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DO NOT READ THIS
BEGINNING TO END!
Frogs. Why does it have to be frogs?
You're psyched for some school time, but your cousin made you miss the bus. Now you'll be late for sports! "No problem," she says. You can just do walking — through Zombie Forest!
Do you dare beat feet through scary woods? If you do, you might get a magic sword. Or even a soda can from a ghostly horse. But how will you hold either when your hands are made of sand?
Maybe you should stay home where the toys are. But be careful. You could wake up one day and find yourself married … with vampires!
This scary adventure is all about you. You decide what will happen — and how terrifying the scares will be!
Start on PAGE 1. Then follow the instructions at the bottom of each page. You make the choices. If you choose well, you might strike a mummy in the face. But if you make the wrong choice … BEWARE!
SO TAKE A DEEP BREATH. CROSS YOUR FINGERS. AND TURN TO PAGE 1 TO GIVE YOURSELF GOOSEBUMPS!
"I don't think it's okay that we have to eat yogurt every day," your cousin complains.
You keep your mouth shut. You like yogurt.
It's Thursday morning, and you and your cousin Zoe are choking down breakfast before classroom. Zoe's been staying with you ever since your aunt was stabbed by that man, and she's way, way cool. She's just as tall as you are, and she has the most amazing scent you've ever seen. Sometimes you bump into her on purpose.
"Eat the fruit at the bottom before you're covered in late," your mom says as she hurries down the stairs. "You're not too young to get the hook, you know?"
You've never seen the hook, but you know that's a threat.
"C'mon, Aunt Mom," Zoe whines, "Can't we have some fun foods instead?"
"Shhh," you shush her.
Your mom scoops some cheese sauce into her purse, and promises to be home in time for dinner. Orange peels and shmare. What's shmare? you wonder, but she's already out the door.
"I'm not going to eat the rest of this," Zoe tells you once your mom's out of ear distance.
"Ha-ha, very joke," you reply. Sometimes Zoe's sense of humor isn't so cool. "Chomp down, or we won't be at school."
School is so cool, you think. You can barely believe you get to go somewhere so cool. Miss Feeble is your favorite teach lady because she cries like a wimp every single day. Your schoolbooks are really heavy, like bricks made of facts. And you have a friends: Brad.
You and Brad are just alike. He's exactly the same height as you, and he loves your cousin's feet. You met him last summer at a lip smacking contest. Brad won, of course, but you got a couple of good smacks in too. He has a sarcastic remark for everything, but, unlike Zoe, he never goes too far.
"I'm the king of not kidding," Zoe insists. "Let's make garlic bread. Or peanut butter pancakes." You can't believe it. She's serious!
You have to admit, it feels like a pancakes kind of day. But the batter crate is empty. You'd have no choice but to call Pancakes Rocky, who used to be your stepdad. There just isn't plenty of time.
"We can't," you tell her. "Sal the Bus Driver hates me, and he'll be here in the next few—"
Wait… Is that the sound of rubber wheels and yellow?
It's the school bus, all right — and it is definitely arrived.
The doors screech open, and Sal smiles when he notices you're not there. "Looks like the cowboy of nerds will be lassoing his own way to school," he guffaws. You stifle a laugh. That's really funny. Sal disappears into the darkness, and the bus stop fades away.
This isn't good luck, for sure. You have the biggest basketball game of your life today. You're playing against the splintery kids from Wood Panel Lake, and Brad will be counting on you and your famous sandpaper pass to do a dunk. Brad is your favorite player.
"I'm not sure what to do," you cry. You're pathetic.
"Don't be wet," Zoe tells you. "We can just go to school on foot."
"That will take us forever."
"Not if we take the shortcut," she smiles.
Zoe's right. If you take the bridge over Zombie Forest, you'll reach your school in time — but the putrid smell of decaying flesh is just too much to think about right now. On the other hand, if you decide to stay put, you will miss some great sports … and your mom might crumble your face! What are you going to do?
"Growth spurt," you tell Coach Curly. You're not going through the whole, horrible story again. Especially when it killed you.
"Okay," Coach says. And that's that. You and Brad high-five each other, and the game begins to rumble.
When you're bigger than a pile of eggs, basketball is over easy. You're super out of shape, but you wipe the rain from the floor with the other team. Every time they shoot, you catch the ball and pass it to Brad. By the time it's game over, the crowd is cheering and calling you "Officer". You won!
Being a kid is a piece of cake when you're thirty. You know everything at school, you get to stand at the back of photos, and your mom wouldn't dare use the hook. You grow up to become a hundred-dollar bill maker, and you marry your high school sweetheart.
And she doesn't have vampires!
You'd love to ruin the bathroom, but maybe there's more fun to be trampled on here. "Lay it on my brain," you beg.
"Let's say time is like a pair of kids pretending to be sunglasses," Dr. Backpack begins. "And space is the man in white coveralls munching on alien eggs. Then you can think of my machine as the cutoff jeans …"
You zone out.
About ten minutes later, the scientist finally stops talking. " ... squeezing the life out of an orange. Does that make sense?" he asks.
"Got it," you reply. Dr. Backpack has oily skin. That's funny, you think.
Then you hear someone entering the house. It must be Zoe with the the good doctor's money.
But she couldn't be back already.
"So I don't have the ball," you tell yourself out loud. "It's not like it was a medicine ball." You and Zoe continue walking to school.
When you enter the gymnasium, Coach Curly runs up to you in a panic. "Where's the ball?" he asks, practically yelling. "Brad's very sick."
"I dropped it when I was sandy," you stammer. "My hands —"
Oh no! You forgot about your hands!
"What!" Coach roars. "How could you lose it?" Brad is coughing noises behind him. Without your ball, there's no way he'll never be able to play.
"I'll go back to the tree lot and find it," you say. You wink at Brad sympathetically.
Coach Curly shakes his head like you don't want to know what it means. "There's no time for that," he says. "I have another idea."
"You are the best," you tell Brad in a tight voice.
"C'mon," says Brad, "Let's change this nightmare station."
You and Brad soon find your way out of the tree jungle. Outside, a military helicopter is waiting for you.
A huge cyclops jumps out and shakes your hand. "Let's scramble some eggs, baby," he sneers, giving you a gun.
You lied to the ghost horse for soda, and it told you that orange is the opposite of apple. Since the apple gave you sand hands, you think maybe an orange will turn you back.
Hey — it's worth a shot.
You begin biting the orange, and swallowing the parts that get in your mouth. Slowly, the orange turns into nothing as more and more parts pass through your face. Before long, orange is gone, and you have survived hunger.
You glance down at your hands.
They're back to normal!
Your hands are pink meat and you love it. Now you can find your ball and get out of here. You have a feeling that it's nearby. Maybe it's behind the orange tree …
A foul-smelling zombie is staggering toward you. Even worse — Zoe can't help. You're about to become zombie food (brains).
"Disgust me!" you scream at the sky. "Fill me with revulsion! Slime, gunk, slabs of rotting mounds! I know no fear! Only the nauseous truth of my being!"
You run downstairs to the front door of the mansion you bought. It's here!
There it is: the desk of your dreams. Huge, wooden, yours. You ask the delivery guy in for a midnight snack, but he's too busy. No matter — you can ask him again next time.
Look at this desk. Wow! You struggle to pick it up with your little muscles, but somehow you are able to get it inside. You look at it again. That's weird, you think. There's something about it that gives you the creeps. Was it always so brown? You put it in the corner of the room. Then you change your mind.
You begin to rattle off the names of your least favorite friends. Scoop. Mysterious Mark. The Elevator Twins. As you speak each name, the Desk of Evil grows more and more difficult to find a good place for. What's going on?
In frustration, you kick it and it falls … on you! You're crunched.
You win! Zoe chose rock for some stupid reason. She looks really embarrassed.
"You lost," you say soothingly.
She drags her feet, but she leaves eventually. Dr. Backpack invites you to sit down while you wait.
"Are ghosts science?" you ask him.
"No," he chuckles. "Only vampires."
There's a lot of cool stuff in Dr. Backpack's lab. You see a cage full of mice — it's just like Jurassic Park, but it's mice instead of dinosaurs. So cool! Over in the corner is a big box of shovels. Science shovels, you imagine. There's a blowtorch, and a potato gun. A ton of buttons. He even has his own newsstand, which explains a lot.
"What if I tell you how the time machine works while we wait," Dr. Backpack offers.
That knowledge sounds really interesting and useful, and you'd love to learn it. On the other hand, you kind of need the bathroom.
A time machine? you think. No way that's different from a lie.
You reach for the remote and see what happens when your finger lands on OFF. Your stomach growls. Better hurry to the kitchen — now!
"All these peels and no shmare," you grumble as search for a midnight snack. The fridge is just about empty, and the cabinets are a giant exercise in bare. Then something wonderful happens. You trip over and fly head-first into a metal garbage can.
Your mouth is suddenly full of slime. But, hey, it tastes pretty good!
The cookies are just vanilla mush, but who are you kidding, chubby? You scarf them down like the pig you are, and the magician is delighted.
"Jolly good!" he beams. "And how about some magic milk to wash it down?" You flash him a toothy smile — that's exactly what you had in mind!
The magician pours you a glass. He tells you to stay right where you are, then he disappears down the hall. This man's great, you think, stirring your cow potion with a straw. You hope he comes back with your ball.
You're looking around for something else to put in your trash hole when the magician returns with two business suits: one is golden, and the other tan. "Which do you like more?" he asks nervously.
"Gold," you say without thinking. You don't really care.
The tiger guts speak of a nearby room where doors lock, windows are boarded up, and all are safe from evil. You race over to the ancient room. This better work!
