The cover shows a strange being sitting at a desk.
Scream School opens with a riff on the opening to Cry of the Cat, as fictional characters in a film are presented as the novel's protagonists. Unfortunately, the illusion is shattered when Jake, the son of the film's director, Emory Banyon, accidentally messes up a take while offscreen. Emory calls "Cut" and rolls action against his son. Emory is obsessed with the idea that his son is scared of things, but Jake refuses to admit he was scared.
Jake is then embarrassed on the set in front of his friend, Chelsea. Emory continues to test Jake, prodding him with scary stimulus and looking for an honest admission of fear. His first effort is hiding an eyeball in a bucket of chicken...
Jake cautiously revisits the Scream School set. But while he is on set, the star of the film is terribly ill and proceeds to throw up. Emory, feeling as if he has no other choice, have Jake fill in for the star. The actor was supposed to emerge from a shuttered art cabinet at the back of a classroom, only to be greeted by a cadre of snakes on the floor. Emory insists that no one will notice his son is not the star, as he intends to film him from the back anyway. Jake then mistakes an electrical cord for a snake, to much deserved embarrassment, which leads him to obsess about not appearing to be scared.
His father leaves him a note on his birthday to take the limo to the studio. Once he arrives, he is greeted by zombies and it somehow never occurs to him that he was set-up. Jake runs away from his own surprise party in tears after being embarrassed by his father, yet again. His mother runs after him in hopes of making him feel better, while the zombie actors simply shuffle off the set.
After some healing time passes, Emory comes up to his son while in the pool and spits water at his chest. This is his way of saying, "Hey, I'm shooting a new Scream School movie in a haunted school in the middle of a desert. Want to come with me?"
Jake hesitantly agrees, only to comment on how hot it is upon arrival in the desert. He is then sent to go look around the abandoned building, while the crew finishes setting up their film equipment. Jake stumbles upon a mysterious girl in the midst of many cobwebs. She introduces herself as Mindy, apparently she is a teenage extra on the film.
She explains how she got lost from her friends and that they all drove over from a neighboring desert town to be extras on the film. She also reveals that she is one of the characters to be killed during the film.
As they walk around the spooky school, Mindy tells Jake the story of how the school got haunted. The town council, like most responsible governing bodies, insisted on building the school over the existing cemetery, despite there being plenty of available land elsewhere. Though they did move the bodies, the souls were still angry and decided to take revenge on the children. The ghosts do this by tying up some children in a volleyball net, which clearly was the one thing Emory did not do to scare his son...
After Mindy finally meets up with her friends, one of them warns Jake that she is a notorious liar. Then he asks her, if he can truly believe what Mindy said. She simply gives him an answer that is basically up to him and soon many ghostly accidents and horrors begin to befall the set. Like random appendages showing up in cafeteria food, and a cheerleading scene that is interrupted by a skull!
Finally, in a bizarre moment. Emory is led onto the classroom set, only to be greeted by actors he knows he did not hire. He knows this because they are effectively scary, and in fact they terrify him with their ghostly intimidations. Jake then reveals it was HIS doing! He hired Mindy and her friends to play a prank on his father, then Jake asks his father to admit he is scared...
Emory is upset at being tricked but thrilled that the cameras were rolling, as he can use the footage in the film. However, as they overlook the film, they notice that none of the children showed up on the film...
Jake's friends really were ghosts!
No, they really were not. Jake had the foresight to film the empty classroom himself, before his father entered. His father, out of horror watches the film but does not seem to notice that neither he or Jake show up on the film either.
Cover Art Gallery
- The odd creature/character on the front is supposed to be the actor mentioned near the beginning of the story, Johnny Scream.
- Jake's mother was also mentioned by name in the book: Vicki Banyon.
- The French version of this cover features a monster holding a cake.