Edison Family Values

(or "Thank you Dave! But Our Cheerleader Is In Another Mansion!")
by Mushroom Scribe

Everybody and everything is © to Nintendo/Chuck Addams, depending.

WARNING: The point-of-view of each chapter is different, but it's always from the first-person perspective of a MM protagonist. I'll include clues in the first couple paragraphs of each to indicate who's speaking.


Chapter 1: Nightmare On Summit Avenue

STOP. If you're reading this paragraph then it means you found my Trapper Keeper before I could have Wendy revise, edit, word process, and send the finished manuscript off to Mark Eteer, because Wendy's smart enough to know not to type this part. She's gonna be a lit major, you know, with a focus in creative writing. 112 words per minute. 112! Okay, I'm done buttering you up, Wendy. If you're NOT Wendy, please see to it that she receives this or that I do. Seriously, Wendy, get to work.

My name is David Miller, but you can call me Dave. Seriously, call me Dave; David is my father. I am not my father, you hear me? Dad runs a garage, and I can't think of anything that would be more boring than working on cars for the rest of my life (on the upside, he did help me trick out my Gremlin). I'm not really sure what I want to do with myself after college, but I think I might go to Hollywood and try to break into acting. Follow in the footsteps of the greats like Richard Dean Anderson, Michael J. Fox... John Travolta. Maybe not. Hey, I was really good in that one play we did last year; I know I was only "dancing tree #4" but I KILLED, I tell you! Majorly brought the house down!

Sorry, let's start over. I'm Dave Miller. This is a story about radioactive mutant neighbors who tried to turn the whole town of Eastfield, New Jersey into zombies.

HAH! It worked. I knew your attention was wandering, because my life goals are boring to you. Life goals are just like gonads: everybody's got 'em, and most people don't wanna know about yours. Telling you about the interesting stuff was necessary to keep you from throwing this away.

Which is why now that I know you won't be bailing on me, I can go back and tell you a little bit more about myself. I'm the right fielder for the Eastfield High Skunkbats. Why "Skunkbats"? Because the stupid football team gets to be the "Fighting Skunks" and the basketball team is the "Slam-Skunks" (which is actually kind of smart). Unfortunately, nobody – and I mean nobody – pays attention to baseball in this town. That's pretty much how I actually made the team.

My grades are average, my circle of friends is a decent size but not expansive... and I have the luxury of picking on the nerds and geeks (if I so choose), but still get picked on by the quarterback and all his turdbrain cronies. Barf. It's less than radical being stuck in high school social limbo – except I'm not, technically speaking. Elaborate, you say? Gladly. What's my one bright, shining spark of recognition that sets me apart from all the other boring buttmunches?

Sandy Pantz.

Sandy and I have both lived on Summit Avenue, across the street from each other, all our lives. Sandy is now the head cheerleader. Sandy has long, permed blonde hair with bangs that always fall just the right way when she lands in a split on the sidelines of the field. Sandy's lips and fingernails are always red like a ripe apple, like a Valentine, like Jackson's jacket in the "Beat It" music video. Sandy's miniskirt never shows off her goods, only threatens to show 'em off, which is a total art form. Sandy likes me.

You hear me, world? Sandy likes ME. Not Gary McKracken the QB, not any of those assholes... she likes boring old Dave, the outfielder with a .098 batting average. I don't even know how it happened; we just spent so much time talking after class, she repeatedly caught me staring at her in Algebra, we had to do that project together for Bio... and we clicked. Casual friendship shifted into something more. Oh Sandy, maybe someday, when high school is done... whoops, sorry, wrong story.

Yes, she and I are destined for a stellar life together... but destiny almost got derailed a few days ago. It took some creative thinking, my sack of steel and a little help from my friends to get the train back on track. I'm still not sure if I'd be alive to write this if we hadn't broken into the wrong house the first time.

What's the skinny? What in God's name am I babbling on about? Am I just a big tuna head? Okay, chill out for a minute and I'll fill you in. Twenty years ago today...