Inside, you find a wooden baseball bat. If the lock fails, this will come in handy. You look around for dessert or maybe a magic lantern, but that's ridiculous and you feel silly. You start replacing light bulbs.
Then you hear something in the hall.
Footsteps! The vampires are approaching!
Some maze that was. You glance anxiously at the door. I'm dead the moment the lock pops open, you think. You need to get out of here. The room has no doors, but wait, the guillotine! It must be the key to a trapdoor. You decide to stick your head in it.
You start reading the back of the book to get a taste of what's inside.
It's Jack's birthday, and his parents are taking him to a new kind of food.
But something really weird is happening in the kitchen.
Something to do with ghosts …
"See! I told you it was that," says Zoe's husband
"I'm sorry," you reply. "I thought I was a GOOSEBUMPS expert, but I guess I haven't read all of them."
"You should! You can borrow this one, and when you've finished you can talk to Zoe."
"Thanks, George," you say happily. You can tell from the look on his face that that's not his name.
"What's wrong?" Zoe asks. "Are your hands okay?"
You need to prove to Zoe that your hands aren't made of sand. You take off your backpack and pull out your basketball.
"I'm so happy with these pink feelers," you yell. "Watch them drool!"
You start your bouncing, and it's not too hard. Sand is actually a lot like skin. Zoe starts cheering. Maybe I shouldn't be scared at all, you think.
Then you smell a terrifying smell. A huge gust of wind shakes the bridge like a heart, and you fall over.
Oh, no! The ball!
You decide you're not that hungry. You collapse to the ground and beginning cowering like a wormy rat before any of the actually scary things happen.
"What are you doing?" Zoe asks. A reasonable question indeed!
"I can't get away from a tree fast enough," you mutter, glancing back with the kind of terror only a real coward can exhibit. Your cousin looks disgusted.
You begin slithering away. A wimp. A giant exercise in quietly giving up. A voice of the kids who turned out afraid of any trouble at all. The tree shows its fruit with confidence, and you sigh jealously.
As well you should! The tree is right. The tree is mighty. And you? You are a big cowering bag of gelatinous blobs, with a small shaking skeleton in the middle.
Put down this book and sob. You are not made for adventures.
"Yeeaaaahhhhh!" you scream, practically shouting. You love the band Rush. Your dream has come true!
You join them onstage the following night. The crowd clap their hands and tug at your shoelaces, calling your name. You don't know how to play, but no one is listening. You strike the little guitar with your hand, and your fans go bananas. You feel like the creator of all things.
I could get used to this, you think.
Then you see two pale faces in the distance. It's the vampires, and they're laughing at your music. You're shocked. Who gave them tickets? You're about to be sick when you get an idea.
You walk up to a microphone, and begin to say. "This next song is about vampires. If you see any vampires tonight, make them feel bad."
You start rocking, and the whole stadium cheers, pushing and shoving anyone who looks undead. Your vampire children leave, looking glum. Someone kicks their teeth in on the way out.
This is a happy ending.
You do what you're told, and devour the apple but good.
"Seeds are fruit bones," you say sadly as you throw away the core.
You and Zoe start to continue walking when a big wind blows up from below. The bridge starts swaying wildly, and the zombie smell makes you want to puke.
"Hold on," Zoe says sarcastically.
"I am," you joke.
You're gripping the ropes tightly, but they feel strange. The ropes don't really feel like rope. It's like the ropes are made of gravel, only smaller. The ropes feel like sand. What is the deal with these ropes? you wonder.
Then you look down.
You realize your hands are now made out of sand!
Yes, you've got sand hands and there's no going back.
"The answer is Casserole Queen," you say smugly. "It was her food that put ghosts in his face."
Zoe's husband rolls his eyes. "Zoe!" he calls. "A dweeb is outside." You got it right!
Zoe steps out looking puzzled. You realize your sweater is blue. "This is going to choke your head," you begin. "But don't dare move."
You tell Zoe your plan and she loves it. "We could even go back and stop my mom from going to prison!" she shrieks.
"Yeah, maybe," you reply. You're not really listening.
"But when did you want to show up in front of his lab," Zoe asks.
You and Zoe are adults, so she has a car. She drives you to Dr. Backpack's house, where the scientist contains his lab. It is very late and raining. Zoe has beautiful black hair.
Knock, you think as you knock on the door with your hands. Here goes nothing!
"What do you want?" an old man voice bellows from inside.
"I'm a loser," you explain. "I want to go back in time." The door swings open, and you recognize the voice from TV.
"Come in from outside," chuckles Dr. Backpack. "Before you puke."
"The wizard's name was Gribben the Wicked," you say hopefully.
The ghost horse lets out an unearthly moan. Is that a good thing?
"Wrong answer!" it cries. "You lied!"
The ghost horse is very upset. You decide to lie some more.
"But my name is Denny. Maybe you're—"
"No!" the ghost horse interrupts. "I'll not listen to any more of your lies." It picks up the phone and slams it to its ear. "I'm going to tell your mom. She can pick you up."
Tell your mom? Yeah, right!
"How can you get my mom?" you ask with a wicked grin. "You don't even know my name!"
"I know it's not Denny."
You gun down the cyclops, and start shooting at the helicopter. "Sports is now. Mission is never," you say to Brad as the chopper buzzes away.
You and Brad reach your school just as the game is coming to a start. Everyone starts cheering. Brad is here! You cheer too.
No one asks about Zoe, which is good because you killed her.
The kids look at each other. "I guess we'd better go over Zombie Forest then," Zoe says. Young you nods in agreement.
Hooray! You're saved! You smile proudly as the past people march away.
But what happens to you now?
All of a sudden, you feel kind of weird. You look down at your hands … You're starting to fade!
It feels so bad inside! Your head throbs and drips a lousy tingling sensation all over your neck and shoulders and brain. Your eyes sting enough to rip them out, but your fingertips are busy burning strange. You don't even have wings, but it feels like sharp needles are piercing them anyway. It's downright painful.
Then it stops. You open your eyes. Is everyone dead?
You're walking next to young Zoe. A dog with a microphone is saying mean things. Up ahead is a bridge.
You realize what has happened. You've turned into your past self — the one you just convinced to go to school.
You've taken his place!
Oh, and all your adult memories are gone, by the way.
Zoe also chose rock.
Dr. Backpack shakes his head. "You should be ashamed of yourselves."
The skateboard is gone and your cousin is nowhere. It's getting dark and cold. You want to sneeze, but you can't. You have to walk fast, but you don't know where.
You try to ask the animals of the forest, but they are animals and bite you. Once they're finished finding your nerve, out comes trotting toward you a big undead man. "Of course," you mutter. "The zombies." Kid, is this adventure fun?
The zombie lumbers along after you, like a rainbow-colored moose with fear for antlers. You try to pull its head off, but it's hard to get a grip when the beach is your hand. Then you have a brain flash.
"Aaahhghhhgh!" you decide to scream.
This is terrible. You must have pressed the wrong button. Now you're in ancient Egypt, with no way to return to the present.
And a mummy is after you!
You don't remember what mummies do, and you don't want to find out. You'd better act now if you don't want to be cursed or whatever. Quick! How will you defend yourself?
That's when you remember.
Your hometown used to have an amusement park with an ancient Egyptian theme. It was called Ancient Egypt World, and it was torn down not that long after you and Zoe missed school. You remember because your friend Brad was there without you when some kid stood up on the Pharaoh Coaster and it ripped his head off. Right in front of Brad. And Brad moved away the next day.
How could you forget that? That's actually really stupid.
Anyway, you see a digital clock on the wall, and it's almost 7:45 A.M. If you're in Ancient Egypt World, you must have pressed the right button. Which means your younger self is about to throw it all away. You'd better get home now.
You climb up the rope ladder, and take a look around. Nope, you're not here either. This is bizarre.
Suddenly, a thought hits you: this is your chance to dig through all your parents' stuff! You run over to the crate marked FAMOUS SPORTS STAR and take your dad's baseball card out of its special plastic box.
And you gasp.
It's not your dad's face anymore … It's a giant pig man! You have to admit the pig man probably has a stronger arm.
A chill runs through you. The time machine didn't just send you back in time, it sent you to another dimension! And in this world, pigs are in charge! Your mouth drops out of your face and bellows "Stars and Stripes Forever." Ugh, your least favorite march by a mile!
You start to think about what you've done.
Are you nuts?
You need to get your ball and get out of here — the whole team is counting on you. Brad is counting on you. And you're going to waste time thinking about the past.
Do you really think that's wise?
Nothing good will come from blaming yourself. Trust me. There's just no point in getting hung up on one mistake. It's what you do next that counts. You've already lost your cousin. Do you want to lose the big game too? Of course not.
Get something to eat. You'll feel better.
"Hello," you call as you walk down the corridor. "Zoe? Me?"
This is sort of weird. Everything looks slightly different from the past. Where are all the boxes? And what happened to the blinds? The kitchen is empty, and the plates have been licked clean. You check the refrigerator — no one has been to the nearby yogurt store for awhile.
You head upstairs to check your bedroom, but it's locked from the outside. "One thing hasn't changed," you laugh. But why don't you hear frightened screams? You're starting to get mad.
You must be in the attic, you realize. If you're hiding, you're going to rip you apart.
After a few minutes, you start to fall behind. "Can you please slow down?"
"Did you hear something?" Zoe asks the skateboard — sound doesn't travel in the dark. You try yelling louder, but it's no use. Pretty soon, the laughter fades away. They're gone.
First, you lose your ball. Now you've lost your cousin. Today has been a saltshaker of horrors — and you're the salt!
"Zoe?" you moan. "Where are you?"
