For Ages
8 to 12

Screech School is a part of the Creatures & Teachers collection.

Let your fears take flight in this scary sequel of the Creatures & Teachers series where a group of friends must protect their school from vampire birds!

Angelo and his friends know that together they can handle any pretty much anything together. The scariest thing they think they have to worry about these days is the upcoming school dance. 

But when a terrifying new enemy attacks from above it seems they have met their ultimate match . . . giant vampire birds after BLOOD.

Can they save their school before the big dance or will they dicover terror in the air like they've never seen before?

An Excerpt fromScreech School



I’m wide-awake in a heartbeat. Sweating and breathing hard. My brain alert and scanning for the something wrong that woke me up. It’s funny how when you’re trying to get up for school you can spend an hour floating in that place between asleep and awake, knowing you need to open your eyes but unable to do it. But when something thumps in the middle of the night, or there’s a scream in the dark, you go from deep sleep to fully conscious in a second.

I jerk into a sitting position, hitting my head on the wooden slats of the bed above me. I ignore the crunch of pain and heave myself out, turning as I do so that I can see the top bunk. In the glow of the night-light I can see Raph in a tangle of blankets. His pajamas are soaked with sweat because no matter how hot it is, he can’t fall asleep without a cover over him. His breathing is steady, though, and his face peaceful and innocent. I wonder what he’s dreaming about. I gently pull his blankets back to cool him down. But all the time I’m on edge, listening for whatever jumped me awake.

There’s nothing. Just dark and quiet.

Then a creak outside our bedroom door. I take a step toward it, watching the handle turn. I know it’s probably Dad checking on us. Mom’s on a night shift and won’t be back yet. At least I don’t think so; I have no idea what time it is. My phone is charging on the desk by the window. But I can’t shift that feeling of something being off.

The door opens slowly, and Dad tiptoes into the room, jumping when he sees me, like I’m the one sneaking around at night. He gasps. Whispers a swear and puts his hand on his chest, then beckons me out of the room.

“What’s happened?” I say before he’s even closed the door behind me.

He has bed hair, but he’s put on a T-shirt and sneakers with his pajama bottoms. I see his medical briefcase by the front door, lit by the light from the kitchen.

“It’s Mr. Iqbal. He’s had a fall and needs help.”

“Mr. Iqbal?” I repeat, trying to figure out if I’m supposed to know who that is.

Dad pushes my sweaty hair back off my forehead. “Yes, Mr. Iqbal. He’s one of my clients. Lives in the complex, in Beech block. He’s old. Very frail and confused.”

“Oh yeah,” I say, like I have a clue who he means. “But you’re not working tonight, right?”

“No, I’m not,” Dad says. “But he called me, and he’s distressed and in pain. He’s two blocks over, so I’m going to run to his home and check on him, phone for an ambulance if I need to. He doesn’t have anyone else.”

“You won’t be long, though?” I’ve never been scared of being alone, but after everything that’s happened since November with the Latchitts having a massive vendetta against me, I can’t help feeling uneasy.

“I wouldn’t worry,” Dad says. “I want you to lock the door behind me and put the chain on. Don’t open it to anyone except me. And I’ll have my phone, so you can call any time.”

“Okay,” I say. “No problem.”

“Thank you, Angelo.” Dad smiles at me. “You make me proud.”

His phone lights up, too bright in the dark hallway. I see that it’s just after two in the morning.

“It’s him again,” Dad says, sliding his finger across the screen and putting the phone to his ear. “I’m on my way now, Mr. Iqbal.”

I hear Mr. Iqbal’s voice come through the speaker and it finally clicks who he is, because he calls Dad all the time. He sounds terrified, and in pain. He’s wailing like a toddler. I pick up Dad’s medical briefcase and give it to him while he tries to calm Mr. Iqbal down. I open the front door and give Dad a thumbs-up to show him I have everything under control. Dad stops outside, miming putting the chain on the door. I close it and rattle the chain as I pull it across. Then I hear his footsteps echoing away down the concrete walkway toward the main stairwell. I lean against the door for a few seconds, feeling the blanket of dark and quiet settle back down around me. The apartment feels different with only me and Raph and the two a.m. silence in it.

