Authors: R. L. Stine
Tags: #Children's Books.3-5
I yawned loudly. No one seemed to notice.
Howie droned on. “This is a very exciting book with a very good plot,” he
said. “If you like a lot of excitement, you’ll like this book. Especially if
you’re a baseball fan.”
I didn’t hear the rest of it. I kept silently going over and over my own book
A few minutes later, when Miss Shindling announced, “Larry, you’re next!” I
almost didn’t hear her.
I took a deep breath and climbed to my feet.
Stay cool, Larry,
You’ve practiced and practiced your report. There’s nothing to be
Clearing my throat loudly, I started up the aisle to the front of the room. I
was halfway up the aisle when Howie stuck out his foot.
I saw his big grin—but I didn’t see his foot.
“Oh!” I cried out in surprise as I stumbled over it—and went sprawling on
The classroom exploded with laughter.
My heart pounding, I started to pull myself up.
But I stopped when I saw my hands.
Both of them were bristling with thick, black hair.
“Larry, are you okay?” I heard Miss Shindling call from her desk.
“Uh…” I was too stunned to answer.
“Larry, are you hurt?”
“Uh… well…” I couldn’t speak at all. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t
Crouched on the floor, I stared in horror at my hairy hands.
Above me, I could hear kids still laughing about how Howie had tripped me. I
glanced up to see the kid next to Howie slapping him a high-five.
Ha-ha. Very funny.
Usually, I’d be totally embarrassed. But I didn’t have time to be
embarrassed. I was too scared.
Had anyone seen my hairy hands?
Still down on the floor, I glanced quickly around the room.
No one was pointing in horror or crying out.
Maybe no one had caught a glimpse of them yet.
Quickly, I jammed both hands deep into my jeans pockets.
When I was sure that both hands were completely hidden, I climbed slowly to
“Look! Larry is blushing!” someone called from the back row. The room
exploded with more laughter.
Of course, that made me blush even redder. But blushing wasn’t exactly my
I could stand in front of the class with these two
hairy hands. I’d rather die!
Without even thinking about it, I started hurrying back up the aisle to the
classroom door. With my hands jammed into my jeans, it wasn’t easy to walk fast.
“Larry—what’s wrong?” Miss Shindling called from the front of the room.
“Where are you going?”
“Uh… I’ll be right back,” I managed to choke out.
“Are you sure you’re okay?” the teacher asked.
“Yeah. Fine,” I mumbled. “Be right back. Really.”
I knew everyone was staring at me. But I didn’t care. I just had to get out
of there. I had to figure out what to do about my hands.
As I reached the door, I heard Miss Shindling scold Howie. “You could have
hurt Larry. You shouldn’t trip people, Howie. I’ve warned you before.”
“But, Miss Shindling—it was an accident,” Howie lied.
I slipped out the door. Into the long, empty hall.
I checked to make sure no one was around to see me. Then I pulled my hands
from my pockets.
I had a dim hope that maybe my hands would be back to normal. But that hope
vanished as soon as I raised them to the light.
Thick, black hair—nearly an inch high!—covered both hands. How could it
The backs of my hands were hairy. And my palms were hairy, too. Hair poked up
from the knuckles of my fingers. And clumps of black hair grew in the space
I rubbed my hands together, as if trying to rub the ugly hair away. But of
course it didn’t come off.
“Nooooooo. Please—noooooo!” I moaned out loud without realizing it.
What could I do?
I couldn’t go back to class with these hairy monster hands. They would make
I would be embarrassed for the rest of my life. Whenever anyone would see me
coming, they’d say, “Here comes Hairy Larry Boyd. Remember that day the black
hair grew all over his hands?”
I’ll run home, I decided. I’ll get away from here.
No. How could I leave school in the middle of the morning? Miss Shindling was waiting for me to return and give my book
I stood frozen, my back against the tile wall, gazing at the hideous hands.
And I suddenly realized that I wasn’t alone in the hallway.
