Following his New York Times best–seller Nightmare Hour, R.L. Stine, America's master of horror for middle–grade readers, has created another fantastically nightmarish collection of stories. These were written, as Stine says, in the hour "when lights fade, the real world slips into shadow, and the cold, moonlit world of evil dreams takes over your mind." The stories in this new collection are illustrated with chilling black–and–white drawings by a variety of well–known illustrators. R.L. Stine's millions of fans will be screaming for more!
I froze in dread -- and listened to the words I hoped I'd never hear. "We'll have our own Halloween party at home," Mom said. "Won't that be nice?"
I groaned. My little sister Madison cheered.
"But my friends and I want to go out on Halloween!" I protested.
"Mark, you can invite all your friends here," Dad said. "It'll be safer."
Safer? Who wants to be safe on Halloween?
"Invite your whole class," Mom added, smoothing her hand through my hair, which I hated.
Madison cheered again. "Can I invite my whole class too?" she asked, jumping up and down like a monkey.
"Of course," Mom said.
"We're thirteen!" I said. "My friends don't want to hang out with a bunch of babyish eight-year-olds."
Mom and Dad were always making me do stuff with Madison. They made me take her to the petting zoo. They made me dress up as a clown for her birthday parties. Last Christmas they forced me to sit on Santa's lap with her.
"Stop complaining. It'll be a great party," Mom said. "We'll play a lot of fun games."
"Maybe we'll rent a scary movie," Dad said. He looked at Madison. "Not too scary, of course. Just a little scary."
"I'm going to be a little sick," I said.
I'm doomed, I thought. My friends will never speak to me again. I will never live this party down. I'm dead. Dead!
And I was right.
Actually, the party was worse than death.
Only eight or nine of my friends showed up. About thirty of Madison's friends came, and almost all of them were dressed as princesses!
My best friend, Jake, and I came as hideous ghouls from beyond the grave. Our skin was lumpy and green and decayed, and we had bleeding wounds and deep black scars covering us from head to foot.
I had an eyeball that dangled from its socket and a wad of sick yellow stuff hanging from my nose. Jake had a long brown knife handle sticking out of the back of his ripped, ragged shirt.
I tried to put on some rap music. But the princesses took over the CD player and danced together to wimpy boy-band music. My friends stood around the food table, looking bored.
Mom's babyish games didn't help much. Pin the vine on the pumpkin? Whoa. Hot stuff.
Of course, none of my friends joined in. And then when Dad finally pulled out the scary video he had rented, I knew this had to be the worst Halloween party in the history of the world.
Guess what scary movie he picked. The Wizard of Oz.
Madison and her friends huddled around the living room to watch. I gave Jake a shove toward the front door. "Come on," I whispered. "Let's go."
He held back. "Huh?"
"Let's get out of here," I said. "I can't take it anymore."
We crept to the door, opened it quickly, and sneaked outside.
It was a cold, frosty night. The front lawn glowed like silver under the rising full moon. The bare trees swayed and creaked.
I watched my breath puff up in front of me. I straightened my ragged ghoul costume and led the way down the gravel driveway.
"Where are we going?" Jake asked, glancing back at the house.
"Anywhere," I muttered. "I don't care. I can't take that babyish party one more minute." "It was pretty disturbing," he said.
My house stands at the bottom of a steep hill. I pointed up the hill. "Maybe there are trick-or-treaters up there," I said. "Why don't we visit some houses and score some candy?"
We started across the street. "Ohh -- " I let out a cry -- and stopped walking -- as a blaring roar exploded in my ears and a white light rushed over me.
The brightest light I had ever seen. Bright and hot, as if the sun had dropped over me.I raised my arm to shield my eyes. But I couldn't shut it out. My head throbbed in pain.And then I was blinking in darkness again. The dangling rubber eyeball bounced in front of my face. My ears rang. I squinted at Jake.
He kept blinking too, trying to force away the pain of that strange light. "Did you see that truck?" he cried.
"It -- it almost hit us!" I said. "Man, it had to be going a hundred!"
"I thought we were dead meat," Jake said, shaking his head.
I turned and saw someone standing behind us. Another ghoul. A tall, thin kid with a gaping dark wound in the front of his T-shirt.
He had long, stringy hair with fat black bugs poking out of the tangles. One eye was covered with a slimy patch of green gunk.
"Hey -- hi," I said, unable to hide my surprise. "Neat costume."
"What's going on?" the kid asked. He had a hoarse, whispery voice, as if he had a cold. "We've been stuck in a boring party," Jake told him. "We just escaped. You been trick-or-treating?"
"Not yet," the kid said. "My name is Ray. I just got out too." He studied Jake and me for a moment. "Want to go to a good party? I mean a really good party?"
He didn't wait for us to answer. Limping on one leg, he led the way up the hill. His bug-filled hair blew behind him in the breeze. Humming to himself, he kept glancing back to make sure we were following.
We reached the top of the hill and turned toward the old graveyard on the corner. I was surprised to see no one on the street. No trick-or-treaters. No cars moving. A lot of the houses were already dark.
"Where is this party?" I asked.
"Not far," Ray replied...