Authors: R.L. Stine
ait till I get through with this place.” Stocky, dark-haired Oliver Bowen glanced around the attic room. “It's going to be the coolest room I've ever had. You'll see.”
He gazed at the cobwebs and old furniture and dust. He peered into shadowy coners. A wide grin spread over his face.
It was excellent!
“I don't know,” Shawn Wood murmured.
Oliver glanced at Shawn. Shawn shoved his glasses up on his nose and blinked his blue eyes. His spiky blond hair was so pale, it was almost white. He looked kind of like a rabbit.
“Don't know what?” Oliver asked.
Shawn shrugged. “Don't you think it's kind of spooky up here?”
“That's what I like about it!” Oliver declared. He pulled open the top drawer of a fancy old bureau and peered inside. Yup, he thought. This place is full of possibilities.
“I was psyched when I saw your moving vans last week,” Shawn told him. He hopped on top of an old trunk. “It's been a while since any kids my age lived in this house.”
Oliver opened the bottom drawer of the bureau. “You're eleven, right? Like me. So we should be in the same grade,” he called over his shoulder. “How come I haven't seen you at Shadyside Middle School?”
“I go to private school,” Shawn replied.
“Oh.” Oliver nodded. Too bad. Even though he did look like a rabbit, Shawn seemed pretty cool. It would have been fun if they had classes together.
The school term had just started. That made it a little easier. At least Oliver didn't have to start in the middle of the year. But still, most of the kids at Shadyside Middle School had been together since kindergarten.
He sighed. Sometimes it was tough, always being the new kid.
“So you really like it up here?” Shawn asked in a doubtful voice.
“Definitely. I love all this old furniture.” Oliver ran his hand along the bureau's carved edges. “You never
know where you'll find a secret drawer. Or what you'll find inside!”
Shawn shook his head. “Like a dead mouse? No thanks.”
Oliver fiddled with a large standing mirror in the corner. He tilted it first one way, then another. “The last house didn't have cool stuff like this,” he declared. “No attic either.”
“How many new houses have you had?” Shawn asked.
“Lots.” Oliver shrugged. “We move all the time because of my dad's work.”
“How come? What does he do?”
“He's a consultant,” Oliver explained. “He does stuff for the government.”
He strolled over to an old desk and tugged the handle of the rolltop, trying to open it. “I took one of the downstairs bedrooms until I can get this attic fixed up. The farther away from my sister, Nell, the better. She's seven, and she is such a pain! She never stops snooping. Dad says I can put a lock on the door at the bottom of the stairs. Once I do, she won't be able to come up here unless I let her. Which I won't!”
“Want to bet?” Nell's voice floated up the stairs.
“Get out of here!” Oliver shouted at his little sister.
He should have known she'd be listening. What a pest! Sometimes Oliver thought Nell's mission in life was to annoy him. She seemed to be right behind him every time he turned around.
“This room is creepy,” Shawn muttered. “This whole house is creepy!” He hopped off the trunk. “Listen, Oliver. There's something you should know. There are a lot of ghosts in this town. Especially here on Fear Street.”
“Ghosts?” Oliver repeated. He watched Shawn pace around the attic. “You're kidding, right?”
Shawn pointed toward the round, dust-streaked window. “You know the cemetery down the street? People are always running into ghosts there. There used to be a ghost named Pete who controlled people's bodies at night.” Shawn shivered. “And I've heard of worse things!”
“Are you nuts?” Oliver asked, wrinkling his forehead. “Or are you just trying to scare me? Because I hate to tell you, it won't work.”
“I'm serious,” Shawn insisted. “You have to be careful around here. Ghosts are all over the place!”
Oliver grinned. Ghosts were all over Shawn's brain anyway!
Shawn glanced around as if checking for people listening in. “Just about every house on Fear Street has a ghost in it,” he whispered. “I bet
house has more than one! Nobody's ever lived here longer than a couple of months. This very room is probably haunted!”
Oliver laughed. “Come
Shawn. Don't be demented! Everyone knows there's no such thing as
ghosts! Those are just stories to scare babies with. Nothing scares
“Don't laugh!” Shawn cried. He looked over his shoulder, then whipped his head around to check the other direction. “You'll just make them mad. We'd better get out of here!”
