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Authors: R. L. Stine

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BOOK: Revenge of the Lawn Gnomes
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“We need your help,” Hap added.

“You want us to help you do mischief?” I cried. “No way! You’ve already
gotten me into major trouble.”

“No. We need you to help get us our freedom,” Chip said solemnly. “Please—listen and believe.”

“Listen and believe,” Hap echoed.

“We lived in a land far from here,” Chip began. “In a forest deep and green.
We guarded the mines and protected the trees. We performed our mischief
innocently. But we also did a lot of good.”

“We were hard-working people,” Hap told us, scratching his head. “And we were
happy in our forest home.”

“But then the mines were closed and the forests were cut down,” Chip continued. “We were captured. Kidnapped. And taken far
from home. We were shipped to your country and forced to work as lawn
ornaments.”

“Slaves,” Hap said, shaking his head sadly. “Forced to stand all day and
night.”

“That’s impossible!” Mindy cried. “Don’t you get bored? How do you stand so
still?”

“We go into a trance,” Chip explained. “Time passes without our realizing it.
We come out of the trance at night and go about doing our job.”

“You mean mischief!” I declared.

They both nodded.

“But we want to be free,” Hap continued. “To go where we want. To live where
we choose. We want to find another forest where we can live in freedom.” Two
tiny gnome tears rolled down his fat cheeks.

Chip sighed and raised his eyes to me. “Will you help us?”

“Help you do
what
?” I demanded.

“Help our friends and us escape?” Chip replied.

“There are six others,” Hap explained. “They’re locked in the basement. At
the store where you bought us. We need your help to set them free.”

“We can climb into the basement window,” his friend continued. “But we are
too short to climb back out. And too short to reach the doorknob to let
ourselves out through the door.”

“Will you help us escape?” Hap pleaded, tugging the bottom of my T-shirt. “You just have to climb down into the
basement. Then help our six friends out the basement door.”

“Please help us,” Chip begged, tears in his eyes. “Then we’ll be gone. To a
deep forest. And we will never cause you any more mischief.”

“That sounds good to me!” Mindy exclaimed.

“So you’ll do it?” Hap squealed.

They both began tugging at us, chirping, “Please? Please? Please? Please?
Please?”

Moose, Mindy, and I exchanged troubled glances.

What should we do?

 

 
22

 

 

“Please? Please? Please? Please?”

“Let’s help them,” Moose said, finally finding his voice.

I turned to Mindy. I didn’t usually ask her advice. But she was the oldest.
“What do you think?”

Mindy bit her lower lip. “Well, look how much Buster hates to be tied up,”
she said. “He only wants to be free. I guess everything deserves to be free.
Even lawn gnomes.”

I turned back to the gnomes. “We’ll do it!” I declared. “We’ll help you.”

“Thank you! Thank you!” Chip cried happily. He threw his arms around Hap.
“You don’t know what this means to us!”

“Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!” Hap squealed. He leaped into the air and
clicked the heels of his boots together. “Hurry! Let’s go!”

“Now?” Mindy cried. “It’s the middle of the night! Can’t we wait until
tomorrow?”

“No. Please. Now,” Hap insisted.

“In the darkness,” Chip added. “While the store is closed. Please. Let’s
hurry.”

“I’m not dressed,” Mindy replied. “I really don’t think we can go now. I
think—”

“If we stay here longer, we’ll have to do more mischief,” Chip said with a
wink.

I sure didn’t want that to happen. “Let’s do it now!” I agreed.

And so the five of us crept along the dark street and up the steep hill
toward Lawn Lovely. Wow, did I feel weird! Here we were, walking around in the
middle of the night with a couple of lawn ornaments! About to break into the
store and set six more lawn ornaments free!

The old pink house was a strange enough place during the day. But at night,
it was totally creepy. All those lawn animals—deer and seals and flamingos—stared at us through the darkness, with blank, lifeless eyes.

Were they alive, too? I wondered.

Hap seemed to read my mind. “They’re only for decoration,” he sneered.
“Nothing more.”

The two excited gnomes made their way quickly across the wide lawn and around
the side of Mrs. Anderson’s house. Moose, Mindy, and I followed behind.

Mindy clutched my arm with an ice-cold hand. My legs still felt wobbly. But
my heart was pounding with excitement—not fear.

