Director George Romero and writer Stephen King unleashed Creepshow on audiences back in 1982, with its blend of camp and horror taking a number of forms in the years since, with the latest entry into the concept being the book Creepshow: The Taker, which is now available for purchase. The original film was meant to serve as an homage to horror comics the filmmakers grew up reading, with streaming service Shudder adapting the concept into a TV series last year, and that tone now being embraced for the new book from author Elley Cooper, featuring two all-new stories and published by Scholastic.
The first story is described, "When Bea moves to a new town, she is determined to do two things: get on the dance team at school and find new friends. What she doesn’t expect is for one of those friends to be a ghost, or for that ghost to be jealous of her dance crew. If Bea wants to keep the peace, she has to do what her new friends want. But at what cost?”
In the second story, "Casey has always loved animals. Dogs and cats are fine enough-not that his dead-beat dad has ever let him have one. But what he really wants is an African Grey Parrot. When he finally gets his wish, it’s almost too good to be true. The parrot, Dorian, sings and talks and learns new tricks so fast. Dorian is incredibly smart-maybe too smart for his, and Casey’s, own good…”
You can check out an exclusive excerpt from the new book and interior art below.
Every day when Casey got home from school, he would go straight to Dodie’s cage. “I’m home!” Casey would say, and Dodie would flap his wings and squawk, “Hello! Hello!”
Casey had to admit it was nice for a creature to be that happy to see you.
Today, they were working on some tricks Casey had seen a trainer doing with her parrot on a YouTube video. Casey did a circular motion with his hand over Dodie’s head and said, “Spin.”
Dodie spun around like a birdie ballerina.
“Good boy!” Casey gave Dodie a sunflower seed.
Next they worked on “wave hello.” Almost immediately, Dodie lifted his right foot and wiggled it.
“Good boy!” Casey dispensed another sunflower seed.
“Kiss,” Dodie said.
“What?” Casey hadn’t taught him that.
“Kiss,” Dodie repeated.
“Okay.” Casey moved his face close to Dodie’s, and Dodie touched his beak to Casey’s lips.
“Hey, you taught me a trick,” Casey said, laughing. “Maybe you should give me a sunflower seed.”
Casey had read about African greys and watched lots of videos of them, but he was still shocked and amazed by how smart Dodie was. Any trick he showed him, any words he said to him, Dodie repeated them right away. He wondered if Dodie was extra smart even by the standards of his breed’s high intelligence level.
“Sing me a song, Dodie,” Casey said.
“Oh, Polly, pretty Polly, come go along with me / Before we get married some pleasures to see.” His voice was high and mournful like some mountain man playing his banjo and singing on his front porch.
Casey gave him another sunflower seed.
The front door opened.
“Hi, Mom!” Casey called.
“Hi, Mom!” Dodie repeated.
Mom laughed. “Hi, boys! Let me get changed out of these stupid work clothes, and I’ll get dinner started.”
Casey took Dodie to the kitchen, sat at the table, and got out his homework while Mom chopped up vegetables for stir-fry. Dodie sat on Casey’s shoulder and nuzzled his hair, but then flew from his perch on Casey to the kitchen counter.
“Hi, Dodie,” Mom said. “Don’t poop on the counter, okay?”
Casey watched as Dodie cocked his head at her. “Whatcha doin’?” Dodie asked.
“Um… cooking dinner,” Mom answered as if she were a little nervous about being interrogated by a parrot.
“Yummy!” Dodie squawked.
Mom laughed and gave him a slice of carrot. “You know,” she said, “I’ve always been under the impression that parrots just repeat what they’re told, but that was like an actual conversation.”
“I know,” Casey said. “He’s crazy smart.”
She looked at Dodie with fascination. “I mean, he asked me a question, and when I answered, he responded to my answer. Are parrots supposed to be able to do that?”
“I don’t know if they’re supposed to be able to, but I know that Dodie does. And I can’t teach him tricks fast enough.”
“Wow,” Mom said, offering another carrot slice to Dodie. “It’s almost like having something more than a pet. He reminds me of a really intelligent toddler. A weird, feathery, squawking toddler.”
“A weird, feathery, squawking toddler that poops a lot,” Casey said.
“Well, toddlers poop a lot, too,” his mom said, grinning. “But it’s interesting to have him around. I’m glad we got him.”
“I love you, Mom,” Dodie squawked.
