Attack of the Shark-Headed Zombie

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Text copyright © 2011 by Bill Doyle
Cover art and interior illustrations copyright © 2011 by Scott Altmann

All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.

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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Doyle, Bill H.
Attack of the shark-headed zombie / by Bill Doyle ; illustrated by Scott Altmann. — 1st ed.
p. cm.
“A Stepping Stone Book.”
Summary: In order to earn money for new bicycles, nine-year-old cousins Keats and
Henry take a job at a very strange house where doors disappear, carpets bite, and a
zombie shark comes after them.
eISBN: 978-0-375-89813-6
[1. Magic—Fiction. 2. Zombies—Fiction. 3. Cousins—Fiction. 4. Moneymaking projects—Fiction.] I. Altmann, Scott, ill. II. Title.
PZ7.D7725 Att 2011 [Fic]—dc22    2010022539

Random House Children’s Books supports the First Amendment and celebrates the right to read.

v3.1

To RSII and KMB. Zap those zombies!

—B.D.

For Dylan and Addie

—S.A.

CONTENTS

“UGH!” KEATS GASPED.
With one last shove, he pushed his bike to the top of Steep Cliff Hill. This was the highest spot around. He couldn’t believe he’d made it!

As usual, his cousin Henry had climbed a lot faster. He sat waiting for Keats on a rock at the top.

“Ready for the ride of your life?” Henry asked with a grin. He jumped to his feet.

“Just a second,” Keats said. He carefully brushed a few specks of dirt off Webster. That was what he called his bike. Keats liked Webster to shine, especially on sunny summer afternoons like today.

“Give your bike a bath later,” Henry said, laughing. “You’ve got to see this.” He pulled Keats over to look down the other side of the hill.

“Whoa,” Keats said, and his stomach flip-flopped. The rocky slope ran straight down, almost like a wall. At the bottom, a cliff dropped into a deep lake.

“You want to ride our bikes down
that
?” Keats squinted up at Henry. The cousins were both nine, but Henry was two inches taller.

“You got it, cuz.” Henry slapped him on the back. “My World’s Greatest Plan is for us to be stunt kids in movies.”

“Oh man,” Keats groaned. “Not another one of your World’s Greatest Plans! Remember when you said we should be snake dentists?”

“This time is different,” Henry said. “If we spend the summer training to be stunt kids, we’ll be famous by fall.” He pointed down Steep Cliff Hill. “This will be our first mission. We just ride down and stop before the cliff.”

Keats shook his head. “That’s so nuts you should sell peanut butter.”

“Nuts?” Henry asked. “It’s totally safe.” Then he scratched his chin. Keats knew his cousin well. Scratching his chin was a sure sign that Henry was lying.

Keats decided he would
not
ride down the scary side of Steep Cliff Hill. Sure, Henry would call him chicken for going back the easy way. But that was better than taking the chance that Webster might get scratched.

Besides, it was a perfect afternoon for shooting hoops. From up here Keats could see the basketball court in the park. And there! He spotted his other favorite place in their small town, the library. Maybe he’d drop by to see if any new books had come in.

Keats started to explain. “Henry, I’m going down—”

“Great!” Henry interrupted. “I knew you wouldn’t let me ride alone. I’ll go first!”

Before Keats could stop him, Henry hopped on his bike and zipped straight down Steep Cliff Hill. As if he’d done it a million times, he skidded to a halt right before the edge of the cliff.

“Come on, Keats!” Henry shouted from way below. “It’s easy!”

It
did
look easy, Keats told himself. And he didn’t want to let Henry down. Maybe he
should just give it a try. He could always stop halfway if he got freaked out.

Keats touched his lucky baseball cap under his helmet and gave his bike a pat. “Let’s go, Webster.”

He started down the hill. Right away, Keats knew this was a huge mistake. The rocky ground made the wheels jitter and the handlebars shake. And Keats was going way too fast. He wanted to stop. He tried putting on the brakes—

Oh no!

His jeans were snagged in the gears. He couldn’t press the pedals back to brake. He was completely out of control … and he was heading for the cliff.

“Henry!” Keats shouted. “I! Can’t! Stop!”

In a flash, Henry dropped his own bike and ran a few feet up the hill. When Keats zoomed
by, Henry yanked on his arm. Keats fell off the bike, his jeans tearing free. The boys tumbled onto the grass. But Webster kept going and smacked into Henry’s bike. Both bikes flew over the cliff and spun through the air end over end.

Keploosh!

The bikes splashed into the deep lake and sank. Keats looked from the edge of the cliff to his cousin, who grinned.

“Why are you smiling?” Keats demanded. “Webster’s gone! So is your bike!”

“I know,” Henry said, trying to cover his grin with his hand. “And I’m really sorry. But how cool was that? Just like real stunt kids!”

Keats gave Henry’s arm a whack. “How are we going to get anywhere this summer? And what about now? It’s too far to walk home without bikes.”

Henry shrugged. “No problem. Our moms are still at work. We’ll just meet them at the store. They can buy us new bikes on the drive home.”

Keats wasn’t so sure. But Henry was already heading toward town. Keats rushed to catch up.

It took ten minutes for the cousins to walk to the Purple Rabbit Market, where their moms were cashiers. Like Keats and Henry, their moms were best friends and did everything together. In fact, they looked like twins in their purple uniforms.

Keats’s mom spotted the boys when they came into the store. She waved them over to her empty checkout aisle. “How’d you both get so dirty?” she asked.

Henry’s mom finished with a customer and joined them. “What’s the terrible twosome done now?” she asked, folding her arms.

“Let me do the talking, Keats,” Henry whispered. Then, scratching his chin, he started, “Mom and Aunt Marisol, our tale of thrills and chills all started back in—”

Henry’s mom held up a hand to stop him. “You better tell us, Keats. We’re more likely to get an answer without all the hoopla.”

So Keats told them about losing their bikes in the lake. At first their moms were angry. But then they laughed when the cousins asked for money for new bikes. They said the boys would have to find a way to earn the cash themselves.

“But how?” Keats asked.

“I don’t know,” Keats’s mom said sternly. “Now go outside until our shift is over. Without Webster, you’ll have to wait for me or Dad to drive you everywhere.”

Shuffling his feet, Keats took his time following Henry out of the store. He missed Webster already. Summer was going to be pretty boring without bikes. When Keats got outside, Henry was standing next to the community message board. It was full of signs that people had pinned up about lost dogs and bake sales.

Henry was smiling again.

“I’ve solved our problem!” he shouted. He ripped an ad off the board and showed it to Keats. The ad said:

HELP WANTED with ODD JOBS

My house is a disaster!
Looking for someone who can work
real
magic!
Will pay big $$$!

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