The Gravity of Benham Falls by Jeremy Robert Johnson

Following in the same vein as The Dead Girlfriend by R.L. Stine, “The Gravity of Benham Falls” also takes place in or around a waterfall. Coming from Jeremy Robert Johnson’s short story collection Entropy in Bloom, the story deals with a woman struggling to pay her father’s hospital bills who is lured to a waterfall that happens to be the spot where her kid brother fell into when she was younger. Her plan is to seduce a certain drug dealer enough to gain his trust and eventually rob him of his drug stash in money. Unfortunately, she gets herself into a situation that is a little bit more than she can handle. Tony, the man she tries to seduce, manipulates her perfectly by faking passionate kisses that have her wrapped around his finger. He tells the origin story of Benham falls, which was originally known as Sostone Falls. In his story, Sostone Falls was named after an Indian princess of the Tolaquin tribe who threw herself into the falls as an act of protest to the relocation of her tribe. Rumor has it that you can see her face in the falls if you look up during a full moon. After people began falling into the falls and dying, the waterfall was renamed to Benham falls. Following the story, Tony begins kissing the girl while she begins to hallucinate the face of the Indian princess before waking from her hallucinatory state to Tony strangling her into a blackout. He then reveals that after finding a bracelet at the falls, the Indian princess tells him to throw women into the falls, an act which he has begun to enjoy. He also reveals that he was, unknowingly, the person who pushed her brother into the falls many years in the past. A vision of her brother Michael tells her to let go, which she does, thus pulling herself and Tony into the waterfall. As she falls she has visions of the other women who were pushed into the waterfall. She ends up landing on top of Tony and somehow surviving, pulling herself on the mossy shore and hot-wiring Tony’s car. She plans on selling Tony’s vintage Camaro and visiting her father in the hospital. The end.

I read this directly after reading The Dead Girlfriend by R.L. Stine and I couldn’t help noticing that both featured a character with a yellow striped shirt and blue jeans standing at the top of a waterfall. Was this intentional or just a coincidence? Who knows. But I enjoyed that connection. After reading so much about them, I feel a deep necessity to visit a waterfall. Maybe Ill even throw myself in!

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The Dead Girlfriend by R.L. Stine

Teenage love can drive people to do some crazy things. But does it hold enough clout to lead one into MURDERING another? Horror legend R.L. Stine’s The Dead Girlfriend is a gripping tale about a high school senior named Annie who moves to a new town with her parents. The small town’s only redeeming quality is that it has a conveniently placed waterfall from which the local townspeople enjoy biking up to and staring down upon. On her first day, Annie explores the waterfall and meets this dreamy attractive boy named Jonathan who in a very shady manner with his constant mood swings and vague responses to questions. His actions give off numerous red flags that any normal self aware person would easily pick up on, but not Annie! She falls in love with him on their first date and they end up kissing and going to a party at Jon’s friend Caleb’s house. Caleb’s parents let him throw house party’s every Friday for god knows what reason where all the local high school kids go to make out on stair sets and drink beer! That part of the story always amazed me because when I was in high school i never went to parties like that but maybe that’s just a testament to how lame I was as a high school kid. Anyways, the kids end up going to a batting cage (weird choice) to hangout after the party and Caleb acts like a madman by climbing up the wires of the cage and daring Jonathan to join him. Caleb acts like a fucking jackass throughout the whole book and his girlfriend Dawn always comments but never acts upon her desires to break up with him. Anyways, Jon gets pissed when Caleb mocks him for being a pussy. This party marks the first appearance of Annie’s only friend throughout the book, Dawn. While everyone tries to tip toe around certain events that happened in the past, with people suggesting to Annie that she be careful around Jonathan, claiming he is dangerous, Dawn drops all the info Annie needs to create her own assumptions of the past. Dawn reveals that Jonathan’s old girlfriend, Louisa, mysteriously fell off the top of the town waterfall while on a date with Jonathan. The whole town and school wonders if it was purely an accident or if Jonathan may have been involved in the death. The next day Annie realizes that Jonathan’s friend Ruby totally has the hots for Jonathan and she gets jealous. The two have a rivalry throughout the whole book that involve Annie blaming Ruby whenever certain things happen to her, such as a computer randomly deleting her research files or a computer electrocuting her into a mini coma. Theres also this random character named Ryan who is a geeky kid obsessed with Louisa who tries to warn Annie from hanging out with Jonathan. Ryan ends up forcing himself upon Annie at one point and then yelling that if she hangs out with Jonathan she will regret it. After this, he’s never seen again, not even in the ending. The book follows in this fashion with Annie freaking out and panicking over if Jonathan is a killer or just a moody hormonal boy until the end when they meet at the top of the waterfall and Annie provokes him into revealing that he KILLED her by bringing her up to the waterfall that fateful day in the past, but it was actually RUBY who pushed her in. Then Ruby miraculously shows up and says that Jonathan is a liar and that he actually pushed her in. Then Jonathan and Ruby start fighting and pushing each other and Ruby ends up falling into the waterfall before none other than DAWN shows up and reveals that SHE WAS THE KILLER ALL ALONG and she was just trying to get closer to Jonathan by dating his best friend and killing all of Jonathan’s lovers. Right as she’s about to push Annie into the falls, Jon tackles her and the police arrive, with Stine revealing that Ruby actually survived the fall with only a broken elbow and alerted the cops. The book is filled with numerous holes such as what happened to Ryan? How did Ruby get to the police so fast when she just fell five minutes ago? Isn’t Jonathan still a shitty person for pushing Ruby off of the waterfall? and Why did they introduce Louia’s sister for one scene and then never mention her again? But all that aside, this was a quick and entertaining read, and it sports a beautifully illustrated cover of Louisa with her skin decaying off her face.