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Authors: B. A. Frade,Stacia Deutsch

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BOOK: Werewolf Weekend
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I opened my mouth to tell her that, but she shot me a look that clearly said “Don't ask. Don't argue.” So I clamped my lips shut.

Very slowly, we hauled that trunk through the narrow basement door and down the steep stairs.

“Over there.” Cassie instructed me to set it in a far corner under a dimly glowing lightbulb swinging on a wire. I was very careful so I didn't get yelled at like the cab driver.

“Whew,” I breathed when I stood up. Things were off to a strange start. I was anxious to get to Sam's room and let the fun begin.

Without waiting or asking about my rough red hands, Cassie walked past me to the stairs. When she reached the landing, she flicked off that lightbulb. I distinctly heard her say, “I don't know why you came this weekend. It's going to be hard enough to keep Sam from finding out. I need you to leave. As. Soon. As. Possible.” And then, more quietly, “Before it gets too dangerous.”

With that warning, she shut the door before I was even out of the dank basement, leaving me alone.

I wasn't usually afraid of the dark, but there was something terrifying about being left in it after being lectured about how you weren't wanted. I put my hands out to feel the side walls, and I stepped cautiously up each step. Every time a floorboard creaked, I shivered. That familiar feeling was back again. Dread with a touch of fear settled in my stomach.

I'd seen enough horror movies and read enough scary stories to know this was only the beginning.

Chapter Six

I walked into Sam's room to find that Sam had already handed out schedules for the weekend. They were on computer-printed stationery that had the image of the moon across the top.

One of the things Sam loved about science was the order and predictability of it all. Her room was so organized I never wanted to touch anything. Colors were grouped, books sorted by author's last name, and everything was in its place.

Her schedule was highlighted. The times marked in yellow. Activities in blue.

She was sitting with the cousins on the floor, reviewing the pages.

It was as if nothing strange had happened.

I wanted to ask Cassie what she had been talking about in the basement, but the way she was acting made me wonder if I'd imagined it. She was happily chatting with Sam about dinner plans.

I stood in the doorway until Sam noticed me there.

“What took you so long?” Sam asked, as if I'd been gone for hours.

There was no good answer for that one. I could have said something snarky like “Please tell Cassie that it's impossible to lock someone in a basement with no door lock.” The other option was to tell the truth: “Your creepy cousin ditched me in the basement, and it took me a little while to navigate the last few steps in the pitch-black.”

It was too early to cast a judgment, but it seemed to me that Cassie had two personalities: one for Sam and a different one for me.

I wasn't sure that complaining about my version of Cassie was the best way to go, so I changed the subject. “What did you get at school today?”

“I got an A in science.… Oh!” She laughed at her misunderstanding. “You mean what did I get during recess?” She picked up her school pack from next to the small desk. Tipping it over, Sam poured out the things I'd heard clank in class. She quickly put the items in an organized pile.

“I have a big metal tube, glue, scissors,
electrical tape, a piece of cardboard.…” she rattled off the list. “I got the pipe and the tape and the other stuff from Mrs. Popski, the janitor.” She waved her hand at the stuff on her desk. “Mr. McCarthy gave me the rest after school.”

I hadn't seen Sam after school. I was in too much of a hurry to get home and tell my mom about the book. Thinking about it, I felt a strong surge of relief that the
thing
, and whoever/whatever lived inside it, was far away from here.

“I got these on the Internet.” Sam opened her drawer and pulled out two glass discs. “One concave and one convex.” She looked past me to Cassie and Riley. Cassie was scrolling through her phone, but Riley was interested. “Want to guess what we're making?” Sam asked her.

“A microscope?” she asked, coming over to get a better look at the supplies.

“Nah. But close.” She looked at me as if I knew.

“A telescope?” I asked. It was the glass lenses that gave it away.

“Yes! For tomorrow's full moon!” Sam exclaimed, handing me a copy of the schedule and catching me up. “We're going to do all kinds of things this weekend to
celebrate astronomy. In the morning, we'll bake moon pies, then build a telescope. Tomorrow night, we'll check out the moon, eat the pies, and take a moonlit walk.”

There was other normal sleepover stuff detailed in the schedule too, like taking selfies, watching online videos, and the whole “sleeping in the living room” part, but it was the moon stuff that I was excited for.

Moon-related activities might not sound fun to everyone, but I'd been her best friend long enough to know whatever Sam wanted to do was going to be amazing. She could make waiting for leaves to change color into something fascinating.