I glanced up—and gasped when I saw Mr. Fosburg, the principal.
He was carrying a stack of textbooks. But he had stopped a few feet away from
And he was staring in shock at my hairy hands.
I swung my hands down and tucked them behind my back.
But it was too late. Mr. Fosburg had already seen them. His blue eyes
narrowed as he studied me.
What was he going to say? What was he going to do now?
“Is it too cold in the building?” the principal asked.
“Huh?” I replied. What was he asking?
I leaned back against my hands, pressing them against the wall. Even through
my shirt, I could feel the prickly hair all over them.
“Should I have the furnace turned up, Larry?” Mr. Fosburg asked. “Is it too
cold? Is that why you’re wearing gloves to class?”
“G-gloves?” I stammered.
He thought I was wearing gloves!
“Yes. I… uh… was a little cold,” I told him, starting to feel a little better. “That’s why I went to my locker. For
He stared at me thoughtfully. Then he turned and headed the other way,
balancing the stack of textbooks in both hands. “I’ll talk to the custodian
about it,” he called back.
I breathed a sigh of relief as he disappeared around the corner. That had
been a close call.
But he had given me a good idea. Gloves.
I hurried to my locker. Turning the dial on the combination lock felt strange
with my hairy fingers. But I opened the locker easily and pulled my black
leather gloves from the pockets of my parka.
A few seconds later, I stepped back into the classroom. Lily stood at the
front of the class, giving her book report. She glanced at me curiously as I
slid back into my seat.
When Lily finished, Miss Shindling called me to the front of the room. “Are
you okay now, Larry?” she asked.
“Yes,” I replied. “My… uh… hands were cold.” I climbed out of my
seat and stepped quickly to the front of the room.
Some kids started to giggle and point at my gloves. But I didn’t care.
At least no one could see my hands with the ugly black fur sprouting all over
I took a deep breath and started my report. “The book I read is by Bruce
Coville,” I began.
“And I would recommend it to anyone who likes funny science fiction stories….”
After school, I hurried to my locker. I kept my head down and tried to avoid
I had worn the gloves all day. They were hot and uncomfortable. And they
seemed to grow tighter and tighter.
I wondered if the black hair on my hands was growing. But I was afraid to
take off the gloves to check it out.
I tugged on my parka and slung my backpack over one shoulder. I have to get
out of here and think, I told myself.
A few steps from the front exit, I heard Lily calling my name. I turned and
saw her chasing after me. She was wearing an oversized yellow sweater pulled
down over bright green tights.
I kept walking. “Catch you later!” I called back to her. “I’m in a hurry.”
But she came running up and stepped in front of me. “Aren’t you coming to
band practice?” she asked.
I was so upset about my hairy hands that I’d completely forgotten.
“It’s at my house again this afternoon—remember?” Lily continued, walking
backwards as I made my way to the doors.
“I—I can’t,” I stammered. “I don’t feel very well.”
That was the truth.
She stared hard at me. “What’s your problem, Larry? How come you’ve been so
weird all day?”
“I just don’t feel well,” I insisted. “Sorry about the practice. Can we do it
“I guess,” she replied. She said something else, but I didn’t hear it. I
pushed open the door and hurried out of the school.
I ran all the way home. The sun beamed down on the snow, making it gleam like
silver. It was beautiful, but I couldn’t enjoy it. I was lost in my own troubled
Thinking about hair. Thick patches of black, spikey hair.
I burst into the house and tossed my backpack onto the floor. I started up
the stairs to my room—but stopped when I heard Mom call my name.
I found her in the living room, on the chair by the front window. She had
Jasper, our cat, in her lap and the cordless phone up to her ear. She said
something into it, then lowered it as she raised her eyes to me.
“Larry, you’re home early. Don’t you have band practice?”
“Not today,” I lied. “I have a lot of homework, so I came straight home.”
I didn’t want to tell her the truth. I didn’t want to tell her that I had
rubbed INSTA-TAN all over myself and now I was sprouting disgusting black hair.
