Read Zits from Python Pit #6 Online
Authors: M. D. Payne; Illustrated by Keith Zoo
To my Gramps, the original crazy old vampire
GROSSET & DUNLAP
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Text copyright Â© 2015 by M. D. Payne. Illustrations copyright Â© 2015 by Penguin Group (USA) LLC. 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) LLC..
Cover illustrated by Keith Zoo.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is available.
I Pledge Allegiance to Tikoloshe
Let me tell you about
He Who Would Save Us
Â .Â .Â .
It was said that he would come. But when it happened, it wasn't a man in a huge silver plane as I always thought it would be. No, it was a boy who rode on the backs of crocodiles. It was a boy who saved my poor old friends and brought peace once again to The House of Eternal Rest.
The boy's golden hair was nearly black with mud as he dog-paddled with an unthinkable energy up the White Nile. His journey had started weeks before, deep in the base of a mysterious pyramid, thousands of miles north from where he now swam.
He didn't come alone. Following him along the shore was a tired but determined group of monsters, children, and one adult. All of these peopleâeach one his friendâdesperately wanted to stop him, for they didn't realize he had great work to do, a great mission to fulfill.
He Who Would Save Us ignored his friends as they struggled to keep up with him along the riverbank. He gasped and wheezed as he pushed against the current, ignoring their incessant meddling.
“Chris!” yelled the pale man in the suit who led the group on the shore. “You have to stop!”
Behind the pale man in the suit, whom I would come to know as Director Z, the monsters nodded in agreement as they ran. There were seven monsters in all: a waterlogged zombie, a werewolf, a vampire, a Bigfoot, a banshee, a swamp creature, and a small cat-faced lizard creature who I was told came from the moon. Four children, the same age as He Who Would Save Us, struggled to keep up. All of them pleaded for the boy to return to the shore.
“I have to go,” the boy yelled between strokes. “I have to go south.”
He Who Would Save Us was crazed, his eyes wide open, his mouth crooked but determined. He swam like no human should ever be able to swim, using the strength given to him by his power stoneâthe same power stone that called him to my people.
As he swam, a crocodile slunk into the water.
Seeing the reptiles, the scaly green swamp creature, who went by the name of Gil, jumped into the churning brown water.
Powerful crocodile jaws nearly crushed the skull of the swamp creature.
Let him go!
I wanted to scream, but I couldn't let him or his friends know that I was watching.
“You've been in the water for at least thirty miles,” Gil said to our young savior. “Time to get out before you get some kind of weird river rot.”
“Gil!” Director Z yelled from the shore. His black suit coat was wrinkled from running, but there wasn't a drop of sweat. “Bring him up here at once. We have to figure out what to do with him. He's gone mad.”
“Yes, Boss,” said Gil. “I'm happy to get out of here!” He burst out of the water with the boy before the crocodile could charge again.
“Nooooo!” He Who Would Save Us screeched. “Must go south! Now! Let me go!”
The gang of monsters surrounded him at the riverbank and pulled him up the shore.
He Who Would Save Us struggled to push the monsters away. But they were young and strong, unlike the demented residents of The House of Eternal Rest.
“I have to do this,” he said, frothing at the mouth like a hungry hyena. “Let me do this. It's already been long enough.”
But they held him down.
The children, out of breath, finally reached the monsters.
“Guys, slow down!” the boy called Shane said. “We can barely keep up.”
“Yeah, well, we almost lost him,” said the werewolf, who was called Pietro. He Who Would Save Us tried to run again, but the large, woolly Bigfoot named Roy held him down tightly.
“LEEEET ME GOOOOOO!” he yelled.
“Shhhhhh!” scolded Director Z. “You're making the crocodiles hungry.”
“That crocodile looked hungry already,” said the athletic boy, Gordon. He flexed his biceps and peered out over the river. “Just try that again. We'll be ready!”
“Is Chris cursed?” asked the sickly boy named Ben. “Nabila, can you try a spell?”
