|The Tale of the Phantom Cab|
|Season 1 , Episode 1|
|Air date||August 15, 1992|
|Written by||Chloe Brown|
|Directed by||Ron Oliver|
The Tale of Laughing in the Dark
The Tale of the Phantom Cab is the First episode of the First season of Are You Afraid of the Dark?, as well as the First episode in total.
Midnight Society Cast
- Jason Alisharan as Frank
- Nathaniel Moreau as David
- Rachel Blanchard as Kristen
- Ross Hull as Gary
- Raine Pare-Coull as Betty Ann
- Jodie Resther as Kiki
- Jacob Tierney as Eric
- Jason Tremblay as Denny Crocker
- Sean Ryan as Buzz Crocker
- Brian Dooley as Flynn
- Aron Tager as Dr. Vink
- T.O. Dillon as Ranger
We see a campfire burning. Then a teenage boy tells the viewers that their group is called: The Midnight Society. The leader Gary explains that separately they are very different. They all like different things, and they all go to different schools and they have different friends. The one thing that draws them all together is the dark. Each week they gather around the campfire to share their fears and their strange and scary tales. It was got them together, and it is what keeps bringing them back. Gary gives a warning to all who join them: You're going to leave the comfort of the light, and step into the super natural.
Then we are introduced to Eric, Betty Ann Kiki and Kristen. Then Gary hints for another person to come forward. We are introduced to David. He comes in with another person, who has his vision concealed. Gary says the new person is Frank Moore, and David has nominated him to become a new member. Frank gets rude asking why he was blindfolded. The girls tell him that their place is secret. So he won't know where it is, unless he gets in. David says he sponsors Frank saying he is a good guy. Eric criticizes asking if he can tell a good story and Frank snaps asking who said that.
Then Gary explains to become a member, he must tell a good story. Then afterwards they all have to vote. If the vote is not unanimous, he won't get in. Then Gary asks him if he is ready. Frank says he is and he taunts them asking if they're ready and they feel intrigued. So David leads him to sit down on the story teller's chair. Since David is the sponsor he needs to show Frank how to start a story. So he hands over a pouch. David asks him if remembers what to do. Franks says yes and tells him to throw in the dust. Then David throws in a handful of non dairy creamer to make the fire more intense. Then Frank summits his story for the approval of The Midnight Society. His story is titled: "The Tale of the Phantom Cab"
Frank tells the story. It is about Denny Crocker and his little brother Buzz. Denny was big, tall and smart. Buzz was kind of a geek who wanted to prove himself to his big brother. So he persuaded him to let him lead a hiking trail. Denny was getting really impatient. He asks his brother where they are now. Then he realizes they are lost. So he made a mistake letting him plot their course.
His brother is confused. He points how strange it is that his compass arrows keeps spinning out of control. So now his brother is furious stating that Buzz has gotten them lost. Also to make matters worse, Buzz just spilled his water on the map. So now they are lost and they won't be able to read the map. Denny gets miffed and calls his brother a loser. Buzz says he isn't one. Then he points out the ridge that they came up on. So he is positive that if they go the opposite way, they can find their way back. Then as he is trying to read the confusing spinning compass, he falls off the edge of the cliff. He holds onto the edge, as his older brother pulls him back up.
Later on, it is now nighttime, and it is now getting dark and cold. We see the boys are still lost. Denny is mad so he pushes his brother. The he asks him if he even knows how to use the compass. Buzz says that they have been going south for hours. So they should have been in town by now. Then seeing the way he holds the compass, Denny makes him realize he has been pointing it all day near his belt buckle (His belt buckle has iron in it. Since that is magnetic it throws his compass of course). So now they really are lost and Denny blames it all on him, calling him worthless. Buzz complains crying that he knows the area. He claims they must be close to town. So they move on forward.
Then Denny chases after his brother running through the woods. When he catches up with him, he is furious and wants to pound him. Then Buzz points out someone coming shining a flashlight. At first Denny thinks it is a forest ranger, who has a blanket to warm them up. Buzz thinks it may be another hiker, who knows the way back to town.
