Authors: R.L. Stine
onight is going to be awesome!” Hannah Waters exclaimed. “Our plan is brilliant.”
Gretchen Davies stopped her blue minivan at a red light, then turned to her best friend. “You think Cindy will be surprised?” she asked Hannah.
Hannah nodded, her green eyes sparkling. “She doesn't suspect a thing. She thinks we totally forgot her birthday. She sounded really upset when we all had excuses for not hanging out with her tonight. Especially since her parents had to go away on business this week.”
“She's probably sitting around, pigging out on junk food and feeling sorry for herself,” Hannah's boyfriend, Gil Shepherd, commented with a laugh.
“Little does she know, she's about to be kidnapped,”
Jackson Kane chimed in from the backseat.
“And dragged off for an all-night party on Fear Island,” Gil added.
“It was so nice of your grandfather to let us use his cabin, Gil,” Gretchen said. She glanced over her shoulder at Gil, who sat in the backseat between Jackson and their other friend, Patrick Munson.
“Yeahâa surprise party is one thing. But an overnight party in our own private cabin is totally cool,” Patrick said.
“Definitely,” Jackson agreed.
Gretchen nodded happily. It felt great to be part of the “kidnapping” planâespecially since she hadn't known Cindy as long as the others.
She had moved to Shadyside only six months before, when her dad's job transferred him here.
She expected it to be hard starting a new school her senior year. But Hannah had helped her fit right in and introduced her to all her friends.
“I've never done anything like this before,” Gretchen confided.
Hannah snickered. “Neither have we. But it's exactly what Cindy deserves.”
“Light's green,” Jackson pointed out.
Gretchen shifted her eyes back to the road and started driving again. Six blocks later, she turned onto the street where Cindy lived.
Gretchen pulled her minivan up to a curb several houses away from Cindy's and turned off the engine.
“Does everyone know what they're supposed to do?” Patrick asked.
“I'm all set,” Jackson replied. “How about you, Gretchen?”
Gretchen glanced in the rearview mirror. Her gaze met Jackson's. She felt a tiny shiver race up her back. She looked away.
She had hung out with Jackson since she moved to Shadyside, but she still didn't know him very well.
She wasn't sure why, but Jackson gave her the creeps.
When they first met, she thought he was sort of cute. But he seemed so moody. Serious and quiet.
Gretchen didn't think she'd ever seen him smile. Most of the time he stood apart from the group, watching everything.
Definitely a strange guy.
But weird enough to get his kicks making prank calls? Gretchen wondered.
For the last two weeks she'd been getting annoying hang-up calls. Always late at night, on the private line in her bedroom. Whenever she picked up the phone, the line went dead.
Only her friends had the number to that phone. So she figured it had to be somebody she knew.
And every time Gretchen caught Jackson watching her, she got a creepy feeling that he was the one.
One thing was for sure. He was always staring at her.
Like now. She could feel his dark brown eyes on her back.
Gretchen whirled around in her seat to face Patrick.
The movement must have caught Jackson off guard. With a guilty expression on his face, he tore his eyes away from her.
“We all know what to do,” Gretchen told Patrick. “Let's go. Let's kidnap Cindy.”
Gretchen gazed up at Cindy's house.
Cindy is going to be so surprised, she thought.
She glanced at Jackson and felt a sudden chill.
This is going to be a great party, she assured herself. Tonight is going to be so much fun.
So why did she suddenly have such a bad feeling?
et's get moving,” Hannah urged, climbing out of the minivan.
Gretchen locked the driver's door as her friends piled out of the van.
Patrick led the way. Gretchen walked beside Hannah.
“This is perfect,” Patrick murmured as they moved through the darkness.
Suddenly feeling nervous, Gretchen glanced around.
The street stood dark and deserted. She saw no lights on in any of the nearby houses.
A gust of wind whipped strands of her dark brown hair across her face. The moonless night sky carried the promise of an approaching storm.