-o-o-o-o-

Everybody in Eastfield remembers the big meteor shower of 1967. Not me, of course, since I was negative-two. But all of our parents remember; it was a mega huge deal, all those space rocks bombarding our quaint little burg. My buddy Syd's older brother Chris was killed by one. It was a real drag... made national headlines, though. "Little Prince Flattened By Runaway Comet". Syd wasn't old enough to really understand what happened, but his parents have been pretty disconnected from reality since then.

So yeah, everybody remembers the meteor shower, and everybody remembers that one landed on the old Edison property. Why does everybody remember? Because crazy old Dr. Fred Edison never filled in the crater. He wouldn't let anybody else fill it in, either, even when the government offered to do it for free. Everybody expected him to turn it into some lame tourist attraction, but he actually refused every single shutterbug and nosy neighbor who wanted to get a good look at it. Called the cops enough times that people stopped trying. They also stopped talking to the Edison family period. Bunch of weirdos, holed up in that humongous pad like they're just waiting for the rest of us to migrate away so they can have Eastfield all to themselves. Who needs 'em anyhow?

A few weeks before our story opens is when the reports started coming in. First, a few sophomores had broken into the Edison house on a dare and never returned. A week went by, and another moron did the same thing. Then, a couple of weeks after that, some kids went missing from the video arcade. One of them was that employee who got the high score on "Die Enemy Die". I knew him; he always gives my little sister Jeanette pointers in Skee Ball and lets her have the toy she wants even if she's a few tickets short. Not a bad guy.

The population is dropping like flies. Okay, not really, but still too many disappearances to be a coincidence. The police are completely stumped. They go out to the Edison estate every single time there's a missing person's report, but they don't find a frickin' thing. Back to the drawing board, pigs.

All this is pretty scary news, for sure. But none of it matters so much to me until Sandy heads out to Cemetery Lane one night to do some door-to-door fundraising for the cheerleaders' annual field trip to see the Dallas Cowboys and their squad at work... and doesn't come back. No call demanding a ransom, no mysterious single leopard-striped high heel lying in the gutter, nothing. She went poof like she never existed.

Which, to me at least, is pretty heinous.

-o-o-o-o-

"Okay, this looks like the old mansion."

We all leaned in over the dashboard to stare up at the forbidding estate. Damn, but it gave me the willies. Three stories and an attic, wings – it had wings. I'd never been in a house that had whole different sections before. "Has to be. You guys ever get any closer than this?"

Jeff shook his shaggy head. "Naw, dude. I'm totally freakin' out, and it's not just 'cause I hit the water bong too many times. You sure we should be doing this?"

"I hate to sound like a wet blanket," Bernard lied. I say he lied because he loves being a wet blanket. It's practically his calling in life. "But please, comrades, what exactly do we expect to accomplish here that our city's upstanding boys in blue can't handle? This is utter madness, I tell you! Madness!"

"Stop watching so much Star Trek," I ordered him. "You sound like that super-dramatic Shatner guy."

"I think it looks wicked," Razor said with a smirk, leaning her elbow against my shoulder. Something about Razor always made me uncomfortable. She was hot, don't get me wrong; her toned, shapely body wouldn't quit, and it was always wrapped in sheer cowskin that only veiled the most essential parts. Today was no exception. Still... "Men go in, but men do not come out. A real tale from the crypt."

See? The chick is freaky, I'm tellin' ya. You gotta take a walk on the wild side if you wanna walk the Razor-edge.

"You mean like that crypt?" Bernard said, pointing to one. "It's right on their property. Not in the nearby graveyard, oh no; the crypt is on their property. Are you sure this is the correct address?"

"Dude, chill out, Poindexter," Jeff told him, sweeping bleached hair out of his eyes as he adjusted his grip on the Vanagon's steering wheel. "How many giant, spooky old mansions can there be in Eastfield? It's like, grody to the max."

"There's a sign that says 'Cemetery Lane' right over there," I told the nerd impatiently. "This has to be where Sandy is – that's where Mikey said he last saw her, anyway, and he's got a photographic memory."

"Look, chum," Bernard whispered, shaking so badly I was afraid his glasses were going to slip off his face and shatter, leaving him blind as well as a big chicken. "You've been a pretty reliable friend to me, despite my obvious lack of social graces. Sandy has not. I have nothing against her, per se, but for me to put my neck on the line like this-"

"Don't be a tuna head! It's up to us to get her out. You heard the cops, they have to wait 48 hours to file a report and start a search. They don't even care that she missed cheerleading practice today."

