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Authors: R.L. Stine - (ebook by Undead)

37 - The Headless Ghost

BOOK: 37 - The Headless Ghost
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THE HEADLESS GHOST

 

Goosebumps - 37
R.L. Stine
(An Undead Scan v1.5)

 

 
1

 

 

Stephanie Alpert and I haunt our neighborhood.

We got the idea last Halloween.

There are a lot of kids in our neighborhood, and we like to haunt them and
give them a little scare.

Sometimes we sneak out late at night in masks and stare into kids’ windows.
Sometimes we leave rubber hands and rubber fingers on windowsills. Sometimes we
hide disgusting things in mailboxes.

Sometimes Stephanie and I duck down behind bushes or trees and make the most
frightening sounds—animal howls and ghostly moans. Stephanie can do a
terrifying werewolf howl. And I can toss back my head and shriek loud enough to
shake the leaves on the trees.

We keep almost all the kids on our block pretty frightened.

In the mornings, we catch them peeking out their doors, seeing if it’s safe
to come out. And at night, most of them are afraid to leave their houses alone.

Stephanie and I are really proud of that.

During the day we are just Stephanie Alpert and Duane Comack, two normal
twelve-year-olds. But at night, we become the Twin Terrors of Wheeler Falls.

No one knows. No one.

Look at us, and you see two sixth graders at Wheeler Middle School. Both of
us have brown eyes and brown hair. Both of us are tall and thin. Stephanie is a
few inches taller because she has higher hair.

Some people see us hanging out together and think we’re brother and sister.
But we’re not. We don’t have any brothers and sisters, and we don’t mind one
bit.

We live across the street from one another. We walk to school together in the
morning. We usually trade lunches, even though our parents both pack us
peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches.

We’re normal. Totally normal.

Except for our secret late-night hobby.

How did we become the Twin Terrors? Well, it’s sort of a long story….

 

Last Halloween was a cool, clear night. A full moon floated over the bare
trees.

I was standing outside Stephanie’s front window in my scary Grim Reaper
costume. I stood up on tiptoes, trying to peek inside to check out her costume.

“Hey—beat it, Duane! No looking!” she shouted through the closed window.
Then she pulled down the shade.

“I wasn’t looking. I was just stretching!” I shouted back.

I was eager to see what Stephanie was going to be. Every Halloween, she comes
up with something awesome. The year before, she came waddling out inside a huge
ball of green toilet paper. You guessed it. She was an iceberg lettuce.

But this year I thought maybe I had her beat.

I’d worked really hard on my Grim Reaper costume. I wore high platform shoes—so high that I’d tower over Stephanie. My black, hooded cape swung along the
ground. I hid my curly brown hair under a tight rubber skullcap. And I smeared
my face with sick-looking makeup, the color you see on moldy bread.

My dad didn’t want to look at me. He said I turned his stomach.

A success!

I couldn’t wait to make Stephanie sick! I banged my Grim Reaper sickle on
Stephanie’s window. “Hey, Steph—hurry up!” I called. “I’m getting hungry. I
want candy!”

I waited and waited. I started pacing back and forth across her front lawn,
my long cape sweeping over the grass and dead leaves.

“Hey! Where are you?” I called again.

No Stephanie.

With an impatient groan, I turned back to the house.

And a huge, hairy animal jumped me from behind and chewed off my head.

 

 
2

 

 

Well, it didn’t
really
chew off my head.

But it tried to.

It growled and tried to sink its gleaming fangs into my throat.

I staggered back. The creature looked like an enormous black cat, covered in
thick, black bristles. Gobs of yellow goo poured from its hairy ears and black
nose. Its long, pointed fangs glowed in the dark.

The creature snarled again and shot out a hairy paw. “Candy… give me all
your candy!”

“Stephanie—?” I choked out. It
was
Stephanie. Wasn’t it?