“We'll be able to slip in and out,” Patrick said with a chuckle. “We'll grab Cindy and disappear. No one will even know we were here.”
They reached Cindy's house. Patrick signaled the others to follow him to the backyard.
A light above the back door cast long shadows across the grass. Gretchen spotted a single light on in the house. The second floor. Cindy's room.
Then she saw Hannah hunch down next to the back door and lift a potted plant from the cement step.
“Got it!” Hannah whispered.
She held up a door key.
A cold gust of wind cut across the porch, and Gretchen shivered. March really came in like a lion this year, Gretchen thought.
She hugged herself inside her denim jacket, wishing she'd worn a heavier coat.
She dug her hands deep into her pockets as she waited for Hannah to open the back door.
As Gretchen tucked a few strands of her hair behind her ears, she caught Jackson staring at her again.
What is his problem? she wondered.
She gave him a warm smile, hoping he would smile back at her.
But he didn't. He stared down at the ground, his lips twisted in a frown. Then he turned his back on her.
I don't get it, Gretchen thought. I try to be friendly
to him. But Jackson acts as if he doesn't want anything to do with me.
Okay, Jackson. Play it your way. But I'm done trying to be nice to you. You are one strange dude.
Hannah fumbled with the key. Finally, she managed to open the back door.
They all tiptoed into the dark kitchen. They huddled together for a minute, listening for the slightest sound, eyes searching the darkness.
Gretchen didn't hear a thing. Except for the ticking of a clock in the dining room. And the sounds of everyone else breathing.
“The coast is clear,” Gil whispered.
“Let's head upstairs,” Patrick instructed. “Cindy is probably in her room.”
They crept out of the kitchen and down the hall. Up the front staircase.
At the top of the stairs, Gretchen could see a light underneath the door of Cindy's bedroom.
She was home.
Unaware of what was about to happen.
Outside Cindy's bedroom door, Patrick placed a finger to his lips. Then, as they had planned, he began silently counting off on his fingers.
Fiveâ¦ fourâ¦ threeâ¦ twoâ¦
When Patrick reached
, they burst into Cindy's bedroom.
The bedroom door slammed against the wall. To Gretchen, it sounded like a clap of thunder.
She saw Cindy sprawled across her bed reading a fashion magazine.
Cindy sprang up in surprise. She stared at them in shock.
“What's going on?” she demanded. “How did you get in? What are you doing here?”
Gil and Jackson pounced on her. They grabbed her arms and pulled her off the bed.
“Hey!” Cindy protested. “Let go! What are you
Cindy struggled to break free, but Gil and Jackson were too strong for her. They held her still while Gretchen and Hannah wrapped a blindfold around Cindy's eyes.
“This isn't funny, guys!” Cindy cried. “What's going on? What are you doing?”
“Hold still, Cindy. I don't want to hurt you,” Gretchen said. She tightened the blindfold behind Cindy's head. “We'll explain later.”
Gretchen stepped away from Cindy. She gave a sigh of relief.
So far, so good. Everything was going according to plan.
“Got the blindfold on, Patrickâ” she began.
She turned to Patrickâand the rest of the words died in her throat.
Gretchen gasped. What was going on? This wasn't part of the plan!
Why was Patrick holding a pistol?
“Heyâ!” she choked out. The silver barrel glistened as Patrick pointed the gun at Cindy.
“Hold still, Cindy,” Patrick said, mimicking Gretchen's voice. “We don't want to hurt you.”
With a nasty grin, he pressed the pistol into Cindy's side.
Cindy's shrill scream echoed through the silent house.
oooo!” Gretchen wailed. “Patrickâdrop it!”
Had Patrick lost his mind?
Hannah dove forward and grabbed Patrick's arm. “Arc you crazy? Put that down!” she screamed.
Patrick laughed. “Calm down!”
He jammed the gun back into the pocket of his black leather jacket. “It's gone.”