My name is Douglas Murray, and I'm a tough kid.
I'm not bragging or anything, it's just the truth. You can ask anyone on my hockey team, the Wildcats, and they'll tell you the same thing. I'm much bigger and stronger than any of the other twelve-year-olds, and I've been in about a million fights and never lost one! Everyone knows about me and is scared of me, but I'm not scared of anything in the world...
...at least, that's the way I used to be.
My life changed during the championship playoff series for my hockey team. We were facing off against the North Horrorbrook Creatures, a team full of really weird kids who all had green eyes. They never said much during games, but they were amazing at hockey. They beat us pretty badly in our home rink the first two games of the series, so on the bus ride over to North Horrorbrook we were all talking about our plans for how we would win that night's game.
"We'll never beat them!" moaned my friend Casey, the team's goalie, "They're too fast, and too strong. It's like they aren't even human!"
"Maybe they aren't..." said Bruce, one of the smallest kids on the team, "Haven't you guys ever heard about all the weird stuff that goes on in North Horrorbrook?"
We all shook our heads, so Bruce continued.
"It's a really spooky place," he said, "and if you grow up there you always turn out...odd. I heard from my cousin who lives in the next town over that a long time ago there was some kind of government experiment going on in a laboratory in the town, and it got out of control."
"What kind of experiment?" I asked, feeling nervous.
"Something really messed up. They were trying to combine human and plant DNA, to make super-soldiers that never needed to eat, and who couldn't be killed even if you chopped parts of them off! But something went wrong - there was an explosion at the lab one night, and the next morning the place was abandoned. Soon afterwards strange things started happening. People kept noticing plants moving in strange ways around the town. All the children in the town end up with green eyes. And one time a worker in a sewer saw a severed arm crawling along by itself, with weeds and roots growing out of it!"
I opened my mouth to tell Bruce that I didn't believe his story, but then I stopped.
Something was touching my foot!
* * *
"Oh no!" I shouted as I turned around. I looked behind my seat and saw that it was just Casey playing a joke on me - he had snuck under my seat and grabbed my foot with his hand. Everyone laughed as he got off the floor, but we had to get serious quickly, since our bus had arrived in North Horrorbrook. It was time to play hockey.
We were all pumped up for the first period, but once again the Horrorbrook Creatures were just too much for us. They scored three goals as quick as lightning, and everybody on my team was feeling pretty sad.
With five minutes left in the period, I decided that I had to do something to fire up my team. I had a chance to knock down one of the Creatures' star players with a hit, and I did it. I sent him flying into the boards so hard he seemed to squash a bit like over-ripe fruit. Whistles blew and I knew I was going to get a penalty, but I stood there standing above the player I had just knocked down. I was hoping to see some expression on his face that would let me know I had gotten into his head: some flash of fear or anger or something. But the boy's face stayed as blank as ever, his green eyes seeming to peer right through me.
What a weird kid!
The referee grabbed my arm and pulled me over to the penalty box. I didn't resist or talk back, because I didn't want to get any extra penalty minutes. I took my seat on the bench in the penalty box, all alone for two minutes to think about what I had done. Normally after a big hit like I had just delivered I would have been feeling pretty proud, but this time I was just thinking about that kid's creepy blank face, and the way his eyes didn't seem to focus on anything.
The sounds of the game and the crowd around me seemed to fade away. I watched the penalty timer click down. Suddenly I noticed a weird smell in the penalty box. I sniffed a few times, my face wrinkling in disgust. It smelled like mud and wet grass.
There were still ten seconds left in my penalty, but I was ready to get out right now - because something was touching my foot!
* * *
I kicked my skate wildly and stood up. I moved away from the bench as far as I could, but because the penalty box was so small I could only press myself against the door, barely two feet away from whatever had been touching my foot. I looked closely into the shadows underneath the bench. My heart was pounding. Could it be Casey again, that joker? Or was it some kind of monster?
"Come on, kid, your penalty is over!" came the voice of the referee behind me. He opened the penalty box door and I practically ran out of it, slipping and falling on the ice as I made my way to my team's bench.