The creature jabbed its claws into my stomach in reply. That’s when I
recognized Stephanie’s Mickey Mouse watch on its hairy wrist.

“Wow. Stephanie, you look awesome! You really—” I didn’t finish. Stephanie
ducked behind the hedge and yanked me down beside her.

My knees hit the sidewalk hard. “Ow! Are you crazy?” I shrieked. “What’s the
big idea?”

A group of little kids in costumes paraded by. Stephanie leapt out of the
hedge. “Arrrggghhh!” she growled.

The little kids totally freaked. They turned and started to run. Three of
them dropped their trick-or-treat bags. Stephanie scooped up the bags. “Yummmm!”

“Whoa! You really scared them,” I said, watching the little kids run up the
street. “That was cool.”

Stephanie started to laugh. She has a high, silly laugh that always starts me
laughing, too. It sounds like a chicken being tickled. “That was kind of fun,”
she replied. “More fun than trick-or-treating.”

So we spent the rest of the night scaring kids.

We didn’t get much candy. But we had a great time.

“I wish we could do this every night!” I exclaimed as we walked home.

“We can,” Stephanie said, grinning. “It doesn’t have to be Halloween to scare
kids, Duane. Get my meaning?”

I got her meaning.

She tossed back her bristly head and let out her chicken laugh. And I
laughed, too.

And that’s how Stephanie and I started haunting our neighborhood. Late at
night, the Twin Terrors strike, up and down our neighborhood. We’re
everywhere!

Well…
almost
everywhere.

There’s one place in our neighborhood that even Stephanie and I are afraid
of.

It’s an old stone house on the next block. It’s called Hill House. I guess
that’s because it sits up on a high hill on Hill Street.

I know. I know. A lot of towns have a haunted house.

But Hill House really is haunted.

Stephanie and I know that for sure.

Because that’s where we met the Headless Ghost.

 

 
3

 

 

Hill House is the biggest tourist attraction in Wheeler Falls. Actually, it’s
the
only
one.

Maybe you’ve heard of Hill House. It’s written up in a lot of books.

Tour guides in creepy black uniforms give the Hill House tour every hour. The
guides will act real scary and tell frightening stories about the house. Some of
the ghost stories give me cold shivers.

Stephanie and I love to take the tour—especially with Otto. Otto is our
favorite guide.

Otto is big and bald and scary-looking. He has tiny black eyes that seem to
stare right through you. And he has a booming voice that comes from deep inside
his huge chest.

Sometimes when Otto leads us from room to room in the old house, he lowers
his voice to a whisper. He talks so low, we can barely hear him. Then his tiny
eyes will bulge. He’ll point—and
scream:
“There’s the ghost! There!”

Stephanie and I always scream.

Even Otto’s smile is scary.

Stephanie and I have taken the Hill House tour so often, we could probably be
tour guides. We know all the creepy old rooms. All the places where ghosts have
been spotted.

Real ghosts!

It’s the kind of place we love.

Do you want to know the story of Hill House? Well, here’s the story that
Otto, Edna, and the other guides tell:

 

Hill House is two hundred years old. And it’s been haunted practically from
the day the stones were gathered to build it.

A young sea captain built the house for his new bride. But the day the big
house was finished, the captain was called out to sea.

His young wife moved into the huge house all alone. It was cold and dark, and
the rooms and hallways seemed to stretch on forever.

For months and months, she stared out of their bedroom window. The window
that faced the river. Waiting patiently for the captain’s return.

Winter passed. Then spring, then summer.

But he never came back.

The captain was lost at sea.

One year after the sea captain disappeared, a ghost appeared in the halls of
Hill House. The ghost of the young sea captain. He had come back from the dead,
back to find his wife.

Every night he floated through the long, twisting halls. He carried a lantern
and called out his wife’s name. “Annabel! Annabel!”

But Annabel never answered.

In her grief, she had fled from the old house. She never wanted to see it
again.