Hap and Chip pointed to the long, low window that led down to the basement. I knelt down and peered inside. Total
darkness.

“You’re sure the other gnomes are down there?” I asked.

“Oh, yes,” Chip declared eagerly. “All six. They’re waiting for you to rescue
them.”

“Please hurry,” Hap pleaded, shoving me gently to the window. “Before the old
woman hears us and wakes up.”

I lowered myself to the edge of the open window. And turned back to my sister
and Moose.

“We’re coming right behind you,” Moose whispered.

“Let’s rescue them and get
out
of here,” Mindy urged.

“Here goes,” I said softly.

I crossed my fingers and slid down into the darkness.

 

 
23

 

 

I bumped over the window frame and landed on my feet. A few seconds later, I
heard Moose and Mindy slide in after me.

I squinted into the blackness that surrounded us. I couldn’t see a thing. I
licked my dry lips and sniffed the air. A sharp smell, like vinegar, filled the
hot, damp basement. Sweat, I thought. Gnome sweat.

I heard a low giggle from outside. Chip and Hap hurtled over the window ledge
and thudded to the floor.

“Hey, guys—” I whispered.

But they scampered off into the darkness.

“What’s going on here?” Moose demanded.

“We’ve got to find the light switch,” Mindy whispered.

But before we could move, the ceiling lights all flashed on. I blinked in the
sudden blaze of brightness.

And then gasped as I stared across the vast basement—at a sea of lawn
gnomes!

Not six! Six
hundred
! Row after row of them, jammed against each
other, staring at the three of us.

“Whoa!” Moose cried. “It’s a mob!”

“Hap and Chip
lied
to us!” I cried.

Their shirts were different colors. But the lawn gnomes all looked exactly
alike. They all wore pointed caps and black belts. They all had staring red
eyes, wide noses, grinning lips, and large pointy ears.

I was so startled to see so many of the ugly creatures, it took me a while to
spot Hap and Chip. Finally, I saw them at the side of the room.

Hap clapped his hands three times.

And three more times. Short, sharp claps that echoed off the basement walls.

And then the crowd of gnomes came to life, stretching and bending, grinning
and giggling, chattering in shrill, excited voices.

Mindy grabbed my arm. “We’ve got to get out of here.”

I could barely hear her over the chattering, giggling mob of gnomes. I
glanced up at the basement window. It suddenly seemed so high, so far away.

When I turned back, Hap and Chip had moved in front of us. They clapped their
hands for attention.

The hundreds of gnomes instantly fell silent.

“We have brought the young humans!” Hap announced, grinning happily.

“We have kept our promise!” Chip declared.

Giggles and cheering.

And then, to my horror, the gnomes began moving forward. Their eyes flashed
excitedly. They reached out their stubby arms toward us. The pointed hats bobbed
and slid forward, like sharks on the attack.

Mindy, Moose, and I backed up. Backed up to the wall.

The gnomes crowded up against us. Their little hands plucked at my clothes,
slapped my face, pulled my hair.

“Stop!” I shrieked. “Get back! Get back!”

“We came to help you!” I heard Mindy scream. “Please—we came to help you
escape!”

Loud giggling.

“But we don’t
want
to escape!” a grinning gnome declared. “Now that
you’re
here, it’s going to be so much fun!”

 

 
24

 

 

Fun?

What did he mean by
fun
?

Hap and Chip pushed their way back to the front and stepped up beside us.
They clapped their hands together to silence the giggling, chattering crowd.

The basement instantly turned silent.

“You tricked us!” Mindy screamed at the two gnomes. “You lied to us!”

They giggled in reply and slapped each other’s shoulders gleefully.

“I can’t believe you fell for our sad story,” Hap said, shaking his head.

“We
told
you we’re Mischief Gnomes,” Chip sneered. “You should have
known we were playing mischief!”

“Great joke, guys,” I said, forcing a hoarse laugh. “You fooled us. Way to
go. So now let us go home, okay?”

“Yeah. Let us go home!” Moose insisted.

The whole room erupted in laughter.

Hap shook his head. “But the mischief has just begun!” he declared.

Cheers and giggles.

Chip turned to the crowd of excited gnomes. “So what shall we do with our
lovely prisoners? Any ideas?”

