Read 10 - The Ghost Next Door Online

Authors: R.L. Stine - (ebook by Undead)

10 - The Ghost Next Door




Goosebumps - 10
R.L. Stine
(An Undead Scan v1.5)





Hannah wasn’t sure which had awakened her—the brittle crackling sounds or
the bright yellow flames.

She sat straight up in bed and stared in wide-eyed horror at the fire that
surrounded her.

Flames rippled across her dresser. The burning wallpaper curled and then
melted. The door of her closet had burned away, and she could see the fire
leaping from shelf to shelf.

Even the mirror was on fire. Hannah could see her reflection, dark behind the
wall of flickering flames.

The fire moved quickly to fill the room.

Hannah began to choke on the thick, sour smoke.

It was too late to scream.

But she screamed anyway.


* * *


How nice to find out it was only a dream.

Hannah sat up in bed, her heart pounding, her mouth as dry as cotton.

No crackling flames. No leaping swirls of yellow and orange.

No choking smoke.

All a dream, a horrible dream. So real.

But a dream.

“Wow. That was really scary,” Hannah muttered to herself. She sank back on
her pillow and waited for her heart to stop thudding so hard in her chest. She
raised her gray-blue eyes to the ceiling, staring at the cool whiteness of it.

Hannah could still picture the black, charred ceiling, the curling wallpaper,
the flames tossing in front of the mirror.

“At least my dreams aren’t
she told herself. Kicking off the
light blanket, she glanced at her desk clock. Only eight-fifteen.

How can it only be eight-fifteen? she wondered. I feel as if I’ve been
sleeping forever. What day is it, anyway?

It was hard to keep track of these summer days. One seemed to melt into

Hannah was having a lonely summer. Most of her friends had gone away on
family vacations or to camp.

There was so little for a twelve-year-old to do in a small town like
Greenwood Falls. She read a lot of books and watched a lot of TV and rode her bike around town, looking for someone to hang out with.


But today Hannah climbed out of bed with a smile on her face.

She was alive!

Her house hadn’t burned down. She hadn’t been trapped inside the crackling
wall of flames.

Hannah pulled on a pair of Day-Glo green shorts and a bright orange
sleeveless top. Her parents were always teasing her about being color blind.

“Give me a
What’s the big deal if I like bright colors?” she
always replied.

Bright colors. Like the flames around her bed.

“Hey, dream—get
!” she muttered. She ran a hairbrush quickly
through her short blonde hair, then headed down the hall to the kitchen. She
could smell the eggs and bacon frying on the stove.

“Good morning, everyone!” Hannah chirped happily.

She was even happy to see Bill and Herb, her six-year-old twin brothers.

Pests. The noisiest nuisances in Greenwood Falls.

They were tossing a blue rubber ball across the breakfast table. “How many
times do I have to tell you—no ball-playing in the house?” Mrs. Fairchild
called, turning away from the stove to scold them.

“A million,” Bill said.

Herb laughed. He thought Bill was hilarious. They both thought they were a

Hannah stepped behind her mother and wrapped her up in a tight hug around the

“Hannah—stop!” her mother cried. “I nearly knocked over the eggs!”

“Hannah—stop! Hannah—stop!”
The twins imitated their

The ball bounced off Herb’s plate, rebounded off the wall, and flew onto the
stove, inches from the frying pan.

“Nice shot, ace,” Hannah teased.

The twins laughed their high-pitched laughs.

Mrs. Fairchild spun around, frowning. “If the ball goes in the frying pan,
you’re going to
it with your eggs!” she threatened, shaking her fork
at them.

This made the boys laugh even harder.

“They’re in goofy moods today,” Hannah said, smiling. She had a dimple in one
cheek when she smiled.

“When are they ever in
moods?” her mother demanded, tossing
the ball into the hallway.

“Well, I’m in a
mood today!” Hannah declared, gazing out the
window at a cloudless, blue sky.

Her mother stared at her suspiciously. “How come?”

Hannah shrugged. “I just am.” She didn’t feel like telling her mother about
the nightmare, about how good it felt just to be alive. “Where’s Dad?”

“Went to work early,” Mrs. Fairchild said, turning the bacon with the fork.
“Some of us don’t get the entire summer off,” she added. “What are you going to
do today, Hannah?”

Hannah opened the refrigerator and pulled out a carton of orange juice. “The
usual, I guess. You know. Just hang out.”

“I’m sorry you’re having such a boring summer,” her mother said, sighing. “We
just didn’t have the money to send you to camp. Maybe next summer—”

“That’s okay, Mom,” Hannah replied brightly. “I’m having an okay summer.
Really.” She turned to the twins. “How’d you guys like those ghost stories last

“Not scary,” Herb quickly replied.

“Not scary at all. Your ghost stories are dumb,” Bill added.

“You guys looked pretty scared to me,” Hannah insisted.

“We were pretending,” Herb said.

She held up the orange juice carton. “Want some?”

“Does it have pulp in it?” Herb asked.

Hannah pretended to read the carton. “Yes. It says ‘one hundred percent

“I hate pulp!” Herb declared.

“Me, too!” Bill agreed, making a face.

It wasn’t the first time they’d had a breakfast discussion about pulp.

“Can’t you buy orange juice without pulp?” Bill asked their mother.

“Can you strain it for us?” Herb asked Hannah.

“Can I have apple juice instead?” Bill asked.

“I don’t want juice. I want milk,” Herb decided.

Normally, this discussion would have made Hannah scream. But today, she
reacted calmly. “One apple juice and one milk coming up,” she said cheerfully.

“You certainly
in a good mood this morning,” her mother commented.

Hannah handed Bill his apple juice, and he promptly spilled it.