"So what?" Razor bit out, lip curling. "Maybe the bimbo finally realized there's more to life than pompoms and pyramids."

I shook my head sadly. "You don't understand. Even if she ditched, she'd have phoned her best friend Jenny and let her know she would be leading practice today. Trust me, she never does anything like this."

"What a boring little cu-"

"What was that?" Jeff whispered. "I... I swear to God, man, I saw something move in that window! I d-don't think I can do this, man, I can't go in there!"

"You're not going in there." When everybody turned to look at me, I sighed. "Jeff is gonna stay here with the van. I mean, these guys are psychotic, right? We need a getaway driver, just in case we have to run screaming from inside their premises and take off at a moment's notice." I started to say something else, then paused. "But seriously, make sure you don't keep the engine running the whole time, okay? No point in having you wait for us only to burn up all the gas."

"Got it, amigo," Jeff agreed with an obscene amount of relief, sweeping his hand through his hair again as switched off the ignition. "So... you really gotta do this, huh? For your little wahine?"

"I have to. Sandy's counting on me."

"Gag me with a fork," Razor grumbled.

"I believe the colloquialism is 'gag me with a spoon', madam," Bernard hissed helpfully.

"I meant it the way I said it." She adjusted the low-cut neckline of her black leather mini-dress and turned to me. "Can we get a move on? The Scummettes are probably already at the venue and I can't be late. Without me, they'll have no lead guitarist and no lead singer, and this is our first paying gig. Don't forget I'm only doing this because you promised me your autographed Plasmatics album."

"I didn't forget," I told her wearily. God, what a nag.

"How are we even supposed to get into somebody else's house? Did you think about that before we dragged our butts all the way up here?"

"Umm... I dunno, check under the doormat for a key?" When she didn't look impressed, I shrugged. "Hey, it's not like I'm trying to make a career out of this. Let's just go over there and see what we see."

"This is an unfolding catastrophe," Bernard muttered, mostly to himself.

"Good luck," Jeff wished us as we opened the doors. "I'll just, um... stay here, across the street... eat these Pop Rocks. Yep, sounds good to me."

"You do that." I craned my neck up at the crumbling façade. "Right. So here's how this is gonna go. First we'll just try the front door, and if that doesn't work, maybe we could... Bernoulli, what the heck are you doing?"

Bernard froze. "What?"

"Is that a Discman?"

"Mmmaybe."

"You're going to listen to music while we infiltrate the enemy stronghold? That's the nuttiest thing I've ever heard! What kind of dipstick would ever be so careless?"

I could just see out of the corner of my eye Jeff mouthing the words "Enemy stronghold?" in disbelief. Okay, so maybe I was blowing things out of proportion. Regardless of whether or not they had kidnapped my girlfriend, they were still just a bunch of eccentric millionaires, not the Third Reich or whatever.

"But it's the Rocket Scientists! They're super keen!" He cradled his sensitive piece of audio equipment like a baby. "And I haven't got a chance to test my new CD player since I bought it! Do you know how long I've been saving up my paper route money to get one of these?"

"Put it back!"

Bernard started to do just that, then scowled at me. "No! No, I'm not leaving it in Jeff's van, you know how everything tends to get swallowed up in there! It's the black hole of valuable possessions!"

"And it's much smarter to carry it around with you while we're breaking-and-entering?" Razor half-laughed. "What a dweeb."

Bernard flushed as red as her dyed hair. The poor misfit had a little trouble stomaching Razor's brazenness, too; on an average day, she flashed even more skin than Sandy, and she was a thousand times meaner. To a geek like him who's never even said more than three words to a girl at a time, she presented an insurmountable challenge.

"Fine," I sighed, taking pity on him. "Keep your CD player in your pocket protector for all I care. Let's just get on with this before you decide to bring a turntable and some speakers, too."

Up we crept to the wrought-iron gates that stood between concrete posts. Next to the address plate was a sign that read "Beware of Manservant." I tried not to let that rattle me; probably just a lame joke, anyway. Probably.

