The Bogey Man

 “… And they lived happily ever after.  The end.”  Daddy shut the book and kissed Annabelle on the forehead.  “Goodnight, Pumpkin.  Sleep tight, and don’t let the bedbugs bite.”  And, as he did every night when tucking her in, Daddy pretended his fingers were bedbugs, running them over her tickle spots. 

Annabelle giggled, then squirmed down under her covers.  “Goodnight, Daddy.  Don’t bite the bedbugs.”  And, as she always did, she laughed at Daddy’s funny face as he imagined biting bedbugs.

Daddy closed the door, and Annabelle closed her eyes.  Then she opened them.  Something wasn’t quite right.  Mr Clown, propped up against the wall, seemed to be staring at her.  It was only a stuffed toy, but suddenly, in the silent, empty bedroom, it seemed mysteriously alive.  The bookcase next to the window threw a shadow exactly like a monster hiding.  The wardrobe door creaked, as though someone inside had pushed it a little, just enough to see if it was locked.

Annabelle had seen all this before, and knew exactly what it all meant.  The wardrobe door creaked again.  Yes, no doubt about it.  The Bogey Man was back.

Quietly she slid out of her bed and grabbed Teddy.  Then she crept up on the wardrobe on silent feet.  She reached out her hand and grasped the wardrobe door handle.  With one sudden movement she flung open the door.

There stood the Bogey Man, his hand outstretched to give the wardrobe door another creaky push.  For a couple of seconds they just looked at each other, Annabelle with an angry look on her face, the Bogey Man with a look of complete surprise on his.

Then the Bogey Man suddenly pulled himself together, raised both hands above his head and shouted “Waaaaaaaaaaah”.

“Stop that!” commanded Annabelle, and the Bogey Man stopped.

“I’m trying to get some sleep!” she continued.

“And I scared you so much you can’t sleep now?” asked the Bogey Man, hopefully.

Annabelle sighed impatiently.  “No, you’re making the door squeak, and it’s keeping me awake.”

“What, aren’t you even just a little bit scared?”

“No,” answered Annabelle.

“What about the evil clown or the monster by the bookcase?”

“That’s just you trying to be scary, but you’re not very good at it.  Where’s the proper Bogey Man?”

“I am the proper Bogey Man,” said the Bogey Man, straightening himself to his full height, which was hardly worth the effort.

“You’re not the one I usually have.  Are you new?”

“Um … no.  No, I’ve scared loads of children, me.  Lots and lots and lots of them.”

“How many?” demanded Annabelle.

“Oh, I don’t know.  Thousands … hundreds, maybe … scores … a few? … Oh, okay then, yes, I’m new.  This is my first job, and I have to scare you.”  And he lifted his arms above his head again and cried, “Waaaaaaah!”

“I told you to stop that,” Anne told him.

“Sorry.”  The Bogey Man seemed to think for a moment, then suddenly turned on Annabelle and said, “I’m going to wait until you fall asleep, and I’m going to eat your brains.”

“I’ve got a teddy,” said Annabelle, in the tone of one who knew how to use it.

“I’ll eat his brains too.”

“Don’t be silly.  He’s just a toy.  He doesn’t have brains, just stuffing.”

“I’ll rip your arm off and hit you with the soggy end,” said the Bogey Man, getting desperate now.

“No you won’t, because you’re not allowed to hurt me.  It’s the rules.  The other Bogey Man told me.”

“He never did!”

“He did too.  You’re not allowed to hurt me, and if you don’t get enough children to scream they demote you and you have to go and scare frogs and worms and stuff.”

It was true that the Bogey Man wasn’t allowed to hurt anybody.  He wasn’t sure about having to scare frogs and worms and stuff if he was bad at his job, but it sounded like it might be true.

“So,” continued Annabelle, “if you don’t want to scare frogs and worms and stuff all your life, you’ll have to tell me a story.”

“A story?  A story?” cried the Bogey Man, aghast.  “What sort of Bogey Men tell little girls stories?  I shan’t do it.”

He folded his arms and looked away from Annabelle.

Annabelle folded her arms and her expression looked like thunder clouds in a summer sky.

“Oh yes you will, Mr Bogey Man.  You will tell me a story, or I will tell on you to the Bogey Man Council, and then they will make you eat slugs and snails, and you’ll only ever be allowed to scare frogs and worms and stuff until you’re so old your beard will go twice around your body.”

The Bogey Man was surprised that such a little person could have such big sentences inside them.  He also thought that might be just what the Council would do to him.  He quite liked eating slugs, but snail shells caught in his teeth.

He sighed.  He knew when he was beaten.

“Okay,” he said, as Annabelle jumped back into bed.  “Once upon a time …”

“And make sure there’s blood and guts and stuff,” she said, snuggling down once more under the covers.

“It was a dark and stormy night …” began the Bogey Man.  He bet it was going to be a long night too.

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About snodlander
Snodlander is the nom de plume of Bob Simms. He is an IT trainer, but it's not as glamourous as it sounds. When he's not enthralling classes with adventures through SQL Server, he writes, draws and drinks his own home-brew. Buy his novel on Amazon Kindle at The Young Demon Keeper, It's 74p, for crying out loud!

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