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Why i quit zombie school, p.1
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       Why I Quit Zombie School, p.1

           R. L. Stine
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Why I Quit Zombie School


  Hall of Horrors





  Title Page






































  Also Available

  About the Author



  There’s Always Room for One More Scream

  Welcome. Step inside. You’ve found my old castle, even though it’s hidden in the darkest, most distant corner of HorrorLand.

  Yes, the Hall of Horrors is a special place. If you have a story to tell — a terrifying story — I am always here to welcome you. I am the Story-Keeper, the keeper of scary stories.

  Come this way. Please — don’t look so frightened. Those tarantulas don’t bite.

  They only nibble.

  Take a chair in the fire. Oops. I mean by the fire.

  Relax. Do you know why zombies like to sit down?

  Because they’re dead on their feet!

  Ha-ha. Sorry. I shouldn’t make jokes. I know you have a zombie story to tell me.

  Well, this is the place for a good zombie story. I am the Listener. I am the Keeper.

  “So you say your name is Matt Krinsky. How are you today, Matt?”

  “Pretty good, I guess.”

  “What is that object you keep squeezing in your hand?”

  “It’s a rubber hand.”

  “A rubber hand. And you brought it here today because …?”

  “Because it saved my life.”

  “Well, I’ve got to hand it to you, Matt. You’ve got me interested already. Where does your story start?”

  “In school.”

  “Please. Start at the beginning. Tell me your story.”

  “Are you sure you want to hear it? My school was the scariest school on earth.”

  Go ahead, Matt. Don’t be afraid. There’s Always Room for One More Scream in the Hall of Horrors.


  I knew there was something wrong with my new school the first time I saw it.

  My name is Matt Krinsky. I’m twelve years old. And I wasn’t happy.

  My parents say I have a bad attitude. They say I can take a bright, shiny red balloon and turn it into something tragic.

  Well, balloons pop — don’t they? That’s kind of tragic.

  Look, I admit it. I can see the horror in any situation. Or, as my dad likes to say, I always see the shadows on a sunny day.

  He’s always saying things like that. And let’s face it, he doesn’t mean it in a nice way.

  My big sister, Jamie, teases me, too. She hates anything scary or dark. She can’t understand why I love horror movies and comics and books. And she gives me a hard time because I collect every scary thing I can find. You know, masks and skulls and shrunken heads and movie posters. Cool stuff like that.

  All four of us were in the car. We were on our way to my new school.

  Bad enough we moved to a new town and I had to leave all my friends behind. Bad enough we moved into a tiny house half the size of our old house. Which means I have, like, no space to display my horror collection.

  You know that scene in Alice in Wonderland when she grows really tall, so tall her head pushes up against the ceiling? That’s how I felt in my new bedroom. No lie.

  Could things get worse? Of course they could.

  I had to go to boarding school for the first time in my life. Mom and Dad thought it would be a good experience for me. Can you believe that?

  I wasn’t happy. The whole thing was scary to me. What would the kids be like? What would the teachers be like? What would the food be like?

  So many things to worry about.

  The car rolled past empty pastures and fields. The crops had all been harvested. Nothing left but dirt and dead plants. Like gigantic graveyards.

  “Just a few more miles,” Dad said.

  I sighed. “Why do I have to go to boarding school? There’s probably a crazed maniac loose in the halls at night,” I said. “Waiting in a corner with an axe.”

  “Matt, you’ll be the only maniac there,” Jamie said.

  “Did you bring your axe?” Dad asked. Always ready to join in the Tease Matt for Fun contest.

  “Give Matt a break,” Mom said. “He’s going to a boarding school for the first time, and he’s nervous.”

  “I’m not ner vous,” I said. “I just know what goes on in these schools. There are always crazed maniacs in the halls at night.”

  “Too many horror movies,” Jamie muttered. “They’ve rotted his brain.”

  “Romero Academy,” I said. “What kind of a name is that?”

  “It’s supposed to be a good school,” Mom said. “They have a soccer team. You’ll like that, Matt.”

  “Only weird kids go to boarding school,” I grumbled.

  Jamie laughed. She poked me hard in the ribs. “You said it — we didn’t.”

  “Don’t touch me,” I said, scooting away from her. “You spread disease.”

  Her mouth dropped open. “Disease? What disease?”

  “The Jamie Disease,” I said.

  She dug her bony fingers into my ribs and started tickling me. She knows I hate it.

  I twisted away from her. Easy for her to be happy. Her new school is two blocks from our house.

  I pulled out a horror comic. I thought it would take my mind off Romero Academy. I studied the cover. It had a woman with green, decaying skin and deep gashes on her face. Blood ran from her empty eye sockets.

  “Oh, yuck. That’s sick,” Jamie said. “Why are you reading that?”

  “It’s your life story,” I said.

  “There’s your school up there,” Dad called from the driver’s seat. He pointed out the open window. “On the top of the hill. See it?”

  I peered out the window. I started to answer — but I stopped.

  Whoa. Wait.

