Authors: R.L. Stine
She leaned against the wheel, every muscle in her body tensed, listening, listening as the sirens droned closer.
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Pres crept along the endless upstairs hall, his sneakers sinking into the thick white carpet. Yellow morning sunlight poured in from a skylight overhead.
So many rooms, Pres thought, shaking his head. He'd never been up here.
He peeked into an open doorway. A king-size bed, unmade, a satiny quilt half on the floor, silky sheets crumpled over it, stood on a diagonal in the center of the room. Dark bookshelves lined one wall from floor to ceiling. A low, sleek dresser stood against the opposite wall with an enormous mirror above it. A wide-screen TV was perched on a cabinet across from the bed.
This must be the master bedroom, Pres realized. He couldn't resist spying. He took a cautious step into the room, his eyes darting around, taking in everything.
Beyond the bedroom the light had been left on in
an enormous bathroom. Through the bathroom doorway Pres could see a Jacuzzi.
I'll get one of those when I'm a millionaire, he thought.
I'll have a big house like this one, with a hundred rooms with carpet as soft as a featherbed.
And I'll buy a pinball machine. Two pinball machines. Noâa whole room full of pinball machines.
He backed out of Robert Dalby's bedroom, suddenly remembering his mission.
First, I have to get Reva.
Her bedroom had to be the next one down on the other side of the hall.
The door was closed.
Silently, his heart beginning to pound, Pres made his way across the hall. His shadow, cast by the skylight overhead, fell over Reva's door.
Pres took a deep breath. Then, raising the pistol, he turned the knob and pushed open Reva's bedroom door.
“Good morning!” he called.
A FEW SMALL
iane was so frightened, she felt like screaming.
Her impulse was to honk the horn, to signal Pres that he had to get out of there.
“What's keeping him? What's keeping him?”
Couldn't he find Reva's room? He claimed he had scoped it out, that he knew where it was.
He claimed this was going to be a breeze. No big deal.
Was Reva giving him trouble? Did he run into someone else in the house? Had they captured him? Knocked him unconscious? Tied him up? Called the police?
What? What? What?
A million questions roared through her head. But they were being drowned out by the shrill sirens.
It's the police, Diane knew. And they're only a few blocks away.
Pres set off an alarm. I've got to get out of here. But how can I leave him?
She rolled down the window, the sound of the sirens growing even louder. She stuck her head out and stared up the driveway.
Presâplease hurry! Please!
We're going to be caught.
Can't you hear the sirens? We're going to be caught!
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“Good m-morning!” Pres stammered in a high, tight voice he didn't recognize.
He stepped into Reva's bedroom.
And stared at the bed.
The empty bed.
The pillow lay on the floor. The blankets had been tossed in a heap on the floor. White- and red-striped pajamas were balled up in a corner of the bed.
Pres took in the empty room, his mouth hanging open. Stunned, he froze, still as a statue.
He stared hard, as if staring would make her appear.
As if he were only imagining that the bedroom was empty.
“Heyâ” The sound of his own voice snapped him back to reality. “Heyâ”
Then he heard the sirens.
The bedroom window was open just a crack. The flimsy white curtains fluttered gently. The rise and fall of the shrill sirens floated in through the window.
“Oh, wow!” Pres uttered.
He realized instantly what had happened. He must have set off a silent burglar alarm when he broke the window in back. A burglar alarm hooked up to the Shadyside police.
Now they were on their way. Almost here, judging by the sirens.
And there he stood, staring at an empty, unmade bed.
“Aaaagh!” A roar of anger and frustration burst from his chest.
“Revaâwhere are you?” he screamed.
Then, gaining control, he turned and ran from the room.
Into the long, sunny hall, his sneakers padding over the thick white carpet, his shadow fleeing just ahead of him.
Past Dalby's luxurious bedroom.
To the shiny-banistered stairway.
Revaâwhere are you? Where did you go?
How did you escape?
How did you mess up my plans?
Down the stairs, two at a time, leaning on the sleek banister, the pistol still in his hand.
The front hallway a blur of green and brown. The front door his only obstacle to escape.
Pres fumbled with the chain. The sirens sounded as if they were right outside. In the driveway?
He turned the lock. He pulled open the heavy oak door.
Outside now, he ran down the driveway. Ran past the still-unconscious dog. Ran so fast his chest felt about to burst.
“Diane!” He called her name as he pulled open the passenger door and dived into the seat. The sirens were so loud now, so loud and close. Just around the corner.
“ButâbutâRevaâ?” She gaped at him, her features twisted in confusion.
“Just drive!” he screamed.
Diane grabbed the wheel with both hands, leaned forward, stepped on the gasâand the car stalled out.
THE POLICE MOVE IN
o! Go! Go!” Pres screamed, pounding frantically on the dashboard.
“I can't! Itâstalled!” Diane's hand trembled as she turned the key. The engine made a sick, grinding sound.
The wail of the sirens grew louder, so loud they seemed to be coming from inside the car.
Diane turned the key again, pumping the gas pedal.
