Welcome friends. It's almost midnight, and you've found your way to the PikeCast. Come along as we careen through the catalogue of the most formative horror writer of our young adult days: Christopher Pike. From adult perspectives we'll revisit these YA books our parents probably would never have let us read had they know what lie inside. We tackle one book per episode in a free wheeling and unbiased chat. So grab your battered paperback, pull the flashlight from the kitchen drawer, climb under your bed covers, and devour a good book with us.
Greetings, fellow pikers. And welcome back to the podcast. I'm Cooper Beckett, and I'm thrilled to be joined by my lovely co hosts.
Hi, I'm Cassie!
Hi, I'm Becca.
And today we are talking about Christopher Pike's 1991, book, Whisper of Death. And we're going to be talking about it in great detail spoiling each and every plot twist. So consider yourself warned. If you're enjoying the podcast, please leave us a review on the podcast service of your choice, as it is very helpful with promotion. And I want to welcome our guest Piker. This week, Claire C. Holland, author of the brilliant book of poetry, I am not your final girl. So happy to have you here, Claire.
Thank you. I'm so happy to be here.
We we love your book. And we really wanted to have you here to talk about Pike. And we're very excited that you're here on episode two for Whisper of Death.
Thank you so much.
So I have a few questions for you. Before we get started. How did you discover Christopher Pike?
Well, I, um, I sort of, I have to say right from the outset that I sort of conflate Christopher Pike with some other authors that I know I read at the same time.
That's not exclusive to you. A lot of people do that. Yeah.
Yeah. So I know that like, um, I don't know, I was probably like in middle school. When I started getting very into like Lois Duncan, who wrote I Know What You Did Last Summer. And VC Andrews, who wrote the Flowers in the Attic series.
Oh, wow. You went you went all the way to VC Andrews?
Yes. So Christopher Pike, like, obviously works right in that genre. Um, and I just had, like, of course, probably like all of you guys. I was a huge reader when I was a kid. And I was just like, there's so many of those books. I just went through a huge phase of just like tearing through them anything that seemed maybe a little too emotionally mature for me, I probably wanted to read.
And like a lot of the Christopher Pike books that I remember reading were about dying children. There were a lot of ones about like kids who had terminal illnesses and things like that. So I guess I was just going through like, some time in my life where you know, when you're just young and you want to read it, you want to find out about all that stuff that you're not supposed to know about. So it was like a very taboo thing for me even though my parents really didn't care.
Do you have any favorite Pike books?
Well, I think that one of my favorites as a kid was called The Midnight Club and it was about all of these terminally ill children. Mm hmm. Like telling scary stories to each other I think? (Laughing)
yeah, that's The Midnight Club.
Yeah, I don't know that one just really sticks in my head. And Whisper of Death really stuck in my head though. I did not remember to like read read it. How wild
It is wild. It is wild.
I mean, I honestly haven't thought about these books too much in a pretty long time. But like as soon as I went back to rereading that one I was instantly transported back to just that that feeling that I was like reading something illicit I think that's what I really loved as a kid. Yes,
Yes. So much that
I mean, and there are books for teenagers but they really, really go places time you may go into some like Very, very, like mature dodgy territory,
He was unafraid to push that I think, you know,
And I, you know, kudos to a publisher for allowing him to do that, while at the same time and I think this book really, really reinforces what I see as the publishers' requirements. Because, I feel like the moralization comes from his publisher. Oh, because there are times…
I was thinking about that, because I thought about that a lot while I was reading it.
So there are times when it seems like his voice is voicing one point of view. But then the narration of the book is voicing another point of view. And that point of view is “see bad punishment.” And I feel like that's, that's probably the publisher oversight. I mean, we won't know until we, fingers crossed, get him on the show to talk to us about that. But it's it's a really interesting dichotomy. And I noted a number of passages in this book that reinforce that. So why don't we get right into the book? And I think Becca, you are going to be giving us the teaser this week.
– “Help!” I finally screamed. My voice echoed against
the watching buildings, until it became an echo of an
echo, and was lost. I buried my face in my hands,
thankful that they at least had not deserted me. Tears
filled my eyes, and I cried, but only quietly and to
myself because there was no one there to share them
with. I was not merely confused. I was lost. Lost in a
town I had lived in all my life.
Time did not go by. That would have been a joke.
Time had already packed its bags and left town. But
something passed and then after a while I became
aware that someone was standing above me. I raised
my eyes. I had to look into the sun to see him. Just like
the first time. Just as I'd looked into the rising sun
when I spotted the lone hitchhiker on the empty
“Pepper,” I said.
“Where is everybody?” he asked.
Yeah, that's a that's an intriguing teaser, I think. And now we're gonna jump to the back of the book. And Cassie is going to give us the official description of Whisper of Death.
All the people had vanished. Roxanne and Pepper are a teenage couple with
problems. They leave their small town for a
weekend to try and solve them. They don't
really succeed, and when they return home
they find their town empty.
They call other towns.
They find the whole world empty.
But eventually they discover three other kids their
age who are still alive in the town. They cannot
imagine why the five of them seem to be the only
ones left of the entire human race. They have only
one thing in common. They were each directly or
indirectly involved in the death of Betty Sue—the
plain, shy girl who committed suicide only a short
time ago. Betty Sue—the quiet, brilliant girl who
wrote short stories about each of them. Stories of
hate, of revenge, of death in a dead world.
It makes them wonder who Betty Sue really was, or what Betty Sue was.
So I want to talk about before we really delve into the book. how accurately do we feel that this captures what's inside the book? Because sometimes, Pike descriptions are dodgy.
I think this one's accurate.
I think so, too. Though it does gloss over some important things.
Namely, they leave their small town for a weekend to try to solve them their problems. Yeah, just just, you know, abortion and such.
Yeah. Like, it's just like, Oh, we got to go pick up some furniture or something like
Like they're going to a marriage retreat.
That's one of my favorite things was when Rox was like, Oh, just going for an ABT kind of like a BLT. And I was like, Oh, yeah.
Well, let's go into our, our section, The Midnight Club, where we talk about the haracters from this book. And let's start with Rox, Roxanne Wells.
I really liked her. So she had she had some moments where to me I was like, Girl, come on, you're being a little too weak here but then she would turn it around right away and be like, super sarcastic, super witty, super, like, I'm gonna fuck shit up, you know, like, here I come. And so I really love this.
She has a bit of that cadence of like a 1940s actress, you know, like Katharine Hepburn in in a 1940s movie where it's quick witted. And quick retorting. Yeah, I really got a lot of that from her.
I agree. I really liked her too. And I definitely got that sense.
And so she is our narrator for this book because it's a first person. story. And it does one of my least favorite writing styles, where it's a first person narrative being actually written from within the narrative. But overall, the fact that it's coming from her point of view allows us to get inside her head a lot more. And we we feel her, and I was really struck in this book, versus Die Softly, how almost lyrical, the voice is at times. You know, the quality of writing in this book is very different than Die Softly I noticed. What do you three think of that?
I agree with that, I think die softly felt more male, like it felt like it was more from a male's perspective. And it was because the protagonist that we were reading, you know, in that one is a guy, and then here are our main person is Rox. And she's, she's a girl. And, and I know there, there were a couple of times where I was like, really like, Alright, sure, I would, I don't know if I would probably think this. But she was really relatable to me. And I kind of liked that a little bit more than with Die Softly. Because with that one, I was like, I just don't like this guy.
It's funny too, because I've noticed like in the in the current crop of YA novels, really since Twilight, they present a female protagonist, like they go out of their way to say she's nothing special. And I feel like that's done, so that she becomes a blank slate that you can project yourself into.
I think that's really true. And actually, now that you say that, I feel like that is one of the things that I kind of liked as a kid that you could like, project yourself into this very, like her romance with Pepper at the beginning at least is very just like something out of that movie. Like even their dialogue is just so kind of over the top almost, but in a way that I love.
And you have to you have to take into account that, as the writer, is she telling us the truth? Is she remembering it, you know, in a in a specific fancier way? Or is it actually completely made up really. I do want to I want to read a bit of her initial description, where she describes herself and this is really reinforcing when I was thinking about those protagonists and current YA. She says “I'm not pretty I'm not smart. I'm nothing. Yet I knew I wasn't ugly or stupid. My hair was long and red, my eyes green and bright, a nice combination. I was too thin. I had no tits, but even girlfriends complimented me on my legs. Those same girls however, said I didn't smile enough. I didn't like to smile because in my teeth, they were crooked and didn't shine like those of the actresses on TV.” And we heard a little bit of that in the other book to the the desperation
I remember crooked teeth from the last book, too.
