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Alien on a Rampage
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Format:ebook $6.99 $8.99 CAD
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David is looking forward to spending another adventure-filled summer at his grandmother’s Intergalactic Bed & Breakfast—a vacation hotspot for aliens. But as soon as he meets Grandma’s new repairman, an alien named Scratchull, he becoms suspicious. The only problem is that it is difficult to be sneaky when you have a ravenous alien pet attached to you. Even though no one else—including Grandma—thinks that Scratchull is an underhanded handyman, David decides to spy on him. But no one believes David when he discovers that Scratchull really is an evil mastermind with a plot to destroy the planet. Without the help of Grandma and his friends, will David be able to save Earth before it’s too late?
Text copyright © 2012 by Clete Barrett Smith
Illustrations copyright © 2012 by Christian Slade
Excerpt from Magic Delivery copyright © 2014 by Clete Barrett Smith
All rights reserved. Published by Disney • Hyperion Books, an imprint of Disney Book Group. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the publisher. For information address Disney • Hyperion Books, 114 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York 10011-5690.
For Mom & Dad
When the taxi pulled up to Grandma’s place, I opened my door before the driver had even come to a complete stop. “Whoa, buddy, take it easy,” he said. “You’ll get there on time—it’s not going anywhere.”
Then he stopped at the curb and got a good look at the Intergalactic Bed & Breakfast. His mouth dropped open, forming a circle that matched his wide eyes. I guess some people just aren’t used to seeing a huge Victorian-style house covered in a mural of swirling galaxies, with silver spaceship sculptures jutting up all over the front yard. Especially at the edge of a forested wilderness on the outskirts of a tiny Pacific Northwest town.
“Ummm…okay…on second thought, that place looks like it could blast off any minute. I guess you better hurry up.”
I hopped out of the taxi, pulling my suitcase off the backseat. “Thanks for the ride,” I said, handing the driver a wad of cash through his open window. The driver nodded and collected the money but kept his eyes fixed on the house.
Jogging along the white picket fence, I thought about how different this was from my arrival last year. Back then the only thing I had to worry about was starting seventh grade in the fall. But that was before Grandma gave me my summer job and put me in charge of defending the biggest secret on the planet.
I stopped at the front gate and took in the view. I had been a little worried that things might’ve changed since I was last here. But everything looked to be in the right place, just the way I remembered it.
Well, okay, maybe not the right place. Grandma’s house could only be in the right place if it was hosting a Klingon birthday party on one of Jupiter’s outer moons. But it looked the same as last summer, and that was good. Seeing it again felt like coming home.
But as I looked up at the porch…I don’t know, I guess I felt a little disappointed. It’s not like I expected a big WELCOME BACK! banner and a marching band playing under a blizzard of confetti. But maybe I had expected something. Maybe someone sitting on the front porch, waiting for me. Maybe Amy. I mean, I’m pretty sure she knew I was flying in today.
No big deal. This would give me a chance to surprise them. If I had planned it better, I could have brought an alien disguise and mingled with the dinner crowd in the dining room, to see how long it took Grandma to figure out I was in there with the rest of her customers. But I’d have to settle for sneaking in through the back door and catching someone off guard.
I left my suitcase just inside the gate and darted between the spaceship sculptures for cover. When I reached the side of the house, I ducked below the first-floor windows and made my way to the back. As I tiptoed up the back porch stairs, I heard someone rustling around in one of the sheds behind me.
Perfect. I could sneak up and startle them and then we’d laugh about it…unless it was Sheriff Tate. I mean, “Head of Security” Tate, or whatever his official title was, now that he was working here. Last summer I had devised a secret plan to humiliate him in front of the entire town. But only because he had led everyone in Forest Grove to the front lawn of the bed-and-breakfast, threatening to storm the place and drag Grandma’s customers off to jail, or worse.
So it was probably not a real good idea for me to give that guy another big surprise. Ever.
The door to the shed stood partially open, and someone was kneeling on the ground, hunched over a scattering of spare parts. The carcasses of an old computer, a lawn mower, and a carpenter’s nail gun rested against the far wall. It looked like pieces had been stripped from all three and mashed together to form the device in the center of the shed.
I crept forward for a better look. The figure inside the doorway was wearing a pair of black coveralls. A pale hand punched a string of numbers into the computer’s keyboard. Instantly the blade from the lawn mower whirred to life and rose in the air, a mini helicopter propeller. Attached below was a sheath of tubing that held a cartridge of nails. The gadget hovered in the air in the middle of the shed.
