Going bush, p.1
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       Going Bush, p.1

         Part #7.50 of Middle School series by James Patterson  
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Going Bush


  WORDS OF WISDOM FROM A MAN OF EXPERIENCE (THAT’S ME):

  Never wish for something interesting to happen

  Never share a room with a farty Brazilian

  Never forget how awesome it is to be on solid ground

  Never trust a bearded bushman

  Never EVER play fetch with a crocodile

  Last time I went Down Under, things got pretty crazy. This time I’m much wiser and more mature—I’m Rafe Khatchadorian, Young Artist. Besides, the Aussie bush can’t be any worse than the beach. Right?

  HERE WE GO … AGAIN!

  Contents

  Cover

  About the Book

  Title Page

  Dedication

  Chapter 1: The Trouble with Flying Polar Bears

  Chapter 2: Dishpigs

  Chapter 3: Ten Reasons Being with Regular People Is Okay

  Chapter 4: You Too Can Become a Man of Experience!

  Chapter 5: I’m Just a Teenage Hormone Zombie!

  Chapter 6: The Galactic Federation of Boredom

  Chapter 7: Pushing the Envelope

  Chapter 8: The Letter

  Chapter 9: Flashback Time!

  Chapter 10: Uh-huh, Oh Yeah!

  Chapter 11: Houston, We Have a Problem

  Chapter 12: The Clincher

  Chapter 13: Donatello Death Match

  Chapter 14: Fast Forward

  Chapter 15: This Is Your Johnno Speaking

  Chapter 16: Uh-oh

  Chapter 17: Bigbottom Creek: Getaway to Absolutely Nothing

  Chapter 18: Where’s Ellie?

  Chapter 19: Welcome to Bigbottom Creek

  Chapter 20: I’m Not Much of a Talker …

  Chapter 21: Never Share a Room with a Farty Brazilian

  Chapter 22: Zombie Apocalypse Breakfast

  Chapter 23: Fun

  Chapter 24: Attaching Strings to the Knees of Giant Moths

  Chapter 25: Turn Me Over, I’m Done

  Chapter 26: The Other Guys

  Chapter 27: The Strange Case of Rafe’s Disappearing Butt

  Chapter 28: I’m an Artist, Get Me Outta Here!

  Chapter 29: Cool with a Chance of Human Sacrifice

  Chapter 30: Choose Your Enemies Wisely

  Chapter 31: Kamp Kulture

  Chapter 32: Meet Me at the Billabong, Betty

  Chapter 33: Don’t Feed the Dingoes

  Chapter 34: Boofboom

  Chapter 35: Remember That Scene in Jurassic Park?

  Chapter 36: The Stink from Beyond the Beyond

  Chapter 37: Playing It Cool

  Chapter 38: Peeing is Overrated

  Chapter 39: The Ground Keeps Moving

  Chapter 40: Whatever You Do, Don’t Wake the Crocodile

  Chapter 41: That’s the Plan?

  Chapter 42: Whatever You Do, Don’t Look Back

  Chapter 43: Pant, Pant, Close

  Chapter 44: Aliens Shmaliens

  Chapter 45: On the Plus Side, No One Got Eaten

  Chapter 46: Baaaaaaaaaacon!

  Chapter 47: Welcome to McGarrityland

  Chapter 48: Rafe Khatchadorian, Speluncaphobic

  Chapter 49: Blood Cave 3: Revenge of the Ghost Cave

  Chapter 50: The Sticky Bit

  Chapter 51: Double Awesome with Sprinkles on Top

  Chapter 52: There’s Always One

  Chapter 53: Sniffing Antelope Butt

  Chapter 54: Spill the Beans

  Chapter 55: No Place to be Enemies

  Chapter 56: A Whole New Croc-shaped Worry

  Chapter 57: Rafe Figures It Out: Rafe Figures It Out

  Chapter 58: The Kid Who Could

  Chapter 59: Big Head

  Chapter 60: Super-secret Spy Network

  Chapter 61: Meat

  Chapter 62: Rock and Roll

  Chapter 63: This Is Barry

  Chapter 64: Freak-out Time

  Chapter 65: Moondancing Maniacs

  Chapter 66: Does Barry the Rock Monster Exist?

