The cover shows a headless man holding a green head in his left hand and placing his right hand on a pumpkin.
Brandon Plush is a young boy, who loves to scare people. He also scares his younger sister Maya, his cousin Vinnie, even two younger children he babysits. He is in the middle of telling the two neighborhood children a ghost story about a ghost who lives in their basement. Revealing that the ghost has a habit of killing people. But the children do not believe that one of the ghost's victims still haunts their house, so Brandon puts on a mask and pretends to be a headless ghost.
Brandon's friend Cal, a six-foot-tall twelve-year-old, appreciates Brandon's work, while Brandon likes Cal because he shares his fondness of scaring people, and he can also pull things off of high shelves. The two reminisce about all the times they have locked children inside an abandoned house in their neighborhood. Not wanting to be one-upped by his fellow tormentor, Brandon spies Vinnie in the hall and pretends to splash acid in his cousin's face. Of course, it is only water and Brandon has a good laugh. Brandon's least-favorite teacher, Mr. Benson sees the whole thing and sentences Brandon to a week's detention. Brandon decides to get revenge against the teacher on Halloween night as a result.
After school, Brandon takes out his frustrations on his younger sister, Maya, by jumping out from behind a corner and screaming at her. The shock causes Maya to accidentally break the glass she was holding and start sobbing. Brandon chooses this moment to reveal his excellent plan for getting revenge on Mr. Benson: He and Cal are going to trash his house on Halloween night. Then, to make up for not being able to trick-or-treat, they are going to steal some child's bag of candy on the way home.
Halloween night finally arrives and Brandon's mother forces him to take his cousin, Vinnie, his sister, Maya, and his two young friends trick-or-treating. So Brandon decides that he will lead them out into the dark night and then abandon them and he does so. First he ditches the three girls wearing costumes on a dark street, then he leads his cousin to a dilapidated-looking house. Though he can hear Vinnie screaming as he and Cal run away, Brandon does not even stop to see if he is okay. After some time, Cal and Brandon then proceed to have their "Headless Halloween." Which involves them walking around holding a mask above their heads and then removing the mask.
Once they finally tire of scaring children and stealing their candy, they decide to make their way over to Mr. Benson's house. His home overlooks a steep cliff that drops down onto a ravine, oddly enough. The two boys wait for Mr. Benson to leave and the moment he does, they sneak inside. In a surprising scene, the two find beer in the teacher's fridge. They continue to loot their teachers empty house. But Brandon quickly feels the ill effects of eating too much candy and he pukes all over the kitchen table. Cal thinks that is punishment enough, but Brandon wants to turn the teacher's living room couch upside down for good measure.
Unfortunately, before the two children can move the furniture, Mr. Benson returns home and lets loose his vicious dogs. Brandon races out an open window, leaving Cal behind. As he runs away, he can hear Mr. Benson's guard dogs attacking Cal but he does not pay it any mind and, thinking he could jump over the steep cliff Brandon falls into the rocky ravine below.
After a while Brandon wakes up safe in the ravine and wanders out into the street he has never heard of. All the houses are dark and a boy he encounters is wearing a mask identical to his own. The boy asks if he heard about the child who jumped into the ravine and was killed by the fall. The child he encounters is named Norband and he invites Brandon to a Halloween party.
The party is going fine until Brandon heads over to the refreshment table and chomps down on a doughnut filled with worms. The children pin him to the ground and force him to eat the whole thing. One of the guests then make Brandon go bobbing for apples filled with cockroaches, then play a game of twister. Some of the children turn into snakes and wrap their bodies around Brandon. He tries to leave but is now allowed until he does eventually escapes the party, soon greeted by Zombies!
He runs towards the ravine, only to see his own crumpled body resting on the bloody rocks below. A boy named Norband tells Brandon that he is on "the Other Side." Since Brandon was always scaring people, now his soul is trapped on the other side of being scared. But luckily, there is one way for Brandon to regain his life. He must save three people from being scared in one hour. Norband pushes Brandon back into his corpse and the reanimated Brandon sets out to earn his life.
Too bad the first steps he takes are right into the path of Mr. Benson's angry dogs. After saving the still-struggling Cal from the dogs' grasp, Brandon finds himself under attack. He then uses candy to save both himself and Cal and he then proceeds to run around the neighborhood looking for someone to not scare. He stands outside the door of the house, where he abandoned Vinnie, and calls inside for his cousin.
Vinnie cries out from behind the closed door for Brandon not to come in, but Brandon does so anyway and he finds Vinnie curled up in the corner of the room. He pleads with Brandon to leave while he still can and suddenly an actual ghost of a decomposing man appears. Brandon decides to trick the ghost by doing his headless routine, and it works. The ghost runs away screaming.
Vinnie then reveals that it was not the ghost, but the ghost's pet. He then reveals to Brandon that the house is the "real" ghost. The walls of the house start closing in on Vinnie and Brandon, but Brandon discovers that the one thing ghost houses are afraid of is the small beam of a flashlight. Brilliantly fighting off the ceiling and walls with his circle of light, the two boys make vaguely dog-shaped shadow puppets before finally escaping the evil house. Saving Cal was his first scare-avert. Vinnie was number two.
Brandon scans the neighborhood looking for number three. Conveniently, his little sister and her friends are being hassled by some punks at that very moment. Brandon tries to scare away the punks, but they do not fall for his prank. It is then Brandon sees his hour is up, his body dies and slinks down, leaving his soul still standing. This does terrify the punks, and Brandon is convinces that even though his time was up, Norband will let him have his life back since that was his third good task he managed to do.
Brandon rushes to the cliff and jumps back over into the Other Side. Excitedly he tells Norband what he did, exactly as told. But Norband then says, "Oops. Just joking!" He never had any intention of letting Brandon live! Norband takes off his mask and reveals his Brandon mask, then he takes another mask off to reveal nothing. Instead of being frightened, Brandon immediately recommends that he and his new dead friends go back into the real world and start scaring people.
- Cal mentions seeing beer in Mr. Benson's fridge. This is one of the only times alcohol comes up in any Goosebumps book
- Norband is an anagram of "Brandon".
- The french version features a pair of Jack O' Lanterns and a zombie hand playing with ribbon.
|Goosebumps Series 2000 series|
|#01 Cry of the Cat||#10 Headless Halloween||#18 Horrors of the Black Ring|
|#02 Bride of the Living Dummy||#11 Attack of the Graveyard Ghouls||#19 Return to Ghost Camp|
|#03 Creature Teacher||#12 Brain Juice||#20 Be Afraid – Be Very Afraid!|
|#04 Invasion of the Body Squeezers: Part One||#13 Return to HorrorLand||#21 The Haunted Car|
|#05 Invasion of the Body Squeezers: Part Two||#14 Jekyll and Heidi||#22 Full Moon Fever|
|#06 I Am Your Evil Twin||#15 Scream School||#23 Slappy's Nightmare|
|#07 Revenge R Us||#16 The Mummy Walks||#24 Earth Geeks Must Go!|
|#08 Fright Camp||#17 The Werewolf in the Living Room||#25 Ghost in the Mirror|
|#09 Are You Terrified Yet?|