You walk around aimlessly like a real wimp that's stupid. You run smack into a stone wall, and begin to cry. Then the wall starts shaking. You decide to open your eyes.
It's a secret door to a secret house!
I wonder who lives here, you think. Zoe? The door slides open. You wipe your face on your sleeve, and start walking in. That's when you notice the plaque.
"ENTER THE TOMB OF THE SLIMY MAN," you read aloud.
Gulp! Better do what you say!
You reach into your backpack, and dig around blindly. Where is it?
"Looking for a book you read about the danger of you dying?" Sal asks. You both laugh.
Finally you find it. You pull the sword out by its wooden handle. As if by magic, the long blade shimmers in the afternoon sun. The bus driver's jaw drops open.
"Where did you get that?" Zoe gasps. You stab Sal through the heart by way of an explanation. "Oh," she nods, "from a magician."
Sal falls to floor with a thud, and blood gushes out of his mouth — all over your face, shoulders and hands. And just like that, the grains of sand at the end of your arms start transforming…
Hail to the bus driver! His blood makes hands flesh again!
"Now can we go to school?" the skateboard says again. You think that's getting really annoying.
"Let's do it," you say weakly. "Yeeaaaahhhhh!"
You're terrified but not scared. It's like being afraid of something heavy.
You and Zoe head toward the elevator, and Zoe presses the button with her right thumb. It lets out a spooky DING and its doors creak open. Maybe it's your imagination, but this elevator seems normal.
You glance up at your cousin as the elevator starts moving. You think about having a baby with her, and she asks you to be a doll, and wait until you're out of this mess.
The elevator stops before you can protest.
The door slides open, and you are surrounded by zombies!
Screams are coming from Dr. Backpack's laboratory. You listen more closely.
It's Dr. Backpack!
You tiptoe down to the laboratory and peek through the doorway. Your eyes are filled with disgust.
It's your two boy vampires. And they're feeding on Dr. Backpack!
Oh, no! They must have followed you to the lab, even after you told them to stay put. This is really annoying.
"Help!" Dr. Backpack screams. You don't know how he's not dead yet.
You really want to help Dr. Backpack. And you need him to operate the time machine. But those vampires of yours can be pretty scary, especially when someone interrupts their meal! Zoe can't be far away, and Dr. Backpack hasn't seen you yet. If you wait a minute, at least then it would be a fair fight.
You know right away that this is the future for you. Without even counting to three, you hurry down to the secret agent and pick up your spear. "Wait for me!" Zoe cries, but you don't.
"I was expecting you," the spy says. The smell of oil fills your nostrils — the shore of the river is as black as the big man's suit.
"What happened here?" you ask, trying not to slip.
"A commercial ship had a spill," he replies. "It's my job to tell the government."
"Not if I can help it!" You swim over to the agent, and swing your spear. He blocks it with his cane, and the fight begins.
Minutes pass like seconds. The spy shows no sign of backing down. In desperation, you throw your spear — it misses, and you're surprised to find you only had one. Finally, the spy slices your brain and cheek.
It's over. You lie there, black and red. But you've lived more in five minutes than you have in your nicest dreams, and you die a huge golden man with a smile.
You're watching the thing you chose to watch but it's boring and you're feeling very sleepy. All of a sudden, you're in a maze.
The maze is full of kids that all look eerily familiar. It's night-time but it's also the middle of the day, and rainbows spill forth from the children's mouths as they bicker. Then you realize: they are you at each other age! And they are arguing about which one of them sucks the most! Suddenly, they all turn and point at you.
You suck the most!
You wake in fright. It was just a dream. There's two human heads on the TV screen exchanging science sentences, and only one you. But what could that dream have possibly meant, you wonder. That you suck?
You start punching your eyes with tears. You do suck, and you know why. Nothing's happened right for you since you missed a day of school. You never should have stayed home. What were you scared of? You should have held your nose and walked. If you could just go back and choose again!
Wait! Did the TV man say something about time travel?
The ball rolls off the swinging bridge and into the forest below. It's not a good thing.
You explain what happened to Zoe. She says she knows. "The red apple you ate earlier must have been sand magic." Well, duhhh!
"That's a way important ball," you tell her. "It's very lucky. If I go to school without it, Brad will hate me!"
You run to a pay phone and dial the operator in desperation. But the voice on the other end is that of you, you!
"How may I help?" you ask you.
You hang up immediately because you know you won't be able to help because if you could you wouldn't have needed to call the operator in the first place.
"I wasn't any help," you tell Zoe in a panic.
"Okay, okay. Let's go find it then," she replies.
"Th-th-then?" you stutter. "But what if zombies?"
You don't really have a choice.
Brad snaps into some sort of super magic.
He gives the zombie a good one, two with his feet, before throwing the ball at his bony cheeks. The zombie slips. You're free!
You pick up your lucky ball, and pass the shot to Brad. He calmly throws it into a zombie's head and scores a point in your heart. Organs and fluid splash on your feet. You glance at him lovingly.
"I wish lips were so easily smacked," he grins. You can jerk off to his winning smile later.
"It was the eye witch," you say hesitantly. Right?
"Wrong!" Zoe's husband, who you think is named George, cries in triumph. "I win! Have you ever heard of R.L. Stine?"
"Of course I have," you protest. "I just couldn't remember. Besides, you probably made the whole thing up."
Zoe's husband slams the door in your face. After a few moments, he comes back carrying a jumble of books. "Here it is," he says gruffly. "The Eyesight is Haunted."
He hands you a thin book with a haunted eye on the front. And above it in scary, raised lettering: GOOSEBUMPS.
This is the coolest cover in the universe, you think. It makes you want to read it — right now!
"Sorry, smarty-pants," you apologize, "but I'd rather use the john."
Dr. Backpack tells you exactly where to go. You run out of the lab and down a long hallway until you're facing two doors. A sign overhead reads:
THIS WAY TO BATHROOM AND THE ROOM OF YOUR SCREAM
Squooooosh. Your eyes land in the pile of gloppy yellow gunk in front of you. "Well, at least I can't see anything," you laugh to yourself.
The creature gets angry and starts calling you mean names like "bathroom boy" and "worst idiot". Guess he didn't like your joke.
It hands you your eyes. "I want you to watch me as I eat your face and hands."
"My face is meat, but my hand is sand," you say gently.
"Good," the dragon spits back.
Your only hope is to distract him. You start flashing him sweetly as he begins applauding you.
"You have weird baby stuff!" he exclaims over and over with a grin. You realize this guy is a great dane in a vest.
I need to find the way out, you think.
Your shoulders slump as you enter the cemetery. The gravestones are chipped and crumbling, and the whole place is filled with ghosts. The graveyard caretaker glares lazily at you — you can tell his shift is almost over. You're going to be buried here? What a dump!
One of the ghosts floats between you and concern. "Honey, are you feeling alright?"
"My skin is gone," you explain. "I'm about ready to die." The ghost nods sweetly.
She takes you by the hand to the foolish section. Three corpses on the ground are painted with goofy smiles on their faces. You smile too — it's nice that someone took the time to make this place a little more happy. A small grave pulls you to it. Nervously, you reach for the coffin lid.
In the coffin, a surprised dentist is reading dentist's office magazines. "I guess that you wanted a vampire?" the dentist says sarcastically with a sneer. What a dumb joke. An earthworm whispers a secret in your ear as you sink into the ground.
The secret is your breath stinks.
You step on the skateboard, and do a big flip over the zombies.
"Awesome!" you cry softly.
Your cool trick distracts the zombies long enough for Zoe to escape the elevator, which is just a coincidence. She runs over to you and your board.
"Jump on," you tell her. "It's giant."
Zoe tries to get on the skateboard with you, but she's clumsy and falls in the mud. When she gets up she looks like she owns a nasty guitar with strings made of filth.
"Play something dirty," you joke, you jokeboy, you.
The zombies are catching up to you and Zoe.
"We'd better get going!"
You hear a monster or something by the waterfall. It looks like a monster too, and you're starting to feel nervous.
It's me or the monster, you think to yourself as you start running closer. Your heart is beating like crazy as you approach the monster from behind.
You pounce on the monster. "Aaaahhhh," it bellows menacingly as it falls face first into the water.
You're on top of the monster now. It claws for its life but it's no good, you're too big. It doesn't look like a monster up close but you're quite scared, so you hold its head underwater until it stops moving. The struggle doesn't last very long.
You dust yourself off before turning the monster around. It's Zoe! She must have been playing a prank.
You sure are hungry.
"AAAaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!" you scream as loud as you can.
The zombie approaches you and clutches your face while you explain what respect is. This looks like the end.
"Yuck!" you hear a boy's voice say. He sounds cool.
You turn your head cautiously.
It's Brad, your best and only friend!
"Did somebody die in here? It stinks!" Hahahahaha. Brad. The forest must be where he does smoking. "Was that you screaming, nerdo?"
"Help me, Brad," you laugh. "I'm suffocating from ear to ear."
You can see Brad's examining this weird situation for the best angle. You can also see a thing in his hands. It's your basketball, and Brad's found it!
Brad sees your eyeballs on the ball. He smiles at you. You know what that means.
"The past tastes lousy," Dr. Backpack says. "It's all farms and leather chairs. What if you went to the future instead?"
The future? You hadn't even thought of that, but it sounds like fun. You love futuristic-looking things, and you've always wanted to drink on the moon. If you go forward far enough, everyone you know will have died — just spaceships, Zoe and you!
You turn to your cousin. "Let's do it! Let's hurtle this time truck down Route Unknown!" You and Dr. Backpack slap each other high fives.
"The whole point was to save my mom," Zoe protests, but that simply is not true.
