“Is anybody tired yet?” Katie Zaleski asked. It was Saturday night. Katie was having a sleepover party.
Eight-year-old Nancy Drew shook her head. “No way!” she said.
Nancy loved sleepovers. She loved it especially when her two best friends, George Fayne and Bess Marvin, were there.
“I’m glad you’re not tired,” Katie said. “We’re going to stay up all night, no matter how tired we get. Right?”
Nancy glanced at the clock on Katie’s night table. It was already nine o’clock. “I’ve never stayed up all night before,” Nancy said.
“If we’re going to stay up the whole night,” George said, “what are we going to do until morning?”
“Let’s try on Mrs. Zaleski’s makeup,” Bess said. She twirled the ribbon on her pink nightgown. “We can pretend we’re supermodels.”
“Yuck!” George groaned.
Bess loved pretty clothes. Her cousin George was just the opposite. George preferred flannel pajamas and bare feet to frilly nightgowns and fuzzy bunny slippers.
Lester, Katie’s parrot, bobbed his colorful head up and down. “Yuck, yuck, yuck. Squaawwwk!” he said from the top of Katie’s bookshelf.
Katie had taught Lester to talk. Now he repeated whatever he heard.
“Hi, boy,” Nancy called up to Lester. “Do you want to ssing a song?”
Lester walked sideways on the shelf. “Sing, sing, sing!” he cackled.
Katie shook her head. “The only thing Lester will be singing is a lullaby. It’s almost his bedtime”
“Bummer!” Lester screeched.
Bess wiggled her fuzzy slippers in the air. “If we can’t sing with Lester, what should we do instead?”
“I know,” George said. “Let’s call snooty Brenda Carlton and hang up.”
“I have a better idea,” Katie said.
“What?” Nancy asked.
Katie’s eyes gleamed. “I’ll tell you. But first we have to sit in a circle on the floor.”
Bess grabbed a big stuffed bear from Katie’s bed. “No scary stories,” she said. “Please!”
Nancy, Bess, and George sat cross-legged on the blue-and-white rug. Katie wiggled between George and Bess. She had a newspaper in her hand.
“What is that?” Nancy asked.
“It’s the National Snooper,” Katie said.
“I’ve seen that in the supermarket. It’s usually at the checkout counter, right next to the bubble gum and candy,” George said.
“I was about to put it in Lester’s cage this morning,” Katie said. “That’s when I read the front page.”
Nancy stared at the headline. She read it out loud: “‘Queen of Planet Zagon to Visit Earth!'”
George’s dark eyes opened wide. “A space alien?” she said. “That’s cool!”
“I thought you weren’t going to tell scary stories!” Bess cried. She covered her face with the stuffed bear.
Katie flipped open the National Snooper. There was a picture of an alien with a very large head. The alien was wearing a jeweled crown. Her eyes were like huge black pools. Her green fingers were long and stringy.
“Read it out loud, Katie,” George said. “And don’t skip a single word.”
George leaned over Katie’s shoulder. Nancy sat up on her heels. Bess peeked out from behind the bear.
Katie began to read. “‘The queen of planet Zagon is expected to be on her way to Earth at the present time — ‘”
“You mean right now?” Bess gulped.
Katie went on. “‘The queen may look and act like an Earthling, but don’t let that fool you. She has many powers.'”
“That probably means she has X-ray vision,” George said. “She could also have eyes in the back of her head — like the aliens in the movies.”
“Peekaboo!” Lester screeched.
“I think this story is made-up,” Nancy said with grin.
“You mean you don’t believe it?” Katie asked.
“It’s an interesting story,” Nancy said. “There’s no proof that it’s true, though.”
“No wonder you’re a detective, Nancy,” Katie said with a laugh.
Nancy was the best detective at Carl Sandburg Elementary School. She had a blue notebook in which she wrote all her clues.
George sat down on Katie’s bed. “I hope the story is true. I would love to meet a real-life space alien.”
“Even if she has a huge head, green skin, and stringy fingers?” Bess asked.
George nodded, then grinned. “Those are the best kind!”
Katie put the newspaper back on her desk. “I think the queen of planet Zagon could turn up anywhere. She could even be here in River Heights.”
“Queen of Zagon! Queen of Zagon!” Lester called out. “ARRRK!”
Katie reached for her pet. “We may be staying up all night, Lester, but you’re going back to your cage.”
“Nighty-night! Nighty-night!” Lester squawked as Katie carried him to the den.
Nancy and her friends spent the next hour dancing to CDs. Then they played a few of Katie’s board games. Then they went to the kitchen to get some ice cream. After watching half of a movie, George pointed to the clock.
“It’s after midnight,” she said, brushing her dark curls out of her eyes.
“Way after,” Bess said, and yawned.
Nancy was tired, too. She began to unroll her sleeping bag. “Maybe we’ll stay up all night next time.”
Katie turned off the VCR. “Good idea,” she said.
The girls lined up their sleeping bags under the window. Nancy loved to look up at the stars before falling asleep.
“The sky looks pretty tonight,” Nancy said, snuggling into her sleeping bag.
Bess was already fast asleep.
Katie stared out the window. “Just think. Somewhere up there is planet Zagon.”
“And aliens,” George said. “Lots and lots of aliens.”
Suddenly a bright streak shot across the sky. It left a blazing trail of light.
“Whoa!” George gasped, then sat up in her sleeping bag. “What was that?”
Nancy looked out the window. “It’s the biggest shooting star I’ve ever seen.”
“That’s not a star,” Katie whispered. “It’s the queen of planet Zagon traveling down to Earth!”
On Monday morning Nancy, Bess, George, and Katie walked together to Mrs. Reynolds’s third-grade class.
Katie reached into her backpack. “Guess what? I brought in the article about the queen of planet Zagon.”
Bess wrinkled her nose. “Why?”
“For current events,” Katie said. Nancy followed her friends into Mrs. Reynolds’s classroom. Their teacher was not there, though. Instead, a woman with shiny black hair and a bright smile greeted them at the door.
Who’s she? Nancy wondered. And where is Mrs. Reynolds?
All the students took their seats. Nancy sat in the third row next to Bess. Katie’s desk was right behind Nancy’s. George sat farther back.
“Good morning, boys and girls,” the woman announced. “Mrs. Reynolds has a bad cold so she’ll be absent all week.”
Whispers filled the classroom. Mike Minelli raised his hand. “Who are you?” he asked.
“I’m your substitute teacher,” the woman explained. “And my name is…”
She turned to the board and began to write.
Nancy whispered as the letters appeared one by one. “Ms. Z-A-G…”
“Ms. Zigzag?” Bess giggled softly.
“Z-A-G-O-N,” Nancy read.
Suddenly Nancy’s blue eyes opened wide. “Ms. Zagon?”