I am slappys evil twin, p.1

I Am Slappy's Evil Twin, page 1

 

I Am Slappy's Evil Twin
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I Am Slappy's Evil Twin


  Contents

  TITLE PAGE

  SLAPPY HERE, EVERYONE.

  PROLOGUE 1920

  1

  2

  3

  THIS YEAR

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  SLAPPY HERE, EVERYONE.

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  SLAPPY HERE, EVERYONE.

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  EPILOGUE

  SNEAK PEEK!

  ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  ALSO AVAILABLE

  COPYRIGHT

  Welcome to My World.

  Yes, it’s SlappyWorld—you’re only screaming in it! Hahaha.

  Feeling lucky, slave? I’m lucky because I’m ME! Haha. I mean, what if I was YOU? I don’t even want to think about it!

  I’m so good-looking, the mirror begs me not to leave every time I gaze into it. Ha. The only reason I’m not on a postage stamp is because no one can lick me! Hahaha.

  Know what’s almost as awesome-looking as me?

  I don’t, either! Hahahaha.

  I’m so awesome, I give myself goosebumps! Ha. And guess what? Today is your lucky day. Today you get two of me for the price of one.

  Don’t thank me till you’ve read my story. Of course it’s a scary story. It’s about a boy named Luke Harrison. Luke lives in Hollywood, and his father makes horror movies.

  Poor Luke. Before the story is over, Luke is living in a horror movie! He’s not only screaming for help—he’s seeing double! That’s because he has two living dummies in his house. Hahaha.

  Guess what? I may not be a good houseguest—but I tell a good, creepy story.

  I call this one I Am Slappy’s Evil Twin!

  It’s just one more terrifying tale from SlappyWorld.

  Franz Mahar strokes his white beard and gazes down at the face of the puppet he is making. The glassy olive-green eyes stare up at him. The doll’s wooden face is still unpainted. The smooth lips are frozen in a pale grin.

  From the open window of his workshop, Mahar hears the bleating of sheep. The farmers of the small village herd their flocks to the high pasture every morning. Then they bring the animals down as the afternoon sun begins to lower itself over the sloping hills.

  The village stands eighty miles from the nearest large town. Nothing has changed in a hundred years. Cows and goats and pigs roam free. Mahar awakes to the sound of clucking chickens every morning.

  Mahar raises a long needle and leans over the worktable. He begins sewing cuffs on the puppet’s stiff white shirt. His fingers tremble.

  He is an old man now, with failing eyesight and unsteady hands. Once he had been a star of the London stage. He had created a ventriloquist dummy so lifelike, audiences were amazed. They filled theaters to see his act. He had fame and enough money to enjoy it.

  But then, there had been trouble. He shared the stage with the magician Kanduu. With his swirling scarlet cape and his ability to make anything appear or disappear, Kanduu was also a star.

  They became friends. Mahar trusted Kanduu. He didn’t realize—until too late—that Kanduu’s magic came from a dark place. Kanduu was a sorcerer.

  He could cast spells, and his spells were always evil. He could control people. He could make them say and do things they didn’t want to do.

  Mahar learned a lot of magic from Kanduu. He didn’t realize that Kanduu had an evil side. Until one day backstage when Mahar was about to begin his act.

  He opened the long black case in which he kept Mr. Wood, his dummy. He bent down and began to lift the dummy from the case.

  “Oww!” Mahar cried out as the dummy’s wooden hand swung up and punched him hard in the chin.

  “Keep your hands off me!” Mr. Wood shouted. Mahar stood there, staring in shock at him, rubbing the pain from his jaw.

  “I’m pulling the strings from now on!” the dummy declared. He swung his wooden fist again and caught Mahar on the shoulder.

  Backing away, Mahar realized what had happened. Kanduu had enchanted the dummy. Kanduu had poured his evil magic into Mahar’s creation. Mr. Wood was alive.

  Terrified, Mahar slammed the case shut. He left it on the stage. He never wanted to see that dummy again. He packed a bag and sailed for the United States.

