Visitors, p.8

Visitors, page 8

 

Visitors
 


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  “Ben doesn’t have time to get his picture taken,” Will teased. “He’s too busy hunting aliens. He has to hunt for them at all times!”

  I considered offering Will up as a sacrifice to the egg-shaped aliens. They’d take over his personality. I thought it would be an improvement.

  Then I shuddered. That could really happen, I realized. That could happen today.

  At school, the kids looked extra nice. I could tell that their parents had made them dress a little neater than usual. Some of the girls looked as if they had their hair curled or straightened just for today. School Picture Day.

  I felt so tense, I thought I might burst. I wanted to run down the halls shouting, “Go home! Go home! You’re not safe here today!”

  But instead, I found Ms. Crenshaw in the photo room. And I volunteered to help her with the school photos.

  “Thank you, Ben,” she said with a smile. She winked at me. She believed I still had the alien inside, controlling me. She believed I wanted to help her with her evil plan.

  When photo time came, I headed for the gym, where the pictures would be taken.

  Kids were lined up along the gym wall, waiting their turn. A few teachers hung around on the sidelines, making sure everything stayed under control.

  Ms. Crenshaw had set up a curtain as a backdrop. Each kid was supposed to go behind the curtain.

  Summer waved to me when she saw me. She was acting as Ms. Crenshaw’s assistant. Rikki stood near the velvet curtain, ushering kids inside when it was their turn.

  I stepped into the photo area. Ms. Crenshaw and Summer were setting it up.

  Against the wall, I saw a tall stack of cages covered with a sheet. I knew what was under that sheet, what sat inside those cages.

  The aliens.

  “I think Ben will be a big help to us—now,” Ms. Crenshaw said to Summer.

  “Uh, yes,” I replied. “I’ll do whatever I can for the mission.”

  “Okay, Summer,” Ms. Crenshaw said. “We’re ready for the first host body. I mean, student.”

  Summer nodded at me. I went around to the other side of the curtain, where the kids stood in line. They were mostly from my class.

  Summer poked her head around the curtain. “Go ahead, Ben,” she said. “We’re ready.”

  I had to go along with it. What else could I do? If I resisted, Summer would know that I was no longer an alien host. And then I’d have no chance to save the others.

  The first kid in line happened to be Dennis Corcoran. I pointed to him. “You’re up,” I said.

  Dennis’s wavy hair had been wetted down and combed flat, probably by his mother. Even though I didn’t like Dennis, it made me sad to think about what was going to happen to him behind the curtain.

  Dennis walked around the curtain. He nodded at Ms. Crenshaw, who stood behind the big camera on a tripod.

  “Smile,” Ms. Crenshaw said. “And open wide.”

  Dennis said, “Cheese.” Then Rikki and Summer grabbed him. Rikki held him down while Summer opened his mouth and shoved a furry alien down his throat.

  I cringed as I watched Dennis struggle. He tried to cry out, but his voice was muffled by the alien.

  After a few seconds, he swallowed it.

  He was now an alien host. And I was too late to save him.

  Could I save the others?

  What could I do?

  29

  Ms. Crenshaw snapped Dennis’s picture. He stared blankly at the camera. The flash went off, blinding me for a moment.

  Then Ms. Crenshaw called, “Next!” Dennis stepped out from behind the curtain, smiling as if nothing had happened.

  A girl disappeared behind the curtain. I had to think quickly.

  If I didn’t do something, all the aliens would have human hosts. And I would be the only kid left in school who wasn’t possessed.

  One after another, the kids stepped behind the curtain. They had no idea what horror lay behind it. No idea what was about to happen to them.

  Summer stuffed an alien body down each throat. Ms. Crenshaw snapped a picture.

  It was as if she were recording the first moment of their new lives. They were no longer human kids. Now they were just bodies, houses for aliens.

  This can’t go on, I thought. I racked my brain. Do something! Do something!

  If only Rikki would stuff those aliens down my throat, I thought. Then they’d all die, just like the first one.

  Yes!

  Yes!

  I finally had an idea.

  I turned to the aliens’ cages covered by a sheet. Was the leader in there?

  I knew he had to be. The aliens couldn’t go far without their leader.

  I crossed over to the cages and peeked under the sheet. There he was. The biggest of the egg-shaped aliens, pulsing with energy.

  Keeping the other aliens alive.

  I knew what I had to do.

  But I stopped in panic. The leader was more powerful than the others. A lot more powerful.

  I remembered how the alien had fought inside my body. How I’d felt as if I were going to die.

  What if the leader fought even harder? What if he beat me—and survived inside me?

  It’s a risk I’ll have to take, I realized. I’m The One. The One to defeat these aliens.

  I opened the door to the leader’s cage.

  “Ben, get away from there!” Rikki scolded. She tried to pull me away from the cages. “What are you doing?”

  I reached into the leader’s cage and snatched him out. Rikki and Summer rushed at me.

  “Put him down!” Rikki ordered. “Put him down!”

  They tried to grab me, but I dodged away from them.

  I opened my mouth as wide as I could.

  “Ben, no!” Rikki screamed.

  I froze. I gazed at the big hairy creature. Thick blue mucus dripped from its body onto my hands, my arms.

  Could I do it? Could I swallow the disgusting thing?

  30

  Yes. I stuffed the leader into my mouth. With a huge push I shoved him down my throat.

  Gagging, choking, my mouth tingling with fur, I swallowed him.

  I felt the alien body sink heavily into my stomach.

  He felt different from the other alien. Bigger and stronger.

  He wriggled and squirmed inside me. He’s fighting me, I realized. He must sense that I’m not human.

  Rikki and Summer grabbed me by the arms and shook me. “What are you doing? Why did you do that? Are you crazy?”

