Posts Tagged ‘Boogeyman’


“Boogeyman” Copyright © 2010 John Ecko. All rights reserved.

If you’re new to my blog and want to read something a bit longer, feel free to check out my ongoing serial novel, Don’t Feed The Dark, and tell me what you think: DFTD Chapter 1-1: Demon Night

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Note: This short horror story is unrelated to Don’t Feed The Dark.

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Nature’s psychopath raised its voice, letting loose another chorus of thunder, promising terror and destruction with each boisterous note, while slashing at the sky with bolts of razor-sharp light.

Jonathan Sanders, age ten, retreated into the cavern of blankets, as the madman roared by.  The murdered moon offered no comfort; its corpse allowing shifting shadows to linger in the unfamiliar darkness consuming his bedroom.  Jonathan was well aware of what to expect–the man in the closet loved to visit him on nights such as these.

Was that a scratching sound at the closet door?

And so the ritual resumed:  “Mom!  Dad!” As if their names were verbal talismans keeping the monster in check, he called out again.  “Mom!  Dad!  Come in here, quick.”

Footsteps from down the hall. Would they make it this time?

Lightning flashed.  The eyes of his Buzz Lightyear action figure shifted his direction; the coat on the chair grew taller, closer; objects scattered on the floor had moved since the last flash; the doorknob on the closet door–turning ever so slightly–was the only time he trusted his eyes.  Imagination was a liar in the dark.  Jonathan knew this as surely as he knew that the man in the closet was real.

The air felt heavy, oppressive.  Shadows congregated around his bed like vultures predicting their next meal, like pedestrians at the scene of a crime that hasn’t happened yet.

Like a dreadful pause before a predator struck, the silence was unnerving and amplified the guttural, inhuman demand that came from the closet:

Johnny come.  Open door.

He couldn’t tell if the man spoke from the closet or was whispering in his head.  Either way, it always sounded close. 

Closer.

The bedroom door swung open.  Light from the hallway chased off the shadows as his father filled the doorway, the annoyance on his face evident.  “What is it, Son?  The storm?”

No answer.

His father’s shoulders sagged.  “Oh, him again.”

Jonathan nodded.  He’d hoped his mother would follow.  Not tonight.  It was the unbeliever’s turn to placate his son’s fears.  And that was always dangerous.

His mother never concerned herself with the man in the closet.  She understood, in a way only mothers do, how to fight monsters, or at least, how to starve them.  She would come and sing songs, tell stories, make him laugh; and like a magician, she somehow made the fear disappear.  And without the fear, the man in the closet could not stay.

His father played with fire, often challenging the man by threatening to open the closet door.  If his father chose that route again, Jonathan would have to talk him out of it.

“Ok, Johnny, let’s settle this once and for all, okay?”

Oh, that didn’t sound good at all.

“Let’s start with the bed.”  His father bent down to examine the one-foot space beneath the bed.

That was silly.  What monster could fit under there?  Maybe a small one, at best, and nothing to be concerned about.

“Nope.  Nothing under here.”

The lights.  Why does he always forget to turn on the lights?

His father walked the perimeter of the small room, yawning while rubbing sleep from his eyes.

I wonder how much he didn’t see on his “sleepy” patrol.

“Okay, all’s clear.  Just one more place to check.”  His father always ended up at the closet last.  This would seem cruel if Jonathan thought it was deliberate.  Dramatic, maybe, but not deliberate.  His father moved toward the door.

“Don’t do it, Dad,” Jonathan warned.

Even with his back turned, his father’s heavy sigh spoke volumes.  “Come on, Johnny.  There’s nothing in there.  Let me show you and-”

“If there’s nothing in there, then that’s great.  But what’s opening that closet going to prove if you’re wrong?”

“What a strange question, Son.  Isn’t the answer obvious?”

“No.”

“If the closet’s empty and you see that it’s empty, then you’ll know there’s nothing to fear.”

“You said ‘if’.”

His father’s impatience was growing.  “I didn’t mean ‘if’.  ‘When’, Son, that’s what I meant.  Your old dad’s just tired.”

Tired of dealing with his chicken son’s irrational fears.

“It’s still an unnecessary risk,” Jonathan said.

“What the heck are you talking about?”

“If the closet’s empty, than we’re fine.  But if it’s not-”

“If it’s not then your old man’s gonna kick some Boogeyman butt!”

Jonathan gasped.  “Don’t say that!  Don’t ever call him that.  It makes him stronger. Makes him more… monster-like.  He’s just the man in the closet.”

“Son, you’re being silly.  I’m gonna show you how silly, right now.”  His father reached for the door knob.

“He’s way bigger than you, Dad.  So don’t open that door!”

“Keep your voice down!  What’s the matter with you?”

Jonathan couldn’t stop.  “You’re the matter with me.  I call you in to help and you want to let the man out.  How does that make any sense?”

“Son, there’s nothing in there.”

“Then leave nothing alone.”

“Don’t get smart.”

“Then stop being stupid.”

“What did you just say to me?”

“Dad, you want to fight the man, but your tactics suck.  He’s big, powerful, scary-as-hell, and you’re wearing striped pajamas.  Who would you bet on?”

