TITLE: TRAPPED IN LUNCH LADY LAND
GENRE: CHAPTER BOOK
“Hey kid! You, with the red hair. Yeah, you! We’ve got a creamed corn emergency on our hands! Get down to the storeroom and fetch me a big can, quick now!”
I’m Josh Brannon, the kid with the red hair. I had cafeteria duty, on account of an incident involving a wad of chewing gum and Patty Anne McGinty’s chair, which I had almost nothing to do with, no matter what that tattletale Patty Anne says. Mrs. Kuchen, the lunch lady, was waving a big, gloppy spoon in my direction.
The truth is, Mrs. Kuchen freaks me out. She’s as big as an offensive lineman and her face is always bright red and sweaty. Her uniform has these weird stains on it that are never the same color as what we’re eating that day. Plus, her hair net makes her look like an alien. I don’t think she likes kids much.
Mrs. Kuchen snarled, “Stop daydreaming, kid!” and I headed for the storeroom at the back of the kitchen.
The door opened with a creak, like you hear in horror movies. Serling Heights Intermediate School was built way back in the thirties. They keep adding on to it, so it looks like a bunch of different buildings stuck together. Kind of like Frankenstein’s monster. The cafeteria is in the oldest part of the school. The storeroom is about what you’d expect—cobwebs, damp stone walls, a sour, barfy smell. Yuck city.
I flicked on the lights and it didn’t seem so bad, not that I was scared or anything. A long flight of metal stairs led to a dark basement. Lunch Lady Kuchen yelled, “Move it!” and I took the steps two at a time.
It was cold down there, like I had descended a lot farther than twelve steps. Rickety shelves lined the walls. Cans as big around as hubcaps filled the shelves. There were boxes of instant potatoes the size of tombstones. I found the corn on a bottom shelf at the far end of the storeroom, where the ceiling got lower and a big, greasy stain covered the floor. Time for the Health Department to pay a visit, I thought.
Something else caught my eye. In one corner, half-hidden behind a cabinet that had sagged sideways, was a little wooden door. It looked way older than the school, which I knew was impossible. A sign on it read KEEP OUT. Underneath the sign someone had scratched a skull and crossbones into the wood, and beneath that THIS MEANS YOU! Now I had to see what was behind that door.
I dropped the canned corn and reached for the rusty handle. It turned, just barely, with a scraping metal sound. I pulled hard but nothing happened. I gritted my teeth, grabbed it with both hands and really yanked. Nothing. I was about to give up when I leaned against the door to catch my breath. It flew open, pulling me after it!
I tumbled through the air and landed with a plop in something soft and sticky.