Authors: R. L. Stine
Tags: #Children's Books.3-5
Why were there so many stray dogs in my town?
And why did they always choose
Did they wait quietly in the woods, watching people go by? Then did they
whisper to each other, “See that blond kid? That’s Larry Boyd—let’s go get
I ran as fast as I could. But it’s so hard to run when you’re carrying a
guitar case. It kept banging against my leg.
And I kept slipping in the snow.
The dogs were catching up. They were howling and barking, trying to scare me
Well, it’s working, guys! I thought. I’m scared. I’m plenty scared!
Dogs are supposed to sense when you’re afraid of them. But I’m not usually
afraid of dogs. In fact, I really like dogs.
I’m only afraid of dogs when there’s a pack of them, running furiously after
me, drooling hungrily, eager to tear me to tiny shreds. Like now.
Scrambling over the snow, I nearly toppled into a drift up to my knees. I
glanced back. The dogs were gaining on me.
It isn’t fair! I thought bitterly. They have four legs, and I only have two!
The big black dog with the evil black eyes was leading the pack, as usual. He
had his lips pulled back in an angry snarl. He was close enough so that I could
see his sharp, pointy teeth.
“Go home! Go home! Bad dogs! Go home!”
Why was I yelling at them? They didn’t even
“Go home! Go home!”
My boots slipped in the snow, and the weight of my guitar case nearly pulled
me over. Somehow I staggered forward, caught my balance, and kept moving.
My heart was pounding like crazy. And I felt as if I were burning up, even
though it was about twelve degrees.
I squinted against the bright glare of the snow. I struggled to run faster,
but my leg muscles were starting to cramp.
I don’t stand a chance! I realized.
“Ow!” The heavy guitar case bounced against my side.
I glanced back. The dogs were leaping excitedly, making wide crisscrosses
across the yards, howling and yowling, as they scrambled after me.
Moving closer. And closer.
“Go home! Bad dogs! Bad! Go home!”
I’m a nice guy. Really. Ask anybody. They’ll tell you—Larry Boyd is the
nicest twelve-year-old kid in town!
So why did they always chase
The last time, I dived into a parked car and shut the door just as they
pounced. But today, the dogs were too close. And the cars along the street were
all snow-covered. By the time I got a car door open, the dogs would be having me
I was only half a block from Lily’s house. I could see it on the corner
across the street. It was my only chance.
If I could get to Lily’s house, I could—“NOOOOOOOO!”
I slipped on a small rock, hidden under the snow. The guitar case flew from
my hand and hit the snow with a soft
I was down. Facedown in the snow.
“They’ve got me this time,” I moaned. “They’ve got me.”
Everything went white.
I struggled to my knees, frantically brushing snow off my face with both
The dogs barked hungrily.
“Scat! Get away! Get going!” Another voice. A familiar voice. “Get going,
dogs! Get away!”
The barking grew softer.
I brushed the wet snow from my eyes. “Lily!” I cried happily. “How did
She swung a heavy snow shovel in the dogs’ direction. “Scat! Go away! Go!”
The growls turned to low whimpers. The dogs backed up, started to retreat.
The huge black dog with the black eyes lowered his head and loped slowly away.
The others followed.
to you!” I cried thankfully. I climbed
slowly to my feet and brushed the snow off the front of my blue down parka.
“Of course,” she replied, grinning. “I’m tough, Larry. I’m real tough.”
Lily Vonn doesn’t exactly look tough. She’s twelve like me, but she looks
younger. She’s short and thin and kind of cute. She has chin-length blond hair
with bangs that go straight across her forehead.
The strange thing about Lily is her eyes. One is blue and one is green. No
one can really believe she has two different colors—until they see them.
I brushed most of the snow off the front of my coat and the knees of my
jeans. Lily handed me my guitar case. “Hope it’s waterproof,” she muttered.
I raised my eyes to the street. The dogs were barking wildly again, chasing a
squirrel through several front yards.
“I saw you from my window,” Lily said as we started toward her house. “Why do
they always chase after you?”
I shrugged. “I was just asking myself the same question,” I told her. Our
boots made crunching noises in the snow. Lily led the way. I stepped in her
We waited for a car to move past, its tires sliding on the slick road. Then
we crossed the street and made our way up her driveway.
“How come you’re late?” Lily asked.
“I had to help my dad shovel the drive,” I replied. Some snow had caught
inside my hood and was trickling down the back of my neck. I shivered. I
couldn’t wait to get inside the house.
The others were all hanging out in Lily’s living room. I waved hi to Manny,
Jared, and Kristina. Manny was down on his knees, fiddling with his guitar amp.
It made a loud squeal, and everybody jumped.
Manny is tall and skinny and kind of goofy-looking, with a crooked smile and
a mop of curly, black hair. Jared is twelve like the rest of us, but he looks
eight. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him without his black-and-silver Raiders cap
on. Kristina is a little chubby. She has curly, carrot-colored hair and wears
glasses with blue plastic frames.
I tugged off my wet coat and hung it on a peg in the front entryway. The
house felt steamy and warm. I straightened my sweatshirt and joined the others.
Manny glanced up from his amp and laughed. “Hey, look—Larry’s hair is
messed up. Somebody take a picture!”
They’re always teasing me about my hair. Can I help it if I have really good
hair? It’s dark blond and wavy, and I wear it long.
“Hairy Larry!” Lily declared.
The other three laughed and then picked up the chant. “Hairy Larry! Hairy Larry! Hairy Larry!”
I made an angry face and swept my hand back through my hair, pushing it off
my forehead. I could feel myself blushing.