Then strangely enough it is just a simple man named Flynn. He seems to have just appeared from nowhere. He says that he is a traveler, who knows the woods. Since he can see how cold they are, he leads them to the home of someone who may help them. They ask Flynn why he cannot just tell them the way back. He says it would be too far, and they would never find their way in the dark. They ask him who he is taking them to. He says to a good doctor. Then he asks them out of interest, if they are any good at solving riddles.
Flynn eventually leads them to a cottage. Before Flynn leaves he warns them not to ask the doctor for help, unless they desperately need it. Since the price he charges can be really steep. Then suddenly when they look back again, Flynn has disappeared.
Then just before going to knock on the cottage door, the bushes all rapidly shake and appear to be crying out to them. Then they knock on the door. Immediately the doctor answers and lets them in. The doctor introduces himself to Dr. Vink, an odd backwoods scientist who does experiments on dead animals and collects specimens.
They can see that he is loony and odd. So Denny says he is a nut bag. Dr. Vink says that he will allow them to phone their parents on the condition that they can solve his riddles. Then he tells them that he is NOT a nut bag. Buzz says he is good at riddles so he takes on the challenge. First Dr. Vink asks the riddle: "How far can you go in the woods?". Buzz has the correct answer: halfway. Since afterwards you would be out of the woods. Denny is fed up and just wants to use the phone. The Dr. Vink threatens to cut the phone cord, if they do not continue. So they continue, next Dr. Vink asks them another riddle that stumps both of them: "What's weightless, can be seen by the naked eye, and if put in a barrel, will make it lighter?".
When Buzz can't solve it, Dr. Vink forces them to leave. Then he informs them that a cab will soon arrive. Then he tells the boys of another way he will let them use the phone. He tells the boys that they can offer him a specimen. They ask him what he means. So he shows them a jar containing a preserved amputated human hand. This scares them so much, they run outside screaming.
Back at the Clearing
The story is interrupted by Eric complaining that you cannot put a riddle in a story, that cannot be solved, Betty Ann says that perhaps it can be answered. Kiki says that it sounds like a riddle that just cannot be solved. Kristen complains that it is a cheat. Gary disagrees saying that perhaps it can be solved. Frank gets annoyed and rudely tells them all to lighten up and let him finish the story. So they quiet down to let him continue.
Back to the Story
The boys run back into the woods, and surely enough they find the cab in the middle of nowhere. They get in the back seats saying their parents will pay their fare. It turns out that Flynn is the driver, who says he had a feeling he would be seeing them again. Also now he looked like the walking dead. He reveals to them Dr. Vink's plot: 40 years ago, he gave the scientist a ride up to his cabin. Then he promised him a big tip if he could solve a riddle. He couldn't solve it, but he luckily got off easy, by giving the doctor a specimen. He shocks the boys to reveal that he was the one who gave Dr. Vink that preserved hand as a specimen. Realizing the year and the age differences between him and Dr. Vink, Denny complains that he would be much older than he appears to be.
Then Flynn reveals to them that When he left the cottage, he had a nasty accident crashing into a tree. Then he turns his head around to the boys, and tells them: "You might say.. I SORTA DIED! HAHAHAH". The boys scream in horror to find out he is zombie.
Now, his ghost lures new people over to Dr. Vink's cabin so that they will relive the accident, killing all of them and giving the doctor new specimens. As they near the crash site, he tells them they may have might have seen his other "fares" outside of the cottage.
Buzz realizes that those bushes were ghosts, who were trying to warn them. Then Flynn tells them that they still have time to solve the riddle, before they crash. The boys panic trying to unlock their doors to get out, but the doors are jammed. So Denny and Buzz desperately try to solve the riddle. First Denny suggests that helium could make the barrel lighter. But Buzz disagrees. Since you cannot see Helium. Denny gets frustrated and puts Buzz under pressure shaking him. But he cannot think that way.
