Read an Excerpt
"Look Out, D.C., Here We Come!"
Melissa grimaced at the sound of the car’s tires screeching on pavement.
"Hey! Get out of the road!"
She opened her eyes. The station wagon disappeared down the road as the driver, a little old lady, shook her fist in Sean’s direction. Skid marks showed that the driver had just barely managed to swerve around her brother.
Melissa ran into the street, planning to give him a big hug ... until she became angry over him being so foolish. So instead of embracing him, she ...
... stiff-armed him right in the chest.
"Oooof!" Sean staggered backward and fell hard onto his rear.
"What was that for?" he cried.
"You could’ve been killed!" Melissa shouted.
"So you’re going to beat me up ’cause I wasn’t?" Sean asked as he slowly got to his feet.
"I just don’t know how you can be so stupid sometimes!"
"But it was cool!" Sean said. He smiled as he rubbed the dirt from the seat of his pants. "I could see inside the engine, and the people in the car looked like skeletons! I just couldn’t take my eyes off of it!"
"That does it!" Melissa said. "Give me those glasses right now before you hurt yourself!"
"Not on your life!"
"Give them to me!"
"Forget it! I’m wearing these babies as much as possible!"
THURSDAY, 7:14 PDST
The morning light poured in. Sean glanced at the clock, then pulled the covers over his head. "Please, be quiet!" he moaned.
He’d crawled into bed just a few hours earlier. Before that, he’d been sitting out in the yard, looking at his sister’s petunias in the moonlight. Those flowers may not have been much to look at with the naked eye, but when you saw them through Doc’s X-ray glasses—well, they were truly amazing! Who would have guessed there were so many intricate little parts in there? All of them working together to keep the flower healthy and help it grow.
Sean hadn’t meant to stay up so late, but he figured it was okay, because this was a "teacher’s workday," which meant he didn’t have to go to school. He snuggled farther down under the covers, still trying to drown out the noise. His plan had been to sleep in as late as possible. But how could anybody sleep with all that commotion going on?
He sighed in exasperation, threw back the covers, and marched over to his bedroom door.
Melissa, still in her pajamas, stood at the top of the stairs.
"What’s going on out there?" she yawned.
"Beats me," he replied. "But whoever it is, I’m going to give them a piece of my mind!"
Melissa followed him downstairs to the door. As they got closer, they could hear their father’s voice coming from the front yard.
"I have no idea how they did it," he said. "You’ll have to ask them."
"Well, where are they?" someone asked. His voice sounded strangely familiar.
"I hope they’re upstairs still aslee—" But before Dad could finish his sentence, Sean opened the door.
"Here they are!" someone shouted.
Video lights came on, and the crowd that had gathered in the Hunters’ front yard cheered wildly.
An arm thrust a microphone in Sean’s face.
"Tell me, kids, how in the world did you ever grow flowers like these! They’re magnificent!"
When Sean’s eyes finally recovered from the explosion of light, he could see that the arm with the microphone was attached to ... Rafael Ruelas!
"What flowers are you talking about?" Sean asked. "We didn’t do—"
"Sean, look!" Melissa gasped and pointed toward their father. Something leafy and colorful towered over his head. It was a gigantic petunia!
Her flowers, which had looked so weak and sickly the night before, had gotten well in a hurry.
Well?! That was an understatement. They had become the Arnold Schwarzenegger of petunias!
In one night, they had shot up six feet. Their petals measured two or three feet across.
As Sean and Melissa stood with their mouths hanging open, Mrs. Tubbs made her way out of the crowd. Her own mouth was twisted into a sneer. She meant it to be a smile, but it wasn’t quite working out that way.
"Congratulations," she said, but she didn’t really sound like she meant it. She handed them a brass plaque. "You won first prize. You’re going to Washington, D.C."
Sean was thrilled. "I can’t believe we’re really here!" he said.
"Me neither," Melissa yawned. "I need some sleep."
"But aren’t you excited to be in this hotel?" Sean asked. "I mean, Abraham Lincoln stayed here! So did Ulysses S. Grant ... and Robert E. Lee! This place has so much history!"
Melissa yawned again. "All I care is that it has a bed. I haven’t slept for thirty-six hours, and I’m exhausted!" She pulled back the covers on the bed next to the window and crawled in. "In fact," she said, "I’m so tired that I’m not even going to wash up."
