Read The Haunting Hour Online

Authors: R.L. Stine

The Haunting Hour

THE HAUNTING HOUR

BY
R.L. STINE

Dedication

To all the wonderful artists who
contributed to this book—
your work is haunting at any hour.

Illustrator Credits

HERE ARE TEN TERRIFYING TALES THAT WILL GIVE YOU CHILLS….

The Halloween Dance
I
LLUSTRATED BY
J
OE
R
IVERA

The Bad Baby-Sitter
I
LLUSTRATED BY
V
INCE
N
ATALE

Revenge of the Snowman
I
LLUSTRATED BY
A
RT
S
PIEGELMAN

How to Bargain with a Dragon
I
LLUSTRATED BY
C
HARLES
B
URNS

The Mummy's Dream
I
LLUSTRATED BY
J
OHN
J
UDE
P
ALENCAR

Are We There Yet?
I
LLUSTRATED BY
G
REG
C
ALL

Take Me with You
I
LLUSTRATED BY
R
OZ
C
HAST

My Imaginary Friend
I
LLUSTRATED BY
C
LAY
P
ATRICK
Mc
BRIDE

Losers
I
LLUSTRATED BY
P
ATRICK
A
RRASMITH

Can You Draw Me?
I
LLUSTRATED BY
B
LEU
T
URRELL

Introduction

Here are the stories that inspired the TV show . . .

 

You know the time of day when the light grows dim, and shadows creep silently along the floor, and a whisper on the air brings a tingle to the back of your neck.

That's the haunting hour.

That is the time when the scariest stories are told. And here they are—my scariest stories ever. You've seen many of them come to life on my TV series,
R.L. Stine's THE HAUNTING HOUR
.

Now you can read the stories that inspired the show—and see all the horrors and frights in your own mind.

In “The Halloween Dance,” two boys are
dying
to have the scariest Halloween ever—and they get their wish! In “The Mummy's Dream,” a boy comes too close to an ancient mummy—close enough to trade places. And . . . just how bad is “The Bad Baby-Sitter”?

Enjoy all the scares on the TV series. Then live the stories again in this book.

See you at
THE HAUNTING HOUR
, everyone!

INTRODUCTION

ILLUSTRATED BY JOE RIVERA

I
always wanted to be very scary on Halloween. I wanted to be a ghost, or a mummy, or a skeleton. But my parents went shopping and brought home a
duck
costume.

It was white and feathery and had a fuzzy yellow tail. On Halloween night I was embarrassed to go out of the house.

I told my friends I was a
vampire
duck. But they didn't buy that story for a minute. They hooted and laughed and quacked at me all night. It was the worst Halloween of my life.

I remembered that dreadful night when I wrote this story.

It's about two boys who are
dying
to have the scariest Halloween ever. But they quickly change their minds when the thrills turn to chills.

I
froze in dread—
and listened to the words I hoped I'd never hear. “We'll have our own Halloween party at home,” Mom said. “Won't that be nice?”

I groaned. My little sister Madison cheered.

“But my friends and I want to go
out
on Halloween!” I protested.

“Mark, you can invite all your friends here,” Dad said. “It'll be safer.”

Safer?
Who wants to be safe on Halloween?

“Invite your whole class,” Mom added, smoothing her hand through my hair, which I hated.

Madison cheered again. “Can I invite my whole class too?” she asked, jumping up and down like a monkey.

“Of course,” Mom said.

Oh, wonderful.

“We're thirteen!” I said. “My friends don't want to hang out with a bunch of babyish eight-year-olds.”

Mom and Dad were always making me do stuff with Madison. They made me take her to the petting zoo. They made me dress up as a clown for her birthday parties. Last Christmas they forced me to sit on Santa's lap with her.

“Stop complaining. It'll be a great party,” Mom said. “We'll play a lot of fun games.”

“Maybe we'll rent a scary movie,” Dad said. He looked at Madison. “Not
too
scary, of course. Just a little scary.”

“I'm going to be a little sick,” I said.

I'm doomed, I thought. My friends will never speak to me again. I will never live this party down. I'm dead. Dead!

And I was right.

Actually, the party was worse than death.

