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The Nightmare Room
TO ALL ALIEN HUNTERS…TO ALL EARTH PEOPLE EVERYWHERE…A dangerous group…
“Hey, look! It’s Benny the Belly Button Freak!” Rikki Mosely…
“You’ve proved that you’ve totally lost your mind!” Summer said.
I combed the grounds outside the cafeteria, but turned up…
When I got home from school that day, I found…
I pressed the headphones to my ears, listening.
With a struggle I heaved myself outside the loop, Gasping…
“Come back!” I shouted. “I just want to talk to…
I gasped. And stared in amazement at the eerie light…
I bolted upright. I was in my room. In bed.
I hurried home after school.
I stared at the message, my whole body shaking. Who…
I opened my eyes. My head ached. I was lying…
I gasped. Huh? The home planet!
My heart pounded as I stared at the message on…
I grabbed my camera and locked my bedroom door. Then…
My heart thudding in my chest, I hurried around the…
On Sunday, my parents took Will to a hockey game.
I couldn’t believe my eyes. I blinked to make sure…
Summer walked along the room, studying the weird, egg-shaped things…
Ms. Crenshaw…my last hope. She was an alien, too!
I smiled meekly and gave him a little wave.
I struggled and squirmed, trying to escape. I tried to…
I hurried out of the darkroom, through the photography room,…
I felt as if I were floating. I didn’t know…
“I—I’m an alien?” I whispered. I started to laugh. “Is…
“Ben, change your shirt,” Mom said the next morning. “You’re…
Ms. Crenshaw snapped Dennis’s picture. He stared blankly at the camera.
Yes. I stuffed the leader into my mouth. With a…
“You don’t know?” I wailed. “You’re still aliens?”
About the Author
Other Books by R.L. Stine
About the Publisher
Hello, I’m R.L. Stine. Let me introduce you to Ben Shipley. He’s that boy with the dark curly hair, leaning over his computer keyboard.
Every day, Ben checks out dozens of strange websites and chatrooms. You see, he is searching for signs of alien life from outer space.
Ben’s friends are worried about him. Why is he so obsessed with finding an alien? Why is he so desperate to make contact with someone from another planet? Doesn’t he realize the danger he might face?
Their questions will soon be answered. Because Ben is about to meet some actual aliens…inside THE NIGHTMARE ROOM!
TO ALL ALIEN HUNTERS…TO ALL EARTH PEOPLE EVERYWHERE…A dangerous group of aliens is planning an Earth invasion sometime in the next week. REMEMBER: NOT ALL ALIENS ARE THE SAME. This group is warlike and has no regard for human life. Their most likely plan of attack: to take over human bodies. When the aliens come to your area, you will see clues. WATCH FOR THE FOLLOWING SIGNS:
People you know behaving strangely
Unusual lights in the sky
Spontaneous amphibian replication
The sudden growth of non-native plants (example: palm trees in Alaska)
Flashes of blue light
Swarms of insects out of season
I REPEAT: ALIENS WILL BE INVADING THE EARTH SOMETIME IN THE COMING WEEK. WE DON’T KNOW EXACTLY WHERE THEY WILL LAND. WATCH FOR THE SIGNS. IF YOU SEE THEM, CONTACT SOMEONE AT THE WORLD ALIEN ALLIANCE IMMEDIATELY.
“Ben! Breakfast is ready!”
Mom’s voice broke through my trance. I was sitting at my computer before school, reading a notice that had just appeared in one of my favorite chat rooms.
“Hurry up, honey!” Mom called. “You’ll be late for school!”
I glanced at the message on the screen one last time. Zandor. What a wacko, I thought, switching off the computer.
My name is Ben Shipley. Why was I checking out this weird chat room? Well, you might say I’m a little obsessed. As long as I could remember, I wanted to meet an alien.
I don’t think that is so weird, really, considering where my family lives—Bitter Lake, New Mexico. It’s a small town near Roswell. There’s a big military base in Roswell. Some of the kids at school have parents who work there.
A lot of people say that aliens once landed in Roswell. I believe it.
Still, some people give us alien hunters a bad name. Like Zandor, the wacko in the chat room. “Spontaneous amphibian replication”? Like, all of a sudden there will be salamanders everywhere? Puhleeze.
I grabbed my backpack and went downstairs for breakfast. Mom passed me on the stairs. She planted a kiss on my forehead.
“Good morning, sweetie,” she cooed.
“Morning, Mom,” I said, wiping her kiss off my forehead. She trotted upstairs to her room.
I love my mom, but sometimes I’m just not in the mood for her lovey-dovey stuff. She was always hugging me and my brother, Will, and telling us how much she loved us. Ecch.
In the kitchen, Dad and Will were sitting at the table, eating cereal. Biscuit, our dog, was gnawing on something under Will’s chair.
“Good morning, Ben,” Dad said, glancing up from his coffee. Dad is stocky, bald, and wears gold-rimmed glasses. “Sleep well?”
