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Chapter Eight

Screaming guitars blasted through my room loudly enough to blow my hair back, accompanied by singing that I’m pretty sure was made by disemboweling a live hippopotamus.


“Henry, turn that trash off!” my dad yelled from downstairs.


With my face still buried in my pillow, I reached out and blindly flailed for the alarm clock. We’d learned a long time ago that the only thing that could get me out of bed was Norwegian Death Metal—mostly because if I slept through it, someone would wake me up to make me turn it off.




I rolled over and yawned. My mouth tasted like I’d been gargling toilet water—which I know couldn’t have happened since my parents had padlocked the bathroom at night ever since my first sleepwalking incident.


Speaking of the bathroom…


“Gotta pee, gotta pee, gotta pee,” I muttered under my breath as I flopped out of bed. My vision was still all blurry, eyes as crunchy as a bag of potato chips, which meant I had to venture to the bathroom by memory.


“Good morning, Henry,” said the sasquatch in the hallway.


“Mornin’,” I mumbled, and—




I spun around, sure that I must have imagined it. As if I’d ever be that lucky. But there it stood, in bold defiance of common sense: an eight and a half foot tall pile of hair and muscle.


It spread its arms like it wanted a hug. “Well, what do you think?”


“I think Mom needs to buy bigger mousetraps,” I said numbly.


“Henry,” it said in its deep, rumbling voice, mouth stretching into a smile, “it’s me! Ethan!”


I squinted at it, tilting my head left, then right. “You? Ethan? Sorry, but I remember my best friend being about three feet shorter.”




“And I happen to know that he can’t grow so much as a mustache, much less a whole everything of hair!”


It frowned. “That was uncalled for, Henry.”


I crossed my arms. “I don’t know how you got in here, but you obviously don’t know whose house this is! I am Henry Rider, the Maiam Hunter! I’m going back to my room to grab Splatsy, and if you’re still here when I get back—”


“Henry!” It grabbed me by my shoulders and shook me, nearly giving me whiplash in the process. “It’s really me! I took one of those NuYu pills!”


“Get your hands off of…”


Wait. NuYu pills? How would a stupid, smelly bigfoot know about those? Unless…And that would mean…


“E- Ethan?” I asked in disbelief.


He grinned his big sasquatch grin—so I punched him in the face. His hairy, sweaty, hard-as-a-rock face.




“What were you thinking?” I demanded. “I thought you said you’d changed your mind!”


“I only said that so we could leave,” he explained without a trace of guilt. “I bought them when you went off to talk to Jade. Oh! Speaking of which…”


His sausage-like fingers burrowed into the fur around his neck, and he withdrew the necklace. It began to glow, and Jade fwoosh-ed herself into existence. If she was surprised to see a massive ape thing in my upstairs hallway, she didn’t show it.


“What do you think?” he asked again, looking from me to Jade.


“I think you’re—”


“What we think doesn’t matter,” Jade cut me off. “What matters is what you think. Do you like this body?”


I glared at Jade, but she didn’t even look at me.


“Hmm,” said Ethan. He raised both his hands and curled them into fists that were bigger than my head. “I’m big like this. Strong.”


“What’s strong,” I interrupted, “is your body odor. You smell like you took a bath inside a dead cow!”


Ethan paused, then smiled and licked his lips. “Mmm…cow.”


“Did you know about this?” I asked, turning on Jade.


She shook her head. “I knew he was going to try it someday, but I didn’t know he already had.”


I grabbed two fistfuls of my hair. “This is bad. Ooh, chocolate covered brussel sprouts, this is so, so bad!”


“Heidi gave me five pills,” Ethan chimed in. “All of them turn me into something different. She called it a, um…oh, a trial period!”


“I’m gonna kill her!” I took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “Okay. All right. This is fine. I can fix this. The pill you took will wear off in twenty four hours, right? Right. So I just have to keep your hairy butt inside the house all day!”


“But what about school?” Jade asked.


Ethan’s eyes lit up. “School? School has lunches! Good lunches!”


I shook my head. “Nope, no school today. Do you have any idea how big a panic you would cause if you showed up looking like that?”


“Awww,” he whined. “But I’m hungry!”


“Look, just go back to your room,” I said. “I’ll bring you some food later.”


Ethan’s stomach growled, and he looked away, ashamed. “I already ate my pillow.”


“What? Why would you—”


“And my covers.”


I slapped my forehead. "Fine. Whatever. Just go to your room, lock your door, and—"


"Henry! Ethan!" my mom called from downstairs. "Hurry up and get ready for school!"


I froze, realization crashing down on me like a bowling ball into a pot of mashed potatoes. How was I going to convince Mom to let us stay home without telling her why we couldn't go to school?


