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Black moon rising, p.1
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       Black Moon Rising, p.1

           D. J. MacHale
 
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Black Moon Rising


  ALSO BY D. J. MACHALE

  Surrender the Key (The Library, Book 1)

  Voyagers: Project Alpha

  The SYLO Chronicles

  Morpheus Road series

  Pendragon series

  To the terrific teachers and staff at Manhattan Beach Middle School

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

  Text copyright © 2017 by D. J. MacHale

  Cover art copyright © 2017 by Vivienne To

  Cover concept copyright © 2017 by Vincent Chong

  Key art copyright © 2017 by Bob Bianchini

  All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Random House Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York.

  Random House and the colophon are registered trademarks of Penguin Random House LLC.

  Visit us on the Web! rhcbooks.com

  Educators and librarians, for a variety of teaching tools, visit us at RHTeachersLibrarians.com

  Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data:

  Names: MacHale, D. J., author.

  Title: Black Moon rising / D.J. MacHale.

  Description: First edition. | New York : Random House, [2017] | Series: [The Library ; book 2] | Summary: Middle-schoolers Marcus, Theo, and Lu return to the Library to help figure out, and fix, what is going wrong at a school in Massachusetts.

  Identifiers: LCCN 2016032224 | ISBN 978-1-101-93257-5 (hardcover) | ISBN 978-1-101-93260-5 (trade pbk.) | ISBN 978-1-101-93258-2 (hardcover library binding) | ISBN 978-1-101-93259-9 (ebook)

  Subjects: | CYAC: Supernatural—Fiction. | Libraries—Fiction. | Middle schools—Fiction. | Schools—Fiction. | Witchcraft—Fiction. | Mystery and detective stories.

  Classification: LCC PZ7.M177535 Bkm 2017 | DDC [Fic]—dc23

  Ebook ISBN 9781101932599

  Random House Children’s Books supports the First Amendment and celebrates the right to read.

  v4.1

  ep

  Contents

  Cover

  Also by D. J. MacHale

  Title Page

  Dedication

  Copyright

  Epigraph

  Foreword

  Prologue

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  For a charm of powerful trouble,

  Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

  Double, double toil and trouble;

  Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.

  —FROM Macbeth, by WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

  FOREWORD

  So, you’ve decided to come back, aye?

  Brave of you. I like that. Not just because you enjoy my books, but because you have a decidedly weird streak. That’s a compliment. You’re my kind of people. Though I’m not able to fully explain why I like to write stories about the strange and supernatural, I also don’t understand why I enjoy reading them so much.

  I’ll bet you can’t explain why you like reading them either.

  What is it about spooky stories that attracts us? Do we like it when our hearts race as the characters we care about grow closer to danger? Is it fun to imagine exactly what form of dastardly evil lurks in every dark shadow, ready to spring? Is it about the challenge of trying to fit together the puzzle pieces of a dangerous mystery? Or maybe it’s about the relief we feel when, no matter how horrific an experience our characters might go through, we always know we can close the book and make it all go away?

  Unless, that is, the shadows choose to stick around and haunt our dreams.

  The answers, I think, are yes, yes, yes, and yes. All of the above. We have vivid imaginations. I’ve been writing spooky stories for a very long time now, and one thing I’ve learned is that the people who enjoy them most are the ones who can put their logical minds on a shelf (assuming they have a logical mind…and a shelf) and open up their thoughts to possibility.

  That’s what you’ll find plenty of in the Library. Possibility. As Everett the librarian says in Surrender the Key, “There are forces at work in this world that we know little about. Situations come up all the time that defy the normal rules of science and nature. Strange things. Oddities. Unexplainable phenomena.”

  You may or may not believe that to be the case in real life, but when you step into the Library, you know you’ve entered a world where it’s the absolute truth.

  That’s why you’ve come back.

  As always, I’d like to acknowledge some of the many people who have helped bring this latest tome to you. We authors have a great relationship with readers. What we write, you read. There’s a direct line. But that line is populated with hundreds of people without whom you and I wouldn’t be able to have this relationship.

  Most of these good folks are with Random House Children’s Books. It all starts with the editorial team of Diane Landolf, Michelle Nagler, and Mallory Loehr. Beyond that talented trio are art directors and artists and salespeople and marketers and publicists and the many people who support them. From there we have distributors and booksellers, librarians and teachers, book fairs and book festivals. All play a role in taking my words and getting them to you.

  At my end are Richard Curtis and Peter Nelson, my terrific agent and lawyer. I have a wonderful family who allow me to have a job that is kind of eerie and supernatural in and of itself. I’ve got a dog that keeps me company by sitting at my feet as I write and only wants an occasional walk and treat in return.

  I’ve just skimmed the surface here, but rest assured that each of these individuals has played an important role in the creation of this book. So if you have nightmares tonight, throw a little blame their way too, would ya?

  Okay, our time together grows short. The Paradox key is warming up.

  The Library beckons.