The figure in coveralls grabbed the computer’s mouse and whipped it back and forth, clicking furiously at the button. The floating thing rotated in the air and spat out a machine-gun stream of nails.
Yikes! I jumped back in case one of those nails flew right out the doorway.
Then I heard a noise over the whirring of the blades. It might have been laughter, but it was so harsh it almost sounded like someone choking. I had a pretty good idea this wasn’t Grandma or Amy. Or anyone who called Earth home. Not even Tate.
I looked up and saw paper targets spread across the walls of the shed at varying heights. Although the device had only been in action for a few seconds, each target had at least a dozen nails slammed through its bull’s-eye. The nails were sunk into the wood all the way to their heads.
Bzzzzt! Sparks shot from the computer’s mainframe where the casing had been cracked open to expose the circuit boards. It sizzled, and the smell of burning plastic was awful. The figure in the coveralls shouted, “Curse these cave dwellers and their primitive toys!” just before the flying device spun out of control and smashed into a wall. The wreckage crashed to the ground in a smoky heap.
“Whoa.” I barely breathed the word, but the being on the ground jumped up as if he’d been electrocuted. He stepped out of the shed and slammed the door.
Then he turned and loomed over me. His skin was bone white and smooth all over, making his head look like a skull. The dark purple lips and black eyes didn’t help much. I stumbled backward and almost fell onto the grass.
But I recovered quickly. Sure, it had been almost a year since I had seen an alien, but you only had to remember they were pretty much just like us inside. Even the really creepy-looking ones. “Hey, sorry if I startled you,” I said.
His upper lip contorted into a sneer, revealing sharp teeth. “You are equipped with neither the cognitive capacity nor the physical dimensions necessary to alarm one such as myself.” He made a shooing motion with the back of his hand. “Now, return to your little village of like-minded dirt-crawlers.”
Excuse me? First, no welcoming committee—and now this? I stared at him for a moment before I could even muster a response. “Oh, no. I’m not from Forest Grove. I just got here from—”
“Your point of origin is irrelevant. Despite a few insignificant biological variations, humans are the same everywhere.” The smile he gave me would have looked fake and condescending on any planet. “My meaning—and here I shall speak very slowly to aid your limited comprehension—was that you should vacate the premises immediately. Your ultimate destination means little to me.”
I took a deep, calming breath. Usually Grandma’s customers were really nice, but occasionally you came across a rude one. And then you had to remember the best thing about meeting them at a bed-and-breakfast: they would be gone in a day or two. “You know, you’re not in a very good mood for someone on vacation.” I tried to keep my tone light; it would kind of spoil my arrival if I got into a big argument with a Tourist before I had even seen Grandma.
He made a face like he had just noticed that my clothes were made of flaming manure. “Vacation?” he said. “You presuppose that I would choose to spend even one moment here of my own free will?”
What was this guy’s problem? “Well…you’re here, right? And this is a popular vacation spot for those who are, you know”—I leaned in and whispered so he would know that I was in on Grandma’s secret—“like you.”
The alien cleared his throat. “There exists no one in this pathetic little galaxy who is”—he leaned in and did an impression of my voice that was very unflattering and highly accurate—“like me.” He straightened back up. “And certainly you did not say popular?” The alien scoffed so forcefully it sounded like he was hawking up a big wad of phlegm. “Your species’ affinity for self-delusion is appalling.”
Okay, so I might not have known what some of those words meant, but I could tell he was trying to insult me. And probably everyone I’ve ever met. But I remembered my training from last year. No use getting mad. Time to just start over. “Look, I think we got off on the wrong foot, with my sneaking up on you. Sorry about that.” I stuck out my hand. “I’m David. I’ll be working here this summer.”
“Oh, I have managed to deduce that all by myself at this point in the conversation.” He glanced at my hand distastefully. “There actually exist a few of us in the universe who put our brains to more use than obsessing over matters of fancy and trivia. You must be the visiting earthling child, two generations removed from the proprietor here.”
I dropped my hand. Despite how rude the alien was acting, I was kind of glad that Grandma was apparently excited enough about my visit to mention it to one of her customers. “Right. So, I’m David. And you are…”
“Your barely evolved vocal mechanism could not begin to pronounce my true name.”
I noticed the lettering stitched above the pocket on his coveralls. “So…I should just call you ‘Bob,’ then?”
His black eyes narrowed into slits. Little gray spiderweb lines appeared on his throat, creeping out of his collar and up his neck. They looked like cracks in his skin. “If a cockroach could insult a king, then I might be offended by that comment.”
