House of a Thousand Screams

CONTENTS

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

‘Camp Fear Ghouls' Excerpt

About R. L. Stine

1

“S
omething bad is going to happen.”

The voice came from right behind me. My hand jerked and knocked over the bottles I'd just arranged on my dresser. I spun around.

Of course, it was my little brother, Freddy.

“You twerp,” I complained. “You should never sneak up on someone like that. Look! You made me spill talcum powder all over the dresser.” I punched him in the shoulder, just hard enough to hurt a little.

“Ow!” He scowled. “What did you do that for, Jill?”

Actually, I felt sorry as soon as I did it. Freddy isn't bad as little brothers go. He's very serious. I sometimes call him the Brainiac. He's kind of a nerd, but he means well.

I would have apologized, but hey, I'm the older sister. Besides, he should have knocked.

“Scare me like that again and I'll
really
hit you,” I told him. I turned and went back to unpacking. “Why are you in here anyway? You can't be done setting up your room already.”

“Yes, I am,” he said, hopping up on my bed. “Well, almost. But I started feeling . . . you know.”

“What?” I asked him, grinning. “Nosy?”

Freddy didn't smile. “No—weird,” he told me.

I didn't say so, but I knew what he meant. We had just moved to the one town we
never
thought we'd live in. A town our relatives always talk about in whispers. Shadyside. And we didn't
just
move to Shadyside. We moved to
Fear Street
itself.

It was all because of Uncle Solly. Well, great-uncle actually. Uncle Solly was our dad's mother's brother. When he died a few months ago, he left his house on Fear Street to Dad.

Dad always wanted to move back to Shadyside, where he grew up. And Mom always wanted a real house. So Dad arranged for his company to transfer him. And the Peterson family—that's us—picked up and moved. Just like that.

Freddy and I were nervous enough about moving. All our lives we'd lived in Texas. Shadyside was a big change. What would our new school be like? Would kids like us? Would they make fun of our accents?

And on top of all that, would we ever get used to living on Fear Street?

I remembered how the movers had acted that morning. I never saw guys move so fast in my life. You'd have thought all our boxes were on fire. It took them two hours to load the truck back in Texas. But once we got to Fear Street, they moved us in in twenty minutes flat.

Freddy's round face was serious. I sat beside him on the bed. “Look, dweeb, all that stuff about ghosts and monsters on Fear Street is just talk,” I told him. “All families have stories like that. I'll bet lots of people have lived here on Fear Street for years and never seen anything weird.”

“You think so?” He cocked his head and blinked at me from behind his glasses.

I had to laugh. With that round face, and his green eyes magnified by his thick lenses, my little brother looked exactly like an owl.

I, on the other hand, look more like a stork. I'm long and thin, with straight brown hair and brown eyes. Dad says I'll grow into my legs one day. I'm waiting.

“It isn't funny,” Freddy complained. He sounded offended.

“Sorry,” I said. I reached over and gave him a friendly noogie. “Don't forget, this was Uncle Solly's house. You loved him. He used to show you those magic tricks.”

“Yeah, he was pretty neat.” Freddy gazed down at his short legs swinging against the bed.

Uncle Solly had been a magician. Not just some guy who was interested in magic. Uncle Solly was
famous.
He traveled all over the world. He was a star! But to us he'd always been warm and kind. Even if he
was
a little strange.

Because of Uncle Solly, magic was Freddy's hobby. Uncle Solly always used to brag about how Freddy took after him. Uncle Solly even sponsored Freddy for membership in the International Brotherhood of Magicians.

Freddy grinned at me. “Remember, Mom always said he was too generous, and Uncle Solly would say—”

“ ‘You have to take care of the little people. Take care of the little people and you're set for life,' ” I finished in a phony, deep voice. Freddy and I collapsed in giggles, remembering.

I leaned back on the bed. “The last time I saw him, he even brought it up again,” I told Freddy. “Out of the clear blue, he said, ‘Don't ever forget about the little people, Jill. Make friends with the little people, and you'll do okay.' I told him I was always nice to little kids. Then he got the strangest look and said, ‘Oh, yeah. Them too.' ”

“He was always joking,” Freddy reminded me.

“Yeah, he was.” I clapped Freddy on the back.
“Anyway, he lived here for years and years. And Uncle Solly wouldn't live someplace scary, would he?”

Freddy sat there and thought about it. I watched his face anxiously. I
had
to convince him. It was the first
real
house we'd ever lived in, and I could see how happy it made my mom.

