6th Grade Supernatural (Book 4): The Werewolf Upstairs Paperback
When Gramps brings home a live werewolf just before Halloween, both Zander and Abigail are left on their own to try to keep him contained.
But there’s no containing a werewolf.
Soon, Abigail’s mom joins the effort to learn about this strange wolf-man, and she helps to unlock the secret of why he hasn’t taken human form in over twenty years.
Can they all work together to help this creature return to his life as a human? Or will he stay a wolf forever?
I was trying really, really hard not to scream, and the haunted house’s sound effects blasting through the speaker system weren’t helping.
“You’re such a baby!” Abigail taunted from the other room. She was dressed from head to toe as a skeleton for the Halloween festival. The paint she’d used to outline a skull on her face glowed in the dark, giving her an oddly electrified appearance.
I tiptoed down the hallway, black sheets draped on either side to make it seem narrower than it really was. Suddenly, hands came out from holes in the sheets, grabbing me until I was screaming like a little kid. I would’ve run for the door, but we were so far inside the carnival’s haunted house, I didn’t know which way it was anymore.
So I ran forward until I found Abigail standing stock still, entranced by a costumed mummy rising from his sarcophagus, groaning.
“Nooo!” I yelled.
I pushed past her and bashed my way through the other rooms, not caring what people might think of me. On my way out, the creatures chased me. The headless man, the zombie, and the demented scarecrow were all in hot pursuit; it made me wonder who was underneath those costumes.
People. People were beneath those disguises. High school students, that was all.
But logic escaped me.
There, up ahead now, I could see the door that marked the exit.
Freedom. Right there. So close.
I could feel the beginnings of relief washing over me as I ran for the door.
Suddenly, a witch in green face paint, a pointed black hat, and warts on her nose jumped out in front of me, blocking my path.
“Aaahhh!” I screamed, ducking around her and bursting through the door. I didn’t dare stop running, though, until I’d made it all the way out to the large bucket full of water and apples. Before me, a five-year-old was carefully submerging his face in an attempt to bite one of the apples and pull it free from the water. He was dressed up as a vampire, though he held his fake fangs in one hand. To use those to bob for apples would have been cheating.
He looked up, surprised, as I hid behind him.
I heard a mean-spirited laugh come from behind, and the hairs stood up on my skin.
Mason Moore, the only kid at Plainsbury Middle that was taller than nearly all of the teachers.
“Look at this kid, will you?” he taunted as he came up and around to look me in the eye. “He’s hiding behind a kindergartner. What’s the matter, Zander? Are you scared?”
Was I? Was I, really?
But I wasn’t about to tell Mason Moore about it.
“Just demonstrating to the little kids how scary a house like that can be. Don’t want kindergartners going through that place. They’ll be having nightmares for weeks.”
I’d be having nightmares for weeks, too.
“Well, that’s funny,” Mason said. “Because it looked like you were running out of that house scared out of your wits. I mean, you do know that it’s fake, don’t you? All pretend, little guy.”
He patted me on the head.
I shrugged him off.
“Hands off, Mason.”
“Yeah,” a familiar voice said. The most popular girl in school, Melissa Rhinehart, walked up and stood next to me. “Go pick on someone else. And keep your mitts to yourself.”
“You’re defending him?” Mason asked, incredulous. “Since when are you friends with itty bitty Zander?”
“Since I got to know he’s a lot cooler than you.”
A few weeks ago, Melissa wouldn’t have been caught dead with me or Abigail. But after our shared experience banishing a gobbler who was eating our town’s fairy population, she’d become quite friendly. And useful in situations like this.
Mason put his hands on his chest and stumbled backward dramatically.
“Oh, oh! Melissa! Your words are like daggers in my heart. Say no more!”
A small group of boys who’d been following Mason around like puppy dogs laughed heartily.
“Come on, guys,” he said to the group. He turned to walk away, but before he could, Abigail stumbled out of the haunted house, laughing her head off.
“Oh, that was so good!” she exclaimed. “I just loved that witch at the end. She—”
Suddenly, Abigail stopped talking. Mason approached her next.
Melissa was too fast for him, though. She ran up to Abigail and took her by the hand, dragging her away from Mason.