“Tonight, we'll just hang out,” Sam said. “And watch that documentary I told you about.”

Sam loved the Nature Channel. I wasn't that into it, but she usually chose things that kept my interest. Thanks to Sam, I knew more than the average middle schooler about beekeeping, the Arctic Circle, and sedimentary rocks.

“Is it about the moon?” I asked.

“You betcha,” Sam said. Her eyes glittered with pure joy.

“I can't wait.…” It was then I realized that
Riley and Cassie hadn't said anything about Sam's big Saturday-o-fun. I turned to look at them. They'd moved over by the doorway, where Cassie was whispering to Riley. She nodded. Cassie whispered some more.

“So,” Cassie addressed the rest of us. “I think we can do some of that tomorrow,” she said, not committing to the entire day-evening schedule. “But Riley and I have different plans for tonight.” She crossed to one of her two suitcases and opened a pocket on the outside. “I brought her favorite movie.” Riley took it and passed it to Sam. “Do you have a DVD player?”

“Sure,” Sam said. “Lots of stuff I like to watch is still only on DVD.” She held up the box. “
Closer Encounters of a Different Kind
.” The back read, “Interviews with teenagers who have had close contact with werewolves, vampires, and zombies.”

“It's a documentary,” Riley said proudly. “Just like your moon one.”

I could have guessed what Sam was going to say.

“This is fiction,” she snorted. “Not a documentary.”

She tossed the box to me. I missed it, of course, and it slid on the carpet, stopping at Riley's feet.

“I like it,” Riley told her, scooping the box up and holding it to her chest. “And I say it's all real.”

“Aren't you too old for that kind of made-up nonsense?” Sam asked. “Vampires and werewolves don't really exist.” She added, “Neither do zombies.”

“You don't know that for sure,” Riley said, casting a quick glance at Cassie.

I saw the look that passed between them but was pretty certain Sam missed it.

Sam asked her cousin, “Cassie, do you believe in supernatural beings?”

“Of course,” Cassie said.

It was on the tip of my tongue to joke again about how she dressed like a vampire, but I held back, swallowing hard. Instead, I asked Riley, “Doesn't this stuff scare you?”

“Nah.” She shook her head. “It actually makes me feel better about stuff.”

I felt an immediate connection with this girl who loved horror like I did, but at the same time, I wouldn't say watching something scary made me feel “better.” It made me feel tense, anxious, edgy.…

“It calms her down,” Cassie added, with another quick look to Riley. “That reminds me,” she sort of said to us, but more to herself, “I'll be right back.”

Cassie was on the way out when Mrs. Murdock stuck her head in. She had her hair up in two pigtails and was wearing her weathered high school spirit jacket. After some warm hugs and “My, how you've grown!” exclamations, she said, “All right, kids. Unfortunately, there's no time for chitchat. I'm leaving. Everyone else is already at the hotel. I'm running late as always!” She rubbed her hands together. Sam and her mom looked so much alike, just like me and my mom used to—before she discovered the magic of the beauty parlor. “I can't believe we've been planning this weekend for a whole year. And here it finally is. I'm excited to see all our old friends!”

Sam groaned as her mom gushed a little about her days as a cheerleader.

Mrs. Murdock finally said, “Cassie, you're in charge. If you need anything whatsoever—call.”

“Of course.” Cassie grinned in a way that made me nervous. Her mouth seemed to be smiling, but
her eyes were narrowed and her teeth gnashed together.

I shut my eyes and counted to three. My imagination had been on fire ever since that creepy book spoke to me at school. It was a growing list of weirdnesses: first the journal; then the trunk; now Cassie's attitude, secretive glances, and awkward grins.

I told myself to relax. I was acting ridiculous—just on edge from the whole journal fiasco. Nothing strange was going on. I was wrong about Cassie trying to chase me out of the house. If I gave it time, we'd be friends.

I said all that to myself, but I didn't believe any of it.

Right after Mrs. Murdock left, Cassie went to do whatever it was that she'd forgotten. I moved downstairs with Sam and Riley to the living room. It was early still, so we'd agreed to watch both movies. Vampires, werewolves, and zombies before dinner and moon landings after.

We settled into the couch, surrounded by pillows and blankets. Cassie still wasn't back from whatever she was doing when Riley put in the disc.

“Press play, Sam. It's okay. My sister's seen this one a thousand times,” she told us. “She knows it by heart.”