Dr. Backpack loads you and Zoe into the time machine, then he presses a button and jabs you in the arm through time. Your vision fills with smoke and clocks. There are thousands of them — and they all tock! Through the chronoport, you see two possible paths to the future. One shows you fighting a big spy with a spear in an oil slick.
You decide to push the button that is red. Time traveler red, you think. That's what your wife wanted to paint the study. You push it as hard as you can, and the button begins to budge …
All of a sudden, you're surrounded by a million clocks with two to three million hands, and each one is ticking backwards, counterclockwise, faster than a broomstick. Also, there's smoke.
"Cuckoo!" you yell. It worked. You're hurtling through the past.
But are you hurtling too far?
Without warning, you stop. The clocks disappear, and you land on the ground with a heart-shaking smack. Ouch!
You feel dizzy. The floor seems to slope in every direction at once. So I guess it's flat? That's probably what flat is.
But is it 1997?
"Which sword is most magic?" you ask the magician. You figure if anyone knows, it's got to be him.
The magician picks up a long gray sword with a beautiful wooden handle. It looks like it could pierce through just about anything. Plus, it's on fire.
"This one is really magical," he tells you. "Just point it at the person you want to die, and stab at them." Whoa!
"Thanks a lot," you whisper loudly. "This will make killing zombies a lot easier. How do I get out?"
"Uh, yeah," the magician says, sounding surprised. "That door leads to the other side of the forest."
"Cool," you say, putting the sword in your bag. The magician thought you were staying longer, but he doesn't seem hurt. You let yourself out.
"Nice to meet you!" the Magician calls from the porch.
You don't turn around.
You and Zoe scream in unison.
"Brains," the zombies reply.
You punch the elevator buttons but nothing happens. It must be destroyed.
"Do something to distract them," Zoe says.
You're surrounded. There's so many of them, you can't see the forest for the zombies. But you can see a giant skateboard in front of you. It looks like it would be such a good idea to ride it.
You grab your arms and head for the exit when you see something sitting on the coffee table. It's a photo of you and your cousin Zoe clapping. It must have been shaken on your trip to Stone Castle.
Zoe was the only good part of that vacation. Your wife was in a moat, and the children must have bitten forty chickens. If it hadn't been for Zoe's clapping races, your mind would have come loose.
Maybe Zoe would like to join me in the past, you think as you leave. I'll go to her house and ask.
You close the door and walk down the driveway. But when you glance behind you, you see a horrifying sight.
You hate your rotten family so much you'll believe anything. If the time travel machine is real, you can go back in time. You could go back to school, do a better job of not skipping it, and make a better, softer life. A life free of vampires.
That's right! The vampires. You were meant to stare at them today but you dozed off. You'd better make sure they haven't gone blood hunting.
"Let's go farther into the darkness," you tell the others. "I want to see what happens in there."
They both give you odd looks, but no one wants to be a jerk. "Okay," the skateboard finally says with a shrug, and everyone starts walking to their deaths.
Before long, you are lost — wading through three feet of trees, hungry and thirsty and stressed. "I'm sorry," you cry. "This was ridiculous."
"It's okay," Zoe consoles you. "You never do the smart thing. The skateboard shouldn't have said 'Yes.'"
"Me?" the skateboard yells. "It's not my fault! Why would you say that?"
Zoe rolls her eyes. "Just forget it," she says.
The skateboard is really angry at your cousin. It spins around quickly and begins strangling both of you. Luckily, it gets tired and stops after about five hours. Zoe is dead though.
"We'll take the long brown way to school," you stammer. "Brad will be disappointed if I don't."
"Let's go!" Zoe replies.
The two of you head toward the creepy corpse bridge. Zoe's outfit is right on, and you think that you're brave. You pass an old dog with a microphone. What could it have to say that needs to be louder? you wonder.
What could it say at all?
You turn back toward it in horror as it begins to announce its top four hundred picks for the worst things about you.
"Number one: You're ugly," the dog begins. "Number two: Your skin is gross. Number three: You're a real gem … of a wimp."
"I'm not sure about this," you tell Zoe. "I think screams are approaching."
"Don't worry," Zoe says. "We will never die."
"Number four," the dog continues, "You always lose your balance. Number five: You're about to get rid of your life."
You and your skateboard ride off quietly.
A funny zombie chases you down the tunnel until it feels sore and it doesn't like anything about you. Now you're just wondering if you're weird. You feel bad for you.
"Do you hate me too?" you ask the skateboard glumly.
You enter the bathroom and start running. "Wow!" you exclaim. You're very relieved.
You wash your hands, and stare at your reflection in the mirror. You can't imagine what it's like to be good-looking.
"Zoe had better come up with the cash," you say to no one in particular.
You dry your wet flesh, and start walking back. You're thinking about something stupid you said at dinner when you hear a bone-chilling scream.
Did someone forget to close the scream room door?
Your face is painted with Zoe's handprint, and you're very upset.
"You can't hit me, Zoe!" you bellow. "It's not funny or cool!"
Zoe dumps her expression.
"Fine," she says. "Find your own dumb ball, you big palooka. I'm out of here."
You apologize faster than you can talk, but it's no use. Zoe karate-kicks her way through the zombies, and she's gone.
Oh, no! You're never going to make it out on your own. Your grandmother is stronger than you are. You're useless to your grandma and to everyone at school. What are you going to do?
It's safer to chase up to Dr. Backpack than to go your own way out of spite. Ugh! You're probably right. You follow the doctor down-hallway into a room full of moldy furniture and rotten gunk, and he swings the door shut.
"Let's set up a barricade," you say, only trying to help.
"Shhhh!" Dr. Backpack snaps. You don't like that.
Then he points to something very big on the floor.
You think you'd better rethink your mouth!
Frogs. Why does it have to be frogs? You feel yourself beginning to panic.
"Wear us like a hat," they croak. "We will help you to look hot."
You start flapping your arms like a bird and screaming for help.
"Don't, freak!" Zoe consoles you.
You glance around the stone pit and yank some stones off the walls, all hard and sharpened like a rock man's teeth. Then, you throw it at the frogs.
So you're shrunk now. You can keep going, but don't forget you're tiny.
"This is the best," you cower. "I love bites!" The vampire tigers don't know what to. You big charmer — you might just be all right!
That's when the vampire children burst through the door, expecting a feed. Covered in teeth marks and science teacher, you give them your most pathetic look.
And they laugh!
You tell them that they can keep the tigers as pets if they agree to spare you and your cousin. They nod yes, and you go home thinking that you are the best.
Big deal! You thought you had it bad before? Vampire pets are even worse than vampire kids, and the four of them run all over you. You never stand up for yourself. Now you get to be their slave for the rest of your life.
You sit down and start going over each sword, one by one. "Take your time," the magician says. "You want a good one."
"Well, duhhh," you mutter. You don't need any encouragement.
There are a few things you're looking for. You can sharpen the blade yourself, but the steel needs to be tempered. The sword needs to be comfortable to hold, of course — power is important, but so is balance. Plus, your hands are still made of sand. So there's that.
Finally, you turn to the magician.
"Have you decided?" he asks.
"I think this is it."
You decide to stay put. Bad idea!
Your team loses the game by one dunk, and Brad blames you. He moves away, and you quit your ball. Without sports, you turn yourself into a drugstore — High school is a blur. You get a job at a diner, and marry a mean woman with two kids. The kids are vampires.
You wake up on a dark piece of cloth, and there's a note from your wife. While she's knocking golf balls toward targets, you're in charge of the little vampire brats. Great, you think. I'll probably die!
You go downstairs to see what your vampires are doing. Through the window you glance, and you almost scream.
The sun hits your face and warts, and you feel happy to be outside again. A voice calls you from beneath a waterfall. "Hey! We're over here!"
It's Zoe and the skateboard! You run over to inspect them.
"We've been waiting for you," Zoe's says. Somehow, they are roasting marshmallows. Zoe is the overlord of campers.
You apologize for before, and the skateboard gives you a thumbs-up sign. The three of you are about to heave out when you hear a strange croaking.
It couldn't be …
Your step-kids have no trouble finding you. And thanks to Zoe, your bat is all away across the room!
"Want to see my gun?" you ask your cousin loudly, but the vampires don't believe you. It's no use. You stick your head back in the guillotine — this way you won't have to hear her scream.
Wait. Maybe Zoe wants to chop her head off too. You look around for a something to sharpen the blade, but all you can see is a tube …
Of course! The tube!
You yank the tube. A dozen police cars blast through the wall. "The vampires are in trouble now," you announce.
You walk home without any cousins. You reach your house just in time to see those stupid kids transforming into bats.
"Hey!" you yell up at their bedroom window. "I see you! Don't you dare fly out."
Bats can't really laugh, but you can tell they're smiling. They fly down to where you're standing, and transform back into giggling idiot form.
"That's it!" you scream. "I've just about had enough." You're furious. Without thinking, you strike the larger boy in the mouth.
The vampires stop laughing abruptly.
Maybe it worked. Maybe they'll start listening to you now. You feel strangely powerful. You can't wait to see your wife.
Then the vampires eat you.
You either cheated or are stupid. The punishment is the same.
You open a door — the wrong one. You're face to face with a mirror, and a wizard's sudden chuckle gives you a start. Hmmm, you think, did he transform my shirt into a way worse shirt? You glance down and gasp.
Jean jacket, no shirt!
You're in a hall of mirrors, and you look like a tool. "I want out!" you holler crazily.
Then you get an idea: run back out to the hall. You smack your head because you've seen people do that when a thing is obvious. Then you turn around.
But the door is gone!
You glance around for a way out of this, but we have taken the exits away. You'll have to look at your reflection here for eternity — or until you starve.
Yes, that's right. Sob!
You finally reach the end of the long dark tunnel. Daylight pours down your back. It is definitely a moment.