  Mahar was desperate to flee, to leave the evil dummy behind. He hid away in this tiny farm village and built a small cottage and a workshop. He lived quietly, alone. He made no friends.

  He built his only friends. The puppets and dolls he created in his workshop were works of art. His hands gently carved their wooden heads and hands. He painted their faces. He sewed their costumes.

  He gave them personalities. He did puppet shows and ventriloquist acts for himself. And once in a while, he used the magic he had learned from Kanduu. Some nights, he brought his puppets and dummies to life. He did it out of loneliness. He needed someone to talk to.

  So today—while the sheep bleat and the chickens cluck outside his window—Mahar puts the final touches on his latest creation.

  He finishes coloring the dummy’s cheeks with gentle strokes of a small brush.

  “You are made from the finest hardwood,” he tells the dummy. “And I have used the powers I learned to give you life.”

  On its back on the worktable, the dummy blinks its glassy eyes.

  “You will obey me at all times,” Mahar says, pulling it up to a sitting position. He ties the dummy’s polished brown shoes.

  “The magic I have poured into you can be dangerous. You must stay under my control. You must not follow any angry or cruel thoughts.”

  The dummy blinks again. Does it understand Mahar’s words?

  Mahar has more instructions for his creation. But he is interrupted by a knocking on the wooden cottage door.

  He jumps in surprise. “Who is pounding on my door so violently?”

  It sounds like more than one fist beating at the door, hard enough to break it open.

  “I’m coming. I’m coming,” Mahar murmurs. He sets the dummy onto its back on the worktable.

  Then he wipes his aged hands on the sides of his overalls and limps to the door. He pulls it open slowly—and utters a loud gasp.

  The entire village?

  Mahar’s eyes blur as he sweeps his gaze over the grim-faced men and women. At least two dozen of them. His legs begin to tremble. He tries to focus. Some of them carry torches. The men standing at the front of the group carry pistols.

  Mahar feels his throat tighten. He begins to choke.

  Finally, he finds his voice. “What do you want? Why are you here? What are you going to do?”

  They all begin to shout at once. They shake angry fists at him. The flames from the torches shoot forward, as if attacking him. Men raise their pistols high in warning.

  “Please—” Mahar begs. “Please—”

  Two farmers in overalls lower their shoulders and push Mahar back from the doorway. He stumbles against the wall. Shouting and cursing, the villagers burst into his cottage.

  They fill his front room. They wave the flaming torches angrily. A flower vase crashes to the floor. In the roar of voices, Mahar struggles to hear their words.

  “Please explain—” he begs.

  The two farmers step up to him. They are big men, tall with big bellies behind their overalls. Mud clings to the cuffs of their pants. One is bald
, the other has shaggy blond hair that falls around his face. Their red foreheads are dripping with sweat.

  “I am Buster Bailey,” the bald one declares. “My neighbor here is Seth Johnson. I believe you’ve seen us in the village.”

  Mahar nods.

  They narrow their eyes at him. “You know what you have done,” Bailey growls.

  “N-no,” Mahar stammers. “I … I have done nothing.”

  “It is you who has brought the bad luck to our village,” the farmer says through clenched jaws.

  “Yes, it is you,” Johnson repeats, shaking a meaty fist. “Our village is in ruins. The crops have withered and died.”

  “But—but—” Mahar sputters.

  Johnson raises his hand to silence him. “The cows are all giving sour milk.”

  “Yesterday, a two-headed goat was born on my farm,” Bailey growls. “The evil spreads from day to day. And you are the one who has brought it to us.”

  His words make the crowd of villagers begin to shout out their anger. Mahar sees some of them raise fists. They move forward, ready to attack.

  He tries to protest. But their shouts drown out his words.

  “It’s the dolls!” a woman cries. Her face is red and angry beneath a long gray scarf. “Look! There’s a new one!”

  They turn to the dummy on its back on the worktable.

  “The doll! It’s the doll!”

  “Destroy it!”

