Authors: Tony Abbott
“Password?” the voice repeated.
Holly jumped up and down and started to push him from behind.
Jeff looked at her. He froze. His brain was a total blank.
Holly's eyes went wide.
The word echoed down the shiny hallway.
“Thank you!” said the little box.
The door slid open.
Escape into Terror!
olly and Jeff stepped into a large round room. The door closed behind them.
They were alone.
In the middle of the room was a metal stand about four feet high. A bright light shone down on it from the ceiling.
Lying on the stand, in the center of the spotlight, like a window display at the mall, wereâ
“Sneakers?” said Holly, walking over. “Oh, great. We risked our lives for a couple of pairs of junky old sneakers. Some guards must have left them. They probably stink, too.”
“No way,” said Jeff. But stinky sneakers are what they looked like to him, too. Purple ones with yellow stripes on the sides and black soles.
“No way,” Jeff said again, not believing they could only be sneakers. He moved closer. “They must be some kind of top secret space shoes.”
“Oh, sure, top secret shoes,” said Holly. “The secret is, why are they here? Come on, let's find your mom. Those clouds, remember?”
“Just a second.” Jeff plunked himself down on the floor and pulled off his skates. “Ahhhh!”
“What are you doing?”
“Changing,” Jeff said, rubbing his toes. “I can't move another inch in these skates. Besides, the sneaks will help us on the way down the hill. We'll get to town faster.”
Holly looked at Jeff and shrugged. “I guess.”
Jeff reached over and pulled both pairs of purple sneakers off the stand. He put one pair on.
Holly put on the other. “They actually fit.”
“Uh-oh,” mumbled Jeff. “I just remembered a movie where the guy takes something off a stand and the stand goes down andâ”
The stand slid down and disappeared into the floor.
“âand there were these loud alarms andâ”
Weeeeeep! Weeeeeep! Weeeeeep!
“Alarms!” cried Holly. “Let's get out of here!”
“Wait,” cried Jeff. “The laces!”
“Jeffffffffffff!” screamed Holly.
“Thank you!” droned the voice at the door.
The door slid open and the two kids shot down the long hallway.
The alarms howled loudly through the building.
“My mom's going to kill me for borrowing some super-top-secret stuff!” cried Jeff.
But Holly pulled him through the main hallway and they jumped through the front doors just as they were sliding shut. A moment later, they were outside.
Alarms whined wildly across the hill-side.
Floodlights from the watchtowers whipped back and forth across the grounds. Armed guards scrambled everywhere.
The two kids bolted along the building wall. When no one was looking, they leaped up over the fence and jumped down the other side.
The gate flashed open and dozens of soldiers swept down the hillside in the other direction.
“I think we lost them,” whispered Jeff, crouching with Holly behind a ridge of rocks. “We're safe!”
Holly poked her head up next to him. “Yeah, but big deal. All we got out of it is sneakers!”
“I wonder what powers these things have,” Jeff mumbled, glancing down at the shiny yellow stripes running along the sides.
“You wear them and you run faster,” Holly said. “And we'd better use them now. Look!”
Jeff turned to see the sky filling with dark clouds. Lots of them. And they were moving into position overhead.
Grover's Mill was turning darker by the minute.
“The alien invaders!” cried Jeff. “Under the ground and in the sky. It's a total invasion sandwich!”
The ground beneath their feet rumbled and quaked. The two kids slid and scrambled and tumbled all the way back to town.
Jeff knew something big was going on under the ground. He also knew that in a few minutes they'd probably find out what it was.
Within minutes they were at the back door of the pretty blue house on Mike's street.
Holly put her hand on the doorknob and turned it.
The door creaked and they stepped in. Jeff felt shivers stab his back and neck. Slowly he opened the basement door and started down the steps. Holly was right behind him.
The cellar was empty. The floor that they had seen open before was still shut tight.
