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The second horror, p.1
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       The Second Horror, p.1

           R. L. Stine
 
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The Second Horror


  Prologue

  The ghost of Cally Frasier peered out of an attic window. A shadow floating in shadows, she stared down at the front yard and watched as the new family started to move into the house.

  My house, Cally thought.

  99 Fear Street.

  The house where I lived. And where I died.

  “You will be sorry,” Cally’s ghost murmured bitterly. “I promise you will be sorry.”

  No one heard Cally’s bitter promise. That didn’t matter.

  She would make it come true.

  Watching the new family, a teenage boy and his parents, Cally thought of her own family.

  Gone. Vanished.

  They abandoned me here, Cally thought without sadness. Her anger didn’t allow for sadness.

  The evil drove them away.

  As she had every day since they’d left, Cally thought about the house, the house that had become her tomb.

  The house was built over thirty years ago, she knew. Built on cursed land.

  The first owners never moved in. The man who built the house brought his family to see it, and left them alone for five minutes.

  Five minutes.

  When he returned, his wife and children were dead. Their heads ripped from their bodies.

  He hanged himself one month later.

  Here. In this house.

  For thirty years, no one would live here.

  Then my family moved in—and became victims of the evil.

  My little brother James. And his puppy. Lost forever. Lost somewhere in the walls of this house.

  My father, blinded by a thick cloud of evil.

  My mother and Kody. Kody, my twin sister.

  All driven away by the evil.

  But I’m still here, the ghost of Cally thought. The evil would not let me go.

  The evil is inside me.

  I feel it running through me, night and day.

  Cally tossed back her head and let out an angry wail of frustration. Then she returned to the window.

  The strangers were invading.

  A big van was parked in the driveway. Movers carried carton after carton into the empty house.

  The husband and wife stood watching with their arms around each other. Then they opened the trunk of their car and began to unload cartons—oddly shaped boxes marked FRAGILE.

  Their teenage son stood nearby, holding a black and white cat. The boy was tall and good-looking.

  When she was alive, Cally might have liked him. She might have thought he was cute.

  But now she was dead. And he was alive.

  They couldn’t even be friends.

  Could they?

  The shadow of Cally slipped and slid among the house’s dark shadows. She glared down at the new family.

  Come in, she urged them silently.

  Come in. I’m waiting for you here.

  I’m ready to welcome you to 99 Fear Street. I have a welcome I don’t think you will forget.

  Chapter 1

  “Hey—be careful with those boxes!” Mr. McCloy shouted.

  Brandt McCloy watched his father chase after one of the movers, who had four large cardboard boxes piled in his arms. The top box teetered, and Mr. McCloy caught it as it fell.

  “Those are priceless tribal masks,” Mr. McCloy scolded the mover. “They’re very old!”

  “Sorry about that,” the mover replied, hurrying inside. Brandt thought he didn’t sound sorry at all.

  Brandt stroked Ezra, his black and white cat, and sighed. “Dad and his masks,” he murmured to Ezra. “He probably thinks if one breaks, it means seven years bad luck.”

  Ezra purred in reply.

  Brandt stared wistfully at the family’s new house.

  A new beginning, he thought. A whole new life.

  The house stood two and a half stories tall. Its gray shingles were chipped and stained. The old trees surrounding the house cast it in deep shadow.

  It might have been nice once, Brandt thought, noticing two window shutters hanging from their hinges. But it sure needs help now.

  Five steps led to a small, sagging front porch. The front door was surrounded by cracked stained-glass windows that badly needed to be replaced.

  The house is so run-down, Brandt thought. But his parents thought they’d be comfortable there.

  Brandt hoped so.

  He was darkly handsome, with wavy black hair hanging loose, framing his face and flashing brown eyes. He wore faded jeans and a shirt made from colorful handwoven cloth.

  A small leather pouch hung on a leather string around his neck. This he never took off.

  Brandt turned as Mr. McCloy stormed out of the house, scowling. Mrs. McCloy trailed after him.

