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Spooky Buddies Junior Novel

Copyright © 2011 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved. Published by Disney Press, 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 Press, 114 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York 10011-5690.

ISBN 978-1-4231-6246-9

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Fernfield, USA
Halloween night, 1937

I
t was a dark and stormy night. Lightning sparked across the sky. An owl named Hoot flew toward a large Victorian manor on the outskirts of town. Hoot glided through a window of the manor's tallest turret. Inside stood a man in dark robes. He held a staff with a large black jewel at the top.

“Tonight is the night,” the man said as Hoot landed on a perch beside him. “All Hallows' Eve, and the moon is full. I'll show those fools how powerful Warwick the Warlock really is!”

“Master, you are the evilest,” Hoot said in approval.

Five beagle puppies sat at Warwick's feet. One of the puppies, Pip, stepped forward.

“Excuse me, Mr. Hoot, sir,” Pip said politely. “When do we get to meet the Howlloween Hound?”

“I think Master is almost ready,” Hoot replied.

Warwick touched a candlestick, and a secret panel in the wall slid open. Behind it were shelves of potions and a large leather-bound book.

Meanwhile, several cars arrived outside. Sheriff Jim jumped out of one, along with his loyal bloodhound, Deputy Tracker. More townspeople got out of the other cars.

One was a seven-year-old boy named Joseph. His father was with him. “Pip!” Joseph called through the tall iron gates. “We have to find him, Dad! He's my best friend!” Five puppies had gone missing, and Joseph's puppy, Pip, was one of them. The sheriff and Deputy Tracker's detective work had led them to the manor.

Deputy Tracker was sniffing around. He picked up a scent almost immediately and let out a howl.

Sheriff Jim looked up. A light was burning in the mansion's highest turret.

“That no-good Warwick must have the puppies!” the sheriff said. He pulled at the chain on the gate. “Give me a hand with this.”

As the sheriff tried to break open the chain, Warwick heard the commotion and looked out the window. “Drat,” he muttered when he saw the intruders cutting the chain. “We'd better hurry,” he said to Hoot.

A tall mirror stood nearby. Warwick stepped in front of it. It was time to recite one of the spells from his leather-bound book. The gem on his staff began to glow as he spoke:

“On All Hallows' Eve,

When the moon is full and bright,

Open a portal to beyond the light.

Call three times to summon

A hound with great might.

The souls of five puppies

Will be yours this night.”

“Master,” Hoot said, “what do you mean about ‘souls being his'?” That didn't sound right to Hoot.

“Silence, you birdbrain!” Warwick ordered.

The gem on his staff burned with an otherworldly light. He pointed it toward the mirror.

“Howlloween Hound, Howlloween Hound, Howlloween Hound!” he cried.

A beam of moonlight hit the gem, then the mirror. The mirror glowed, causing a mysterious light to swirl around the room.

In the glass, a new reflection was forming. Large. Dark. Scary. Canine.

Warwick smiled. “Come to our side, Howlloween Hound!”

The shape solidified. “Who summons me?” a deep voice howled from within the mirror.

Warwick took a step back. He couldn't help feeling a little nervous.

“I have, Hound,” he answered. “Warwick the Great! I have five puppy souls of the same blood who are
dying
to meet you. I believe that is what you need to open the portal.”

“Why should I open the portal for you?” the Hound growled.

“With your help, we will unleash all creatures of the underworld into Fernfield!” Warwick declared. “You and I can rule the land, Hound!”

“I like the sound of that,” the Hound said.

“We must hurry,” Warwick warned. “We only have this night, Halloween, while the moon is full.” He glanced at the puppies. “You can meet the Howlloween Hound now,” he told them with a sinister smile.

Suddenly, the Hound let out a loud howl. Magical energy poured out of his mouth. It swirled around one of the puppies.…

Outside, Sheriff Jim had broken through the gate. Now he tried the front door. It was locked.

“Grab that tree trunk,” he told the others. “We'll have to knock down the door.”

“Pip, where are you?” Joseph cried.

High above in the turret, Pip was now the only puppy left. The others had been turned to stone by the Howlloween Hound. He had taken their souls!