  Chapter 67: Our Brazilian Is Missing

  Chapter 68: “Let’s Split Up” and Other Dumb Ideas

  Chapter 69: Urgent Bum Issue

  Chapter 70: I’m Getting a Weird Feeling About This

  Chapter 71: That’s It?

  Chapter 72: Fun. Remember Fun?

  Chapter 73: A Face Like a Slapped Trout

  Chapter 74: The Dog That Wasn’t a Dog

  Chapter 75: Fetch

  Chapter 76: A Khatchadorian’s Gotta Do What a Khatchadorian’s Gotta Do

  Chapter 77: My Pants Are Full of Wasps

  Chapter 78A: Broken Legs Hurt … and Other Really Obvious Bits of Information

  Chapter 78B: The Heavy Chapter

  Chapter 78C: Squeaky Bum Time

  Chapter 78D: How to Breathe

  Epilogue: Cool Beans

  About the Author

  Also by James Patterson

  Copyright Notice

  To Dr. Sophie Chatterton

  —M.C.

  “TO THE FLAMING Fjords of Askabalant, Lorek Bearsson!” I settled into my saddle and pointed north. “Fly like the wind, old friend, and we’ll be feasting on roasted reindeer and cloudberries by sundown!”

  I tapped my boot heels against the flanks of the mighty flying warrior polar bear and tightened my grip on the sealskin reins.

  The mighty flying warrior polar bear farted loudly and sat down.

  That’s the trouble with crummy flying warrior polar bears—they can be as stubborn as a mule wearing lead-lined boots.

  I needed to get back to the fjords—MegaGlobal Pictures were making a movie about my amazingly fabulous life and I was due on set in less than twenty-four hours to film a scene with Brad Pitt. I mean, I couldn’t let the Bradster down. There was only one thing for it—I whipped out my Mongolian hunting horn and blew.

  In moments a dust cloud appeared containing a super-cool Mongolian wolf-hunter dude.

  “Hey, super-cool wolf-hunter dude, I need to get back home! Brad Pitt is waiting!” I said.

  The super-cool wolf-hunter dude nodded wisely. “They say Brad Pitt waits for no man,” he said, handing me the reins to his spare horse. (Did I mention he had a spare?) He released the falcon. “Follow the Saker. He knows the fastest way back.”

  “Thanks, wolf-hunter dude!” I yelled, just as a greasy wet cloth hit me smack in the face.

  “Hey, lame-o, quit being such a dorky buttwad!” said a voice from lousy old reality. And just like that I was jerked—blam!—right out of my daydream.

  Brad Pitt was going to be disappointed.

  MOST OF YOU will have guessed by now that I wasn’t galloping across the Mongolian plains following a super-cool wolf-hunting falcon to the Flaming Fjords of Askabalant. Instead, I was somewhere a whole heap less interesting—the back kitchen at Swifty’s Diner on the corner of Montgomery Boulevard in Hills Village, where I was working part-time to earn some spare cash.

  I wasn’t too sure if I even should have been working—isn’t there, like, a law against that or something?—but since Mom knew Swifty, and I wasn’t exactly going down a coal mine, and I needed some money, she figured a few hours washing dishes wouldn’t hurt me none.

  I didn’t mind too much. Mom was looking pretty happy these days what with Mr. Fanucci being on the scene and all, and she’d looked so pleased when she told me about the job at Swifty’s. I wasn’t about to spoil things by quitting.

  Of course, that was before I found out who I had to work with. Once I knew, the coal mine option didn’t look half-bad.

  “Yo, KhatchaDORKian,” Miller yelled. “Quit staring into space and start washing!”