I think that's, you know, most I don't want to generalize, but many readers at this age are not what what some would term the beautiful people out there as cheerleaders and quarterbacks. They're the people sitting at home reading instead of going I know I was I don't want to speak for for you ladies though.
No, no, I'm right there with you. I was a frickin nerd like a weird little like, emo goth kid at home with my books and no friends. I am right there with you. (Laughing)
Yeah, I stayed home and read on Fridays also.
I was generalizing Yes. accurately. And she has a few of these things in the book. Like “I could tell he was enjoying the sight of my legs. They were good ones.” It's like she's she's chosen this defining characteristic. And I think that's really cool because it is a pretty common thing. Like I know I have that where it's like I believe that this part of me is really good even if everything else I think is thoroughly mediocre.
For me honestly that part actually, that you mentioned about the legs. That was part of the thing. For me personally, as like a female reader, I was like, I cannot imagine ever feeling so confident that I'm like, that guy's checking out this part of my body. And I know it looks good. Like I've never. And that could just be me like coming from a place of insecurity. But when reading I was like, that's not something I've ever thought, like, not something I'm familiar with. I feel like that was written by a dude.
I agree, at least so far as this is a high school student, right?
Yes, she's 18 she's young.
Yeah. I mean, I never felt that confident in high school for sure. I definitely felt that that's I mean, I totally I actually do completely understand what you're saying Cooper. I do feel that a lot more now. I think like, I know what works for me and what doesn't but I think as a team, not at all, but it was another It was another thing that I liked about Rox in this book.
Yeah, I didn't I think it made her more a little her character a little bit stronger because it made her seem more okay with herself and like how she would go and sit on that rock and do her own thing. Like she's like, I don't need other people. Maybe some romance and some you know, little something might be nice, but I'm out here smoking on Tuesdays, having some junk food snacks. Like I'm living my life.
She's another one of the Pike heroes who enjoys junk food, that's for sure. I'm curious if every one of the people were supposed to like in Pike's books are junk food fans.
I'm a junk food fan. So if so I'm okay with that.
We're alright there. Let's move on to Paul Pointzell also known as Pepper.
Did we ever get an explanation to his nickname?
No, she was confused why he was called Pepper.
Okay. I was like, hoping maybe you would have said something like, Hey, this is why I'm Pepper.
I just want to know.
No, she specifically mentions that like he didn't have dark freckles. And so it's like, okay, so we know why he's not called Pepper. But we don't know why he is called Pepper.
I feel like he's only called Pepper. So though, um, our villain, Betty Sue can write her story Salt and Pepper.
One thing that I find very interesting about their relationship is in in the early part of the the return to town, they're going for ice cream. And Pepper and Rox. While while they talk about how Stan's getting chocolate chip and you know really enjoying himself. Pepper and Rox share a cup of vanilla ice cream. And yes, I feel like really? These two are pretty vanilla.
I don't think I don't think Rox is but I think their relationship is verystandard.
I agree. So what did you think of Pepper?
As a kid when I read this for the first time? I remember liking him and thinking Oh, like he's such a dreamy guy. She just has to love him a little harder. I know thats bananas, you know? Right? Like, you know when I think about it, too, because I as a teenage girl. I had some crappy boyfriends who like were like yeah, I'm kind of into this but not really, you know, whatever. Meanwhile, I'm over here writing love notes and like daydreaming about a future
Look, I'm being real with you guys, here.
Cassie just as a safe space.
Reading this now as an adult. I'm like, fucking punch him like he's horrible. I love you girl girl like you can do so much better like I am so much more like not about Pepper in this version.
Love character development Cassie like you did?
Yeah, that's really
Yeah, he's kind of a douche. And like over like, it's funny. Because we get a lot of Rox's point of view with this jealousy that keeps coming up for her. Like why? Why is he? You know, giving Leslie, right? Leslie. Yeah,
Giving hugs though, right?
Like all the comforting hugs, his handkerchief, which is disgusting. I know. Yeah. Like, we get all this jealousy from Rox. And then, you know, he's all pissy that she's being mean to him on the day that they went for an abortion and the world disappeared. And she gets shot.
An abortion she didn't even want.
Yeah. So so I mean like he's he's just he's a he's a little extra.
I think that's a good way to put it.
Let's move on to Stan who fulfills the fat person quotient of the book.
And I felt bad for Stan.
Me too. I mean, he's clearly the character the author identifies with.
Stan was definitely my fave. Like you might get a man like Stan, screw Pepper.
Apparently at the end of Stan's life Rox always had a crush on him. If that's what I hear at the end of my life, it's like, fuck you for telling me that. I don't need to know that right now.
I kind of don't believe that she did, though. I think that she was just trying to like comfort him.
While he was dying. I kind of got that vibe. Why didn't it come up?
Well, because he was short and chubby.
I think it's like…Have you guys seen Wet Hot American Summer?
With you know the girl who she says you're such a great guy. But you know, the Paul Rudd guy. He's hot.
That's pretty much yeah, it's like that simple. Sad, though.
Yeah, sometimes you just got to choose Paul Rudd. You know what I get that. He is he is an attractive man.
And he doesn't age, just looks the same.
No, he doesn't.
Now like it's, it's bananas. It's so wild. He's a beautiful person. (Laughing)
So back to Stan.
Right, right, right. We love Stan.
Christopher Pike goes out of his way to tell us is not a beautiful person. “His brown eyes were huge because his glasses were thick. His pleasant plump face was a haven of sanity.” But he has dirty blonde hair. He's you know, it's it's let's see. “I'm the class nerd. He says nerds don't go on dates. They're just happy if a girl wants them to help them with their homework.”
Oh, yes. Seriously, so just sweet boy.
He's the nice guy archetype there. Yes. And then she shits on him for really liking ice cream. He had a banana split and a malt. “He had a rather major problem with his weight.” What the fuck is that?
There's no problem with having a malt.
When the world is gone!
It's really rude.
Yeah, it's a little rough on Porter Stan. Even if he is the guy who figures literally everything out in this.
And he was manipulated the entire time.
I don't think he did anything wrong, right?
No, he didn't.
I'm pretty sure they're just like when he explains it about why he has to die. He's like, Oh, well I knew who she was and liked her anyway, so I had to die like what? No!
We will definitely get into a little bit of the hinky-ness with the villain machinations here when we get to our Eternal Enemy section. I feel like because I have questions.
I do, too.
Let's talk about Helter Skater which is I mean, I was just annoyed every time we said his name because it is basically Helter Skelter and that's just annoying to me. Chill teams they're not annoying, because they'll be better at talking about this.
Here Monday. Yeah, I was no except more like rough Theo like not sweet Theo but rough. Do like he was like, I've got guns. I'm not afraid to use them. Um, well, yeah.
Also, like I'm, I'm a I'm a jerk. Like I'm a bad person though. Like I'm not a great
basically just pictured bender from Breakfast Club the whole time. Yeah. Just just now.
When you said Bender first I'm gonna be honest, and I thought you're talking about future future wrong. I don't know. That's what I would say to that…
You know… Continually say to bite his shiny metal ass so I don't know what to think.
personality wise. Maybe he is on point! (Laughing)
But yeah, you know, you're right. He is very much like Theo. He is, he is unpredictable. He shows up randomly. He has guns. And he I mean, he's just like, literally in he's just bad boy. It's like, okay, leather jacket, bad boy, hair or bad boy. It's just that's it. That's what he is 100% and he's the kind of guy that in a different book, Rox would be strangely attracted to.
Actually like after like when we were introduced to Helter Skater, I wasn't really the biggest fan of him, but like as time went on, I really felt for him, especially with like, he's like, can we be part friends to Pepper and I was like, that was really sweet. And I would love to be his part friend. (Laughing) I don't know why, but I like really warmed my heart and like his whole like dying like that really got me man.
I just felt weird about his, like, aggressive liking of Leslie.
Like, just it wasn't it wasn't subtle. It was uncomfortable. It was aggressive,
I feel like they tried softening it up a little bit when she died. And they were like, Oh, I think he cared more than he was acting.
Not to defend him or anything, but I don't know.
You can like him, it's okay!
I actually really like him. Not that we're talking.
But he's, you know, honestly, I thought he was just, I thought there was this one quote, I wrote down where he just said, after he shot Rox, I think he said, Who has time to be sorry, with all this weird crap going on? If you like that kind of summed up his character.