  “The doll is evil. Look at that evil face.”

  Bailey grabs Mahar by the front of his work shirt. “Your dolls have brought a dozen misfortunes to our village.”

  “N-no—” Mahar stammers. “No. You are wrong. They are just dolls, made of wood and cloth.”

  “Evil! Evil! Evil!” Some villagers begin the chant.

  All eyes are on Mahar’s dummy. The villagers’ faces are twisted in fear.

  “Evil! Kill the evil! Kill the evil!”

  Bailey shoves Mahar aside and strides to the workbench.

  “No!” Mahar screams. But he is helpless to stop them.

  The farmer grabs the dummy by its waist and hoists it over his head.

  The shouts stop suddenly. A hush falls over the cottage. The dummy’s arms and legs hang limply from Bailey’s meaty hand. Its head is tilted back. Its eyes gaze glassily to the ceiling.

  “Please—” Mahar begs. “The doll is my life’s work! It took years to make. I beg you—”

  The farmer lowers his shoulder and shoves Mahar out of the way again. Mahar stumbles back against the worktable. The two farmers start toward the door. The crowd steps back to allow them room to leave.

  “Burn it!” someone shouts.

  “Burn the doll!” cries the woman in the gray scarf.

  “Burn it! Burn it!”

  The farmers lumber out of the cottage. Bailey still holds the dummy high over his head.

  His heart pounding, Mahar watches from the doorway of his cottage as the villagers work together to build a bonfire. His whole body trembles, and he feels as if his heart may burst open.

  The smell of their fear lingers in his cottage. He can’t erase their angry faces from his mind. Such hatred and superstition. How could these people suspect an innocent doll of bringing bad luck to their village?

  The villagers work in silence. They stack tree branches and sticks of kindling in a high pile on the dirt road across from Mahar’s cottage.

  They scatter dead, dry leaves at the bottom to make the fire catch quickly. It doesn’t take long to build a tall mountain of wood.

  In the distance, Mahar hears the sad bleating of goats in their pasture. He tries to picture the two-headed goat.

  He is still picturing it as the torches are lowered to the woodpile. The flames catch quickly. Mahar holds his breath and watches the fire climb the mound of sticks and branches.

  When the flames have reached the top, the fire crackles and snaps. The yellow-orange flames dance and leap about.

  The villagers have formed a circle around the bonfire. Mahar watches their eager faces, lighted by the fire. Their eyes are wide with excitement. The only sound is the crackling of leaves and sticks.

  Johnson, his long blond hair glowing from the fire, breaks the silence with a booming shout. “Good-bye to evil!”

  “Good-bye to evil!” villagers shout.

  “Good-bye to evil! Good-bye to evil!”

  Mahar gasps as Bailey heaves the dummy into the flames. The fire surrounds the dummy. Its suit jacket and pants erupt in flames.

  And then, as Mahar watches from the cottage doorway, the fire swallows the dummy. It disappears into the swirling flames as if being eaten in one gulp.

  And from behind the dancing, darting flames, a howl of pain and horror rings out over the crowd of silent onlookers.

  All eyes turn to the cottage as the scream bursts through the air. It is Mahar’s scream. And now he stands there on trembling legs, mouth still open, throat aching from his piercing cry.

  Bailey and Johnson turn from the blaze and come striding heavily up to Mahar. Bailey points an accusing finger. “You must stop your evil work.”

  “If you want to remain in the village …” Johnson adds. “If you want to remain alive … you will heed our warning. You will stop your evil work.”

  Mahar sighs and shakes his head sadly. He lowers his eyes to the ground. “My work is over,” he murmurs. His shoulders tremble. His voice breaks. “You have destroyed my life’s work.”

  The two farmers stare hard at him for a long moment. Mahar can see the anger and hatred in their eyes. He watches them turn and make their way back to the villagers and the still-crackling bonfire.

  Mahar slams the cottage door shut. He leans against the door, waiting to catch his breath. He wipes the sweat from his beard.

  “The fools,” he murmurs. “The stupid fools.”

