Welcome. Take a seat. Buckle up, nice and tight. We've got a story to tell. But be warned. I Scream, You Scream! isn't just any tale. This is a Scary Tale, from James Preller.
Meet Sam Carver, an ordinary kid with a very special ticket in her pocket. This ticket will send her and her new friend Andy on a most unusual rideone that will leave them screaming for more.
About the Author
JAMES PRELLER is the author of Six Innings, Bystander, and the Jigsaw Jones series. He lives in Delmar, New York, with his wife, three kids, two black cats, and a not-so-scary dog.
IACOPO BRUNO is a graphic artist and illustrator who lives in Italy.
Read an Excerpt
I Scream, You Scream!
By James Preller, Jacopo Bruno
Feiwel and FriendsCopyright © 2013 James Preller
All rights reserved.
DR. Z'S ADVENTURE PARK
The Carvers stood first in line for the grand opening of the Dragon Tooth, advertised as the greatest thrill ride in amusement park history. Samantha gazed back at the zigzag of customers, people of every shape, size, and color. She couldn't believe her good luck.
The word "excited" didn't exactly describe Sam's feelings. She was ecstatic, overjoyed, tweaked, gonzo, completely over the moon. Her hands fluttered like hummingbirds, darting up to her thick black hair, drifting skyward, then diving down into her pockets.
Who could blame her? Sam was visiting her favorite place on the planet: Doctor Z's Adventure Park. No one loved amusement parks more than eleven-year-old Sam Carver. She loved everything about them. The crowds, the food, the noise — music blaring, bells dinging, children screaming,
"I SCREAM, YOU SCREAM, WE ALL SCREAM ON ROLLER COASTERS!"
Sammy loved the buttery smell of popcorn that filled her nostrils, the sweetness of cotton candy, the grease of hot dogs and burgers. But most of all, she loved the rides, every single one — the Whirligig and the Wheel of Wonder, the Windseeker and Skyscreamer, the Gravitron and Richochet and Cloud Chaser. She worshipped the Wall of Death and dearly loved the Spiral of Doom.
For Sam, there was only one rule: the scarier, the better. And after each ride, Sam would cry: "Again, again, again!"
She checked — once again, for the 100th time — for the thick, cardboard ticket in the front pocket of her dress. She bounced on her heels in anticipation. Her eyes lifted to watch a red-tailed hawk glide through the clouds. Bird in the sky, she thought, I know how you feel.
"I'm sooooo excited!" Sam told her parents. "I feel like a bottle of soda, all fizzy inside, ready to pop."
"Try not to explode," her father said. "That might be messy."
Mrs. Carver looked up from her folded newspaper. She enjoyed word games, and completed the crossword puzzle every morning. Sam liked to help her mother solve the Daily Jumble and play with anagrams, where you rearranged the letters of one word to form new words.
She pretended her own name, Samantha, was an anagram.
A HATS MAN ASH MAN AT HAM ANT AS
Oh well, it was a disappointing list.
Sam was certain that today was going to be the best day of her life. She turned to her parents and beamed a smile of pure sunshine. "Thanks for bringing me, Mom and Dad. I can't believe how happy I am."
Months before, Sam had entered a contest by clicking on a link and, amazingly, despite the odds, actually won a prize. Her reward? A ticket to be among the first customers to enjoy the Greatest Thrill Ride Ever Created. But was Sam brave enough?
Oh yes, surely she was. Nothing frightened Sam Carver. Nothing, that is, except for dentists, bats, and homework. The usual things. Dentists, of course, with their fat fingers fumbling in your mouth. But bats creeped Sam out the most, with their leathery wings and tiny teeth and weird human faces.
Besides, homework scared everybody!CHAPTER 2
THE THIN MAN IN A DULL BLACK SUIT
Behind the entrance gate, a man sat upon a high stool, legs crossed, fingers knotted on his lap. He appeared to Sam like a grim vulture, a strange and hostile bird of prey.
Sam could see that he was unusually tall, with long arms and legs jutting out in awkward angles. A lanky man dressed in a faded black suit, plain white shirt, and narrow tie. His shoes were scuffed and battered. The man had a sharp nose, a down-turned mouth, and restless eyes that never stopped moving.