I go into the kitchen for a glass of water. The tap creaks as I turn it on, the sudden sound making my heart lurch in my chest. I knock back the whole glass while I’m still standing at the sink and refill it. The cool tiles under my feet and the water that splashes onto my arms as it bounces off the glass from the tap are taking some of the heat out of my body. My heartbeat slows. I close my eyes and leave the tap running for a minute. Hallie would kill me for wasting water, but right now it feels like the only thing that’s keeping me calm.

I drink the second glass of water, fill up again, and then turn off the tap with another creak. It takes a moment for the water to stop pouring, slowing to a trickle, then a rapid sputtering. Finally it settles into a slow drip, the heavy droplets thunking into the metal sink every couple of seconds. It sounds much louder in the quiet of night than it does in the day, when I barely notice it.

My thoughts turn to what I can do to fill the time until Dad gets back. I don’t want to wake Raph, so I settle on watching TV with subtitles on. I’ve been trying to fit in as many animal documentaries as I can over the past few months, hoping that if the Latchitts come back with a new genetically tweaked creation, I’ll already have the knowledge to identify it. Maybe work out its weaknesses.

In November, the Latchitts sent giant spiders to attack me, Naira, Hallie, and Gus while we were on a weekend detention. We’d all hurt their granddaughter, Colette, and they thought we deserved a worse punishment than a Saturday in school with each other.

When we walked through the gates at the start of that detention, we really didn’t get along. Hallie was basically a massive, nagging mouth on legs. Naira was annoyingly perfect and thought she was way better than the rest of us. Gus was more random than a duck in the desert and destructive as a wildfire. And me . . . I guess I was a loner who didn’t care about anyone or anything. At least, that’s what I wanted people to think. We survived, just. Became friends. We made things up to Colette and hoped that would be the end of it.

I’m in the hallway, lost in thought, when suddenly I freeze. Something’s changed. The apartment is dark and still. The only sound is the dripping tap. It’s dripping faster again now--the regular thump of water into the sink broken by sudden bursts of fast tapping. I go back to the kitchen to see if I can turn it off tighter, but as I walk toward it, I see that it’s hardly dripping at all. . . .

It feels like everything stops, except for the sound. My heartbeat, my breath, held back so that I can listen. The tapping isn’t coming from the sink, or even the kitchen. It’s coming from somewhere else in the apartment.

A shrill voice screams from the bedroom I share with Raph.


I leap toward the cry.

“Angelo!” Raph yells again.

I grab the handle and throw the door open, every part of my body tingling with panic and dread. I see Raph standing in the middle of the room, his face pale and his eyes wide with fear.

“Raph,” I say, skidding onto my knees, grabbing him and holding him in a tight hug. He’s shaking. “What is it?”

He points at the window, where the curtains are open, just a crack. “There’s a monster outside.”


Broken Glass

Raph is clinging to me like he’s scared the monster will rip him out of my arms and throw him into an abyss. I cuddle him into my chest, my arms wrapped around his shuddering little body, trying to calm him. He smells of sleep and sweat.

“It’s okay. You’re okay,” I say. “The only monster here is you.” I laugh and tickle him to try to snap him out of his fear.

He just holds on.

I’m thinking it must have been a seriously bad nightmare. And then I hear it--an urgent tapping at the window.

Raph gasps and unburies his face from my chest, jerking it toward a dim haze from the apartment complex’s lights seeping through the gap in the curtains. The sound comes again--faster and louder--like someone is hammering on the glass.

“What is that?” I say, and I get off my knees and onto my feet.

“It’s the monster,” Raph says, trying to pull me back down to the floor. “It wants to come inside.”

The taps come again, harder and violently repetitive, like a barrage of machine-gun fire. Louder than you’d think was possible. Then the noise doubles up, like another enemy has joined in the attack, and their only goal is to break through our bedroom window.

There can’t be people shooting at our window, though. I know that. I need to look. I’m scared to look.

“It’s going to break.” Raph is crying now. “The monster’s going to eat us.”

