Authors: R.L. Stine - (ebook by Undead)
I stared out the dusty window as the camp bus bounced over the
narrow, winding road. I could see sloping red hills in the distance beneath a
bright yellow sky.
Stumpy white trees lined the road like fence posts. We were way out in the
wilderness. We hadnt passed a house or a farm for nearly an hour.
The bus seats were made of hard blue plastic. When the bus hit a bump, we all
bounced up off our seats. Everyone laughed and shouted. The driver kept growling
at us, yelling for us to pipe down.
There were twenty-two kids going to camp on the bus. I was sitting in the
back row on the aisle, so I could count them all.
There were eighteen boys and only four girls. I guessed that the boys were
all going to Camp Nightmoon, which is where I was going. The girls were going to
a girls camp nearby.
The girls sat together in the front rows and talked quietly to each other.
Every once in a while, theyd glance back quickly to check out the boys.
The boys were a lot louder than the girls, cracking jokes, laughing, making
funny noises, shouting out dumb things. It was a long bus ride, but we were
having a good time.
The boy next to me was named Mike. He had the window seat. Mike looked a
little like a bulldog. He was kind of chubby, with a round face and pudgy arms
and legs. He had short, spiky black hair, which he scratched a lot. He was
wearing baggy brown shorts and a sleeveless green T-shirt.
We had been sitting together the whole trip, but Mike didnt say much. I
figured he was shy, or maybe very nervous. He told me this was his first time at
It was my first time, too. And I have to admit that, as the bus took me
farther and farther from my home, I was already starting to miss my mom and dad
just a little.
Im twelve, but Ive never really stayed away from home before. Even though
the long bus ride was fun, I had this sad kind of feeling. And I think Mike was
feeling the same way.
He pressed his chubby face against the window glass and stared out at the red
hills rolling by in the distance.
Are you okay, Mike? I asked.
Yeah. Sure, Billy, he replied quickly without turning around.
I thought about my mom and dad. Back at the bus station, they had seemed so
serious. I guess they were nervous, too, about me going off to camp for the
Well write every day, Dad said.
Do your best, Mom said, hugging me harder than usual.
What a weird thing to say. Why didnt she say, Have a good time? Why did
she say, Do your best?
As you can tell, Im a bit of a worrier.
The only other boys Id met so far were the two in the seat in front of us.
One was named Colin. He had long brown hair down to his collar, and he wore
silver sunglasses so you couldnt see his eyes. He acted kind of tough, and he
wore a red bandanna on his forehead. He kept tying and untying the bandanna.
Sitting next to him in the seat on the aisle was a big, loud kid named Jay.
Jay talked a lot about sports and kept bragging about what a good athlete he
was. He liked showing off his big, muscular arms, especially when one of the
girls turned around to check us out.
Jay teased Colin a lot and kept wrestling with him, gripping Colins head in
a headlock and messing up Colins bandanna. You know. Just kidding around.
Jay had wild, bushy red hair that looked as if it had never been brushed. He
had big blue eyes. He never stopped grinning and horsing around. He spent the
whole trip telling gross jokes and shouting things at the girls.
Heywhats your name? Jay called to a blond-haired girl who sat at the
front by the window.
She ignored him for a long time. But the fourth time Jay called out the
question, she turned around, her green eyes flashing. Dawn, she replied. Then
she pointed to the red-haired girl next to her. And this is my friend Dori.
Heythats amazing! My name is Dawn, too! Jay joked.
A lot of the guys laughed, but Dawn didnt crack a smile. Nice to meet you,
Dawn, she called back to him. Then she turned around to the front.
The bus bounced over a hole in the road, and we all bounced with it.
Hey, look, Billy, Mike said suddenly, pointing out the window.
Mike hadnt said anything for a long time. I leaned toward the window, trying
to see what he was pointing at.
I think I saw a prairie cat, he said, still staring hard.
Huh? Really? I saw a clump of low white trees and a lot of jagged red
rocks. But I couldnt see any prairie cats.
It went behind those rocks, Mike said, still pointing. Then he turned
toward me. Have you seen any towns or anything?
I shook my head. Just desert.
But isnt the camp supposed to be near a town? Mike looked worried.
I dont think so, I told him. My dad told me that Camp Nightmoon is past
the desert, way out in the woods.
Mike thought about this for a while, frowning. Well, what if we want to call
home or something? he asked.
They probably have phones at the camp, I told him.
I glanced up in time to see Jay toss something up toward the girls at the
front. It looked like a green ball. It hit Dawn on the back of the head and
stuck in her blond hair.
Hey! Dawn cried out angrily. She pulled the sticky green ball from her
this? She turned to glare at Jay.
Jay giggled his high-pitched giggle. I dont know. I found it stuck under
the seat! he called to her.
Dawn scowled at him and heaved the green ball back. It missed Jay and hit the
rear window, where it stuck with a loud
Everyone laughed. Dawn and her friend Dori made faces at Jay.
Colin fiddled with his red bandanna. Jay slumped down low and raised his
knees against the seat in front of him.
A few rows ahead of me, two grinning boys were singing a song we all knew but
with really gross words replacing the original words.
A few other kids began to sing along.
Suddenly, without warning, the bus squealed to a stop, the tires skidding
loudly over the road.
We all cried out in surprise. I bounced off my seat, and my chest hit the
seat in front of me.
