Authors: B. A. Frade,Stacia Deutsch
“This is your fault.” Kaitlin Wang was furious. “You're always joking around, Noah!” She marched passed him on the way to the mess hall. “Someday, your pranks are going to get you in real trouble.” She tucked her long brown hair under her Camp Redwood Vines cap, then looked at him over her shoulder. “When that happens, no one will be there to help you.”
“Whatever,” Noah muttered. It was only the first week of camp, and this was already his second trash assignment.
The first one he was by himself. It was just one afternoon. This time, Kaitlin was coming along. And it was for three whole days.
He wasn't going to apologize to her. It was her choice after all. Sort of.
Kaitlin didn't have to follow him to the boat dock. She didn't have to hide in the trees while he drilled nail holes in the Red cabin's kayak. And she certainly didn't have to turn him in to the counselors after his Blue cabin won the trophy.
Who did she think she was? Nancy Drew?
It was ironic that she had told on
, and they had gotten punished together.
According to Director Robinson, Kaitlin shouldn't have been out after curfew. Hers was a lesser crime, but stillâ¦ a violation of camp rules.
Three days' mess duty was a second strike violation. “Poor” Kaitlin had gotten dragged down with him, even though it was her first offenseâfirst probably in her whole life.
For the rest of the summer, Noah would have to gauge his pranks more carefully while watching over his shoulder for Kaitlin the Super Snoop.
Kaitlin stomped into the mess hall, letting the door slam before Noah came through. The wire screen reverberated with a bang, just barely missing his nose.
He sighed. Three days of trash duty with the one person who hated him most in the world seemed worse than being sent home. Then again, his parents were on a silent meditation retreat. He had nowhere to go but forward.â¦
Noah pulled open the screen door and stepped into the hot, sweaty kitchen. It was a hundred degrees outside. In the kitchen, it had to be double that. His dark mop of hair flattened and stuck to his forehead.
“Welcome, Noah.” A young woman greeted him. Kaitlin was already standing next to her.
“Are you new?” Noah asked. This wasn't the same cook from Tuesday. That cook was a guy. With prison tattoos. Everyone called him Spike, though Noah was pretty sure that wasn't the name on his birth certificate.
For Spike, Noah had peeled hundreds of potatoes in addition to trash duty.
He wondered what torture this new cook had in mind.
“I've been around awhile,” she answered. Her midnight-black hair glistened under the fluorescent lights. It was so dark it was practically purple. There was a glint in her golden eyes when she said, “There's so much to do. I need to start preparing dinner.” She pointed through two double swinging saloon-type doors into the dining area. “You two should get started.” She gave Noah a long, lingering look. “You know the drill.”
“Trash, trash, trash,” Kaitlin moaned, surveying the room. “There's always so much garbage at camp.”
Campers were supposed to bus their own plates after meals. But there were always things left over: napkins, wrappers, paper cups. It was like they half cleaned and left the rest, knowing Noah would be there.
He sighed. The cook gave them each a pair of plastic gloves and a large white garbage bag. “When you are finished here, I have other tasks for you,” she said. Her voice held an edge that Noah couldn't identify and he wondered what “other tasks” meant.
He didn't ask. It didn't matter. He was her prisoner for the next seventy-two hours. Noticing that she was grinning to herself in a secretive way, Noah watched as the cook disappeared back through the kitchen doors.
“You don't have much to say, eh, Noah?” Kaitlin
asked as they walked around the edge of the mess hall collecting paper products and leftover food. “You're a sneaky guy, but not very chatty, huh?”
“Not to you,” Noah retorted, snidely adding, “I don't know who you'll tell.”
“That's not fair,” Kaitlin countered. “I wasn't the one cheating to win the boat race.”
“I wasn't the one who told on me.” Noah was angry. Sure he'd cheated, but it was all in fun. Everyone had laughed when the team boat sank. No one was hurt; the campers simply swam back to shore. “It was funny!” he said.
“No, it wasn't,” Kaitlin said. “You're lucky no one got hurt.”
“There was no risk,” Noah told her. “A good prankster knows how to keep it real.” He gave her a small grin. “I'm a professional.”
Kaitlin pulled up her plastic gloves and grabbed a half-eaten sandwich from the floor. As she
dropped it in her trash bag, she said, “I want to be a reporter when I grow up. I'm always looking for a story. And I know, Noah Burns, that when you are around, something wild is going to happen.”
Noah grabbed a paper cup off a table and tossed it at her head. “You're ruining my fun.” It missed, landing softly on the floor by her foot.
Kaitlin picked up the cup and wadded it in a ball. She threw it back at him with such force and precision, it bounced off his forehead.
Kaitlin smiled. “You're looking at the captain of the middle school tennis team and twelve-year-old regional Slam Jam basketball champion.”
“La-di-da,” Noah mocked. “I'm on the all-state improvisational comedy team.” It wasn't true. He was up for the team, having made it through several rounds of tryouts, but his parents couldn't take him to the finals. They were too busy “finding themselves,” as always.
The next hour passed in silence. He could see that Kaitlin wanted to talk but held her tongue. He wasn't very good at conversation anyway. It was better this way.
Just as they were finishing up, the new cook popped her head out of the kitchen. Her eyes had seemed gold when he'd first looked, but now they appeared brown or blue orâ¦
Noah squinted at her. It might have been his imagination, but they kept changing.
“Trash dumpster is out back.” She pointed toward the rear of the building. “After you're done here, come to the kitchen for your next assignment.”
With a sigh, Kaitlin hefted her full, heavy bag and
headed out. As she passed by Noah, he couldn't help himselfâhe reached out and snagged the baseball cap off her head.
“Hey.” Kaitlin turned on a heel. “Give that back!”
Noah, acting on impulse, ran. He dashed
around her, out the door, and around to the back of the dumpster.
She was fast and caught up easily. “Give me my hat.” Kaitlin put a hand on one hip and stretched out the other.
“Go get it,” Noah said, tossing her hat up and into the dumpster.
“I do not like you,” she said. “Not even a little.”
“I hear that all the time,” he replied.
Kaitlin scowled at him as she hefted herself up and into the dumpster. She tossed out her hat and was about to climb back out when she announced, “Whoa. Hey, Noah. Check it out. I found an old book. There are these strange gash marks in the leather cover.”
“A book?” Noah climbed up so he could peer into the dumpster. “Show me.”
The discovery was so exciting, she seemed to have forgotten that a second ago she'd declared how much she didn't like him. Kaitlin stood in the dumpster, surrounded by bags of trash. “I think it's yours,” she told Noah.
“I don't have a journal,” he replied, adding, “Not my style.”
“Then why is your name in it?” Kaitlin said with attitude, as if he was brain-dead. “Did you forget you wrote a story?” Rolling her eyes at him, she handed the leather-bound book over to Noah.
He opened the cover and read out loud:
Tales from the Scaremaster
Then below that, the story began.â¦
Once upon a time, there was a boy named Noah.â¦
Read Noah and Kaitlin's story (if you dare)
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This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.
Copyright Â© 2016 by Hachette Book Group, Inc.
Text written by Stacia Deutsch
Cover illustration by Scott Brundage
Tales from the Scaremaster logo by David Coulson
ALES FROM THE
are trademarks of Hachette Book Group.
Cover design by Christina Quintero
Cover Â© 2016 Hachette Book Group, Inc.
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First ebook edition: September 2016