I couldn’t help but snort a little. Maybe this is what passes for humor on the Planet of the Sarcastic Skull-Faces. I figured that since I wasn’t officially on the clock yet, there was really no point in trying to get along with this guy anymore. Soon he would step into one of the transporters and get beamed back home. Maybe somebody there would be willing to listen to his antihuman tirades.
“See ya,” I said.
I started to turn away, but he stepped closer. “The average life span of a human is laughably brief.” He glanced up at the house, checking the windows, and then leaned in even closer. Two small red dots glowed in the center of his black eyes. The spiderweb lines turned darker and reached up past his jawline. He whispered, “If you ever sneak around and try to catch me unawares again, yours will be much shorter than average.”
The look in those eyes totally freaked me out. But I forced myself to stare right back at him. “Don’t worry about it,” I said. “We’ll probably never see each other again.”
“How I wish that were true.” The crack lines on his skin faded and his face was smooth and white again. He pulled on a cap that matched his workman’s coveralls. “It is the great shame of my existence to admit that we are fellow employees at the moment.”
My mouth fell open. “Fellow employees?”
The alien sighed heavily. He looked straight up and addressed the sky. “Why must these humans repeat everything as if the veracity of a statement will be altered somehow through its repetition?”
“Fellow employees?” I said again. I couldn’t believe this. Any of this.
He looked back down at me. “Yes, that’s right. Say it a few more times and you might just get it.” He leaned even closer. “But here is something I shall only say once. Tell no human of the circumstances of our meeting here. And stay as far away from me as possible.”
He straightened back up and marched away, along the side of the house and up the steps to the porch out front.
I just stared after him. I don’t think I blinked for over a minute.
So much for my big Welcome Back! party.
When I finally got over my shock, I climbed the back porch steps. I was still excited to see Amy and Grandma again, and maybe I could figure out what was going on with that creepy alien. He had to have been messing with me about the “fellow employees” part. No way would Grandma hire someone like him.
The sounds of a heated argument drifted out through an open window. I hurried over and peeked inside.
Robert Tate may have been an ex-sheriff, but he was still a man in uniform. His khaki getup looked like a modification of his scoutmaster uniform, decorated with lots of badges that he had probably made himself. The brick-red patch on his upper arm matched the color of his face as he yelled, “Are you kidding me? There’s no way he leaves this house.”
Grandma stood right in front of Tate, hands on her hips and chin stuck out as she glared up at him. “This is my place of business, and I say he comes and goes as he pleases.”
“Now, this here might be your place”—Tate plucked the toothpick out of his mouth and pointed it at Grandma—“but I don’t work for you.” He tapped a badge on his chest. “By the power vested in me by the Intergalactic Police Force, I forbid him to step even one of those feet outside of here.”
Grandma scoffed. “The power vested in you isn’t enough to run a night-light.”
Tate puffed out his chest and wrestled his tortured belt higher up on his vast belly. The leather couldn’t have been that strained when it was still on the cow. “You never seem to give the proper respect to my employer.” His voice dropped dangerously low. “Keep this up, and I’ll see to it that you answer to the most powerful law enforcement agency in the universe.”
Grandma threw her hands in the air. “Ha!” Her bamboo bracelets rattled all around her skinny arms and her tie-dyed hippie tunic billowed around her. “And what do you suppose will happen then, Tate? Six months later some space bureaucrat will stop by and hand me a sternly worded warning in triplicate?”
“What will happen is that you’ll be shut down. Or don’t you remember what Commander Rezzlurr said last summer? After your grandson let pictures of alien customers get splashed across the front page? I swear, if you allow that kid’s carelessness to rile up another mob—”
“No, Tate, it was you who did that.”
I was glad Grandma stuck up for me, but I still felt bad. I had made some mistakes last summer. But it would be different this time.
Tate took a deep breath. “All I’m saying is that if you keep up this lackadaisical attitude about security, it’ll be someone else investigating next time. And then we’ll both be out of a job.” He pulled a handkerchief out of his pocket and mopped at his brow. “You’ve always had a head full of strange notions, but I swear, you gotta be able to see sense right now. I mean, just look at him, will you?”
Tate gestured to the corner of the room. Squeezed into an oversized leather recliner was a huge brown beast completely covered in hairy fur. Or furry hair. He yawned and stretched out one tree trunk of a leg to rest his foot on a coffee table.
I stared. The foot dwarfed the coffee table. From the base of the heel to the tip of the shaggy big toe, it measured at least a yard. Probably longer.
And that foot looked very familiar.
