Futureland: The Nightmare Hour is a part of the Futureland collection.
The theme park of your dreams is back in this action-packed sequel as Cam Walker and his friends take on creepy carnivals, insidious tech, and a nightmarish new enemy to save the world. An electrifying illustrated series for fans of Spider-Man: Miles Morales.
The most spectacular theme park in the world is headed to the Big Apple.
After Atlanta, Cam Walker and his family are ready to turn over a new leaf with Futureland. This is where dreams literally come true, and the Walkers are going to show the people of New York City that their park is back and better than ever.
But trouble isn’t done with the Walkers yet. Glitches keep happening with the park attractions. There's a creepy carnival in town that gives Cam goosebumps. Plus, he just can’t shake the feeling that his family is being watched. And it may be his imagination, but are the people around him acting . . . stranger than usual?
Can Cam get to the bottom of what’s going on before Futureland becomes a playground of terrors?
An Excerpt fromFutureland: The Nightmare Hour
Saturday, January 23, 2049
You know, good mysteries don’t just fall out of the sky onto your lap.
You usually have to hunt for ’em. Sniff ’em out. Put the clues together like a real investigator. I guess I always had a feeling I could be a detective. I love figuring stuff out. Good mysteries are kinda like . . . a holographic trading card! You turn it this way and that, and each time it catches the light, you see something a little different. You gotta be able to look at a picture from all angles and see what no one else can see, even if it’s right in front of them.
After everything that happened in the last few months, I know that solving mysteries is the life for me. It feels like I finally know who I’m supposed to be.
I’ll admit, when me and my family landed in Atlanta five months ago, we got more than we bargained for. An evil corporation led by a really bad dude named Southmore hacked our park’s technology. He made the Futureland revs and attractions glitchy and dangerous, and then he started kidnapping kids who visited the park. Can you believe he even made evil rev copies of my parents?
He wanted to frame my family and shut down our park so he could use our technology to start his own creepy city. But we stopped him. Totally pow, wham, whomped him outta the park! Even his own robot henchmen turned on him. But I didn’t do it alone. It was me, my new crew I met at Eastside Middle School, and Dooley--my best friend and the smartest rev ever.
The best thing about friends is that they can turn good mysteries into great ones. I don’t know what I’d do without them.
“What would you do without us?” Rich said, shaking his head at me. The five of us crouched behind a glowing bush off the beaten path of Futureland’s walking trails.
“Hush up, Rich!” Earl whispered. “We’re supposed to be hiding.”
A group of revs with bright orange eyes and Futureland uniforms walked slowly past our hiding place. They peered side to side as they made their silent nightly rounds. We all crouched lower to stay out of sight.
“CJ--are those Watchers?” Angel asked.
I nodded. “Yeah, they’re doing their last check of the park, to make sure nobody stayed behind after the doors closed. They’ll be gone in a second. Then we can move.”
“What are we looking for, anyway?” Yusuf asked.
“You’ll see.” I smirked. I waved for my crew to follow me as I bounded from behind the bush. We took off running through the park, headed to the nearest Jet-Blur pod station.
We placed our feet on the Jet-pads, and two metallic black orbs, big enough for us to crawl into, arrived within seconds. Me and Rich took the first one. Yusuf and Angel went for the second one, and little bitty Earl squeezed between them. He’d do anything to stay close to Angel.
I programmed our pods to travel to the same location, deep within the park to an area that visitors hardly ever encountered.
Our pods landed gently in a clearing surrounded by fog and shadows. I stepped out and felt a leaf crunch softly under my foot.
“CJ . . .” Earl’s voice quavered. “Where are we?”
“This is the back of the park. Between the Mines of Tomorrow and Future Trek.”
“Mines of Tomorrow? Isn’t that that scary place where you almost got trapped by those creepy cave-revs?” Rich asked.
“Well, yeah,” I started, “but this part of the park is empty. No one comes this way. There’s nothing out here.”
“Then what’s that?” Yusuf pointed.
Through the fog, I spotted the outline of a large metal cylinder, like an upside-down cup, as tall as the lowest tree branches. It didn’t sparkle or make any sounds--simply camouflaged into the darkness surrounding it.
“The perfect place to hide something,” I said.
We stepped toward the cylinder, circling it and chattering with each other in low tones.
“CJ, is this something your parents made?” Angel asked. “Why did they put it all the way out here?”
“I’m not sure,” I said. “I noticed it on my locator scanner the other week, but my parents haven’t said anything about it. It could be anything. Maybe even something Southmore left behind.”
