Title: Goosebumps – A True Ghost Story, a.k.a. “What The Jack-O’-Lantern Saw”
Author: R.L. Stine
Acknowledgement: To OffTheRadar9790, a.k.a. Gary Oak: Pokemon Master on Youtube for setting me on the path to find this, and Kathleen Martini and The Lantern for preserving this for posterity
Well, before the end of 2022 here we have one other Goosebumps story none of us really knew existed.
I guess I should clarify this isn’t exactly, officially, a Goosebumps story per say but it only felt right to classify it as such among all the other stories that’ve turned up in 2022.
Youtuber OffTheRadar9790 commented on “The Lost Goosebumps Books,” a video posted made by KidLeavesStoop discussing lost and unpublished Goosebumps books. You’ll see the video acknowledges Point Horror and how we reached out to Braden Gardener and he found Dead Dogs Still Fetch for us.
OffTheRadar9790 mentioned R.L. Stine attended their college graduation ceremony and told a ghost story, yet couldn’t remember the exact details.
I didn’t think much of it at the time, but earlier this evening I remembered the comment and did a quick search for “R.L. Stine commencement speech.” That brought me to an article from The Lantern by Kathleen Martini, detailing R.L. Stine speaking at the Autumn Commencement Ceremony for his alma mater, Ohio State University.
[Wing: Ah, at last the true reason for our feud is revealed: I’m a Wolverine, he’s a Buckeye.]
Stine’s full speech was recorded on Soundcloud, which included the story in its entirety. It’s a childhood tale of a Halloween night Stine and his brother knocked on the door of the wrong house.
I immediately rushed to work on a recap for this as one last surprise for the Goosebumps fandom, even if some of you may not consider this official lost Goosebumps media. Love ya, guys. And even if nothing else turns up before the year is over, I’m glad I was able to make all of you happy with my discoveries.
[Wing: Your discoveries have been a bright spot in an otherwise horrible year.]
Have you ever seen a ghost? Like a real, actual ghost?
R.L. Stine and his brother Bill did when they were kids in Columbus, Ohio.
It was the first Halloween that R.L. and Bill were allowed to trick-or-treat by themselves. They dressed up in sheets as ghosts and, just in case, brought with them cans of silly string in case they needed to deal with some stingy neighbors. [Wing: Cold.]
Now usually, R.L. and Bill started trick-or-treating across the street at the house of one Mrs. Dawson. Only this year her house was dark and it looked like she wasn’t home. No big deal. The Stine brothers started their candy collecting elsewhere, and managed to trek through several blocks before returning home with bulging sacks of candy.
Yet by the time the Stines returned to their block, they noticed something odd about Mrs. Dawson’s house. Now the boys could see a light in Mrs. Dawson’s front window. Figuring she was now home, R.L. and Bill thought to knock on her door again.
As they got closer to Mrs. Dawson’s house, the boys saw the light was coming from a big, grinning jack-o’-lantern inside the front window. The boys knocked on the door, but there was no answer. After waiting a bit, the boys knocked again and rang the doorbell. Still no answer.
Figuring by jack-o’-lantern was a sign Mrs. Dawson was home, and with her being a no show well, the Stines decided to break out the silly string.
“She’s in there, Bob, go ahead string her!”
However, as R.L. took out the can he saw the jack-o’-lantern in the front window had changed.
The yellow light transformed into an angry, blazing red. Its grin was replaced by an ugly, menacing scowl.
R.L. decided not to string Mrs. Dawson after all. The brothers were halfway down the driveway when the front door burst open. There was Mrs. Dawson in a gray nightgown, demanding to know why the boys woke her up. R.L. said he didn’t know she was asleep, but had to know how she did that trick with her jack-o’-lantern.
Mrs. Dawson was confused. What jack-o’-lantern?
The Stine boys saw the front window was now pitch black. There was no jack-o’-lantern, angry or otherwise, to be seen.
Hurrying back to their house, R.L. and his brother went to their room and silently went about checking their haul of candy. They didn’t say a word about Mrs. Dawson or her jack-o’-lantern.
By the next morning, R.L. wanted to apologize to Mrs. Dawson for waking her up last night. After having breakfast, R.L. went across the street…
Just in time to see workers moving things around in Mrs. Dawson’s house.
Or it used to be Mrs. Dawson’s house, before she died a week ago.
Man, I wish R.L. Stine spoke at MY college graduation.
[Wing: This would be a strange but fun commencement speech.]