I really don’t like being teased. It always makes me angry, and I always
I guess that’s why Lily and my other friends tease me so much. They tease me
about my hair, and about my big ears, and about anything else they can think of.
And I always get angry. And I always blush. Which makes them tease me even
“Hairy Larry! Hairy Larry! Hairy Larry!”
Great friends, huh?
Well, actually, they
great friends. We have a lot of fun together.
The five of us have a band. This week, it’s called The Geeks. Last week, we
called ourselves The Spirit. We change the name a lot.
Lily has a gold coin that she wears on a chain around her neck. Her
grandfather gave the coin to her. He told her it’s real pirate gold.
So Lily wants to call our band Pirate Gold. But I don’t think that’s cool
enough. And Manny, Jared, and Kristina agree.
At least our name—The Geeks—is a lot cooler than Howie and the Shouters.
That’s the band who’s challenging us in the big Battle of the Bands contest at
We still can’t believe that Howie Hurwin named the band after himself! He’s only the drummer. His stuck-up sister, Marissa,
is the singer. “Why didn’t you call it Marissa and the Shouters?” I asked him
one day after school.
“Because Marissa doesn’t rhyme with anything,” he replied.
“Huh? What does Howie rhyme with?” I asked him.
“Zowie!” he said. Then he laughed and messed up my hair.
What a creep.
No one likes Howie or his sister. The Geeks can’t wait to blow the Shouters
off the stage.
“If only one of us played bass,” Jared moaned as we tuned up.
“Or saxophone or trumpet or something,” Kristina added, pulling out a couple
of pink guitar picks from her open case.
“I think we sound great,” Manny said, still down on the floor, fiddling with
the cord to his amp. “Three guitars is a great sound. Especially when we put on
the fuzztone and crank them all the way up.”
Kristina, Manny, and I all play guitar. Lily is the singer. And Jared plays a
keyboard. His keyboard has a drum synthesizer with ten different rhythms on it.
So we also have drums. Kind of.
As soon as Manny got his amp working, we tried to play a Rolling Stones song.
Jared couldn’t find the right drum rhythm on his synthesizer. So we played without it.
As soon as we finished, I shouted, “Let’s start again!”
The others all groaned. “Larry, we sounded great!” Lily insisted. “We don’t
need to play it again.”
“The rhythm was way off,” I said.
way off!” Manny exclaimed, making a face at me.
“Larry is a perfectionist,” Kristina said. “Did you forget that, Manny?”
“How could I forget?” Manny groaned. “He never lets us finish one song!”
I could feel myself blushing again. “I just want to get it right,” I told
Okay. Okay. Maybe I
a perfectionist. Is that a bad thing?
“The Battle of the Bands is in two weeks,” I said. “We don’t want to get
onstage and embarrass ourselves, do we?”
being embarrassed. I hate it more than anything in the
world. More than steamed broccoli!
We started playing again. Jared hit the saxophone button on his keyboard, and
it sounded as if we had a saxophone. Manny took the first solo, and I took the
I messed up one chord. I wanted to start again.
But I knew they’d
me if I stopped. So I kept on playing.
Lily’s voice cracked on a high note. But she has such a sweet, tiny voice, it
didn’t sound too bad.
We played without taking a break for nearly two hours. It sounded pretty
good. Whenever Jared found the right drum rhythm, it sounded
After we put our instruments back in their cases, Lily suggested we go
outside and mess around in the snow. The afternoon sun was still high in a
shimmery blue sky. The thick blanket of snow sparkled in the golden sunlight.
We chased each other around the snow-covered evergreen shrubs in Lily’s front
yard. Manny crushed a big, wet snowball over Jared’s Raiders cap. That started a
snowball fight that lasted until we were all gasping for breath and laughing too
hard to toss any more snow.
“Let’s build a snowman,” Lily suggested.
“Let’s make it look like Larry,” Kristina added. Her blue-framed glasses were
completely steamed up.
“Whoever heard of a snowman with perfect blond hair?” Lily replied.
“Give me a break,” I muttered.
They started to roll big balls of snow for the snowman’s body. Jared shoved
Manny over one of the big snowballs and tried to roll him up in the ball. But Manny was too heavy. The whole thing crumbled to powder under him.
While they worked on the snowman, I wandered down to the street. Something
caught my eye at the curb next door.
A pile of junk standing next to a metal trash Dumpster.
I glanced up at the neighbors’ house. I could see that it was being
remodeled. The pile of junk at the curb was waiting to be carted away.
I leaned over the side of the Dumpster and began shuffling through the stuff.
I love old junk. I can’t help myself. I just love pawing through piles of old
Leaning into the Dumpster, I shoved aside a stack of wall tiles and a
balled-up shower curtain. Beneath a small, round, shag rug, I found a white
enamel medicine chest.
“Wow! This is cool!” I murmured to myself.
I pulled it up with both hands, moved away from the Dumpster, and opened the
chest. To my surprise, I found bottles and plastic tubes inside.
I started to examine them, moving them around with my hand, when an orange
bottle caught my eye. “Hey, guys!” I shouted up to my friends. “Look what I
I carried the orange bottle back up to Lily’s yard. “Hey, guys—look!” I
called, waving the bottle.
No one looked up. Manny and Jared were struggling to lift one big snowball
and set it on the other one to form the snowman’s body. Lily was shouting
encouragement. Kristina was wiping snow off her glasses with one of her gloves.
“Hey, Larry—what’s that?” Kristina finally asked, putting her glasses back
on. The others turned and saw the bottle in my hand.