“Look, Ben!” Will yanked something out of Biscuit’s mouth.
It was an old troll doll with a goofy face and long blue hair, covered with dirt and dog drool. Biscuit had dug it up in the backyard.
Will waved the doll in my face. “Look!” he cried again. “This must be one of their babies. It’s proof! Living proof, I tell you!”
Will cackled and waved the doll in the air. Biscuit, a shaggy little mutt with white and gray fur, whined, refusing to take her eyes off it.
“Biscuit wants her doll back,” I told him. “Give it back to her.”
Will made a weird face, flaring his nostrils and popping his blue eyes wide open. “They’re in our skies!” he shouted. “They’re everywhere! The aliens are coming! Ah-ha-ha-ha-ha!”
He ran out of the kitchen, laughing like a maniac. Biscuit scampered after him, still watching the doll.
“Dad, tell him to stop making fun of me,” I said.
Dad frowned at me. “Ben, you know how I feel about that UFO silliness.”
I sighed and shoved a spoonful of cereal into my mouth. I knew very well how Mom and Dad felt about my interest in aliens.
They didn’t like it. They thought it was unhealthy and a waste of time.
But I didn’t care. I knew I wasn’t crazy.
I had proof that aliens had been here. Real proof. I’d found it just the day before.
But I didn’t want to tell Will about it. Or my parents.
Will made fun of me enough already. I knew he’d never take me seriously.
So I tried to hide my obsession from them. They wouldn’t have been too happy to hear about what I’d found.
Dad pushed his chair away from the table and stood up. “Well, I’ve got to get to work,” he said. He had an office in town, selling commercial real estate. Mom worked with him part time.
He mussed my already messy brown hair. “Have a good day at school, Ben.”
“Thanks, Dad.” He walked to the foot of the stairs and called up to my mother. “Honey! I’m leaving!”
Biscuit trotted back into the kitchen with the troll doll in her mouth. She stopped and dropped it at my feet.
“Thanks, girl,” I said, patting her. I picked up the doll and stared at it. Biscuit scampered away.
Will bounded into the room and grabbed the box of cereal.
“Checking the doll for alien markings?” he teased. He reached into the box of cereal, pulled out a handful of sweet pink O’s, and stuffed them into his mouth.
“At least I don’t eat like a monkey,” I shot back.
“Ha ha,” he fake-laughed, spitting half-chewed cereal on the table.
We were only one year apart. He was in sixth grade, I was in seventh. But we never got along very well. We were just different from each other.
We both had dark hair, but his was straight, black, and shiny. He had freckles sprinkled across his nose, which turned up at the end.
My hair was curly and coarse, and my face was pale, with no freckles. But the main difference between us, I thought, was that I was a nice guy. I didn’t want to bother anyone. Will was a brat, through and through.
“Hurry up, boys.” Mom swept into the room, picking up dirty dishes and dropping them into the sink.
She wore jeans and a T-shirt, and her hair was tied in a ponytail. Her hair looked so blond it was almost white. But I knew she colored it. I saw a box of hair-coloring stuff in the trash can in her bathroom once.
“Will,” Mom said. “Do you have all your things together?”
Mom was always after Will to be more organized. He was basically a flake.
Not like me. Organization wasn’t my problem. Just the opposite.
“Will?” Mom prodded. “Did you hear me?”
Will glanced up from the cereal box he was reading. “What? Yeah, I heard you. My backpack is upstairs.”
“Well, go up and get it,” Mom said. “Go on.”
Will dropped the cereal box on the table and hurried upstairs. I picked up the box, neatly folded the wax-paper wrapper, closed it, and put it away in the cupboard.
“Thanks, Ben,” Mom said.
I reached into my backpack and touched it—the proof I’d found the day before. Maybe I couldn’t show it to Mom or Dad or Will. But I knew Summer and Jeff, my two best friends, would want to see it.
I had been trying to convince them for a long time that aliens exist. I knew it for sure. I was certain that aliens had been to Earth. They could have landed in Summer and Jeff’s backyard. In anyone’s backyard.
But now, at last, I had the proof I needed. And I had to show it to someone—fast.
Before the aliens attacked.
I started toward the door. But a shrill scream from upstairs stopped me in my tracks.
I froze. And heard another scream.
“Oh!” Mom’s mouth dropped open. “That’s Will!” she cried.
Will’s screams rang through the house.
I let out a frightened gasp. And led the way upstairs to see what was wrong.
We found Will in his room. Biscuit cowered in the corner, her tall tucked between her legs.
Mom grabbed Will and hugged him. “Will! What is it? What? What’s the matter?”
“Murderer!” Will screamed. “Biscuit is a murderer!”
Biscuit shook guiltily in the corner.
“What are you talking about?” Mom asked. “What did she do?”
“She ate Godzilla!” Will shouted. He broke down into tears. “I caught her with her nose in the bowl!”
