The Bully Bug is the sixth standalone tale in the hilarious Monsterrific Tales series for young readers by acclaimed author David Lubar. The Monsterrific Tales series began with Hyde and Shriek, a Kids' Indie Next list selection, and is sure to appeal to reluctant readers and fans of Lubar's short stories collections.
There's something strange going on at Washington Irving Elementary School. Kids are turning into monsters—literally!
Lud Mellon gets bitten by a bevy of bugs in his basement and the next thing he knows, he's crawling up walls, drooling on his food, and rolling around in garbage. Turning into a giant insect seems fun at first, almost like having superpowers. But when his dad calls in the exterminators, Lud has to figure out how to stop his transformation before he gets squashed like a bug.
"This book will talk itself right off the shelves, and reluctant readers will devour it."—School Library Journal on The Curse of the Campfire Weenies
At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.
About the Author
DAVID LUBAR created a sensation with his debut novel, Hidden Talents, an American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults. He is also the author of the Nathan Abercrombie series, True Talents, Flip, and many short story collections including: In the Land of the Lawn Weenies, Invasion of the Road Weenies, The Curse of the Campfire Weenies, The Battle of the Red Hot Pepper Weenies, Attack of the Vampire Weenies, Beware the Ninja Weenies, Wipeout of the Wireless Weenies, and Extremities, an American Library Association Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers. He lives in Nazareth, Pennsylvania.
David Lubar created a sensation with his debut novel, Hidden Talents, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults. Thousands of kids and educators across the country have voted Hidden Talents onto over twenty state lists. David is also the author of True Talents, the sequel to Hidden Talents; Flip, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults and a VOYA Best Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror selection; many short story collections including In the Land of the Lawn Weenies, Invasion of the Road Weenies, The Curse of the Campfire Weenies, The Battle of the Red Hot Pepper Weenies, Attack of the Vampire Weenies, Beware the Ninja Weenies, Wipeout of the Wireless Weenies, Strikeout of the Bleacher Weenies, and Extremities; and the Nathan Abercrombie, Accidental Zombie series. Lubar grew up in Morristown, New Jersey, and he has also lived in New Brunswick, Edison and Piscataway, NJ, and Sacramento, CA. Besides writing, he has also worked as a video game programmer and designer. He now lives in Nazareth, Pennsylvania.
Read an Excerpt
The Bully Bug
A Monsterrific Tale
By David Lubar
Tom Doherty AssociatesCopyright © 2014 David Lubar
All rights reserved.
A FREE SURPRISE
Bud found the box of cereal. If I'd found it, none of this would have happened. I'm smarter than Bud. He stayed back twice. I only got kept back once. But with him staying back twice, we ended up in the same grade. So we'll be in school together for a while, unless he gets held back again. Bud and Lud, that's us. Mom's good with poetry. Anyway, you can see I'm smarter, both because Bud stayed back more, and because of what he did with the box.
"Cereal!" Bud shouted. He'd pushed over one of Dad's washing machines. Dad collects machines. It's like a hobby and a job rolled all into one. A machine's something you can trust. That's what Dad says. He loves anything with a motor. Whatever machine someone throws out, Dad'll pick it up. No matter how broken it is, Dad can fix it. He keeps most of them in the backyard. We've got a couple acres fenced in behind the house. There are washers and dryers, lots of refrigerators—with the doors taken off the older ones, so nobody gets stuck inside. There's ovens, too. My sister, May, used to love playing house in the backyard. She could pretend to cook, and do all sorts of stuff.
There's cars, of course. Cars are the best machines in the world. Cars and planes are the best. We don't have any planes. Maybe someday. Though I've never seen anyone throw out a plane. Wouldn't that be cool—to see a plane sitting out on the curb next to the trash cans?
Anyway, we'd just watched this movie about a giant ape that destroys New York. It was a real old movie, but pretty good, even though you could tell the ape was fake. The ape knocked over anything that got in his way. So Bud was stomping around, thumping his chest, and knocking stuff over. Bud kind of gets wrapped up in whatever movie he's seen. I guess he was pretending the stuff was buses and buildings. Bud tipped over a washing machine and found this old box under it. The box was half rotted on the outside. You could barely read the label. Not that I do much reading, but labels aren't so hard.
"All right!" Bud shouted, suddenly stopping his ape act. "Snack time."
"Leave it alone, Bud," I said. "It's old. It's probably spoiled. And it's got that junk on it from the barrels." I pointed to the oily green puddle. This guy who'd come through town driving a big old truck gave Dad a bunch of these metal barrels for free. The problem was, someone had left all this gooey stuff in the barrels, and they leaked a lot. It must have been nasty stuff, because it killed all the grass it touched.