“Creepy,” Earl said. “I don’t want to relive that all over again.”
“This thing is probably just junk,” Rich said. “Storage or something your parents wanted to put out of the way. It’s not dangerous. Look at it. It’s not even turned on.”
Rich whacked the side of the cylinder with his leg like he was playing kickball. Immediately, a blinding column of light blasted upward through the trees from the center of the dome.
“Rich, no!” I tried to move toward the machine, but the ground under me started to rumble. I tumbled backward. My heart thudded as my eyes darted between my friends. I have to get them outta here. I have to keep them safe.
I pushed myself up off the ground, but someone grabbed me from behind. When I tried to shout, my breath got caught in my chest. I wriggled and kicked, but I couldn’t break free. What was happening?
Boom. Boom. Boom. Boom.
My heart pounded. I started to get dizzy. I screamed out, but the person holding me covered my mouth. My mind raced. It’s Southmore. Southmore is behind this. He’s back to finish the job. Him and his evil, corrupted revs.
The column shining out of the top of the cylinder disappeared, leaving us in total darkness for a couple seconds. Then soft lights beamed down into the clearing through the surrounding trees, and I opened my eyes to get a look at the villains.
Watchers. Futureland’s very own security revs. Wearing typical Watcher outfits--dark clothes, hats with low brims. You might even mistake them for regular park guests if you didn’t know what to look for. That made it easier for them to do surveillance in all of Futureland. But what were they doing here?
My Watcher held me so tight I still couldn’t turn around, but I heard multiple sets of footsteps crunching behind me, getting closer and closer. Within seconds, Mom, Dad, and Uncle Trey appeared in the clearing and stood in the middle of all of us.
“Cam. What on earth are you doing?” Mom asked. Her face tightened, stern. Her back-length locs were wrapped in a bright purple silk headwrap.
“Um, exploring?” I said, my voice muffled by the Watcher’s hand still covering my mouth. Mom shook her head in disappointment. My heart tumbled. I snuck a glance at my friends, my skin prickly with embarrassment.
“Let them go,” Uncle Trey barked at the Watchers. The park’s security-revs turned us all loose and faded back into the woods surrounding the cylinder.
“You’re pretty deep in the park,” Uncle Trey said. “Got your friends out here, too. After closing. Gotta be more careful, kid.”
“How many times have we told you, Cam--you can’t just sneak around wherever you want. We had no idea where you were.” She gulped. “Futureland is . . . It’s different now. We have to be more careful.”
“I--I don’t know,” I stammered. “I found this thing. I thought . . . I thought maybe Southmore--”
Mom sighed and walked over to me, kissed me on the forehead, and rubbed a smudge of dirt off my cheek. Dad joined us at her side, rubbing his bald head like he always did when he was stressed.
“Come on, Big Man. Let’s head back to the condo. And y’all--” He turned to my crew. “Your parents have called us looking for you. It’s time for y’all to get home, too.”
I huddled with the crew. Sometimes when I stayed in the park too late with my friends, Mom and Dad would have to drive everyone home and apologize. Other times Pierre, Rich’s personal chauffer, would take everybody home and my parents would lecture me about safety and respect.
“Actually, Stacy,” Uncle Trey said, “why don’t y’all take the rest of the kids and I’ll hang back with Cam for a bit. Want to talk to him about something.”
Mom nodded, and she and Dad set off, shuffling my crew to the front of the park like a row of ducklings. I waved goodbye and my stomach tightened with the fear that maybe their parents wouldn’t let them come back. All I wanted to do was keep my friends close. I closed my eyes and exhaled. Uncle Trey squeezed my shoulder.
“You okay?” he asked.
I shook my head. “I didn’t really think it was Southmore, you know. We were just adventuring. . . .” I gulped. “What if my friends get in trouble?”
“It’ll be okay,” he said. “Your parents will smooth it out how they always do. I know it’s hard. You used to have Dooley around twenty-four-seven. Now when your friends are gone, you’re all alone. I know you want to keep them here as long as you can, but--”
“She was my best friend,” I mumbled. “She saved Futureland, and it’s not fair. Just because her code got a little messed up, she had to be taken offline.”
Uncle Trey frowned and rubbed my shoulder again. “I know, I know. I wish I could fix it. Wish there was something I could do to make it how it was before. But until we figure things out, you have to more careful, Cam. We’re pretty sure the park is safe. But we still don’t know how bad we were hacked. In the meantime, please just listen to your parents. Do what they say.”