Godzilla was Will’s pet frog. He lived in a fishbowl covered with a piece of screen.
Mom and I checked out the fishbowl. The piece of screen lay on the floor. It looked as if it has been ripped off the bowl. The frog was gone.
“Dogs don’t eat frogs,” Mom said. She smoothed Will’s hair, trying to soothe him. “Godzilla must have escaped on his own.”
Will stamped his foot. “I told you! I saw Biscuit with her nose in the bowl! She knocked the screen off. Then she ate Godzilla! Swallowed him whole!”
“Come on, honey.” Mom grabbed a tissue and dried Will’s tears. “You and Ben have got to get to school. Godzilla is hiding in here somewhere. I promise to look for him this morning. I’m sure that I’ll find him. Okay?”
Will’s teeth were clenched. His face had turned bright red. It looked as if a major tantrum might be coming on.
But my mom can be tough. Even as she cooed and soothed him, I knew Will could see in her eyes that she wasn’t going to put up with much more fuss. She expected him to go to school.
He rinsed his face and grabbed his backpack. I followed him downstairs.
Mom kissed us both at the door. “Don’t worry, Will. I’ll find Godzilla! Have a good day at school, both of you!”
We went to the garage to get our bikes. It was January, but winter days weren’t too cold in Bitter Lake. Most days I could get by with just a sweater or a jacket.
Biscuit scampered up to me, wagging her tail. I patted her. “You’re not a frog-eater, are you, girl?” I said softly. “Of course not. Will is crazy.”
She had that troll doll in her mouth again. She dropped it into my hand.
Alien baby, I scoffed, remembering how Will had teased me.
I know it sounds stupid. But secretly, I wished that doll was an alien.
I was so curious about visitors from other worlds. I knew they were out there somewhere. How could Earth be the only planet in the whole universe with intelligent life? It was impossible!
I tossed the doll back to Biscuit. Then Will and I hopped on our bikes and rode to Bitter Lake Middle School.
Will didn’t talk. He was still fretting about his missing frog.
I stood up and pedaled as fast as I could. “Hey—wait up!” he called.
But I was in a hurry. School wasn’t exactly my favorite place on Earth. But I kept thinking about the object in my backpack.
I couldn’t wait to show it to Summer and Jeff.
What will they say? I wondered. What will they say when I show them that aliens exist? That they have landed—right here in our town?
“Hey, look! It’s Benny the Belly Button Freak!” Rikki Mosely shouted as I pulled up in front of the school.
“Give me a break,” I muttered. I locked my bike to the bike rack and tried to ignore her. But Rikki and Dennis Corcoran hurried over to me.
“How’s your belly button, Shipley?” Dennis said.
“Come on, Shipley. Show us your belly button!” Rikki demanded.
“Ha-ha,” I said, rolling my eyes. “You two are so funny—remind me to laugh.”
Rikki was a tall, punky girl with short, messy red hair. She always looked kind of scuffed up. She had a lot of holes pierced in her ears. Sometimes she sprayed green or purple dye on her hair, just to look weird.
Dennis was husky with a dull, pudgy face. He was the kind of kid who went along with whatever someone else told him to do.
I sighed and walked up the school’s front steps. Rikki and Dennis followed me. “Let’s see the belly button, Shipley,” Dennis said again. “We need a good laugh this morning.”
“How about I show you this instead?” I said. I made a fist and shook it at them.
I have an outie belly button. Big deal. Most kids have innies,
Sometimes it pokes through my shirts a little. Otherwise, you can’t see it much. Except in the summer, when I go to the community pool. Kids have been teasing me about it since I was three.
I started into the school, but Dennis grabbed me. He held me by the arms while Rikki said, “Let’s see it, Shipley.”
“Hey!” I cried. “Let go of me!” I struggled, but Dennis gripped my arms tightly.
Rikki lifted up my T-shirt. My belly button stuck out about half an inch. Rikki flicked it with her forefinger and said, “Boing!”
“Okay, great,” I muttered. “Have you had your thrill for the day? Let me go.”
“Don’t you have anything better to do?” a voice called. My two best friends, Jeff and Summer Larkin, burst through the school doors.
Summer crossed her arms over her chest and glared at Dennis and Rikki. “I mean, grow up, guys. It’s just a belly button.”
Dennis let me go. “We were only having a little fun, Summer,” he said. His face was bright red. “Ben doesn’t mind—do you, Ben?”
I rolled my eyes. Dennis had a crush on Summer, and he knew she was my friend.
“Benny is just so cute!” Rikki declared nastily. She pinched my nose, hard.
“Ow!” I cried.
“Give him a break!” Summer said.
Rikki let go of my nose. But she leaned close to me and whispered, “Watch out, Benny. Today is not your day.”
I shrank away from her. She slithered inside the school building like a snake.
I admit it. Rikki scares me. She is so naturally mean. She doesn’t have to think about it. Everything she does and says just comes out mean.
I rubbed my sore nose.
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