The dinosaur has arrived — an original story by R.L. Stine
— This original story by R.L. Stine was written for Reuters.com. R.L.’s books are read all over the world. So far, he has sold over 350 million books, making him one of the best-selling children’s authors in history. —
Shivering in the hall, I looked forward to the warmth of the radio studio. I felt the cold as if it was trapped inside my overcoat. The frosted glass of the door looked like snow to me. I pushed it open with one gloved hand.
Here I am, everyone. Emerson Grant, the veteran and revered news anchor. Yes, it’s Christmas Eve, and the dinosaur has arrived to give his annual review of the news.
As if anyone cared. The news this year was all bad. Banks failing… war everywhere… folks living in their cars. Why would people tune in to hear a summary of all their sadnesses?
I gazed around the outer office. Anyone here? The dim ceiling lights made everything gray, as if behind a curtain. No one at the reception desk. No one at the other desks.
I know it’s Christmas Eve, people, but I can’t do this alone.
I shoved open the studio door and stepped inside. The same gray light, like a faded photograph. No sign of anyone. I glanced at the clock. It had stopped, the second hand stuck on three. I felt a stir of uneasiness. Strange.
I stepped over to the console and dropped into the worn chair. I tugged the mike lower and reached for the headphones. I can’t work this board. I need an engineer.
Without warning, darkness fell. Ceiling lights went black. The lights on the console vanished. I felt a pang. Just a heartbeat slightly off. I stared into the solid blackness. And heard a soft thump. My neck muscles went rigid. My ears rang. Another thump. From nearby. I wasn’t alone.
Who’s there? Who is it? No reply.
I know you’re in here. Fear choked my throat. I fumbled for the phone. My hand bumped the receiver. I grabbed it and raised it to my ears. Before I could push 911, I heard voices. Several voices all jabbering at once. Pardon me. What language are you speaking? I have an emergency here. Can anyone hear me? They kept chattering. They didn’t hear.
The lights flickered back. So dim, the studio seemed to be made of billowing shadow. At least now I could escape from the intruder. I jumped to my feet, stumbled to the outer office and rushed to the exit door. I tugged the brass handle. Frantically tried again. Then I tried pushing it. Locked in. Trapped.
I took a deep breath and held it. I’m not allowed to get excited, ever since the heart attack a few years ago. But I couldn’t hold my fear down. I was locked in, with the lights flickering and an intruder in the studio.
I spun around-and there he stood. A boy. Curly brown hair and a stub of a nose. A red-and-blue striped sweatshirt and baggy brown pants.
“Get out,” I snarled. “You don’t belong here. Did you come here to rob me?”
He shook his head. Lowered his gaze, and the curly hair fell over his eyes.
“I just want to watch you,” he said. “I want to be a great newsman, too. I dream about it.”
“Go away,” I told him. “Change your dreams.”
“I want to be on the radio,” he said. “Like you.” He tugged my sleeve.
I brushed him away. “Go home and play video games. You’ll be better off.”
He squinted at me. “Video games? What are they?”
“Are you trying to trick an old man?” I shouted. “What’s your name?”
He didn’t answer. Something in his face broke through my bitterness. The eagerness. A certain light. His face… MY face! I recognized the boy. To my shock, I knew I was staring at myself.
Suddenly, I remembered a cold, snowy Christmas Eve… a bitter, old news reader in a tiny studio. I sneaked in to visit him. I was so eager. I still had the light in my eyes. All those years ago, did I visit myself? Or did I dream it?
Gazing at myself, I couldn’t move. Couldn’t breathe. Couldn’t even blink my eyes.
He grabbed my arm. “It’s time for you to do your show,” he said. He pulled me into the studio. I stopped in front of a silvery wall plaque. New to me. I drew close to read the etched words:
THE EMERSON GRANT STUDIO
In Memory Of Emerson Grant 1936-2010.
The cold horror of the words-of course I knew what they meant. I felt like a ghost, already sinking… sinking into the cold shadows. But the boy watched me so eagerly. I couldn’t let him down.
I sat down at the console and pulled the headphones over my ears. I leaned toward the mike and flipped the switch. And I began to read the news.
R.L. Stine’s ‘The Haunting Hour’ premieres on the new television network The Hub on December 25 at 8:00 pm. R.L. Stine’s first Christmas special is followed by “The Dead Body” at 8:30 pm and the series airs new episodes every Saturday night at 8:30 pm after an encore of the previous week’s episode at 8:00 pm on The Hub.