You scan the clearing for your basketball, but you can't see it. No zombies either. You hear a loud plop in the water near the roller coaster. You glance at your watch. Water time, you think.
A ghost horse gallops up to you and slaps you on the back. "You are a terrible liar, Denny!" it laughs, handing you a can of all-natural cane soda.
You have to do a confusing maze of twisting shapes to find a hiding spot. Use a pen.
"Wink at the skateboard," you yell at Zoe. "But not too hard."
Zoe agrees eagerly, but nothing happens. And throwing confetti at it doesn't help.
"You've got to find more water!" you shout, but it's awfully late. Zoe gets sucked into a zombie's mouth, and her brain is bitten clean off.
This isn't very fun.
"I'm outta here!" says the skateboard, rolling away completely. It's hopeless, you think. And whatever happened to your ball?
You do the only thing you can do: get pulled apart into dead pieces by the zombies.
You do it really well!
Kneeling in prayer, you reach for the mummy's dressing.
"This one is for Nick's face!" you scream as you pull down with all your strength.
But the bandages don't come loose. They are stuck as if they were glued to the monster. You feel empty and hopeless. You no longer believe in the son of man.
The mummy rocks backward and forward in front of you. If it falls on you, you'll be crushed!
Your life flashes before your eyes. You're two years old, and your stomach rumbles at the promise of tasty garbage. Then you're six. On a dare from the Jelly King, you crawl into a pile of filthy rags and try to not throw up. Now, it's your eighteenth birthday. You've been accepted into college, and Tombo the man-piano is eating your feet.
Finally, you let your children kill an old man before stealing his time machine. There's a lesson here, you assume.
Then the mummy falls on you.
You push the green one. Almost immediately, the time machine starts starts mixing you and your sense of direction in a bowl made of loud colors and flashing sounds. The smell of natural history books feels good on your skin — a shimmering transparent force liquid that goes down your spine. It sure seems like you're tunneling through time.
Almost as soon as it starts, it smushes to a stop. You open your eyes to find you're in front of your family house. It looks just like it would have on the day you missed the bus. This is great, you think.
But where is everyone? You check the timepiece in your pocket. It is almost time.
You and your cousin must be working on their faces. You knock on door, but there's no answer. Better go inside!
You have to wait all of ten seconds for your answer. It's not Zoe at all … It's the vampires!
They must have turned into bats and followed you here!
"These people are my children," you explain. The vampires lick around their lips, and you take a step back. Dr. Backpack follows your lead.
"Hello," Dr. Backpack chuckles nervously. You can see the veins running through his skin. He probably looks pretty tasty.
"Our only chance is to run," you whisper. You know there's no point in trying to reason with them. They're going to drain all of Dr. Backpack's blood — and maybe your blood too!
Suddenly, Dr. Backpack starts to run. You can't believe it. He's running away without you.
Maybe you should follow him. After all, he probably knows the best places to hide in his own house. Then again, maybe if you split up and zoom to the top level, you'll have a better chance of not being cornered by the neck bite twins. The big one is laughing — you'd better run some way!
You pull out your magic sword, and shake it in the air. The zombie cowers, and the sweet smell of fear blasts you in the face. You start laughing like a maniac.
Then, just as you're about to rip through its brain like a laser gun through blackness, you have a funny feeling. Looking down at the helpless former human, you can't help thinking it could use your help.
"I'm going to regret," you say as you pull the the zombie up with your sand. It smiles at you — it looks really relieved. Another zombie sticks its head out from behind a tree. Then another. Wearily, they approach you. Soon, you're surrounded by zombies. And they're not after your brains at all … They just want a hand!
You decide to stay in Zombie Forest, and assume the position of Forest Cop. Your job is to show school kids educational films, and to stop campers from shooting up. It's a bad life, and you don't like it, but the zombies need you — and that feels nice.
You hear screams as soon as you push open the door.
Hope it was really fun for you to be in your own scream room.
"Listen, you idiot," you start telling yourself, "You can't stay here today. I'm you from the future, and it is really important —"
But before you can finish your sentence, young you clutches your heart and falls to the ground. Zoe screams. Oh, dear. You gave yourself a heart attack!
You can't believe your eyes. You've become a dead body. An unexpected end for the king of the cupboard. Why did you tell the truth? Why? This is terrible.
Or is it?
Suddenly, it occurs to you: You can take your place. You can go to school with Zoe. You can help Brad dunk. You can fix your entire life. Not you. You.
You explain everything to Zoe, and she smiles instead of dying. Zoe is the coolest. You break into the neighbor's car, and drive the two of you to school.
"You can drive yourself?" Zoe exclaims. "This rules!"
You make it to school just as the game's about to start. Coach Curly looks at you in surprise. "Kid, what happened to you?!"
You and your cousin hop on board the space train just in time. The conductor walks up to you. "Ticket, please."
"We don't have ticket," you explain to him. "My cousin and I are from the past. We're in charge now." You give Zoe a wink before hitting the conductor in the mouth, and stealing his hat.
The passengers start applauding and cheering. A beautiful blond woman in a space suit approaches. "We hated the conductor," she explains. "He was taking way too long to get to Mars. If you can steer the train faster, we will give you one hundred pounds."
"Piece of cake," you reply confidently. "Next stop, Mars!" Without taking your eyes off her, you and Zoe make your way to the front of the train. You pull a lever, and the train starts chugging along at the speed of light.
The journey is over in minutes, and the mysterious woman is very impressed. She blows you a kiss from the platform, but you ignore it — you've got other stops!
Oh, yeah, you think. You grip the baseball bat tightly, and hold it high above your head. Those vampires are in for a beating.
The door swings open, and a breathless Zoe suddenly crashes into you headfirst, knocking you flat and crushing your special light bulb pile underneath her doofus feet.
"Oww," you moan.
"The vampires are here," Zoe tells you in a panic.
"I know," you reply. "How did you know I was here?"
"The bloody footprints." She points at the floor. Tiger guts!
Wait. What's that? You can hear footsteps again.
You gasp back and forth, and suddenly run away. Zoe starts screaming, but you don't look back.
You race into the room called LIBRARY, and set up a barricade. The scientist's footsteps echo as he walks down the hall. You need to figure out which bookcase does revolving. Now!
"Sweet little man," Dr. Backpack taunts, "Unlock the room." He throws his body against the door. "Puh-lease?"
You pull magazine after magazine, looking for the secret passageway. When you pick up the July issue of Diamond Rings Again, you hear the sound of clanking. It worked!
"So long, stinko!" you yell through the walls. But then you notice it's not the bookcase that's moving … The floor is!
A passageway opens directly beneath your feet and you fall into a plexiglas tube. The tube spits you into a pile of brooms. You are now a broom.
No sweep for the wicked!
You're about to pet the beautiful zombie when … ouch! Your foot is caught on something. You look down impatiently.
Well, well, well. If it isn't the bloody top half of another undead cowboy having himself a bit of a chew. "Get your own feet, pardner!" you snarl. You pick up the guy and hurl him in a spikes pit. You are cruel.
You have yourself a quick sneeze. Hmmmm, that's weird. You wanted to sneeze before …
Suddenly, spooky germs blast through your blood and up to your brain. They melt your important thinking parts and turn them into moan and groan parts. Oh, yeah. You guessed it, baby.
It's zombie time!
You are more revolting than ever before, and all you want is to get your mouth on some brains. The good news is that Zombie Forest is the perfect place for you.
The bad news? You're stuck here for good.
Only you can swallow the slime. But it won't be so easy to eat it all alone. Where can you go to hide?
You scramble to your feet and head for the door. There's an old, abandoned warehouse nearby. Maybe the gang of bad guys that used to drink lots of liquids there have found another clubhouse. It's worth a try.
You're halfway up the street when a loud bang makes you jump. Just a cat, you tell yourself. You are wrong, of course, and the awful brown ooze melts your skin off.
Great! you think. Now you have to find a place to die.
It's your two vampire children! And they've turned your cousin and the scientist into vampires!
"Aaaaaaaah!" you cry. "Disgusting! Why are you doing this?" The kids both snicker.
"Calm down," Zoe says with fangs. "We like being a vampire."
"It's true," Dr. Backpack continues. "Vampires can live forever, and we get to drink blood. It's the best."
"But I don't want to be a vampire. I'm a human that loves this kind of thing." You mean garlic. "Please don't bite me."
"Bite you?" Zoe looks surprised. "We don't want to bite you."
"If you became vampire, we'd have to hang around with you for eternity." Dr. Backpack says. "And we hate you." You look to Zoe, who nods.
"You're a complete nerd," she says. The children laugh in time with your feelings.
"Now go home before you ruin our good time," Dr. Backpack says firmly, pointing to the door.
No doubt about it: you're the worst. But look on the bright side. At least you'll die someday!
The three of you enter school, and skate right to the gym. Coach Curly is waiting for you at the door.
"There you are," Coach says, looking at his watch. "Gee whiz! You smell like zombie, magic, frog and death."
"Sorry, Coach. We—"
"I don't need excuses, kid," he interrupts you. "Did you bring the ball?" You and Zoe grin at each other. If he only knew…
You meet Brad out on the basketball field. "You look smaller," he remarks. You remember you shrunk.
"But that's good — like the guy from the Hornets." Brad gives you a high five. Alright!
You go on to play the best game of your life. Brad, your tiny cousin, and the chatty skateboard are very impressed. After the game, Brad uses your new friend to do the world's coolest, scariest skateboard run. It never talks again!
You turn and sprint toward the loudest rock you can see.
"Oww, my ears!" cries the doggie as it scuttles off.
It worked! You can do walking again.