“I love you, too, Dodie,” Mom said. “Here, try some broccoli.”
After dinner, Casey put Dodie back in his cage so he could take out the rats for cuddle and playtime. He had been trying hard to make sure Renfield and Igor didn’t feel ignored because of the new addition to his menagerie.
“Hey, guys, ready for cuddles?” Casey lifted the rats out of their habitat and sat down on the floor with them. They crawled all over his lap and licked at his hands. “Are you being lovey, or are you just looking for treats?” Casey asked, giving each of them a rub behind their ears. Rats loved to be rubbed behind their ears for some reason.
A clacking sound came from Dodie’s cage. Casey looked up to see Dodie, his neck craned, his wings spread. The clacking sound was coming from his bill. The pupils of his eyes contracted to pinpoints, expanded, then contracted again. Casey knew from his reading that these were the behaviors of an angry bird.
“Buddy, what’s wrong?” Casey asked. “You’re acting all jealous.”
Dodie flashed his eyes and clacked his bill again.
“My little rat buddies have to get some attention, too,” Casey said.
Dodie hissed like an angry cat.
“Okay, well, you’re just going to have to sulk for a few minutes.” Casey turned his back on Dodie. “These little guys need love, too.”
Once the rats had had half an hour of playtime, he stood up and put them back in their tank. He walked over to the birdcage where Dodie was sitting on his perch, his wings closed tight against his body.
“There’s no need for you to be jealous,” Casey said. “You’re my birdie, and I’m your boy.”
Dodie held out his foot.
“Okay, you can come out for a few minutes.” He held out his arm for Dodie to perch on it.
The doorbell rang.
“Ding dong! Ding dong!” Dodie squawked.
Casey laughed. “Okay, let’s go see who’s at the door.”
Casey’s mom had already let Ari in. He lived in the apartment complex across the street, so he dropped by frequently. Ari was holding his skateboard. Whenever he wasn’t in school, he was either riding his skateboard or carrying it. It was like an extension of his body.
“Hey,” Ari said. “I thought I’d stop by and see your—” He looked at Casey’s shoulder and grinned— “There he is!”
“Yep, this is Dodie,” Casey said. “Sit down, and maybe you two can get acquainted.”
Ari sat on the couch, and Casey sat beside him. Dodie walked down Casey’s shoulder and perched on his forearm. “If you hold your arm out, too, he might come sit on you.” Ari held out his arm, and Casey said, “Dodie, this is Ari. Ari is my friend.”
Dodie stepped from Casey’s arm to Ari’s. He tilted his head, looked at Ari, and said, “Friend.”
Ari’s eyes widened. “Whoa! Has he ever said that before?”
“Not where I could hear him,” Casey said. “He’s picking up new things all the time.”
“Wow, Dodie,” Ari said. “You make my cat look stupid.”
“Stupid cat! Stupid cat!” Dodie squawked, then followed up with a series of highly realistic meows.
Both boys laughed.
“Can you imagine him meowing like that at your cat?” Casey said. “It would drive her crazy!”
“It would,” Ari said, laughing some more. “Hey, Dodie, I have an idea. Would you like to be a skater boy?”
He set down his skateboard and held Dodie so he could step onto it. Once Dodie had both feet on the board, Ari pushed it gently across the floor. “Whee!” Dodie squawked. “Again! Again!”
“This is awesome,” Ari said. “I’ve got to film it.” He took out his phone and aimed it at Dodie.
Dodie shrieked and beat his wings. “No no no no no!” he squawked.
“Camera shy, huh?” Ari said. “Sorry, dude. I’ll put it away.”
Dodie calmed down as soon as the phone was out of sight, and Casey and Ari took turns giving him skateboard rides. Ari made up a song called “Skater Bird” to the tune of “Surfin’ Bird,” and Dodie bobbed his head as Ari sang.
After Ari left, Casey put Dodie back in the cage so he could finish his homework and take a shower before bed. After he’d brushed his teeth and put on his pajamas, he did his nighttime ritual of telling all his animals good night. It was like that book his mom used to read to him when he was little, where the bunny said good night to all the things in his room.
He peeked into the aquarium. “Good night, my frogs.”
He peeked into the rodent habitat. “Good night, my rats.”
He stood beside the bird cage. Dodie’s eyes were already closed. “Good night, my birdie.”
Dodie’s eyes opened. “Good night, my boy,” he squawked.
Creepshow: The Taker is on sale now.
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