Don't Close Your Eyes!

Experience all the chills
of the Mostly Ghostly series

Mostly Ghostly #1:
Who Let the Ghosts Out?
Mostly Ghostly #2:
Have You Met My Ghoulfriend?
Mostly Ghostly #3:
One Night in Doom House
Mostly Ghostly #4:
Little Camp of Horrors
Mostly Ghostly #5:
Ghouls Gone Wild
Mostly Ghostly #6:
Let's Get This Party Haunted!
Mostly Ghostly #7:
Freaks and Shrieks
Mostly Ghostly #8:
Don't Close Your Eyes!

1

TRACI
WAYNE
AND
I
sat across from each other at my kitchen table. Her math homework was spread out in front of me.

“Would you like me to show you how to do this equation?” I asked.

She glanced up from her
Teen People
magazine. “Max, couldn't you just
do
it for me? I have to catch up on my reading.”

“Uh … yeah, sure,” I muttered.

Yawning, I lowered my head to the page and started to scribble numbers and letters. My eyes were watering. I tried to blink them dry. I yawned again.

“Don't yawn so loud,” Traci said. “How do you expect me to read?”

My eyelids drooped. They each weighed about a hundred pounds. I had to lift them up with my fingers.

I messed up the equation. I started to erase.

This doesn't sound normal, does it? This doesn't sound like Max Doyle, boy genius, the kid everyone in class calls Brainimon.

Well, it wasn't a normal afternoon. I wasn't feeling like myself at all. And I can tell you why—I hadn't slept in more than forty-eight hours.

Don't ever try staying awake for two whole days and nights. Your eyeballs burn. Your head feels like a granite boulder. And it feels as if your tongue is growing fur!

Normally, I'd be so excited to have Traci Wayne in my house, I'd do cartwheels or something. I admit it. I have a huge crush on Traci.

Whenever I see her, my heart starts to pound a hip-hop rhythm, my mouth goes as dry as talcum powder, and my knees knock together like bongos.

Traci once put her hand on my shoulder, and it gave me hiccups for three weeks.

That's true love, right?

Traci usually ignores me. It's because we're in different groups at school. She's in the way cool group. And I'm in the bottom feeders group.

My friend Aaron and I are the only ones in our group. And we're not quite sure how we got there. But we know there's no way out.

So when Traci comes over to my house, it's a
big-deal thing. Even if all she wants is for me to do her math homework while she reads
Teen People
.

But tonight, yawn, yawn.

All I wanted was to put my head down and go to sleep.

But I couldn't. I had to stay awake—maybe
forever
.

I'm not joking. See, I'm a normal sixth grader. But I have a problem. I have two ghosts living in my house.

Nicky and Tara Roland are about my age. They used to live here before my family moved in. Now they're back, and they don't know how they became ghosts.

They pop in and out all the time. And they're
my
problem—because I'm the only one who can see or hear them.

Lucky me, right?

Nicky and Tara are the reason I may never sleep again.

Yawn. If only I could stop yawning. And keep my eyelids from drooping … drooping.

“Max! What are you
doing?”
Traci's cry brought me back to life.

I blinked at her. “Huh?”

She pointed at my equations. “You're writing on the table, not on the paper!”

Blinking hard, I glanced down. She was right. I'd scribbled all over the kitchen table.

“Uh … just making some notes,” I said. “I didn't want to mess up your notebook paper.”

“Could you hurry up and finish?” Traci asked. “I'm getting kinda bored.”

“No problem,” I said. I turned back to the equation. But after a few seconds, my eyelids felt heavy … heavy. … I couldn't keep them open. I felt myself drifting … drifting into sleep.

“Whoa!”
I let out a cry as cold water splashed over my head.

I looked up to see Tara tipping a bottle of water over me. “No sleeping, Max,” she said. “You know you have to stay awake.”

Of course, Traci couldn't hear or see Tara. All Traci could see was the water bottle floating over my head.

“Max!” she gasped. “That water—”

I reached up and pulled the bottle down to the table. “Did you miss science class last week?” I asked. “We learned that water
floats.”

I know. It didn't make sense. But I was too sleepy to think of a better excuse.

I went back to work on the equations. But I was yawning so loudly, I couldn't hear myself think.

How did this happen to me?

Why have I been awake for forty-eight hours?

And why will I maybe have to stay awake for the
rest of my life?

Well, it's a long, frightening story. It all started two days before, with Tara innocently reading a book….

2

TWO
DAYS
AGO
,
I
was sitting in front of my computer. It was after dinner and I was messaging my friend Aaron.

We're best friends, but we don't see each other very much. That's because Aaron is grounded for life. Actually, he's grounded for
three
lifetimes. And he had just IM'd me that he was grounded again.

BRAINIMON1: Why are U grounded?

AARONDOG: For doing a simple magic trick.

BRAINIMON1: Since when r u into magic? I'm the 1 who does magic tricks!

AARONDOG: It was an ez trick I showed my sister.

BRAINIMON1: What trick?

AARONDOG: I showed her how to turn her
homework into confetti.

BRAINIMON1: Nice trick.

AARONDOG: She's still crying. And I'm grounded again.

BRAINIMON1: So we can't have our Stargate SG-1 club meeting again?

AARONDOG: We can have it in about 10 years.