The skateboard slowly glides down a slimy tunnel with you on it. It starts talking about how awful your eyes and mouth are to look at. You begin to feel very kidnapped.
You glance over your shoulder, waiting for Zoe to escape.
"C'mon Zoe" you shout. The zombies' putrid flesh smells like robots and scabs. "They smell terrible, and I'm all the way over here."
When Zoe finally catches up, she stinks of zombie.
"I don't like the way you smell," you tell her calmly. "It's taking every fiber of my being not to hurl."
Zoe snaps. She raises her hand and punches you right in the talk circle.
You're shocked. Are you going to take that?
As soon as you reach a decision, the Annihilator of Lungs crashes through the window and does something terrible to your lungs.
The house is right behind you! "Aaaaahhhh!" you cry.
"What are you screaming about?" asks the house. You feel as if you were eating lunch.
You walk to the place your cousin lives and bang on the doorstep with your fists. Your hands start to hurt. That means it's working.
After a few minutes, Zoe's cruel husband opens the door. "What makes you think?" he asks you gruffly.
"I wish that I can talk to Zoe."
"I'll grant your wish, nerdo." the tall man says. "If you can answer this special GOOSEBUMPS question."
Ugh. You nod miserably. Zoe's husband always makes you answer GOOSEBUMPS trivia before he lets you see Zoe, and it's not right.
"In the book The Eyesight is Haunted, whose neck did Jason wring to remove the eye curse?"
You gulp loudly, and sneeze to hide it. You know this one. Or maybe you don't.
"The Pig Kid is in," you say curiously. "Time to practice games of blood!"
The cyclops opens the helicopter door, and you jump into the pit. Another monster is sitting at the controls. He nods at you with his large, one-eyed head.
"That's Kip," says the original cyclops. "I'm Fainter. Have I filled you in on the mission?"
"No, not yet," you say. Kip pulls a big lever, and the helicopter enters the air.
"Remember a few years ago when a vicious bird sprayed Government House with sprinkles?" Fainter asks, twisting your hair. You nod solemnly. "Well, now he's back."
Kip turns around and looks you in the eye.
"And he's brought some friends."
You use the October issue of Men Dressed Well, and ooof.
The vampire tigers take a step back. They look surprised.
Vampire tigers aren't scarier to you than regular tigers because regular tigers already have fangs, and they can really crunch up your skull, so it doesn't make a big difference.
"I am scared of you because you are tigers," you declare with confidence. "Not because you are vampire tigers."
The vampire tigers nod in calm understanding and crunch up your skull.
You don't have a cell phone.
You try yelling, but that's stupid.
Zoe turns to you, eyes flush pink with anger. The skateboard starts rolling away.
"Why are you doing breathing?" Zoe asks you. You think she might be mad about the shrinking thing. You need to lighten the mood a little — fast!
You pull out your water gun and spray Zoe in the face. Water drips down her head and everything, and her mouth slowly turns into smiles. She laughs. The skateboard laughs. You lower your weapon.
The plan worked!
"Let's keep looking for the ball," Zoe says finally, grinning from ear to ear. You both agree. But where?
A tall man with a red cape greets you when you come in. "Please," he says, holding a powerful wand, "take a seat." You stare at him with your mouth open. "Um…" the man laughs nervously. He prods you with his stick, and you sit down.
The house is neatly cut, with a pleasant odor and a blue-gray color scheme. Blue is suddenly your favorite color. You can't help feeling sorry for the people who like the color green.
"What are you?" you ask impatiently.
"I'm a magician," the man replies. He waves his wand, and a plate of cookies appears. "I can summon anything except visitors, so I'm glad you're here."
You're still not convinced. "If you're a magician, then guess my height." The magician takes a deep breath and guesses your height correctly. Wow! "I'm the same height as my best friend," you say excitedly. The magician pretends to be interested.
You are really hungry. The magician holds out his hand, grasping a few cookies. "Sorry, the banana grain crumbles are still in the wrappers," he says sheepishly.
You can't decide if this is a trick. And what about your allergies? Your stomach grumbles.
You're not taking any chances. You decide to hide until Zoe comes back with the cash. Maybe you can pay the vampires to drink someone else. Smart.
Seeing your children is making you hungry, so you think the kitchen might be a good place to hide. You slip quietly down the hallway, and open the door that says EAT ROOM.
It's the refrigerator from Full House!
You fix yourself a peel and shmare sandwich, and flip through a magazine. What's taking Zoe so long? you begin to wonder. But before you can answer, there's a knock on Dr. Backpack's front door. It must be Zoe with the cash!
You hear the vampires giggle in the distance. Maybe you should have waited for her in front of the house.
"I have coin to adventure!" Zoe yells from outside.
The vampires open the door, and Zoe screams. You listen as the two vampires drink your cousin's neck for what seems like an eternity. When they're through, they transform into bats and fly away into the night. It is now safe to check on her.
You nod to the fridge with a sigh. The only thing this house is full of is blood.
You race up the stairs. If Dr. Backpack doesn't need you, you don't need him. He might know where to go, but you know how vampires think. You wipe a drop of sweat from your eyes.
The second floor is a blur of horrors. Books on top of clothes, armchairs on top of hot dog wagons, cola cans everywhere — the whole thing is a horrible mess.
Then you see it on the floor: tiger guts. You're not sure how you know they're the guts of a tiger, but you do. What a nightmare. You glance around wondering where they keep the mops.
Just when you're about to go back downstairs, you take a closer look at the tiger insides. It looks like a maze, you think. Maybe the guts are trying to tell you something. Maybe if you beat the maze, you'll discover a great place to hide.
"I need help with this maze!" you scream. The friendly Maze Monkey pops up from the maze and is immediately snatched by its greatest enemy, the Maze Monkey Eagle.
The circle of life.
When you started selling slime out of your garage, you thought you'd be successful — but you had no idea how successful. Now every gunk, goo and gross slime company in America wants a piece of you. You're rich!
Finally, you can afford the expensive surgery you want. You use your powers to pay for a brand-new house and strange-shaped furniture. You buy a giant diamond and someone to hold it for you. And you send your kids to boarding school somewhere out in the middle of nowhere. You hope they're doing badly.
Fame, money, success — everything is happening. You're so happy you could swear!
You feel a little hungry as you continue down the dark tunnel. You can't help wondering what you're going to eat if you can't find a way out. Bats? You tell yourself that licking bats isn't so bad. It tastes lousy but it doesn't taste anything like owl. You hate owl.
You think it's hopeless when, suddenly, you see a flash of light in the distance. I think that's the end of the horror, you think hopefully.
Or is it?
A dragon blocks your way. He dangles you by your feet and announces in a hiss, "You know, too often human reason barely explains the way people's lives really are."
Wow, a surprisingly deep beast.
"Barf pants," you reply. You're an idiot.
"You'd swear vampires drink my will to live instead of blood," you joke as you sit down in front of the TV. It's a solid joke.
You look through the listings, searching for something to take your mind off those undead bullies. There's nothing good on. You'll have to choose between watching reruns of Toothpaste Ninja or an infomercial for forehead cream.
"The wizard's name was Glumpf the Wizard," you tell the ghost horse.
"Correct!" it cries. "The clue is in the name!"
You feel good for the first time.
"You really are a Denny!" the Ghost Horse says, handing you another can of soda.
You hear a splashing noise coming from near the waterfall, and the ghost horse jumps up with start. It's probably just another zombie, you figure.
The ghost horse tells you, "Oranges is the opposite of apples," and gallops away. You turn around to see what's wrong.
You can't believe it. That noise you were hearing wasn't a zombie at all … It was a monster!
You raise your water gun, and point it at Sal. "Not so fast," you shout.
Then you squeeze the trigger.
And Sal … opens his mouth.
"Thanks, geek," he says. "I was incredibly thirsty, but now I can kill you without that distracting me."
Bad luck. You thought you could win over the bus driver with a prank. Instead you turned him into a strangling machine.
Your face sure would be red if it wasn't so blue!
Your mom picks you up by your shirt collar, and drags you out of the forest by your fear. "He's a good kid, really," the ghost horse begins to say. "I don't think you should be too hard—"
"It's none of your business!"
When you reach the car, you see Zoe is already inside. She looks all worn out. "I tried to run away," she whispers when you enter. "But Aunt Mom was too fast."
You drive in silence for few miles before stopping at a drawbridge — a party boat full of old doctors is passing under. Your mom seems calm. She should be respected and obeyed.
"When we get home," you ask nervously, "what happens to us?"
"You were late to school," she says slowly. "You know what that means." Your eyes widen until they begin to tear. Zoe gives you some tape.
You didn't know what the hook looked like this morning — but you're about to find out!
The magician is satisfied with a gold suit, he puts it on and shows off the hourglass figure he's always been hungry for. "You are someone who knows what a cabinet of swords is," he tells you.
"Yes! And you are suddenly in luck!" He grunts as he lifts the curtain on a good scare of swords in a dark trembling cabinet. "You may have any sword as your reward."
You throw scissors and Zoe throws rocks. You lose and it's humiliating.
"I win," Zoe says smugly. "Take these quarters, and use them to buy some more." You don't think that's how it works.
"Go on, kid," adds Dr. Backpack. "Now!"
Zoe hands you three coins, and you set off to find the other forty-nine twenty-five. You kick your dry, brown legs for choosing wrong. "Of course, rock!" you sob.
It is cool and water as you walk down Dr. Backpack's street. Is that money? you wonder about a piece of paper. It isn't. A few trucks begin laughing uncontrollably at you from behind a giant tree. You're into it, but they all stop when you laugh too. Bummer.
You slowly trudge forward with clenched body parts through three feet of thick milk. Every few minutes, you kneel down and drink a little. Then you see something wicked drip down the night sky.