  Who knows what you’ll find once you step through the door?

  Well, I do. And soon…you will too.

  Slip the key into the lock, turn, feel the bolt release with a solid click. Now open the door.

  We’re back.

  Have fun and…pleasant dreams.

  D. J. MacHale, 2017

  Prologue

  Middle school isn’t supposed to be dangerous.

  Not normally, anyway.

  But there was nothing normal about the string of horrible events that were unfolding at Coppell Middle School. The fall semester had begun like any other but quickly turned into one that nobody would ever forget.

  Though most would like to.

  Some thought the school was jinxed. Others felt it was nothing more than a run of incredibly bad luck. None could deny that a nefarious black cloud had drifted over the school, one that was producing impossible waves of serious misfortune.

  No one knew why it was happening, when it would end…

  …or if it would end.

  It was the first basketball pep rally of the season. The bleachers in the gym were packed with hundreds of amped-up kids who were there to cheer for their team. The school band occupied one end of the bleachers, gamely pushing through a weak version of “Uptown Funk.” The booming rhythm pounded out by the drum line completely drowned out the brass section and gave no hope to the woodwinds. No
body complained. It wasn’t a very good band anyway.

  Teachers sat on the bottom row. Normally they’d be scattered throughout the crowd to make sure the kids kept quiet, but since the entire purpose of a pep rally was to make noise, they sat on their hands and let the energy flow.

  The pep squad was on the opposite end of the bleachers from the band, shouting out cheers that had nothing to do with what the band was playing. Cheerleaders did cartwheels and flips across the gym floor. The kids screamed every time one of them stuck a landing. They screamed even louder when the cheerleaders missed and landed on their butts. They screamed when the pep squad waved their streamers and when the bandleader swung his baton.

  Basically they just screamed.

  It was semiorganized chaos, and the basketball team hadn’t even shown up yet.

  Presiding over the mayhem was the eighth-grade class president, Ainsley Murcer. She was stationed on the opposite side of the gym, across from the bleachers, along with the AV teacher, who was running the soundboard. Ainsley had planned every detail of the extravaganza. She’d choreographed the entire show, down to the split second, for maximum dramatic effect. She wanted the band to play one tune, then hand the show off to the pep squad for some cheers. The pep squad would then give way to the cheerleaders, who would wow everyone with their daring acrobatics before stepping aside for the principal to make a speech. The buildup to the dramatic climax would come when the band played the school fight song, which would herald the grand entrance of the basketball team.

  It was all set in Ainsley’s mind. It would be perfect.

  Except it was more like perfect bedlam because everything happened at once.

  “The band shouldn’t be playing now,” Ainsley complained to the AV teacher. “Nobody can hear the pep squad, and the cheerleaders are just randomly showing off.”

  The teacher gave her a sympathetic look and shrugged. The train was on the tracks and picking up speed. It was out of their hands.

  “When do I talk?” Mr. Jackson, the school principal, shouted to Ainsley.

  “Soon,” Ainsley said, trying to sound as if everything were under control. She had sold the principal on a pep rally, but it was quickly rolling toward anarchy. She shoved a microphone into his hands and said, “I’ll cue you.”

  “You want me to quiet them down?” Mr. Jackson asked.

  “No!” Ainsley said forcefully. “I’ve got this. I’ll get the band to stop so the pep squad can do their cheer.”

  Ainsley was determined to wrest back control. As she ran toward the bleachers, she passed a group of boys who stood along one wall, looking bored. They seemed far too cool to be hanging out at a pep rally.

  “How’s it goin’, Murcer?” one of the guys called to Ainsley. It was Nate Christmas, the ringleader. He loved the fact that Ainsley’s perfect plan was going sideways.

  “Great!” Ainsley called to him cheerfully as she ran past. “Couldn’t be better.”

  Nate shared a laugh with his friends and then motioned for them to head out.

  As Ainsley approached the band, she caught sight of a girl sitting halfway up the bleachers. She was crushed against the wall by a crowd of frenzied kids who didn’t even realize she was there. She stood out because she was the only kid not yelling and cheering or having so much as an ounce of fun. Her name was Kayla Eggers, and from the pained look on her face, it was clear she wanted to be as far away from this madness as possible.

  Ainsley made eye contact with Kayla and gave a small shrug as if to say, Sorry.

  Kayla didn’t react. She just shrank even further.

  Ainsley ran up to the band director. “Stop the song!” she shouted.

  “What did you say?” the director shouted back.

  “Stop! You aren’t supposed to play yet!”

  “Thank you!” the director yelled. “We’ll play another if you want!”

  “NO! Just finish!”

  Ainsley spun to head back to the soundboard and collided with a cheerleader in mid-roundoff. The two fell to the floor in a tangle of arms and legs as laughter rained down on them from the bleachers.

  “What are you doing?” the cheerleader shouted angrily. “Go away!”

  “Sorry, sorry,” Ainsley said, and helped her to her feet.