"Cereal can't spoil, you idiot," Bud said. "They make it so it'll last forever."
"You're the idiot," I told him. "And that's a fact."
"You are," he said back.
I let it go. I'm not much for arguing with words, and I couldn't think of a good answer. But I warned him again. "Let it be, Bud," I told him. "Just leave it alone."
"Might have a prize," he said, picking up the box by the one corner that wasn't soaked in slime. "Lots of cereal comes with a prize. Could be a race car or something. ..."
Now, that was different. I hadn't thought how there could be something besides cereal in the box. Which doesn't mean Bud's smarter. Just means I'm less greedy. I can walk by something even if there's a prize in it. Bud, he's got to stick his finger in every coin slot in the world. Can't pass by a gumball machine without checking for money someone forgot. And he sends in all the sweepstakes stuff Mom and Dad get in the mail. I told him that just means we'll get more mail. He doesn't care. But we sure do get more mail. Tons of it. Doesn't matter. Dad burns just about everything we get in the woodstove. Except for his car magazines. Ain't nothing good ever came to me with a stamp on it. That's what Dad always said. He knows lots.
Anyway, Bud picked up the box, and right away I could tell there was something wrong. The front was all puffed up, kind of bulging out like Uncle Ernie's stomach after we finish Thanksgiving dinner. Or any other time, for that matter, when it comes to Uncle Ernie's stomach bulging. "Careful with that," I told Bud. "It ain't right." I could swear the box looked like it was moving, but I knew that couldn't be true.
"You just want me to leave it so you can sneak back later and steal the prize," Bud said. "You want it all to yourself."
"Do not," I said.
"Do, too," he said.
I let it go. It was starting to sound like an argument. Clem and Clyde—they're older—they argue a whole bunch. Neither one of them has enough sense to back down. It drives me crazy. So I try not to argue.
Bud grabbed the top of the box and started to rip it loose. I could have told him that was a truly stupid thing to do. The glue on top held for a second, but then the whole thing came apart so fast, it sort of exploded. The box ripped from corner to corner, and the cereal went flying all over me.
Except it wasn't cereal making the box puff up. It wasn't cereal that went flying all over me. It was a whole lot worse than that.CHAPTER 2
WHAT'S EATING YOU?
It happened awful fast. I mean, it was so fast, and so awful, that at first I didn't even believe what hit me. Bugs! A box full of bugs. They smacked me all over—in the chest and on the face. I started to shout. I wasn't scared. Just surprised. Nothing scares me. But I sure was surprised to get covered with bugs. I shut up fast when one tried to crawl from my cheek into my open mouth.
I started swatting them off. Bud, idiot that he could be, just stood there for a moment. His mouth was open. It was wide open. Heck. That's just about always the case. He eats with it open. Makes me sick sometimes. Sleeps with it open. Breathes with it open. Of course, right now it was safe for him to have his mouth open. He wasn't covered with bugs. I thought about throwing one into his mouth, but I was kind of busy getting them off me.
Finally, it sank in for Bud that I could use a hand. Better yet, two hands. He helped me swat at them. Even that wasn't the greatest help. More than once he swatted them onto me instead of off. They snapped at first, when you hit them, like pretzel sticks. The thin ones, not the real thick ones. Then they squished. Once they got squished, they stopped crawling, but I still had to pick them off my shirt. It was like peeling off dried blobs of glue.
They were biting me, too. All over my chest. Not bad, like wasps can sting, but kind of like mosquitoes. It didn't feel good, but I've felt worse. I went with Dad once to visit this friend of his who owned a real nice scrap yard. That man had a dog who grabbed on to my leg right above the ankle. Now, that's a bite. Took Dad and his friend a couple minutes to pry those jaws apart. Next to that, this was nothing. Except it was a lot of nothings. Hundreds. We must have brushed and swatted for five or ten minutes before we got rid of all the bugs.
"Wow. That was awful," Bud said, like he was the one who'd suffered.
I stared down at the torn-up cereal box. All the bugs had crawled out of it. They skittered under another washing machine. Now that I had time to look at them, I saw they were like some kind of big beetle. Sort of like a cockroach, too, but rounder. Except the head was more like a fly head. Maybe it was a fly-beetle. Guess you could call it a fleetle. Hey, that was funny. Just as funny as a joke one of the smart kids would make. I make good jokes a lot. But I don't tell them to anyone, because I hate it if people laugh at me. I mean, if I tell a joke, how can I know what they're laughing at? It might be the joke they think is funny. But they might be laughing at me because they think I'm stupid. Then I'd have to hit them. Which would get me in trouble. So I keep my jokes to myself, except I share them with Bud.