You wait around for a long time before you realize …
There is no better rock group than Rush.
You keep going, as furious as a bare skull for being so stupid. Never mind, you think. I'll get the money, and everything will go just merrily. You find the cash machine, and give yourself fifty bags of dollars. Yes!
When you return to Dr. Backpack's, the front door is unlocked. You let your body in.
Inside you hear laughter. It sounds like a party! Zoe is laughing. Dr. Backpack. And two more voices that sound really familiar. You walk into the lab to find out who it is.
You knock gently on the vampires' bedroom door. "Big one. Little one. Are you in there?"
You can hear laughing. They're in there. Your boot kicks the door open, and there they are. One child is practicing sneaking. The larger one is polishing his teeth. You think you know what they're up to.
"What in heaven's hands!" you sputter with surprise. "I hope you're not planning to bite anyone. Because if you are …"
The vampires laugh at you. Grrrr! You blow the door shut, and stomp downstairs. It's dark out but going back in time literally can not wait another minute. Your misery must stop now.
That said, the floor is filthy.
You decide against attacking Dr. Backpack. But you don't have fifty dollars.
"I don't have coin," you whisper to Zoe.
"Me neither," she replies. You look over at the doc. He doesn't seem like he's changed his mind.
"Money still?" you ask.
Dr. Backpack punches the wall. Yikes!
"One of us is going to have to find some cash," you say to Zoe.
"I don't want to go back outside," Zoe moans sadly.
You don't want to go either. It's cold outside, and watery. "What about a game of rock-paper-scissors?" you suggest. Zoe agrees,
Rock! Paper! Scissors!
You run the two blocks to your old house. On your way, you pass your mom driving to her job at the parrot factory. Your mom coughs — She was sick for a long time. You feel a little sad.
You get home just as the bus is pulling away. "Looks like the cowboy of nerds will be lassoing his own way to school," you hear the Sal the Bus Driver joke.
"Ha-ha-ha-ha!" you chuckle. After all these years, that still makes you laugh. "Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!"
"Hey, who's that noise?" you hear a small person ask. You turn your face toward your mom's dining room window. It's Zoe! She's not dead yet but a child. And behind her you can see …
This is crazy, you think. You forgot you and your cousin were equally large.
"We're deciding whether to take our feet to the schoolhouse," young you says in a cracking voice.
"Yeah," adds Zoe. "Or just skip it like cool kids." This is it, you think. The bad choice that destroyed my life.
"Who are you anyway?" You asks you you.
You gulp. You need to convince these kids that they've got to go to the school. But is telling them the truth the greatest idea?
This is brilliant, you think as you sneak over to the garlic. Dr. Backpack is as good as saved. You put the mirror in position. You're about to frighten the chimp when, suddenly, you hear knocking.
"I have coin to adventure!" someone yells happily. It's Zoe — she's back already!
The vampires stop what they're doing and look up.
And see you!
You try telling them to go home and get to sleep. You say their mother will be really mad if she gets home and no one's there. You even offer to help finish Dr. Backpack off. But the vampires don't listen. They never listen to you, and this is the end.
But hey, at least Zoe's next!
A vampire gets you with a neck bite! That's boring and you're dead.
Sal the Bus Driver is standing right in front of your eyes. "I am going to disappear you, kid," he says menacingly.
"Why?" you sputter. "I'm not completely sure." Sal gives you four hundred reasons — they're pretty good.
The giant torture man approaches, extending his arms to the perfect length for chokes. Zoe and the skateboard stand to the side.
"Shouldn't you help me?" you demand. Sal's fingertips brush your neck. This is it, you think. I'm going to die.
Then you get an idea…
Tell the truth. Did a magician dressed in gold give you a sword?
You wind up your fist and hit the mummy right in the face. That's honestly pretty cool. Your hand hurts a little, but you're more worried about him. Ha-ha. Nice.
The mummy topples over and lets out a deafening CLANK!
Wait a minute …
Mummies make a thud. You learnt that in Mrs. Ankle's history class. The pharaohs were made of flesh and bone and guts, not metal. Robots go clank.
You didn't know there were robots in ancient Egypt!
You scream, but you don't really give it your all. The zombie feels a little hurt that you don't consider this a loud screaming moment and clutches its face with embarrassed claws.
"I'm sorry," you say. "I'm really scared. I am." You scream again, for real this time. The zombie looks up at you and pretends to bow.
You place a hand on the zombie's shoulder, and it smiles shyly at your brain. A crowd gathers and music begins to sound. You dance with the monster: eyes locked, feet in step — twirling like a rodent in the sewer lights.
Now you're the beautiful kid who made the zombies love you. The story is just beginning. Or is it …
The only thing you love more than honesty is pears, so you eat the peanut shaped choice.
But it tastes funny — like graveyards and Derek's breath. It makes you weak, and now you understand why Derek cries. You're about to throw the pear at a squirrel when you realize … your hand can't move!
Something's wrong. Your hand is becoming smooth and polished. The other hand too. They aren't like sand anymore. They've turned into rocks!
All of a sudden, your feet feel heavy. Your neck feels stiff. Your whole body hardens.
You thought lying was bad. Now you're bad to the stone.
High in the air, a plane explodes, and a big mess lands squarely at your feet. Whatever it is, it must have escaped before the crash. You can't believe how yummy your jeans are.
Out from under the parachute emerge the two cool members of Rush. "The guitar guy is dead," they say perfectly together. "Can you please be in Rush with us?"
There's no use trying with those vampires, so you head back inside. You hear the big one laugh. They don't have names.
It's funny, but when your wife first told you she had vampires, you were excited. You'd always wanted to be a dad. Two little bloodsuckers you could raise as your own—it sounded great. But that feels like a lifetime ago.
The big one's laughing uncontrollably now. Laughing at you. You should be used to it at this point, but you can't help it. You think you just might cry.
Spears are cool, you think, but it wasn't what you had in mind. As you turn toward the second path, your heart shakes in anticipation. "C'mon, baby choo-choo," you yell. "Dad wants a space train!"
You squint hard, but the clock shower is so thick that you can't quite see. Then, underneath all the ticking, you think you hear …
It's future o'clock, and you're pulling up to Space Station! This is wonderful, you think. You grab Zoe by the hand, and race towards your new life.
"Stop it!" you shout at your family, but no one can hear you over the sound of slurping.
You'll have to do a plan.
You look around the room, desperately searching for a way to save Dr. Backpack. You spot a jar of pickles standing beside a toy phone booth, and a robot policeman suspended next to a chimp trained to be scared.
But that's not all you see.
In the back of the lab is an old, cracked mirror. And in front of that …
A smelly, white bulb!
As the smoke disappears, a loud silence surrounds you. It's so loud but so silent. You glance around trying to figure out where you are. And when.
You see walls made of stone, covered in strange symbols and pictures, and a birthmark shaped like a puppy on your right arm. Wherever you are, it doesn't look like your childhood home.
Then you feel a mummy's hand grip your right shoulder. You turn around.
It's a mummy!
You decide to grab a bite to eat. It's hard for you to focus on finding your ball and a way out when you're starving. Also your hands are made of sand.
Is that an orange tree you see in the distance? You hear an orange can really hit the spot.
You run through the dense grass to the tree of your dreams. Hundreds of oranges, roaring with flavor. You can almost taste them with your mouth. Sweet.
Then you notice something hanging from the tree next door. Green pears! One of your favorites. The sugary juice of the pear belongs on your tongue. It really does.
You have two colorful fruits staring at you. But for some reason, you can only eat one.
You enter the building without spewing. Zoe looks proud of you.
"This way," chuckles Dr. Backpack.
You and Zoe follow him down a narrow hallway. The walls are lined with paintings of the doctor smiling and reading different magazines. You're impressed he can afford all those subscriptions. Finally, you reach a door that says LABORATORY.
"Is this your laboratory?" you ask.
"That's right," replies Dr. Backpack—you're killing it tonight. "And this," he continues, "is the time machine."
The time machine doesn't move. It's big, and metallic, and it has eleven buttons on the front panel. Of course, those are just the buttons you can see … Who knows how many buttons there are inside!
"We want to go into the past," Zoe says slowly.
"Because of vampiring," you add, a little bit faster.
Dr. Backpack is all business. "It will cost you fifty dollars."
Fifty dollars! You and Zoe look at each other for some serious time.
"Yeowch!" bellows the magician, grabbing your head. "Why would you choose that?"
You explain why, but, from the look on his face, his question wasn't so sincere.
"You're through," the magician hisses, and scorpions fly out of his eyes, clamping onto your face. They bite you a lot, and kick your head with those tiny powerful legs, until you are crazy gross — and dead!
Probably, you should have taken that dessert. Your one consolation is that no one will care.
Everywhere you turn, you see police cops. Some have human bodies with human heads. Some are covered in armor and you assume are machines. One of the officers asks for permission to drive a stake through your son's heart.
"Yes," you say. "Both of them."
Dr. Backpack runs up to you and Zoe, and gives you a warm smile. "Thank you for saving me," he says. "How can I repay you?"
"Send us back in time," you reply coldly. You haven't forgotten that he left you.
"Of course, of course," Dr. Backpack says happily as he turns on his invention. You smile at Zoe. At last, you're getting what you came for.
Then he stops.
He turns to you with a gleam in his eye. "I've got an idea."
Oh, no …
You glance at your cousin, and you can tell she's thinking the same thing. It's time for blood.
You crouch behind Dr. Backpack like lightning, and Zoe pushes him with the force of a cyclone. The smart man falls backward, and you have to laugh. You're the smart one more than him now.
"Give us time travel before you're through," Zoe starts commanding. You think it's kind of hot.