  The cheerleader pulled away in a huff, plastered on a smile, and did another tumbling run.

  Ainsley ran back to the soundboard, where Mr. Jackson was waiting patiently.

  “Let me get this under control!” he called to her above the noise.

  “No, this is my show!” Ainsley barked at him.

  Mr. Jackson stiffened. He wasn’t used to being spoken to like that by a student.

  “Sorry,” Ainsley said, trying to recover. “I’m just a little…stressed.”

  “Yeah, I get that,” Mr. Jackson replied.

  A huge cheer went up. Now what?

  The basketball team had arrived. The players trotted out in single file between the two sets of bleachers and jogged to center court. The crowd noise blew through the roof. The bandleader finally stopped the song. Just as well, since nobody was listening anyway.

  The players circled up at center court, dribbling basketballs and passing them to each other. The booming sound of the bouncing balls and the added excitement shot the decibel level back up to earsplitting.

  “When do I talk?” Mr. Jackson shouted to Ainsley.

  “You were supposed to talk before the players came out,” Ainsley snapped with frustration. “Why is this happening? This is horrible!”

  “At least it can’t get any worse,” the AV teacher said.

  He was wrong.

  Crack. Crack. Crack.

  The sound of multiple sharp explosions tore through the gym. Kids gasped and cried out in surprise. Somebody had lit a string of firecrackers beneath the bleachers…directly below where Kayla Eggers was sitting.

  As the loud, snapping pops continued, Kayla pressed herself even harder against the wall while the kids around her pushed away from the spot, shoving each other to escape from ground zero. The rapid-fire explosions may have lasted only a few seconds, but the terrifying damage was done. The crowd noise died. The cheering ended. The basketballs stopped bouncing.

  Kayla sat alone, directly above the spot where the mayhem occurred. Smoke floated up from beneath her seat as she cowered next to the cinder-block wall, paralyzed with fear and quietly crying.

  Hundreds of people silently looked her way, momentarily stunned.

  While everyone else was focused on Kayla, Ainsley’s eye was caught by movement elsewhere.

  Coming out from beneath the bleachers was Nate Christmas.

  That was it. Ainsley’s rage and frustration boiled over. She grabbed the microphone from Mr. Jackson and punched the On switch. After a quick screech of ear-piercing feedback, she had the floor.

  “I see you, Nate Christmas!”

  Her angry voice boomed through the overhead speakers and echoed across the otherwise silent gym.

  Everyone’s attention snapped to Ainsley.

  That’s when it happened.

  The section of bleachers where Kayla was sitting began to tremble. It was as if an earthquake had hit the gym, but the only people who felt it were those still on the bleachers. The kids panicked and pushed their way forward to get off the structure.

  Kayla was too confused and petrified to move.

  The kids tumbled over one another, desperate to escape.

  “Kayla!” Ainsley shouted.

  There was a gut-wrenching sound of twisting steel as a section of bleachers pulled away from the wall and collapsed like a monstrous accordion. Most every kid screamed in horror as the heavy structure twisted and crumpled, forcing many to dive the rest of the way to safety. Within seconds the entire section had fallen into a heap of bent metal and splintered wood.

  There was a long, frozen moment when everyone stared at the destruction in disbelief. Mr. Jackson and a few teachers were the first to break the spell and react. While
the kids backed away, the adults ran straight toward the ruined structure to pull students to safety.

  Miraculously, no one had been seriously injured. There were plenty of bruises and scrapes and one broken foot, but nothing life-threatening.

  Once the dust settled, there was only one student left on the pile of wood and steel that had once been bleachers. Kayla lay in the center of the rubble with her head buried in her arms, sobbing.

  Ainsley stood alone in the center of the gym, staring at the devastation and at the little lost girl who couldn’t bring herself to move.

  A young teacher, Mr. Martin, climbed over the wreckage, scooped Kayla up in his arms, and carried her away from danger.

  “You okay?” he asked.

  Kayla sniffed and nodded.

  He gently set her on her feet, and another young teacher, Ms. Tomac, put an arm around the girl and guided her away while gently wiping away her tears.

  Kayla wasn’t the only one sobbing. Now that the shock had worn off, many of the kids huddled together on the far side of the gym were in tears. For some, they were tears of relief. Others were overcome with emotion, realizing how close they had come to disaster. Most were left stunned by the sudden, violent nature of the event.

  It wasn’t the first strange and dangerous accident that had happened at Coppell Middle School that fall. It was simply the next.

  The whispers had begun. And the rumors. Whatever was happening wasn’t natural. Something was seriously wrong.

  Middle school isn’t supposed to be dangerous.

  “I’m dead. I’m dead. I’m seriously dead.”

  “You’re also a drama queen,” Theo McLean said without a trace of sympathy. “It’s not exactly the end of the world.”

  “Easy for you to say,” Lu snapped at him. “What did you get on the test? An A, right?”

 
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