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Authors: R. L. Stine

Don't Scream!

BOOK: Don't Scream!
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Goosebumps
®
Hall of Horrors

DON'T
SCREAM!

R.L. STINE

WELCOME TO THE
HALL OF HORRORS

THERE'S ALWAYS ROOM FOR ONE MORE SCREAM

This old castle can't be found on the map of HorrorLand Park. This is a hidden place for very special visitors. A place for kids who have stories to tell. Frightening stories, of course.

I am the Story-Keeper. Here in the darkest, most private corner of HorrorLand, I keep the doors to the Hall of Horrors open.

Look out! Don't step on the Welcome Matt. Matt doesn't like to be stepped on. He'll give you a really nasty welcome.

Come into the Unliving Room. Have a seat in that harmchair. Don't worry about the green glop oozing down the back. It only
looks
as if it's alive.

Kids bring their stories to the Hall of Horrors. I am the Listener. And I am the Keeper of their tales.

We have a visitor today. That boy sitting in the library, with the cell phone gripped so tightly in his hand. His name is Jack Harmon.

Jack is twelve. Why does he look so pale and tense? Something has freaked him out. He seems eager to tell us about it.

“What is your story about, Jack?”

“It's about a cell phone.”

“Is it about a call you received on the phone?”

Jack shakes his head. “No. I didn't receive any calls. But the voice … the voice — it was there anyway!”

“Well, go ahead. You'd better start at the beginning. Tell us about the phone. Tell us your story.”

Jack stares at the phone in his hand. “Are you sure you want to hear about it? It's totally weird and scary.”

Go ahead, Jack. Tell your story. Don't be afraid. There's Always Room for One More Scream in the Hall Of Horrors. …

1

“YOWWWWWWWWW!”

That's me, Jack Harmon, screaming my head off. I was on the school bus, heading home, howling in pain. As usual.

You would scream, too, if Mick Owens had you in an armlock. Mick shoved my arm up behind me till I heard my bones and muscles snap and pop.

“YOWWWWWWWWW!” I repeated.

Nothing new here. Big Mick and his friend Darryl “The Hammer” Oliva like to beat me up, tease me, and torture me on the bus every afternoon.

Last week, our sixth-grade English teacher, Miss Harris, had a long, serious talk in class about bullying. I guess Mick and Darryl were out that day.

Otherwise, they would know that bullying is bad.

Why do they do it? Because I'm smaller than them? Because I'm a skinny little guy who looks like a third-grader? Because I scream easily?

No.

These two super-hulks like to get up in my face because it's FUN.

They think it's funny. It makes them laugh. You should see the big grins on their faces whenever I beg and plead for them to pick on someone their own size.

And then, as soon as I start to scream, it's belly-laugh time for those two losers.

One day, I complained to Charlene, the school bus driver. But she said, “I'm a bus driver — not a referee.”

Not too helpful.

And so here we were in the narrow aisle at the back of the bus. Mick with a big grin on his red, round-cheeked face. Me with my arm twisted behind my back.

Darryl watched from his seat. The other kids on the bus faced forward, pretending nothing was happening.

“YOWWWWWWWWW!”

Mick swiped his big fist at my head — and tugged off my Red Sox cap.

“Hey — give it back!” I cried. I made a grab for it. But he sent it sailing across the aisle to Darryl.

Darryl caught it and waved it at me. “Nice cap, dude.”

I dove for it. Stumbled and fell halfway down the aisle. Darryl passed my cap back to his good buddy.

I turned, breathing hard. “Give it back.”

“It's MY cap now,” Mick said. He slapped it onto his curly blond hair. His head is so big, the cap didn't fit.

I dove again, hands outstretched. I almost grabbed the cap back, but Mick heaved it to Darryl. I swung around to Darryl, and he tossed it over my head back to Mick.

The bus slowed, then bumped to a stop. I bounced hard into the back of my seat. I glanced out the window. We were at Mick's house.

“Give me my Red Sox cap,” I said. I stuck out my hand.

“You want it?” Mick grinned at me. “You really want it? Here.”

He held the cap upside down in front of him and spit into it. A big white sticky glob.

“Here,” he said. “You still want it?”

I stared into the cap. Stared at the disgusting white glob of spit.

Darryl hee-hawed like a donkey. He thinks everything Mick does is a riot.

“You still want your cap?” Mick repeated. He held it out of my reach. “Tell you what, Jacko.
Give me your watch and you can have your cap.”

“That's totally fair,” Darryl said.

“No way!” I cried. “My grandfather gave me this watch. No way!”

The watch was a special present for my twelfth birthday. It means a lot to me. I never take it off.

“How about it, Jacko?” Mick stuck his hand out. “The watch for your Red Sox cap.”

“Yo, Mick. See your house outside the window?” Charlene yelled from behind the wheel. “You want to keep us all here till dinnertime? What's your mom serving us?”

A few kids laughed at that. But most kids are too terrified of Mick to ever laugh around him.

“Mick, stop torturing Jack,” Charlene yelled. “Give him back his cap and get off my bus!”

“Okay, okay. No problem,” Mick said with a sneer.

He jammed the cap onto my head, so hard my feet nearly went through the bus floor. I could feel the sticky glob of spit in my hair.

Mick trotted to the door at the front. Darryl gave me a friendly punch in the ribs. Then he followed his buddy off the bus.