“Yes, I see him, Tate,” Grandma said. “He’s been coming here for years and years. In fact, he’s—”
“I know he’s been coming here for years and years.” Tate’s voice was rising now. “And can you guess how I know he’s been coming here? Because everyone knows he’s been coming here. He’s had his picture taken! He’s been filmed strolling around in the woods! People have taken plastic molds of his footprints—why, you can buy one at the Forest Grove flea market this Saturday if you like!”
“Oh, come on, now, Tate. Pretty much everyone thinks all of those things are hoaxes.”
“Is that so? Go on and type ‘Bigfoot’ into that Internet and you’ll find people who believe, right enough. Millions of ’em.”
The beast cleared his throat. “Actually, I prefer ‘Sasquatch,’ if you don’t mind. It sounds a little more dignified.” He shrugged his massive furry shoulders. “You have a name that your mother gave you, correct, sir? So how would you like it if everyone on this planet called you Roundnose? Or Giantbelly? To be reduced to a mere body part is a little depressing.”
Grandma smirked. Tate shuffled his feet and avoided the beast’s gaze. “I don’t intend any disrespect, it’s just that—”
“You know, the funny thing is that back on my planet, my feet aren’t even that big. They’re considered average, at best. You want big feet? Then you should see my brother-in-law. He laughs so hard when I tell him about my nickname here.”
Tate turned back to Grandma. “See, that’s exactly what I’m talking about. He’s got a nickname here. And there’s books and movies and T-shirts and-and-and”—Tate’s face was getting purple now, and little flecks of spittle flew from his lips—“and coffee mugs! With his face on them! We’re trying to keep a mighty big secret up here, and one of your guests is famous.”
Sasquatch stood up, his head brushing against the ceiling. Tate took a step backward, and his face went several shades lighter. Sasquatch turned his shaggy head to Grandma. “I’ve always loved my vacations here.” He spread out his hands, enormous palms upward. “But if it’s going to cause problems for everyone now…”
“Oh, nonsense.” Grandma reached up to pat the alien’s arm, and her hand got lost in his fur. “You are always more than welcome here, you know that. Don’t pay him any mind.”
Sasquatch placed his hand gently on Grandma’s shoulder, and most of her back disappeared under a blanket of shaggy hair. “Thank you. I do enjoy my visits. My home planet is getting so crowded, and there’s just so much open space here.” He glared at Tate. I noticed that the ex-sheriff dropped his own hand to his belt, but there was no longer a gun there.
Sasquatch’s voice came out a little growly this time. “It would be a shame to stop these visits now. Especially when I’ve never been captured. Not even close.”
Tate shrank back a little against the wall. “Well, now, maybe we can work something out.”
“That’s more like it,” Grandma said. She smiled sweetly at Tate, but it was a little too big to be genuine. “I knew you were capable of seeing some sense.”
“But you can’t disguise him like you do the others, you know.”
“Oh, of course not. I don’t even try that. He’ll just slip quietly into the forest, like always.”
“I’m not gonna let him just wander out of the house by himself.” Tate stepped away from the wall and tried to reclaim some of his swagger. “We’re too close to town, could be some hikers real close by. Or people fishing at the river, kids building forts in the woods, whatever.”
Sasquatch crossed his arms over his barrel chest and loomed over Tate. Grandma stepped in between the two of them. “So what do you propose?” she asked.
“He can squeeze in the backseat of the Jeep, and I’ll throw a few blankets over him. Then I’ll drive him through the forest and up to the end of that old logging road. Nobody’s used it in years. He can hop out up there and have his vacation, as long as he promises to stay well away from any humans. But if—”
I couldn’t stay quiet any longer. “Can I come?” I said.
They all turned. “David!” Grandma said, throwing her arms wide. I scrambled through the window and she rushed over and gave me a big hug. “It’s so good to see you.”
I hugged her back. “You too, Grandma.” I stepped away and gave a little wave to the man in uniform. “Hi, Mr. Tate.” I wasn’t too excited to see him, obviously, but he was Amy’s dad, after all. It was probably a good idea to be polite.
He touched his finger to the brim of his hat. “Hey, kid.”
Grandma took me by the arm. “David, I’d like you to meet one of my most loyal customers. Sasquatch, this is my grandson. David will be here for the summer.”
Bigfoot stuck out a woolly paw and I shook it. “Hi there,” he said. “Any relation of your grandma’s is a friend of mine.”
“Thanks. I mean, hi,” I said. I had never met someone famous before, and I was a little nervous. “I’m…well, I’m a big fan.”
Tate rolled his eyes. “See what I mean?” he muttered to the ceiling.
“So, what do you do when you visit Earth?” I asked.
