- Pub. Date:
Welcome to Camp Mwhaaa-haa-ha-a-watha!
This summer is going to be epic. Epically evil, that is. ‘Cause I’m going to Evil Scientist Summer Camp!
No annoying little brothers. No annoying zombie goldfish. Just me, my best friend Sanj, our notebook of evil plans, and my truly evil (and totally forbidden) vampire kitten Fang. We’ve got it all planned out. Okay, so maybe I didn’t expect for the totally not-evil Geeky Girl to show up, or for Sanj to find a new partner to work with, but there’s no way I’m going to let them ruin my summer. Evil Emperor of the Camp, here I come!
The Great and Powerful Mark
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About the Author
Marek Jagucki is a graduate of Falmouth School of Art and Design. he is a full-time illustrator and graphic designer based in Yorkshire, UK.
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TOP FIVE REASONS WHY EVIL SCIENTIST SUMMER CAMP IS GOING TO BE AWESOME ...
5. It's an Evil Scientist Summer Camp! We learn evil stuff they don't teach (or aren't allowed to teach) at regular school, like traps, disguises and some basic Evil Henchmen 101 stuff. Plus there's evil tennis and swimming and stuff too.
4. There are no annoying little brothers around.
3. There are no annoying zombie goldfish around.
2. My best friend, Sanj (who is an Evil Computer Genius), is going too.
(Well OK, maybe it's a stretch to call Sanj my best friend. One time he trapped me in a booby trap with an actual blue-footed booby [I mean the bird]. He's zapped me with a Supersonic Nicifying Helpful Minion Ray. He's tricked me, cheated me, lied to me and generally betrayed me most of the time, but hey, when you're mostly evil, you don't have a lot of friends to choose from, you know. Maybe I should call him an Evil Colleague. Like if we were both working in an evil job somewhere, he would be in the next evil cubicle. Yeah, that's probably right.)
And 1. I'm smuggling my truly evil pet vampire kitten, Fang, into the camp.
* * *
Fang prowled around all my stuff for camp that I had laid out on the bed. She circled and clawed at my Evil Scientist coat and then started swatting at the buttons.
"Fang!" I grabbed it off her, but she clung to the hem of the coat. "Let go. You'll mess it up."
"Meeeeooooooowwww!" she replied as she pulled in her claw and let herself drop inside my bag.
"I gotta put the other stuff in first, Fang." I scooped her out, and she strutted around the bed, scratching at all the rest of my stuff. Which I think in Cat is kinda like her marking all my stuff as her stuff.
"I have to make sure I got everything they said to bring to camp. Then you can get back in."
1. White Evil Scientist coat — check
2. Protective laser, hypno- and radiation-proof glasses — check
3. Evil Plans Notebook — check (Sanj and I have already been working on some super-evil plans to show the Evil Scientist Summer Camp leaders)
4. Evil disguises, props, traps, secret-code stuff, chemicals, wire, paper clips and tape (it's amazing how many times a decent evil trap needs tape) — check
5. Swim trunks and a towel — check
And I'll just add one. ...
6. Evil Scientist sidekick pet that, according to the rules, you are totally not allowed to bring at all — check!!!
I can't believe the Evil Scientist Summer Camp doesn't allow pets. I mean, yeah, so some people have allergies and stuff, but seriously, we're working with toxic chemicals, explosives and lethal robo-drones (probably — oh, please, let there be lethal robo-drones). But pets are the worst things they can think of?
I'm just saying that if you're gonna start sneezing or breaking out in hives if you get near a little pet fur, then maybe world domination is a little ambitious, don't ya think? Maybe just take over the parts of the world with good air filters.
I looked down at Fang and stroked her behind the ear. "Why would they be so worried about a stupid cat?"
Fang swiped at my hand. "Meeeeeooowwww."
"Owwww! Sorry, Fang," I said, shaking my scratched hand. "I wasn't calling you stupid."
* * *
"Mark, honey! Time to go!" Mom yelled up from downstairs. "We're supposed to be at your Eco-Scientist Camp in two hours, and it's a long drive!"
Oh, yeah. I didn't mention that, did I? Sanj put a filter on the website for the camp so it looked like it's an "Eco-Scientist Camp" for, like, green, nature-friendly science. Result!
