You 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 drumroll 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.
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.
Goosebumps HorrorLand #1: Revenge of the Living Dummy, by R.L. Stine Excerpt © 2008 by Scholastic Inc.