The man guarded a door that led into a huge, warehouse-size building. Ginormous, Sam thought. On the wall was the painted head of a massive dragon, yellow eyes gleaming with menace, teeth sharp as knives. In exotic letters that almost looked Chinese, a sign read,
THE DRAGON TOOTH
According to articles that Sam had read on the Internet, this particular ride had been in development for more than five years, and was considered the crown jewel of Dr. Z's empire. Details were top secret. No one knew whether it would be a new kind of roller coaster or ... or ... it could be anything! Part of the fun for Sam had been imagining what the ride might possibly be.
"Maybe they drop you from, like, a million feet in the air," Sam speculated.
"Sounds high." Her father whistled.
"Or maybe it's like one of those slingshot things, like something with bungee cords, or with crazy g-forces, or —"
Sam could see that her father was bored. While Mrs. Carver patiently filled in the boxes of her crossword puzzle, Sam's father sweated in the summer heat, and squeezed the back of his neck. He checked the time on his cell and frowned. "We've been waiting almost two hours," he groaned. "Ever since my time in the army, I promised myself I'd never stand in line again."
Sam shot her father a look. "It's okay, Dad. The ride will be totally worth it."
"I don't know, kiddo," her father replied wearily. "I feel pretty silly standing around like this."
The thin man cleared his throat with a growl. "Patience," he murmured.
He glanced at the sky. A flicker of worry flashed in his eyes. A change in light caused Sam's eyes, too, to lift skyward. As if the air had shifted somehow, as if the sky changed color. It happened fast, in a blink, but it felt impossibly ... WRONG. Even worse, Sam felt as if she was being observed by someone, or something. A camera in the sky, a watchful eye. Sam scolded herself for being a goofball, and decided to think happier thoughts.
Sam looked around. No one else seemed to notice anything, except for the man in the dark suit. His gaze kept returning to the sky, lips pursed thoughtfully. He had the nervous habit of rubbing a thumb against the crook of his forefinger.
"Excuse me, sir? Will you be letting us in soon?" Sam asked.
The man made no reply.
Sam pressed forward. "Do you know what the ride is like? Have you seen it?"
He now directed his cold gaze at Sam. "I have," he said. "You will not be disappointed."
"Have you met Dr. Z?" she persisted.
The man smiled, but without warmth. "Ah, the mysterious Dr. Z. What do you know about the owner of this amusement park?"
"Lots," Sam said. "He's one of the most mysterious men in the world. His real name is Phineas Z. Overstreet. And he's a reclusive, eccentric billionaire!"
"Eccentric," the man replied. "A big word for 'crazy.'"
Sam laughed. "He's brilliant, and lives in his own world. He won't let anyone take his picture. And he's crazy about games, just like me." She knew that Mr. Overstreet made his fortune as an inventor. Then the sky did it again. As if the clouds had rearranged, or somehow the planet tilted in a new direction. All in the sliver of an instant. But Sam noticed. She glanced at the man in the dark suit. He sensed it, too. Sam could see it in his eyes, and in the way his fingers twitched.
She noticed something else, too. An absence. "There are no birds," she said, turning to her father. "I don't see any, Dad. I don't hear them. They're all gone."
"I guess they flew the coop," Mr. Carver replied.
"There were lots of birds before," Sam insisted. "Sparrows by the gardens, and red-winged blackbirds. I was watching them before. I saw a hawk, too. But now —"
"I'm sure it's nothing, kiddo," Mr. Carver said.CHAPTER 3
SAM ENTERS THE DRAGON
A pale-faced boy with limp, white-blond hair appeared beside Sam. He looked sickly. He was a few years younger than Sam and stood strangely erect. In a flat voice, he said, "I am ready now, sir."
Sam laughed to herself. What a strange thing to say. Everyone was ready. More than ready.
The thin man nodded, offered a wafer-thin smile. "Noted," he intoned, drawing out the vowel sounds. "However, there have been disturbances, difficulties with the satellites, computer malfunctions." He pointed a bony finger upward, beyond the clouds, to deep space. "Please stand by. We apologize for any inconvenience."
The pale boy stood by as requested.
"It won't be long," the thin man added. He pressed a forefinger to his ear and closed his eyes as if listening to a message. After a moment, the man unfolded his long limbs, like a great mantis, and stood before the crowd.