Both my mom and Sanj's mom fell for it. They filled out the form and paid up straightaway.
"I'm so pleased you're taking an interest in environmental issues, Mark," Mom had said.
"What issues?" I'd asked before Sanj elbowed me. "I mean, yeah, of course. I'm totally green, right."
"You know, this might be a lovely thing for Tom and Pradeep to do as well," Sanj's mom had suggested. "Wouldn't it be nice to have an adventure with your younger brothers?"
"Noooooo!" Sanj and I had yelled at the same time.
"They would totally wreck it," I'd said. Fang jumped on my shoulder and meowed her agreement.
Sanj took a deep breath. "Tom and Pradeep might lack the maturity to participate fully in the intense discussions and activities of the camp," he'd said with his evilest smile.
It had taken me a second to figure out what Sanj had said, but once I did, I said, "Yeah, that."
"I suppose you're right. You are older," Mrs. Kumar had said. "It will be lovely for you boys to discuss the impact of global warming on the environment, and maybe your young minds will find a solution."
"And get cold polar bears ice hats too," Sami, Sanj's little sister, had said, tugging on the sleeve of my white coat.
"Polar bear ice hats?" I'd asked.
"TV said polar bear ice hats are too small." Sami frowned. "They need bigger hats."
Sanj had leaned over. "It's the polar ice caps that are shrinking, Sami. Not ice hats that the bears wear ...," he'd trailed off. "Never mind. Yes, yes, we'll get hats for the bears."
And that was it. We were signed up for Evil Scientist Summer Camp faster than you could say "Evil Scientist Water Polo, anyone?!"
Mom's car pulled up at the gate to the campsite. The sign out front read:
It looked just like it did on the website. We were actually here! I could feel a major "Mwhaaa-haa-haa-haa" inside me bursting to get out.
Sanj's mom leaped out of the passenger seat of the car and opened the trunk. "It's so exciting for you boys." She beamed.
My mom unclipped Sami's car seat, and Sami bounced out and opened the door.
"Wanna go see eco-camp thing!" Sami shouted.
"No!" I blurted out. They couldn't go inside. It would blow the whole thing.
"It would show our independence if we go in on our own, Mother," Sanj said calmly.
"Yeah, that," I added. "And it totally wouldn't look cool if our moms came in too."
My mom ruffled my hair.
"Oh, and that cat-sitting company that's looking after Fang while you're gone e-mailed to confirm she's OK. Strange name for a cat sitter, isn't it?" she added. "'Completely-Real-and-Nota-Fake-Place-at-All-to-Leave-Your-Sidekick-Pets "R" Us'?"
"Umm ... they're a chain," I said. "I think they're from out of state."
"Oh," Mom said, and lifted my backpack out of the trunk.
Phew. We were getting away with things so far.
Then I saw her arms bend in slow-mo as she went to chuck the bag on the ground and get out Sanj's pack.
"Noooooooooo!" I shouted, and threw myself at the ground so the backpack hit me instead of the dirt. I could hear a muffled "reooooowww" as I rolled with the pack and stood up. That was a close one. "I ... um ... don't wanna get my bag scuffed, Mom," I mumbled.
Sanj grabbed his bag, and we both managed to get through the gates with only three hair tousles, one big cheek kiss from Sanj's mom and a high five from Sami. Could have been a lot worse. And I don't think anyone clocked that my superdive for the backpack had anything to do with Fang. She was quiet again — for now.
"Mark," Sanj said as we joined the line of kids in front of the sign-in table, "did you remember to bring the Evil Plans Notebook?"
"Yep. This thing is gonna win us every contest at this place," I said, pulling the book out of my backpack. "We've got some epic evil plans."
"Let me see it again," Sanj said, snatching the book.
Just as I was about to snatch it back, the person behind the desk handed us each a clipboard with a form to fill out.
As I stared at my form, wondering why they needed to know my "next of kin," I heard a voice I totally didn't expect to hear.
"Hi ... um, I'm looking for the Eco-Scientist Camp?" a girl's voice asked. "Oh, and where is the nearest plug? I gotta charge my gear."
I looked up to see a giant backpack, with a shortish girl underneath it, stumbling through the gates.
