The sun had set long before the Rust Bucket pulled into the sprawling parking lot.
The clock on the Rust Bucket dashboard showed it was Ben and Gwen’s bedtime. But Ben and Gwen weren’t getting ready for sleep. Instead, they stared out the window, their eyes blinking from the bright lights around them.
Nighttime was the best time for Neon Land.
The sign for the park rose high above them, five thousand blaring bulbs filling the darkness with brilliant light. Large spotlights waved back and forth through the sky.
Grandpa Max, sitting in the driver’s seat of the Rust Bucket, had to squint. “Wow. This is even brighter than I imagined.”
“Neon Land uses more electricity in one night than some small countries use in an entire year,” said Gwen, reading the park brochure. “They have their own electrical grid right in the park, so they never have blackouts. Neon Land is the only structure on Earth that can be seen at night from outer space. This brochure says astronauts use Neon Land to guide their rocket ships.”
“I bet aliens do, too,” said Ben, his finger dangling over the Omnitrix clamped on his wrist. With the press of a finger, Ben’s Omnitrix could turn him into any of ten alien creatures.
“Keep your hands off that, Ben,” said Grandpa Max. “We’re here to have fun, not fight bad guys.”
“As long as the bad guys know that,” said Ben.
Grandpa Max laughed. “Sounds like a deal, Ben. No villains, no aliens. Agreed?” Ben nodded. “You guys ready?” Grandpa Max said.
“You bet,” said Ben, jumping up from his cot. He yawned.
Grandpa Max arched his eyebrows.
“Are you sure, Ben? I saw that yawn. It’s pretty late, you know.”
“That wasn’t a yawn, it was just a, um, mouth stretch,” said Ben. Gwen rolled her eyes. “Besides, I doubt I could sleep with all that light pouring in through our windows.”
“Then let’s go, kids!” shouted Grandpa Max, opening the Rust Bucket doors. Ben sprinted out of the vehicle, slowing down only to let his grandfather and Gwen catch up to him. They all squinted from the bright lights as they walked across the parking lot.
Grandpa Max bought three tickets from the ticket booth. He then handed Ben and Gwen dark sunglasses. He put a pair over his own eyes, too. “They gave me these. The lights here are so bright you’ll hurt your eyes if you don’t wear them.”
“Wearing sunglasses at night? Awesome!” said Ben. He put on his shades and then struck a pose. “Do I look cool?”
“No, you still look like a dork, as always,” said Gwen with a laugh. When Ben shot her a dirty look, Gwen smiled. “You’re a dork, but a cool dork.” Ben continued frowning, but Gwen ignored her cousin’s icy stare. “What ride should we go on first?”
They stood at the front of the park, in a large open space surrounded by twinkling thrill rides, gleaming snack huts, shimmering souvenir shops, and glittering game stands. Ben was thankful he wore sunglasses. “Let’s go on that ride!”
Ben pointed to a long, tall coaster. Its tracks climbed up and up and up before sloping nearly straight down and then rising up into three consecutive loops.
The coaster’s metal support beams glowed red, the cars on the track glowed orange, and giant purple strobe lights blinked on and off, on and off. Just staring at it hurt Ben’s head, even with sunglasses. The glowing sign next to the ride read:
The Luminous Light Coaster
Ben and Gwen took a step toward the ride when a loud CRRAACK filled the park. All the lights on the Luminous Light Coaster shut off.
The coaster wasn’t the only thing plunged into darkness. The lights turned off at a small hot-dog stand and then at a small carousel.
“I thought you said this place couldn’t have blackouts,” said Ben.
“That’s what the brochure said,” explained Gwen, scratching her head.
Screams pierced through the now-dark air. One of the cars on the Luminous Light Coaster had stopped upside down, at the top of its largest loop. In the faint glow from other nearby lights, Ben could see a hat and sunglasses fall.
“Luckily they’re strapped into their seats,” said Grandpa Max. “Can you get them down, Ben?”
“I thought you didn’t want me to turn into an alien unless a villain showed up?”
“Never mind that, Ben. Some rules are meant to be broken.”
“I’ll remember that the next time you tell me to stop eating potato chips in bed.” Ben hit his palm against the Omnitrix and then, with a flash, he turned into the alien known as Stinkfly.
Copyright © 2018 by Cartoon Network (s18).. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.