Read an Excerpt
From book 1, It Creeps!
Chapter 9: Sneaking OutSneaking In
Grandma Eunice’s story was meant as a warning. But, it just confirmed what Malcolm already knew. The McBleaky house was definitely haunted!
Malcolm’s luck was running high. His mom and sister came home early, and Mom went straight to bed, complaining of a headache.
The two boys took their sleeping bags to the basement, claiming they’d sleep down in the lab. Malcolm locked the basement door and pulled out a backpack he’d packed that afternoon.
“What’s in there?” Dandy asked.
“Everything we’ll need to detect a ghost,” Malcolm answered.
“Don’t we just need the specter detector?”
Malcolm rolled his eyes. “And a flashlight and a tape recorder and a camera.”
“What about a snack?”
“Dandy, honestly, why would we need a snack?”
“In case we get hungry.”
Malcolm couldn’t believe it. Dandy was serious. “We’re not going to get hungry. We won’t be there long enough to get hungry! And if you happen to get hungry, maybe the ghost will be polite and offer you something to eat.”
Dandy shrugged. “Okay.”
Malcolm opened the skinny basement window, climbed up on a chair and slithered out. He looked back in at Dandy. “You’re not going to chicken out, are you?”
Dandy hopped up on the chair. “I’m right behind you.”
And Dandy stayed right behind Malcolm the whole way. About three feet back, dragging the soles of his sneakers and biting his fingernails.
Malcolm had the jitters too. Partly from fear, partly from excitement. He had to be brave. This was his one shot at fame. If he could detect a ghost, record it, and capture it on film, he’d be written up in every major newspaper in the country . . . make that in the world! He wished he’d brought the video camera.
The McBleaky house stood just ahead of them, like a black hole ready to suck them in. Malcolm could hear Dandy’s teeth chattering. Once they were hidden by the towering weeds, Malcolm pulled out the flashlight and clicked it on. A circle of white light hit the porch, and Malcolm saw an army of tiny critters skittering into the shadows.
Dandy gulped loudly when they reached the door. “Are you sure we should go in there? That’s trespassing.”
“Who would come and arrest us?” Malcolm asked. “Even the cops are afraid of this place.”
Dandy grabbed Malcolm’s shoulder. “Shouldn’t that tell you something? If cops are afraid, then what are a couple of dumb kids like us doing here?”
Malcolm set the backpack down and pulled out his specter detector. “This,” he said with pride. “Now, do as I say, and don’t be a baby.”
The door opened easily. Eeeeeeeeek.
Malcolm stepped in, turned on the specter detector, then pointed the flashlight at his watch. “It’s warming up.”
Dandy still had a death grip on Malcolm’s shoulder. “I have to use the bathroom.”
“No, you don’t,” Malcolm said, not taking his eyes off his watch. “Two minutes, that’s all it’ll take.”
The house was still and quiet. The only noises were the ticking of Malcolm’s watch and Dandy’s ragged breathing. They waited. Tick. Tick. Tick.
Something moved in the corner. Malcolm whipped the flashlight around and stabbed the darkness. A mouse scurried across and disappeared into a crack.
Only one minute. He counted the seconds silently, one Frankenstein, two Frankenstein, three Frankenstein. Dandy’s grip had become a serious squeeze, but in less than a minute they’d be on the move.
When the second hand hit the two minute mark, Malcolm reached for the switch. “You ready?” he asked Dandy.
Dandy stood paralyzed. Malcolm figured he wasn’t going to get an answer, and flipped the specter detector to Detect. The green light flashed off, and the gold light flashed on. But only for a second. The light then blinked off and on with a steady bleepbleepbleep.
“Not much activity right now,” Malcolm said, turning to look back at Dandy. Dandy’s eyes were wide open. His lips looked blue, even in the brassy hue of the flicking specter detector light.
“Just stick with me,” Malcolm said, although he figured Dandy wasn’t thinking for a second of venturing off on his own. Malcolm took slow baby steps, tiptoeing across the floor, Dandy’s hand still gripping him.
Dandy never lifted his feet. He skated behind Malcolm, without a breath.
Malcolm kept the flashlight pointed in his left hand, the detector in his right. As they approached the fireplace, two eyes peered down at them.
“What?” Malcolm sputtered, whipping the light toward the mantle. Just an ugly giant moose head, hung up like a trophy. Malcolm took a moment to breathe and gather everything that was just scared out of him.
When they reached a spiral staircase, Malcolm whispered to Dandy, “Reach in my backpack and turn on the tape recorder. Then pull out the camera and turn on the flash.”
Dandy never said a word. He obeyed Malcolm, but took forever doing it because of his nervous fumbling. And even though Malcolm tried to stand still, the light from the flashlight danced all over the foot of the staircase. But Malcolm was patient. He had to be. He hadn’t told Dandy, but he’d stay here all night if he had to.
As it turned out, he didn’t have to wait long. Like a fisherman hoping for a catch, Malcolm had a bite. The gold light blinked faster.
Both boys froze, staring down at the rapid signal. The beam from the flashlight bent and flickered. Then something brushed the hairs on Malcolm’s neck. A voice, as thin as the wind, whispered in Malcolm’s ear.