I think I was personally a little bit conflicted on him, because I know. So obviously, like the elephant in the room, or whatever is that he raped Betty Sue. And so who was like the antagonist?
Ooh, I forgot about that part.
I did, too.
I know. And so and I was, I was like, I don't know if they remember in the back. And so and I was like, I don't know if I want to bring this up. I'm sorry, guys. But-
I feel that's an important point.
Yeah. In the story, they do explain I'm not I don't want to explain because that seems to justify it. But if they do tell that Betty Sue had him under some sort of influence, or some sort of spell that made him act a different way. So you know, there is that but for me personally, just that as the thing was really, I didn't like him. And so by the end when he was dying, I was like, bye bye, bitch. Like, that's it for you. That was really fun.
But again, that ties into that discussion later of what the fuck was Betty Sue's actual? Yeah.
That's where I'm a little hazy.
Yeah. I mean, even when they wrapped it up, and she was monologuing. At the end, it's like, wait a minute, so what happened? But that's that's for a future discussion. So let's let's move on to Leslie bell. She was a beauty. And she was successful. got good grades, starting every play at Salem high and glowed. According to Rox. She had bones and teeth that spelled sun and fun. I don't know what that means.
Like, skulls on the island or something?
(Laughing) Yeah, and a body that made most guys think party time.
But, she wasn't loose. At least not from what I'd heard and more remarkable, she wasn't a snob.
My note there is literally “hehe”.
I have a lot of LOLs in my margins.
So for Leslie, like how she was introduced is kind of like, Rox wants to dislike her because she's like this epitome of like popular, perfect, you know, girl, and she can't because she's actually like a nice person. But as we get to know her, she's not like that nice. She's not there's nothing about her. That seems nice to me. Like, she doesn't. She's whiny the entire time. Even though they're all dealing with the same problem. She just cries and complains. She needs to be comforted constantly, where there's this other person who's like, just, you know, stepping up and taking charge and doing difficult things. And so I just didn't like her. Like, I was like, I'm sorry, I feel like they want me to like her, but I don't like there's nothing likable here and then, you know, a bad thing happens to her and I'm like Alright, well.
Yeah. And she, I mean, she is easily the least defined.
I'm sorry, I look like Rox and you know, the end of this book. (Laughing)
I think it was kind of like defined as like the popular character however she's not really like in your face as much as like the cheerleaders and um, die softly you know like, because usually when you have a popular character they're like in front and center like in the main character is constantly talking about them and whatnot. So I think it was cool that she was in the background. But
What what he was shifting with here, was that shifting away from the standard? Because like he talks about in interviews, how he was initially told look the the books with the blonde protagonist on the cover, they sell better make your hero with the one protagonist. And he's definitely shifted with this. And I think that's really cool. So are we ready to move into remember me our plot discussion? Yes. Okay, so elephant in the room. This book is about abortion. And, yeah. If it's, it's hard to reconcile that right now. As it's an incredibly simple abortion procedure she is getting. And she is punished by dying from it. Yeah, cuz horribly wrong. Yeah. So like when when I heard that Pike had written a script for a whisper of death movie, and he's hoping to get it made, I really, really hope they either tone that down, or make it very clear that the interior of the book is real. Because one of those two things can't be true. Either the interior of the book is really happening. And then Betty Sue killed her. Or the interior of the book is completely in Roxy's mind. And she literally just died from the simplest abortion procedure ever.
Yeah. Which would be awful.
So what do you think about that, that it could all be in her head? I was like, oh, we're into mystical witchy stuff here. Here we go. This is fact but like, Oh, no. Well, she just dreamed all that?!
That's a mindfuck.
Yeah, I would hate if they turned it into a movie. And then it was all just in her head and she died in the abortion. Right.
I think the book in fairness, I think the book does not take that point of view. I don't just definitely there.
Yeah, I think it's a little confusing at times. But I agree.
So we're all on team, the empty world actually happened. Betty Sue is actually which you were a god or whatever she is, I guess.
Yeah, I think that they're all dead. And that she's got them trapped in some sort of limbo forever to punish them. And maybe Rox by the end, then maybe that means she escaped the limbo
And then still died?
Because they're already dead
Because she's aborting her baby.
Because that's obviously –
And we have to punish that. Yeah. Yeah.
This book was so confusing, honestly, about how it is trying to portray abortion, it really seems to go back and forth a lot.
Yeah. When that was part of what I was thinking with his point of view versus a publisher point of view. I feel like – so Dr. Adams, the the doctor there, at one point says you think about what you want to do. Talk to your father and your boyfriend if you wish. But don't let anyone make the decision for you. And that feels like a really real feeling in this in the writing of this book, rather than a perfunctory. Hey, look, this doctor doesn't care if you kill your baby.
I agree. I was really surprised that the doctor was so great about it.
Cause it didn't jive with a lot of the rest of the book.
No, no, like there's a, there's a lot of talk about sanctity of life. Um, where Roxanne says she did not notice anything, particularly in the fact that she could contemplate the sanctity of life while simultaneously cutting short the life of a fetus. Ah, you know, yeah, it's it's a… (Sighs)
Well, it says, “I didn't cry, it was a miracle. It was a gift from God I threw up instead.” Like, I guess it does accurately, maybe show how you might feel at that moment. Especially if you don't if you're not pro abort, you know, pro choice or if you just don't want to do it. She didn't want to do it. I guess so.
That's true. That's true. And, and that was one of the problems. I mean, I it's very high school. I get it. You know, it's very 18 year old thinking, I get that, that you've just met someone. And the timeline is all wonky in this book, by the way, it appears that she's pregnant and having the abortion within five weeks of meeting Pepper. Yes, she meets Pepper, they have sex, then Pepper has sex with Betty Sue, then Betty Sue dies. And it's made very clear. This is four weeks later from that. So I'm, that's that's one of the reasons I feel like it's It's so high school and there's there's a great line that Rox says about how about if we call her pebbles after the baby girl on the Flintstones. And it's like, Wow, that is that is one of the most immature reasons to name your child. So yeah, totally high schooler. Yeah. 18 year old totally. You're in love forever.
Clearly, I'm judgmental about their belief in eternal love for as 18 year old.
Well, I mean, Pepper is not the one to hang her hopes on. I don't even that's a little bit hazy. I'm a little bit confused about whether he cheated on her or whether he was under an influence.
Yeah, it it. It gets weird. It gets really weird.
He said he didn't even want to do it. And that he didn't even like her. But he like he had to.
Yeah. So that
would be a very convenient thing for someone to say, who is just cheated on his girlfriend. Right?
So we can't really lied about it so many times. Yeah, I didn't know what
the constant is. Yeah, the constant. Let's not talk about this. Like, okay, everybody really doesn't want to talk about this. But it's clear that this is the most important thing happening right now. So maybe we should talk about this. And one thing that I really did I mean to go on the abortion discussion, the when when Rox kills helter and her, her conflict really feels like that isn't abortion allegory? What do you think of that?
I agree. I completely agree. And I find that lazy. Yeah.
Again reinforces that like, she's the only person even vaguely in control here. In this alternate world. When she says I pulled the trigger, I killed him. I never knew I could kill someone. But then I remembered I had gone for an abortion only that morning. Maybe it had prepared me. So that gives us a little bit of anti abortion sentiment, but also, it gives us the abortion allegory that she is able to kill someone.
Which is funny because she hadn't in her mind, she hadn't even done the abortion that morning.
Yeah, she just went there, that's it!
Yeah. It, it really doesn't quite know the point it's making. Yeah. So. And that, that really speaks to me of a conflicted author. Because, you know, if he goes to the publisher and says, Okay, I have this story, where a girl is getting an abortion, and she winds up in this world where there's people trying to kill her, like, you know, the publisher is going to say, well, you need to make it very clear that sex is bad, the abortion is bad, and all these things. And he agreed to that. Because I mean, this is 91. Also, you know, abortion wasn't really being strongly talked about, though. I want to mention, the one time in my life that I had a discussion about an abortion. I literally remembered the price from this book, as being the price that might have to be paid. And like $460 or something. Yeah. And, and I, I honestly have no idea if that was the price there. But that was what I thought I was like, Okay, I gotta get $460 together.
I think I rounded up because for me when I was a teenager, for some reason, I had the idea that it was 500 dollars and like that was just a flat abortion fee for anybody who needed to know.