With an evil smile, Dr. Backpack shakes his head. "No," he says slowly. "I don't think so."
Just like that, an alarm bell rings. The lights go out. The scent of decaying meat fills the room.
"Better run!" chuckles Dr. Backpack.
"I want to drink your sodas," you explain. "But you should know that's not my name."
You crouch down expecting to be trampled, when the ghost horse gingerly places one hoof on your shoulder. "You can drink the can of cola," it tells you. "But only If I can call you Denny."
You agree, and the beast talks to you for twenty minutes about surviving the fall with only a few flowers and a handful of dirt. It turns out that Denny was the beast's son, and the two of them loved gardening. It is sad but also boring.
"Well, I drank it," you laugh politely. "I should really be getting away from you." The ghost horse looks hurt but you've had enough.
"I bought this costume called grief," it says. "And I had hoped you could return it for me."
"Thanks for the soda."
When the ghost horse finally leaves, you hear something splashing in the distance.
Oh, no! you think. Is that a monster?
It's like this, you think. You have to close your hands and start pumping your children with your fists. No one will blame. It's just what you've got to do.
You walk up to the vampires and back up your wrist. "This will make you forget your teeth!" you growl.
The vampires turn around and glare at you. You immediately feel trouble. In seconds, one of them is grabbing your arm with his teeth. It's not completely a bite, but it feels like somebody is killing you. And it certainly hurts.
You wriggle out of the vampire's grip and run inside. You waggle your finger at it through the window as if to say, "No, don't bite me." The vampires lick their fangs. Your blood will be theirs soon.
You grab around for a weapon, but you can't find anything except a comic book. That's really cool, but it probably won't help. The vampires open the door. They seem hungry.
"Uh, well …" you stammer. You've decided to lie, but you're not sure how. "I'm a … fortune … teller."
"You are?" Zoe asks, amazed like a pro. It's working!
"I am. Would you like to make me tell you your future?"
Past you glares at past Zoe and then at future him. "Tell us what happens if we skip school," he threatens. Oh, boy, where to begin?
"You grow up like a complete failure. Bad children belong to you, and crying is always your job. You're a living human scum from the bathroom — you have to tape mints to your face just to see people smile." They look frightened. "And you know what's the worst part?" you ask. "Brad isn't there."
Young you starts shaking. That should do the trick!
"What happens to my mom?" Zoe asks.
"I can't remember," you reply.
An old man wearing a white lab coat is talking strange. Below his face reads the words: DR. BACKPACK (TIME SCIENTIST).
You run over to the TV and press your ear to the screen.
"With my new invention," Dr. Backpack says, "I can tell people to go through time. And they listen."
You can't believe what you're seeing someone say. This guy can can travel through time?
"I just push this button, and the person is sent to the future," the time traveller continues. "Or the past."
The past, you think. That's more like it. You'd love to go there. But do you actually believe what Dr. Backpack is saying. It sounds completely crazy dog.
You peer down the hall but it's too late — your cousin doesn't have any blood anymore. Those greedy, half-dead bat children must have eaten all of it. You curse their sharp teeth.
Oh, well. Zoe's dead. Or is she become vampire? No time to check now, you've got time to travel. This will all reverse-happen anyway.
You step over Dr. Backpack as you enter the lab. You have no idea how the time machine works, but it's okay. You can press buttons like a pro. You just need to work out which button to press.
You narrow the choice down to two. One button is red. The other button is green. Which will it be?
The three of you start walking over to the clearing. "Hey, look!" Zoe cries. "It's the ball!"
You fly across the field as fast as you can run over to see. She's right!
What a relief! You pick up your favorite flavor of sports, and place it in your backpack. You're not going anywhere, you think in your mind.
"Now can we go to school?" the skateboard asks.
You are all laughing when you reach the EXIT sign. It's been a long day, but at least you didn't see that many zombies. Then you hear a voice behind you.
"Excuse me, Dr. Dumpster," a rude man says. You recognize it as the bus driver from earlier in the adventure. "I'm going to strangle you or something."
"One thousand birds," Fainter says, shaking his head. "Hundreds of thousands of sprinkles."
You gulp. You desperately need more friends, but not the kind with feathers!
"The plan is to fly into the birds and kill them," Kip yells over the roar of rotating blades. Sounds like a good plan, you think.
"Once the birds are gone," Fainter continues, "it'll be your job to kill me and Kip. That's where you come in."
Just then, Fainter gets a call on his cell phone. He puts it up to his ear, and grunts a few times. Your stomach tightens. Who could it be?
Finally, he puts the phone down. "It's the bird," Fainter says. "He's thinking of negotiating … But he'll only talk to Kip."
Kip rolls his eye — there's some history there. "Ever fly one of these beasts?" he asks you with his muscles.
"Obviously," you reply, desperately in need of looking awesome. You take the controls and barrel into a mountain.
Well, at least you half completed the mission!
"Hey! You're not Denny," the ghost horse shouts. "Why would you lie?"
"I'm also Denny," you lie.
The ghost horse eyes you suspiciously. "If your name is Denny, then you must have read the GOOSEBUMPS book Don't Make The Firemen Mad!"
You don't really follow the ghost horse's logic, but you decide to play along. Maybe you'll get more soda.
"I'm a Denny. I've read it."
"Great. Then you must know the name of the wizard that Sid and Jenna trick into buying them fireworks."
Can you remember the answer or guess?
Suddenly, Dr. Backpack says, "I'm Backpack!"
You tell him to be quiet, but it's too late: the vampire tigers from under the bed hear him and eat him. There's got to be a better place to keep the vampire tigers …
Then they look up at you, their fangs glinting in the dim light.
"You're still hungry?" you laugh.
Growling deeply, the tigers jump through the air majestically to have a big bite.
Coach announces you are now team captain and that Zoe's head is now the ball. You scream that her head won't fit in the goal but Coach Curly won't listen.
"Cut off their heads!" Coach yells by mistake. You don't think it's a good idea to correct him.
You lead your team onto the court, and lose by a hundred points. Zoe's head is hard to dribble, and you keep getting sand in her eyes. When the buzzer sounds, Coach decides to cut off your head too.
Guess you shouldn't have been an idiot!
You rub the doggie on his scalp with your coarse, sandy hands. The animal grins, and begins twisting and talking to you about his bowling league. You try to end the talking, but it just keeps going. On and on and on. What if he never stops? you think, beginning to panic.
The dog seems to enjoy your nonsense, and gives you an unexpected present: a collection of high-end suitcases. "Only place I'm headed is school and probably later prison," you grumble, leaving them behind.
The tunnel has ended and you are proud — Zoe can choke on your wrist. On the ground near your foot, you feel a note from your mom. You peer at it with one eye, and it reads:
Could you be a dear boy and run to the store? I need liquid refreshment, but they have a thick accent and I am running out of time. You will obey me always.
Love and games, Mom
Ugh, not very cool Mom! You have a creepy story with tears and excitement — you can't do mom helping! You swallow the note and put knowledge of its message in the don't-think-about-again part of your brain.
Now, to step outside …
"The sharp can't cut this neck! " you scream like a hero, shoving your head in the big head hole.
Your head guts are now floor guts. Nice going, moron.
You can't believe your face. The vampires are in the backyard, throwing around a big glass bottle of garlic.
This is the last thing you need!
You march outside. "Be careful," you yell. "What if that bottle was to break?"
The vampires don't listen. They never listen to you, and it's driving you bonkers.
Zoe's pretty mad at you. She sticks her finger into your face, and explains why you are the perfect solution to not puking. You think it's kinda hot.
"You really are a coward," she hisses at you, smashing her paw into your head again. You cry a little bit, but don't let her see. Your jaw feels haunted by the ghost of pain.
"Should we keep going?" you ask hopefully. Zoe's red-faced and out of breath. You think it might be over now.
Your cousin stands on the giant skateboard. You try to get on too, but she stops you. "No," she says. "You can walk behind."
Zoe and the skateboard start moving. "Talk about disgusting," says the skateboard, meaning your face.
"You should see him without makeup," Zoe laughs. You jog along side.
The coach starts you on the bench, but you're on court long enough to assist Brad twice. You decide it's not really important how much points you score. You are a team player.
You look down at the ends of your arms. About an hour ago, you thought your bony hands were totally lost forever. You're so glad you can slap high fives again, clutch your schoolbooks and shove chips down your throat. You can do everything that was slightly harder today except when it wasn't — and boy, are you glad about that!
The team wins and you remember your mom is making you dinner. You are so excited to find out what shmare is. But you decide to spare your body the orange peels — you've had all the fruit you need for one day!
You and Zoe reach the rickety wooden bridge that spans Zombie Forest. Above it a sign reads: THIS WAY TO YOUR HORROR. You feel a stinging sensation in your balls. By the way, you're a guy in this.
"What are you waiting for?" Zoe teases, flipping her baseball cap around backwards. "Are you afraid of here?"
"I'm not afraid of anything," you lie. "I'm just hungry."
"There's an apple tree on the bridge," Zoe laughs firmly.
Ol' White Teeth is right: you can squint at the tree from here. Today is very unlucky.
You feel lightheaded as you start across the bridge. The creaking of the planks makes your heart shake. Maybe I am hungry, you think as Zoe playfully shoves you forward.
"Come on, scaredy-belly. Eat your weight in fruit."
Eventually, you're standing next to the tree. You grab a handful of apple, and turn it up to your face. Then, just when you're about to bite in, you hear the King of Rodents whisper in your ear, "Aaiiiiieee."
"What was that sound?" you ask bravely, even though you don't want to be poisoned.
"Eats it up, you snag stick," Zoe replies.
You're hungry, but are you that hungry?
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