I settled back on the couch, determined to enjoy the movie. I wasn't like Sam. I wasn't 100 percent negative about the existence of werewolves or vampires, but to call the movie a “documentary”… well, that was a stretch.

The movie began with a fake-looking news report about a boy who had encountered a teen vampire in a dark hallway at his high school. There was a really quiet part where the boy paused dramatically in his story, pulling back his long brown hair to reveal two puncture wounds in his neck, directly above his collarbone.

“He tried to turn me,” the boy told the camera. “But I escaped.” There was dramatic drumming music. Then he said, “This is my story.”

Cassie still hadn't come back when the vampire segment was over.

In the transition between the vampire interview to a different kid who claimed he had seen a werewolf, I heard a banging sound. I jumped.

“What was that?” I asked Sam.

“Huh?” She was only half watching, flipping through a book about the solar system at the same time.

“Did you hear a clanking, banging rattle?” I asked.

“It's just the radiator.” As she said it, I heard the noise again.

“There it is!” I said.

“Old house, remember? We hear stuff like that all the time,” Sam said, then turned the book to show me a photo of the moon's craters. “Did you know the moon is three thousand four hundred seventy-six kilometers in diameter?”

Another clank. No reaction from Sam.

I didn't think it was the radiator.

“Did you hear that?” I asked Riley, but she was too engrossed in the film to respond.

“This is a good part,” she told me. “Watch, Emma. The werewolf is going to jump out from behind that tree! See, what John doesn't know is that the werewolf is actually his best friend's brother. He looks normal most of the time… except for one night a month, of course.” She put a hand on my knee. “Here he comes. It's a little scary, if you want to hold hands.”

I decided to skip out on the tree-popping werewolf and go investigate the sound I kept hearing. “I can't watch,” I told her. “I'll have bad dreams.” It wasn't true. Mrs. Frankle said scary books kept my mom up, but I was a good sleeper. Nothing kept me up.

“But Billy is a nice boy,” Riley told me, adding softly, “It's not his fault.” She immediately went back to watching the film.

Another clanging sound caught my attention.

“Be right back,” I told Sam and Riley, though neither of them seemed to hear me. Riley was into the movie, and Sam was into her book.

I was pretty sure the sound came from the basement, so I went straight there.

The door was cracked open.

Moving very quietly, I pushed the door wider and went down the first few steps. The lightbulb was on and swinging.

In the corner, I could see Cassie's shadow leaning over the heavy trunk. I moved down one more step, careful not to make a noise.

Cassie was starting to worry me. She was too odd. Nothing seemed right.

The next time the clanking sound came, I was
certain that it was the distinct sound of metal hitting metal. Like chains.

I squinted in the partial darkness. The lightbulb above Cassie's head flickered.

She was unloading metal bars.

I watched for a long moment as she placed a long metal bar against another bar and strapped them together. Then she added more, until she'd created a wall of bars.

Whatever she was making was huge. When she raised that metal wall, connected to a metal floor, it stretched toward the ceiling. I could make out a swinging door, the stripes of the bars reflected on the cement floor, giving the appearance of a jail cell.

The clanging echo rolled through the basement one more time. Cassie moved to the side and was no longer blocking my view.

I held my breath and squinted. I didn't blink.

Oh no! No. No. No. No. No.

I backed up the stairs, as silently as I'd gone down.

I had to tell Sam!

I didn't know how to convince her, but I'd do whatever it would take. She had to believe me.

I knew what I had seen. There was no doubt in my mind.

Cassie was building a cage with chains in the basement. It was the ONLY possibility. The bars, the shadows, the chains. It all added up.

A cage. Yes, a cage, but for what? Or who?

The thing that she intended to put in there had to be HUGE!

My brain was spinning so fast, I couldn't focus. Pictures of big animals flashed through my head like a kid's zoo book: elephant, giraffe, etc.… I knew none of that made sense, but I couldn't stop the flickering images long enough to really consider what else might actually go into a cage that large. My brain was grabbing at the first and easiest ideas.

Cassie had warned me earlier that things might get dangerous. And now… here was the proof.

With great concentration, I stopped trying to figure out what went inside and focused on how exactly I was going to tell Sam about this discovery.

She liked evidence, so I'd tell her there was a cage in the basement and then show it to her. What to do next, we'd figure out after.

At this precise moment in time, only a few things were clear:

This was not my imagination.

This was not a made-up story I was writing.

This was reality.

BOOK: Werewolf Weekend
2.62Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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