  I peeled the cloth off my face and looked at the skyscraper of filthy plates in front of me with not even a teeny-tiny speck of enthusiasm. I had so little enthusiasm that Sherlock Holmes* couldn’t have found it using a spectron microscope fitted with a Schnell & Hammerstein nuclear-powered enthusiasm locator.**

  I wanted to hurl. It was my job to scrape the goop off the plates so that Miller the Killer could dry and stack them. Maybe it wasn’t the worst job in the world but—

  Sorry, was I going too fast there? Yep, you heard me right: Miller the Killer, the brain-free knuckle-dragger who’s dedicated his life to making mine a misery, the same Miller the Killer who never misses a chance to publicly humiliate me, the dude I exposed as a serial bully—that’s the guy I’m best buds with at Swifty’s.

  Okay, let me explain two things:

  There’s nothing wrong with your hearing. I did say “Miller the Killer”.

  He and I definitely, absolutely, 100 percent are NOT best buds and will NEVER be best buds.

  “You aren’t on one of your fancy artist trips now, KhatchaDORKian,” Miller the Killer said, a nasty grin plastered across his face. “You’re back with the regular people.”

  I sighed, picked up a plate, and plunged it into the suds.

  Miller was right. I wasn’t on one of my art trips, I wasn’t on a camp in Colorado, or at a ritzy art school, and I certainly wasn’t riding a mighty flying warrior polar bear to meet Brad Pitt. I was back with the regular people again.

  And it sucked.

  MAYBE I WENT too far. Being back with the “regular people” did have some advantages.

  1. I got to see plenty of my mom and Grandma Dotty and Georgia (yes, I admit that, despite her being incredibly annoying most of the time, I do actually sorta, y’know, like my little sis).

  2. I wasn’t being chased by Australian zombies. (That is a thing. It happened on one of my fancy art trips. Never underestimate how good it is NOT being chased by Australian zombies.)

  3. I’d kissed Marley Grote. Correction: Marley Grote had kissed me. If she’d waited for me to kiss her we’d both be in rocking chairs on the porch of some old folks’ home before lips locked. I still thought Jeanne Galletta was completely, totally awesome (obviously), so this is kind of where I’m at on that whole boy/girl front:

  4. School was okay. There’s no clever punchline here because, mostly, that’s what school’s like, right? Sort of somewhere between okay and sucky. Not amazing, not terrifying, just kind of in the middle. Hey, maybe that’s why it’s called middle school? Ha-ha-ha. I even had some school “cool cred” after (don’t laugh) managing to get on the football team and ACTUALLY BEING KIND OF GOOD AT IT. I’d been cool for about eighteen seconds.

  5. There were some advantages to working at Swifty’s. I got to eat reduced-price burgers and sometimes Miller the Killer forgot to kick my butt.

  6. Junior! Dogs make everything better. Everyone should have a dog. In case you haven’t been keeping up with things (and if not, why not?), this is Junior. I know I’m biased and you probably think your dog is The Best Dog Of All Time but I’m here to tell you that you are just plain wrong. Junior is The Best Dog Of All Time, that’s all there is to it.

  7. Mom’s still dating Mr. Fanucci, the Learning Skills teacher, which makes her happy, and if Mom’s happy then I’m (usually) happy. Mr Fanucci’s a big improvement on the geologist Mom dated when we were in Australia.

  8. I was doing some seriously neat art. Ellie, my Australian friend, had sent me a book on traditional Indigenous Australian art for my birthday and I was filling my sketchbooks with a heap of new stuff. The Aboriginal paintings were all dots and lines and animals and I was trying out the ideas in the book. I hadn’t shown them to anybody yet but I thought they were looking pretty good.

  9. I’d retired Operation S.A.M., the undercover art activist, and I was making better choices about which Loozer comics I posted online—which meant I was getting an easier ride at school.

  10. Last of all, I wasn’t going to Learning Skills anymore. For those of you who missed it, after I got back from my Australian adventure, I did a spell in the Hills Village Middle School Learning Skills program. You can imagine how that felt, even if the kids in my class were kind of cool. Better still, grab a copy of the book (Just My Rotten Luck, available at all good bookstores and most lousy ones) and get yourselves back up to full Khatchadorian speed. Don’t sweat it, I’ll hang on until you’re done.