Only eight or nine of my friends showed up. About thirty of
Madison's friends came, and almost all of them were dressed as princesses!

My best friend, Jake, and I came as hideous ghouls from beyond the grave. Our skin was lumpy and green and decayed, and we had bleeding wounds and deep black scars covering us from head to foot.

I had an eyeball that dangled from its socket and a wad of sick yellow stuff hanging from my nose. Jake had a long brown knife handle sticking out of the back of his ripped, ragged shirt.

I tried to put on some rap music. But the princesses took over the CD player and danced together to wimpy boy-band music. My friends stood around the food table, looking bored.

Mom's babyish games didn't help much.
Pin the vine on the pumpkin?
Whoa. Hot stuff.

Of course, none of my friends joined in. And then when Dad finally pulled out the scary video he had rented, I knew this had to be the worst Halloween party in the history of the world.

Guess what scary movie he picked.
The Wizard of Oz
.

Madison and her friends huddled around the living room to watch. I gave Jake a shove toward the front door. “Come on,” I whispered. “Let's go.”

He held back. “Huh?”

“Let's get out of here,” I said. “I can't take it anymore.”

We crept to the door, opened it quickly, and sneaked outside.

It was a cold, frosty night. The front lawn glowed like silver under the rising full moon. The bare trees swayed and creaked.

I watched my breath puff up in front of me. I straightened my ragged ghoul costume and led the way down the gravel driveway.

“Where are we going?” Jake asked, glancing back at the house.

“Anywhere,” I muttered. “I don't care. I can't take that babyish party one more minute.”

“It
was
pretty disturbing,” he said.

My house stands at the bottom of a steep hill. I pointed up the hill. “Maybe there are trick-or-treaters up there,” I said. “Why don't we visit some houses and score some candy?”

We started across the street. “Ohh—” I let out a cry—and stopped walking—as a blaring roar exploded in my ears and a white light dazzled me.

The brightest light I had ever seen. Bright and hot, as if the sun had dropped over me.

I raised my arm to shield my eyes. But I couldn't shut it out. My head throbbed in pain.

And then I was blinking in darkness again. The dangling rubber eyeball bounced in front of my face. My ears rang. I squinted at Jake.

He kept blinking too, trying to force away the pain of that strange light. “Did you see that truck?” he cried.

“It—it almost hit us!” I said. “Man, it had to be going a hundred!”

“I thought we were dead meat,” Jake said, shaking his head.

I turned and saw someone standing behind us. Another ghoul. A tall, thin kid with a gaping dark wound in the front of his T-shirt.

He had long, stringy hair with fat black bugs poking out of the tangles. One eye was covered with a slimy patch of green gunk.

“Hey—hi,” I said, unable to hide my surprise. “Neat costume.”

“What's going on?” the kid asked. He had a hoarse, whispery voice, as if he had a cold.

“We've been stuck in a boring party,” Jake told him. “We just escaped. You been trick-or-treating?”

“Not yet,” the kid said. “My name is Ray. I just got out too.” He studied Jake and me for a moment. “Want to go to a
good
party? I mean a
really
good party?”

He didn't wait for us to answer. Limping on one leg, he led the way up the hill. His bug-filled hair blew behind him in the breeze. Humming to himself, he kept glancing back to make sure we were following.

We reached the top of the hill and turned toward the old graveyard on the corner. I was surprised to see no one on the street. No trick-or-treaters. No cars moving. A lot of the houses were already dark.

“Where is this party?” I asked.

“Not far,” Ray replied.

Jake and I followed him to the graveyard gate. Tall weeds peeked out between the broken pickets. Beyond the gate the ground sloped up. I could see the crooked rows of gravestones poking up like jagged teeth under the bright moonlight.

“Is—is the party in the graveyard?” Jake asked.

“It starts here,” Ray replied mysteriously. He pulled open the gate and waved us in. My shoes sank into the marshy weeds. The air grew colder.

I shivered. “I don't think we're allowed in here,” I said. “Are you sure there's a party—”

Ray cut me off by raising a finger to his lips. “Watch,” he whispered. His eyes gazed straight ahead at the rows of pale gravestones.