Just a standard across the board. Yeah, abortion fee.
And it must have been from this book, but I didn't even realize that until just now. (Laughing)
yeah, I didn't realize it until I was reading the price. And it's just like, whoa, whoa. I feel like a lot of my ideas of abortion actually came from this book, which is fucked up. I do want to mention there's a line that that she says nobody, no one had written a getting ready for my abortion song. And I just want to point out that no, they hadn't in 1991. But six or seven years later, Brick was released in Brick is about getting ready for an abortion. Ta-da.
Look at Christopher Pike predicting the future.
I know. It's just like, I suppose was like, Yeah, I got that.
Okay, let's let's like-
Oh, I know what song you're talking about now, that's a sad song.
It is. It is. And it's it's definitely about abortion, and people try to talk you out of that. And it's like, No, actually listen to the lyrics.
It is so about abortion.
So sliding past abortion. We have the the sort of sci fi horror, dreams and scenario the plague or zombie apocalypse or whatever, causes the world to be empty and you are here and can do whatever you want. You know, I like I feel like the stand is in here. I feel like Donna the debt is in here. And any number of other stories but this really it is a it is a story we've heard before. But it is told in a very unique way.
I am so confused by the entire plot. Okay, so I have a I have a big question. So you know how Betty Sue was pregnant? Or she said she was pregnant? Did she like transfer the baby? To?
I wondered that myself.
Yeah. Like when she hands her the carbs soap like is that her being like, Well, here's a baby. So
I was like, is that the baby? I was really confused at one point.
And like, did she intentionally die, to become the baby?
Yeah, I mean, there is so much that I don't understand about Betty Sue's end game. And considering like, in our last book, we got literally a point by point explanation of literally every element of the bad guys plan.
I miss Alexa so much.
And we sort of get that in this one. But her plan is very confusing. And it doesn't actually add up.
And like who's going to hurt? I'm sorry, but you've seen at the end? The only one I can even see who kind of did her wrong was Leslie. I guess maybe by like not being an appreciative enough or something. But it seemed I guess else was fine. Mostly.
Yeah. I mean, until she made them rape her or get her pregnant or, like, it's it's that is the weirdest message of all of this. Because it seems like all the violence that was done to her. Not she was asking for she actually made happen.
Like, why would you want Yeah. And so confused.
I mean, we could have that, that victim complex. You know, if she feels like she's going to be abandoned, she can make people abandon her to prove her right about going to be abandoned.
Yeah. And they didn't like when she had when she like enticed or whatever helped her to come over. Yeah. Um, they said that, like, he, they think he surprised even her like she. She wanted him to do stuff to her cats. But then he did more than she was even expecting. And she was angry about it. It was just yeah, confusing.
Yeah. I was I was very confused about about her motivations and machinations.
I think that she she's hard to understand because I don't think she's well, like I don't think she has a clear cut idea of what she wants or what she wants to do. Because I think she's somebody who was hurt from a very young age by the people around her that she cared for interested in. And maybe – So from my perspective, like, I read the book and just automatically assumed that the magical sort of element or whatever power she had was fact. So from my perspective, like there's this little girl who discovers she can do something through writing that she tries to help her best friend with makes her pretty, she suddenly popular, she suddenly beautiful, she immediately ditches the girl who got her there. So there are probably a lot of bad feelings that she's feeling and like just, she's been abandoned. She's been betrayed she, she has no power, even though she does have power. So now, every everything that she does like in like you said, how she caused Helter to kind of come onto her do something with her, and then it got out of there both control. They even say like multiple times, like she can't control people like in the world that way, like it's only when they're in that little small sort of metaphorical jar. So things just get out of hand for her every single time. So every connection that she makes everything she tries to do, maybe it's not intentionally like her trying to hurt people or do anything bad at first, but it just keeps leading to negative results because she's not doing it with like, pure intention. She's not trying to make friends. She's not trying to make connection she's trying to control the people around her. And you can't and after all this hurt kind of piles up she's like, Look fuck this like I don't care if little like my little friend over here nice face Stan is nice to me. I want them all to die like cuz she's broken. Maybe at that point. There's so much bad that's just happened to her that she can't. There's no reason it's just, I want them all to die. And now they're stuck in this terrible like, repetitive like, Hey, what's up you kind of remember me? You're gonna suffer? You know, like, I don't know, I thought it was sad. And so I didn't. I agree that it is very confusing. But I also was like, she's just not well, like, this isn't supposed to make sense. For me. There's no way for me to understand why she's doing this. Which is different from Alexa who I did understand a little bit more in the last book.
Yeah, Alexa was just a sociopath. She wasn't off.
Exactly. Yeah. And there was no magical element there of course, too. So that is a little bit different as well. But yeah, I I felt like less than malicious, she was just broken and hurt and bad. Like that way. Not evil necessarily is just hurt.
I think that makes sense. Hurt people hurt people, you know?
Yes. Yeah. And I think that's that's a big theme for this too. Maybe?
Yeah, really, all across the board is is thematic. Let's talk about the stories. And I have to say that rereading hold skater takes a walk. I, I have literally remembered two things about Christopher Pike, since the moment I read them. One is that abortion can kill you. And two, there's a guy who gets cut in half after walking on a wall. That's razor sharp. I didn't remember context. I just remembered that. So rereading that little story. I was it blew me away. It was like all of those things coming back. And it's like, yes, this is so visceral and freaky.
It is very freaky. I think all that was one of the things that I loved so much as a kid was that it just was freaky.
Yeah. In their mean, and their door. Yeah, like when when lady ball puts on a mask and she blows out the candles. And the cake catches fire because it's wood. And the mask is part of her face. And she looked like death and it's just like so. Matter of fact and fucked up. It's like, Whoa, whoa, whoa.
I love how Matter of fact it is it's makes it so much more creepy. Yeah,
And the way it's written is pretty creepy too. Because like they mentioned in the story they're not it's not written like a normal story. It's kind of written like a spell almost or like a chant that she's it's like repetitive and spooky and like it's the stories are creepy. I love the stories within a story is that Pike does too because he does that in a lot of his books and I love them.
So yeah, these these four stories are just fascinating little pieces of this greater story. And the the but specifically for me, it's that whole skater one and and just here's a quick shout out to our patrons who are going to get audio recordings of me reading all four stories for them. And only them.
Okay, the podcast has to take a quick break. We will be right back.
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Hello, Pikers! Are you enjoying The PikeCast? Good! Do you have Pike books at home? If so, show us on social media using #ShowUsYourPike.
And welcome back to The PikeCast. Now we're moving on to our section, the eternal enemy, where we give our thoughts on the antagonist and overall enemy of the book. And did it work for us. So we've talked a lot about Betty Sue McCormick now who did self immolation before the book starts yet is the overall antagonist of the entire book. I want to talk about fat Freddie!
Who is fat Freddie?
I know. Right?
Yeah. Part of me. I don't know why I wrote this down. So um, but there was something in the book that made me think like, is fat Freddie like her a fictional version of Stan, but I call him soda later and like a story, but like, I was getting like, I was thinking for a minute that it might have been Stan. Like, I don't know. I mean, that doesn't make sense now that we finished the book. Okay. Well, like I was reading that I was like, wait a minute. So because he knew her for a while-
Yeah, when I when I realized they weren't going to explain fat Freddie, like at the end, because we're getting to the end and he has still not been explained. I started to think that he might be the devil that gave her powers. Because he's mentioned in one of the four stories as as an I don't remember which one. I think it's Soda Radar. But he's also mentioned earlier in the book like fat Freddie is coming back or something like that. And, I mean, you put the word Freddie in the book, you're gonna think of Freddie Krueger. But fat Freddie, it's just there's, there's something that feels like you know, the devil at the crossroads there about that to me.
I kinda wish Leslie, because Leslie new obviously quite a bit about buddy Sue and like her powers, and I kind of wish that she would have done more refused to tell us. Yeah, she's just like, you'll find out soon enough. And I'm like, Can you just tell me who Fat Freddy is? I wanna know?
No, I have to set myself on fire.
I was very annoyed with Leslie through this to be honest, because I was like you're, you seem to know the most and you're going to drive to LA? No one else in the world. It was just strange and I just wished she had helped more.
I think she really done well explaining to us what was going on?
So Betty Sue describes herself as she is human, but a human can be many things. A human could be a witch, a sorcerer, a saint a god. And then she gets into this meta thing that would irritate me in a book that I didn't enjoy more. I am the author, I am the storyteller. I am all that there is chill full of herself, isn't she? She? she is, she does say, I am a devil so powerful. Even God leaves me alone to play as I wish.
