Everyone has heard of the boogeyman.
A creature, tall and dark who comes out at night and prays on fearful children. The story is a classic tale, one that every kid and their neighbor like to scare each other with during sleepovers. People have come up with several different versions of the story – like how the boogeyman only comes out during the full moon, how it can transform itself into your greatest fears, or how it lives under your bed and waits for the right moment, right when you are most vulnerable, and snatches you.
But I know the truth. There is no such thing as the boogeyman… no, there is only something far different. Something that strays from the legends, something that you wouldn’t expect. How do I know this, you might ask?
It’s because I saw the thing with my very eyes.
I was eleven years old when it happened.
I lived in a relatively quiet home in the suburbs with my mother and father. Being an only child, I had the privilege of getting everything I asked for. I had a large bedroom all to myself, filled with a vast assortment of toys and videogames. I admit, I was quite the spoiled kid. As the weeks went by and storage space in my room slowly decreased, my parents decided it was time I got somewhere to store all my junk, that wasn’t on the floor.
So, a few weeks prior to when it happened, they had found an old second-hand closet and decided it would fit nicely into my room. As the eleven-year-old I was, I didn’t have much of an opinion on the closet and let my parents place it and clean up how they wanted.
Several days passed by without anything abnormal happening. I saw my friends from time to time, and otherwise occupied myself playing games. Days turned into weeks, and soon enough, the closet was cluttered with my crap. Dust and cobwebs collected at the top, bite marks framed the door, and part of the corner had been chipped off due to my friends being a little too careless when rough-housing. If the second-hand closet looked old before, it aged quite rapidly after spending a few weeks in my bedroom.
Thinking back, there was something about the closer that had always felt a little… off. It was like I got this bad feeling – shivers, every time I got close to it. But as the kid I was, I took little to no notice of this and brushed it off as nothing.
The night it happened, I had been playing with my favorite stuffies, making them play fight each other. My playtime was interrupted by my mother entering the room and telling me it was time for bed. I reluctantly put my stuffies away in the closet and crawled into bed. My mother tucked me in, peppered a few kisses on my cheek, and closed the lights as she left my room.
I knew that I should have gone to sleep, but at that time, I just couldn’t. I tried – I really did, but I had too much pent up energy. I wanted to keep playing with my stuffies, not sleep.
Surely ten more minutes wouldn’t hurt, I had thought to myself.
I rolled over and watched the door for a few moments until I saw the light from around the border flick off. I sat up and instantly got to work opening my night light, then pattered towards the old closet.
In the dim light, the closet felt like it was towering over my little body. I never really realized how tall it was until then. I felt myself shivering as I neared the piece of furniture, which I found odd, because I didn’t feel cold at all. Dismissing this, I reached up and opened the door as silently as I could as to not alert my parents, and looked in.
Toys and cards and board games were scattered messily along the closet ground. Unable to really see, I reached in blindly, attempting to find my favorite stuffie, but to no avail. Frowning, I leaned my body forward when suddenly I felt myself tumbling forward and right into the mess, the door behind me croaking loudly as I did so. I fumbled for a few moments to catch my footing but found it was impossible to stand up with all the clutter around me. I scrambled forwards to try to find the walls of the closet so I could support myself, but I couldn’t seem to find it no matter how far out I reached. Instead, I stumbled over myself once more and felt my body drop. A slight panic rose in my chest as I scurried backwards, and finally felt myself push on the open closet door and tumble out.
I sat there on the floor, breathing heavily while allowing myself to calm down.
It took a moment, but as my eyes adjusted to my surroundings, I quickly realized that I wasn’t in my room anymore… I knew this because I could see the faint outlines of the walls and compared to my large, spacey room, this place was tiny. Not only that, but I could feel something soft and woven underneath where I sat – which was a contrast from the hard, cold floors of my own room. I stood and pattered forwards cautiously until I hit into something large and stiff. I wasn’t sure what exactly I had bumped into, but before I had the chance to reach out and touch it, I heard a quiet click.
A light had been turned on, causing me to hiss and squint my eyes in order to adjust from the darkness. I opened up my eyes and was finally able to see my surroundings. I was in a bedroom of sorts; it was small and painted a light pink color and was adorned with several–
A high pitched sound coming from behind me interrupted my thoughts. I froze in an instant. There was something else here. I wasn’t alone.
