NATE ROCKS the SCHOOL! by Karen Pokras Toz
Grand Daisy Press
Here is an excerpt from Karen Pokras Toz’s latest, Nate Rocks the School!
As we settle back into our seats, Tommy and I decide to make our posters look like the inside of a haunted mansion. Tommy is drawing the background with spider webs and cracked windows, and I’m drawing scary faces. Honestly, it’s really not that spooky looking, but there is only so much you can do with a poster and markers. I finish up a picture of a giant cauldron for my witches’ brew before Mrs. Cogin announces that time is up.
I volunteer to carry all the posters down to the gym while everyone else helps to clean up. Mr. Sparks, the janitor, runs up to me in a panic.
“Nate! Thank goodness. I’ve been looking everywhere for you! They need your help in the gym right away.”
“I know, I’m heading there now,” I reply. Seriously, if everyone hadn’t waited until the last minute, none of this decorating stuff would be a problem.
“Be careful, son,” Mr. Sparks says, as he pushes me through the door.
I enter the dark gym. “Hello?” I call out. The doors slam shut with a bang behind me, eliminating what little light there was. I thought there were windows in here. Why is it so dark? I feel along the walls for the light switch, but can’t find it. “Anyone?” I lean the posters against the wall. Where is everyone? Shouldn’t there be people in here setting up for the dance? I thought Mom said she was coming this afternoon to help. What’s that awful smell?
“Ah, I’ve been expecting you,” says the somewhat odd yet familiar shrill voice.
“Lisa? Is that you? What’s wrong with your voice, and why is it so dark in here?”
A tiny spark glimmers from across the room. The flame jumps, lighting a row of candles along the back wall. Candles? I guess people were busy decorating today. Nice touch. A girl dressed all in black seems to be floating toward me through the darkness.
“So, it is Nate Rocks after all,” she says, as she approaches.
My eyes focus on her face. “What are you doing in the gym, Lisa, and why are you dressed like an ugly witch? I thought you wanted to be Cleopatra.”
“Ugly witch!?” she shrieks. She lifts the wand she is holding and swirls it in the air. A ring of fire appears at my feet, surrounding me.
“Uh, perhaps ugly was a bit strong?” I meekly respond. “I just meant, you look different than usual, that’s all. Could you call off the flames? I’m just here to help set up.”
She lifts her wand and flicks her wrist. The flames instantly disappear.
“That’s pretty cool. I didn’t know they were going to have special effects tonight. Can you show me how you did that, Lisa?”
“My name is Lizetta, not Lisa, and I do not need your help. But perhaps they do …” Lisa once again raises her wand. A light jumps from its tip to the other corner of the gym, lighting that part of the room.
“Mom? Dad? Abby? What are you all doing here? Lisa, why are they tied up? Is this some kind of a joke?”
“I told you, my name is Lizetta!” Lizetta flicks her wand once more, lighting the rest of the candles along the other three walls. What used to be the gym now appears to be a very old and spooky looking castle.
“All righty then,” I say, slowly backing up, “Lizetta it is.”
“Help us!” Abby screams.
“Silence!” Lizetta orders. She lifts her wand again and mumbles some words I don’t quite understand. A large puff of smoke appears. Mom and Dad are now standing next to Lizetta, Mom is dressed as another witch, and Dad is dressed as a vampire. They both have glazed eyes and evil grins on their faces. Abby, still in the corner, is tied up.
“What did you do to them?” I demand.
Lizetta just laughs.
“Nate!” Abby yells from across the room. “Don’t just stand there! Do something!”
Lizetta turns to her. “You! I thought I told you to be quiet!” Lizetta commands. She points her wand at Abby and says, “Goblins and ghouls I know the most, turn that whiny teen into a ghost!”
“Now we’re talking,” I mumble under my breath.
Lizetta taps her wand in the air. Another puff of smoke clouds my view. When it finally clears, all that is left where Abby was standing is a monkey.
“Abby? Uh, Lizetta, I think you might have gotten that spell wrong.”
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