I let out a long sigh of relief. I had survived another trip home on the school bus. I watched Mick and Darryl jog up the driveway to Mick's little redbrick house. They punched each other as they ran. You know. Kidding around.

I slumped into the nearest seat. I shut my eyes and took a deep breath.

No permanent wounds. That meant it was a good day.

Glancing down, I saw something on the seat next to me. A silvery cell phone.

I hesitated for a moment, just staring at it. Then I reached over and picked up the phone.

And that's when the nightmare began.

2

The school bus jerked to another stop. I nearly dropped the phone.

A blond-haired girl jumped off. She waved to a friend on the bus.

I glanced down the aisle. Only two kids and me still on the bus. My house is always the next-to-last stop because I live near the border of our town.

I raised the phone and studied it. It was one of those really thin smartphones. It had a big black screen. The phone felt cool and sleek in my hand.

I found the
POWER
button on the top and pushed it. A few seconds later, the screen lit up, bright blue. Then the screen filled with icons. Dozens of them. All kinds of apps.

The phone was
loaded
.

I flipped through the screens of icons. There were games, and magazines, and news, and sports.

I studied them for a while. Then I raised the phone to my ear.

I didn't expect to hear anything. So the girl's voice made me jump.

“Hi, Jack,” she said. She half talked, half whispered. “Don't scream. I've been waiting for you. I'm your new friend.”

“Huh?”

I lowered the phone and stared at it. The screen had gone blank. Solid gray. No icons.

I pressed the phone to my ear. “Who
is
this?” I asked.

“It's me, your new friend.” Her voice was soft and whispery.

I thought hard. I struggled to figure out who it could be.

“Mindy? Is that you?” I said finally.

Mindy is my little sister Rachel's babysitter. She comes to our house after school every afternoon and stays till Mom and Dad get home.

Mindy is a real joker. She likes to play all kinds of tricks on me. Rachel always thinks it's a riot.

I spoke into the phone. “This is one of your dumb jokes —
isn't
it, Mindy?”

“It's no joke,” the girl replied. “Don't you want to be my new friend?”

“You sure you're not Mindy?” I said. “You sound a lot like Mindy.”

“I don't know Mindy,” the girl whispered. “I only know you. You're my only friend, Jack.”

“Whoa. Wait,” I said.

It can't be Mindy
, I told myself.
How could Mindy know I would pick up this phone? How could Mindy know the number?

My mind was spinning. “I … think you have the wrong number,” I said finally. “This isn't my phone, and —”

I heard her sigh. “If it's the wrong number, how do I know your name?” she breathed.

“Well … Come on. So it
is
Mindy!” I said. “Ha-ha. I'm laughing. But enough — okay?”

“I'm
not
Mindy,” the girl snapped. Her voice was suddenly sharp and cold. “Don't make me angry,” she said. “Whatever you do, Jack, don't make me angry.”

3

That sent a chill to the back of my neck.

Suddenly, it didn't seem like a joke. Her voice became hard, as if she was talking through gritted teeth. It didn't take her long to go from whispery to angry.

But who could she be? And how did she get into this phone that didn't even belong to me?

It had to be someone I knew. Someone …

Suddenly, I knew. It had to be my friend Eli Grossman. Eli is an electronics geek. He is always messing around with phones and game players. He can make them do anything.

And … Eli has a device that disguises his voice. He holds it up to the phone and talks through it. And it changes his voice totally. Makes it really high or really low. Or really rough and scratchy like he's talking with a mouthful of pebbles.

Did Eli tell someone to drop this cell phone near me so he could play this trick? Could be …

I pressed the phone to my ear. I felt a little better since I might have solved the mystery. “Eli, give me a break,” I groaned.

Silence.

“Eli? Are you still there?”

I listened hard. I could hear her sigh again. I mean, I could hear HIM sigh again.

“Eli?”

“I'm growing very impatient with you, Jack,” the voice said. “I'm not Mindy and I'm not Eli. I'm your
new
friend.”

“But —” I started.

“I'm your new
best
friend,” she insisted. “You and I are going to be best
best
friends. But you have to stop the guessing game.”

I didn't reply. I didn't know what to think. I had the phone pressed tightly to my ear. I realized my hand was sweating.

The bus stopped. A boy from my class jumped off. Now I was alone back there, except for a girl named Polly who lived on my block.

And … the mysterious voice in my ear.

“Did you hear me, Jack?” she demanded. “Do you understand what I said?”

“Yeah. Fine,” I muttered. “Know what? I'm going to say good-bye now.”

“No. Wait —” she whispered.

“Good-bye, whoever you are,” I said. “Nice joke. But why don't you call someone who cares?”

I lowered the phone and searched for the
END
button.

“Don't do it,” she called. “Don't hang up. I'm warning you — don't hurt my feelings.”

The joke wasn't funny anymore. I didn't care who it was. I just wanted to get rid of her.

I found the
END
button. I pushed it and held it down for several seconds. “Good-bye,” I said. “Whoever you are, you're
history
.”

I moved my thumb over the
POWER
button and pressed it down. I held it there and totally shut down the phone.

Good. Silence. Sweet.

But then … the impossible happened.

I heard her voice even though the phone was shut off.

“Don't waste your time, Jack,” she said coldly. “You can't get rid of me that easily.”

BOOK: Don't Scream!
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