Sam Hilbert and his twin sister Emily jumped out of the car. They waved goodbye to their friend Affan and his mother, who had dropped them off at their house after soccer practice. The twins were headed to their house when they saw a moving van parked in front of the house next door. The house had been empty all summer, and the twins had been wondering if it was going to stay that way forever.
“It looks like someone is finally moving in,” Sam said as he examined the large yellow truck.
“I hope they have kids our age,” Emily said.
“I hope it’s a boy,” her brother replied.
“No, a boy,” Sam insisted.
“What about one of each?” his sister asked.
He thought about that for a moment. “Yeah, that would work.”
The twins watched as the movers used a lift on the truck to lower a couch to the ground. Then the two muscular men carried it into the house.
“See any bikes or toys or anything?” Sam asked as he peered into the back of the truck.
“Not yet,” Emily answered. “Just furniture and boxes.”
“Could be boxes of toys,” Sam reasoned.
The two moving men nodded a greeting to the kids as they returned from the house. Sam and Emily watched the men carry in a bed frame, four chairs, and a dining room table. There was still no sign of anything that looked like it belonged to a kid.
“It’s not looking good,” Emily said.
“Maybe they’ve already moved in the kid stuff,” Emily said hopefully. “The truck is half empty.”
“Maybe,” Sam said. “Or maybe there’s another truck coming.”
“I wonder where our new neighbors are,” Emily said. “We still haven’t seen them.”
The words were barely out of her mouth when a small blue car pulled up to curb and backed into a spot in front of the moving van. The twins looked on eagerly. Emily crossed her fingers on both hands. If the new neighbor had kids, they would be getting out of the car any time now.
“Any sign of kids?” she asked.
“Not yet,” said Sam.
The car door opened and then slammed shut with a loud thunk. The twins listened for the sound of running feet but there was just the clomp of adult footsteps. They waited for the person to come around the front of the moving van, but what they saw next was completely unexpected.
It was a man, but he looked like something out of a horror movie. His hair was white and stood up everywhere in thick clumps. His mustache and eyebrows looked like giant white caterpillars that had crawled onto his face. He had huge round glasses with thick lenses secured to his head with a navy-blue band. He was wearing a pair of bright green pants tucked into canvas boots that looked too big for his feet. What stood out the most, though, was the white lab coat that went almost all the way down to his boots.
“Do you think he’s a scientist or something?” Emily asked.
“Either that or a circus clown,” Sam answered.
They watched in silence as the strange man walked to the back of the truck. The two moving men were lowering a large wooden crate on the lift.
“Be very careful with that,” the new neighbor said.
“What’s in here?” asked one of the movers.
“Whatever it is, it sure is heavy,” said the other.
“Your job is to move it, not ask questions,” the man in the lab coat barked.
“Fine. Where do you want it?”
“In the garage. And be careful!”
The man used a remote control to open the garage door. When the door had rolled up, Emily and Sam could see inside. One entire wall of the garage was lined with large tables covered in boxes, some marked with danger symbols. As the twins watched, their new neighbor carefully removed a microscope from one of the boxes.
“Wow! Look at all that stuff,” Sam said.
“It looks like he’s setting up an entire lab in there!” Emily gasped.
The movers lowered the crate onto the concrete floor of the garage.
“Do you want us to help you get the crate open?” one asked. “I’ve got a crowbar in the truck.”
“No! No one but me touches what’s inside,” the man in the lab coat said sharply. “That should be it for the garage. Everything else goes in the house.”
As soon as the movers left the garage, the man pushed the button on the remote and the door began to slide down. The man finally noticed Emily and Sam and fixed his eyes on them. He frowned as the door closed and he was lost to sight.
“What do you think was in that crate?” Sam asked.
“No clue,” Emily said. “I just know our new neighbor doesn’t look very friendly.”
“Mad scientists usually aren’t,” Sam said in a voice filled with concern.
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