The cover artwork shows Slappy in bed waking up from a nightmare screaming.
A rowdy theatre audience is eager for ventriloquism. Jimmy O'James attempts to share his ventriloquy with the audience, but his dummy, Slappy, interferes with the ventriloquist's plans by entertaining them with insults, threats, and physical violence. Slappy has lots of gross and insulting things to lob at the children in attendance and the audience members are more than willing to lend him their ear. Literally! Slappy proceeds to bite one of the child's ear, refusing to let go as the child howls in pain. When Slappy does finally release the child, the child slumps down onto the stage in an unconscious heap.
Then Slappy, who is being led offstage by Jimmy, leaves the audience with a siren song of his own: A screeching whistle that leaves all other children in attendance clutching their heads in agony, with one girl crying out, "It feels like there's a knife in my ears!"
Backstage, Jimmy O'James raises a good point with Slappy, who argues back that his new brand of cartoonish offensiveness and contempt for the audience will be revolutionary. But, Jimmy reminds him that the world does not need such a thing. Slappy tries to come up with a new unfunny way to say someone is ugly, before being alerted by O'James to the small wooden box in the dressing room. He opens it to reveal a toy identical to himself! Slappy compliments himself for looking so good, as Jimmy tells Slappy he went to the same evil toy maker who made him and got another toy named Wally (Wally is Slappy's identical twin. He also reveals that the sorcerer has place a set of instructions on how to waken Wally and put Slappy to sleep forever).
Slappy does not like the sound of this siphoned sorcery and tears off Wally's head. He then tries to do the same to O'James, before being rudely interrupted by a pair of sisters with the even unlikelier surname of Boonshoft. Georgia Boonshoft is quite interested in Jimmy's abilities. While her sister Stella is not really that great of a girl in general and the two unpleasant girls trade insults so efficiently that they effectively render Slappy more redundant than any sorcerer's spell ever could. Jimmy excuses himself from their sniping and casts a spell on Slappy requiring him to commit three good deeds within a week or face death.
He warns Slappy that he will be watching and then gives the cursed toy to the two girls as a present. He will be secretly monitoring Slappy however. His first attempt at a good deed finds him cleaning up Georgia's bedroom, while she sleeps. But after all of his hard work, he awakens to discover that someone has undone his good deed!
Georgia blames Stella, who angrily denies having done this. Slappy does not believe her either and he threatens her by pulling her aside, threatening to harm her physically if she ruins another of his good deeds. Stella runs to tell her mother. Slappy overreacts and resigns himself to having to kill the three females, now that his secret is out. But now that their mother does not believe Stella, he decides to put the "murder-spree" on hold.
The next morning, Mrs. Boonshoft tells Georgia of poor Mrs. Kramer's daughter, Maggie, who is now confined to a wheelchair, and how much a ventriloquism show would cheer her up. Unfortunately in due time, Maggie gets pushed down a hill and hits a van...
Despite her distraction with a squirrel, Stella insists Slappy had to have done it, as she would have never been so careless. However, Slappy knows he did not do it and decides that since Stella keeps trying to ruin his good deeds, he will just focus on killing her.
By now, Mrs. Boonshoft is convinced that Stella did push the girl in the wheelchair. Slappy enacts his devious plan to kill a preteen girl and sneaks into the room, only to be greeted with a swing of an axe across the head!
Stella chops Slappy to splinters and the toy reacts by... waking up...
Slappy then enters Stella's room and is hit over the head with a metal baseball bat. Stella claims she thought the walking dummy was a burglar. Which makes the girls then begin to argue for a while. Slappy debates whether or not killing Stella would take up too much time. Considering the fact, he has never successfully killed anybody yet...
Slappy gets another chance to not kill Stella, when Georgia takes him across the street to babysit two-year-old Robby. Later that night, Slappy overhears a strange sound from Robby's room and discovers his blanket tied around his neck. Slappy first pauses to delight in the infant's accidental strangulation, then proceeds to do a good deed by untangling him before walking away. Knowing, he finally managed to do a good deed...