“Let’s see if they bounce!” a gnome called from near the back of the room.

“Yeah! Dribble them!”

“A dribbling contest!”

“No—bounce them against the wall. Bounce and catch!”

More cheers.

“No! Fold them into tiny squares! I love it when we fold humans into
squares!”

“Yes! A folding contest!” another gnome cried.

“Fold them! Fold them! Fold them!” several gnomes began to chant.

“Tickle them!” a gnome in front suggested.

“Tickle them for hours!”

“Tickle! Tickle! Tickle!”

The room rang out with their excited chants.

“Fold them! Fold them! Fold them!”

“Tickle! Tickle! Tickle!”

“Dribble! Dribble! Dribble! Dribble!”

I turned to Moose. He stared out at the crowd of chanting gnomes, dazed and
frightened. His eyes bulged and his chin quivered.

Mindy had her back pressed up against the basement wall. Her blond hair was
matted to her forehead. Her hands were jammed into the pockets of her bathrobe.

“What are we going to do?” she asked me, shouting over the excited chants.

Suddenly I had an idea.

I raised my arms high over my head.
“Quiet!”
I screamed.

The room instantly grew silent. Hundreds of red eyes glared at me.

“Let us go!” I demanded. “Or the three of us will scream at the top of our
lungs. We will wake up Mrs. Anderson. And she will be down here in a second to
rescue us!”

Silence.

Had I frightened them?

No. The gnomes burst into loud, scornful laughter. They slapped each other’s
shoulders, hooted, and giggled.

“You’ll have to do better than that!” Hap grinned up at me. “We all know that
Mrs. Anderson can’t hear a thing.”

“Go ahead and shout,” Chip urged. “Shout all you want. We like it when humans
shout.” He turned to Hap, and the two of them slapped each other’s shoulders and
fell on the floor, giggling gleefully, kicking their feet in the air.

Over the vast basement, the chants started up again.

“Tickle! Tickle! Tickle!”

“Fold them! Fold them! Fold them!”

“Dribble! Dribble! Dribble!”

With a long sigh, I turned to my frightened sister and friend. “We’re
doomed,” I muttered. “We don’t have a chance.”

 

 
25

 

 

“Tug of War! Tug of War!”

A new chant started in the back of the room and swept up toward the front.

“Yes!” Hap and Chip declared happily.

“Excellent mischief!” Hap cried.

“A Tug of War! We’ll tug them till they stretch!” Chip shouted.

“Stretch them! Stretch them!”

“Tug of War! Tug of War!”

“Joe—what are we going to do?” I heard Mindy’s frightened voice over the
enthusiastic chants.

Think, Joe, I urged myself. Think! There has to be a way out of this
basement.

But I felt so dazed. The chants rang in my ears. The grinning faces leered up
at us. My thoughts were a jumbled mess.

“Stretch them! Stretch them!”

“Fold them! Fold them!”

“Tickle! Tickle! Tickle!”

Suddenly, over the shrill gnome voices, I heard a familiar sound.

A dog’s bark.

Buster’s bark.

“Buster!” Mindy cried. “I hear him!”

“I—I did too!” I exclaimed, turning and raising my eyes to the window above
our heads. “He followed us! He must be right outside!”

I desperately wished Buster could talk. Could run home and tell Mom and Dad
that we were in terrible trouble.

But he could only bark. Or… could he do more?

I suddenly remembered how frightened Hap and Chip appeared whenever Buster
came around. The terrified expressions on their faces.

My heart fluttered with hope. Maybe the gnomes are afraid of dogs. Maybe
Buster can scare them into letting us go. Maybe he can even frighten them back
into their trance.

I edged closer to my sister, my back pressed against the wall. “Mindy, I
think the gnomes are afraid of Buster. If we get him down here, I think he can
save us.”

We didn’t hesitate. All three of us started shouting up to the window.
“Buster! Buster! Come here, boy!”

Could he hear us over the chanting gnomes?

Yes!

His big head peered down at us through the window.

“Good boy!” I cried. “Now, come here. Come down here, Buster!”

Buster’s mouth opened. His pink tongue drooped from his mouth, and he started
to pant.

“Good doggie!” I crooned. “Good doggie—come down here. Fast! Come, boy!
Come, Buster!”

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