It is spooky. And I think a little bit to go back to the fat Freddie thing too, is because like in the beginning, when they're reading her diary entries, she says something like, I don't have the exact part highlighted. But it was like he thought he was better or, like he thought he was bigger than the God who created him or something like that. And yeah, I was like, she make him then because she said that he left when she became a woman who started like thinking on pure thoughts or something like that, like, I don't know, she just seemed like, I created everything. I can do all of this stuff. I'm better than everybody else. Like, I'm God, and it was just so off putting for me. Even if she was hurt and stuff. It's just like, like, I don't like it.
I mean, I had the I had the briefest of inclinations, that the fret, the fat Freddy plotline was going to be about sexual abuse. Because of the way she mentioned that in her diary, and was just like, oh, wow, I really hope they tell us what this is.
It gave me those vibes too.
Yeah. Which I mean, if you if you take that down the path that makes fat Freddy, very similar to the way Reagan talked about Captain Howdy, in The Exorcist. And you could you could believe that this entity, essentially abused her and made her into what she is.
I think that's actually a really good guess. Though I don't think it's obvious at all.
I think so, too, and maybe when she says like, she ate fat Friday or something like maybe she had already written a story for him to something bad had happened to him off off the page that we don't know about. Mm hmm.
Like there's more there like Pike come back and write us a prequel?
Maybe the maybe the publisher cut it out or something in editing. Like maybe there was more about fat Freddie, and they're like, we don't need it. I need it!
Yeah. Well, that's we'll add that to the things we want to ask Pike about. What the hell is fat Freddie? So did the did Betty Sue work is a villain. I mean, we talked about how her plan doesn't make any sense. But I felt she was a very strong antagonist overall.
She's scary. Yes. She was definitely, like, made a whole lonely world to match how she felt. And that's like, that's some crazy power.
Like, yeah, that's kind of cool, actually.
Yeah, it's kind of Scarlet Witch-y in a way, and I kind of like, almost like her at the same time as not liking her.
when she does that thing with the butterflies initially, where she just puts them in the jar and sets them in the sun.
Hurt people hurt butterflies.
I really, this is one of those instances where I really want to hear what our listeners think about what her endgame was and what the plan was. And what in the world “I was the one in your womb, I came back for you. You were pregnant with me mother” means?
Yeah, why would you want to be a baby again? WHY?
Like you killed yourself to become a baby. But then she specifically says that she had to abort the baby to bring her back. Yeah. It it's just perplexing, but but it works for the novel, that we don't understand what she's doing. Because it also follows a level of dream logic. I think.
Maybe she just wanted to be loved and she wanted Pepper and Rox to be her new mom and dad and she had hoped to that would be a happy ending, but in the event that they decided to, you know, nip it in the bud, she's like, Alright, you're going in the jar now and of everything.
It's just so strange. It's gets so confusing when I think about Pepper being the father, but then he also slept with Betty Sue?
Was he the father of her baby or was that helter?
I don't know. They don't specify.
I mean, she told Pepper. He was the father.
But was that he
It could have been Helter because we have no idea what the timeline was.
There was one line that I really liked, which he says to Pepper. “Your seed is like a disease inside me. It's a catching disease. I might cough and give it to someone else. I might do that on purpose. I'm sure whoever catches it next will die.” She's implying she can cough Pepper's seed on Rox? And get her pregnant? I don't know!
It's so weird, though. Because they only slept together Rox and Pepper one time and she saw it happen, she stumbled upon it. She didn't know what was happening until she saw it. Right. So if he impregnated her, then that wouldn't have had anything to do with Betty Sue. But if he didn't, then maybe she was like, now you're going to suffer and now you have my soap baby and I'm rubbing myself. Which by itself, can we talk about that? Like that image of her standing in the mirror this girl with flaming red hair this thin pale girl rubbing red, like soapy material onto her stomach? Like, that's so fucking creepy. That is so creepy.
That was one of the creepiest parts for me, honestly. And then when she gives her the little soap baby, it was just weird.
Yeah, I would say I would say especially the way they talk like Rox talks about not wanting to get to shower with the other girls and not being comfortable. And then to not be comfortable and have this person you barely know, walk up to you and hand you a soap carving of a fetus while you're naked. And she's naked. Oh my God, that's terrifying.
It's so uncomfortable. Yeah, and how did she not remember this? Immediately when Betty Sue came up again? Like when you think Betty Sue, how do you not think naked in the mirror rubbing your belly?
That is something you would remember.
Because Betty Sue wrote to her unable…? I don't know.
I can't explain it.
I felt really bad for Rox because she never did anything to Betty Sue. So and it doesn't even really seem like Pepper did much to her either. So I just don't know why she chose to use two people to force to carry her as a baby.
So there's a lot of why's here. I did find that passage that you mentioned, Cassie. “But he left when I changed into a young woman and dreamed of sin. He was too fat for my tastes. And I had him for supper, because he thought he was bigger than the God who created him.”
Wait, maybe that is Stan then. Because maybe she made him smarter and like good at writing, remember? And then he like in the story. He brought her a story that wasn't real or something? I don't know. So she created him. Maybe she feels like and then she's like, Well, when I started dreaming of doing these bad things or something? I don't know. I'm trying to make sense of this witchy woman over here, just grasping at straws.
I like what you're putting down because it like validates me. I can't figure out like why did I write that down? I can't remember why I thought it at all.
So I guess listeners we also want to know who the fuck you think fat Freddie is.
Tell us your Fat Freddie theories theories. We need them.
everything because I don't know what happened in this book at all. So
This is your second ever Pike book. So just as for our listeners and for us, what do you think so far about Christopher Pike?
Well, I don't know. This one was a ride. Like I I've read it. And I'm like, the whole time I'm reading I'm like, What? Like, I just I don't know. I do. Like say that. I do like the fact that he is making us have this discussion because we have no idea what's going on. Like, I think it's neat that like he's not answering everything, I guess. Although I do want answers.
Where most most young adult fiction goes out of its way to literally answer every possible question.
Yes. So I do kinda like the fact that like we like, like when Cassie was saying how when she started reading this book again. Um, she automatically was like, okay, magic is magic. Like it has to be magic, whereas like, not everyone is thinking that, like, I don't know, like, I think it's kind of cool. Like I'm confused. And I really wish that Pike would tell us what is happening. But I am glad that he is like, really open and like having us figure it out. Well, not like us, but readers.
No, specifically us.
This is our task and our mission: we have to figure this story out.
We are detectives!
Why don't we move on to thirst, where we talk about titillation, and sexuality in Pike's world, because this is one of the things that separates Pike from the other point horror and other young adult horror of the day, sex was implied there, sex is here in these books. And I have text to go along with that. I just want to give the the silliest quote about sexuality is, and it was in that barn that I lost my virginity after a thorough examination by Dr. Pepper.
Can I just say that that is a line I actually remember from the book from when I was a kid. Yes. That was iconic and very titillating for me.
Maybe that's why he's named Pepper so they can use that line.
Just specifically for that line.
You have to write this line. And so he named him Pepper.
So let's let's talk about the sex in this book. There is there is implied sex. There's actual sex, there's weird… Possible rape possible, Like if she's controlling them? Isn't she raping them?
That's what I was gonna say!
Ooh, yeah, that's fair.
And that's that's definitely a modern way to view this because I believe in 91, we would have come on the side of you can't rape a man back then. But now. Yeah, that there's there are some very, very odd consent issues in this book. And, again, because we don't know what Betty Sue's endgame is, we don't actually know where the consent violations happened. But there's there's a lot of these little things that that are very Pike-esque – “what the hell, I thought I needed sex and romance in my life.” Here it is here. “We kissed some more, and I let him touch my breasts, but we didn't make love. Or maybe we did make love. Because I was already in love with him. I don't know why.” I mean, it's it's very, it's very melodrama. It's very high school. But it's also and this is really what impressed me about this book overall, was like I felt the quality of writing was a step up from die softly. And I don't know if that's because he was writing first person. So he was giving this writing quality to Rox, or if this was a more important book to him. So he spent because both of these books now came out the same year. Die softly was earlier in the year whisper of death came out in December of 91. So it's really, like close together to have such a difference in the writing quality. And again, it it reinforced to me why I loved it so much when I was younger, because I was so engaged from the moment I picked it up again, to the end, like just onboard with every weird plot choice he made. It's like yeah, fucked up. I don't know what but I'm there. I'm there for it. I mean, I'm here for it. Which is not really about the sex right now. So we should get back to that. Because the sex was better than ice cream.