"It can't be," I said, my mouth dropping open.
"Isn't that the irritating computer-hacking girl who helped our annoying brothers completely ruin my ... I mean, our plans to use the Nicifying Helpful Minion Ray on all the neighborhood animals to make a superpet slave army?" Sanj asked. "I never forget a face ..." A small serious-looking budgie flew overhead and landed on a branch near the girl.
"... or a budgie."
"It's a levitating budgie apparently," I corrected.
"It's a bird. That means it can fly, stupid," Sanj sneered.
I hated when Sanj did that. Just because he had, like, extra completely unnecessary smarts that totally got in the way sometimes, he thought everyone else was stupid. It really pushed my DEFCON-red button. My hand clenched into a ball. "I'm not stupid."
Sanj nodded. "Of course not. Silly me."
I relaxed my hand. "But, yeah, you're right, that's her. Geeky Girl."
"Geeky Girl?" Sanj repeated louder, so the other kids could hear. "What a ridiculous name."
"It's better than her real name," I started to say. "I think her name is ..."
"Don't even ...," Geeky Girl said, turning toward us, heaving her backpack to the ground. "Oh, brother, it's you two!"
"Both brothers to be more accurate," Sanj corrected. "Well, welcome, Geeky Girl. We hope you enjoy your 'Eco-Scientist Camp.'"
The other kids in the sign-in line started giggling. There was a lot of mwhaa-haa-haa-haa-ing going on.
Geeky Girl looked around. "OK, something is not right here. And I know I spend a lot of time thinking that there is some conspiracy that everyone else knows and is keeping from me, but seriously, what is going on?"
I stepped up to her. "You are at the wrong camp. Call your mom and get her to come and get you."
"My mom booked me onto this Eco-Scientist Camp for the whole break. She's gone to see my Gran in Tahiti," Geeky Girl said. "And what are you talking about? This can't be the wrong camp —"
"Oh, yes it can, my dear," Sanj interrupted. "You don't belong here. Look around."
Geeky Girl stepped up to Sanj. "You are not even starting to say that a girl can't be at this Eco-Scientist Camp, right? Because I would have to convince you otherwise." She stared him down, and he totally flinched first.
OK, I admit I liked that bit. Just to see Sanj slightly pull back from her was kinda cool.
Geeky Girl looked around and saw that there were plenty of girls in the sign-in line.
"Don't be absurd. I mean, you are the wrong type of person. Boy or girl," Sanj said. "There is no eco camp." He handed Geeky Girl the clipboard with the sign-in sheet.
The group of kids all mwhaa-haa-haa-ed again, as if on cue. Except Sanj only managed his usual evil wheeze that sounded like a slightly ticked-off seal.
"OK, that was kinda creepy," Geeky Girl said.
"Like I said, you need to go home," I said.
Geeky Girl folded her arms and let a smile stretch across her normally serious-looking mouth. "I'm not going anywhere. Looks like there'll be lots to check out here." She tapped her bag of computer gadgets.
No way was I going to let some friend of my little brother's ruin my summer here.
Geeky Girl had to go.
"I wouldn't miss this for a trip to Tahiti," she added.
"Seriously?" I asked, because, as cool as Evil Scientist Summer Camp was, Tahiti was well, ya know, Tahiti.
"OK, maybe I would, but Mom already left, so I'm stuck here. Might as well make the best of it. I guess I better start trying to fit in a bit around here. When in Rome ..."
"I think we're probably in Franklin County actually."
"It's an expression." She rolled her eyes, then let out a pretty decent "Mwhaaa-haaa-haaa." It was totally better than Sanj's laugh, but not better than mine.
She dragged her pack over and got in line behind me.
"What are you doing?" I whispered. "That's it! I'm so telling the other kids that you're not really evil."
"No, you won't." She smiled.
"Yeah, I will. I'm evil like that. Remember?"
"No, you won't, because if you tell on me, then I'll tell the camp people that you brought Fang." She crossed her arms and smiled a slightly evil smile.
"B-but, I don't have Fang," I lied.
"So whose tail is that sticking out of your backpack?"