  He peers out the cottage window to make sure no one is near. Then he crosses the room to a door hidden in the back of his workshop. His hand trembles as he opens it and turns on the lamp. He raises his eyes to the two dummies resting side by side on a shelf against the back wall.

  “Did they really think I’d give up my precious dummy so easily?” he says to them. The dummies stare lifelessly straight ahead. They are identical in every way. The only difference: one has olive-green eyes. The other’s eyes are black.

  Mahar chuckles. “The fools … Did they really think I had but one dummy?”

  He reaches for the green-eyed dummy and lowers it from the shelf. He cradles it in his arms. “They’ll never get you,” Mahar tells the dummies. “My friends. My true friends.”

  “Fools!” the dummy cries in a high, tinny voice. “Fools!”

  Then both dummies toss back their heads, open their mouths wide, and laugh. Mahar laughs along with them. Laughs till he has tears in his eyes. The three of them laugh long and hard, enjoying the good joke.

  Hey, guys, I’m Luke Harrison. I’m the redheaded kid poking around in the tool chest in the garage, trying to figure out what a Phillips screwdriver looks like.

  Yes, I’m twelve, and I probably should know more about tools by now. But I’m not the mechanical type. I mean, the most complicated thing I ever built was a snowman!

  That’s a joke. Actually, I’ve never built anything in my life—until we decided to build this drone for a school contest.

  “Hurry up, Luke. I can’t hold this forever.”

  That’s my sister, Kelly, across the garage. She’s holding two pieces of the frame together. Kelly isn’t much help, either. Well … she’s good at holding things. And she’s good at telling us what we’re doing wrong. So I guess that’s helpful.

  Luckily, our friend Jamal is a mechanical genius. No. Seriously. He’s a genius at this stuff. He was one of those kids who built an entire city as big as his living room out of LEGOs when he was still in diapers.

  Jamal bought the “Make-Your-Own-Drone” kit we’re using. And when he spread all the pieces out in our garage, he didn’t like the instruc
tions. So he threw them out. He said he could do it better, and we believed him.

  The drone is going to be pretty big. Bigger than our power mower. And yes, it’s going to fly. Dad bought a tall propane tank to fuel it up once it’s built.

  And I know it will be built as soon as I find the Phillips screwdriver. I rattled the stuff around in the tool chest, searching for it.

  “It’s the one with the yellow handle,” Jamal called. “Right on top.”

  He could spot it from across the garage. I told you he’s a genius.

  I brought him the screwdriver. Kelly held the two pieces of aluminum together and Jamal fastened them, working the screwdriver easily, and tightening it until he couldn’t turn it anymore.

  “What’s this piece?” I asked. I held up a narrow strip of aluminum. I waved it in Jamal’s face. “This would make an awesome sword.”

  “That’s one of the propellers,” Jamal said. “We’re not ready for that.”

  “Give Jamal some space,” Kelly said, waving me away.

  Kelly is two years younger than me, but she’s very bossy. She’s always telling me to back off and let Jamal work. She’s the baby in the family, and she’s cute and blond with dimples in her cheeks. So she thinks she’s something special.

  I don’t mean to sound harsh. Kelly and I get along really well. Especially if I do whatever she says.

  “Here’s what has to happen,” Jamal said. “We do it in the right order. First the frame. Then the propellers. Then the motors.”

  I set the propeller piece down beside the others. I turned and studied the motors that were lined up against the wall. The drone had four motors. We had special batteries for the motors. And then a small propane tank for the back of the frame. I guess for liftoff.

  Kelly and Jamal began to assemble another side of the frame. The afternoon sun slid behind some trees, and shadows swept over the garage. I stepped to the back wall and clicked on the garage lights.

  “Don’t say I’m not helpful,” I called to them. They ignored me.

  I turned and stumbled over the big propane tank. The tank was huge, about three feet taller than me. It looked like the water heater we have in the basement.

  I stumbled into it, and as I watched in horror, the tank began to tilt and fall over.

 
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