Jake and I stared at the gravestones. I jumped when I heard a
hiss
. It was soft at first, like a whisper.

I lowered my eyes, searching for a cat. But didn't see one.

I heard another whisper across from us. Then more whispers from farther away. The whispers became a steady
hiss
, like steam escaping from a radiator.

I bumped Ray's shoulder. “What's happening?” I asked. “What's making that sound?”

Again he raised his finger to his lips in reply and gazed straight ahead.

The hissing grew louder. It seemed to spread over the ground. And then slender wisps of cloud floated up. Like wriggling snakes, the pale-gray wisps of steam climbed up between the tilted gravestones. The tiny clouds floated low over the ground, then lifted into the air.

“No!” I let out a cry when I saw the first bony hand poke up from the ground.

I saw the fingers unfurl like spider legs. And then the palm of the hand slapped the hard dirt. Then another hand reached up beside it. The two hands pushed, pushed against the earth.


Unnnnnh
.” A low groan made me jump.

I gasped when the dirt caved in in front of a gravestone. As the ground split apart, a head poked up from underneath.

I saw tufts of black hair. Then a pale forehead. Then two empty eye sockets in a half-rotted face.

I tugged Jake's arm. “Let's get
out
of here!” I said.

But Jake gazed straight ahead, his eyes bulging, his mouth hanging open. “I—I don't believe this,” he whispered. “The walking dead! M-Mark—just like in the movies!”

“But it's not a movie!” I cried. I tried to tug Jake away. But he stood frozen, as if he were hypnotized.

A gravestone tilted and thudded to the ground. A bony woman, with large patches of skull showing through a wisp of gray hair, pulled herself up from her grave. She shook off the dirt, then threw her bald head back in a silent cry.

The graveyard was suddenly crowded now. Ghouls climbed up from their graves, groaning and stretching. Brushing away the dirt, smoothing back the patchy hair on their gray decaying scalps, they
staggered over the hard ground.

“The party is over there.” Ray pointed to the old caretaker's mansion, dark and abandoned for many years. “Let's go.”

“No way,” I said, my whole body shaking. “They're dead! Don't you realize? They're dead—and we don't belong here.”

“But they won't know,” Jake said. “We look just like the dead tonight—don't we? We can sneak in, Mark. We can party with them, and they'll never know. This is
amazing
!”

I stared at my friend. “You really want to do this?”

“Of course he wants to do it,” Ray said. “It's Halloween. It's the only night this can happen. And after the party they'll all do the Halloween Dance.”

I squinted at him. “What's that?”

He didn't answer.

“Ray—how come you know so much about this?” I asked.

Again he didn't answer.

“Are you coming?” he said instead.

“No,” I said. “It's too scary. If they catch us…” My voice trailed off as a shiver chilled the back of my neck.

Ahead of us the ghouls were staggering, dragging each other, pulling themselves over the grass toward the caretaker's house, moaning and muttering.

“Come on, Mark.” Jake started to tug me. “We'll never get a chance like this. You were complaining about your wimpy Halloween party. Well, here's a party we will never forget!”

“But Jake…” I tried to pull free.

“They won't catch us,” he insisted. “They won't even know we're here.”

I turned to Ray. But he was gone. I saw him up ahead, near the dark mansion, walking quickly toward the front door.

“Let's just stay for a few minutes,” Jake said. “We can leave anytime you want. I just want to be able to tell people what it was like.”

I didn't want to walk home by myself. And I didn't want to leave my best friend alone here in this graveyard. So I said okay. Then I took a deep breath and followed Jake past the rows of open, empty graves, up the sloping damp grass to the old mansion.

We stopped inside the front door. Candlelight flickered on the cracked walls.

The shadows of the ghouls darted and bent with the light. Shadows danced on the ceiling, on the walls, making it appear as if the whole house had come to life.

Shrill shrieks tore through the frigid air. The eerie figures ducked and bobbed, bending and moving in a strange dance, a dance of silence. No music. But still they moved together, staggering, sliding stiffly in an unheard rhythm.

Jake and I found a place of safety on the front stairs behind a wooden banister. Leaning on the wood rail, we watched the ugly, silent dance.

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