“Terrific!” groaned Holly. “Our friends are down there but we can't get to them!”
Jeff stepped up to the square plate on the wall. “That guy put his face on this thing and the floor opened. Maybe if you do that thing with the fingers on your nose? And then touch this?”
Holly gave him a look. “I guess.” She brought her fingers together and held them in front of her nose. She pushed her fingertips against the plate.
The floor silently slid aside. Before them was a set of steps curving down into the dirt beneath the house.
Eerie red light shone from somewhere far below.
Jeff took a deep breath. “Come on, Holly. We're running out of time. Those clouds are getting closer every minute.”
Holly looked at Jeff and nodded.
Slowly, they walked down the steps.
When Moles Sing
he steps curved down into a rough passageway. The walls were dimly lit with the red light flickering from up ahead.
The passage seemed to go on forever.
“I don't think my house has this kind of tunnel thing under it,” said Jeff.
“You hope it doesn't,” said Holly. “But maybe it does now. Maybe all of our houses do. The way the ground has been shaking and quaking, who knows what these guys are doing down here?”
Jeff didn't like the thought of that. A word kept coming back to him.
What did it mean when aliens invaded? What exactly would happen? Would he know what to do? Would he get to keep his stuff?
As they tiptoed along, the passage widened. Their steps took them further and further, winding downward from the surface.
They could see plumbing and sewer pipes and underground wires dangling from above.
Soon they began to hear strange sounds echoing up from below. Grinding and clanking. The rough walls hummed and rumbled.
“I feel like we're in some kind of giant blender,” said Holly, touching the shaking walls to keep her balance.
“Yeah,” said Jeff. “I just hope we're not, like, the stuff inside the blender that gets all goopy.”
“Uh, right,” Holly agreed.
They turned a corner and the sound was louder and clearer.
Boom! Chank! Boom! Chank!
The clunking rhythm pounded through the tunnels.
And then, they heard something else.
The sound of feet scraping the rocky floor of the passage. And the sound of voices, echoing.
Holly yanked Jeff back into the shadows.
About twenty hooded creatures marched through the tunnel. The chief mole guy, Exetor, was leading them through the passage.
He was also leading them in song.
Their song was perfectly in time with the clanking from below.
Zoll! is zoomin' to our base.
He brings doom from outer space.
He'll entomb the human race.
He wants room in this weird place.
Zoll! He's zoominnnnnnnnn'!
Just as the creatures passed by the place where Jeff and Holly were hiding, they stopped. The creatures bobbed their heads here and there. Their little whiskers twitched in the air!
“They're sniffing!” Jeff hissed, pulling back.
Holly flattened against the wall, cupping her hand on her mouth.
Exetor peered into the darkness and sniffed. “Come, furry ones. Zoll will be here in the twitch of a whisker!”
A moment later, the creatures thumped by, their robes swaying to the clanging from below.
Then they were gone.
“That was way too close,” Jeff finally said.
Holly nodded. “You're telling me? If they find us, they'll shoot us and kill us!”
“I don't think so,” said Jeff, looking down the tunnel. “They're aliens. So they'll probably just vaporize us.”
Holly made a face. “Oh, I feel a lot better, thanks.”
“Let's follow them,” Jeff said. “Down there.”
Holly looked into the dim tunnel ahead of them. She breathed in deeply. “I am
not looking forward to this.”
Jeff crept down the tunnel, hanging a left into another passage. The tunnel opened up onto a wide ledge. Jeff stopped at the end and looked down. Holly moved up next to him.
The sound was incredible.
But more than that.
Beneath them, in the rocks, wasâ
“A city!” gasped Holly.
Jeff nodded slowly. “Totally underground!”
It was a city and it was underground. Cut out of the rock beneath Grover's Mill were buildings and tunnels and towers. A city of many levels, circling around and around in a giant cavern.
“Well, somebody's been busy,” Holly said.
