Recap #334: Goosebumps: The Ghost Car by R.L. Stine and Ellen Jardine

Title: Goosebumps – The Ghost Car, a.k.a. “Maximum Overstine”

Authors: R.L. Stine and Ellen Jardine

Summary: Congratulations to Ellen Jardine in Year 10 who has won The Times Goosebumps competition. She beat 400 other entries when her story was chosen by RL Stine, the author of the Goosebumps books. Ellen wins £100 of books for herself, a camera and headphones. The school also receives a box of books. [Wing: This is an amazing prize!]

Initial Thoughts

This isn’t the first time I’ve recapped the same story with a different ending. This is just the first time I’ve done it with one of these contest stories.

Last year, the Goosebumps fandom found out about another story contest which is what led to me recapping The Goosebumps Ghost Car by Gráinne Meghen. The article the story was included in mentioned this was a runner-up entry.

A few months ago as I was digging around, I discovered the source of the original “Ghost Car” story and the grand prize contest winner. The first half of the story was included in a writing program R.L. Stine made up for teachers in grades 3-8. The grand prize winner was one Ellen Jardine of Myton School. You can read Ellen’s entry here, but it’s only her half of it.

I honestly did not expect to find the grand prize winner for this one nor was I going out of my way to find it. I was happy with Goosebumps_Completionist discovering the runner-up.


Ben and Ashley were checking out the car in Grandpa Ed’s garage. It was a total piece of shit, and Ben didn’t understand why Gramps kept it locked up. Ashley reminded him that their grandfather believed the car was haunted, and is too terrified of going near it to do anything.

[Wing: I suppose getting rid of the haunted car wasn’t on the table? On the one hand, it’s someone else’s problem! On the other hand, potentially cruel to the buyer. On the other other hand, maybe the ghost just transfers to something you keep around. On the other, other, other hand, haunted car might kill you before you can sell it.

Haunted car, ghost car, very different things and now I want to write a story that includes both.]

Haunted or not, Ashley doesn’t want to hang around a smelly, broken down car, while Ben thinks the idea of a haunted car is cool. Gee someone should really write a book about it, huh Wing?

As Ben was checking out the inside of the car, he heard a voice enticing him to go for a drive. It’s been so long, you see, so very long…

Ben was shocked when the engine roared, sounding surprisingly smooth, as the supposedly broken down car came to life. The voice grew louder, demanding Ben step on the gas and go for a ride!

[Wing: Okay!]

However, Ben would soon discover the choice wasn’t his to make. Something overpowered him as his foot slammed down on the clutch and his hand worked the gear. The car sped away, through the garage doors, the voice laughing as Ben was powerless to stop it from HITTING ASHLEY!

Ben could do nothing to help his sister as the car drove onto the open road, his body entirely frozen in place.

A cacophony of hums and purs escaped the newly resurrected engine and they echoed in my ears. I could feel them like loud heartbeats throb inside my head. It felt as if they were trickling down my throat towards my body and trembling heart. As the speed of the car increased, I felt myself grow weak.

The car began to transform, and Ben could see the “leather” stretched across the dashboard was actually human skin! [Wing: What?] The torn seats of the car literally bleeding, covered in fingernail fragments. [Wing: W H A T?] The voice of the car “congratulated” Ben on how observant he was, who was now growing weaker and weaker the faster the car went.


Ben realized he would never see his family again, and now understood why the car had been locked up for so long. Slowly but surely, Ben felt himself being lost. Drifting away, until he was no longer sitting behind the wheel of the car.

Everything Ben saw, he saw through the headlights.

The skin on the dashboard, the blood on the seats, that was all him too.

The car hadn’t just wanted to go for a ride, it wanted a snack, too.

My leg had morphed into the accelerator, my eyes were the headlights, my hand was the gearstick, it was my skin stretched across the dashboard. The rips and the stains and the tears were all mine.

I was the car. I am the car.

Final Thoughts

I’m legitimately shocked by how violent this one is, compared to the previous “Ghost Car” entry. But it’s also giving me massive Dream Child vibes, which I very much appreciate.

[Wing: I repeat, THIS IS FUCKING AMAZING. I love the brutality of it! A car devouring its driver is A++ horror. I truly hope Ellen went on to write more horror stories.]