I didn’t want to tell her. But it suddenly burst out of me. The whole story.
I just couldn’t hold it in any longer.
“Mom, you won’t believe this,” I started in a tiny, choked voice. “I’m
growing hair, Mom. Really gross black hair. On my hands. You see, my friends and
I—we found this old bottle of tanning lotion. And I know it was really stupid.
But we all poured it on ourselves. I rubbed it all over my face, and hands, and
neck. And now I’m growing hair, Mom. In school today, I looked down. And both of
my hands were covered in black hair. I’m so embarrassed. And I’m scared, too.
I’m really scared.”
I was breathing hard as I finished the story. I had been staring down at the
floor as I told it. But now I raised my eyes to see my mom’s reaction.
What would she say? Could she help me?
I heard her mumble something. But I couldn’t understand the words.
Then I realized that she wasn’t talking to me.
She had the phone pressed to her ear, and she was talking into it.
Mom had gone back to her telephone conversation. She was concentrating so
hard, she hadn’t heard a word I had said!
I let out an annoyed groan. Then I spun around and hurried up the stairs to
my room. I closed the door behind me and tore off the hot, uncomfortable gloves.
Jasper had run upstairs and perched on the window seat. She spent most of
the day on the window seat in my room, staring down at the front yard.
As I tossed the gloves onto a chair, she turned to me. Her bright yellow eyes
I crossed the room and picked her up. Then I sat down on the window seat and
“Jasper, you’re the only real friend I have,” I whispered, petting her back.
To my surprise, the cat let out a squawk, arched her back, and jumped to the
floor. She ran halfway across the room, then turned back, her yellow eyes
glaring at me.
It took me a few seconds to realize the problem. I held up my hands. “It’s
these hairy paws, isn’t it, Jasper?” I said sadly. “They frightened you—didn’t
The cat tilted her head, as if trying to understand me.
“Well, they frighten me, too,” I told her.
I jumped up and hurried across the hall to the bathroom. Once again, I pulled
my dad’s shaving equipment from the medicine cabinet.
I set to work, shaving off the thick hair.
It wasn’t easy. Especially trying to shave off the tufts of hair that had
grown in the spaces between my fingers. That hair was really hard to reach.
The hair was stiff and tough. Like the bristles on a hairbrush. I cut myself
twice, on the palm and the back of my right hand.
As I rinsed the shaving cream off, I glanced down and saw Jasper staring up
at me from the bathroom doorway. “Don’t tell Mom and Dad,” I whispered.
She blinked her yellow eyes and yawned.
The next morning, I awoke before Mom and Dad. Most mornings, I lie in bed and
wait for Mom to shout that it’s time to get up.
But this morning I jumped out of bed, turned on all the lights, and stepped
up to my dresser mirror.
Would I find new hair?
I held up my hands and checked them out first. My eyes were still heavy from
sleep. But I could see clearly that the hair had not grown back.
“Yes!” I cried happily.
The razor cuts on my right hand still hurt. But I didn’t care. Both hands
were smooth and hairless.
I turned them over and gazed at them for a long while. I was so glad they
I had dreamed about hair during the night. It had started out as spaghetti.
In the dream, I was sitting in the kitchen, starting to eat a big plate of
But as I started to twirl the noodles on my fork, they instantly turned to
hair. Long, black hairs.
I was twirling long, black hairs onto my fork. The plate was piled high with
long strands of black hair.
Then I raised the forkful of hair to my mouth. I opened my mouth. I brought
the hairy fork up closer, closer.
And then I woke up.
Yuck! What a gross dream.
I had felt really sick to my stomach. And it had been hard getting back to
Now at last it was morning, and I continued my inspection. I leaned over and
checked my feet. Then my legs. No black clumps of hair.
No weird fur growing anywhere.
I guess it’s safe to go to school, I told myself happily. But I’ll be sure to
keep my gloves handy.
After breakfast, I pulled on my coat, grabbed my backpack, and headed out of