No doubt you've seen the terminally 90s Animorphs covers at some point, but did you ever pick one up and read it? Though technically aimed at kids, they were some of the most violent, graphic and all around brutal books on the shelves. The series is an oddyssey of body horror and psychological nightmares -- all starring middle schoolers. A recent Tumblr post by bogleech highlighted some of the most disturbing details. One that caught our eye in particular is known as "The David Trilogy."
It's always kind of lame when a series adds a new character out of nowhere to freshen up the group. But David isn't exactly Poochie. Though initially welcomed to the team, it quickly became clear that the sixth Animorph was not only a liability to the team, but also a Grade-A shitbird.
It all begins when Dave stumbles across the hidden Escafil device; it's basically the Tesseract from the Avengers, except it gives you the ability to morph into animals. Dingus that he is, David attempts to sell his newfound Cosmic Cube on the internet, which of course immediately results in a pissed off alien knocking on his door. The Animorphs barge in and save the day, whisking away the artifact and its would-be Craigslist seller. But David's parents weren't so lucky. Poor mom and dad were left to become Controllers, which are essentially mindslaves for the evil extraterrestrials threatening the human race.
That kind of hellish fate depicted in a kids book would be shocking if there weren't even more unsettling horror stories lurking in this franchise. It's probably on us, anyway -- we should have known just looking at the covers that we were in for a fucked up ride.
With nowhere to go, David joins up with the Animorphs, albeit stuck in the barn with the perma-morphed Tobias. Over time, David begins to resent his new "friends," thinking of them more as captors than teammates. Eventually he betrays the group to the invading aliens, killing a hawk that he believes to be Tobias. To cement his standing in the Dickweed Hall of Fame, David even attempts to take over the life of a boy dying in the hospital. You can almost sort of feel for David here; after all, his parents are in the clutches of an advanced alien race, and probably not regaining control of their bodies any time soon. This kid's probably not going to be using his life any time soon, so why not call dibs? Well, just because you can morph into another human being and take your place, doesn't mean you should. There are other ways to get a fresh start, such as getting your GED or like, getting your haircut.
David's plot was rooted out when the dying boy's body was discovered in an elevator shaft (it's not certain whether David killed him or just let him expire, but we're gonna bet on the former). It was this attempted body-snatching that pushed the Animorphs over the edge. David had to be stopped. They weren't willing to kill him, because they're technically the heroes of this story. But David knew about morphing, knew about their Cosmic Cube and always managed to morph into the form of a conniving asshole; his existence was a threat to the Animorphs and as a result, the human race. So what do you do about a guy like that?
Thankfully, the Animorphs were still teenagers and as a result had fantastic decision-making skills. The team tricked David into turning into rat form... forever. The Animorphs accomplished this by trapping their enemy in such a way that morphing back to human form was impossible. Remember, Animorphs have a hard two-hour window to morph back to their original form or risk staying perma-morphed for the rest of their lives. This meant they had to stay and watch over David while his telepathic screams pleaded for mercy.
It took two hours for David to become a nothlit. A person trapped in morph.
Two hours. But that two hours of horror will last forever in my mind. If I live a hundred years, I will still hear his cries, his threats, his pleading, each night before sleep takes me. And beyond sleep, in my dreams.
Almighty saviors they may be, these are still kids -- kids who plotted to kidnap and torture one of their peers, irreversibly changing him forever. Though leaving him alive might seem like an act of mercy, David in rodent form only had the lifespan of a rat. We're talking few years at best. And that's not even the worst part.
See, David could still communicate telepathically to anyone, so he was still a danger to the group. The Animorphs had to find a place where he couldn't be a harm to anyone. This place just so happened to be a rocky island a mile off shore. There David stayed, trapped among other unintelligent rats. That wasn't the end of his story, however.
We never heard from David again. Not directly, at least. But months later I heard some kid at school talking about the rock. It was haunted, he said. He and his family had passed close by on a boat. He swears he'd heard a faint, ragged voice crying, "No! No!"
David actually returned in a later book, but his schemes were foiled once again. Left alone with Rachel, he begged to be killed rather than put back on that godforsaken island. What happened after that is a mystery. I'm not sure what's worse -- thinking about a teenager murdering another middle-schooler, or a rat's psychic wails haunting the beach for years.
Tristan Cooper's supernatural screams can be found on Twitter.