Was Shawn serious? Oliver wondered. If it was a joke, he was putting on some show.
“Get real,” Oliver said. “What do you think will happen if I laugh?”
He stepped to the center of the attic. He placed his hands on his hips. “Ha!” he laughed loudly. “Ha! Ha! Ha!”
He heard a rustling noise behind him.
Shawn glanced that way. His eyes widened. “Oh, no,” he murmured.
What was he staring at?
Oliver whirled to look behind him.
Something moved near the open window.
Something pale. An old sheet draped across an armchair.
Oliver stared as it rose slowly into the air!
liver gazed at the sheet hovering above the armchair. It curved over something round, its hem flapping in and out.
Shawn lifted a shaking hand and pointed. “L-look!”
Oliver snorted. “Chill, Shawn. It's just Spooky.”
Oliver's big black-and-tan Doberman, Spooky, followed him everywhere. Spooky liked to hide under things.
Oliver went over and jerked the sheet from the air above the armchair.
There was nothing below it but an ordinary seat cushion!
Weird, Oliver thought. He glanced around. “I could
have sworn he was under here. Spooky? Where
that dumb dog?”
Shawn stared at the sheet. His eyes behind his glasses were wide. “If Spooky didn't make the sheet rise, what did?”
“It was probably just a breeze or something.” Oliver waved at the open window beside the chair.
“I've never seen a breeze that could do that,” Shawn mumbled. Then he gazed straight at Oliver. “It was ghosts,” he declared.
“No way! Anyway, suppose there are ghosts, which there aren't. Why would they make a sheet rise in the air? What a dumb trick!”
“Ghosts don't have to have human reasons for doing what they do,” Shawn argued.
“If I were a ghost, I'd pick something way cooler than sheets to play with,” Oliver said. He headed for the stairs. “Hey, I've got something to show you in my room. At least, I hope it's still in my room.” He raised his voice so his sister would hear. “Which it should be, unless Nell took it.”
“I haven't been in your room today!” Nell yelled from below.
“Soundproofing, that's what I really need up here,” Oliver muttered as he and Shawn bounded down the creaky attic stairs.
*Â *Â *
The attic was silent and still for a moment. Dust settled on the floor and on the sheet.
Then twin whirlwinds began to spin, lifting spirals of dust.
The columns of air swirled faster and faster. The cobwebs stirred in the breeze they gave off.
Slowly, in the middle of the dust tornadoes, two ghostly figures appeared.
obbie coughed. He hated the appearing-as-a whirlwind trick. It always made him feel dry and thirstyâeven though ghosts never needed to drink.
But his older sister, Dora, liked it. And if she felt like doing it, she made Robbie do it too.
They'd been dead more than a hundred years and she was still just as bossy as she used to be when they were alive!
Robbie glanced over at his sister. She looked like an ordinary blond-haired, blue-eyed twelve-year-old girl, her hair in two braids with big ribbons on the ends. She wore an old-fashioned yellow dress with puffy sleeves. No one would guess by looking at her that she was a ghost. Just like him.
“That sheet trick was so dumb!” Robbie complained.
“You call that scary?
wouldn't be scared of that!”
“Some scares work better than others. Babies are scared when they see your hideous face,” Dora retorted.
Robbie stuck his tongue out. Then he made the flesh melt off his face until only skull, tongue, and eyeballs were left.
“Much less scary than your regular face,” Dora scoffed. “You want to see
Her skin slowly peeled off her whole body, evaporating into the air. She threw her skull back and waved her white bone hands in the air. Then she danced around the attic as a clattering skeleton. Her yellow dress hung from her dry bones.
Robbie had to admit she looked gruesome. It was a really cool trick.
Plus she made her shoes stay on! They were button-up boots. How does she do that? Robbie wondered. Why don't her bones slip right out of them?
Dora danced over to the big dusty mirror in the corner and floated up so she could see herself in her bones. She curtsied to her skeleton reflection, clacking her jawbone.