About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Ben ran ahead of Gwen and Grandpa Max. After visiting a museum dedicated to ballet and a flea market that didn’t even sell fleas, Ben was eager for something he found a bit more interesting. This was going to be a lot more interesting—a monster-truck rally.
Ben had never been to a monster-truck rally, but he had seen videos. The rallies looked awesome, with giant trucks flying into the air, spinning out of control, and crashing into things. Smashing steel. Loud engines. Dirt and smoke. That was what entertainment was all about!
“Slow down while I get the tickets,” said Grandpa Max.
Ben stopped, frowned, and tapped his foot while Grandpa Max waited in line.
“This is going to be so boring,” Gwen groaned.
“Boring? Are you kidding?” asked Ben.
“A bunch of noisy cars and dirt?” Gwen rolled her eyes. “Give me a ballet museum any day.”
Ben shook his head. “You’re crazy. Even Grandpa Max hated that place.”
“You two were in such a rush to leave that we accidentally missed an entire exhibit on the history of the tutu,” complained Gwen.
“Oh, we didn’t miss that accidentally,” said Ben, shivering at the thought of spending another minute in that museum.
Grandpa Max held three tickets in his hand, and Ben bounced behind him with excitement as the three of them entered the arena. The stadium was packed. Thousands of people filled the stands.
“So, what is in a monster-truck rally, anyway?” asked Gwen. “I mean, other than large trucks?”
Ben rolled his eyes. “Only the most awesome stuff ever!”
He explained that the rally was split into three parts. First were races. Two trucks drove around a short track. The trucks had to be fast but also able to turn quickly. Near the end of the race, they would jump off a small hill and ramble to the finish line.
The next event, the wheelie competition, was way more awesome. Trucks did wheelies, sometimes on their back tires and sometimes on their front ones, as they ran over old cars or flew into the air. After popping a wheelie, a monster truck might roll over, fall backward, or crash into just about anything.
“But won’t the drivers get hurt?” gasped Gwen.
“The trucks are all reinforced with steel bars,” said Grandpa Max. “The drivers will be fine.”
But the best part of the day, the event Ben was looking forward to the most, was the freestyle competition. Each truck had nearly two minutes to cause as much excitement as it could. They crashed into things. They flew into the air—sometimes jumping as high as thirty feet before crashing down to Earth! Then judges voted on which truck was the most awesome freestyler. That truck won the monster-truck rally trophy.
Grandpa Max led Ben and Gwen to their seats, halfway down the first level. Gwen sat next to Grandpa Max, and Ben sat next to Gwen and directly behind a very tall man wearing a chef’s hat.
“Are you kidding me?” complained Ben. He stretched to his left and couldn’t see a thing. He stretched to his right and couldn’t see a thing. He turned to his cousin. “Want to switch seats?”
“But you don’t even want to watch the rally.”
“I’d rather watch the rally than the back of someone’s hat. Besides, his hat is blocking part of the arena for me, too.”
Ben crossed his arms and frowned.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” a loud voice boomed over the stands. “Welcome to today’s monster-truck rally!”
The arena was loud. People screamed and shouted. Rock music blared from speakers. On the track, trucks revved their engines. To Ben, it all sounded incredible. Too bad he couldn’t see anything other than a hat.
“Those trucks are huge!” screamed Gwen.
“Over twelve feet tall. I bet even the wheels are taller than you,” explained Grandpa Max.
Ben stretched to see something. Anything. But the man’s hat in front of him was way too big.
“What a race!” cried Gwen.
“What a hat,” mumbled Ben, frowning.
A few minutes later, Ben heard a loud crash, followed by a tremendous cheer from the crowd.
“Look at that wipeout!” shouted the announcer. “Have you ever seen anything like it?”
“No,” mumbled Ben, sitting back in his seat.
“If you kids are hungry, I can grab us some hot dogs,” said Grandpa Max.
“That would be great,” said Ben.
“Thanks, Grandpa!” agreed Gwen.