  “There are rats in there!” he cried angrily. “In the basement!”

  Rats, Brandt thought unhappily, petting Ezra. That’s all we need.

  “No problem, Dad,” he said. “There’s got to be an exterminator in town.”

  “I checked this house completely before I bought it,” Mr. McCloy fumed. “There was no sign of rats in the basement two months ago.”

  “You must have missed them somehow, John,” Mrs. McCloy said. “It’s not the end of the world.”

  “I’m calling that real estate agent and demanding that he get over here and do something about this. What was his name again? Lurie?”

  “Lurie?” A man’s voice interrupted. It seemed to come from nowhere. “Did I hear the name Lurie?”

  Brandt and his parents turned toward the voice.

  A young man stood on the sidewalk, smiling at them. His hair was straight and black, and he had a black mustache. He wore gray denim overalls and carried a tool kit.

  “Don’t mean to interrupt,” the man said. “I just happened to overhear—”

  “Do you know him?” Mr. McCloy asked. “Do you know Mr. Lurie?”

  “I’ve heard of him,” the man answered. “The people who used to live here . . . I heard them mention the name.”

  He held out a long-fingered hand. Mr. McCloy shook it.

  The man introduced himself as Glen Hankers. “I do odd jobs, handiwork, that sort of thing.”

  “Great,” Brandt’s father said. “I’m John McCloy. This is my wife, Barbara, and my son, Brandt. You know anything about rats, Mr. Hankers?”

  Hankers nodded. “Pest control is my specialty. Why don’t I take a look?”

  Mr. McCloy gratefully led Mr. Hankers inside.

  Brandt glanced at the movers, who were still hauling boxes into the house. “Will you take Ezra for a while?” he asked his mother. He held the cat out to her. “I think the movers could use some help.”

  Mrs. McCloy frowned. “I wish you wouldn’t, Brandt. You’ve got to be careful. Your condition—”

  Brandt sighed. His mother was always worrying about him. “No problem. Nothing too heavy,” he said, impatiently pressing the cat into her arms. “Don’t worry so much.”

  Mrs. McCloy’s frown deepened, but she took the cat. Brandt rubbed the small scar on his left cheek. Then he made his way to the moving van and carried a small carton of books into the house.

  After two or three trips, he heard his father calling to him from the living room. “Hey, Brandt. I could use some help in here.”

  Brandt set a box of books on the floor of the hall and walked into the living room.

  “Mr. Hankers says he can get rid of the rats in no time,” Mr. McCloy said. “I guess I overreacted a bit.”

  Brandt’s father sat on the living room floor among a dozen cardboard boxes, carefully unwrapping his tribal relics. One by one, he peeled away the newspaper wrappers to reveal ancient spears and delicately carved, boldly painted masks, most of them twisted into frightened or cruel expressions.

  Next he
pulled out reed pipes that had been used for blowing darts. The darts were made of silver and honed to razor-sharp points.

  “I want to get these things up on the wall before we do anything else,” Brandt’s father said. “It will guarantee we’ll have good luck in our new home.”

  “You don’t really believe that, do you, Dad?” Brandt asked, opening one of the boxes.

  “You never know, Brandt,” his father answered. “It can’t hurt, can it?”

  “I guess not,” Brandt replied.

  He heard his mother walk into the house and pick up the box of books he’d left on the floor. Ezra wandered into the room and rubbed against Brandt’s leg.

  Mr. McCloy nailed a hook into the wall. Brandt held up a spear. It was long and straight, with a sharp bronze point.

  Brandt’s father stepped aside as Brandt began to hang the spear on the hook.

  Suddenly Brandt felt a sharp tug. “Hey—what’s happening?”

  The spear seemed to jump out of his hand. Point down, it plunged to the floor.

  A yowl of pain shattered the silence.

  Brandt gazed down—and cried out in horror.

  “Ezra!” he screamed.

  Chapter 2

  The cat uttered a feeble groan. The spear had pierced all the way through his furry body. Bright red blood puddled onto the floor.