Besides, the house really was great! It had two stories, and an attic, and extra bedrooms, and doors with old-fashioned key locks, and a big green lawn outside, and plenty of trees.

So what if there were other houses just a few doors down with cracking walls. So what if the street was lined with twisted trees that sometimes looked like monsters crouching over the sidewalk. That was someone else's problem.

“I guess you're right,” Freddy finally admitted. He scratched the side of his head. “I
hope
you're right anyway.” He turned and looked over my unpacked boxes. “Well, you better get busy. You have lots left to do.”

I poked a finger in his chest. “I'd be done by now if you hadn't interrupted.”

“Hah!” he scoffed. “If I hadn't come in, you'd be drooling over your poster of that guy from
Friends
by now.”

I grabbed at him. He laughed and slid away. “Oh, Joey!” he squealed in a girlie voice. “I love you!”

Grinning, I tackled him. We hit the floor rolling. “Take it back,” I hollered. I grabbed his arm and pushed it up behind him. He was laughing so hard, he couldn't manage to pull away.

Then there was a crash. The floor shook. It sounded as if someone dropped a buffalo from the ceiling.

I let go of Freddy and we stared at each other in surprise. I glanced around the room. Nothing seemed to have moved.

“Did
we
do that?” Freddy asked.

Before I could answer, the room filled with noise. Thumps and bangs came from everywhere. First the wall in front. Then behind. I whipped my head back and forth, following the sounds.

“What is it?” I cried. “What's happening?”

Freddy pointed with a trembling hand. My eyes followed his finger. And then I stared.

I had a lamp made out of one of those pottery jugs, the kind you see in old Western movies. The lamp was big, heavy. And it was dancing and thumping on top of my dresser! The bottom clattered against the wood.

I jumped to my feet. “Earthquake!” I shouted.

“Oh, yeah?” Freddy said, his voice strangely high. “Then how come nothing else is moving?”

Before I could answer, the lamp snapped on and off. Then again. And again. The smell of burning wires stung my nose. I grabbed Freddy to shove him out of the room.

My bedroom door slammed shut.
By itself.

The thumping noise suddenly stopped. We turned and put our backs to the door. The lamp rose from the dresser. Its cord whipped free of the socket.

The lamp shot across the room—and flew straight toward my head!

2

F
reddy and I threw ourselves to the floor, screaming. The lamp exploded against the door behind us. Pieces of glass and pottery flew everywhere. We lay still for a moment, afraid to move.

Finally, I got to my feet. I shook bits of lamp from my hair.

“Whoa!” Freddy said. “That was close!”

I heard footsteps running up the stairs. My bedroom door swung open, nearly whacking me in the head. Mom stood in the doorway, her eyes wide at the sight of the crumpled lamp shade and pieces of lamp all over the floor.

“Look at this mess!” she cried. “What have I told you two about roughhousing?”

“Mom, we didn't do anything—” I began to explain.

“Oh, Jill. I heard you two wrestling around up here. Now look what you've done.”

“But it's true, Mom,” Freddy insisted. “We didn't do anything. There was just this loud noise and then—”

“—and then the lamp just got up and flew across the room all by itself, I suppose,” Mom finished.

“Well . . . yeah.” Freddy's cheeks turned red. We both realized how stupid that sounded.

Mom looked annoyed. “Honestly. I may have been born in the morning, but not
this
morning.”

“But—” I protested.

“No buts, Jill,” Mom said sternly. “I want you to get this stuff cleaned up. And part of what that lamp cost is coming out of your allowances.”

“Aw, Mom,” Freddy groaned. He looked at me for help.

I knew better than to argue any more. Mom would never believe us if we tried to tell her what happened. I wasn't sure I believed it
myself.
And I had watched it!

“We're sorry, Mom,” was all I said. “We'll clean it up.”

“That's better.” We must have seemed pretty down, because Mom's face softened. She offered a smile. “I know you're excited. I'm excited too. All
those years of apartments and renting from other people.” She reached out and touched a wall. “Now we finally have a real home. Isn't it wonderful?”

I followed Mom downstairs and got the broom and dustpan. Mom went back to mounting her special collector's plates on the den walls. Thank goodness it wasn't one of
those
that broke. Mom loves her collection.

I returned to my room. Freddy had already picked up the biggest pieces of the lamp, the shade, and a big chunk of the base. He took them to the garbage outside while I swept up the rest of the mess as best I could. I had to rip my yellow spread off my bed and shake it out the window. Bits of glass and pottery were everywhere.

Finally I was finished. Leaning the broom against the wall, I glanced at the door where the lamp had crashed into it.

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