“I usually head up to Nooksack Falls first. The salmon up there are spectacular.” He licked his lips. “And there’s a great maze of deep caves near the top of Mount Baker. I’m a bit of a spelunker.” He glanced sideways at Tate. “Don’t worry, the humans can’t visit these caves. They’d have to come in by helicopter, and there’s no place to land.”
“That sounds fun,” I said.
“How long will you be staying with us?” Grandma said.
“It’s just a quick getaway this time—maybe a day or so. I’ll need to be back at work soon.”
Whoa. Bigfoot had a job? “What do you do?”
Sasquatch looked at the ground and cleared his throat. “You’ll laugh.”
I shook my head. “No way. I’m really curious.”
The huge beast shuffled his feet back and forth. “Well, on my home planet…I manage a shoe store.”
Tate chuckled. Sasquatch’s head jerked up and he pointed at the security officer. “But that doesn’t give you a license to perpetuate stereotypes by using my earthling nickname.”
“Wouldn’t dream of it,” Tate said, smirking. He crossed to a trunk sitting against the wall and pulled out some blankets. “Time to head out. Getting dusky out there, and I don’t want to be on that logging road in the pitch black.”
“I’m coming with you,” Grandma said.
“Oh, no you don’t,” Tate said. “We’re not leaving him in charge of this place.” He tilted his head in my direction.
“I trust David’s judgment a lot more than that of some other people around here,” she said. Tate’s face went red again. He opened his mouth for a rebuttal, but Grandma cut him off. “Besides, the Director of Tourist Entertainment is on duty tonight. Practically running the whole show, as usual. And we do have additional adult help around here now, remember? This place will be in great hands, and we’ll only be gone a half hour or so.”
Director of Tourist Entertainment? How many aliens did she have working here now? Because there was no way she was talking about Skull Face. Or was she? Man, I couldn’t think of anyone less suited to a job like that. Except maybe Tate.
The security man harrumphed. “There you go proving my point again. This is just the kind of slapdash approach to security that I’m talking abou—”
“Oh, go use some of that hot air to warm up the Jeep.”
Sasquatch barked out a laugh but tried to disguise it as a cough. I bit the inside of my cheek to keep from busting up.
Tate gave us both a sour look. “Here, carry these.” He thrust the armful of blankets at Sasquatch, fished the Jeep keys out of his pocket, and kicked open the back door.
Sasquatch looked at us with raised eyebrows after Tate stalked off. “I suppose I should follow. I’d hate to see what happens if he ever gets in a bad mood.”
“Have a good vacation,” I said.
“Thanks. Nice to meet you, David.” The big alien smiled and gave me a wave before ducking his head to get through the doorway.
Grandma put her hands on my shoulders and looked at me. “I’m sorry not to be able to welcome you properly. I just don’t trust that man to be polite to my guests if he’s out on his own.”
“It’s okay. I understand.”
She winked at me. “Thanks, David. We’ll have time for a nice chat later. It is so wonderful to see you again.” She gave me another hug.
“Oh, before you go, just one question,” I said. “I met an alien outside. Tall guy, white face? He said he works here?”
“Oh, yes. That’s Scratchull. He’s our new repairman.”
“That’s a shortened version. His proper name is too long and complicated for us Earth types. I’m glad you got a chance to meet him, though.”
“But…he actually works here?”
“Yes. We were having so many problems with the transporters that I had to bring in some off-world help.”
“Really? What, did you put a classified ad in an alien newspaper or something?”
Grandma smiled. “Scratchull comes highly recommended from some administrative folks with the Collective. In fact, a group of them escorted him here for the interview, and then—”
“Let’s get moving,” Tate barked as he stuck his head back in the door. “Your friend’s all scrunched up in the backseat. You don’t want him to get a cramp, do you?”
“All right, all right,” Grandma said. “I’m sorry, David, we’ll catch up later.” She took a few steps toward the door, then turned back to me. “Amy is working tonight.” Grandma winked. “She’s around here somewhere. I’m sure she’ll be happy to talk to you again.”
Tate took his wet toothpick out of his mouth and pointed it at me. “You see that talking is all you do, boy. I’ll be back soon.” His eyes narrowed into slits. “Real soon.”
- "This outing is spot-on for middle graders who like a dash of humor in their science fiction."—Kirkus Reviews
- "The humor and frustration of David being continually duped by the egotistical alien moves the plot....Listeners will be rooting for [him]."—School Library Journal
- On Sale
- Jun 5, 2012
- Page Count
- 304 pages
- Little, Brown Books for Young Readers