  Its eyes wild, the cat frantically squirmed and jerked. But it couldn’t free itself.

  “Ezra!” Brandt dropped onto his knees beside the twitching cat.

  “Don’t touch him, Brandt,” his father instructed. “Get the phone. Try to reach a vet.”

  His heart in his throat, Brandt raced for the telephone.

  • • •

  “At least Ezra didn’t suffer too long,” Mr. McCloy assured them at the dinner table that evening. “The vet said the pain probably lasted only a few seconds.”

  “And Ezra was getting old, Brandt,” his mother added. “He wouldn’t have lived more than a year or two longer anyway.”

  Brandt nodded. He knew Ezra was old and would have died soon. But to die so violently . . .

  He could still picture the cat with the spear in its side.

  What a way to start out in our new house, Brandt thought unhappily. Some new beginning.

  He shook his head as if to clear the thoughts away.

  His mother set a paper plate in front of him. A slice of pizza. He picked it up and bit into it.

  “Pizza—what a treat!” Mr. McCloy exclaimed through a mouthful. “I don’t think I’ve had pizza in two years. Has it been that long, Brandt?”

  “I had a slice two weeks ago in the airport,” Brandt replied. “On the way home from Mapolo.”

  His mother laughed. “You couldn’t wait to get your hands on pizza the whole time we lived on the island. You whined and complained about not having pizza every day.”

  “Anything would’ve been better than that taro mush!” Brandt exclaimed.

  “Do you think the grocery stores are open on Sunday?” Mrs. McCloy asked.

  “Probably,” her husband answered. “Nothing closes in the states anymore.”

  “Then I’ll go to the store tomorrow and buy some healthy food,” Mrs. McCloy announced, biting into her pizza.

  “Is that a threat?” Brandt joked.

  “Come on, Brandt,” his mother said. “You know you like healthy foods. Why, you were eating like a native by the time we left. You asked me to make stewed mushrooms and coconut for your birthday, remember? And don’t you miss the pineapples?”

  Brandt remembered how sweet and juicy the pineapples were on Mapolo. Maybe he did miss the island a bit.

  Brandt had spent most of his life traveling to exotic places with his parents. For the last couple of years they’d lived on a tiny, remote island in the Pacific called Mapolo, where Mr. McCloy, an anthropologist, studied ritual magic.

  “Are you looking forward to school on Monday, Brandt?” Mrs. McCloy asked as she handed him a glass of Pepsi. “Nervous?”

  It was the middle of October. Brandt hadn’t been to school yet.

  “Why should I be nervous?” he replied. “After Mapolo, high school should be a breeze.”

  “I think you’ll enjoy it,” Mr. McCloy said, wiping cheese off his chin with a paper napkin. “Your mother was right—you do need a couple of years of normal American life after all the traveling we’ve done.”

  “And if you don’t like it,” Mrs. McCloy suggested, “think of it as another anthropology project. The rituals of American high school students!”

  Everyone laughed.

  When the time came to leave Mapolo, Mrs. McCloy said she wanted Brandt to live in America for a few years, and Mr. McCloy agreed. He accepted a teaching post at Waynesbridge Junior College—and moved the family to nearby Shadyside, where the high school was considered more challenging.

  “Remember that old woman?” Mrs. McCloy asked. “What was her name?”

  “Zina,” Brandt replied.

  “Right. Zina. Remember that day she disappeared? The whole island searched for her. But her daughter kept insisting Zina had turned into a panther.”

  “And she wanted me to trap the panther,” Brandt remembered. “I never understood that. Why me? I was just a fourteen-year-old kid.”

  “Because of the prophesy,” Brandt’s father explained. “The village sorcerer said something about a young stranger coming to the island—a young stranger who could break the spell on Zina. And you were the only young stranger around.”

  “I always thought that girl made the prophesy story up,” Brandt’s mother said. “I think she had a crush on you, Brandt.”

  “Mom—she was twenty years old. I was only fourteen. There’s no way she had a crush on me!”