  Something was wrong. Something was terribly wrong. I saw it immediately.

  The school stood at the top of a grassy hill. No trees nearby. It was a bright, sunny day. Sunshine made the grass sparkle all around.

  But the school was dark, totally hidden in shadow.

  How could that be?

  “Wh-why is the school dark?” I stammered. I tapped Dad on the shoulder. “Look. No way can there be shade up there.”

  “It’s bigger than I thought it would be,” Mom said.

  “It’s very old,” Dad said. “Built of stone. Looks like a castle.”

  “Don’t you see?” I cried. “It’s under a big shadow. But there’s nothing to make the shadow!”

  “Looks totally normal to me,” Jamie said. She leaned over the front seat. “See what I’m saying? It’s all the horror he watches and reads. It rotted his brain.”

  She chuckled. “Matt thinks he lives in a horror movie.”

  For once, Jamie was right.


  An asphalt driveway curved around the hill. Dad followed it up
to the top. He pulled the car into a small parking lot at the side of the building.

  “Go take a walk and look around,” he said. “Mom and I will deal with your suitcases.”

  I climbed out of the backseat and stretched my arms over my head. My legs felt stiff. It had been at least a three-hour drive.

  “Want me to walk with you?” Jamie called.

  “Yeah. Like I’d want a second head,” I said.

  She made a face at me. “Matt, you’re about as funny as a runny nose.”

  “If your nose is running, you should chase after it,” I said.

  It’s a family joke. I thought it was a riot when I was three.

  I turned and walked along the asphalt drive toward the school building. It was gray stone with ivy growing down one shadowy wall. I counted four stories, with a slanting black tile roof at the top.

  Tiny windows poked out of the top floor. I wondered if that’s where the students’ rooms were.

  A red-and-black pennant flapped in the breeze at the top of a tall flagpole. At least a dozen crows cawed and bobbed on the phone lines that fed into one wall of the school. Their cries grew louder as I walked closer.

  It was a warm day for late fall. Many of the classroom windows were open, and I heard voices from inside.

  From the far end of the building, I heard a band practicing a march. The band was awful. Squeaking and squawking. The crows sounded better than the band. I wanted to cover my ears.

  The grass was high and patchy. Thorny weeds poked up every where.

  Looking around the side of the school, I saw playing fields in back. Some kids were moving slowly across a baseball diamond. They weren’t playing. Just walking.

  I glimpsed a soccer field beyond the diamond. The nets were white and gleaming under the sunlight. No one back there.

  A high black fence rose at the back of the soccer field. It had to be at least eight or ten feet tall. What was behind it?

  Mom and Dad were carrying my suitcases toward the school. Jamie walked behind them, kicking a stone in front of her.

  I saw a class sitting out on the grass. A dark-suited teacher paced back and forth in front of them, talking and waving a book in the air. I couldn’t hear him because of the squawking band.

  I stepped into the shade of the building. In a narrow courtyard, I saw a long line of trash cans along one stone wall.

  It took a while for my eyes to adjust to the shade. When I could focus, I saw three boys. They leaned over a trash can near the back of the courtyard.

  I stopped and stared. What were they doing back there? Why weren’t they in class?

  They didn’t see me. They were huddled tightly around the trash can. One of them leaned over the side and pulled something out.

  I strained to see what he had found.

  He tore off a piece of it and handed it to one of the other boys. Then he tore off another piece and handed it to his other friend.

  My mouth dropped open as I watched them start to eat.

  No, it can’t be, I told myself, squinting hard into the shadowy courtyard.

  It can’t be.

  They CAN’T be eating a dead squirrel.


  Mom, Dad, and Jamie came up behind me. I turned — and saw them staring at me.

  “Matt — what’s wrong?” Mom asked.

  I pointed into the courtyard. “Those boys —” I choked out. “They — they’re eating a dead squirrel!”

  Everyone turned to the courtyard.

  I gasped. No one there.

  I squinted into the shadows. The three boys had vanished.

  Jamie laughed. “Good one, Matt.”

  “No. Really —” I started.

  “No more horror stories,” Dad said. “Save it for Creative Writing class.”

  He had two suitcases under one arm and a carton of my stuff under another. Groaning, he lumbered toward the school entrance.

  Mom shook her head. “We know you have a good imagination,” she said. “But why make up crazy stories now? It’s really not a good time — is it?”

  Jamie laughed again and gave me a hard shove into the stone wall. She hurried to catch up to Mom and Dad.

  I gazed into the narrow courtyard. My eyes went down the long line of trash cans. Dark in there. Too dark to see clearly.

  Suddenly, I wasn’t so sure I had seen three boys eating a dead squirrel. My eyes had to be playing tricks on me. My eyes and my brain.

  A few minutes later, I stepped through the tall, dark wood doors of the school entrance. The front hall formed a circle. A tall statue of a black bird stood in the center of the circle.

  It took me a few seconds to recognize the bird. A vulture. Its head was low under hunched shoulders. It was crouching as if ready to attack. Its dark eyes stared straight ahead. Its beak was open.

