Excerpted from Ghouls Gone Wild by R.L. Stine Copyright © 2005 by R.L. Stine. Excerpted by permission of Delacorte Books for Young Readers, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Mom smiled at Colin and me. “That’s why we’re having this lovely steak dinner. To celebrate the good news.”
Was it good news?
Leave my friends? My school?
Start over again in a whole new place?
That’s not good news. That’s bad news.
But whoa. Wait. Hold on a minute.
No more ghosts! I could get away from those ghosts. Have a normal life.
Goodbye, Nicky and Tara. Goodbye, pests! I’m off to Texas and leaving you behind.
No way could they ruin my life in Texas!
Colin turned to Dad. Another car crash came on the TV news. Colin had to shake Dad by the shoulders to get his attention. “You know I’ve got to work out, Dad. Keep my body fit. Will there be room in the new house for my own gym?”
Dad nodded. “Yeah. Plenty of room. Wow. That guy got rear-ended by three SUVs. His car looks like an accordion!”
Colin grinned at me. “My own gym. Max, I won’t have to use you as a punching bag anymore.” His grin grew wider. “Well . . . only sometimes.”
I wasn’t thinking about Colin’s gym. I was thinking about my new life. A life without ghosts. A life where I wouldn’t be embarrassed in front of the whole town!
The car accident report was over. Dad turned to me. “Texas will make a man out of you, Max,” he said. “You’ll learn to ride horses.”
“Horses?” I said. My voice cracked. “Horses make me sneeze. Even when I see them on TV!”
“You’ll get used to them,” Mom said softly.
“Let’s all have a lovely celebration dinner. Enjoy your steak, Maxie.”
“Hey–who let Buster in the house?” Dad shouted.
I didn’t see the big dog in time. All I saw was a blur of dark fur.
Buster leaped up and grabbed the whole steak off my plate. He gobbled it down in seconds without even chewing.
“My steak!” I cried. I stared down at the dog, who was licking his chops.
Dad tossed back his head and hee-hawed. “That dog is crazy for meat!”
I gazed at my empty plate. My stomach growled. Or was that Buster?
Mom turned to my brother. “Colin, share your steak with Max,” she said.
“I can’t,” Colin said. “Coach says I need protein.”
He sawed off a big chunk of meat, shoved it into his mouth, and chewed it in my face.
Mom let out a sigh. “Sorry, Max. There’s no more steak.” She stood up and walked to the food cabinet. She brought me a bowl and the box of Frosted Flakes. “Here. You like these.”
So I ate Frosted Flakes while everyone else ate steak.
“I’ve already put the house on the market,” Dad said. “Mr. Grimmus, my new boss, is coming all the way from Texas in a few days. He wants to meet you all. I guess he wants to check us out. Make sure I’m right for the job.”
Mom patted Dad’s hand. “Of course you’re right for the job,” she said.
Dad let out a really loud burp.
Sometimes he and Colin have burping contests. They go for loudness and for length of time. I tried to join in once, but I barfed up my entire dinner.
We all turned back to the TV. On the news, they were showing the swimming pool accident again. There I was, holding up the mayor’s pants
while he flopped and floundered in the pool.
Dad shook his head. “It’s a really good thing we’re leaving town,” he said. “I’ve met Mayor Stank. He’s not a nice man. Believe me. He holds a grudge.”
A chill gripped the back of my neck. A grudge?
I climbed the stairs to my room. I felt strange–excited and worried at the same time. I decided to practice my magic. That always calms me down.
I picked up the milk bottles I’d been working with. I’m trying to teach myself to juggle full milk bottles. I think that will be a really exciting finish to my act.
If I drop one, the bottle will shatter and milk will fly all over. It will be messy. But I don’t plan to drop any.
I started practicing with just two bottles. They were heavy and hard to toss and catch.
“How can you juggle at a time like this?” a voice said. Tara appeared beside me. She grabbed one of the bottles. “We heard everything, Max.”
Nicky appeared in front of me. “You’re moving!
What are we going to do?” he asked.
I shrugged. “Beats me.”
“You can’t move. You can’t!” Tara cried. She was tossing a milk bottle from hand to hand. I took it away from her.
“We have to wait in this house for Mom and Dad to come back,” Nicky said, pacing back and forth. “Tara and I can’t leave.”
“You’ll be safe here,” I said. “It won’t be so bad. Someone else will move in and help you. You’ll be okay.”
“But we need you, Max,” Tara said. “You’re the only one who can see and hear us.”
“You have to stop your dad,” Nicky said. “You can’t let him move your family away.”
“What can I do?” I said. “I can’t stop him. We’re moving as soon as he sells the house.”
Nicky and Tara grew silent. I could see they were thinking hard.
“Hey, you wouldn’t try anything–would you?” I asked. “You wouldn’t try to stop us from moving!”
Tara smiled at me. “Of course not, Maxie.”