  “You never know, Brandt,” Mrs. McCloy teased. “Different cultures and everything—”

  “Anyway,” Mr. McCloy cut in, “it’s nice to live in a real house again. I won’t miss our leaky old leaf hut.”

  “Even with rats in the basement?” Brandt asked.

  Mr. McCloy didn’t reply. Mrs. McCloy said brightly, “Of course, the house needs work. It’s always that way when you move. We’ll just think of it as a project—a family project to work on together.”

  Brandt rolled his eyes. Sometimes his mother was so chipper, it made him sick.

  “And we’ll get a new cat, Brandt—if you want one,” Mr. McCloy offered.

  “I’m not sure I do,” Brandt said. “Not yet.”

  “Well, think about it,” Mr. McCloy said.

  Brandt closed his eyes and saw Ezra, pinned through the back with the spear.

  “Yeah, I’ll think about it. Thanks, Dad,” he said quietly.

  • • •

  Brandt rolled over in bed. Ezra usually slept beside him. Instinctively, Brandt reached out to pet him. His hand landed on the cool cotton sheet.

  I can’t believe the poor guy is dead, Brandt thought.

  He lay in the dark, listening to the heavy silence. His parents had gone to bed hours before.

  The house lay in a deep darkness. Brandt couldn’t see if the moon shone in the sky or if a street lamp lit up the road outside. No light penetrated the thick veil of trees surrounding the house.

  No cars passed by. No wind stirred the leaves on the trees. Brandt listened for the sounds of night birds and insects in the yard. But all was quiet.

  Then a faint scratching sound broke the silence.

  Brandt froze, listening.

  Scratch. Scratch. Scratch.

  What is that? Brandt wondered, raising his head from the pillow to hear better.

  Scratch, scratch, scratch.

  Rats, he decided.

  In my room.

  Chapter 3

  Brandt sat straight up in bed and pulled the covers around him for protection.

  The scratches grew louder. Brandt listened hard.

  Scratch. Scratch-scratch.

  He stared up at the ceiling. The sounds seemed to come from up there.<
br />
  There is an attic, he remembered. He hadn’t seen it yet. But he remembered passing the narrow stairs that led up to it. The sounds grew heavier.

  Footsteps, Brandt thought. He turned and lowered his feet to the floor.

  Is someone walking around in the attic?

  Has someone broken into the house?

  Brandt stood up and tiptoed to the door. He peered down the dark hallway. No light came from his parents’ bedroom. He knew they must be asleep.

  He groped along the hall until he found the door leading to the attic steps. Silently he pulled it open.

  He listened.

  Silence.

  Should he go up?

  “Anyone up there?” he called, leaning into the stairwell. His voice came out a hushed whisper. “Who’s up there?”

  Silence.

  Then the soft creaking of the attic floorboards.

  Footsteps.

  “Who is it?”

  Silence again.

  Brandt took a deep breath and started up the narrow stairs. They felt warm under his bare feet.

  He reached the top and peered into the darkness.

  “Anyone up here?”

  His parents were always scolding him for taking matters into his own hands. For being too impulsive.

  Reckless, they called it.

  Brandt didn’t care. He didn’t want to think of himself as a wimp.

  If someone was in the attic, he wouldn’t hide in his bed. He’d go upstairs to check it out.

  But the attic was too dark to see anything.

  Brandt fumbled along the wall for a light switch.

  Then he heard the floorboards creak.

  Scratch. Scratch-scratch.

  In the darkness, something growled.

  Brandt froze.

  He heard the click of claws on the floor.

  It’s coming for me, he realized too late to move out of its way.

  With a snarl, the creature sprang through the darkness—its outstretched claws reaching for Brandt’s throat.

  Chapter 4

  “Nooooo!”

  Brandt let out a terrified wail.

  He shielded his head with both arms.

  The creature thudded against him, then fell heavily to the floor.

  Brandt crouched and waited.

  Where was the creature?

 
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