped, leaning forward against Slappy's arms.
Harrison stopped his grooming and looked at her with a curious expression. After studying her for a moment, he stepped carefully toward the staring girl and the dummy. His clawed, bare toes scrapped against the wooden floor as he approached. His red wattle jiggled on his throat.
Slappy felt more than heard Jillian's breath quickened. She raised her hand toward the tom turkey. After blinking at her fingers for a second, Harrison dipped his head and nuzzled her skin contently, seeming to recognize her somewhere in his new (and much smaller) animal brain.
"Oh, Harrison!" she wailed, cupping his avian face. "I told you — I told you!"
"And I told you," Slappy hissed in her ear. He shot his ex-human a dark look. "You too, bird brain."
Harrison only shifted his wings and went back to preening.
"But you're always telling jokes, Slappy!" Jillian protested. "How were we to know you were telling the truth?!"
Slappy grimaced a little, but instead of answering, he settled for a joke, "I think he's better this way. He looks good enough to eat." He gave a nervous chuckle.
"Stop it!" she snapped at the puppet. She squirmed out of his protective embrace, which he allowed, and she threw her arms around Harrison's skinny neck. "We gotta change him back!" she cried, pulling her friend against her.
Harrison pecked at the sleeve of her blouse as if he wondered if he could eat it.
"Maybe this thing has an antidote!" she said in a rush, sliding toward the still yawning lunchbox.
Slappy made a grab for her. "Jillian, don't— !"
But his fingers missed. And she looked inside.
Her frustration melted away, and she shot her hand right into the box. "Oooh, it has Gushers!" she grinned, pulling out a package. "Hey, remember those old commercials where the people ate a Gusher, and then their heads turned into a fruit? I thought those ads were so funny…" She tore the top corner off.
Slappy pushed Turkey Harrison out of his way and dove for the girl. "Jillian, you idiot!" he snapped, grabbing her wrist. The tiny fruity snacks she had shaken out into her fair palm scattered across the floor as he dragged her back.
Jillian gave a serene smile. "One little taste can't hurt."
"Exactly what Snow White said before she fell into a coma," he growled, hanging on.
But Jillian raised her head. "Oh, look. It's coming over here to me," she giggled, reaching out.
Slappy saw, to his horror, a red Gusher rolling toward them, changing its course slightly to make a beeline for Jillian's outstretched fingers.
"Just one little taste," she murmured dreamily.
Slappy shook her as hard as he dared. "Snap out of it!"
Jillian barely noticed him. "So sweet…"
He could think of no alternative. Slappy summoned his strength and heaved her back, spinning himself around so he was between her and the animated snack.
"Jillian, I'm genuinely sorry for this, and you know I don't apologize that easily." He swung his head back—and butted her pretty forehead.
Jillian crumpled on the floor, her green eyes glazed with pain. "Owww!" she wailed, covering her face.
Slappy didn't waste a moment. Scooping his wooden hands about, he threw the scattered Gushers and their bag into the lunchbox. He slammed the lid shut and charged for the stairs.
Jillian lumbered after him, recovering far too quickly for his liking. "Slappy, come back!"
He didn't even stop at the edge of the creaky staircase. He wrapped his arms around the box and threw himself down the steps, tumbling and flipping at a speed Jillian couldn't match.
It hurt like the dickens.
He landed right on the box, but he pushed himself up, biting back a groan against the pain in his ligneous limbs. He dashed into the upstairs bathroom and locked the door.
Her footsteps soon followed, charging down the stairs.
Slappy glared at the cursed box and held it up to his face. "I don't have a stomach, so you can't tempt me," he growled. "Release your hold on the girl—o0r you'll make me angry."
Jillian pounded on the door. "Slappy, c'mon! Lemme in!" she begged desperately.
"Release your hold on my bride," he warned the box again. "Or you won't like what I'll do to you, tin pail."
Jillian struggled with the doorknob. "Please, Slappy!" she cried. "I'm hungry! Please!"
"You asked for it."
He flipped open the lid. He grabbed the two halves, and he pulled — and pulled. He strained against the metal, but no matter how much of his magical strength he applied, it didn't stretched even the breadth of a hair.
A tinkling sound floated out of the box, like a whispered laughter.
Thud! Thud! Thud! Now it sounded like Jillian was throwing herself against the door.
I gotta do something — or I'm going to lose her. He drew in a breath he didn't need. He had never begged for anything in his life, but he could bargain. And if he wanted to see his wedding day without Jillian turning into some kind of fruit, he would have to make a deal which the baleful box would agree to.
Slappy closed the lunchbox and held it up. "Release your hold on the girl," he whispered, "and I'll find you a replacement. By sunset. I swear. On my creator's evil inside me, I swear."
At first nothing happened. Then the lid lifted on its own—and out popped a bag of potato chips. The lunchbox closed with a sharp, loud snap which seemed to hang in the air.
Slappy wasted no time shoving the lunchbox beneath the bathroom sink, and he picked up the chip bag. He understood the baleful box's message, loud and clear.
"Slappy — !" Jillian's pleading shriek died, only to be replaced with a soft, disoriented moan.
He whirled around, tucking the chips into the hole in his back. He gingerly unlocked the door, and he peeked out to see Jillian rubbing her forehead, which had started to look purple where he had headbutted her.
"What— What was I doing again?" she blinked.
"Looking for your favorite puppet?" he said in quick jest. "Since he has more smarts than Turkey Club upstairs."
Her eyes snapped wide. "Harrison!" she cried, gripping the door. "We gotta turn him back! His mom will be back in an hour!" She whirled around and charged for the attic.
Slappy shuffled after her at a slower pace, partly because the potato-chip bag crinkled inside him as he moved and partly because a fresh problem consumed his mind.
How do I get someone to eat a chip without revealing I'm alive first?
A/N: If this is your first time reading one of my Goosebumps fics, anything marked as part of the 100 fanart challenge will not be updated. The point is improve my writing skills and stay in practice. As such, constructive feedback is welcome, even if you don't like the fic.
The turkey part was inspired by that Simpsons "Treehouse of Horror II" skit with the Monkey's Paw. "I wish for a turkey sandwich — on rye bread — with lettuce and mustard — and — and I don't want any zombie turkeys. I don't want to turn into a turkey myself, and I don't want any other weird surprises. You got it?"
Also, in Slappy's Nightmare, Slappy can feel pain in some circumstances (and he can even get exhausted and can need to stretch after cleaning a bedroom). Hence why falling down the stairs gives him some discomfort, but as we see in other cases, he can recover quickly when injured.