Ugh! That hurt.
As I slid back in the seat, my heart still pounding, the bus driver stood up
and turned to us, leaning heavily into the aisle.
Ohh! Several loud gasps filled the bus as we saw the drivers face.
His head was enormous and pink, topped with a mop of wild bright blue hair
that stood straight up. He had long, pointed ears. His huge red eyeballs bulged
out from their dark sockets, bouncing in front of his snoutlike nose. Sharp
white fangs drooped from his gaping mouth. A green liquid oozed over his heavy
As we goggled in silent horror, the driver tilted back his monstrous head and
uttered an animal roar.
The driver roared so loud, the bus windows rattled.
Several kids shrieked in fright.
Mike and I both ducked down low, hiding behind the seat in front of us.
Hes turned into a
Mike whispered, his eyes wide with fear.
Then we heard laughter at the front of the bus.
I raised myself up in time to see the bus driver reach one hand up to his
bright blue hair. He tuggedand his face slid right off!
Ohhh! Several kids shrieked in horror.
But we quickly realized that the face dangling from the drivers hand was a
mask. He had been wearing a rubber monster mask.
His real face was perfectly normal, I saw with relief. He had pale skin,
short, thinning black hair, and tiny blue eyes. He laughed, shaking his head,
enjoying his joke.
This fools em every time! he declared, holding up the ugly mask.
A few kids laughed along with him. But most of us were too surprised and
confused to think it was funny.
Suddenly, his expression changed. Everybody out! he ordered gruffly.
He pulled a lever and the door slid open with a
Where are we? someone called out.
But the driver ignored the question. He tossed the mask onto the drivers
seat. Then, lowering his head so he wouldnt bump the roof, he quickly made his
way out the door.
I leaned across Mike and stared out the window, but I couldnt see much. Just
mile after mile of flat yellow ground, broken occasionally by clumps of red
rock. It looked like a desert.
Why are we getting out here? Mike asked, turning to me. I could see he was
Maybe this is the camp, I joked. Mike didnt think that was funny.
We were all confused as we pushed and shoved our way off the bus. Mike and I
were the last ones off since we were sitting in the back.
As I stepped onto the hard ground, I shielded my eyes against the bright
sunlight high in the afternoon sky. We were in a flat, open area. The bus was
parked beside a concrete platform, about the size of a tennis court.
It must be some kind of bus station or something, I told Mike. You know. A
He had his hands shoved into the pockets of his shorts. He kicked at the dirt
but didnt say anything.
On the other side of the platform, Jay was messing around with a boy I hadnt
met yet. Colin was leaning against the side of the bus, being cool. The four
girls were standing in a circle near the front of the platform, talking quietly
I watched the driver walk over to the side of the bus and pull open the
luggage compartment. He began pulling out bags and camp trunks and carrying them
to the concrete platform.
A couple of guys had sat down on the edge of the platform to watch the driver
work. Across the platform, Jay and the other guy started a contest, tossing
little red pebbles as far as they could.
Mike, his hands still buried in his pockets, stepped up behind the sweating
bus driver. Hey, where are we? Why are we stopping here? Mike asked him
The driver slid a heavy black trunk from the back of the luggage compartment.
He completely ignored Mikes questions. Mike asked them again. And again the
driver pretended Mike wasnt there.
Mike made his way back to where I was standing, walking slowly, dragging his
shoes across the hard ground. He looked really worried.
I was confused, but I wasnt worried. I mean, the bus driver was calmly going
about his business, unloading the bus. He knew what he was doing.
Why wont he answer me? Why wont he tell us anything? Mike demanded.
I felt bad that Mike was so nervous. But I didnt want to hear any more of
his questions. He was starting to make me nervous, too.
I wandered away from him, making my way along the side of the platform to
where the four girls were standing. Across the platform, Jay and his buddies
were still having their stone-throwing contest.
Dawn smiled at me as I came closer. Then she glanced quickly away.
I thought. Her blond hair gleamed in the bright sunlight.
Are you from Center City? her friend Dori asked, squinting at me, her
freckled face twisted against the sun.
No, I told her. Im from Midlands. Its north of Center City. Near
where Midlands is! Dori snapped snottily. The other three
I could feel myself blushing.
Whats your name? Dawn asked, staring at me with her green eyes.
Billy, I told her.
My birds name is Billy! she exclaimed, and the girls all laughed again.
Where are you girls going? I asked quickly, eager to change the subject. I
mean, what camp?
Camp Nightmoon. Theres one for boys and one for girls, Dori answered.
This is an all-Camp Nightmoon bus.
Is your camp near ours? I asked. I didnt even know there was a Camp
Nightmoon for girls.
Dori shrugged. We dont know, Dawn replied. This is our first year.
All of us, Dori added.
Me, too, I told them. I wonder why we stopped here.
The girls all shrugged.
I saw that Mike was lingering behind me, looking even more scared. I turned
and made my way back to him.
Look. The driver is finished carrying out our stuff, he said, pointing.
I turned in time to see the driver slam the luggage compartment door shut.
Whats happening? Mike cried. Is someone picking us up here? Why did he
unload all our stuff?
Ill go find out, I said quietly. I started to jog over to the driver. He
was standing in front of the open bus door, mopping his perspiring forehead with
the short sleeve of his tan drivers uniform.