“We’re on the third floor, Raph. Monsters can’t get up here. It’s probably an angry bee, or a neighbor’s kid throwing stones.” I pull his arms gently, trying to loosen his grip so I can get up.

Raph is breathing fast and gulping back sobs. “Some monsters can climb high. We need to get Dad to fight it for us.”

Dad. Should I call him? My phone is still charging on the desk by the window. As I look over at it, I hear a sharp crack behind the curtains. The glass is breaking. I need to do something.

“I don’t think we need Dad,” I say, wondering how long it’s likely to be before he gets back. “We’ve got this, right?”

Raph shakes his head. “I want Daddy--let’s wake him up.” He looks so scared.

“Okay, Dad isn’t here at the moment, but he’s only a minute away,” I say. “He had to go help someone. But we can call him and he’ll come straight back.” Raph looks up at me, panicking because Dad’s not here. “I need to grab my phone from the desk, okay? It’s right there.” I point.

Raph’s favorite blanket is on the floor by the bed. I pick it up and wrap it around him. “The blanket will protect you.”

There’s a splintering sound from the window. I need to hurry. Raph puts the blanket over his head like a Jedi hood, so that all I can see is a perfect circle of face. He nods.

“Stay behind me,” I say, and I stand up and leap toward the window. With my left hand I grab the phone, yanking it free from the charging cable, and with my right hand I pull back the curtain.

All I see is a shadow. Or maybe lots of shadows. It moves so fast I can’t tell. There’s no sound except for a soft rustling as something brushes against the glass. And whatever was there is gone. I didn’t even get a look at it. The glass in the window has a perfectly round hole, maybe half an inch across, with splinters spreading around it like a spiderweb.

There’s a moment of silence, but it isn’t comforting. It’s the held breath before something bad happens.

The silence is broken by a whistle.

Raph screams, and then the relentless tapping starts again. Not at our bedroom window, but from what sounds like every other window in the apartment. The noise is all around us. And underneath it all, the whistling continues. It’s a tune. Unhurried, like the person whistling is strolling through a field of daisies. It has to be him. Latchitt. It has to be.

Mr. and Mrs. Latchitt are fearless and scary smart. It seems like a hundred years ago that I barely noticed them when they worked as groundskeepers at Dread Wood Academy. But all that time they were plotting, working on their experiments and getting ready to unleash their monsters. The nursery rhymes they whistled, sang, and played were a vital part of controlling their beasts. I strain my ears to pick up the tune, but I can’t make it out below the hammering.

I pick up Raph in his blanket and carry him into the hallway. Our place is small. Just five rooms around a front door and tiny entrance hall. The bedrooms are at the back, the living room and kitchen at the front, on either side of the door. We stand in the middle of it all, and I’m not sure which way to go. Do we run? Or hide? Then the hammering starts at the front door too, the mailbox rattling, the door thudding against its frame like it’s going to be ripped off the hinges.

I need to get Raph somewhere safe.

Our bathroom doesn’t have a window, and the door locks. I rush in there with Raph and put him on the floor next to the bath.

“Here’s my phone.” I hand it to him. “I need you to lock the door and call Dad. Tell him to come back.”

“You aren’t leaving me.” Raph grabs my hand.

“I have to find out what’s going on,” I say, prying his fingers from mine. “It’s important, Raph. Lock the door and I’ll be gone one minute tops; then I’ll knock for you.”

“No, Angelo!” Raph shouts. “I don’t want the monster to get you.”

“The monster won’t get me,” I say, unlocking my phone so he can use it. “I’m the toughest fighter there is. Like Godzilla.” He lets go of my hand and nods. “Call Dad, okay? I’ll be right back.”

“You’re not the toughest, though,” he calls after me as I close the door and he turns the lock. “Kenzie’s the toughest.”

Despite the danger, I can’t help but smile. Kenzie is Raph’s best friend, and to be fair, he’s a tough little guy. I once saw him leap off the top of the jungle gym in the park with zero fear. He skinned his hands and knees so bad that I almost cried looking at them, but he just got up and did it again.

“You can be Mothra or something,” Raph shouts as I’m heading down the hall to the front door. I only just hear him over the sound of our home being destroyed from the outside by an unknown evil.