They Came From Planet Q (4 page)

BOOK: They Came From Planet Q
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Just like that, a motor surged and hummed and the overhead mall lights buzzed on. I could see again! What a relief! I never thought I would be glad to see Damon Molloy's ugly face, but at that moment, few things could have made me happier.
I glanced around. Most ordinary people in the mall had left or been escorted out. The place was crawling with security.
“Is everyone okay?” Dad said. “I knew the backup power would kick on so we could see.”
“Speaking of backing up . . . er . . .” Damon said. “
like to back up all the way to the mall exit.”
“But we can't go!” I said. “We haven't found the—”
I pressed my hand over my own mouth.
Dad gave me this quizzical look. “Lindsey, is there something you're not telling me?” he asked. “You and your friends are acting awfully . . .”
“No, no, no,” Stella said. “We're fine. And we'll go. We'll go right now, Mr. Gomez. Let's shuffle, Big Wally!”
None of us wanted to leave (well, except for Damon),
but there was nothing any of us could say that would change my father's mind. And before we knew it, Big Wally was leading us through the mall. And there was no arguing with Big Wally.
By the time we got to the parking lot, the crowd was going crazy. People were pushing and shouting and crying—it was pretty scary.
“Stay safe, kids!” Wally called out before turning back inside.
I thought.
Yeah, sure thing, Big Wally.
We elbowed our way through the crowd to get to the mall entrance. But there was no way back in! Dad had security guards posted at every single entrance to the building. Our Monster Squad mission had reached its first major detour.
Now what?
“What now?” Stella whined. “Everything we desperately need is in
I glanced around and thought hard. I snapped a few photos and then smiled at my camera.
If I've learned anything from being a photographer at large it's this: A camera can sometimes see things the eye can't.
“I guess it's time to come up with another plan,” Jesse started to say.
“You mean a plan
?” I cracked.
“Oh, come on!” Stella cried. “This is really not a time for jokes, Lindsey!”
“Do you three want to come over to my house for a little while?” I suggested. “It's just up the street . . .”
We headed around one parking lot and into another. I'd never seen this place so busy. And then we saw something even weirder than the spouting coin fountain or the hole in the ceiling.
At least five sports cars had been stacked like blocks, one on top of the other. The pile looked ready to topple over, but it didn't. Something was keeping the cars stacked and stuck.
“Extreme magnetic force!” Jesse cried.
I snapped a few photos of the car pileup.
Then Damon noticed there was another pile of metal objects . . . and another. Toys from Toy Mania, steel beams, chairs, and anything else that was metal and not nailed down headed up into the darkening sky. As we stood there, a small yellow car was sucked from its parking space and deposited with a loud
onto one of the piles.
Where was an air traffic controller when you needed one? The objects were in some kind of magnetic holding pattern right here in the parking lot.
Now I'm not an A+ science student like Jesse, but I knew this much: Whatever B-Monster was on its way had a herculean magnetic force. I felt all twitchy just watching it. If we didn't confirm this B-Monster soon and figure out a way to stop it, the entire town of Riddle would probably turn into one giant magnet.
“We ruled out Robototron and Dr. Disaster already,” Stella said. “So what magnetic B-Monsters are left?”
“Did anyone mention
Escape to Skull Island
?” I asked. “Wasn't that island magnetic?”
“Not really,” Jesse replied. “It was radioactive and I suppose it probably might have had increased levels of magnetism, but . . .”
Skull Island
, brainiac!” Damon blurted. “I swear our B-Monster is from
They Came from Planet Q
. Those robots came down to Earth from the sky.”
“Right!” I said, looking up.
“You are right, Damon,” Jesse said. “We know the B-Force is coming from the sky. Good work.”
We left the parking lot together and walked down the street to my big, old Victorian house with blue shutters. Damon filled us in with the many things he remembered about the
They Came from Planet Q
flick. The detail that intrigued me the most was that the hero in the movie carried a simple-looking camera that had secret powers.
Mom must have seen us race up the walkway. She greeted us with my usual snack, popcorn and juice, even though she didn't really know who my Monster Squad friends were.
She said she'd heard the sirens at the mall, but had no idea what was going on there. I guess Dad didn't want Mom to freak out, so he hadn't called to tell her about the mass evacuation of the mall or the ceiling that wasn't. The whole crisis hadn't been broadcast by the news yet, either. It was hard to believe she'd been missing all the action, but she had. And I wasn't about to let on that I knew anything unusual.
Once inside the house, I told everyone to follow me quietly down to the basement.
“WOW!” Stella said once we got downstairs. “That looks like a darkroom.”
“That's because it
a darkroom,” I said, grinning at Stella.
Everyone glanced at my camera.
“Right! Let's develop the photographs you took at the mall with your new camera!” Jesse said.
“My thoughts exactly,” I said.
“Maybe you have a photo of the B-Monster in there!” Stella said.
“My thoughts exactly,” I said again, grinning.
I hoped this camera had somehow captured some image that would confirm the identity of our latest B-Monster.
The other Monster Squadders helped me pull down the trays for the different developing chemicals.
“Let's see what develops,” I said, as we got to work setting it up.
Once the safety light was on, I removed the film from my camera and cut the negatives. Then I transferred those images onto photo paper. Gently, I dipped each sheet of photo paper into one tub with chemicals, and then the next one, and finally rinsed off a fully developed photo and hung it on the line. I repeated the process for all the shots. Stella, Jesse, and Damon helped.
Each time a photo image began to sharpen in the final developing tub, I felt butterflies of anticipation. We all did.
“Look! It's the fountain!” Jesse cried.
And then, “Too bad it's blurred!”
I had taken so many shots. Most of the fountain photos came out fuzzy because of the moving water. Most photos of the parade from Toy Mania came out blurred, too.
But there was one amazing—and revealing—shot.
“Lindsey!” Jesse said, looking closely at the photo. “You got it!”
“Got what?” Stella looked very close. “Are those spots from the developing fluid?”
“I don't think so,” I said, shaking my head. Then I grabbed a magnifying glass and handed it to Damon. “Let's have the B-Encyclopedia take a look and tell us what he sees.”
Damon took a look. “Whoa.”
I grabbed the photograph and hung it on the line.
Right there in black-and-white was the best and coolest proof we could have ever hoped to find.
We had an actual photograph of B-Force and our B-Monster in action.
“Robots!” Damon cried. “They're all right there! The robots from
They Came from Planet Q
! I told you! I told you!”
“Lindsey, your camera saw the robots before we did? How did it do that?” asked Stella.
I shrugged. “Lucky guess?”
Thetruthis, when you're a Monster Squadder, incredible things could happen at any moment. So even though I was completely flabbergasted by the B-Monsters in the photo, at the same time, I wasn't so flabbergasted, if you know what I mean.
I knew Stella was annoyed because Damon had been right about the movie and Stella likes to be the one who gets things right. But nothing mattered now—except for this photograph.
We had
IDed our B-Monster.
In the photo, a cluster of the Planet Q robots were right there, leading the toy parade in the mall. Even though they had been invisible to our human eyes at the scene, Grandpa Max's camera was able to capture them on film. Clearly those robots were after something in Petroglyph Mall.
BOOK: They Came From Planet Q
6.95Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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