"Hey, Mom, listen," I could hear myself saying, "Ethan took a pill that turned him into Bigfoot and now we have to skip school, okay?"


"That's fine, honey," she would reply, "but you're grounded for the rest of your life and your father and I are writing you out of our will. Want some pancakes?"


"Come with me," I hissed, grabbing Ethan's massive hand and pulling him down the hall. Luckily, he didn't resist, because I don't think I could have forced him to go anywhere he didn't want to. Once we were inside, I slammed the door, locked it, and gave Ethan one more glare before throwing my closet door open.


"What the turkey gizzards did I do in a previous life to deserve this?" I muttered under my breath as I dug through the boxes hidden behind my clothes. "Did I drown puppies? Work for the POA? Put pineapple on pizza?"


“Henry?” Ethan asked from behind me. “Can I eat your pillow?”


“No!” I snapped. “If you even look at any of my stuff the wrong way, I will…aha!”


I spun around and thrust a small red rubber ball in front of Ethan’s face. Ethan crossed his eyes to look at it, and then stuck his tongue out—


“Don’t even think about it!” I yanked it away from him. “This is my old N.O.S.E. It’s an older model than the one I have now, but it should still do the trick.”


“But what about—”


“Shut up!”


Taking the N.O.S.E. in both hands, I began to squeeze it. HONK HONKA-HONK HONKA-HONKA HONK HONKA, it went, filling my room with its obnoxious squeaking. Let’s see…nerdy brown hair. HONK HONK. Geeky pale skin. HONK HONKA-HONK. About four inches taller than me. HONKA HONKA HONKA. The N.O.S.E. would cast an illusion around anyone who put it on, but right now it was set to me. If I put it on Ethan like this, sasquatch or not, he’d just turn into another Henry Rider, and the world was absolutely not prepared for that. I needed to reprogram it, which meant having an impromptu bicycle horn recital in my bedroom.


Finally, I raised my hand, jumped into the air, and slam dunked it onto Ethan’s stupid face. His nose was so big I almost thought it wouldn’t fit, but it managed to suction itself onto the tip of his schnoz and stay put. Before my feet had even touched the ground, Ethan’s eight foot tall frame shimmered like a mirage and vanished, leaving the dweeby human teen I knew standing in its place.


I sighed in relief. “Okay, crisis averted.”


“So, we get to go to school?” Ethan asked.


“Sure.” I nodded weakly. “Screw it. Yeah, let’s go to school.”


I found Jade standing outside my room when I opened the door. She could have easily walked straight through it, but I guess she didn’t want to invade my privacy.


Or more likely, she wanted to get away from Ethan’s smell for a few minutes.


She perked up as soon as she saw us. “Is he—”


I put a finger to her lips, silencing her. “Not. A freaking. Word.”


“Mmm,” Ethan rumbled, breathing in through his nose. “Breakfast! Smells good!”


“Wait a sec,” I said. “Remember: no matter how you look right now, you’re still a sasquatch! The N.O.S.E. made your real body invisible, but it’s still there. So be—”


“Henry? Why are you talking to my stomach?”


I paused, then realized I’d already forgotten what I had just told Ethan not to forget. I’d been looking him in the eye when I’d been talking—or at least I thought I had. But while the eyes on his holographic human body were roughly at the same height as mine, his real eyes were about three feet above me.


“Just…” I took another deep breath. “Just pretend you’re not an eight foot tall freak, okay?”


He grinned. “Okay!”


Ohhh, whoopie cushion in the sky, this was going to end horribly. Still, I’d done everything I could do. All I could do now was think happy thoughts and pray, pray, pray!


I led the way downstairs, hoping that nobody would notice the gargantuan THUD! that accompanied each of Ethan’s footsteps, and made my way to the kitchen.


“Morning, Henry!” Mom said, standing in front of the stove. The sound of sizzling eggs and bacon filled the air, making my mouth water. Ethan was right about one thing, I realized: breakfast did smell amazing this—




I spun round, and all feeling left my body when I saw Ethan standing with a head-shaped hole in the doorframe above him.


I’ll introduce Heidi to Splatsy for this, I thought with my teeth gritted. And if Splatsy gives her amnesia, I’ll introduce her again, and again, and again…


Mom looked at the newly made hole with wide eyes, her mouth hanging open.


“We must have termites,” she finally muttered.


I fell into my chair, hardly able to believe my luck. But then the entire table shook as Ethan sat down across from me, an eager smile on his face, and my stomach did a somersault. I was going to have to deal with this all freaking day, wasn’t I? The thought of all the trouble he was going to cause at school made me feel sick.


“Hey, Henry?” Ethan whispered as quietly as a sasquatch could. “I know you told me not to, but, uh…I ate your pillow.”


My face slammed down onto the kitchen table.


Please, just kill me now.

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