"What's the matter with you?" asked Casey as I took a seat next to him on the bench. He had already been pulled out of the game and was sitting on the bench is his goalie gear.
"Nothing," I said, "I'm fine."
By the time the second period began, I had managed to mostly forget about whatever had touched my foot in the penalty box. My team continued to struggle, and soon we were losing five to zero. I was in a bad mood, and it wasn't long before I got too rough with another one of the Creatures and elbowed him in the head. I was taken to the penalty box for a second time, and once more I found myself sitting alone on the bench - and again the strange earthy smell filled my nose.
I looked under the bench, but didn't see anything but shadows. I sat up straight and watched the minutes tick away. I shifted uneasily. I was getting very scared, and I promised myself I wouldn't get any more penalties in the game. I didn't care how badly we were losing - I never wanted to come back to this penalty box!
And then something was touching my foot, again!
* * *
It was just a glove. I guess I hadn't noticed it before, but someone had left a hockey glove in the penalty box, and it had bumped up against my skate while I was sitting down. I let out a laugh of relief and then my penalty was over, so I went out to rejoin my team.
The third period of the game seemed to drag on forever. My team was tired and gloomy, and we were behind by so many goals I couldn't even keep track any more. The Horrorbrook team just kept coming at us, never seeming to get tired at all, and never even celebrating when they scored goals.
Even though I had promised myself it wouldn't happen, I got another penalty with only two and a half minutes left in the game. I don't even really remember what happened, but I think I got creeped out by the green eyes on one of the Creatures and tried to slash them out with my stick. I was sent to the box for two more minutes, and as soon as I sat down I started getting scared again. The smell of mud and plants was stronger than ever, and I was sure I could hear a heavy wet breathing sound coming from under the bench. I shivered in terror, wanting to look beneath the bench but also very afraid of what I would find there.
A sound like a heavy boot stomping on wet leaves came from beneath the bench, and I felt something huge and powerful grab my skate. Something was REALLY touching my foot this time!
* * *
I let out a scream as a monster climbed out from under the bench, grabbing me by my ankle and picking me up into the air! The monster was eight feet tall, and looked like a huge fat man covered in mud and moss. He had grass and weeds growing all over his body, including out of his ears and nose!
"W-what do you want?" I asked as I dangled there. The giant monster leaned his face down and smiled an evil smile at me.
"Congratulations, Douglas, you passed!"
I just stared at the monster, waiting for him to bite off my head with his dirty teeth. Instead, he started laughing and dropped me roughly on to the bench.
"What do you mean, I passed?" I asked, rubbing my head.
"This game was a test of your courage and aggressiveness in stressful situations, and you passed with flying colors!" The monster opened the penalty box door, and then I noticed that the rest of the rink was empty - except for the Horrorbrook Creatures team, who were all lined up and staring at me with their horrible green eyes.
"So...what happens now?" I asked.
The monster smiled so wide that I thought his pudgy head was going to split in half. An earthworm started to crawl out of his nostril, but he snorted it back up into his nose.
"Now you come with us, Douglas. You're joining our team. You'll fit right in with the Creatures!"
The monster grabbed my arm and pulled me with him into a trap door under the bench in the penalty box. I screamed for help, but there was no one left to save me.
It was awful at first, being turned into one of the Creatures, but now it's not so bad. I still get to play hockey, after all. And I'm even tougher than I used to be. I do miss eating pizza sometimes I guess, but mostly it's pretty cool.
North Horrorbrook is a boring place, but we get to travel a lot, to recruit new kids for the team. If you're lucky, maybe we'll be coming to your town soon...
Part one of this series can be found here. If you don't know what the heck a Goosebumps is then you're probably old. Trust me, this was an awesome, spot-on parody. Go read this blog to experience the magic for yourself.
Meanwhile, in possibly-imaginary but-maybe-something-much-crazier hockey news...
-Logan Couture wins it in a shootout thriller!