  A red-and-black banner on the wall read: GO, VULTURES.

  I saw Mom, Dad, and Jamie carrying my stuff down one hall. I started after them. But a tall, bald man in a loose-fitting gray suit stepped into my path.

  His head was the color of an onion and kind of shaped like one, too. His eyebrows, his lips — his whole face was all the same pale shade, except for his eyes, which were yellow-green.

  He flashed me a wide smile. “Are you Matt Krinsky? I’m the principal, Mr. Craven. Welcome to Romero.”

  “Thanks,” I said.

  “I hear you’re a soccer player,” he said. His strange eyes locked on mine.

  “Yeah. I played at my old school,” I said.

  “The Vultures can use you,” he said, nodding his round head up and down. “You’ll have to try out.”

  “Okay,” I said. “Sounds good.”

  In the hall behind him, a group of kids moved slowly. Lockers slammed. Voices echoed down the long, curved hallway.

  Mr. Craven turned and called to a dark-haired girl in a purple sweater and short black skirt. “Franny?” He motioned her over.

  Franny closed her locker and came walking toward us, her eyes on me.

  “Do you have a few minutes?” Craven asked her. “This is our new victim. Oops. I mean student.” He laughed, a weird dry laugh. His yellow-green eyes flashed. I guessed that was one of his favorite jokes.

  Franny smiled but didn’t laugh. Maybe she’d heard it before. She had a nice smile. She tossed back her dark hair with a shake of her head.

  “Hi,” she said to me. “I’m Franny Roth.”

  “Can you give Matt a quick tour?” Craven asked her. “His parents are unpacking his stuff in his room.”

  He turned back to me. “This school is very big and confusing, Matt. Everything goes in circles. Don’t want you getting lost in some endless hallway and disappearing forever. Ha-ha.”

  Another joke?

  “I can give him the tour,” Franny said. She smiled at me again. “Hope I don’t get us both lost!”

  A teacher called to Mr. Craven. The principal turned and strode away. He was tall and walked stiff-legged, as if he was on stilts.

  Strange dude.

  Franny led the way down the hall. I saw classroom doors and long lines of metal lockers on both walls. Kids moved slowly. I guessed they weren’t in a hurry to get to their next class.

  Franny waved to some girls in red-and-black cheerleader outfits. Just past them, a tall, skinny boy kept groaning and slamming his locker door with both fists. I guessed it was stuck or something.

  “Have you gone here a long time?” I asked.

  Franny nodded. “Yeah. Pretty long.”

  “What’s it like?” I asked.

  “Dead,” she replied.

  I waited for her to say more, but she didn’t. So I said, “What do you mean?”

  “You’ll get used to it,” she answered.

  Huh? What does THAT mean?

  Three boys edged past us, eyes straight ahead. They seemed to be stepping in slow motion.

  One of them did a funny frog croak, and the other two laughed, then copied him. All three of them croaked like frogs as t
hey moved down the hall.

  The air was cold and damp. The whole hall had that gym locker-room smell. You know. Sweaty and musty.

  “Why is everyone walking so slowly?” I asked Franny.

  She kept her eyes straight ahead. “Silly question,” she muttered.

  “No. Really,” I said. “Why is everyone walking in slow motion?”

  She frowned at me. “Don’t make stupid jokes,” she said.

  We turned a corner. I wanted to ask Franny to explain.

  But two huge dudes stepped up and blocked the hall. They had to be twins. They were tall and very wide. They had short blond hair and enormous heads with huge ears that looked like they would flap in the wind.

  Their black T-shirts stretched tight over their massive chests. Standing side by side, they filled the whole hallway.

  “Are you the new kid?” one of them boomed.

  I started to reply — but a choked cry escaped my throat.

  I stared at their eyes. They had no pupils. Their eyes were solid white.


  I lowered my eyes. I didn’t want to stare. They probably got a lot of stares, I decided.

  “Uh … yeah. I’m new,” I finally said.

  “He’s Matt,” Franny told them. “Matt, this is Wayne and Angelo. They’re twins.”

  “Duh. Like he couldn’t figure that out!” Way ne sa id.

  “Our parents could never tell us apart,” Angelo said. “We used to change names and fool them. A lot of times, if one of us got into trouble, the other one got punished.”

  “We thought it was a riot,” his brother said. They bumped fists. Their knuckles were nearly as big as my hand!

  “Once, Wayne pretended to be me for an entire week,” Angelo said. “We were in different classes. He went to mine and I went to his. The teachers never knew.”

  I hardly heard what he was saying. I tried not to stare, but I couldn’t look away from those blank white eyes.

  “So you play soccer?” Angelo asked. He leaned over me. He was like a mountain.

  “Yeah. At my old school,” I said. “I —”

  I didn’t finish because a girl called to the twins. They swung away and lumbered over to her.

  As soon as they were gone, I turned to Franny. “What’s up with their eyes?” I whispered. “They’re totally white.”

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