I grabbed the backpack and pulled it around to my front. A furry gray tail was flicking out of the zipper on the side of the bag. "Seriously?!" I groaned as I tucked the tail in. "Ummmm." I paused. "It's a lucky key ring."
Geeky Girl uncrossed her arms and looked smugger than a smug thing that just won a smug contest. "A key ring that purrs?" she added.
I shhhhhhed my bag.
"I saw Fang peek out when I got here. She must have smelled Boris," Geeky Girl said. "And don't even think that you can tell on Boris. He can just fly away and blend into his surroundings. No one will know he's my pet."
Boris the budgie stayed on the tree branch and nodded. He looked like it was perfectly normal that there would be a budgie on a pine tree in the mountains on a regular summer's day, and that he had nothing to do with Geeky Girl. That was one cool budgie.
Just then, there was shouting at the front of the line. "I said, open your bag. Random pet check," a camp counselor said.
A kid at the front of the line with a baseball cap was bending over to open up his bag. "Sure. There's nothing in there. Certainly no pets ...," he started to say when the counselor knocked the kid's hat off his head. I couldn't see right away exactly what was in there, but the gasp from the rest of the campers made me pretty sure it must have been a smuggled pet.
"Aha!" the counselor said. "I thought I saw that hat move." He held up the baseball hat, and I could see a stick insect wearing a little white coat clinging to the brim.
"So this isn't a pet, then?" the counselor asked the now-shaking kid.
"Ummmm, no ... Ummm, it's a woodland animal that must have innocently climbed inside my hat when it was on the ground. Easy mistake to make. I'll just scoop him ... I mean, IT. Scoop IT up and take it home ... I mean, back to the woods. Right, the woods."
"So you won't mind if we just swat it right now, then?" the counselor said. There was a sucking in of breath from the campers as the counselor raised his hand to swat the insect.
He was gonna do it. I could feel Fang shaking a bit in the backpack, and I gripped it tight.
"Noooo, not Dr. Sticky!" the boy yelled as the counselor started to bring down his hand.
"Gotcha!" said the counselor, shaking his head. "There's always one that thinks they can sneak in a pet."
The boy scooped up Dr. Sticky and put him back in his hat. Two other camp counselors came up on either side of him and lifted him out of line.
"Call his parents and tell them they can collect him from the I-Stupidly-Tried-to-Break-the-Evil-Rules-and-Smuggle-in-a-Pet Stockade. Take him away. Next," the counselor behind the desk shouted after him.
I looked down at my backpack and then I looked over at Geeky Girl.
"You don't say a word about Fang or ...," I trailed off.
"I won't. If you don't tell on me. So we have a deal?" She held out her hand for me to shake.
"There's no sweat truth serum, power-sucking chemical rub or itching powder on your hand, is there?" I asked. "You gotta watch your back here, you know."
"Nothing is on my hand. Now do we have a deal?"
We shook hands for like half a second just as Sanj came up to us. "Oh, how charming. You're welcoming the Geeky Girl into our evil fold." He sneered. "Well, I'm not going to let your presence ruin our plans," he said to her. "I'll tell the camp counselors that there's been a mistake with your booking, and they'll send you home where you belong...."
Geeky Girl didn't even look at Sanj. She fiddled with her phone, and then played a video, tilting the screen so he could see.
My voice came out of the speaker, "Your stupid plans always go wrong!"
Then Sanj, "You can't even think up a stupid plan!"
I looked at the screen. We were both trapped under the net in Sanj's parents' garage with a blue-footed booby sitting on top of us and Fang clamped onto Sanj's nose.
"Argh!" he screamed on the video.
"Turn that off now!" Sanj screeched in real life.
Geeky Girl hit pause.
"You say anything and I'll show this to everyone. The whole camp would love to see it. Don't you think?"
It was then that I realized there was a bit of evil in this girl after all. She might just fit in here ... or she might seriously get in my way. Either one wasn't good. I didn't want the competition, and I definitely didn't want the hassle.
"Fine," Sanj huffed. "But this isn't the last you've heard from me."
"Ooooh, did they teach you to say that in the Evil-Comeback-Lines course in camp?" she said.
Excerpted from "My Fangtastically Evil Vampire Pet"
Copyright © 2018 Mo O'Hara.
Excerpted by permission of Feiwel and Friends.
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