I swallowed and turned around. Before me, at a little distance, stood the form of a being I had only heard about in night terrors.
Its skin was pale and weathered with splotches of deep red stained underneath its wide, beady eyes. Its head was abnormally round, and long disheveled strands of hair matted its face. Two oval-shaped bulges stood out from either side of its face, partially hidden by its strands of hair but still very much visible. Perhaps the most disturbing feature on its face being the wart placed right in the center that oozed clear liquid out of one of its holes.
Its physique, on the other hand, stood quite short in stature. Its body was oddly symmetrical and proportionate, with bones barely visible through skin due to excess flesh and meat on the creature’s body. Its slender limbs had curled in on themselves and its paws protruded short, round claws at its tips.
A fresh wave of fear consumed my being as I locked eyes with the monster, who stood as still as I was. I couldn’t move an inch of my body, motor functions freezing as if they had lost all responses.
But then, without warning, it started moving slowly towards me; it was quivering, twitching. It moved its limbs in a tentative way, one short appendage stretching itself in front of the other.
It stopped, quickly and suddenly. I could see the figure’s thin torso breathing in and out at an irregular pace, breath coming in nothing more than a series of horrifying wheezes. My heart skipped a beat and I shook in my spot, my own breath labored by panic. I stared into the creature’s dark eyes and swallowed, thicker this time, forcing back a ball of anticipation that stuck with it.
Any moment now, any sudden movement, and this thing could jump at me, and that would be it. I shifted my eyes around the room but there was so little space, and nowhere to run. The only exit was being blocked off by the monster.
But then, something strange happened.
The creature backed away and started to make noises. Croaks and cracks and strange sounds came out of the thing’s mouth, its facial expressions morphing as it mumbled, its eyes leaking some kind of clear liquid.
Was it trying to say something? Was it trying to threaten me? It had to be, there was no other fact. But its voice…its voice sounded miniscule I was, as frightened as I was. Surely, it wasn’t trying to talk to me?
I stared at the creature. My thought process told me that maybe I could try to communicate with it. Long enough to stall it and run until I could make it back to safety.
And so, I allowed a simple cautious word to escape my lips and interject the creature’s incoherent sounds.
And then there was silence.
The creature stiffened at my words, wide eyes becoming impossibly wider and pink mouth dropping down into what I recognized as an expression of shock. I thought for a moment that maybe it understood me, until an ear-piercing wail erupted from the monster.
The creature threw its head back and shrieked a terrible sound that I had never heard in my life, being nothing short of purely animalistic. In my frozen state, I could see a light begin to illuminate from the small crack of the door and a series of heavy banging sounds that came closer and closer to the room, getting louder as they did so.
That’s when I realized what was happening – it was calling its sisters.
Realization dawned fast as the panic rose in my chest. The only thoughts going through my head at that moment was that if I didn’t get out now, surely I was going to die. I was going to die without my family ever knowing where I went, or what happened to me.
The banging noises got closer and I could begin to hear the sound of the other creatures getting closer. Their voices were deeper and less shrill than that of the thing in front of him but caused shivers in my bones anyway.
I had to get out. But how?
I looked behind the creature, and sure enough, an exact replica of my closet stood up against pink walls. Adrenaline shot through me and I suddenly regained control of my legs and made a dash for it, clumsily avoiding the creature as I bolted past it and straight to the familiarity of the wooden closed.
I latched onto the handle and tore open the door with might I didn’t know I contained. I hauled myself through the door and went to slam it shut before stopping myself last-second – realizing quickly that the sound would only alert the monsters of my location.
I curled up and stayed as still a possible, as quiet as possible. Through the thin crack of the door, I could only see the back of the monster and not its face. The banging noise coming from its sisters ceased but I could now clearly hear their voices, and I knew that they must have arrived, standing somewhere I could not see them.