"How do we get over these, fearless leader?" Bernard asked.

"Um... okay, so I can give you two a boost. Then one of you can figure out how to open them from the inside; those weirdos have to actually leave this place sometime, they can't be permanently closed."

"What if we need a key?" Razor asked reasonably.

I was about to revisit the doormat stratagem when the gates swung open all by themselves. Bernard jumped and tried to flee to the safety of the Vanagon, but I caught him by a belt loop on his (way outdated) double-knit slacks. "Relax, spazoid. It's probably magnetic or something."

"And what, you have a plate in your head that triggered it? Sayonara, Miller, this place is definitely haunted! I'm out of here!"

"Quiet!" I snapped, and he cringed. Then I cleared my throat. "Sorry, dude, but I can't let you fall apart on me before we even get in there. Sandy's in big trouble as we speak, we don't have time to cry and wet the bed!"

"She's not my girlfriend! Go after her if you want, Death Wish, I can't-"

"Remember that time she dropped all her books, and you picked them up for her, and she kissed you on the forehead and said you were a sweetheart?"

He drooped. "Yeah..."

"And remember that time you did the same thing for Heather Boa and she just said you were gross and told you to stop touching her stuff?"

There followed a brief silence. Then Bernard pushed his greasy black hair into place again, adjusted his glasses, and mumbled, "You're right, David, you're right. We can't give up on the one Eastfield High cheerleader who also happens to be a decent carbon-based life form. Let's go get ourselves killed."

"That's the spirit!" Razor and Bernard both groaned. "Come on!"

"Where does he get that unflappable optimism?" Bernard hissed to Razor in a stage whisper as we crept up the winding walkway toward the front door.

"I know. Makes me wanna upchuck." They shared a brief commiserating smile… which only lasted until Bernard remembered he was talking to a girl. Y'know, on purpose.

Then the gates clanged shut behind us. As one, we turned back to glare at them, but what else could we do? If we wasted time worrying about that, we'd never get around to finding Sandy. Time to soldier onward.

We spent a few minutes inspecting the doormat and the windows, even the top of the doorframe to see if there was a spare key hidden there. No such luck. The door was locked, as we expected – although when I yanked on the doorknob it stretched out two feet away from the door before snapping back. Mondo bizarro. I peeked through the mail slot and saw a dingy foyer with musty, dusty old carpets that looked like they hadn't been beaten or vacuumed in at least a decade. These people really were certifiably gonzo, weren't they?

"Wait, what's this?"

Razor was pointing to a rope hanging from the side of the porch. It had a large tassel at the bottom. "I dunno. You think there used to be plant hanging from it?"

"It's a bell rope, I think," Bernard put in, squinting. "Interesting; I didn't think there were many domiciles built in the United States that incorporated bell-pulls into their design. You see, it's mostly a Victorian-era contrivance, and this country wasn't widely settled back then."

"Sorry I asked," Razor murmured.

"The sign says 'do not pull'," I mused, glancing at the little piece of wood nailed through it halfway to the porch ceiling. "I wonder why they even put it out here?"

"Maybe it's broken," Bernard guessed. "And the sign is to keep visitors from tampering with it until it can be repaired."

"Only one way to find out." Both of their sets of eyes widened as I yanked on the rope. It didn't make any sound. "Huh. Guess it is broken, then."

Really, I was being pretty dumb. I shouldn't have pulled it. That was confirmed when the trap door fell open beneath me, and I plummeted downward into empty space.

"SHIIIIT!" I wailed as I headed into the depths of the unknown. Was this the end? Was I about to become a pavement pizza, or maybe a snack for some unknown bog monster? Maybe I was going to meet the exact same fate Sandy had met when she came up to the house, hoping to raise a few dollars and unload a few candy bars. Maybe I was dreaming… but somehow, that didn't seem like a real possibility.

As far as I was concerned, 1987 was already turning out to be a real bummer.

To Be Continued!


FURTHER NOTES: What do you think so far? I thought Friday the 13th was a very appropriate day to post chapter 1, even though it's not really finished (I reserve the right to go back and revise this later, by the way). Let me know if you think it's delightfully dreadful, or if I missed the mark.