I frowned and crossed my arms. “There’s so many rules now. Curfew. Can’t go here, can’t do that. Futureland used to belong to the whole family. You guys trusted me to handle anything in here. Now it’s like this isn’t even my home. It’s like I’m . . . trapped here.”
Uncle Trey took a deep breath. He opened his mouth to speak, but I don’t think he could find the words. We stood in silence next to each other for a couple seconds before he changed the subject.
“Hey.” He nudged me, pointing to the huge metal cylinder in front of us. I had almost forgotten it was there. “You wanna know what this is?”
“I thought I was in trouble. Supposed to go back to the condo,” I grumbled.
“If that’s what you want,” he replied. “I mean, if you’re not Futureland’s number one kid-approved destiny tester anymore, then just say that.”
My eyes widened. “This is a new destiny?! I knew it! I knew it was something special!” My chest swelled with pride.
Uncle Trey laughed. “Good hunch, kid. Those detective skills coming in strong. Now, let’s hurry up before your parents start looking for us again.” He extended his arm toward the metal building.
“The future awaits you.”
Saturday, January 23, 2049
All right,” Uncle Trey said as we entered the building. “Close your eyes, and don’t open them until I tell you to.”
“Okay, sheesh! You’re bossy like Mom,” I joked.
“Nuh-uh. I’m the good twin. I’m nothing like your bigheaded momma,” he said.
“Y’all got the same head, though,” I replied.
“Hers bigger.” We both laughed as Uncle Trey tied one of his pocket bandannas around my eyes and led me into the cylinder.
“Here we go, almost there,” Uncle Trey said. He held my hand and guided me through the space. I didn’t recognize the smell or any of the sounds inside. Uncle Trey’s excitement coursed through me like static as we shuffled into the building, and my heart pattered with anticipation. Finally, we came to a stop.
“Here it is, Cam. Here it is.”
I snatched the bandanna off and looked around eagerly. We had entered an empty room with a column of light beaming down from the ceiling, big enough for one person to stand in.
“Uhh, an empty room? Wow. This is what’s been keeping you busy lately, huh? Working around the clock and having our chef-revs bring you all those peanut butter and blackberry jam sandwiches. Way to go, Uncle Trey.” I snickered.
He rolled his eyes and chuckled. “Very funny. Oh, it’s empty now, but it won’t be empty for long!” Uncle Trey replied. “Go stand in the light.”
I squinted, suspicious. “You go stand in the light.”
“Ugh. Nephew, this isn’t a prank! I’m serious.”
Uncle Trey was a known prankster, and he had been on a winning streak ever since the police released him and he returned to life in the park. He had programmed the assistant-revs in my dad’s lab to slap him on the butt every time my dad asked for them to “give him a hand.” He had swapped out all of my mom’s macro-wave instant coffee droplets with different nasty flavors. When my mom thought she was getting a delicious coffee flavor, she got medicine instead. Or licorice. Or the worst: hot dog–flavored water. He wasn’t going to get me.
“Nah, Unc. I’m sorry. You can’t be trusted.”
“Fine, look!” Uncle Trey walked over to the beam of light and stood directly underneath it. He twirled around and jumped up and down. Nothing happened.
After a few seconds of him jumping up and down, the column of light flickered and then a crackling sound shot through the air. The entire inside of the dome went dark. I couldn’t see Uncle Trey. I couldn’t even see my own hand in front of my face.
“Uncle Trey?” My heart raced. “Uncle Trey!”
The lights in the dome returned, including the undisturbed column of light covering Uncle Trey. He held his hands up to calm me down.
“It’s okay, nephew. It’s okay. Just a small power surge. This thing uses a lot of energy. I’m still working on that part. But everything is fine. Sorry for scaring you.”
I exhaled deeply. “I’m okay. I just . . . every time something goes wrong I think . . . I just worry that--”
“That lightning is gonna strike the same place twice.” Uncle Trey’s face softened with empathy. “I know it’s scary, Cam. But it’s in the past. Not everything is a bad omen. Accidents happen.”
I nodded, finally setting my breathing back to normal.
“See? It’s perfectly safe.” Uncle Trey pointed to the light beam. “Now, please. Come stand in the light. I worked really hard on this, and you’re the first person I want to see it in action.”
“Okay.” I made my way over to the beam of light. Uncle Trey tapped some commands onto the hologram screen projecting out of his tablet, and the column started to rotate. It filled with shimmers of different colors, like a strobe light. The colors spun rapidly around for a few moments before slowing down. Then I heard a familiar voice.