Sweet Valley High Super Thriller #4: Deadly Summer
The moral of the story: The boy you reject in high school could grow up to become a murderer and then he’ll return to your hometown and try to kill teenagers who look like you, so it’s best to go out with everyone who asks you on a date.
It’s still summer and the twins are still working at the Sweet Valley News. Lately, Lila and Jessica have become obsessed with a Ouija board Lila brought home from London. Liz makes fun of them and Lila gets all pissed off and wants to get back at her. Everyone’s all excited about some Endless Summer concert (I can’t tell if Endless Summer is a band or a theme or what), and Lila knows the concert is going to be postponed a week. She and Jessica make Liz use the Ouija board with them and move the planchette to say the concert will be delayed. Liz thinks that’s ridiculous because she and Seth are doing a story about it for the paper and she thinks she’d know if there was going to be a delay. A few minutes later, Seth calls to tell her it’s being postponed and Liz is shocked. The whole next chapter is Liz being puzzled and disturbed about the Ouija board. The next part of Lila’s plan is to make the Ouija board tell Liz that Bruce Patman is dying so Liz will start being nice to him. I’m not really sure what Jessica gets out of this, but Lila’s secret motivation is Jeffrey. She wants Liz to hook up with Bruce so that Jeffrey will be free for her. I think Lila needs to just get over Jeffrey.
At work the next day, Liz can think of nothing else but the weird Ouija board stuff. Then a call comes in about a man named Donald Redman who has escaped from a nearby psychiatric hospital. Liz and Seth Miller are assigned to find out about Redman’s background, and Liz discovers he was a student at Sweet Valley High. He was a disturbed kid who wound up getting expelled after he kidnapped a girl he had a crush on. He’d asked the girl out numerous times but she kept turning him down. After a while, his crush on her became a joke and a lot of his classmates made fun of him. Liz goes to her baby-sitting job that night and tells the mother, Elsa Bartel, about the escaped psycho. Elsa gets all freaked out and decides to stay home. Who wants to bet that Elsa is the girl Redman kidnapped back in the day?
When Liz gets home, Lila and Jessica put their plan in motion. Everything goes swimmingly and after just a few minutes with the Ouija board, Liz is practically in tears about Bruce. Jessica suggests they all go to the Beach Disco and Liz agrees even though she feels slightly guilty for going without Jeffrey. When they get there, Liz immediately finds Bruce and is totally nice to him while he leers at her inappropriately. Liz feels sorry for him and thinks his arrogance is all a front. They hang out together the next day at the beach and Jessica sees Bruce put his arm around Liz. Jessica wants to tell Liz it’s all a joke, but Lila tells her that would mean she’d have to tell Liz she read her journal and letters from Jeffrey to come up with things for the Ouija board to predict. Jessica doesn’t want to do that, so she continues to go along with Lila’s plan. She does tell Bruce that Liz is only being nice to him because she thinks he’s dying, but he doesn’t seem to care.
On Monday at work, Jessica skips out to go see a movie with Lila. While she’s gone, Liz answers a phone call. It’s Redman and he says there’s a bomb at the Valley Cinema. Liz and Seth call the police and then go to the theater, which has been evacuated. Jessica and Lila are standing around outside with Bruce and Neil Freemount when Liz tells them about the phone call. Everyone is mostly just mad that their movie was cut short. That night, Liz is baby-sitting at Elsa Bartel’s house again and she keeps getting hang-up phone calls. Then a man comes to the door and says he’s an old friend of Elsa’s. He asks Liz what her name is and she gets freaked out and just says she’ll tell Elsa he was there before closing the door on him. Then Bruce calls and wants to come over. Liz tells him he can’t, but he does anyway. He tells her how depressed he is and how hard it is to be terminally ill. Liz’s heart does a lot of lurching and swelling as she tries to control all her idiotic emotions. It’s clear to her that Bruce wants to kiss her, but she keeps him at a distance and finally tells him he should go home.
A couple days later, Liz gets another phantom phone call at home. Jessica knows it’s Lila and she’s sick to death of the whole thing, but she can’t say anything. Then Bruce comes over and acts all obnoxious. The doorbell rings and when Jessica answers it, she’s relieved to see Jeffrey, who has come home early from camp to surprise Liz. Jessica thinks that if he’s home, this crap with Bruce can stop. Jeffrey is not happy to find Liz and Bruce together in the kitchen, and even less happy when Bruce says he and Liz are going to a pre-school rally at the high school football stadium. Bruce says Jeffrey can follow him and Liz to the rally, but Liz says she’ll ride with Jeffrey. Bruce leaves and Jeffrey is all, “What the hell?” Liz says she can’t tell him why she’s hanging out with Bruce but promises there’s nothing going on between them. This shit with Bruce is so not Super Thrilling.
