[A group of students is huddled outside Mr. Haney's office.]

Arthur: Mr. Haney is about to post a list that tells us which teacher we'll get this year.

[Mr. Haney enters with the list. The students gasp and murmur in anticipation.]

Arthur: Uh-oh.

Mr. Haney: Oh! Forgot a tack. [reenters office]

Francine and Binky: Huh?!

[Students groan.]

Arthur: There are three teachers for third grade: Miss Sweetwater, she's nice; Mrs. Fink, she's fun...

Ratburn: Billy, name three oceans.

Arthur: ...and Mr. Ratburn, the toughest, scariest teacher in school—no, in the whole world—no, in the whole history of the world.

[Mr. Haney pins the list to the billboard.]

Student: Oh, here comes the list.

Francine: Let's go look. Arthur, we're... in the Rat's class!

[Arthur, Buster, Binky, Brain, and Maria scream. Binky faints.]

Arthur: Maybe you read the list wrong, Francine. Let me look. You're right. It's Ratburn!

[On the baseball field]

Buster: Ratburn... Ratburn... Ratburn... Ratburn... Ratburn...

[On the soccer field]

Francine: Ratburn... Ratburn... Ratburn... Ratburn...

[A soccer ball bounces off her head and lands in the goal.]

Francine: Ratburn... Ratburn...

[Walking down the sidewalk]

Arthur: Ratburn... Ratburn...

Mrs. Powers: Free samples of a new flavor, rocky road. All you can eat!

Brain: Maybe he's not as rigorous as everyone says.

Francine: Prunella had him last year. Let's ask her.

Prunella: [laughs] "Is the Rat bad?" Does a bull fight? He eats nails for breakfast...

[The others gasp.]

Prunella: ...without milk!

[Ratburn is seen pouring a bowl of nails. He eats a spoonful, stopping to pull a screw out of his mouth and toss it away. He then eats the spoon.]

Prunella: And make sure you never answer any questions wrong... or he'll send you to death row.

Arthur: Death row?

[Arthur is seen locked in a dungeon.]

Ratburn: Have you done your math exercises?

Arthur: I did the first 5000, sir.

Ratburn: Then you have 9,995,000 left! Get to work! And after that, you have 37,000,000 spelling words to memorize. And you spiders, get moving!

[Spiders are seen spinning a web that looks like a map of the world.]

Prunella: And he's also a weird vampire... with hypnotic, magic powers.

[Ratburn is seen opening his casket at the front of the class.]

Ratburn: You are in my power.

Students: We do not like recess.

Prunella: Well, good luck!

[In Ratburn's classroom]

Ratburn: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to grade three. My name is Mr. Ratburn.

Arthur: He doesn't look so bad.

Francine: It's probably a trick.

Ratburn: Let's start with a two-minute math quiz to see what you remember from second grade.

Francine: I told you it was a trick.

[Ratburn hands out the quiz. Arthur sees Mrs. Sweetwater's class having fun and eating popcorn, while Mrs. Fink's is exercising to the beat of a boombox.]

Mrs. Fink: Welcome to the first day of school. School is cool! School is cool!

Ratburn: Arthur Read, you'd better concentrate on those problems before time's up.

[Recess starts. The other classes burst out the doors and run outside, while Mr. Ratburn calmly opens his door.]

Ratburn: Class, you may now file out in an orderly fashion. Quietly. No talking. Arthur Read, are you standing in your proper alphabetical position?

[Arthur moves behind Francine. Cut to the baseball field.]

Arthur: Boy, Ratburn's tough! He gave us homework on the first day.

Buster: Get with it, Arthur. We're not dealing with a human being here. This is serious!

[Binky hits the ball into the bushes under Ratburn's window]

Arthur: You find it yet?

Ratburn: Hello, this is Mr. Ratburn.

Buster: Shhh!

Arthur: Uh-oh.

Ratburn: Yes, I have all the eyes I need, but I'm completely out of heads. I need heads. I can wait for girls' heads, but I must have boys' heads immediately.

[Arthur starts to leave]

Buster: Wait, he'll see us! And we have... boys' heads!

Ratburn: There's no time! I need them now. I'll have to get them myself. [hangs up]

[Arthur and Buster scream and run to the Sugar Bowl.]

Francine: What are you doing?

[Arthur and Buster scream.]

Arthur: Ratburn. He—He's looking for body parts—heads! Boys' heads!

Francine: You must have heard wrong. A vampire doesn't need heads.

Arthur: This is no ordinary vampire.

Buster: He's beyond vampire.

Arthur: What's beyond a vampire?

Buster: A Ratburn.

[Ratburn is seen across the street walking to a Hardware Store. Arthur and Buster scream and hide behind Francine.]

Francine: Hey! What—

Buster: Stand still. He wants boy heads, not girls'.

