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Authors: Laura Dower

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BOOK: Return of Mega Mantis
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“Oh no!” I blurted.
Stella rushed over. “Great,” she groaned. “You found it.”
“We need your help, Dr. Von Rosenhof,” I said. “Oswald Leery needs your help. The human race needs your—”
“Get to the point,” Stella snarled. “We think that the original
Mega Mantis
movie may be . . . mega
dangerous
.”
“How many times have you watched this reel?” Lindsey added.
“Why do you keep asking me strange questions about the movie?” Dr. V replied.
“Because every time you watched this reel,” Ranger explained, “a
real
Mega Mantis got loose.”
“What?” Dr. V turned to Walter. “Is this true?”
“I’m afraid so,” Walter admitted. “Leery had a few problems keeping the movie B-Monsters under control. They figured out a way into our world. It’s a long story.”
“According to my research, a mantis the size of Mega Mantis would—” Dr. Von Rosenhof gulped. “How many came through?”
“Eight,” Stella said. “That includes seven we just zapped at the Air Force Base . . .”
“And one that lost its head at the Drive-O-Rama,” Lindsey said.
“Although there may be more,” Ranger piped up.
“More?”
Dr. Von Rosenhof’s face went white. “How many more?”
“It depends,” I said. “How many times did you watch the original reel of
Mega Mantis
, Doctor?”
Dr. Von Rosenhof grabbed a pad of yellow paper off a table and began to scribble. He was muttering to himself.
“Hmmm . . . let’s see . . . I watched
Mega Mantis
once a few years back and then last month . . . and last week a few times . . .”
“How many in
all
?” Stella asked, as impatient as ever.
“I believe I watched the movie eight times in all,” he said.
“Eight viewings. Eight dead bugs,” Lindsey said. “Whew! So this is a wrap! That was such a close—”
“Not so fast!” I said, waving the reel in the air. “What about
tonight’s
viewing, Dr. V?”
The doctor made a face like he’d just sucked a lemon.
“Oooh,” Dr. Von Rosenhof said. “I’m afraid that I hadn’t considered the most recent screening—”
I threw the reel on the ground and began to stomp on it. Stella joined in. Soon the four of us were stomping and kicking and shredding
Mega Mantis
into teeny bits. It was another stomptacular!
Dr. Von Rosenhof looked appalled. Walter, however, looked proud.
“Sorry for the mess,” I said, bending down to pick up the pieces.
Bzzzzzzzzzzzt.
All at once, I felt a gnat on my neck. Then Stella, Ranger, and Lindsey saw a swarm of little bugs come into the room. We knew exactly what
that
meant.
Rrrrrrarrrrrrkkkkk!
Our eyes bugged out wide. We knew that noise. Boy, did we ever!
“Mega Mantis Nine!” we all yelled at the same exact time.
“Here?” Dr. Von Rosenhof asked. “At my house?”
“It must have been attracted to the really bright floodlights,” I said.
“So what does the Monster Squad propose we do now?” Walter asked.
“Kiiiya!” Stella struck one of her karate poses.
“Oh no! We’re all out of RID!” Lindsey said.
But then I remembered my backpack and the spray can that had malfunctioned. “We’re not out of
anything
, Monster Squad,” I said confidently. “We can zap this mantis just like the others.”
Walter and Ranger grabbed my pack. Together the bunch of us fiddled with the hose and lid. It took us a few minutes but we got it working properly again. Then we headed into Dr. V’s front yard.
Mega Mantis Nine was right there, drooling.
“Stand back, everyone,” I cried as I fixed up my spray. “Here, Mega Mega!”
There must have been sensors on Nine’s knifelike pincers. He turned toward me with hunger in his freaky compound eyes. But I didn’t waste a moment.
“Spray!”
At first the spray didn’t come out very strong, but then it hit the bug with full force. It reeled and twisted and then, finally, it
shrunk
—just like the others.
We raced over. I leaned down and picked up the mantis by the legs. It was just like the time my dad picked up the flies, only
braver
. I handed Mini Mantis to Dr. Von Rosenhof.
“Insecta Manitodea!” Dr. V cried with glee. “This is the finest day of my scientific life. Thank you, Monster Squad.”
He shoved the Mini Mantis into a small box from his pocket, and we said our good-byes.
Walter offered to give us all a ride home. We threw our packs into the trunk of his limousine so the smell of RID wouldn’t fill up the backseat. When he popped the trunk, however, I noticed something strange. There was an open cooler back there with . . .
More jars.
“What are
these
?” I asked, lifting out one of the cold jars.
Were there bugs in here, too?
“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!”
I nearly dropped one jar when I saw what was swimming inside.
Eyeballs?
“Look!” I cried, holding it up to the others.
Stella cringed. “I can’t look at that when it’s looking back at me!” she said.
“Don’t mind the samples,” Walter said coolly. “I’m doing a few experiments for Dr. Leery. I’ll explain the next time you’re at the castle.”
Carefully, I put the jar back into the trunk. As curious as I usually am, I wasn’t ready to talk about eyeballs or anything new right now. I was still reveling in our victory over nine Mega Mantis giants.
“Here’s to teamwork!” I cried.
“What is that, Damon?” Lindsey asked.
“Yeah, Molloy, what
is
that?” Stella asked.
“Teamwork?” I groaned. “Duh! When people work together to do a positive thing . . .”
“No! No! What’s
that
?” Ranger asked.
They were all pointing to my shirt. Of course, they were actually pointing to a small, black something
on
my T-shirt.
Another bug!
I glanced down. A week ago, the sight of even an itsy, bitsy, teeny, weeny bug like this would have sent me screaming to hide under Cowboy Pete, my beloved blanket.
But today, I’d faced the largest mantids known to man. I was a
real
cowboy. I squished that bug flat between my bare fingertips and growled, “Don’t mess with the Mantis,” in my best Roger Rogers accent.
Stella chuckled. “You mean, ‘Don’t mess with the Molloy,’ don’t you?”
“What a photo op!” Lindsey cried. She held up her camera. Stella and Ranger posed with me.
“Say cheese, everyone!” she said, just like a normal person.
I grinned. Of course it was just about the only normal thing about Lindsey, me, Stella, or Ranger right now.
But I was beginning to like it this way.
LOOK OUT FOR BOOK 3: THE BEAST WITH 1000 EYES
BOOK: Return of Mega Mantis
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