Pres turned his head to stare out the back window. The sirens were loud. He knew the police would be turning the corner any second.
“We're trapped here! Sitting ducks!”
The old car wheezed, coughedâand the engine sputtered to life.
“Yes!” Diane cried happily. She stomped hard
on the gas pedal and the car shot forward. “Yes! Yes!”
Pres kept his head turned to the back window, his dark eyes narrowed, his face knotted in fear. The shrieking sirens seemed to surround them.
Diane pulled the wheel hard to the left, and the car squealed around a corner. She floored the gas pedal, gripping the wheel tightly with both hands, leaning forward as if trying to get as far away as possible.
Another squealing turn. Then another.
The sirens faded to a distant howl.
Pres let out a long sigh and turned back to face the windshield. “We got away,” he murmured breathlessly. He sank low in the seat, raising his knees to the dashboard. “We got away.”
“That was close,” Diane said, her eyes on the road, her hands still gripping the wheel tightly.
“Yeah.” Pres uttered a nervous giggle. “Real close.”
A smile slowly formed on Diane's face as the tension fell away. “Kind of exciting,” she said quietly.
“Reva wasn't there,” Pres told her, scowling.
“Huh? You mean you couldn't find her?”
“No. She wasn't there,” he snapped. “Her room was empty.”
Diane's smile faded. “Don't worry, honey.” She reached out and patted Pres's hand. “We'll get her next time. She won't get away.”
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Reva tapped her long fingernails on the glass counter, gazing at the glass doors across the aisle,
watching the morning shoppers file into the store. She yawned and turned to Francine, who was busily arranging sample perfume bottles on the countertop.
“Reva, I want to show you something,” Francine said, bending down to slide open a door to the floor cabinets.
Why don't you get your nose done, Francine? Reva thought with a sneer. Then maybe you could talk through your mouth and people could understand you.
“I like what you've done to your hair,” Reva told her.
“What?” Francine glanced up fretfully from the cabinet. “Oh. I was late this morning. I didn't have time to wash it.”
Why bother? Reva thought nastily.
Francine stood up and straightened her blouse. She carried a small white plastic case over to Reva and unzipped it. “We have a special gift today,” she said, opening the case and holding it up for Reva to inspect.
Thrills, Reva thought sarcastically. Can I stand the excitement?
“If they buy the two-ounce perfume,” Francine said, pointing to a shimmering gold bottle on the counter, “they get this little kit. See? It has a cologne, a bath gel, and a spray deodorant.”
Francine lifted each little bottle out of the leather case as she showed it to Reva. As she raised the deodorant, she accidentally sprayed a little of it into the air.
“Yuck!” Reva cried, making a disgusted face. “It smells like bug spray!”
“Shhhh!” Francine raised a finger to her lips and glanced around quickly, seeing if anyone had overheard. “It's a nice gift.”
“Is that a new lipstick you're wearing?” Reva asked her.
“I'm not wearing any lipstick,” Francine replied, unaware that Reva had asked her question to be cruel.
why you look like you died three weeks ago! Reva thought.
Francine handed the gift pack to Reva and hurried to the far end of the perfume counter to help a customer. Reva sighed and leaned against the glass counter, daydreaming about Victor and the night before.
She pictured the steamed-up car windows, the chill night air, the soft darkness all around. She thought about kissing Victor, holding on to him, holding him to her. He was so solid, so good-looking.
A slender, blond-haired woman moving quickly down the counter interrupted Reva's thoughts. Reva recognized her.
It's the woman in the tacky fake-fur jacket, Reva thought. She comes by every morning and pretends she's going to buy something. But she's only interested in spraying herself with perfume for free.
“Is that jacket real chipmunk or imitation?” Reva asked as the woman picked up a large bottle of cologne from the counter.
“I beg your pardon?” The woman set down the bottle and eyed Reva suspiciously.
“I was just admiring your jacket,” Reva said, putting on her phoniest smile. “Can I help you with anything?”
The woman tossed her hair behind her shoulder with one hand. “Yes. I'm looking for something a little different,” she said, studying the sample bottles. “Something a little tart. Not so sweet.”
Reva grinned at her. “I have something new you might like. It's not too sweet.” She pulled the small bottle of spray deodorant from the gift case, covering the label with her hand. “Here.”
The woman held up the back of her hand, and Reva sprayed a mist of deodorant onto it. The woman rubbed it into her hand, then sniffed it. “Mmmmm. Very good. It
different. Could I have a little bit more?”
Reva obliged. She sprayed more deodorant onto the woman's hand. The woman rubbed it on her neck and behind her ears. “What is it called?”
“Arrid Extra Dry,” Reva muttered.
“What?” The woman leaned forward to hear better.
“Arid Nights,” Reva said. “It's French. It's two hundred dollars an ounce.”
“I'll definitely come back later and buy a bottle,” the woman said. Sniffing her hand, she hurried away.
Reva watched the back of the red fake-fur jacket until it disappeared around a corner. Then she laughed out loud. This isn't such a boring job after all, she thought.