Then finally Buzz realizes that you cannot put something into the barrel to make it lighter, you need to to take something out of it. Then suddenly he comes up with the right answer: A hole!
- It is weightless.
- You can see it.
- If you put it into a barrel, it will make the barrel lighter.
They brace themselves as the cab is about to crash. Then suddenly their outside safe and sound and the cab has disappeared. It would seem that Buzz did have the right answer, and he blurted it just in the nick of time. Denny compliments him on a job well done. Then suddenly they see another flashlight. They panic for a moment thinking it is Flynn again. Then are relieved to see it is a real Forest Ranger, who has been sent to rescue them. He tells the boys that everyone has been looking for them. So they get into his vehicle to go home. Then the Ranger asks them what they have been up to. Buzz just smiles asking the Ranger if he is any good at riddles.
As the story ends Franks says that no one ever saw the phantom cab again. Then when Buzz and Denny brought the police to the location of Dr. Vink's cabin, all they could find was an old stone foundation covered in weeds. Then he ends it by saying: the end.
Now the Midnight society has to vote. A thumbs up means he is in, and a thumbs down means he is not. Gary reminds him that vote must unanimous.
First David gives a thumbs up. Second Kiki gives a thumbs up. Third Betty Ann gives a thumbs up. Forth Kristen gives a thumbs up. Fifth Eric reluctantly gives a thumbs up. Then finally, Gary give a thumbs up. Then he tells Frank congratulations, he has made it into the Midnight Society. Then the bandana is taken off and he and David high-five to cheer. Then Frank gets to know everyone else and shakes hands with them.
- Frank's first story.
- This episode is also when Frank is introduced to The Midnight Society, as well as the introduction of Dr. Vink, who would later appear in other stories told by Frank. Dr. Vink's second appearance would be in "The Tale of the Midnight Madness".
- This was the first time a story character had referred to Dr. Vink as a "nutbag" and the first time Dr. Vink said that he was not.
- This is the only time a Midnight Society member's last name is mentioned.
- This is the only time a Midnight Society inductee (Frank) remains blindfolded throughout the entire storytelling (Tucker, Sam, and Stig had bags - and, later for Stig, a bandanna - placed over their heads for only a moment when taken directly to the fire.)
- One of twenty-one episodes where the Midnight Society didn't leave and douse the fire with the water-bucket (Frank was being congratulated on joining).
- One of five episodes to feature a different opening (a door appearing against a sky backdrop opening into a dark area with ghostly images rushing by to form the title) instead of the opening of various shots of a bay, a moving playground swing, an old house and attic, and a match lighting itself in the hand that held it.
- Although Gary mentioned that they all didn't go to the same school, or saw each other away from the clearing, we see that this eventually changed. Beginning in the third season. Gary recruited his younger brother and Betty Ann recruited Sam, who was her friend from school. Also the group started mentioning that they went to school together and socialized and did things outside of the clearing. These changes were made to possibly show children that the Midnight Society was not just a group of strangers who only saw each other late at night in the middle of the dark woods.
- Jason Tremblay would reappear a few episodes later as Bostick in "The Tale of the Twisted Claw".
- Seth Ryan, appeared a few years later in an episode of the Goosebumps television show. He portrayed the part of the ghost, Seth the ice cream boy in "The Headless Ghost".
- Brian Dooley who played Flynn the cab driver, appeared again in the season 4 episode "The Tale of the Silent Servant" as Pete Peterson.
- T.O. Dillon, who portrayed the Forest Ranger, made another appearance in the show. He next portrayed the coach, in the episode "The Tale of the Curious Camera". However, his name was credited as Teddy Lee Dillon.
- At one point, Dr. Vink shows off a hand in a jar. Aron Tager would go on to be in the Goosebumps episode "Piano Lessons Can Be Murder", portraying a robot that was controlled by someone who was obsessed with hands.