Authors: R. L. Stine
Tags: #Children's Books.3-5
Buster poked his head into the window. And yawned.
“Down, Buster!” Mindy ordered. “Come down here, boy!”
He pulled his head out of the window. And settled down on the ground outside.
I could see his head resting on his paws.
“No, Buster!” I shrieked, shouting over the chants. “Come, boy! Don’t lie
down! Come! Buster, come!”
He pushed his head back into the window. Farther. Farther.
“That a boy! Come on!” I pleaded. “A little more… a little more. If you
come down here, I’ll feed you doggie treats five times a day.”
Buster cocked his head to the side and sniffed at the damp, sweaty air of the
I held my arms out to the dog. “Please, Buster. You’re our last chance. Please—hurry! Come down here.”
To my dismay, Buster pulled his head out of the window.
And trotted away.
Mindy and Moose let out long, disappointed sighs. “Buster deserted us,” Mindy
said softly. Her shoulders sagged. Moose dropped to his knees on the floor,
shaking his head.
The chant had changed.
Hap grinned up at us. “Maybe we’ll use you for trampolines! That would be
“It’s almost time for a vote!” Chip added, rubbing his hands together
“Tug of War! Tug of War!”
I held my hands over my ears, trying to block out the sound of their shrill
Silence. Please let me have silence, I thought.
The word gave me an idea.
Silence. Buster’s dog whistle was silent!
Suddenly, I knew how to bring Buster back!
“Mindy!” I cried “The dog whistle! Buster always comes when I blow the dog
Mindy raised her head and brightened. “That’s right!” she cried. “Hurry,
I grabbed for the shiny metal whistle under my T-shirt. It felt slippery with
sweat. This has to work, I thought to myself. It has to bring Buster back.
I pulled the whistle out.
“The whistle!” several gnomes shrieked.
The room instantly grew silent.
I raised the whistle to my lips.
“Quick—blow it!” Mindy screeched.
To my surprise, Hap and Chip both dove at me.
They leaped up and slapped at the whistle.
The whistle spun out of my hands.
“Noooo!” I cried in despair.
I grabbed frantically for it.
But it rolled and tumbled away, sliding across the basement floor.
Mindy, Moose, and I all dove for it.
But the gnomes were quicker.
A gnome in a bright blue shirt raised the whistle, clutched tightly in his
little fist. “I’ve got it!”
“No, you don’t!” Moose cried. He leaped at the gnome. Tackled him around the
The gnome let out a
as he went toppling to the floor.
The dog whistle fell from his hand.
And bounced across the hard floor toward me.
I scooped it up. Started to raise it to my lips.
Three gnomes leaped onto my shoulders, giggling and grunting.
“Noooo!” I uttered a cry as they batted the whistle from my hand. I dropped
to the floor, three gnomes on top of me.
I finally shook them off and jumped to my feet. My eyes searched for the
I saw a bunch of gnomes diving for the floor, scrambling for it. A few feet
away, Moose struggled against four or five gnomes who had formed a line to block him. Mindy
was battling another group of gnomes, who held her back, their tiny hands around
her legs and waist.
And then I saw Hap raise the whistle high.
The gnomes stepped back, clearing a circle around him.
Hap set the whistle in front of him on the floor. Then he raised his foot
He was about to crush it!
“Noooooo!” Another long cry escaped my throat. I scrambled over the floor,
As Hap’s heavy plaster foot came down, I stretched out my hand.
Fumbled for the whistle.
Rolled away as the gnome’s foot tromped down heavily. It thudded inches from
I sat up. Raised the whistle to my lips.
And blew as hard as I could.
Would the whistle work?
Would Buster come running to rescue us?
I blew the silent whistle again.
And turned to the window. Buster, where
The gnomes must have been asking the same question. Because they froze in
place, too. The excited chattering, giggling, and chanting stopped.
The only sound I could hear was my own shallow breathing.
I stared up at the window. A rectangle of blackness. No sign of Buster.
“Hey—!” Moose’s cry made me turn around.
“Look at them!” Moose’s voice echoed through the silence.