With a hand to the side of his mouth, he announced, "Welcome to the grand opening of the Dragon Tooth, the single greatest ride in the world's greatest amusement park — Dr. Z's Adventure Park!"
The crowd burst into applause. A large man in a too-small shirt put two fat sausage-like fingers in his mouth and whistled.
A pained expression appeared on the face of the man in the black suit. He signaled for silence. "Before we begin, please, a word." He glanced at the words scribbled on a scrap of paper in his hand, then returned the paper to his jacket pocket.
"Adventure Park was established eleven years ago by Phineas Z. Overstreet." The man coughed once and continued. "Mr. Overstreet was a sickly child who spent long hours in solitude. To ease his loneliness, he read voraciously and tinkered with computers. He earned his first million by age twelve, with the invention of a popular video game. By the time he was seventeen, his company, Z-GAMES, had become the largest, bestselling game company in the world. At thirty-two, Phineas Z. Overstreet was the wealthiest man on the planet.
"And he was bored — bored with work, bored with meetings, bored with money. So he built his greatest game of all and called it Adventure Park!"
The crowd applauded.
"The rides feature cutting-edge technology, innovative designs, and — ah, yes — the most terrifying thrills. Today, you will witness Dr. Z's greatest achievement, a ride that goes beyond anything the world has witnessed."
His eyes turned to Sam's direction. "Am I correct to assume that you have a winning ticket?"
Sam placed the ticket in the man's hand. He ripped it in half and let the pieces flutter to the ground. But when Sam's parents also moved forward, he raised an open palm. "The ticket is for one rider only."
"Yes, of course," Mrs. Carver said, "but we figured we could step inside to —"
"Incorrect. False," the man snapped. "You are mistaken."
Mrs. Carver put a hand on Sam's shoulder. "Can't we go inside, just to watch?"
"No, that would be ... impossible," the man replied. "Imprudent. Immaterial. Impractical. The ride is not on the premises, exactly."
"Not on the ... what?"
He bent forward at the waist, hands clasped behind his back. He whispered, "Mr. Overstreet would have me sacked in an instant — kicked to the curb — if I were to allow you inside. You must understand. He is fiercely protective of industry secrets. But I can say this. First, there is a brief shuttle that will transport your daughter to the ride itself, which is at a different location."
"I don't under —"
"Mom, it's okay," Sam interrupted. She appealed to her father. "Tell her, Dad. I'll be fine, really."
Her parents exchanged glances. Their daughter alone? Unwatched?
"She will be quite safe," the man purred. "You'll need to sign the standard paperwork, wavers and such, for insurance purposes. Of course, if you wish to forfeit the ticket, I'm sure others will happily take her place."
So it was decided. The man unhooked a chain, opened a door, and Sam stepped inside. The line inched forward. A total of sixteen riders entered the building. The boy was among them, his skin as white as Elmer's Glue.
All of the riders were children.
Sam didn't look back at her parents. Didn't wave good-bye. Instead, full of anticipation, she walked into the cavernous room — excited, hopeful, not the least bit fearful of the dangers that would soon fall from the sky.
THINGS GO VERY WRONG
Sam was harnessed into an open, two-seated vehicle. It looked like an old coal-mining car, big wheels on a primitive track. Nothing fancy about it. Sam felt a pang of disappointment. This wasn't what she'd expected.
Next to her sat the pale-faced boy. Up close, Sam noticed that his skin was flawless, perfectly smooth. He never looked Sam in the eyes. There was something else, too, something stiff about his manner. He stared forward as if he were waiting for a bus.
Two workers in orange flight suits walked around, checking on the eight cars, making sure each passenger was safely strapped in.
Sam glanced around the warehouse. It was gray, almost plain. "Is this ... it?" she asked a bearded worker.
He laughed. "No worries, missy. We haven't put in all the finishing touches. Grand openings are like that. This here is only a shuttle car that will carry you through a tunnel of solid rock. When you arrive at the loading zone, my colleagues will lead you into a high tower. No one can see this tower from the road, by the way, because it looks exactly like a massive oak tree." He flashed a gold tooth. "That's when you enter the dragon's mouth."
He jabbed a wicker basket in Sam's direction. "No cell phones."
"Really," the man confirmed. "Messes with the electronics, like on airplanes. Besides, Mr. Overstreet does not allow photography."