But it didn’t matter. His voice carried.
“Well, well, well,” he said. “Look who we have here. If it’s not the freak from California.”
“Be quiet!” Melissa warned.
I just stood there, barely able to move and hardly able to help.
“Why should I?” Mason asked.
“Because she’s really nice, okay? That’s more than I can say about you and your cronies.”
“Nice, is she? Well, I think she should crawl back into the hole she came out of.”
His buddies laughed again.
“Just go away,” Melissa said.
“Hey, hey,” he said, walking backward again, this time with his hands raised. “No problem. I want to keep as far away from that oily nose as possible anyway.”
He turned and walked away, and Melissa opened her mouth to shout something else, but Abigail squeezed her hand.
“Don’t,” she said. “It’s not worth it.”
Being teased for being different was something that both Abigail and I had been through our whole lives. It didn’t change us, but it always hurt.
I looked over at Abigail, and while I knew she didn’t want Mason Moore as a friend, it was clear that his words had an impact on her. Her eyes were glassy with tears, though she was trying hard not to show her weakness.
The truth was that she wasn’t weak. She was, in fact, one of the bravest people I’d ever met. And Melissa, she was brave, too. It must have taken a lot of guts to stand up to Mason. It took some serious bravery to rally against bullies like him.
The little kid who had been bobbing for apples when the whole event with Mason had started was looking back and forth between us all.
“That boy was tall,” he said. “Is he your dad?”
I chuckled. “No. He’s just a kid we go to school with.”
“Well, he’s not very nice.”
“Nope, he’s not. Hey look! You got an apple!”
The kid had been watching our argument with an apple in his hand. It had a big bite taken out of it.
“Oh,” he said. “Yeah. I got it right when that boy came over.”
I noticed that the front of his costume was wet.
“You’d better go find your mom,” I said. “It’s pretty cold out here.”
He gave a little shiver, then turned and ran away.
After the event with Mason Moore, neither Abigail nor I had any desire to stick around the festival for much longer, but our parents hadn’t shown up yet to drive us home.
Across the lawn, a small group of Melissa’s friends were beckoning to her.
“I’d better go,” she said. “Unless you think there’s anything really haunted around here. Do you?”
“Not so far.”
She deflated a bit, but then perked up right away.
“Okay, then. Keep me posted!”
She trotted away to her group of friends, who were huddled together and staring at us. When Melissa got to them, she started talking to them animatedly, pointing back in our direction. A couple of the girls looked around her cautiously, but I noticed that none of them seemed to have sneers on their faces.
I tried to cheer Abigail up. I knew that, even though she would say otherwise, she wanted to fit in with the kids at school. I did, too, but it was something I’d given up on long ago. I wouldn’t call our family a group of freaks like Mason might, but you couldn’t deny that we were a touch odd.
“Come on,” I said, patting her on the shoulder. “I thought I saw some witch’s potion over there for drinking, and fingers made out of breadsticks with almonds for fingernails. Hungry?”
She waited a minute to answer, but eventually shrugged her shoulders and followed me over to the table.
The punch had eyeball ice cubes in it, a nice touch, and there were little containers of blood-red ketchup to dip the fingers into.
“Ooh, look!” she said after a few minutes of munching on the treats. She pointed to another table which held caramel apples stuffed with gummy worms.
“Lead the way,” I said.
Soon we were munching on our apples, sitting down across from a small group of ponies, saddled up to give the younger kids a ride around in a circle. But Abigail still seemed a bit blue.
“You ready to get out of this place?” I asked.
“Yeah, I guess, but my mom won’t be here for another half hour.”
“Let’s just grab Tyler and head back to your house,” I said. “It’ll only take us fifteen minutes to get there.”
She agreed, and I went to get Tyler, an extra caramel apple in one hand to bribe him with. He was tossing little beanbags into a wooden clown’s face.
“Hey!” I said just as he tossed one.
“Ugh, Zander!” he said. “You ruined my shot. Now I’m not going to qualify for that big piece of cake!”
“You’ll just have to settle for this” I said, handing him the apple.
“But I want cake!” he said, stomping his foot on the ground.
“What are you, a three-year-old?” I asked. “Abigail and I are leaving, and that means you’re leaving, so let’s go.”