I looked at Bud so I could tell him the joke. Whoa! For an instant, I saw a billion Buds. It was like the world was made of Bud Mellon wallpaper. Now, there's a scary thought. But then I blinked real hard and everything was fine. I checked my shirt again, to make sure there weren't any more bugs on me. As far as I could tell, they were all gone.
"What do you want to do now?" Bud asked. He stared down at the box, too.
I knew what he was thinking. And I sort of felt bad for him. "Sorry you didn't find a prize," I told him. Bud expects the world to give him stuff. It doesn't work that way. Nobody gives you much, if anything. But Bud is a hopeful person.
"Thanks," he said. "Want to go climb the ovens?"
"Sure." We had a mountain of ovens out near the back fence. Dad was always warning us to stay off them, but they were pretty solid. A friend of his brought in a crane he'd borrowed from work and helped stack them up real nicely, just like a pyramid. We climbed them a lot. It was like having a jungle gym in the backyard. But this was better, because there were tons of knobs to turn, and doors to open. We used to play hide-and-seek there all the time when we were little. Since I got my last growth spurt, I can't hide in an oven anymore.
"Sorry about the cereal," Bud said when we reached the top. "I didn't mean to get you all covered with bugs."
"That's okay." I stopped to pull at the neck of my T-shirt and look down at the bites on my chest. It wasn't bad. Didn't look any worse than the time I'd accidentally knocked down a beehive in the old shed behind the house.
"You mad?" he asked.
"Nope." I sat back and enjoyed the view at the top of the mountain of ovens. I could see Dad on a ladder at the side of the house, doing something with a saw. I think he was trying to put in some air vents, because the attic gets so hot. Hey, speaking about hot things, I thought of another joke. It's a good one. They call the top of the stove a range. And that's what they call a bunch of mountains, too. We were on the range range. That was funny. I told Bud. He didn't get it at first. But I explained it to him and then he laughed.
I feel good when Bud laughs at a joke, though sometimes I think he doesn't get it and just laughs 'cause he knows he's supposed to. But it still feels good. As long as it's Bud laughing. As I said, I don't feel good if other people laugh at me. Of course, that doesn't happen much. At least, not if I can hear them. People in this town know better than to laugh at any Mellon. We stick together. That's what family is all about. Mess with one Mellon, you mess with us all. Of course, they talk about us, too. I hear stuff all the time. People whisper, but I've got pretty good hearing. That's how come I know so many different words for stupid.
But I hadn't climbed the mountain to think about other people. I'd climbed up to relax. I stretched out across two oven tops and enjoyed the sunlight. I didn't have a care or a problem in the world. Life was just fine. Just perfect.
Of course, things can change. That's a fact.CHAPTER 3
The hot sun felt so good, I guess I fell asleep and napped for a while. That's when I was hit by the most awful sound in the world.
It was my sister, May. She's real pretty, and she dresses great—very colorful—but she's got a voice that could peel paint off the side of a car. And she's always yelling.
"Dinnnnnerrrrrrrr!" she screeched again.
"We heard you, May!" I shouted back as I stood up.
"Race you down," Bud said. I tried to stand up, but he gave me a push, so I toppled back on my butt. Then he started climbing down real fast, like one of those monkeys you see in the zoo.
Shoot. I wasn't going to let him beat me, even if he started out cheating. I jumped to my feet. At least, that's what I'd planned to do. Guess I jumped too hard. And not really up. More like out. Next thing I know, I realize I've leaped off the mountain of ovens and I'm shooting toward the ground.
I looked back over my shoulder as I whooshed past Bud. I stared at him. He stared at me, like he couldn't believe what he was seeing. Then I stared at the ground, which was zooming toward me real fast. I think they said in school that when something falls, it keeps going faster and faster. Back then, I couldn't understand it. Didn't make any sense. But right now, that sure seemed pretty much true.
Stupid, I said to myself.
This was going to hurt. The top of the mountain must have been a good twenty feet off the ground. Or a bad twenty feet. Up to now, the only bones I'd ever broken belonged to other people. I wondered what it would be like to have to go around with both ankles snapped. I wondered if maybe they'd just get sprained or something. And I wondered if I'd have to sit in a wheelchair or if I could use crutches. I guess you could say I was having a wonderful trip.
Turned out I wasted a lot of wondering. My feet hit the ground with a pretty solid smack. Then my knees bent just a bit. And that was it. Nothing snapped or broke. Not even a sprain.
"Cheater," Bud said when he scrambled down next to me.
"No way. I won fair and square."