“Mr. Hoot, I changed my mind,” Pip said. “I don't want to go with the Howlloween Hound. I just want to be with my boy!”

“Master,” the owl said, “the puppy doesn't want to go now.”

Warwick ignored the owl. He reached for Pip.

But Pip didn't trust him. He bit Warwick's finger, then took off.

“Ow!” Warwick yelped. “Why you little—”

He chased the puppy down the manor's grand staircase.

Just then, the door burst open. Townspeople poured in, including Joseph.

“Pip!” the little boy cried.

He reached for his puppy. But Warwick swooped in and grabbed Pip first.

“Stay back!” the warlock warned, pulling out a potion bottle. “Or I'll turn you all into toads!”

Two men ignored him and stepped forward. Warwick splashed the potion on them.

POOF!

The men vanished. Their clothes fell to the floor. A second later, two toads hopped out! Everyone gasped as Warwick flew up the stairs with Pip.

Joseph pulled away from his father and ran after the warlock. He had to save his puppy!

Warwick raced upstairs. “Quickly, Hound, take that last puppy!” he urged when he reached the turret. “Complete the spell—now!”

The Hound howled. Pip couldn't get away this time. He slowly turned to stone as his spirit floated up out of his body toward the mirror.

“Pip!” Joseph cried, bursting through the door.

The sheriff's dog, Deputy Tracker, raced in. Leaping at Warwick, he grabbed the magic staff in his teeth.

“Hey!” Warwick yelled. “Let go!”

At that moment, the first rays of sunlight poured in through the window. A beam hit the jewel on Warwick's staff. The jewel's glow faded away.

Warwick gasped. No! His spell had to be completed by dawn, or the Hound would remain in the mirror and Warwick wouldn't be able to take over the town.

“Hound! Wait!” he cried. “Open the portal!”

But the Hound's image was fading. Even though he'd already turned Pip to stone, he hadn't had time to finish taking the puppy's soul before dawn broke. It was too late.

“I need all five puppy souls….” The Hound's growl trailed off. A moment later, his image faded away.

By then, Sheriff Jim and Joseph's dad had arrived. “It's over, Warwick!” Sheriff Jim said. “Enough of your black magic—this town will not stand for it!”

Warwick backed away. “I'll take over this town one day!” he declared. “Mark my words, I will return!”

Then he dove into the mirror, disappearing as the glow faded completely.

Joseph ran to the stone statue of Pip. “Dad,” he cried, “look what they did to Pip! We need to turn Pip back!”

“He's gone, Joseph,” his father said sadly. “Pip's gone. Let's go home, son.”

Joseph couldn't believe he had lost his puppy. He walked sadly out of the room.

But Pip wasn't gone. Not entirely. His spirit was still hovering overhead, watching everything.

“Joseph?” Pip said. “Wait! I'm right here!”

But the humans and Deputy Tracker were already leaving. They hurried downstairs and out the front door. When Pip tried to follow them outside, he found himself blocked by some invisible force.

“No!” the puppy cried.

Outside, Joseph hugged the stone puppy his dad had given him. “Poor Pip,” Joseph said.

“What happened, Sheriff?” one of the townspeople asked.

Sheriff Jim was still holding Warwick's staff. Joseph's dad had the spell book.

“I don't know,” the sheriff said. “But this home is officially condemned. Let's board it up—I don't want anyone going in.”

As they got back into their cars, nobody noticed the owl flying out the turret window.

“I will wait for you to return, Master,” Hoot promised.

Fernfield, USA
October 31, present day

“N
o one is exactly sure what happened that night—or if the legend is even true,” Mrs. Carroll said. “But it's an interesting part of Fernfield folklore.”

Her class stared at the boarded-up old manor on the outskirts of town. Five of the kids in the class—Billy, Pete, Bartleby, Sam, and Alice—were there.

They had brought their golden retriever puppies with them—B-Dawg, Mudbud, Budderball, Buddha, and Rosebud. Together, the five pups were known as the Buddies. They were tagging along on the class's Spooky Fernfield field trip.

One of the bigger kids in the class, Rodney, looked around with a smirk. “Tell that to the kids who got eaten by the Howlloween Hound last year,” he said. “Kids go in every Halloween and say the Hound's name in the mirror three times, and they're never seen again!”