He grudgingly took the apple from my outstretched hand and picked up his bag of candy. At the festival they’d had a trick-or-treat option going on for the younger kids who might not make it out on the actual holiday. Tyler had taken the opportunity to collect as much candy as he possibly could, though Abigail and I had held back. Trick or treating was still fun, but we’d agreed we would wait for Halloween night to arrive before setting out to collect our sweets.
As we left the festival, Abigail remained quiet. Tyler was well into his apple, trying to talk to us as he munched the gooey treat.
“And did you see that mummy?” he asked. Crunch. “That was so cool.” Crunch.
“Yeah,” Abigail said. “Zander saw him.”
I noticed that she’d allowed a small smile to appear on her face. It was a good sign if she was getting ready to make fun of me.
She didn’t, though, and the walk back to her house was silent but for Tyler’s babbling.
There weren’t many people out on the street, and the way home was well lit, but something about making the trek back to Abigail’s place alone felt a little more spooky than usual. Maybe it was just the fresh memory of the witch that was creeping me out. Either way, I was relieved when we finally turned down Abigail’s street. And just in time, too; Abigail’s mom was just climbing into her minivan to come collect us.
“Mom! Wait!” she called.
Ms. Stone hadn’t quite started the engine yet, so she heard her.
“Abigail?” she asked. “What are you doing here? I thought I was supposed to pick you up from the festival.”
“Yeah, I know. But there were some mean kids there, so we thought …”
“Next time, make sure to call before you head out. I would’ve been worried sick.”
She climbed out of the van and looked at the three of us. Tyler was all but done with his apple, but it looked like he’d gotten as much caramel on his face as he did in his mouth.
“You know, there’s some weird stuff going on around here lately. I don’t want you walking home alone again, do you understand?”
“Well, she wasn’t alone,” I said, trying to stand up for her.
“Next time, call,” she said sternly.
“Okay, Mom,” Abigail said. “I get it.”
I nodded and shut my mouth.
Ms. Stone took a long, hard look at Tyler, and it seemed that she couldn’t help herself; she reached into the car for a tissue and tried to wipe some of the caramel off his face.
“I just can’t send you home looking like this. Your mother won’t be pleased.”
The only thing she got for her trouble, though, was a kid covered in caramel and tissue, the whole thing a big, sticky mess.
“Don’t worry about Tyler, Ms. Stone. Mom’s used to cleaning up his messes.”
I smiled, but Ms. Stone huffed and crossed her arms.
“Alright. If you say so. But do tell her I tried, won’t you?”
“Come on, then. Everybody in.”
Tyler and I climbed into the back seat of the van and buckled ourselves in. I noticed that Abigail, who was in the front seat, hadn’t touched her apple. The worms were only just barely holding on to what remained of the caramel. She was still upset over what had happened at the festival.
“So, how was it?” her mom asked as she started the engine.
“It was fine,” Abigail said, her voice flat.
“It was awesome!” Tyler said, trying hard to lick the caramel from around his lips. “I got a ton of candy. And Zander freaked out in the haunted house.”
“I did not,” I lied. But there was no point trying to hide it. I’d always hated haunted houses. Well, fake ones at least. The truth was that I lived in the most haunted house in Plainsbury County, but it was full of real ghosts, not fake ones.
“Why were you so scared, Zander?” Abigail asked.
I glared at her, then sighed.
“The thing that always gets me is the grabbing hands. They all seem to have it, and you never know when it’s coming because it’s so dark inside.” I shuddered with the memory. “It happens every time. And I’ll tell you another thing, I’m not going into haunted houses anymore. I’ve had it.”
“What are you going to tell your mom when you refuse to set foot in your own house?” Abigail asked. She was smiling again, a good sign.
Tyler was laughing, and even Ms. Stone let go of a chuckle.
“Yeah, yeah, you three. Laugh it up.”
I was glad the car was so dark so that they couldn’t see my face blushing with embarrassment.
“Oh, it’s okay, Zander,” Ms. Stone said. “We all know how brave you are when it counts.”
You know, when Abigail and her mom had first moved to Plainsbury, I hadn’t liked either of them at first. But that Ms. Stone, she was alright.