“Look—they all froze!” Mindy declared. She placed both hands on the red cap
of a gnome—and pushed the gnome over.
It clattered to the floor. And didn’t move. A hunk of plaster.
“I don’t get it!” Moose scratched his crew cut.
Still gripping the dog whistle tightly, I moved around the room, examining
the frozen gnomes, pushing them over. Enjoying the silence.
“Back in their trance state,” Mindy murmured.
?” Moose demanded. “Buster never showed up. If they weren’t
terrified of the dog, why did they all freeze up again?”
I suddenly knew the answer. I raised the whistle and blew it again. “It was
the whistle,” I explained. “It wasn’t Buster. I had it wrong. They were afraid
of the whistle. Not the dog.”
“Let’s get out of here,” Mindy said softly. “I never want to see another lawn
gnome as long as I live.”
“Wait till I tell my parents about this!” Moose declared.
“Whoa!” I cried, grabbing his shoulder. “We can’t tell
this. No way!”
“Why not?” he demanded.
“Because no one will believe it,” I replied.
Moose stared at me for a long moment. “You’re right,” he agreed finally.
“You’re definitely right.”
Mindy moved to the wall and stared up at the window. “How do we get out of
“I know how,” I told her. I picked up Hap and Chip and stood them beneath the
window. Then I climbed onto their caps, lifted my hands to the window, and
pulled myself up. “Thanks for the boost, guys!” I called down.
They didn’t reply.
I hoped they were frozen for good.
Mindy and Moose followed me out. Of course, Buster was waiting for us in the
yard. His stubby tail began to wag as soon as I appeared. He came running over
and licked my face till I was sopping wet and sticky.
“Sorry, fella. You’re a little late,” I told him. “You weren’t much help—were you!”
He licked me some more. Then he greeted Mindy and Moose.
“Yaaaay! We’re out! We’re out!” Moose cried. He slapped me so hard on the
back, I thought my teeth were going to fly out!
I turned to my sister. “Tickle! Tickle! Tickle!” I chanted.
“Give me a break!” Mindy cried, rolling her eyes for the thousandth time that
“Tickle! Tickle! Tickle!” I made tickling motions with my hands and started
to chase her down the street.
“Joe—stop it! Don’t tickle me! I’m warning you!”
“Tickle! Tickle! Tickle!”
I knew I’d never forget those high-pitched chants. I knew I’d hear them in my
dreams for a long, long time.
The next evening, Mindy and I were watching MTV in the den when Dad came
home. “Be nice to your dad,” Mom had warned us earlier. “He’s very upset that somebody stole his two lawn gnomes.”
Yes, the two gnomes were missing when he woke up.
Mindy and I were so happy, we didn’t have a single argument all day.
And now we were happy to see Dad—except that he had a strange expression on
his face. “Uh… I’ve brought home a little surprise,” he announced, glancing
guiltily at Mom.
what?” she demanded.
“Come and see.” Dad led us out to the front lawn.
The sun was disappearing behind the trees, and the sky was gray. But I could
still see clearly what Dad had purchased at Lawn Lovely this time.
An enormous, brown plaster gorilla!
At least eight feet tall, with gigantic black eyes and a bright purple chest.
The gorilla had paws the size of baseball mitts and a head as big as a
“It’s the ugliest thing I ever saw!” Mom cried, both hands pressed to her
face. “You’re not really going to put that horrible monster on our front lawn—are you, dear?”
Anything is better than those lawn gnomes, I thought. Anything is better than
lawn gnomes who come alive and do terrible mischief.
I glanced at Mindy. I had a feeling she was thinking the same thing.
“I think it’s a beauty, Dad,” I said. “It’s the best-looking lawn gorilla I
“It’s great, Dad,” Mindy agreed.
Mom turned and hurried back to the house, shaking her head.
I glanced up at the gorilla’s enormous purple-and-brown painted face. “Be a
good gorilla,” I murmured. “Don’t be like those awful gnomes.”
Then, as I started to turn away, the gorilla winked at me.
Scanning, formatting and
proofing by Undead.