Grandpa Max stood up to get some snacks, and Ben immediately scooted over Gwen and sat in Grandpa Max’s seat.
“Finally, I can see!”
Just as Ben moved to a new seat, the man who had been sitting in front of Ben stood up to leave.
“Sure, now he goes,” grumbled Ben. But he didn’t grumble for long. Now he could see everything. Now he could enjoy all the crashing, smashing, and jumping.
Just then, the announcer boomed, “Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for the freestyle event. The first truck on the track is Skull Crusher!”
A silver-and-black monster truck with a large painting of a skull on its hood raced onto the track.
“This is going to be great,” said Ben, bouncing in his seat. He scanned the stadium, glad that he could now see all the action. There were old cars, trucks, and even a school bus parked on the track. There was going to be a lot of smashing and crashing.
But then Ben stopped scanning. His eyes rested on a seat in the very first row. It was a special seat, five feet higher than the others near it, with a footrest and a small umbrella for shade.
Ben stared at the seat. He immediately recognized who sat there.
“Hey, isn’t that—”
“Billy Billions?” said Gwen, interrupting her cousin. “That chef’s hat blocked my view of him, too.”
Now that they could both see the entire stadium, Billy Billions was hard to miss, with his red-and-violet tuxedo and pink bow tie.
“It looks like he’s just watching the show,” said Ben.
“He doesn’t seem to be up to anything.”
“Let’s get a closer look,” suggested Gwen. “Billy Billions is always up to something.”
Ben nodded. Eleven-year-old Billy Billions was usually up to something, and something bad. It was strange to see him sitting down, watching the rally without performing any sort of mischief.
Ben and Gwen hurried down the aisle.
Meanwhile, in the middle of the arena, Skull Crusher spun in circles. The crowd cheered. Then Skull Crusher sped up, hit a mound of dirt, and soared in the air.
Ben stopped thinking of Billy Billions and hooted along with the rest of the fans in the stands.
“Are you coming?” asked Gwen, glaring at her cousin.
“Oh right. Sorry,” said Ben. He continued following Gwen down the aisle.
They reached Billy Billions, and Gwen pointed her finger at him.
“What are you doing here?”
Billy Billions looked at Gwen and Ben. He frowned.
“You two? Here?” He sneered. “Well, you can watch my victory. I’ve got my own entry in this rally. And I’m going to win the monster-truck rally trophy.”
A loud cheer erupted. Skull Crusher flew off a dirt hill and leaped twenty feet in the air.
“Skull Crusher is going to be hard to beat,” said the announcer.
Billy snickered. “We’ll see about that.” He lifted a solid-gold tablet computer and quickly pressed a few buttons on its keypad. “I want that trophy. And I want it now.”
“Ladies and gentlemen,” cried out the announcer. “It looks like we have a brand-new contestant in the arena.”
“This isn’t just an ordinary monster truck, either,” said Billy with a grin. “Meet the Billy Basher!”
Ben’s jaw nearly hit the floor. Soaring out from the gate was the biggest truck he had ever seen.
It was three times the size of Skull Crusher. Instead of a grille in front, this truck had a giant mouth with sharp teeth that crunched up and down. Four large metallic cable arms, each with claws at the end, waved and snapped.
The Billy Basher raced toward Skull Crusher. The driver inside the smaller truck slammed on the brakes and tried to spin away. But it was way too slow. The Billy Basher’s metallic arms grabbed Skull Crusher, lifted it up, and tossed it. The smaller truck landed on its side with a large crunch!
Billy Billions laughed and continued pressing buttons on his solid-gold tablet.
“This new monster truck is amazing!” cried the announcer.
The Billy Basher wasn’t done yet. Not even close. It lifted the old school bus that sat on the arena floor and tossed it, too. The bus flew ten, twenty, thirty feet straight up into the air. Then it came down, down and landed right inside the Billy Basher’s open mouth.
The monster truck spit out the bus, which was now just mangled shards of yellow metal.
“You can’t do that!” complained Gwen.
“I just did,” giggled Billy Billions. “I told you that trophy was going to be mine.”