That was a quote that I wrote down
Before summer really began!
Before school it out.
Yeah, before school it out.
Like what is?
But I love it, I love those little things.
Me too. I wrote down another line that I actually really liked. That was um, “I was happy in his arms like, like I was that night we were together in the arms of the stars. I felt so much a part of him that I honestly believed for a long time afterward, that I could be a part of everything.” I really liked that.
Yeah, extensive and big, not little internal.
Mm hmm. I think it's, it's, you know, as somebody who's been a teenage girl and who has had a boyfriend that, you know, you felt those ways about like it's very, it's very real, like, how big it feels and how like they're staring up at the stars. And they're just like having this amazing, romantic moment where the whole entire world just ceases to exist. And then, you know, there's all this terrible stuff that comes next, which is really I just love Christopher Pike's books with that. Like, there's this nice sweet moment between these two young teenagers. UH OH! Here comes bad news.
It's one step away from Stephen King right to get the end of the chapter. And she would never see him again. Oh, fuck you King! I like them together. So yeah, there's there's there's some sex in here. And it's titillating, I suppose. I really enjoyed it as a young adult, I remember.
Well, I just I read these books. I think before I had ever, ever dated, or kissed anybody or anything. So it was like, a very high standard. That I really, I mean, I just loved these books for – Well, this book in particular, for having this very, like perfect seeming romance, at least at the beginning.
Yeah. Well 'cause you'll buy it as an adult. Whereas, whereas us in our jaded future, look back and say, Oh, my God, stupid. Come on. What's wrong with you? That's me. But But as as you know, I read this probably when I was 12, maybe 13. So I have not dated anybody. And I was still amazed by how adult high schoolers seemed. And yeah, it, it's it really reinforced. Like, I don't know if I read this first. I don't know if I read this last. But this was the one that made me a Pike fan without question. Because this one drew me in more than any of those junk food, young adult books, and I'm not saying junk food in the negative way. But those point horrors are like Big Macs. You really enjoy it while you're reading it. And then it just kind of goes away. Mm hmm.
They don't stick with you. Yeah.
Yeah, but this stuck. And I think that's really a testament to his writing. Because, I mean, there is a reason we're all thinking about him. I mean, it's going to be it's going to be 30 years next year after these were published.
Wow. Yeah, I hadn't even done the math.
I know makes you feel old, right.
I think we have to mention to you just a bit since we're talking about the thirst section here. One of the things that stood out to me the most that I remembered the most from this story, reading it when I was younger, was the hay and the scene with the pitchfork and how Pepper dies. And can we just for a moment, just even outside of the story. When I was 14 – 15 reading this book for the first time, I thought hay was going to be sexy. I thought it was going to be soft. I thought it was going to be comfy and I thought that was going to be a good place to get some kind of time with some kind of person. Let me tell you something. Hay is not comfy. Hay makes you sneeze, hay makes you itchy, he is awful. It's terrible. And it smells It smells weird. There's like this weird musty sort of smell to it. Yeah, why there? Why? Why there?
I wrote that dpwn, I was like, a hay bale is not like a giant bed.
That exactly Yes. Like I thought it would be so when I went to sit on one as a kid. I was like, Oh ho ho, my butt is hard here! This isn't good! (Laughing)
I mean, especially hay that is so unbaled that it could hide a pitchfork. That's that's Hey, that's floating through the air at that point. You you lay down on that you go you do poof, you know? Yeah. I've never actually had hay sex, but I can imagine. It would. It would be awful. Really. I've had hay fever, so.
Maybe some kind of hydrocortisone cream afterwards or something?
Yeah. Well, I mean, that could be central. You just rub each other down with that.
That's what I like to do at the end of my hay romp. Get the old anti itch cream and give me a rub down!
Make it strong, 2% hydrocortisone.
All you know all I can think about with that and I will probably showing my age again is Monica in FRIENDS sick using the Vicks Vapor Rub on her chest and saying Don't you want to get with this? (All Laughing)
So with that, let's move on to die softly where we talk about moralizing and problematic elements in the writing and plot. We've already talked about the most problematic elements the weird, vacillating fields between pro choice and pro life I guess is still the stupid terms for it. But there are a lot of little Pike things that I've noticed I now reading these in succession. And again, we have teenagers just casually smoking cigarettes and drinking beer. Just casually. Pepper when when we meet him says I'm a beer man myself. Rox, says I knew smoking dope was a lousy thing to do, but I did it anyway. That's again. Yeah, they're the there's a reason they call it dope, which was the line in the last book about so yeah, you know, there's that. about smoking, it was a dirty habit. Anyway, it ruined your lungs. It gave you cancer it cut short your life. It made you cough, particularly when you were just starting to smoke again. Wow. There's a lot there. So what do you think about them? Do you think this is moralizing? Or do you think it is? Trying to speak from the way kids are indoctrinated to feel?
I feel like Pike might be the reason I never picked up smoking cigarettes as a child.
That's a that's a big one.
Were you afraid you'd catch on fire?
Yeah, I mean, let me tell you, I didn't realize until rereading this again. But that's always been a fear. I'm like, you cannot smoke when you're pumping gas. Like you can't do that. You can't do that. You're gonna explode. You're gonna die. Yeah. And I would tell my mom, she'd get out of the car with a cigarette. I'm like, No!!! You can't do this.
And you can trace that back to Pike.
Many things I'm finding I can trace back to Pike. So if he's listening, thanks, sir.
Though, I will I will point out that Mythbusters has shown that you can't just drop a cigarette into a gas on the ground and have it ignite.
Don't tell my mom that.
I won't, don't worry. Because she'll want to try it? I don't know.
She'll just be like, “ALL THESE YEARS, YOU WERE LYING TO ME!”
So we do have a few more major lessons about abortion and sex. Apparently, the surgeons like to get rid of nasty business early so they could spend the rest of the day saving lives. Nasty business. “I suppose the thought of contraceptives crossed my mind after we were done. But that's the same as thinking about your parachute after you've jumped. You can think all you want the ground doesn't give a damn.”
I liked that line, “the ground doesn't give a damn'>
I did, too. Yeah. That's good stuff.
When I read that I looked it up to make sure that the morning after pill wasn't available in the US yet when this was written.
It wasn't right?
No, it wasn't No.
Yeah, she wouldn't have known how to get it anyway. In her little tiny small town.
They have guns and weed!
Everywhere has got guns. I mean, come on small town anywhere'sgot guns and weed? I'm sure it comes in from the neighboring major metropolitan area.
The same place where these kids get the cocaine they take?
Yes, yes, they take it. There's also this great one. “It was more fun getting into this predicament but it is getting out of it.”
I loved that! I want to be the kind of girl who has like the gumption to make a joke about her abortion right beforehand.
Yes, exactly. Um, this one stood out to me. “I didn't want her to think I was queer or anything.” Yes, which was Roxanne's way of saying why she didn't look at Betty Sue in the shower.
I was like, yes, like, I need to be there like I have a I have one part highlighted. So it's not really like good or bad writing. It's just I thought it was funny. And there were a lot of parts that I thought were humorous. So, it says, “I have some good news, and I have some bad news, what do you want to hear first? He hesitated. The good news. It's yours. What's mine? The bad news. What? The baby. That part I was laughing like, WHAT a way to tell him.
That is the best pregnancy announcement of all time.
It was so good.
And and I think that that can bring us into the season of passage where we talk about the best and worst writing in the book and Pikeisms. But yeah, that that really was one of the things that reinforced her, you know, just like Dame dialogue like yeah, see, you know, it just like she's witty. She's she throws it back. You know, that's, it's great. I want to read the opening passage of this book, because I think it's excellent. I sit alone in a dead world. The wind blows hot and dry and the dust gathers like particles of memory waiting to be swept away, and I pray for forgetfulness. Yet my memory remains strong, as does the outstretched arm of the oppressive air. It seems as if the wind has been there since the beginning of the nightmare, sometimes loud and harsh. 1000 sharp needles scratching at my reading skin, sometimes a whisper a curious sigh in the black of night of words more frightening than pain. That's a great opening.
I love how when she's sitting down at Betty Sue's like it just comes back around to that like pass. Yeah. Loved it.
Whoo, yeah, okay, so it hit me with some of your, your, your writing thoughts. Do you have Do you have quotes?