[The three look in the window of the hardware store and see Ratburn picking up a box of nails.]

Arthur: Breakfast!

[Ratburn picks up a saw and puts it in his bag. Arthur and Buster hold their necks.]

Francine: What do you think he's gonna do with that saw?

Buster: I read a book where kids discovered a scary mystery like this and became detectives to solve it.

[Ratburn exits the store. The three scream and run into an alley.]

Buster: We should probably investigate.

Arthur: You know, we have a lot of homework to do.

Francine: You're just a fraidy-cat.

Buster: Arthur, we have to chose: face horrifying, scary danger or do our homework.

Francine and Arthur: Horrifying, scary danger.

[The three surreptitiously observe Ratburn checking out books at the library, reading a newspaper, and refereeing a basketball game.]

Francine: I'm bored. He's not doing anything weird. You probably heard him talking about heads of lettuce.

Arthur: Boy heads of lettuce? I don't think so, Francine.

Francine: Oh, yeah? It's probably the term grocers use for the rotten ones. I'm gonna do my homework.

Buster: Arthur, look!

[Ratburn is seen wheeling a large suitcase down a flight of stairs. Suddenly, it opens and an arm pokes out. Ratburn puts it back and closes the case, when suddenly his watch beeps. It's 3:45. He rushes off with the suitcase.]

Buster: [afraid] M-Maybe we should go do our homework.

Arthur: Come on.

[At the entrance to the carnival]

Arthur: He went into the carnival.

Buster: Of course he went into the carnival. Look at all those boy heads!

Arthur: We've got to warn them.

[They run into Ratburn.]

Buster: Oh, no! He's got us! We're trapped!

Arthur: Look! There he goes! Come on! He went into that booth.

[Arthur and Buster enter the booth and get sprayed with water guns. They leave.]

Arthur: Okay, it was that one.

[Inside, Mrs. MacGrady is taking a picture of Mr. Haney sitting on a horse.]

Mr. Haney: This is very authentic, Mrs. MacGrady, but I'd prefer a real action pose.

[Arthur bumps a cactus cutout, which falls and startles the horse. The camera captures him right before he falls off.]

Arthur: Sorry, sir.

[Back outside]

Buster: Okay, I pick this time.

[He points to another booth, inside which can be seen two silhouettes. Arthur and Buster gasp.]

Arthur and Buster: One... two... three... go!

[They run inside, finding themselves on stage in front of an audience of kids.]

Arthur: Run away!

Buster: You're not safe! He'll get you!

[The audience laughs.]

Jack: Hey, you're not in this story.

Puppet radio: And you're doing my lines! I warn Jack to run away, but not till he hears "Fee-fi-fo—" you know the drill.

[The audience laughs again.]

Ratburn: Arthur, Buster, get off the stage!

Jack: Okay, fellas, when you leave that castle, make a left, down that beanstalk, and you'll be back in Elwood City.


Buster: Wow! The Rat does kids' puppet shows?

Puppet radio: Jack, you're disorganized. You'd forget your head if it wasn't attached.

Jacket: Uh-uh! Would not!

[Jack's head falls off.]

Puppet radio: Grab your head and hide! Here comes the giant!

[Jack's cracked head rolls over to Arthur and Buster.]

Buster: Arthur, look!

Giant: Fee-fi-fo-fum!

Audience: Ew!


Ratburn: They always crack when I do that. I must go through 50 boy heads a year.

Arthur and Buster: Boy heads!

Ratburn: I can never have enough boy heads.

Arthur: We didn't know you made puppets.

Ratburn: Can't talk, boys—I have 40 seconds to get Jack ready. Must always stay on schedule because of all I do.

Arthur: You do a lot! You're a teacher, a coach, you work on the school paper... [laughs] I can't even find time to do my homework and eat!

Ratburn: You need to learn to organize your time. I've heard that some people think I give a lot of homework.

Arthur and Buster: We never heard that.

Ratburn: But once you've learned good work habits, you'll discover—

Puppet radio: Jack! Where are you?

Ratburn: [as Jack] Just a second! The cat rolled my head into the litter box. [to Arthur and Buster] You're capable of more than you think. I'll teach you how to do that homework and then have more time for things you enjoy.

Arthur: Like how you do all that stuff plus puppets?

Ratburn: Exactly. [checks watch] Ah! Two seconds early. Self-discipline is as important to learn as two plus two. [as Jack] Okay, I got my head on straight!

Puppet radio: Hey, man, your head's on straight, but your body is backwards!

Ratburn: Please don't stand there. I have to concentrate on my work.

Arthur: Oh. Sorry. [to Buster] Boy, were we wrong.

Ratburn: By the way, boys, I can't wait to see your Geography projects tomorrow.

[Arthur and Buster scream.]

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