Billy pressed a few more buttons on the tablet. The Billy Basher sped over to Skull Crusher, which lay helplessly on its side. Inside the truck, the driver tried to unhook his seatbelt, but he was too slow.
The Billy Basher picked up the helpless silver-and-black truck and rolled it like a bowling ball into a bunch of old, beat-up sedans.
“Strike!” shouted Billy Billions.
“The driver looks like he’s fine, but someone is going to get hurt!” exclaimed Gwen.
“Not if I can help it,” said Ben. He pressed the Omnitrix.
The superstrong, supertough multi-armed alien had four eyes and muscles on top of muscles. With one leap, Four Arms bounded into the arena. The large red alien faced the monster truck.
“Let’s see what you’ve got!” Four Arms yelled to the Billy Basher.
The monster truck extended one of its long arms and swatted Four Arms to the side. Four Arms flew into the air and landed on top of an old, beat-up pickup truck.
“Okay, not bad,” Four Arms admitted, sitting up and staring at the Billy Basher.
He shook his head to clear his brain.
“But now it’s my turn.”
He leaped to his feet and charged toward the oversize monster truck. Four Arms didn’t see the large tire on the ground in front of him. It had fallen off the old pickup truck. Four Arms’s foot hit the tire, and he tripped. He flew forward and landed face-first in the dirt.
The Billy Basher ran right over him.
“I feel like roadkill,” moaned Four Arms, spitting a hunk of dirt from his mouth.
Four Arms wobbled as he stood up. He wiped dirt from his stomach and legs.
“Ben! Watch out!” cried Gwen from the edge of the arena.
Four Arms spun around, just as the Billy Basher was reaching him, its mouth chomping and hungry.
But Four Arms was ready. He crouched down. As the truck slammed into him, the alien wrapped his arms around the truck’s open mouth.
Clamping its mouth shut, Four Arms picked up the Billy Basher. He spun around in a circle, faster and faster and faster.
“Put my truck down!” shouted Billy Billions from the stands.
“If you insist,” said Four Arms, releasing the truck. It flew into the air and landed on its back with a heavy crack! Upside down, the truck’s wheels spun helplessly.
“Looks like your monster trucks needs a mechanic,” laughed Four Arms.
“Great job, Ben,” cried Gwen.
Billy Billions shook his head. He scowled. Then he pressed some buttons on his tablet.
“I want that trophy!” he grunted.
The Billy Basher’s metal arms reached down to the ground and flipped itself back onto its tires.
“I guess this rally isn’t over yet,” said Four Arms.
The truck raced toward Four Arms. Four Arms raced toward the truck.
Faster, faster, and faster.
Closer, closer, and closer.
With all four of his powerful arms stretched out into fists, Four Arms pummeled the truck.
Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam!
A cloud of dirt filled the arena. All anyone could see was a large explosion of sand and dust. When the cloud settled, Four Arms stood on top of the monster truck, waving his arms. The crowd roared.
“Thank you, thank you,” said Four Arms, bowing.
“And the winner of the Monster-Truck Rally Trophy is . . . the weird alien creature standing on that giant truck!” shouted the announcer.
The fans in the stands roared even louder.
Billy Billions steamed. He glared at Four Arms and at Gwen, who was clapping and hooting only a few feet away.
“You may have my trophy, but I’ll make sure you still go home a loser.”
As Four Arms continued bowing to the crowd, a red-faced Billy Billions slapped more buttons on his golden tablet.
“Give me that!” cried Gwen, reaching for the tablet.
“Not a chance,” said Billy Billions. He pressed a button on his seat, and two small rockets sprang up on its sides. They hurtled his chair straight up into the sky. The seat hovered over the arena, floating in space.
Billy Billions laughed and pressed more buttons on his tablet. The monster truck transformed! Its tires turned into powerful metallic legs. Its body grew and stretched. Its metallic arms became thicker and longer. In seconds, the vehicle in the middle of the arena wasn’t even a monster truck anymore. Now it was just a monster! A monster robot!