Sam reluctantly placed her phone into the basket. The cell represented Sam's connection to her parents and her friends. By handing over the phone, Sam said good-bye to the outside world.
"Ready?" the man asked.
Before Sam could answer, the car lurched forward and her back pressed against the seat.
They clanked and rattled along the track. The car sloped down into an underground tunnel, lit by green floor lights.
Sam liked the fluorescent lights and the trapped feeling of the tunnel; she felt like she was being swallowed by a great beast. "This is cool." She smiled at the boy.
He didn't answer, just gripped the front rail of the car.
"I'm Sammy or Sam, just not Samantha. Oh, I don't care. Take your pick!" she said cheerfully. "What's your name?"
Sam saw his lips move. But she couldn't hear a word the boy said. The explosions were too deafening.
Sam's ears rang from the noise. Startled, she tried to turn in her seat, locate the source of the blasts, but the harness was too tight. The boy tilted his head forward, hands over his ears, eyes closed. Clouds of smoke and grit began to fill the tunnel. He coughed softly.
Could this be the ride? Sam wondered. It didn't seem right. She pulled the top of her shirt over her mouth to keep out the smoke. Sam recalled the sky, how it had shimmered strangely just before they entered the warehouse. Her feeling of being watched from above. Then came another explosion, louder than before. A jagged crack formed on the ceiling. Large chunks of rock and granite crashed behind them.
Sam yanked fiercely at her harness, pulling an arm through and twisting herself around. She saw that they were cut off from the rest of the passenger cars. Separated by an avalanche of rock. She heard screams, muffled from behind the fallen rocks. They were the screams of frightened and desperate children, who might be injured, bleeding, buried alive.
"Something has gone wrong. This should not be happening," the boy said. He clutched at Sam's hand. His fear charged through Sam's body like an electric current. "Those kids back there ..."
He dared not finish the sentence.
Sam knew he was right.
Something had gone terribly wrong.
And the car rolled on through the smoke-filled dark.CHAPTER 4
"RUN, JUST RUN!"
It took only two more minutes, but to Sam the trip lasted forever. Finally the car reached the loading zone, where they were supposed to begin the ride for real. Go up the tower, have fun.
A woman in an orange jumpsuit had her back to them. She aimed a fire extinguisher at a wall of flames. A man, also in orange, lay on the ground. He was partly covered in fallen rocks. One leg bent out in an unnatural angle. A puddle of blood oozed beneath his head.
Sam wriggled to escape from the harness. Finally, she twisted free. She turned to the boy. "Try to get out. We can't stay here."
He sat paralyzed, perfectly still. Another explosion hit from above. The ground shook. Sam thought she heard the distant WHIRRR of a dentist's drill. A high-pitched whine. She pulled frantically at the boy's harness. Nothing worked. "I'll get help."
"No, do not leave me!" he pleaded. But Sam raced off toward the woman with the fire extinguisher.
At Sam's approach, the woman turned and stared with a look of disbelief. Blood pulsed from an open gash on her forehead. Her eyes lingered briefly on the bloodied man on the floor. The woman shouted above the din, "I didn't think anyone made it through!"
Sam pointed to the boy in the car. "I can't get him out!"
The woman turned back to the fire, and with a sweeping motion laid down a spray of white foam. Another explosion rocked the walls. A crack in the shape of a lightning bolt crawled across the ceiling. The woman cast a wary look at it, calculating their odds of survival.
"You have to get out now!" the woman told Sam.
"What's happened?" Sam yelled. "I don't understand."
The woman shook her head. "I can't explain. Some kind of attack. Reports say that it's happening all over the city, like the sky is falling. Asteroids, meteors, bombs, I don't know." She pushed Sam by the shoulder. "Go, run. That hallway will take you to the woods."
Excerpted from I Scream, You Scream! by James Preller, Jacopo Bruno. Copyright © 2013 James Preller. Excerpted by permission of Feiwel and Friends.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
1 DR. Z'S ADVENTURE PARK,
2 THE THIN MAN IN A DULL BLACK SUIT,
3 SAM ENTERS THE DRAGON,
4 THINGS GO VERY WRONG,
5 "RUN, JUST RUN!",
6 SAFE, FOR NOW,
7 ANOTHER WAY OUT,
8 THE CEILING IS ALIVE!,
9 ANDY'S PLAN,
10 FALLING, FALLING,