Book: “Trapped” (Fear Street #51) by R.L. Stine
Publishing Info: Simon Pulse, 1997
Where Did I Get This Book: ILL from the library!
Book Description: Some kids in the sixties used to party in the tunnels under Shadyside High, until something left a bunch of people dead. But that’s just a story, right? Besides, exploring the tunnels is more fun than being stuck in Saturday detention. Too bad there’s no turning back–because in the tunnels there’s no one around to hear your screams.
Had I Read This Before: No.
The Plot: First I REALLY need to talk about that cover. What IS that cover? It looks like it’s trying to be the sleeve for the 1980s remake of “The Blob”, which served as serious nightmare fuel whenever we’d go to the local convenience store to rent a movie and it was RIGHT. THERE. Also, much like last time, the font has totally changed and it’s a weird time to change font when we’re at the end of the original series. But anyway. Our protagonist is Elaine. She’s usually a GREAT student, but after having forgotten to turn in a third assignment in a row for trigonometry she’s found herself at Saturday detention. And it occurs to me that I don’t think we’ve had any substantial “Fear Street” storylines that involve detention? At least not the I can remember. Anyway, it made me nostalgic for my detention days. Elaine arrives and speaks with the new principal, Mr. Savage, who says that he hopes such a good student like her won’t be making a habit of this. He also mysteriously says that he’s learned hard lessons in his life, and tells her where to go. She arrives to the classroom and finds a motley crew of detention kids. You have goody goody Elaine, graffiti aficionado Max, nerd Jerry, tough girl Darlene, and bad boy Bo, who may or may not have stolen a car. I think we’ve found our Bender, ladies and gentlemen, which means I will no doubt have a serious affection for him by the time this book is done.
Elaine asks if this is detention and Bo tells her that it’s dissection class (so… biology), and when Darlene throws a piece of paper at him in a flirtation ritual he takes out a lighter and sets it ablaze. Jerry is afraid he’ll set off the sprinkler system, and listen, narc, Bo doesn’t give a shit about your RULES. Jerry is there because he refused to dissect a frog in biology class and gee, that seems a bit harsh, being punished for having a conviction about animal mutilation… Bo keeps lighting things on fire and Mr. Savage comes in and tells him to put it out, which Bo does. Elaine is shocked and disgusted but probably also intrigued. Mr. Savage lets us know Darlene is here for cutting class and Max is here for graffiti-ing a school bus. He tells them that if they stay in their seats and focus on their punishment and police themselves they can leave at 3 and that will be that. As he’s leaving, Bo throws a switch blade. But it of course isn’t aimed at him, but at a cork board, and Mr. Savage doesn’t notice. Bo asks Elaine what she’s in for and she tells him it’s for not turning in homework, and Bo is amused. Darlene, unable to stand that he’s paying attention to Elaine (because girls are ALWAYS fighting over boys, right?), plants herself in front of him and says she’s bored. Bo suggests that they all go look for snacks in the cafeteria, and Jerry says he’s not getting in trouble by leaving. Bo specifically asks Elaine if she’s coming, and wanting to prove she’s not a goody goody she says she is. So they head out and down the hallway, and of COURSE Jerry runs to catch up with them. Elaine notices how not nervous Bo is, and given that she’s so responsible she envies his irresponsibility and finds it sexy.