“I've never seen anything like this before,” said the Egyptian girl with glasses, Nabila. “But I'll try.” She took her hands off of her fanny pack and raised them. “ANUBIS-RA-SET!”
But He Who Would Save Us just kept struggling.
Suddenly the water exploded with crocodiles. Teeth flashed as the reptiles pounced on the group, scattering them with fright.
But He Who Would Save Us was not scared.
He jumped onto the back of one of the crocodiles and kicked his heels into the river creature's side.
The crocodile jumped, turned, and crashed back into the water.
“Wahooooo!” yelled He Who Would Save Us, and the crocodile swam swiftly upriver.
“Catch him, Roy!” Director Z yelled so loudly that the trees shook and squawking birds took flight.
“Sorry, Boss!” the Bigfoot said to Director Z. “All the teeth scared me.”
The big monster whimpered and shivered.
“And why didn't you try to speak with them?” Director Z asked Gil.
“I'm a fish, not a reptile,” he replied. “And don't you know what crocodiles eat?”
“Bigfeet?” asked Roy.
“No, they eat fish!” yelled the swamp creature. “They eat
“Well, we can't just stand here and argue,” said Nabila.
“You're right, but we can't keep running, either,” said Director Z.
“Well, think of something,” said Gordon. “We have to get him so we can get outta here and back home! We've been on the move since taking off from Gallow Manor, and that was after a week of hard work getting all the old monsters settled after Raven Hill Retirement Home was destroyed.”
“At least they're not oldy-moldy anymore,” interrupted Shane. “They've been lookin' good since we destroyed Zorflogg on the moon.”
“I missed football tryouts while we were on the moon,” said Gordon. “I was hoping for hockey, but tryouts were a few days after we escaped from Murrayhotep's pyramid. If we don't hurry, I'm going to miss soccer tryouts, too!”
“Forget about soccer season,” said Ben. “If we don't catch up to Chris soon, we're going to lose him. How are we going to catch up to him?”
“Gil, I believe you can help us,” said Director Z.
“Well, I should have eaten more leafy greens today,” said the swamp creature, “but I'll do my best.”
Gil walked knee-deep into the water and then squatted down.
The water bubbled violently, popping with green bubbles.
“I see there are a lot of Earth customs I need to learn,” said Twenty-Three, the strange combination of cat and lizard from the moon.
A pungent odor filled the air. “I've made the call,” said Gil. “It shouldn't be long now.”
But the friends of He Who Would Save Us still waited at the riverbank as the sun set.
“We can't wait any longer!” said Nabila.
“Monster transport can take some time,” said Director Z.
“Gil was calling for monster transport?” asked Gordon. “That's why he beefed into the river?”
“River transport is usually hiding deep in the darkest recesses of a river,” said the swamp creature. “My Emergency Fart Call can reach those darkest recesses, but the speed of sound is only 1.5 kilometers per second in water, and this river is over 6,800 kilometers long.”
“It could take more than an hour for the message to reach the transport,” said Ben.
“Show-off,” said Gordon.
“Nabila's right,” said Shane. He paced around nervously. “We might not have much time. I'm really worried about him.”
“I'm worried about him, too,” said Gordon. “And I'm worried about my face. I'm breaking out like crazy in this heat.” He reached up and rubbed the swollen red dot on his forehead. “Grigore, can you pierce this thing with your fangs?”
“Blech!” replied the vampire.
The waterlogged zombie who once surfed the waves of the tropics and was called Clive pointed down the river. “Yo, I think it's finally here,” he said.
“Vat is it?” asked Grigore. He giggled with excitement. “Giant flesh-eating vater plants?”
“Ooooooh, a chariot pulled by zombie hippos?” asked the pale and beautiful banshee known as Clarice. The wind blew her hair as she scanned the river.
“No, wait, lemme guess,” said Pietro. “Zombie pirate ship!”
“What is that?” Shane asked. He squinted in the fading daylight, trying to make out the large object that was making its way upriver to them. “And what is that terrible smell?”