Somebody was still busy. Dozens of hooded creatures scurried around on the different levels. And in what seemed like the center of the city was a flat area with a large X painted on it.
Jeff looked up. He could see the underside of the blue house. It was exactly above the X.
“Whoa!” gasped Jeff. “How much you want to bet that this guy Zoll is going to land his spaceship right there!” Jeff stared at the amazing scene. “What is this place?”
“Zoll Base One?” grumbled a voice.
“Good name!” mumbled Jeff, gazing down at the scene below. “But, why do you call it that, Holly?”
“I â¦ I â¦ didn't,” Holly answered. “He did.”
Holly's face was pale, her eyes wide with fear.
On either side of her were hooded creatures, clutching her tightly by the arms.
And towering over them all was Exetor, head mole alien.
Zoll Base One!
knew I smelled humans!” Exetor growled.
“Grok! Grok!” his band of hooded mole soldiers snorted.
Exetor smiled a smirky smile and removed his hood. It was then that Jeff and Holly finally saw the mole alien's face up close.
It was leathery and black and wrinkly with tiny red eyes pulsing out under a single fuzzy eyebrow. His long snout had little white whisker things twitching around on the end of it.
“Whoa!” said Holly, pulling back from the snout. “With a snorter like that, you can probably smell what we had for breakfast!”
“Wheat-O cereal!” the creature grunted at Holly. Then his whiskers twitched some more. “With sliced banana and two-percent milk!”
Holly nodded, her eyes wide with wonder. “Exactly right!” She slid a stick of gum out of her pocket and started chewing it. “It's embarrassing.”
“Of course it is!” the creature growled. “It's always embarrassing when you are face-to-face with a superior being!”
“Nose-to-nose,” Jeff muttered to himself.
Then the mole alien raised his giant paws. They were a cross between little shovels and furry brown mittens.
“I am Exetor,” he said. “Project Leader of Zoll Base One.” His voice sounded hollow and deep.
“Uh, sure,” said Jeff. “And you live down here?”
“Seven hundred of us,” Exetor explained. “For the last week we've been digging under your town. Digging and building what you see here!” He pointed his paws at the city around them.
“That explains the manhole covers popping,” said Jeff.
“And the rumbling below the streets,” added Holly. “And the bumps, and sewer problems, and every other creepy thing that's been happening in Grover's Mill!”
“All part of our glorious invasion!” snorted one of the mole creatures behind Exetor. “When Zoll comes in his cloud ship, he will lead us up through the sewers into your town!”
“How nice!” said Holly. “Do you always travel first class?”
“Oh, we'll conquer all the towns that way,” the mole went on. “We'll take over the world, then the solar system, then the galaxy, thenâ”
“Enough!” shouted Exetor, lowering his eyebrow at the other mole. “Now the earth-lings know too much. We must destroy them!”
“Whoa, time out!” gasped Jeff. “Hey, we already forgot your plan. Right, Holly?”
“Forgot what?” said Holly, forcing a laugh. “See, we don't know anything about your plan! I mean, what plan? We don't know anything about a plan. Or anything!”
“Right,” added Jeff. “So, we'll just grab our friends and go.”
“Friends?” Exetor snorted with disgust. “You mean â¦
He moved a giant lever, andâ
âthe ground opened.
“Oh, no!” Holly gasped when she saw them.
Up from the center of the floor rose four large glass tubes. They turned slowly on a round platform. One of the tubes was empty. The other three had people in them.
“Liz!” cried Holly. She ran over with Jeff.
But their friends stood perfectly still in the tubes.
“Are they â¦ dead?” gasped Jeff.
“Merely asleep,” replied Exetor. “As you soon will be. And when mighty Zoll comesâ”
Holly couldn't take it. She whirled around. “Listen, mole nose! You think you're going to invade? You think you're going to take over? Well, let me tell you about Grover's Mill! It's filled with kids like us who will fight for our freedom and the freedom of our friends and families!”