Yes. I'll read one!
And I don't want to know I don't want to read them.
Um, “suddenly, I was afraid. Afraid of nothing. The most awful of fears especially when nothing is all there is.” Like that's spooky. Loved it.
I had that one too. Cassie, what do you got?
I have another one. That was just her being sarcastic. They say, “Don't worry. I won't worry, I said sarcastically sitting back. I'll take these few moments to enjoy a peaceful meditation.” And that made me laugh too, because I was like, Damn, she is so snarky when she does not need to be for the situation. And I love it!
Claire, do you have any favorite quotes?
Um, well, yeah, just going back to her dialogue cuz I just loved it. There was one part where she's I just thought it was so funny. She said, “This is not my day. First I go for an abortion. Then I end up in the twilight zone.” Like man, yeah, it's been a rough day.
There's a there's this. Where's it? Oh, yeah. The the come on here. “What do you want to do? he asked. I brushed her his hair back. What comes easiest.”
I love that. Yeah.
But going foward really impressive lines. “A garrote of silver wires spun from a nightmare recorded in black ink on a page of white notebook paper.”
Yeah, that are just like, dang, that is gold.
I've got more. “There was no one around the sight of a corpse would have been Welcome to me. Right then a skeleton sitting at a kitchen table with a fresh cup of steaming coffee. Sure. Let me meet him. I'm desperate.”
Wow. Yeah, that's really good to the like the loneliness and how desolate they feel.
I have this one for after Pepper dies, and he's on the pitchfork. And she goes I looked at him struggling like a pinned butterfly trying to free itself of a painful needle and I cannot understand.
And it brings it back to Betty Sue too.
I really as as a former Catholic. I really like this observation of Betty Sue's room. “Here there were no disturbing paintings of pierced and bleeding saints.”
She made her room like really basic and like neutral.
And this is this is the most pulpy line of all I think, “Time did not go by. That would have been a joke. Time had already packed its bags and left town.” Just so good.
I also liked towards the beginning when she's talking about herself, she says I seldom smiled because I felt haunted and cursed.
Yeah, that's deep.
I thought that was interesting because it kind of is never elaborated on whatsoever. But at the same time, just like being a teen I was I feel like I was like, yeah, I'm haunted and cursed too.
I, myself, am strange and unusual!
I found an interesting thing. And I don't know if this is a direct correlation, but it feels like it might be. In my novel, as good as gone. There's a dream she has where there's no clouds, no stars in the sky. And when I read this passage, there were no clouds in the sky, no haze, no smoke, and there were no stars either. But he soon must have failed to write them in. She probably knew how much I loved them. I wondered if my subconscious had remembered the fear of seeing an empty sky with no stars, because it's a vast fear. You know, it's a cosmic fear.
That's interesting. I remember that part of your book.
Good, it stood out. Yeah.
That's, I think that is very creepy. And that that's just like one of the first signs that you're in an off kilter world.
Okay, you You said you have some Pikeisms Cassie?
Um, well, so I have one and it was just early on in the book he's talking about, or will actually she's talking about a movie. And she said it was a horror film about the second expedition to Mars called the season of passage. Oh, I love that. He puts that in there. Because that's one of his other books. And he does that a lot. Like he'll put little nods, or little snippets or stories within stories of his books that are his other books. And every time I see that, or every time I pick up on it, I'm like, Yes, yes, I know that. And I feel like I'm part of like, some kind of club or something. And I love it. And I'm so excited about it.
It's, it's funny, because in this interview, I read with him, he talks about how the season of passage was one of his first books that he wrote, and when they actually got around to letting him do some adult books, he completely rewrote it and change the story. So it makes me wonder if this horror story about the second expedition to Mars, what's the original story for the season of passage? Hmm. The Pikeisms I noticed most. Let's see, well, first of all, I mean, okay, we've got desert town. There's a lot of that in Pike. We've got a weird over emphasis on some procedures. Like in this one, we get a lot of description of abortion procedures. I really liked that. People in his stories, just like to give out the last four digits of their phone number. As though, I mean, I, I guess it's a different time. But I never lived somewhere where everyone had the same prefix.
That could be really small, because they're all such small towns.
Yeah. Yeah, I didn't either.
No, I haven't. I live in Orlando. And I remember when we got area codes, but-
I remember that. Yeah. Yeah.
Okay, let's talk about bad or bizarre quotes. The bizarre one I have is how many of you have heard of the Bermuda Triangle? Are those new bikinis that show off a girl's butt? helter asked? I padded held his hand. I don't think you got that one right. That just stood out as being such a weird weird response.
I wrote down um, when she is planning on getting the abortion she says she's like beating herself up I guess and she says I would throw away the price of love to be in love.
It just stuck out at me is like a very overwrought saying.
That is that is teen romance. Yeah, in a nutshell there. I probably should have put this in the problematic portion. “Our child probably would have been retarded.”
I remember reading that and thniking, this going to come up in the episode.
This one really sorry. stood out as being odd to me. We got flashlights, fresh batteries. I changed my shirt. I had holsters to choose from it was wonderful a shoppers dream. I left on my bloody pants. They had become a part of me. What the fuck is that? Why?
If I was shot in the leg, I would I would have cried a lot more in the book if I was that character.
She was very blase about it!
It just grazed me! I mean, it's not it's not inside my leg. No big deal, guys.
I didn't realize that she had gotten shot at first. Yeah, because she's so cool about it.
Yeah, I thought the glass exploded or something?
She forget she got shot. And then oh, yeah, I got shot. Like what the hell? You got shot!
Like, wouldn't you be shot? Wouldn't you be like limping like, the entire time? Like a cycle? It's not gonna feel good. Like to be shot. She's like, I've never been shot before. But she's like, kind of acting like it's like, every day I care. It's like, this is cool. Like, I'm fine. I'm walking. I'm doing great.
I didn't happen early on, like, no. And then she goes through the rest of the book like that. And they don't really mention it. Just like I forgot about it. I forgot she was injured.
I mean, this is also I think, after she shot Helter. So that means she's covered in blood and her blood. And she still doesn't want to change her jeans. When she's got as she said, A shoppers dream of stores.
I don't know. But, you know, there there's an obscure Wes Craven movie called vampire in Brooklyn, where Eddie Murphy is a vampire and he gets shot. And he says, I've never been shot before kind of itches a little. So yeah, that's basically her reaction to being shot. Kind of itches a little.
Very strange. And that was part of the reason I really didn't like Pepper. Because after she got shot, I was just thinking, how are you not? You're just the worst boyfriend ever. You're not taking care of her and your girlfriend just got just shot.
He's more worried about giving his handkerchief to the sobbing blonde girl.
He didn't even try to try to wrap the handkerchief around her leg and do like a tear off part of his shirt. Like Come on. Be the the macho guy!
She notices too. She's like, he didn't give me that handkerchief. She looks down at her gushing leg, she's like, “Mother fucker.”
And she's pregnant with his baby!
Right! That part too, like, how are you not protecting her at all costs right now? Like, get in front of her? What the heck?
Okay, now I do have a thought on her wound. If you take it as this is a dream. She has begun to bleed on the operating table. And she's not paying enough attention to that. So there's that.
I can see that.
Yeah, it's true.
It's still weird. Still really weird.
That might follow some of like, it's not to give spoilers for his other books since we aren't there yet. But there are a couple of other ones where that sort of happens where it's like, you're you should be aware of something and he kind of hints at it throughout but it doesn't really clearly, like solidly tell you that that's what it is until later or if at all.
And that's the dream logic thing again, like there's there's often dreams where you'll feel like you should be aware of something, but you're just not paying attention toward or you should be doing something, but you're just not doing it. And I I feel like he captures that very well.
He does Yeah. And in toward the end to even at the end of the book where Pepper is driving off with the girl and he's kind of like I kind of have she's familiar to me, I I kind of have this vibe that I know her but I don't really have that. Like I can't capture it like you're saying.
Mhmm! Okay, shall we move to the last act? Yes. Here is the part of the show where we give our overall thoughts and ratings of the book. This is out of five pikes. And last last time, we said that there could be a head on a pike and that could be a half or there were heads on pikes and that was like more. I don't know it's it's however you interpret it five bikes are is the maximum. Let's start with our guest, Claire. Where do you put this what what rating do you give it?
I personally would probably give it a four or five. I really enjoyed it.
Want to go with four and a half to be sure right there in the middle?
