They Came From Planet Q

BOOK: They Came From Planet Q
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Table of Contents
Published by the Penguin Group
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Text copyright © 2010 by Laura Dower. Illustrations copyright © 2010 by
Penguin Group (USA) Inc. All rights reserved. Published by Grosset & Dunlap, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group, 345 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014. GROSSET & DUNLAP is a trademark of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
Library of Congress Control Number: 2009045218
eISBN : 978-1-101-18684-8

For Papa.
—Laura Dower
To Dad.
—Dave Schlafman
Special thanks to Dave
Schlafman's magic pen.
Extra special thanks to
Judy Goldschmidt and
she knows why.
I ripped off silver birthday wrapping paper, lifted a pale pink box lid, and tore through a bunch of sparkly tissue.
There it was.
“A CAMERA? NO WAY!” I cried.
“What do you mean
no way
?” Dad joked. “All we ever give you are cameras.”
“Yeah, I know,” I said, smirking. “This makes camera number twenty-two in my collection!”
Kids at school know me as “photographer at large” because I snap photos for the school paper. I try to show up at all soccer games, school musicals, and spelling bees. And now that I'm a member of the Monster Squad, photography comes in handy more than ever. I'm working on a photo scrapbook of all our Monster Squad adventures.
Monster Squad is this top secret group formed by genius B-Monster movie director Oswald Leery. A few months back, Leery and his sidekick, Walter Block, invited four of us Riddle Elementary fifth-graders (and superfans of the B-Monster movies) to join him and track down B-Monsters in the real world.
How do B-Monsters get out into the world, you ask? Well, when a Leery B-Monster movie is screened from an original movie reel, the B-Monster has the ability to escape. If you were stuck in a movie reel, wouldn't you want out?
When Leery explained this all to me, I jumped right on the bandwagon because . . . well, I couldn't think of a single reason not to. I could not turn away the chance to hunt down B-Monsters
take photos at the same time! After all, my grandpa Max was the original photographer and cinematographer for all of Leery's movies.
And I inherited his photography gene—big time.
An entire wall of my bedroom is covered with cool B-Monster photos that my grandpa took on and off the movie set. He has shots of B-Monsters attacking, eating, and flying warp speed into the ozone layer. My favorite shot shows a bunch of glowing robot props from
They Came from Planet Q
—with Grandpa posing in the middle.
I inherited more than a photo gene from Grandpa though; I inherited most of his camera collection, too. Many of the cameras are old-fashioned, like the ones that take sepia-toned pictures (brown and white instead of black-and-white), but they work like new. There are Polaroid-type cameras (where the picture comes right out); cameras with long-range lenses; and cameras that have a special “B-Monster Vision” knob.
“Was this really one of Grandpa's cameras?” I asked my parents. “It looks so plain.”
“Came from his secret stash, I guess,” Mom explained. “It was at the bottom of a box in the attic, all wrapped up in brown paper with a bunch of other movie props. At first we thought it was broken. The lens was scratched a bit and that dial on top was covered with grime. But then your father found this new repair shop . . .”
“Reely Good Things!” Dad piped up. “It's a brand-new store at Petroglyph Mall down on the lower level. They sell cameras and DVDs. I saw some B-Monster movies in the shop. I wouldn't be surprised if they have some original reels there!”
“Original reels?” I gulped.
I knew what that meant. A new B-Monster could be released at any moment. The squad already eliminated three. I wasn't really sure I was ready for number four.
My dad knows Petroglyph Mall like the back of his hand. He's the head of security there. Twenty-six different guys report to him! He knows all the store owners, which is a major bonus, because they offer cool discounts and specials, like offering to fix my new camera.
“Thanks for this,” I said, squeezing my arms around both Mom and Dad at the same time. “You get the best presents.”
“Well . . .” Mom shrugged. “You're the best daughter.”
Dad nodded at the camera. “Looks pretty interesting . . .”
“More like pretty
,” I said. “What are all these functions?”
There were tiny icons on the dial on top: an amoeba, a bird, a sun, a moon, a candle, a question mark, and even a lightning bolt coming out of a cloud—only the bolt was red.
“Lightning bolts usually mean some kind of flash,” I said, in answer to my own question. “But I've never seen red lightning.”
I aimed the lens at my parents. No sooner had I snapped than the camera sizzled like a BBQ.
“Just say cheesy!” I called out.
My parents were such big show-offs. They couldn't stop posing. Dad crossed his arms in front of him like a rap singer. Mom fluffed up her hair and smiled like she was in a pageant.
After a few minutes, however, Dad shouted, “Okay! Enough of this. Time to move on to part two!”
My jaw dropped. “What do you mean, part
“Part two of your present, of course,” Dad said.
Mom nudged me toward the basement stairs. “No peeking!” she said.
Had they finally—finally!—gotten me the puppy I'd been begging for since I was three? No. Wait. It couldn't possibly be a pup. Mom was allergic. Was it games? Books?
camera with even more dials?
“Open your eyes,” Dad finally said.
I just barely opened one eye first; then the second. The room was dark, so it took a minute for me to adjust. But then I saw everything.
It nearly knocked me flat.
“A DARKROOM? Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!” I wailed. “Someone pinch me. Is this really happening? I can't believe it—no way!”
Mom and Dad looked very,
pleased with themselves.
“So what do you think?” Mom asked. “Happy?”
“Happy? I need a tissue I'm so happy!” I blubbered. “Now I can develop all my photos on my own! Thank you! Thank you!”
“Thank Grandpa Max,” Dad said. “Before he passed away, he made us promise that you would get this darkroom. It just took me some time to fix it up right. Now it's yours. Mom and I think you have the potential to be a great photographer, Lindsey.”
The darkroom had always been in the basement, but it hadn't been used in years. Dad fixed it up with tubs and trays, photographic chemicals, a sink, and shelves of boxes (mostly filled with photo paper). My parents installed a photo drying line, a new timer, and special darkroom lights, too.
“Is this really all for me?” I asked.
My parents nodded.
“Well!” Mom cheered. “Shall we go back upstairs and celebrate with some birthday cake? I made carrot with cream cheese frosting just the way you like it.”
When we got upstairs, Mom and Dad sang “Happy Birthday to Our Wonderful Daughter!” as Mom sliced the enormous cake slabs for each of us. Then Dad clicked on the television, just like usual. At six o'clock every night, we watch
Word Buzz
on channel five. We smacked the table edge like it was an imaginary word buzzer and pretended that we were actual contestants on the show.
I wasn't really watching TV so much because I was looking at my camera. But just as the game show host shouted out a super-duper-double bonus question, I glanced up—right in time to see the TV screen go black.
An announcer's voice barked. “We interrupt this regularly scheduled program for an eeeeeemergency news bulletin . . .”
Talking heads filled the screen. Dad turned up the volume.
“Chaos across the globe!” cried a newscaster.
Along the bottom of the TV screen, words flashed in lime green:
BOOK: They Came From Planet Q
9.43Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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