  “I—ugh!” I grunted. The leader was fighting me hard, raging in fury. I doubled over, crying out in pain.

  Rikki and Summer held on to me tightly. They glared at me angrily.

  Slowly, their expressions changed. Their faces went blank.

  Their hands slipped off me. I saw their knees buckle.

  With loud groans, they both collapsed to the floor.

  In the gym, I saw the other kids fall, too. They dropped to the floor, twitching, rolling, bouncing.

  “People! Everyone!” one of the teachers shouted. “Stop fooling around! What’s the matter with you?”

  But the kids’ bodies jerked on the floor as they screamed in pain.

  Inside me, I felt the leader fighting. He seemed to be bouncing off the sides of my stomach.

  I screamed in agony as I felt his teeth digging into my insides. Was he trying to chew his way out of me?

  I dropped to my knees on the gym floor, clutching my stomach.

  “Ben!” a teacher cried, bending over me. “What is it?”

  I shook my head. I couldn’t speak. The pain was too intense.

  “Somebody call an ambulance!” the teacher shouted. “Hurry!”

  Through the pain, I began to hear the leader’s voice inside my head.

  “You can’t beat me,” he said. “I am all-powerful. I will sap the strength out of you.”

  “You can’t kill me. I’m going to kill you first.”

  Another stab of pain shot through my
body. I could hear the other kids around me screaming, as if from a distance, as if in a dream.

  They were all fading, fading away. I could feel myself fading, too. I couldn’t stand the pain much longer.

  I can’t let him win, I thought. I struggled to hold on, to fight him. But I could feel him growing stronger, angrier. His rage made him powerful.

  I struggled to my feet.

  But I was too weak to stand.

  And the pain…the pain…

  I dropped back to the floor.

  I’ve lost, I realized.

  I’ve let everyone down. I’ve lost….

  31

  “You don’t know?” I wailed. “You’re still aliens?”

  Summer broke into a grin. “We’re teasing you, Ben. We wouldn’t forget the gross thing you did with that pea.”

  “It still makes me sick to my stomach,” Jeff said.

  “I’m sorry about all the things the aliens made us do to you,” Summer said. “Really sorry. But you saved us! You saved us all! I don’t know how to thank you.”

  “How did you do it?” Jeff asked. “What happened when you swallowed the leader? Why did he die? He was supposed to thrive inside a human body.”

  Summer stared at me. “Hey—that’s right,” she said. “How did you kill the leader?”

  “Uh—um…well…” I stammered. What could I say? That the leader died because I’m not human? Because I’m an alien? Because I am The One?

  No.

  Maybe someday I’ll want to tell people, I thought. Maybe someday I’ll want to explore my alien roots. And tell the whole world who I really am.

  But not now.

  For now I just want to live a normal human life with my family and friends.

  So what could I tell them? How could I explain it?

  As they stared at me, waiting for an explanation, an idea popped into my head.

  “The leader died because I’m not human,” I told them. “You see, he died because I’m an alien from outer space, too!”

  They both laughed.

  Jeff rolled his eyes. “Yeah. For sure! Good one, Ben!”

  “Very funny,” Summer said, slapping me on the back. “So now you’re an alien, too. Very funny. Ha-ha.”

  She slapped me on the back again.

  And the three of us walked out of the gym, laughing at my crazy joke.

  About the Author

  R.L. STINE says he has a great job. “My job is to give kids the CREEPS!” With his scary books, R.L. has terrified kids all over the world. He has sold over 300 million books, making him the best-selling children’s author in history.

  These days, R.L. is dishing out new frights in his series THE NIGHTMARE ROOM. When he isn’t working, he likes to read old mysteries, watch SpongeBob Squarepants on TV, and take his dog, Nadine, for long walks around New York City, where he lives with his wife, Jane, and son, Matthew.

  Visit www.AuthorTracker.com for exclusive information on your favorite HarperCollins author.

  Read all the books in the Nightmare Room

  series by R.L. Stine

  #1 Don’t Forget Me!

  #2 Locker 13

  #3 My Name Is Evil

  #4 Liar Liar

  #5 Dear Diary, I’m Dead

  #6 They Call Me Creature

  #7 The Howler

  #8 Shadow Girl

  #9 Camp Nowhere

  #10 Full Moon Halloween

  #11 Scare School

  Thrillogy #1: Fear Games

  Thrillogy #2: What Scares You the Most?

  Thrillogy #3: No Survivors

  Copyright

  THE NIGHTMARE ROOM #12: VISITORS. Copyright © 2001 by Parachute Publishing, L.L.C. All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the non-exclusive, non-transferable right to access and read the text of this e-book on-screen. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, down-loaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of HarperCollins e-books.

  Adobe Digital Edition June 2009 ISBN 978-0-06-190446-2

  10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

  About the Publisher

  Australia

  HarperCollins Publishers (Australia) Pty. Ltd.

  25 Ryde Road (PO Box 321)

  Pymble, NSW 2073, Australia

  http://www.harpercollinsebooks.com.au

  Canada

  HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.

  55 Avenue Road, Suite 2900

  Toronto, ON, M5R, 3L2, Canada

  http://www.harpercollinsebooks.ca

  New Zealand

  HarperCollinsPublishers (New Zealand) Limited

  P.O. Box 1

  Auckland, New Zealand

  http://www.harpercollins.co.nz

  United Kingdom

  HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.

  77-85 Fulham Palace Road

  London, W6 8JB, UK

  http://www.harpercollinsebooks.co.uk

  United States

  HarperCollins Publishers Inc.

  10 East 53rd Street

  New York, NY 10022

  http://www.harpercollinsebooks.com

 


 

  R. L. Stine, Visitors

 


 

 
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