They go to the kitchen and raid the fridge, but after pigging out a bit Elaine notices that Bo has gone missing, and so has one of the big knives. They go looking for Bo, and find him splayed out with a cut throat. It is, of course, a dumb practical joke, and this kid, I swear… They don’t stay mad at him long, however, because they hear Mr. Savage walking down the hallway. They lose track of his movement, but know he could cut them off back to the classroom, and Elaine suggests that they cut through the auditorium. So they get to the auditorium, and dick around on stage a bit. Max destroys some sets, Bo plays with a prop fiddle (as the drama club is doing “Fiddler”!), and Elaine goes exploring backstage. There she finds a strange black curtain hanging in a far off corner. When she pulls it, it reveals a corridor. Which she, of course, has to explore! So she starts down the hallway in the dark but chickens out. Unfortunately, as she’s heading back the floor gives way and she falls through it, plummeting down! She lands hard, and has no idea how far down she is. It’s dark and she feels broken glass and paint cans, and when she tries to stand her ankle hurts like the dickens. Also, a rat drops on her. She screams and it runs away, and she fumbles in the dark, able to find a ladder but unable to put enough weight on her ankle to actually climb it. Luckily her scream is heard by the others. Bo lights his lighter and looks down, telling her she fell through a trap door. She says she can’t climb because of her ankle, and Bo says he’ll come down to get her. Perplexingly they all climb down with him, though Bo is now suddenly quite protective of Elaine. He lights up his lighter again, and they see they’re in a space with LET’S PARTY written on the wall, and multiple hallways to pick from. Bo and Max tell them that it must be the Labyrinth, a tunnel system built to be a bomb shelter like tunnel system during the Cold War. It spreads across all of Shadyside. For years it was used as a party spot for teens, but the tunnels were all closed up after a number of teens died. So NATURALLY Bo and Max want to explore. Darlene and Jerry aren’t convinced and want to go, and Bo tells Elaine she’s the tie breaker. And now that she wants to impress Bo, she says they should explore.
Bo scrounges up some sticks and some rags from the trash and makes some torches they can use, and they venture into the tunnel on the right. They find a school newspaper from 1972 reviewing ‘the new Doors album’ (bitch, Morrison was long dead by that time, that album wasn’t going to be too great), and head deeper into the tunnels even though now Elaine is losing her nerve. The reach a dead end when they find a big pool of dirty water and trash, and decide to turn back. But it becomes quite clear that they are lost. Bo suggests that they go back across the water, as the tunnels are all over town and there HAS to be an exit somewhere. They manage to find a narrow ledge around the water, but while trying to cross it Elaine slips and falls into the dirty pool. Oh GOD, think of the germs. Bo pulls her out because he’s her protector now, obviously, and lets her wear his army jacket so she doesn’t get a chill. IS SHE GOING TO GIVE HIM HER DIAMOND EARRING BY THE END OF ALL THIS?
They keep going forward, and find a weird bricked up section that looks different from the other walls they’ve seen. The bricks are red instead of cinderblocks. Bo begins poking the mortar with a stick and it falls away, and the one of the bricks pops out about an inch, without any of them touching it. Bo hesitantly tries to push it back in, and then suddenly the wall EXPLODES! Elaine is thrown back into a wall, and as she sits up she notices that only one torch is still lit at this point. Everyone gathers their wits, and Bo relights his torch. Red dust hangs in the air, and they decide to keep going, but before they can, the separate red dust clouds suddenly gather together and surround Max. He says that something is wrong, and then the red mist envelops him and lifts him up! Bo tries to pull him back down, but the mist throws him away and starts BREAKING MAX’S BONES! It pulls Max up more and pretty much just snaps all of his bones IN GREAT DETAIL ON THE PAGE, killing him and flying down one of the tunnels with his corpse.
Bo screams and chases the mist down the hallway, and Elaine and the others look on in horror. Jerry says they have to get out of there, and Elaine says that they can’t leave without Bo. Jerry tries to take the torch from her but she says no, and Darlene says that she and Jerry are leaving and they are taking the torch with them whether Elaine likes it or not. After some sniping, Elaine eventually sees reason and agrees to go with them. But, of course, those two book it and Elaine has a bad ankle! She follows the flicker of the torch, and eventually catches up with them, but only because they’ve stopped. Jerry says he thought the water was this way, but it’s nowhere to be seen. Darlene starts to panic, and Elaine grabs the torch back and says that they have to keep moving to get away from the mist. She’s still thinking about Bo, but agrees that they should keep going on their own.
