Text by Stephanie Peters
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This latest installment in Matt Christopher’s bestselling series combines all the lacrosse action and mystery his fans crave.
Copyright © 2008 by Matt Christopher Royalties, Inc.
All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.
Little, Brown and Company
Hachette Book Group
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New York, NY 10017
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First eBook Edition: December 2009
The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious.
Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.
What's with you, Wallis? Haven't you ever held a lacrosse stick before?"
Garry Wallis shot an angry look at Michael Donofrio. He knew he should be used to his teammate's big mouth; after all, Michael was always ridiculing someone on the Rockets.
Usually, however, that someone was Garry's brother, Todd. Todd had never played lacrosse until last spring. Then, he only joined the Rockets to get some exercise and lose weight. At first, he was terrible, but thanks to some help from the coach's son, Jeff Hasbrouck, he began to improve.
But that didn't stop Michael from bullying him. He thought Todd was dragging the team down — "dead weight," Michael called him, a jab at Todd's size as well as his lack of skill — and he all but ordered Garry to force his brother to quit. When Garry refused, Michael took matters into his own hands and slashed the webbing of Todd's stick before a game!
That's when Garry decided it was time to put Michael in his place. He knew Michael had set his sights on winning the league's top scorer award; he wanted to make sure Michael didn't get it. Since plenty of other Rockets were sick of Michael's attitude too, they helped Garry with his "don't pass to Michael" plan.
Michael was furious when he realized that no one was feeding him the ball. His anger grew when, at the season's end, he wasn't the league's top scorer.
"I know you're behind it," he had snarled at Garry after the last game. "And I'll make you pay!"
After that, Garry had avoided Michael as best he could. Unfortunately, for the next week, he and Michael would be together day and night.
The Rockets were taking part in a lacrosse tournament held at an overnight camp. And it was clear that Michael planned to take every opportunity to make Garry's life miserable.
The Rockets were playing the Cougars in the first round of the two-game elimination tournament. It was the middle of the third quarter and the Cougars led, 9–7. The Rockets needed to pull ahead; if they lost this game, and then one more, they would be watching the rest of the tourney from the sidelines.
Garry was usually one of the Rockets' better players. But right now, he was very tired — and not just from the exertion of the game. He hadn't slept well the night before.
Garry was sharing a four-bunk cabin with Todd, Jeff, and another boy named Conor. Conor was a fun kid and a decent player, but he had one annoying trait: he snored all night long!
Todd and Jeff weren't bothered by the noise because their bunk beds were on the other side of the cabin. Garry, however, was right above Conor and for the past two nights he'd heard every last snort, nose whistle, wheeze, and rumble.
"It's like someone's turning a chain saw on and off next to my ear," Garry whispered to Todd and Jeff at breakfast that morning. "I can't believe you guys don't hear it!"
"So jam something in your ears at night," Todd suggested.
"Like what, my fingers?"
"No, like earplugs," Todd replied. "I'll bet the health center has some."
Garry nodded thoughtfully. "That's not a bad idea, actually. And if they don't, I'll wad up some toilet paper and stick that in!"
"Just be sure it's nice new toilet paper!" Jeff joked.
Garry got the earplugs later that morning. He stuck them in his sweatshirt pocket with a silent prayer that they'd help him sleep better — and hopefully, wake up rested and back to his usual playing form. For right now, Garry was messing up badly and giving Michael all the ammunition he needed to ridicule him on the field.
Thanks to Garry's lousy throw, the Cougars had possession of the ball and were running with it down the sidelines. Their left wing attacker was stocky but surprisingly fast. He cradled the ball to one side of his body and held out his arm to block any oncoming attacks.
Carl and Eric, two of the Rockets defensemen, formed just such an offensive. They charged the attacker together, stopping him in his tracks.
The Cougar whirled and looked for someone to pass to. He found his center midfielder in the clear and slashed his stick downward to send the ball his way.
Whap! Jeff, the Rockets center middie, anticipated the throw and slapped the ball down to the ground before the Cougar could reach it. The ball bounced through the grass toward Samuel, another Rockets midfielder. Samuel stuck his stick under it and scooped it up. Now the action was headed toward the Cougars goal!
"Pass it up, already!" Michael screamed.
Samuel did, a line drive bomb that socked right into the pocket of Michael's stick.
Michael cradled it, spun around, and dashed toward the crease.
A Cougars defenseman challenged him but then fell back a step when Michael didn't slow down.
"Can't see!" the Cougars goalkeeper yelled.
That was all the advantage Michael needed. He sidestepped past the defenseman and blasted a vicious shot toward the net. The goalkeeper saw the ball coming and lunged to make the save, but was just a moment too late.
The Rockets cheered and whooped. Michael acknowledged the praise with a fist pumped in the air. Then he ambled back to the center X for the face-off. He passed Garry on the way.
"Wallis, since you're not doing diddly out there today," he growled, "just feed me the ball and get out of my way. Got it?"
"I'd rather eat my stick!" Garry snarled back.
"Really? See me after the game and I'll feed it to you myself!"
"Good one, D-man," Evan, the Rockets left midfielder, called. Evan was Michael's sidekick. Lately, he seemed to be trying to curry Michael's favor by giving him different nicknames. It hadn't worked as far as Garry could tell. Michael still treated Evan like a lower life-form.
Jeff ran up behind them. "Knock it off, you guys," he said to Garry and Michael, "and start acting like teammates, will you?"
The two boys exchanged one last angry look. Then Garry moved to the wing area and Michael to the center. The referee put the ball on the X, stepped back, and blew his whistle.
Michael flipped his stick over the ball, twisted the head around, and sent the ball bounding over to Conor on the right.
"Weave!" he cried, the call for a three-man passing play down the field.
Conor snatched the ball from the grass and immediately started running toward the center of the field. As he did, Michael came toward him. Garry, meanwhile, prepared to receive the ball from Conor and then take his place in the center.
But Michael had other ideas. "Garry's covered!" he yelled to Conor. "Pass back!"
Conor didn't bother to look Garry's way to see if Michael was telling the truth. If he had, he would have seen that Garry had dodged past his defender and was, in fact, completely open.
Darn that Michael! Garry thought furiously as he watched Michael get the ball back from Conor. The weave would have worked if he wasn't so selfish!
When two defenders stormed Michael from either side and broke up his attack, Garry couldn't help grinning — even though it meant the Rockets had missed out on a chance to score. Luckily, the Cougars bobbled their goal attempt and the Rockets reclaimed possession. Two minutes and some quick passes later, the ball was in the Cougars net!
The third quarter ended with the Rockets within one goal of a win.
- On Sale
- Apr 1, 2008
- Page Count
- 144 pages
- Little, Brown Books for Young Readers