I started to reply to Aaron. But I stopped when Nicky and Tara flashed into my room.

They appear and disappear without warning. Sometimes they fade away slowly and disappear for days at a time. They can't control it. Nicky says that's one of the hardest parts about being a ghost.

Tara says the
hardest
part is having to talk to
me
all the time!

I think she meant that as a joke.

They are both tall and thin. Serious-looking kids. Nicky is eleven, and Tara is nine. She has dark eyes and straight dark hair down to her shoulders. Nicky's hair and eyes are dark too. Tara always wears dangling plastic earrings, and she usually has a floppy red hat on her head.

Nicky dropped down onto the edge of my bed, his hands in his pockets. Tara carried an enormous book in both hands. It was opened to somewhere in the middle. She read it as she walked across the room.

“Is that a dictionary?” I asked.

She shook her head and stood in front of me, reading silently.

“It's another ghost book,” Nicky said. “Another book about the supernatural world. Tara won't give up.”

I turned my desk chair to face him. “Give up?”

“She keeps reading these ancient books,” Nicky said. “She thinks maybe she'll find a clue that will help us return to life.”

Tara raised her eyes. “Nicky and I don't want to be ghosts for the rest of our lives,” she said. She shuddered. “Just reading about these old ghosts gives me the creeps. I don't want to turn into some evil
thing.”

“Too late. You already are!” Nicky said.

Tara stuck her tongue out at him and made a loud spitting noise.

He spit back at her.

She spit even louder and longer.

Gross! I had to stop it. Sometimes their spitting contests went on for an hour!

“Where did you get that huge book?” I asked Tara.

“I borrowed it from some library,” Tara replied.

“You mean you
stole
it?” I asked.

“Well, I can't exactly get a library card, can I?” Tara snapped. “When is the last time an invisible person got a library card?”

“You don't have to bite my head off,” I said. “I only asked a question.”

“See? She
has
become an evil thing!” Nicky said.

Tara sighed. “I'm just worried, that's all. I keep reading book after book. But none of them has anything that might help Nicky and me. They're just filled with evil ghosts and horrible spells and … no clue. Just no clue about how a ghost can come back to life for real.”

She turned the page. “It's all so awful and frightening,” she said. “Look at this one. A ghost called Inkweed. Wow. He was totally evil.”

“Let me see it,” Nicky said. He made a grab for the book.

Tara swung it away from him. “Hey—I'm reading it!”

Nicky grabbed again, and the big book fell out of Tara's hands.

It hit the floor with a hard
thud
.

Tara bent to pick it up—then stopped. “Oh no,” she murmured. She stumbled back.

“What's your problem?” Nicky asked.

I stared down at the open pages. It took a few seconds for my eyes to focus. Then I gasped when I saw what had frightened Tara.

The letters on the pages—the ancient black type, the words—they were all
moving!
Sliding over the yellowed pages, moving into the center of the book.

3

ALL
THREE
OF
US
stared down at the open book on the floor, frozen in shock.

The words written about the evil ghost Inkweed slid quickly to the middle and formed a black puddle of ink. The puddle spread silently over the book, growing wider and deeper.

“This is
crazy!”
I cried.

All three of us gasped as the ink puddle began to rise off the book. It lifted itself up as if it was alive! A living ink creature.

“Inkweed is alive!” Tara screamed. Then she and Nicky flickered and faded. The shock was taking away their energy force.

But I could see the horror on their faces as the ink blob floated up into the air. It made a wet slapping sound as it settled against the bedroom wall. Then it began to shift and spread.

“Stop it! We have to
stop
it!” Tara screamed.

Nicky flickered in and out like a firefly. “H-how?” he stammered.

I jumped up from my desk chair and started
backing up, moving away from the shadowy ink blob as it spread over my wall.

It continued to spread, and then it pulled itself into a new shape. Slowly, slowly, it started to form a black, inky figure—the silhouette of a man!

“Is it… is it
Inkweed?”
Tara choked out.

Before anyone could answer, the inky shadow pulled off the wall—and floated over my head.

I ducked.

I tried to dodge it.

But it settled over me. Hot and wet. Like someone dropping a heavy wet bath towel over me.

I couldn't move. I couldn't see.

The dark shadow held me in place. It wrapped around me. My skin prickled under the hot wetness of it. Shiver after shiver rolled down my body.

I tried to cry out, but my voice was muffled under the thick, black shadow.

The shadow grew heavier. I bent over. Dropped to my knees under its weight.

I tried to scream. I tried to thrash my arms and duck my head to escape the terrifying blanket.

But I was frozen beneath it.

And then I felt it shift and start to settle. It was settling over me. No. Not settling.

Sinking
.

Sinking into me!

Sinking into my skin. Into my
brain!

My arms jerked. My head was flung back as if someone had slugged me.

I toppled over. My head hit the floor.

I felt as if I was swimming in blackness. Deep underwater in a freezing black pond. I felt the wet currents splashing inside me, one after the other.

And then I was back on my feet. Still squinting through a thick curtain of gray. Still shivering. Shaking my head, trying to shake the dark clouds away.

“Max!” Tara cried. Her shout sounded very far away. “Max! Are you okay?”

“Oh, wow.” I heard Nicky's voice somewhere on the other side of the black curtain. “Max, you're covered in black ink. You're dripping!”

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