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Matthew and Jessica came rushing down the hallway and stopped just shy of the front door. They were filled with energy and excitement while they watched their parents walk towards them. Halloween had finally arrived and trick or treating was all that was on their mind. Once their front door was opened, they ran outside and disappeared.

Jessica wanted to be Red Riding Hood that year, so she dressed up as the character, complete with a red hood and a basket. She also carried around her Scooby Doo stuffed toy as a stand-in for the big bad wolf. Meanwhile, Matthew dressed up as the fastest man alive. The Flash had been one of his favorites ever since he saw the Justice League cartoon on television.

The roads in the neighborhood were filled with children in colorful costumes bringing baskets and plastic bags. There were older children as well. Most of them were chaperones for their little brothers and sisters. Jessica and Matthew even bumped into a few of their friends. They showed off their costumes and gave much deserved complements to one another.

As the evening progressed, Jessica and Matthew visited more and more houses until they reached the more deserted parts of their neighborhood. None of them had been able to walk that far from their house the night before. While they were strolling, Jessica saw something that made her stop abruptly. The sweet delicacies rustled inside when the basket shook at the sudden halt in motion. She grabbed Matthew by the arm to get his attention. When she had his attention, she pointed to a house that seemed empty and said,

“Was there always a house here?”

Matthew saw the house and began to question whether or not he had seen the house before. They passed by that street on their way to school, so surely he would’ve noticed. But that night, he wasn’t sure if it was.

The house in front of them looked old and time-weary. Instead of clean cut grass, weeds had sprouted in its place. The lack of light inside made it seem like the house was empty. Both of them felt curious but equally scared. They both shared a look which telegraphed that they thought of the same thing, without saying a word. They gave each other a nod and approached the house together.

The wooden floors creaked as they stepped onto the front porch. The door was full of cobwebs and Matthew had to pull some away from the doorknob. He turned the knob and found that it was unlocked. The door creaked as it slowly opened. Before they could enter the house, something appeared in front of them and said “Hello”.

They immediately ran away from the house screaming!

They both stopped when they were far enough from their house to catch their breath. Jessica felt her heart beat so fast, she thought it would leap out of her chest. Matthew looked at his little sister and asked her if she was okay. She nodded and told him that they needed to go home. He noticed something was missing and asked Jessica where Scooby was. Jessica gasped in horror when she realized that she had dropped Scooby back at the creepy old house. Both of them knew that they were going to have to go back there and get it.

They tiptoed their way across the front lawn, making sure they weren’t making any noise that would alert whoever was inside the house. They looked around the front porch for the toy but were unable to find it. Then someone behind them said,

“Are you looking for this?”

They turned around and were left speechless when they saw him. He was a small boy. He wore a plaid shirt and pants with suspenders. He appeared normal, except that he had a pumpkin for a head.

Matthew grabbed the chair on the front porch and was ready to use it as a weapon, while Jessica hid behind her older brother. 

“G-Give us Scooby back or I’ll hit you with this chair. I’m not kidding,” he said shakily. Despite the clear conviction in his threat, it did nothing to hide his fear.

“No-No. I mean you no harm. Here, I’ll give you your toy back,” the boy said. He had his arms stretched out in front just to assure them that he truly meant no harm. He walked closer to them and left the toy on the steps of the porch.

The pumpkin-headed boy backed away slowly. Matthew took that chance and picked up Scooby from the steps. He handed it to Jessica, which she hugged tightly, and then lifted the chair again for protection.

Now that they had Scooby back, Matthew and Jessica were ready to leave. They slowly moved forward with Matthew still holding the chair for protection. He stopped just as he was about to reach the sidewalk. He wanted to get out of there as soon as possible, but curiosity had a hold of him and he couldn’t help but ask.

“What’s wrong with your head?” he asked.

The pumpkin-headed boy looked at him, puzzled, as if he had failed to understand the question.

There was a moment of silence before Matthew said,

“Why is your head a pumpkin?”

“Oh yes. I guess my head is a bit strange to some. Why don’t you come inside and I’ll tell you all about it. We can have some cookies and some chocolate milk,” the boy said. He casually walked to the door. He looked back and said “My name is Carlson, by the way.”

Matthew wanted to ignore his invitation but Jessica also had the same curiosity he had. She was already making her way to the door. Matthew tried to call her back but it was too late. He sighed and followed her inside.

The house, despite how it looked outside, was surprisingly clean on the inside. The lights illuminated the cozy living room. They sat on the couch, which was soft and comfortable. It had a fireplace, which kept the room warm.

Carlson, who disappeared into the kitchen, reappeared with a tray filled with a plate of cookies and two glasses of chocolate milk. He placed the tray on the table in front of Jessica and Matthew. He told them to eat as much as they wanted.

While Jessica and Matthew ate, Carlson began the interesting story of how he came to be.

Carlson had been brought to life by the wishes of a boy name Jack. He and his family lived in the house they were currently in a long time ago. Jack had no friends and was lonely. On Halloween night, he wanted to go trick or treating but had no-one to go with. So he took a pumpkin which was supposed to be made into a Jack o’ Lantern and made a wish to the stars above. The stars heard his plea and brought to life a boy with a pumpkin head, who he named Carlson.

Both of them had fun trick-or-treating that night. Carlson had so much fun with Jack that he made Halloween his favorite day. However, the next morning when he woke up, Jack and his parents were gone, and the house was completely empty. Carlson had been waiting for Jack to come back ever since.

Matthew and Jessica felt sorry for Carlson. Matthew especially felt bad for threatening to hit Carlson with a chair. He wasn’t a scary threat. He was just sad and lonely.

Carlson saw the gloomy look they both had on their faces and decided that wasn’t in tune with the Halloween spirit. He got up off his seat and made his way to the radio. “Why don’t we have some fun on Halloween?” he said.

Carlson turned on the radio and started dancing. He urged Jessica and Matthew to join him. They were hesitant at first, but seeing Carlson dance made it seem fun. So they got up and joined in. They danced until they couldn’t dance anymore.

Time went by quickly, and much to Jessica and Matthew’s disappointment, it was already getting late and they had to go home. Their parents might worry about them if they stayed out too late. Carlson saw them out the door and they said their goodbyes. Before they left, they shared some of their candy with Carlson, which he graciously accepted. They waved Carlson goodbye one last time before finally making their way back home.

The next morning, Jessica and Matthew came back to Carlson’s house. They knocked on the door but no one came to answer. They called out to Carlson but he still wasn’t there. They tried turning the doorknob and found that it was open. They entered the house and found a lone pumpkin on the table. On top of it was a note. Matthew picked up the note. On the note, the words “Until next Halloween!” were written on it.

Jessica and Matthew left the house feeling sad that they didn’t get to see Carlson again. They kept Carlson’s note and treated it as a promise. They came home that day looking forward to next Halloween, when they could spend another night with Carlson, the living pumpkin.

© Storyberries/ Glenn Francis Faelnar 2021

Short bedtime story written by Glenn Francis F. Faelnar



1. Were Jessica and Matthew right to run away screaming when they first saw Carlson? Why or why not? What do you think you would have done?

2. How do you think it feels to be Carlson, a boy with a pumpkin head? Can you imagine some things that would be difficult for him?

3. What do you think would be some good things about being Carlson?