Sure! I don't want to like overshoot it, but…
You will not be held to these ratings.
But um, I really really enjoyed it. Tthis is one of the few Pike's that I actually kind of remember. To be honest. Like, I don't remember most of them, but this one I kind of remembered, and it definitely stuck with me over time.
I think for that same reason, I'm going with five. I loved this book. And I don't care that the antagonists plan didn't make any fucking sense. And I can overlook the abortion thing too, because we're living in the world where that all happened in the middle, which means she was killed. The abortion didn't kill her.
Okay, Becca, where are you at?
I am gonna give it less than you guys.
I'm thinking, probably 3.5 like I give the last one. Um, well, maybe just three. I'm gonna give it. Okay. So if I compare this one to Die Softly I like this one loss. So maybe we should? Yes. Um, like I said, I do enjoy it. As much as I wish that we had answers to a lot of things I did enjoy the openness of it so that we can kind of like, put our own thoughts into the book, and I just have it flatly told out to us. Like, I really enjoyed that part. But I just I don't know, it's kind of average to me, like as a whole. And that is where I'm at.
I'm gonna even us back around and give it 4 Pikes and a head – Pike head. Well, not Pike's actual head, but just a Pike head on… a pike.
Who is it this time? Last time it was uh, wasn't it, Sammy?
This time. Oh, yeah. Oh, actually. So actually, so I'm going to do 4 Pikes and a pitchfork.
A Pepper Pitchfork. And so I don't want to give it five even though I really really love this one. Because there are a couple of other Pike books that I I hold to a higher esteem and I love a lot more. So I want to reserve my fives for the the few that I have that are like my all-time jam. And this is in my top five as well. So I'm going to go ahead with four and a half. I really really liked it. I like I like that this one has such an air of loneliness because I think that stuck with me a lot as a kid like, it's just the world is empty. And that's terrifying. And it doesn't have a happy ending. And the person that I like does not live and I always like sad shit. So this is my jam and I loved it.
I loved it. And that is two for two now where the protagonist is dead at the end of the book.
Yeah, love a tragic ending. I think that's another thing that I loved as a teen.
I love that now too, I'm like make me cry. Please. I love it.
Can I throw an extra Pike? Just for Stan? In honor of Stan, can I get one more Pike?
You don't need to give a reason for your Pikes but you can specifically identify a pPike as being for Stan.
Yes, we're adding a Stan Pike to this one.
We stan Stan in this book.
With that, why don't we wrap it up? And say Claire? Will you tell our listeners about your book?
Yes, thank you. Um, so my book is called I Am Not Your Final Girl. And it's a bunch of poems from the perspectives of final girls, as you might imagine.
And I have twisted Claire's arm and asked her to read our listeners a poem from her book.
Yeah, thank you. Um, no, I mean, I'm excited to!
I couldn't I couldn't read that the tone there. (Laughing)
She's just side eyeing you like, THANKS COOPER!
No, I really appreciate it. Um, I'm gonna read Laurie from Halloween since it is October. So this is Laurie.
I asked you to tell me of a town where this hasn't happened. Where some brute dressed in black hasn't donned a mask shadowed a woman called himself a monster to blot out his own mortality. Tell me why I should mythologize this. Let his shape grow larger than the women crouched with coat hangers, with makeshift daggers as sturdy as their hearts. Something can be vulnerable and powerful both at once. But you cannot understand this, and I have grown so weary trying to explain. You say you want to protect us, that the method blunt pills forced to mouths, a technique for hysteria is all wrong, it abrades. White fences are only made of wood, they splinter so easily.
I love that one. That was one of my absolute favorites from the book when I read it.
That book is so good until our listeners even if you would normally be like, I don't really read a lot of poetry or anything like that, please you need to try because it's so good, especially if you're a fan of not only but especially if you're a fan of horror and you've read a lot of these or you've seen a lot of these movies that the poems are inspired by it they're just there's so many levels to them and I love them so much, Claire, you're so good.
Thank you so much!
I would like to say that this is like the book that got me into reading poetry. So thank you, Claire!
That's amazing! That's so cool to hear honestly.
So Claire where can our listeners find you online and where can they get your book?
Um so the book is available through Amazon I have my website ClaireCHolland.com. And then you can find me on most social media, my handle is ClaireCWrites also. I mean, it's just ClaireCWrites.
Not also! Becca, where can we find you?
Yes, I have a blog. It is AsToldByBex.Wordpress.com I have a Twitter that is also AsToldByBex. Minus the also. Now I'm thrown off! (Laughing)
So should we just remove all also from our listeners mind? No, alsos.
Never listen to us say also! And my Instagram is ReadWithBex.
And Cassie, I know you're in the midst of some problems with your Instagram. But let's pretend they've been solved by the time this is ready.
Yeah, so I'm just going to give my new Instagram actually because I don't I don't have any faith that the old one ever gonna be reactivated, which sucks because it's a lot of a lot of effort and time I put into it. But I do have a blog. It's LetsGetGalactic.com. I sell art and DIY embroidery kits and things like that. And a coloring book I actually made recently. So you can find that at LetsGetGalacticArt.Etsy.Com, and then I am on Twitter as CtrlAltCassie. So it's CTRL ALT Cassie like on your keyboard. And then my Instagram is now newly @ReadingInAPrism. So if you have my old Instagram, you won't be able to find it anymore because it's gone. So please go find that new one. And let's be friends on there. Because I would really love that.
And Cooper, tell us about yours.
I will thank you!
I had I had a question about yours, but I can't remember it now.
Oh, damn, sorry.
Oh! So before I do that, Cassie, you have a new book coming out that people can pre order.
I do, I do. You're better at my marketing than I am, Cooper, look at you. So I have a book, it's called YOU'RE OUT OF THIS WORLD. It's a witchy planner and workbook. So it's got a lot of different kinds of self love activities in it, that are focused on witchiness. And also just on general loving yourself and feeling good about yourself and getting to know yourself a little bit more. The book is over 65 pages long. And it's also got some coloring pages and 12 month calendar pages for you to plan the next year of your life. And you can preorder that now in my Etsy.
That's awesome. And sounds like something that is very needed for the let's just say chaotic times we are living in.
Yes, yeah. Honestly, I started making it with the intention of having one printed so that I could use it next year. And I showed a couple of friends and they were super into it. So I was like yeah, I'm giving this to people. Here you go. So it's gonna it's going to be shipped out November 15. so that everybody can get it before the new year.
That's awesome. Okay for me, you can find me at CooperSBeckett.com and at CooperSBeckett on all the social medias. Because of the aforementioned chaotic nature of the times, if you are not interested in my political opinions, do not follow me on Twitter because I am very vocal about them on Twitter. And I believe I'm on the right side of history. So let's just go on from that. My audiobook version of my horror novels are Osgood As Gone and Osgood Riddance are coming very soon and you can listen to a special sneak preview of them at the end of our die softly episode at the end there's a preview of my AUDIO BOOK So check that out. Now Cassie, I'm gonna have you do the the shows information.
Alright, so we, The PikeCast is on all social media, you can find us on Twitter, on Instagram and on Facebook, under @ThePikeCast, it's all one word. We'd love it if you'd follow us. If you tweet us, we have a hashtag going on – #ShowUsYourPike. So you can show us the books that you're reading that are Christopher Pike's, whether they're the books that we're going to be covering on the show recently, or soon or not. And then we also have a Patreon, which is very exciting. And if you're a supporter of our Patreon, you get some really cool stuff like PikeCast mirch, bookmarks t shirts, you actually get access to a special edition digital version of my coloring book, as well as the digital copy of Cooper's book Osgood As Gone. So it's a lot of good little like fun stuff that you can get there. And we'd really love to have you interact with us online, because that's kind of it's our whole thing. You know, being social talking to you guys about these books. We're really excited for it. And if you'd like to go one step more, you can also join our group on Goodreads. And that's also under ThePikeCast. It's Read With the PikeCast.
Now listeners, your homework for the next episode is to read The Midnight Club. And we will be talking about that in two weeks on the podcast. So ladies, thank you for a wonderful discussion. Thank you again, Claire for joining us. I'm so happy you were able to!
Thank you so much for having me.
It is just It is so much fun talking about these books again. I am I'm having a blast. So that's it for this week's The PikeCast.
You survived the night, friends. You can peek out from under your covers, and see the first blues of dawn out the window. Thanks for spending the night with the PikeCast. And we hope you'll join us again next time. Until then, Pikers… Pleasant dreams.