"Cheater," he said again. "You're supposed to climb down."
"And you're not supposed to push," I told him.
"Dinner!" May screeched from the back door of the house. I think she likes to hear herself. No one else does. That's a fact.
I followed Bud inside. I figured I'd let him go first since he must be feeling like a real loser right now, what with not getting a prize in the cereal and then losing the race down the mountain, even after he pushed me. Besides, it's not like there was any rush. Mom always made plenty of food.
She was setting out the roast when I got to the table. "Look, Lud. I made your favorite," she said. She took the end slice—the best part, as far as I was concerned—and plopped it on my plate. Then she pointed to the fried chicken. "Made your favorite, too, Bud."
Pit—he's my little brother—also liked roast beef. He's always trying to be like me. I guess I'm a model for him or something. "Prepare to attack," he said, waving his Captain Spazmodic action figures over his plate like a superhero about to dive at a monster. Pit never goes anywhere without a couple of plastic buddies. He switched his voice, trying to make it real deep, and said, "Meet your doom."
I laughed, because I realized it could also be Meat, you're doomed. But I didn't say anything, since it would be too hard to explain the joke, and it was pretty noisy at the table.
Beside the roast, there was a stack of cheeseburgers—Clem and Clyde's favorite. And stew—Dad's favorite. Spaghetti for May. Rolls, of course. And potatoes. A couple vegetables.
Mom liked to cook.
I sat down and watched Clem and Clyde fight over who would get the best burger—which didn't make much sense, since they all looked about the same to me. Clem reached the stack first, but Clyde grabbed his wrist and squeezed hard enough to make him drop the burger. Then Clem threw a headlock on Clyde and they went rolling off their chairs and onto the floor. As long as I can remember, they've had this battle over seeing who can be first. It gets tiring sometimes.
"Ludlow Axelrod Mellon," Mom said, calling me by my full name, which she only did when there was trouble, "where are your manners?"
"What, Mom?" I asked. It wasn't me fighting at the table or wrestling across the floor.
"Use your fork, boy," Dad said. "Always use the right tool for the job."
I looked down at my hands. I'd been so busy watching Clem and Clyde fight that I guess I really hadn't paid any attention to how I was eating. I'd grabbed a piece of meat with my hands. I guess I'd been biting at it. Yeah—there was a big chunk out of it, and I had the taste of meat in my mouth. Funny—I hadn't even realized I was eating. We hadn't even said grace yet.
"Cool," Pit said. He dropped his action figure, grabbed a slab of beef with two hands, like he was playing a harmonica, and started chomping at it.
"Pitney," Mom warned, hitting Pit with a full first name. That's not as bad as getting a whole name—first, middle, and last—but it's not good, either.
"Lud was doing it," Pit said.
"If he jumped off a bridge, would you jump off, too?" Mom asked.
"Yup," Pit said, nodding. "We Mellons stick together."
Mom sighed and didn't say anything more about manners.
After a while, Clem and Clyde came back to the table and joined us. I guess they'd gotten all tired out from fighting. They both grabbed the top burger again and it broke in half, which is the only way they ever settle anything. Funny how a squished-up half of a burger made each of them happier than a nice unsquished whole one.
Excerpted from The Bully Bug by David Lubar. Copyright © 2014 David Lubar. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
1. A Free Surprise,
2. What's Eating You?,
3. Fed Up,
4. Hang On,
5. Plane Problems with Numbers,
6. A Bad Sign,
7. Common Scents,
8. The Room Is Bugged,
9. Seeing Red,
10. Eat Plenty of Greens,
11. Show and Tell,
12. Slipping Through the Cracks,
13. Home of the Nerd,
14. Cold Facts,
15. Trouble by the Yard,
16. What Wood You Chew?,
17. Totally Buggy,
18. See You,
19. Can You Dig It?,
20. Keep the Change,
21. Wrap It Up,
22. Shelling Out,
Starscape Books by David Lubar,
About the Author,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is a wonderful book with a neat perspective. In the other books, Lud and the Mellon family are always considered the bullies (by the other main characters), so this was an interesting take on the monster story, mostly because of the fact that Lud needs the help of one of the kids he accidentally bullied. Apparently, Lud doesn’t mean to be a bully (doesn’t realize he is bullying, but knows he says some somewhat mean things, like “watch where you walk” when a kid runs into him), he just doesn’t like to talk to many people for long amounts of time, and his outward actions look/sound like bullying (laughing because a character looks so scared, etc.). I like how he ends up making a friend or two in the book, but also comes out of his shell (pun not intended). This is a great series that I think a lot of kids could get into! *NOTE* I got a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review