His father looked down at himself and laughed.  “Well, your mom thinks I look pretty scary in these.”

Jonathan giggled.  “That’s the way, Dad.  That’s how you make him go.”

His father sighed again.  “Come on, Johnny, enough is enough.”

Nuts, we almost got out of that one.  Think fast.  “You say the closet’s empty.  How do you know?”

“What?”

“Prove it.”

“That’s what I’m trying to do, Son.  Just let me open the door and you’ll have all the proof needed.”

“No, that’s not a good idea.  Proof is what you show to convince me that he’s not there.  Opening the closet just proves that either you or me is right.  And I know I’m right.”

“You’re letting your fears get the best of you.”

“What if I told you there was a burglar in the house?  Would you go chasing after him or call the police?”

“Well, I would call the police, of course.”

“So I tell you there’s something worse than a burglar in the closet and you want to let him out.  How does that make sense?”

“Okay, Johnny, prove to me then, that your man is in the closet.  Have you seen him?”

Johnny paused.  “No.”

“So he hasn’t stormed out of this closet and say… tried to eat you, or anything like that?”

“That’s not funny, Dad.”

“Come on, Son.  I’m just trying to get you to see how silly this all is.”

Jonathan paused again, his face growing pale.  “Death.  He looks like death.”

His father stared at him for a long moment.  “So, you think that Death is behind this door?”

“Yes.”

“How would you know what Death looks like if you haven’t seen it?”

“I don’t.  That’s what he told me.”

“The man in the closet speaks to you?”

“Yes.”

“Johnny, how can you possibly expect me to believe that?”

Jonathan’s eyes lit up.  “I can prove it.”

His father folded his arms.  “Can you now?  Well, please go ahead and tell me.  I’m all ears.”

“He told me about you and Uncle Jim.”

“Okay, explain?”

“He told me that he remembers you; he remembers the game you and Uncle Jim used to play to scare each other when you were both my age.”

Jonathan’s father remained silent.

“He said that you and Uncle Jim would dare each other to go and open the closet door and call his name when you both did something bad.  But neither of you ever opened the door.  You were both too scared.  The man was always disappointed that you didn’t.  He said he would’ve swallowed both of you up if you had because you tortured Mrs. Henderson’s cat and tossed it in a garbage can and lit fireworks-”

“Johnny, you’re beginning to scare me a little.  Who’s been telling you stories.  Your mom?”

“He also said he tried to get you and Uncle Jim years later when you were at some party.  Said that after you got some girl drunk and had sex with her, he was right there with you both.  Waiting in the dark.  Said he took the girl instead.”

“Johnny, that’s enough!” His father was visibly disturbed.  He and his brother Jim had never told anyone that story.  To this day, the whereabouts of the girl, Samantha Jones, are still unknown.  It was believed she left the party drunk, tried to hitch a ride home and someone picked her up.  His brother swore him to secrecy about that night and said the cops would blame them for her disappearance if they knew what they’d done to her while she slept.

“Johnny, I’m very tired,” his father nearly whispered. “I’m going to open this door now and put an end to all this nonsense.”

“Dad, don’t!  I’m not strong enough.  Let’s just go to your room tonight.  I promise I’ll go right to sleep.  After the storm’s over, the man will just leave.  He always does.”

“Son, you’re getting far too old to be afraid of the Boogeyman.”

“Dad!”

“Oh, stop it!” his father shouted.  “I said it:  Boogeyman, Boogeyman, Boogeyman!  So there!”

“You don’t know what you’ve done!  I’m not strong enough anymore, Dad.”

“Strong enough for what?  To look into an empty closet and get over your irrational fears?  Enough talk.”  His father reached for the door knob, surprised at seeing his own hand shaking, and opened the closet door.

“No, Dad!  You don’t understand. It doesn’t want me… I’m not strong enough to protect you anymore!”

Jonathan’s father looked back from the mouth of the open closet, stared into the face of his son, and saw the truth at last.  Johnny’s terror-filled eyes staring beyond him and into the darkness was all the proof he needed to realize his tragic mistake.

Something groaned from behind him.  Johnny’s father turned slowly, returning instantly to his youth, as a presence within the closet reminded him of every bad thing he’d ever done–reminded him instantly that he had been there, watching, waiting, and now finally, the man in the closet welcomed him home.

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Several hours passed before the police finally departed.  There was still no trace of Jonathan’s father who’d apparently fled the house after scaring the daylights out of his son.  Possible abuse was suspected but quickly ruled out upon examination of the boy.

Jonathan hadn’t spoken a word since his mother found him screaming at the foot of his closet door.  The paramedics had to sedate him in route to the hospital.

To make matters worse, another missing persons report flagged red in the police database matching Mr. Sanders’ name.   An hour earlier, prior to Jonathan’s father disappearing, James Sanders, Jonathan’s uncle, had also mysteriously vanished in the dead of night from three states away.

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“Boogeyman”  Copyright © 2012 Scott Scherr.  All rights reserved.

If you’re new to my blog and want to read something a bit longer, feel free to check out my ongoing serial novel, Don’t Feed The Dark, and tell me what you think: DFTD Chapter 1-1: Demon Night

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