Another family had moved in. As the years passed, many people heard the
ghost’s nightly calls. “Annabel! Annabel!” Through the twisting halls and cold
rooms of the house.

“Annabel! Annabel!”

People heard the sad, frightening calls. But no one ever saw the ghost.

Then, one hundred years ago, a family named Craw bought the house. The Craws
had a thirteen-year-old boy named Andrew.

Andrew was a nasty, mean-natured boy. He delighted in playing cruel tricks on
the servants. He scared them out of their wits.

He once threw a cat out of a window. He was disappointed when it survived.

Even Andrew’s own parents couldn’t stand to spend time with the mean-tempered
boy. He spent his days on his own, exploring the old mansion, looking for
trouble he could get into.

One day he discovered a room he had never explored before. He pushed open the
heavy wooden door. It let out a loud creak.

Then he stepped inside.

A lantern glowed dimly on a small table. The boy saw no other furniture in the large room. No one at the table.

“How strange,” he thought. “Why should I find a burning lantern in an empty
room?”

Andrew approached the lantern. As he leaned down to lower the wick, the ghost
appeared.

The sea captain!

Over the years, the ghost had grown into an old and terrifying creature. He
had long, white fingernails that curled in spirals. Cracked, black teeth poked
out from between swollen, dry lips. And a scraggly white beard hid the ghost’s
face from view.

The boy stared in horror. “Who—who are you?” he stammered.

The ghost didn’t utter a word. He floated in the yellow lantern light,
glaring hard at the boy.

“Who are you? What do you want? Why are you here?” the boy demanded.

When the ghost still didn’t reply, Andrew turned—and tried to run.

But before he moved two steps, he felt the ghost’s cold breath on his neck.

Andrew grabbed for the door. But the old ghost swirled around him, swirled
darkly, a swirl of black smoke in the dim yellow fight.

“No! Stop!” the boy screamed. “Let me go!”

The ghost’s mouth gaped open, revealing a bottomless black hole. Finally, it
spoke—in a whisper that sounded like the scratch of dead leaves. “Now that you have seen me, you cannot leave.”

“No!” The boy shrieked. “Let me go! Let me go!”

The ghost ignored the boy’s cries. He repeated his dry, cold words: “Now that
you have seen me, you cannot leave.”

The old ghost raised his hands to the boy’s head. His icy fingers spread over
Andrew’s face. The hands tightened. Tightened.

Do you know what happened next?

 

 
4

 

 

The ghost pulled off the boy’s head—and hid it somewhere in the house!

After hiding the head, hiding it away in the huge, dark mansion, the ghost of
the sea captain let out a final howl that made the heavy stone walls tremble.

The terrifying howl ended with the cry, “Annabel! Annabel!”

Then the old ghost disappeared forever.

But Hill House was not freed from ghosts. A new ghost now haunted the
endless, twisting halls.

From then on, Andrew haunted Hill House. Every night the ghost of the poor
boy searched the halls and rooms, looking for his missing head.

All through the house, say Otto and the other tour guides, you can hear the
footsteps of the Headless Ghost, searching, always searching.

And each room of the house now has a terrifying story of its own.

Are the stories true?

Well, Stephanie and I believe them. That’s why we take the tour so often.

We must have explored the old place at least a hundred times.

Hill House is such awesome fun.

At least it
was
fun—until Stephanie had another one of her bright
ideas.

After Stephanie’s bright idea, Hill House wasn’t fun anymore.

Hill House became a truly scary place.

 

 
5

 

 

The trouble started a few weeks ago when Stephanie suddenly got bored.

It was about ten o’clock at night. We were out haunting the neighborhood. We
did our terrifying wolf howl outside Geena Jeffers’ window. Then we went next
door to Terri Abel’s house. We put some chicken bones in her mailbox—just
because it’s creepy to reach in your mailbox and feel bones.

BOOK: 37 - The Headless Ghost
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