Unfortunately, they almost immediately stumble over a corpse and drop the torch, leaving them in the dark. Darlene thinks it was Bo, which means the mist may be in the dark with them. Elaine says that Bo had the lighter, so if they can find it on his body they can relight the torch. Darlene and Jerry are both too big of wusses to touch the body, so Elaine says she will. But she doesn’t find the lighter, and realizes that these clothes are ragged and old. That wasn’t Bo’s body. Soon they see another light coming, and wonder if the mist can glow. But nope, it’s Bo! He’s alive! Darlene hugs him and he tells them that he tried to get Max’s body back, but wasn’t successful. And whatever that mist was, it’s probably coming for them next. Elaine notes that he doesn’t seem like the cocky prick he was earlier, but a scared boy who saw his best friend killed. Very Bender in his ‘FUCK YOU’ monologue if I do say so myself. Bo makes new torches but says his lighter is out so this is it. As they walk Elaine wonders what this mist could possibly be (GOOD QUESTION). Jerry thinks that if they can figure out where they are under the city they could figure out where the school is, but Bo rightfully points out that that might be hard. They stumble into a room full of garbage and LET’S PARTY written all over the walls, and find ANOTHER tunnel, but oh dear! THE RED MIST IS BACK! Thus a crazy chase begins wtih them running through God knows how many tunnels, and Elaine falls because HER ANKLE and Bo isn’t leaving her behind (even when Darlene insists that he do he does NOT!), and somehow they stumble into the first LET’S PARTY room which is below the stage at the school!! Darlene launches herself up the ladder first, and I can’t blame her, and Bo wants Elaine to go next but she tells him to go because of her ankle, so he does. And as Elaine starts to climb up too the ladder starts to give way!!! But Elaine is convinced they’re all going to make it, but guess what, Jerry does NOT make it. Because the Red Mist surrounds him and starts to squeeze him. Elaine grabs his hand, determined to hold on, and he keeps crying out ‘help me!’ (oh God, this is actually brutal), but the Mist keeps pulling on him and starts to envelop Elaine’s hand. Bo screams at her to let go… And Elaine knows she has to. So she does. The mist grabs Jerry, crumples him up into a BALL, and then flies down into the darkness. I’m honestly upset by all of this. Elaine feels horrible that she let go. But no time to feel bad, because the ladder breaks, sending her and Bo falling into the darkness. They land on the ground below, and Elaine asks Bo to hold her. Which he does. That diamond earring is going to be yours, Judd Nelson! Darlene is dangling from the top rung, unable to hold on much longer. Bo and Elaine tell her to just let go, that Bo will catch her, and she does. She suggests that they could keep calling for help, that Mr. Savage could be around, but Bo is convinced that he’s long gone now. And school won’t open again until Monday, and they probably don’t have time to wait. They have to find another exit. Elaine points out that the only tunnel they haven’t for sure tried is the tunnel the Red Mist came from.
They find the water pool again and continue past it, and find the chamber behind the red bricks. What they find isn’t another tunnel, but a giant pile of dirt and rubble that looks like a cave in. But at the top of the pile there is a hole that could be an exit. Bo starts to climb, but it isn’t easy going because the dirt pile is loose. But he gets up and crawls up through the hole. Elaine and Darlene call up to him, and he assures them he’s okay but that the tunnel is ‘wild’. WHATEVER THAT MEANS, BO. Darlene tells Elaine to go first, and Elaine does. She makes her way up, and into the hole, and it’s a small tunnel that she barely fits in, and oh GOD I’m going to have a panic attack. Elaine feels the same and has a panic attack, convinced she’s going to get stuck, but manages to get through. She finds that the dirt tunnel ends in another chamber, where Bo is waiting for her at the bottom of another dirt pile, and it smells aged and isolated. She slides down to join him, and Darlene comes down behind, and informs them that the tunnel partially collapsed behind her. Bo says that this isn’t where they want to be, and points out six skeletons! Bo says that the cave in must have trapped them, and points out that there are no rats. Darlene says that the Red Mist must have killed them and someone must have put the bricks up to keep the Red Mist in. But Elaine points out that the small garbage in this room was neatly stacked and it was less haphazard. These people weren’t killed by the Red Mist, they must have been trapped inside and starved to death or died of thirst. They look on the wall and see six names written in red paint, which must be the skeletons. But there is also one name carved into the wall with rock: “Scott Savage Knows”. Mr. Savage must have something to do with all of this! Before the can ruminate too long, however, the Red Mist comes out through the dirt tunnel!! Bo makes it focus on him so Elaine and Darlene can make their way back through the dirt tunnel! So noble! But soon the Red Mist has instead poured over the skeletons… BRINGING THEM TO LIFE. That’s fucking badass. Darlene starts to panic and Elaine yells at her to run through them and back up to the tunnel. Elaine beats the skeletons off of her as she runs, and manages to get up to the top of the dirt pile. But she looks down and sees that Darlene has frozen in her tracks. Bo tries to distract the skeletons, and Elaine books it, crawling through the dirt tunnel and coming out the other side. She hears Darlene’s horrible screams, and then silence.