Melissa sat up and looked at her brother. "I told you not to eat all those burritos," she said. "How many was it? Twelve?"
Sean shook his head in protest. "That wasn’t my stomach," he said.
"Then what... ?"
There it was again—a strange moaning sound, just a little bit louder and longer than before.
Sean put his ear to the wall. "I think it’s coming from in there," he said.
"Great!" Melissa exclaimed. "I wonder how many burritos Mrs. Tubbs had." She pulled the covers up over her head. "I’ve just gotta get some sleep!"
"That’s not Mrs. Tubbs’ room," Sean said. "She’s on the other side of us. And it can’t be Slobs howling. She’s downstairs in the kennel."
"HA! HA! HA! HAAAAAAAAA!"
"Well, whoever it is, I’m going to go right over there and tell them to keep it down," Melissa pouted.
The laughing abruptly stopped. Everything grew quiet. Then the moaning started again.
Melissa threw back her covers and jumped out of bed.
"That does it!" she said. "Where are those X-ray glasses? I want to see what’s going on in that room."
"But you can’t invade someone’s privacy like that," Sean argued.
"Why not? They’ve already invaded mine. Ah, here they are!" She fished the glasses out of her handbag, put them on, and faced the wall.
Melissa just stood there without saying a word.
"What?" Sean asked. "What do you see?"
When she didn’t answer, he said, "Oh, never mind. I’ll see for myself." He found his glasses, put them on, and looked through the wall.
The room was empty. Totally and completely empty.
SUNDAY, 22:09 EDST
The hotel’s night manager peered over his glasses.
"What seems to be the problem?" he asked.
"The problem is that we’ve got to get some sleep," Melissa huffed.
"Strange noises are coming from the room next door," Sean explained.
The night manager pushed his glasses back up on his nose. "What kind of noises?" he asked.
"Someone moaning and wailing," Melissa said. "Your room number, please," the man asked.
"Five-seventy-two," Sean answered.
"That means you’re right next to 570." The man sighed and nodded. "I thought so. I’m going to move you to another room."
"Why?" Sean asked. "What’s going on in there?"
"I don’t know."
"What do you mean you don’t know?" Melissa challenged.
The night manager sighed again. "Well, some people think that room is haunted."
"Haunted?" Sean and Melissa both said the word at the same time.
"By who?" Melissa asked.
"Union soldiers," the man said.
"From the Civil War?!" Sean exclaimed.
"That’s right," the man nodded. "Not that I believe it. There’s bound to be a natural explanation. A regiment of the Fifth Cavalry was headquartered here for a while in 1863. Ever since those days, there’s been a legend that the hotel is haunted. Only recently ..." his voice trailed off.
"Recently what?" Melissa asked.
"It seems to be getting worse."
"Worse?" Sean repeated. "How?"
"Over the past several months we’ve had a lot of people say they’ve seen ghostly soldiers wandering the halls. Others have heard noises. Moaning, laughing, crying, the sound of horse hooves galloping past. And most of it seems connected to room 570."
"Wow!" Sean exclaimed.
"Yes, well, anyway," the night manager said, smiling, "I’m going to move you down to room 326."
Sean took the new room key, and he and his sister hurried back to their old room to retrieve their suitcases.
"Imagine that! We’re staying in a haunted hotel!"
"It’s not haunted," Melissa said. "You know there’s no such thing as a ghost."
"Oh yeah," Sean gulped. Then, with a shaking hand, he pointed, "Then what’s that?"
Just ahead of them, in the dim light of the hall, stood a man dressed in the unmistakable blue uniform of the Union Army. The brass buttons and buckles gleamed in the light. His hand rested on the sword that hung at his side. He wore a long, gray beard, and his skin was just as gray. He had a thin, crooked nose, which looked as if it had been broken at one time. His bushy eyebrows ran in one straight line across his forehead, and his eyes stared straight ahead, as if he didn’t see Sean and Melissa.
Melissa grabbed her brother’s arm.
"Sean," she whispered, "he’s coming straight at us!"
Room With a Boo (BLOODHOUNDS, INC.) by Bill Myers
Copyright © 2002, Bill Myers
Published by Bethany House Publishers
Used by permission. Unauthorized duplication prohibited.