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R. L. Stine pens new ‘Goosebumps’ series

/ Source: TODAY

The best-selling author is back with a new take on his classic thrills-and-chills suspense series. Read an excerpt of "Revenge of the Living Dummy" from R. L. Stine's new Goosebumps HorrorLand books.

Chapter OneYou may wonder why my best friend, Molly Molloy, and I were in the old graveyard late at night.

I shivered as I thought about what we were doing. Wind howled through the trees, and pale streaks of lightning cracked the sky.

“Hurry, Molly,” I whispered, hugging myself as the moon disappeared behind the clouds. “It’s going to storm.”

“I am hurrying, Britney,” Molly said. “But the ground ... it’s really hard.”

We were digging a grave. We took turns. One of us shoveled while the other stood lookout. I felt cold raindrops on my forehead. I kept my eyes on the low picket fence near the street. Nothing moved. The only sounds were the scrape of the shovel in the dirt and a drum roll of thunder, deep but far away.

Across from me, an old gravestone made a creaking sound as it tilted in the wind.

I sucked in my breath. I suddenly pictured the old stone toppling over. And someone crawling out from the grave beneath it.

Okay, okay. I have a wild imagination. Everyone knows that about me.

My mom says I’ll either be a writer or a crazy person.

She thinks that’s really funny.

Sometimes having a strong imagination is a good thing. And sometimes it just makes things more scary.

Like tonight.

Molly stopped shoveling to push the hair out of her eyes. Raindrops pattered on the blanket of dead leaves on the ground. “Britney, does this look deep enough?” she asked in a hoarse whisper.

I glanced at the glass coffin on the ground.

“Keep digging. We have to totally cover it,” I said.

I turned back to the street. It was late, and the neighborhood stood dark and still. But what if someone drove by and saw us?

How could we ever explain the grave we were digging?

How could we explain why we were there?

Molly groaned and dug the shovel blade into the dirt.

The dead leaves crackled. I held my breath and listened. Footsteps. Someone creeping quickly through the leaves toward us.

“Molly —” I whispered.

Then I saw them, huddled low, moving in a line.

Raccoons. A pack of them, little eyes glowing. The black fur on their faces made the little creatures look like they were wearing masks.

They froze when they saw us. And then stood up taller.

Do raccoons ever attack?

These raccoons looked really hungry. I imagined them stampeding Molly and me. Swarming over us, clawing and biting.

A bright flash of lightning brought them into clear focus. They were staring at the little glass coffin. Did they think there was food inside?

A clap of thunder — closer now — startled them. The leader turned and scuttled away over the leaves. The others followed.

I shivered and wiped rain off my forehead.

Molly handed me the shovel. “Your turn,” she said. “It’s almost finished.”

The wooden handle scratched my hand. I kicked dirt off the blade and stepped up to the shallow hole. “No one will ever find it here,” I said. “Once we bury the evil thing, we’ll be safe from it.”

Molly didn’t answer.

I had the sudden feeling something was wrong.

I turned and saw Molly staring with her mouth open. Staring at the tall gravestone next to us.

She pointed. “Brit —”

And then I heard the old stone creak. And saw the pale hand slowly reach out from the grave.

No time to move. No time to scream.

I stood frozen — and watched the hand wrap its cold, bony fingers around my ankle.

And then I started to scream.

Chapter TwoTwo weeks earlier, I had other things on my mind. I wasn’t thinking about the old graveyard down the street. I had other problems.

Well, one big problem. And his name was Ethan.

Ethan is my cousin, and it isn’t nice to hate your cousin. So let's just say he isn’t one of my favorite people on this planet.

I like to make lists. And if I made a list of My Top 5,000 Favorite People in the World, cousin Ethan wouldn't be on it.

Get what I'm saying?

It was almost dinner time on a Friday night. And I was perched on the edge of the bed in my new bedroom.

Why did I have a new bedroom?

Because Mom and Dad kicked me out of my awesome room in the attic to make room for guess who — Ethan. So now I had to sleep in Mom's sewing room. And the sewing machine was still against the wall. So how much room did I have? Try not much.

I was talking on my cell to Molly. Molly is maybe the only person who understands what a pain Ethan is. Because she's met him. And she had two bruised knees to prove it.

Whoever told Ethan that kicking people is funny?

Molly and I are like sisters. If you mention Molly Molloy, you have to mention me, Britney Crosby, too. We are both twelve, and we live on the same block, and we've always been in the same class since third grade.

We both like to draw and paint. We both like to make lists of everything. We are always finishing each other's sentences — like we have one brain!

Molly is a little taller than me, and more into sports. We both have coppery hair, although hers is lighter and curlier. And we both have brown eyes.

I'm the funny one. It's hard to make Molly laugh.

I think she's more serious than me because her parents split up, and she lives with her dad. He travels a lot, and he's kind of a flake. So she feels like she has to be the grownup in the house.

You can see I've thought about it a lot.

Once I made a list of my good qualities and my bad qualities. And one of my good qualities was that I really try to understand my friends.

“I can't come over now,” I told Molly. “That brat Ethan will be here any minute. Dad went to the bus station to pick him up.”

Molly groaned into the phone. “Maybe you'll get lucky. Maybe he missed the bus. Why is he coming to stay with you, anyway?”

“His parents had to go away or something,” I said. “He's even coming to our school. I think he's in third grade.”

“He's such a sicko,” Molly said. “Maybe you should move over here till he leaves.”

I rolled my eyes. “Like my mom would go for that.”

“She knows you hate him,” Molly said.

“I'm supposed to feel sorry for Ethan because he's had such a tough life,” I said. “You know. His parents were both sick for a long time and didn't pay any attention to him.”

Molly shook her head. “Yeah. I remember.”

I groaned. “So Mom and Dad say I have to take good care of him. Every ten minutes, they remind me I have to be nice to him.”

“Hel-lo!” Molly said. “Do they know he kicks people when the grownups aren’t looking? Do they know how he kept trying to trip you and make you fall down the stairs? Did you tell them he tricked you into eating a sandwich that had dead bugs in it?”

“He's totally bratty, but they don’t believe me,” I said. “Last time Ethan stayed here, he started messing with my computer — and he deleted my whole term paper. He said it was an accident. Then he burst out laughing.”

Molly groaned again. “What a creep.”

“Molly, what am I going to do?” I wailed. “He's coming to live with us for weeks.”

Molly was silent for a moment. Then she said softly, “Face it, Britney. Your life is over.”

“OHHHH!” I let out a cry as I heard a deafening crash. From downstairs?

I nearly dropped the phone.

Was Ethan here already?

Excerpted from “Goosebumps HorrorLand #1: Night of the Living Dummy” by R. L. Stine Copyright © 2008 by R. L. Stine. Excerpted by permission of Scholastic Inc. All rights reserved.