Unfortunately, when Robby's parents arrive home, they find their son hung up in the drapes. Apparently he did not want anything bad to happen to Robby until his parents arrived. After faced with sabotage yet again, Slappy tries to figure out why Stella is behaving like he, himself would be. He admires her work, but reasons it is not a normal thing. So he then decides that for the sake of himself living, he must kill Stella once and for all and decides to make it easy by trying to smother her in her sleep. But his plan is interrupted by the victim, who snaps a photograph of the event in question so that she could prove to them that Slappy is alive. But, of course, the blurry photograph looks like Slappy is at worst short-sheeting her bed.
Stella freaks out and starts kicking Slappy all over the room, as her sister and mother watch with a mixture of confusion and embarrassment...
Mrs. Boonshoft asks Georgia to lock Slappy in her closet, but Georgia reminds her mother that she is taking Slappy to school with her tomorrow. Georgia is nervous about performing her act for her classmates during their lunch, as only last week the school jazz band received a great response at the same venue. Georgia begins her act and receives mostly awkward silence from the eating audience. Slappy is not really paying attention to Georgia even though her hand is inside him, as he has just spotted Stella's trademark purple hat and knows she is there to sabotage him yet again. He then snaps and leaps off of Georgia's hand into the crowded lunchroom!
This freaks out everyone and the walking dummy pursues the purple hatted figure, only to discover that it is Wally!
Slappy and Wally start to argue in the lunchroom's kitchen, and Wally admits that it was he who caused the problems. He wants to live, so he tried to sabotage Slappy. Before Slappy can respond with an insult, Wally gets his anger out by slamming Slappy's head against the tile floor. Slappy evades his grasp and jumps up on-top of the stove top and pushes a boiling pot of soup onto Wally. Wally writhes around in pain as the boiling concoction scalds him. Georgia runs into the kitchen and sees Slappy is alive. She steps between him and Wally and demands to know what's going on. Slappy responds by grabbing her midsection and hurling her into a wall. He then throws a vat of spaghetti at her. Georgia finally stands up for herself and grabs each of the toys. She carries them across the kitchen and throws them into the trash compactor, shredding them into chunks of sawdust and cloth.
It is then Slappy wakes up. He is greeted backstage by Jimmy. Slappy tells him he had a bad dream. Jimmy pulls Wally along with the instructions out of a crate and tells Slappy that dreams come true. He then read the instructions, starting the curse.
- This book marks the first time a Goosebumps villain has returned as an anti-hero.
- This book also marks the first time a character from one of Slappy's previous books makes another appearance. Jimmy O'James appeared previously in Bride of the Living Dummy.
- One of Wally's victims, Maggie Kramer, shares a surname with the protagonist of Night of the Living Dummy II, Amy Kramer.
References in other Goosebumps media
- In Goosebumps: The Game, you can earn an achievement called "Slappy's Nightmare" by discovering Slappy's big secret.
|Goosebumps Series 2000 series|
|#01 Cry of the Cat||#10 Headless Halloween||#18 Horrors of the Black Ring|
|#02 Bride of the Living Dummy||#11 Attack of the Graveyard Ghouls||#19 Return to Ghost Camp|
|#03 Creature Teacher||#12 Brain Juice||#20 Be Afraid – Be Very Afraid!|
|#04 Invasion of the Body Squeezers: Part 1||#13 Return to HorrorLand||#21 The Haunted Car|
|#05 Invasion of the Body Squeezers: Part 2||#14 Jekyll and Heidi||#22 Full Moon Fever|
|#06 I Am Your Evil Twin||#15 Scream School||#23 Slappy's Nightmare|
|#07 Revenge R Us||#16 The Mummy Walks||#24 Earth Geeks Must Go!|
|#08 Fright Camp||#17 The Werewolf in the Living Room||#25 Ghost in the Mirror|
|#09 Are You Terrified Yet?|