Muffled sounds and thuds were all I heard for a couple of moments before a new figure came into my field of vision and I felt paralyzed as a new wave of fear that overtook me. The thing was massive. It appeared to look a fully-fledged version of the wailing creature; a developed version. It crouched down to hold the smaller creature, and what seemed like hoarse, soothing sounds came out of its mouth – and it appeared to work, because the little creature slowly calmed down from its hysteria.
Another even deeper voice came from behind the door where I could not see and the little creature responded to it. Unintelligible sounds came out of its mouth, and to my horror, it stretched out its limbs to point right in my direction.
Right to where I was hiding.
I could see the shadow of an even larger creature stepping towards my direction and I flinched harshly, blind panic escaping me. I swallowed hard, willing the blur in my vision to disappear, but it refused. I shut my eyes and scooted backwards as far as I could, bracing myself for the worst. I kept crawling back and back, waiting for the moment the light would come in and expose my identity.
Except… it never came.
Instead, I felt my back hitting into several little items. They clattered all around me as I pushed backwards in fearful determination to get away. Then, I felt myself hitting what must be the door of the closet and tumbled out, backflipping painfully through a clutter of toys until I finally rolled out of the dark closet.
For a long moment, I simply laid there on my front, curled in a fetal position, unwilling to move. I hugged myself tightly with all of my limbs to try to stop my body from shaking, but it didn’t do much.
Then finally, I willed one of my eyes open.
I was… back. In my room. I was back in my room. I couldn’t believe it.
Nothing had changed from since I left, save for the toys that were now scattered all around me. The closet doors were closed. And then I did the only thing I could think of in that moment. I screamed.
I had no idea how long I was screaming for but all I knew was that my voice was starting to break and I could no longer keep back the cries of absolute anguish I had been holding in me.
I was too out of it to notice the banging of my parents’ footsteps making their way over to my room, or their voices calling out frantically. I didn’t process the lights being turned on and only snapped out of my trace when my mother, so softly and soothingly, reached out her three arms to cradle me to her bony chest.
“Sweetheart, what’s wrong? Tell mommy what’s wrong.”
“C-closet.” I rasped and reached out an arm to point directly at the closet.
Both my mother and father shot their eight, bright red eyes to each other. Then to the closet. Then back to me.
It was my mother who spoke first, “Oh sweetie, what’s wrong with the closet?”
“M-m-monster…” I mumbled, shoving my face deeper into the comfort of her bones.
I heard my mother whisper something to my father but I couldn’t quite make out what they were saying. I felt a slender, clawed hand run circles up and down my back.
“Daddy’s gonna go have a look in the closet, okay?” My mother whispered to me in her calm voice.
I wanted to say no. I wanted to tell my father to stop before it was too late, but I couldn’t; the words literally dying in my throat as if something in me physically wilted and died.
I dared to peek three of my eyes open and watched as he opened the closet doors without a moment of hesitation and found-
There was nothing there except a messy pile of toys and a wooden wall behind it.
My father smiled, exposing his sharp fangs in a reassuring way. “See kiddo? Nothing to be worried about.”
“B-but- it was there! T-there was three of them, with two arms and legs and it had so much hair and so much flesh.”
My mother shushed me and rocked me gently. “Shhh. You’re really tired honey, there’s nothing there, see? Now why don’t we go back to sleep – oh here, why don’t you take Mr. Fluffles with you?”
Mr. Fluffles, my favorite stuffie, had been sprawled out on the ground right beside me. Its one eye and cute toothless smile bored straight at me. My father bent over and took Mr. Fluffles into his bristly arms and guided me out of my mother’s arms to heft me up in his own. He shuffled over to my bedside and placed me onto my bed, tucking me and Mr. Fluffles in, and placed a kiss on my forehead.
A wave of exhaustion overcame me and I couldn’t help but stifle a yawn. I heard my mother chuckle lightly as she stood beside my father at the edge of my bed.
“Are you gonna be okay to sleep now, sweetie?”
Despite the shock I still felt all over my body, I nodded my head slowly. I was just too tired. I didn’t want to play anymore, I just wanted to sleep. Sleep and pretend this never happened.
The last thing I heard before I lost consciousness was my father’s voice whispering:
“Remember kiddo, there’s no such thing as the boogeyman.”
And that was something I was sure of.
Credit: F. Zaidi
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