Suddenly, there was a loud howl from the bushes. Everyone gasped.

A boy named Skip stepped out. He was the one who had howled. He laughed and traded high fives with Rodney.

“Okay, Rodney and Skip,” Mrs. Carroll scolded. “There will be no more tricks. Come along children, we have two more stops on our Spooky Fernfield tour.”

As the kids climbed on the bus, the Buddies started to follow. Then the puppies noticed that one of their group was missing.

“Where's B-Dawg hiding?” Buddha wondered.

B-Dawg stepped out from behind some bushes. “I wasn't hiding, yo,” he said. “I was just getting ready to pounce on that Hound.”

“Sure, dude,” Mudbud said. “You were hiding like a scaredy cat, 'cause you thought there was a ghost.”

“B-Dawg is afraid of nothing!” B-Dawg bragged. He liked to think he was the toughest of the Buddies. “I'll prove it—I'll go in there right now, call out that Howlloween Hound, and kick his tail.”

He raced off toward the house. The other puppies chased after him.

B-Dawg slipped inside the house past an opening in the wood, and the rest of the Buddies followed.

“See? It's…it's not too scary,” B-Dawg said, trying to sound brave. But the place was definitely spooky. Everything was covered in dust and cobwebs. Only a little light seeped in through the boards on the windows. “I'm going to prove once and for all that I ain't no scaredy cat.”

B-Dawg headed toward the stairs.

“Uh, okay,” Rosebud said. “You're not a scaredy cat. We take it back.”

But B-Dawg kept going. Reluctantly, the other Buddies followed him up the stairs. None of them noticed the ghost puppy floating along above them.…

Mrs. Carroll's class got off the bus at the Fernfield cemetery. “Many people and their pets from Fernfield history have their final resting place here,” the teacher said.

The kids looked around nervously.

“I could do without the cemetery on Halloween,” Billy said. He was not feeling very good about this.

The others nodded in agreement. But Mrs. Carroll led them farther in.

“Here's the great Deputy Tracker's grave,” she pointed out. “One of the best canine officers our town ever saw.”

Billy looked at the grave site. Beside it was a statue of a cute little beagle puppy. What was that doing there?

Then he heard the sound of a shovel hitting dirt. Looking around, he saw a tall, gloomy old man digging a grave.

“Good afternoon, Mr. Johnson,” Mrs. Carroll said to the old man. She turned to her students. “That's the caretaker,” she told them. “He's been running this place as long as I can remember.”

“That dude is spook central!” Pete whispered to his friends as the class continued on its way.

Back at the manor, B-Dawg had reached the turret room. He looked around and spotted four stone puppy statues. He shivered slightly. Then he stared into the dark mirror.

“Just say it three times, and it will all be over,” he whispered to himself. He knew this was the only way to prove he wasn't scared.

The other Buddies entered the room. And so did the ghost puppy! It was Pip, who had been trapped in the manor all those years by himself. He couldn't believe that other puppies were actually there. But the only one of the Buddies who caught a glimpse of the ghostly beagle pup was Budderball.

“Did you guys just see that?” he asked nervously.

“See what?” Mudbud asked.

Budderball was still looking up, but Pip had disappeared. “A strange glow,” he said. “Like a ghost. Maybe we ought to just leave.”

“Look who's a scaredy cat, now,” B-Dawg teased. He took a deep breath. “Howlloween Hound…”

“Okay, nothing happened,” Budder-ball interrupted. “Let's go!”

“Howlloween Hound,” B-Dawg said again.

Pip flew in front of B-Dawg. “Don't say it, please!” he cried.

This time all the Buddies saw the ghost. They froze in terror.

“Stop!” Pip urged. “Don't say it again! You'll release them!”

B-Dawg couldn't believe his eyes. “You're…you're the H-H-Howlloween Hound!” he cried.

“Oh, no!” Pip exclaimed as the mirror started to glow. “You said it three times!”

The Buddies were already racing out of the room. Pip flew after them.

“Wait!” he cried. “I'm not the Howlloween Hound!”

But the Buddies didn't hear him. They ran out of the house without looking back.

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