Elaine calls for Bo, and hears footsteps and sees a light coming through the entrance to the chamber that had been bricked up. It’s Mr. Savage! He says that she has to get out of here and asks where the others are, and Elaine tells him that they’re dead. Mr. Savage is upset by this news, and Bo bursts through the dirt tunnel as it collapses behind him. They all tumble into the dirt, but Elaine thinks that the Red Mist is trapped now. Bo says that Mr. Savage is at fault, and they tell him everything they found. Mr. Savage confesses what it is he knows. He went to Shadyside High back in the day and he and his friends went into the tunnels. There was a cave in, and Bo says that’s pretty OBVIOUS and that he wants to get out of here now. Mr. Savage says he’s been carrying this secret for years and NOW he’s going to tell it. I think that’s misguided at best, but whatever. Mr. Savage was on the other side of the collapse, and he called for them but they never answered. Assuming they were dead and wanting to cover his tracks, he bricked up the tunnel. Unfortunately, his friends WEREN’T dead, and they were able to dig their way out… until they ran into his brick wall. Elaine and Bo blame Mr. Savage for everything that happened… but one COULD argue that if they hadn’t ditched out on their detention none of this would have happend either… BUT WHATEVER, potato, po-tah-to. They ask him about the Red Mist and he says he has no clue what they’re talking about and thinks they’re lying about what happened to their classmates. But before they can debate, the Red Mist BURSTS out of the ceiling. And NOW Mr. Savage believes them, and he knows what it is. It’s the VENGEFUL SPIRITS OF HIS DEAD FRIENDS!! The Red Mist didn’t kill those students, it IS those students! Knowing his time has come, Mr. Savage tells Elaine to take six consecutive left turns and that’s the way out. Then the Red Mist envelops him, crunches his bones, and squishes him into a tiny ball. Then the Red Mist and the Savage Ball disappear. Bo and Elaine make six consecutive lefts and make their way out of the tunnels. He asks what they’re going to tell people, and she says she doesn’t know. And they climb up the ladder. The End.
Body Count: 4! A little higher than we’ve seen lately, but at this point I think Stine was like “It’s the last one in the series! LET’S DANCE!”
Romance Rating: 2. Elaine and Bo clearly have a thing for each other, but they don’t really act upon it at all.
Bonkers Rating: 9! From endless underground tunnels to a ravenous red mist to moving skeletons, this one was up there for craziness! Again, Stine didn’t give a fuck.
Fear Street Relevance: 2. It took place in Shadyside, but I really don’t think that Fear Street came up.
Silliest End of Chapter Cliffhanger:
“Elaine stared at his shirt. His neck. His face.
Soaked with blood.
‘Nooo!’ She let out a moan. Bo’s throat. His throat had been cut.”
… Except no, he just played a trick on them.
That’s So Dated! Moments: Darlene refers to Elaine as ‘Miss Yuppie’ at one point, and who even says ‘yuppie’ anymore?
” ‘What’s the lighter fluid for?’ Jerry demanded. ‘Are you some kind of pyromaniac?’
‘What I do with my spare time is none of your business,’ Bo replied.”
HA, I knew I liked this kid.
Conclusion: “Trapped” was a super bizarre and oddly violent final book for the “Fear Street” original series!! I enjoyed it for the most part because it was so bananas! I can’t believe that we got through it all! And we aren’t done yet. I am going to slowly bring it on home with a few more books: one ‘Super Chiller’ that a friend of mine remembers vividly, one ‘Super Chiller’ that I remember vividly, and then one last trilogy. So up next is “Bad Moonlight”.