Bruce sits with them at the rally and he and Jeffrey get all competitive and annoying. They start arguing over who’s going to get Liz a root beer, and she tells them she’ll just go get it herself. She’s walking through the school corridors when she sees Principal Chrome Dome come out of his office and go running off to the football field. She starts following him and then someone runs past her going back into the school. She recognizes him as the man who came to Elsa’s house the other night. On the field, Chrome Dome announces that the stadium needs to be evacuated. Everyone starts screaming about bombs and the whole mob starts trying to get out of the stadium. The bomb is another fake.
The next day, Liz finally realizes that Elsa’s “friend from college” looks exactly like Redman. She’s about to call the police, but then decides to call Elsa instead to make sure. Elsa tells her there’s nothing to worry about and that the guy really is just an old friend. When she hangs up with Liz, she’s all upset about lying to her. Turns out Redman is her brother (okay, so I lost that bet). He’s tracked her down for some reason, and is now confusing Liz with Melanie, the girl he kidnapped in high school. Elsa just doesn’t know what to do. Uh, how about you call the police?
Liz is getting ready for a date with Jeffrey when Bruce calls and tells her he’s all depressed because he just lost a tennis match and doesn’t know how long he can keep going. He asks Liz to meet him at the tennis courts at school and she runs out of the house, telling Jessica and Lila not to tell Jeffrey where she’s going but she’ll be back as soon as she can. After Liz is gone, Lila pretends she left something in her car and goes outside to wait for Jeffrey. When he shows up, she tells him that Liz is meeting Bruce. Jeffrey drives off toward the tennis courts.
Donald Redman is building a bomb in the utility closet at the Sweet Valley High stadium, which is conveniently located right next to the tennis courts. As he’s working, he hears a boy and girl talking. He goes to investigate and recognizes Liz, but he still thinks she’s Melanie. Meanwhile, Jessica and Lila are playing around with the Ouija board. It tells them Liz is in danger at the stadium. Lila and Jessica accuse each other of moving the planchette, but finally figure out it was probably Jessica’s subconscious because she and Liz have that freaky twin ESP. They think Redman must be at the stadium, but don’t call the police because they’d sound crazy.
Jessica and Lila decide to go to the stadium – and what? Use their charm and beauty to stop the bomb from going off? They’re getting into Lila’s car when Elsa Bartel comes running up to them. She tells them Redman is her brother and that Liz is in danger. She’s come over to warn Liz. Jessica takes her inside so she can call the police, and the three of them go to meet the cops at the stadium.
At the stadium, Liz and Bruce are in a deep and meaningful embrace when Jeffrey shows up and demands to know what the hell is going on. Liz – get this – is furious at Jeffrey because he “shattered a special, deeply personal moment between her and Bruce.” She can’t believe he would think anything is going on. After all, she asked him to trust her. What a bitch. She tells Jeffrey the whole thing is perfectly innocent, but Jeffrey says he ran into Bruce at the mall earlier and Bruce was bragging that he had a date with Liz that night. Liz realizes she’s been duped and runs away from both of them. She wants to be alone, so she goes to the utility closet to hang out for a while. Redman closes the door behind her. She screams and then hears Jeffrey and Bruce coming to find her. Redman twists her arm to make her scream again, and the boys enter the room. He has them all trapped. His bomb is set to go off, the remote control in his hand.
Suddenly, the police and Elsa are yelling for Redman to give himself up. He says he won’t because he has to get back at “Melanie” for being so mean to him. Then Jeffrey tackles him and the remote control goes flying and ends up underneath a cabinet. Bruce picks up the bomb and runs away with it. Redman says he already pushed the button and then goes running after Bruce. Jeffrey moves the cabinet and Liz reaches under it to get the remote. The timer is counting down and Jeffrey tells her to smash the thing and rip out the wires. She does and the timer stops. Then they hear an explosion from outside. Jeffrey and Liz go out into the hallway and see Bruce coming toward them. Damn, he’s still alive. The cops come in and Bruce tells them Redman took the bomb from him and ran. He died in the explosion. Outside, Jessica hugs Liz, apologizes for tricking her and promises she’ll never use a Ouija board again.
I want to give the twins this lunchbox:
She had once sabotaged everyone’s slam books, saying that Jeffrey was in love with Enid and that Elizabeth was in love with Roger Barrett Patman, Bruce’s cousin, who had been legally adopted by the Patmans.
Uh, no. The slam books said Jeffrey was in love with Olivia and that Liz was in love with A. J. I guess marginal characters like Olivia and A. J. don’t exist in a Super Thriller.
She felt as though she had to speak to him, to let him know he had her support in his time of crisis.
Oh, shut up, Liz.
The Cover: They sure do look goofy on this one. Liz seems unsure of how a phone works and Jessica is practicing her pinup girl face.