After breakfast, Hannah helped her mother clean up the kitchen. “Nice day,”
Mrs. Fairchild said, peering out the window. “Not a cloud in the sky. It’s
supposed to go up to ninety.”

Hannah laughed. Her mother was always giving weather reports. “Maybe I’ll go
for a long bike ride before it gets really hot,” she told her mother.

She stepped out the back door and took a deep breath. The warm air smelled
sweet and fresh. She watched two yellow-and-red butterflies fluttering side by
side over the flower garden.

She took a few steps across the grass toward the garage. From somewhere down
the block she could hear the low drone of a power mower.

Hannah gazed up at the clear blue sky. The sun felt warm on her face.

look out
!” an alarmed voice cried.

Hannah felt a sharp pain in her back.

She uttered a frightened gasp as she fell to the ground.





Hannah landed hard on her elbows and knees. She turned quickly to see what
had hit her.

A boy on a bike. “Sorry!” he called. He jumped off the bike and let it fall
to the grass. “I didn’t see you.”

I’m wearing Day-Glo green and orange, Hannah thought. Why couldn’t he see me?

She climbed to her feet and rubbed the grass stains on her knees. “Ow,” she
muttered, frowning at him.

“I tried to stop,” he said quietly.

Hannah saw that he had bright red hair, almost as orange as candy corn, brown
eyes, and a face full of freckles.

“Why were you riding in my yard?” Hannah demanded.

yard?” He narrowed his dark eyes at her. “Since when?”

“Since before I was born,” Hannah replied sharply.

He pulled a leaf from her hair. “You live in that house?” he asked, pointing.

Hannah nodded. “Where do
live?” Hannah demanded. She examined her
elbows. They were dirty, but not bruised.

“Next door,” he said, turning toward the redwood ranch-style house across the

“Huh?” Hannah reacted with surprise. “You can’t live there!”

“Why not?” he demanded.

“That house is empty,” she told him, studying his face. “It’s been empty ever
since the Dodsons moved away.”

“It’s not empty now,” he said. “I live there. With my mom.”

How can that be? Hannah wondered. How could someone move in right next door
without my knowing it?

I was playing with the twins back here yesterday, she thought, gazing hard at
the boy. I’m sure that house was dark and empty.

“What’s your name?” she asked.

“Danny. Danny Anderson.”

She told him her name. “I guess we’re neighbors,” she said. “I’m twelve. How
about you?”

“Me, too.” He bent to examine his bike. Then he pulled out a tuft of grass
that had gotten caught in the spokes of the back wheel. “How come I’ve never
seen you before?” he asked suspiciously.

“How come I’ve never seen
she replied.

He shrugged. His eyes crinkled in the corners as a shy smile crossed his

“Well, did you just move in?” Hannah asked, trying to get to the bottom of
the mystery.

“Huh-uh,” he replied, concentrating on the bike.

“No? How long have you lived here?” Hannah asked.

“A while.”

That’s impossible! Hannah thought. There’s no way he could have moved in next
door without me knowing it!

But before she could react, she heard a high-pitched voice calling her from
the house. “Hannah! Hannah! Herb won’t give back my Gameboy!” Bill stood on the
back stoop, leaning against the open screen door.

“Where’s Mom?” Hannah shouted back. “She’ll get it for you.”


The screen door slammed hard as Bill went to find Mrs. Fairchild.

Hannah turned back to talk to Danny, but he had vanished into thin air.





The mail usually came a little before noon. Hannah rushed eagerly down to the
bottom of the drive and pulled open the mailbox lid.

No mail for her. No mail at all.

Disappointed, she hurried back to her room to write a scolding letter to her
best friend, Janey Pace.


Dear Janey,

I hope you’re having a good time at camp. But not too good—because
you broke your promise. You said that you’d write to me every day, and so far, I
haven’t even received a crummy POSTCARD.

I am so BORED I don’t know what to do! You can’t imagine how little there is
to do in Greenwood Falls when no one is around. It’s really like DEATH!

I watch TV and I read a lot. Do you believe I’ve already read ALL the books on our summer reading list? Dad promised to take
us all camping in Miller Woods—BIG THRILL—but he’s been working just about
every weekend, so I don’t think he will.


Last night I was so bored, I marched the twins outside and built a little
campfire behind the garage and pretended we were away at camp and told them a
bunch of scary ghost stories.

The boys wouldn’t admit it, of course, but I could see they enjoyed it. But
you know how ghost stories freak me out. I started seeing weird shadows and
things moving behind the trees. It was really kind of hilarious, I guess. I
totally scared MYSELF.

Don’t laugh, Janey. You don’t like ghost stories, either.

My only other news is that a new boy moved into the Dodsons’ old house next
door. His name is Danny and he’s our age, and he has red hair and freckles, and
he’s kind of cute, I think.

I’ve only seen him once. Maybe I’ll have more to report about him later.

But now it’s YOUR TURN to write. Come on, Janey. You promised. Have you met
any cute guys at camp? Is THAT why you’re too busy to write to me?

If I don’t hear from you, I hope you get poison ivy all over your body—especially in places where you can’t scratch!




Hannah folded the letter and stuffed it into an envelope. Her small desk
stood in front of the bedroom window. Leaning over the desk, she could see the
house next door.

I wonder if that’s Danny’s room? she thought, peering into the window just
across the driveway. Curtains were pulled over the window, blocking her view.

Hannah pulled herself to her feet. She ran a hairbrush through her hair, then
carried the letter to the front door.

She could hear her mother scolding the twins somewhere in the back of the
house. The boys were giggling as Mrs. Fairchild yelled at them. Hannah heard a
loud crash. Then more giggling.

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