  Okay? All finished? Great stuff, hey? Did you like that part where I became President of the United States and invaded Pluto? You did? BUSTED! There was no part where I became President of the United States and invaded Pluto. Now, go back and read that book properly.

  So, yeah. All in all, life in Hills Village with the regular people wasn’t too bad.

  But here’s the kicker: if life among the regular people wasn’t so bad, why did it feel like there was a great big something hovering just out of reach? Why did I keep checking my email for messages from “out there”? Why did I have itchy feet?

  Why wasn’t I happy?

  WHILE WALKING BACK home from Swifty’s, I racked my brain for ideas.

  Maybe I wasn’t happy because I wasn’t famous or rich or better-looking or more successful with girls, or because I didn’t live in a big swanky house or play running back for the Miami Dolphins, or because I hadn’t discovered the cure for cancer. They’d all be good things, right? Well, yeah, obvs.

  But while all of those things would probably make me happier, I knew deep down that they weren’t the reason I wasn’t happy. Then, as I was passing Bob’s Tyre and Lube on the corner of Bloomington Avenue, the answer hit me like a lightning bolt.

  I wasn’t happy because I was a teenager.

  IT WAS SO SIMPLE.

  It explained everything.

  “That’s it!” I shouted. “I’m a teenager!”

  “No kidding,” said a guy in blue coveralls.

  I ignored him and kept on walking. I felt like I’d discovered time travel or everlasting fuel. Here I was thinking it was something I was doing that was making me unhappy, when all this time it was those pesky hormones zipping around my body.

  Hormones make life difficult.

  Everyone says so. Hormones make us miserable. Hormones make us angry. Hormones make us unhappy. There was all that gross hair and growth spurts and voice-changing stuff too, but—and this was the neat bit—none of it was my fault. It was all down to hormones.

  I felt a lot better knowing that I’d solved one of the mysteries of the universe … for about two minutes.

  See, even though all that stuff about teenagers being unhappy was true, I knew that hormones weren’t the entire reason I was feeling off.

  The fact was, Miller the Killer was onto something.

  I was back with the regular people.

  It’s not that I didn’t like the regular people. I just wasn’t the same Rafe Khatchadorian I was when I started writing all this down. Regular people seemed to have stayed the same while things—big, life-changing things—had happened to me.

  I’d had experiences. I’d met artists, filmmakers, zombies (sort of), geologists … I’d even met Australians. I’d surfed, white-water rafted, camped in the wilds, been a secret art activist, accidentally blown up a toilet block, been written about in newspapers. I was A MAN OF EXPERIENCE!

  Bottom line: I wasn’t happy because I was right back where I’d started—in Hills Village. Back with Miller the Killer, back with Mom and Georgia and Grandma Dotty and Principal Stricker, Jeanne Galletta, and all the rest of them. And they were all just like they had been … but I wasn’t.

  I kicked a stone and hurt my big toe.

  If only something interesting would happen.

  OUT IN DEEP space, a slim white rectangular craft glides silently past a swirling cloud of asteroids. The spaceship takes a couple of hits before a blue halo surrounds the Nuclear Velocity Operational—N.Vel.Ope for short—as the craft’s protective amino-magnesia field is activated.

  “A little quicker with that force field, Mr. Speck,” Captain Kark’s voice crackles over the radio. “We’re carrying an important payload, and Emperor Khatchadorian would be most unhappy if anything were to happen.”

  “Affirmative, Captain,” Speck replies. The Garolian navigator adjusts the controls and gazes intently at the three-dimensional radar in front of him.

  “Take us past the shoulder of Orion,” Kark says. “Hang a left at the C-beams of the Tannhauser Gate and put us on a collision course for Earth—Hills Village, USA, to be exact.”

  A passing Venusian mining probe scans the strange graphics on the N.Vel.Ope as it spins past. The words would mean nothing to a Venusian, but the contents of the cargo will be of great interest to Emperor Khatchadorian in his battle against The Galactic Federation of Boredom and its ally, Planet Ordinary …

 
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