A very late night encounter in the hallway
|The forecast of a rain-free evening occasioned Aunt Gwendoline to permit us a campout under the stars that night. We spent the majority of the afternoon struggling to pitch a four person tent in the backyard. It had been sitting in storage for over twelve months and smelled slightly stale, but soon aired out in the strong northerly wind.
Sasha wanted nothing to do with, what she referred to as “our silly camping exercise”,while Aunt Gwendoline was not the outdoorsy type, preferring a firm mattress, electric blanket and plenty of bedclothes; so Daniel, me, and Chubs had the tent to ourselves.
Just after 7:30pm, we hiked out the backdoor, attired in balaclavas, casual footwear; long socks and thermal sleep wear. Daniel had his own sleeping bag, but Aunt Gwendoline allowed me to use Frank’s old one, under the condition that I was careful not to cause any damage to it. We both sported backpacks full of camping essentials, and shone our touches into the dark of night to illuminate our way.
Our conversation was fairly inane, as we sat in the tent, stuffing ourselves with junk food and soft drinks. We argued as to who would win in a race between Speedy Gonzalez and Roadrunner, whether Hong Kong Phooey could kick Bruce Lee’s ass, and who made the smellier farts: an elephant or a Rhinoceros. Eventually the conversation got back to the Hallway Bogeyman, and Daniel continued his antidote.
“I became convinced that Sasha thought I was a coward for running away from danger, so to prove her wrong I insisted we continue the exercise. She asked if I thought that was wise, and I said yes, so a few nights later I was back in the Rumpus Room. After many attempts it became clear that three minutes was the absolute maximum amount of time I could stay in there before the bogeyman came to get me.
“This, funny enough, became a big help in me overcoming my problem. As long as I did not overstay my welcome, nothing bad would happen to me. This also worked in the hallway. As long as I could get to the bathroom and back in three minutes I was safe. Time in there did not seem to count. You know yourself that you can easily walk to the bathroom from your bedroom in less than a minute, and same on the way back, so that gives about thirty seconds grace each way.”
“And it worked?” I asked after a long thoughtful pause.
“Yes. As time went on I felt less and less intimidated by the hallway but still respected its rules.”
“So, the obvious question has to be, what does it want?”
“I mean, does it want to drag its victims into some sort of hellish place to torment them for eternity, or is it bored and just playing games?”
“I don’t know…I never asked.”
“I’m going to ask you a question, but please don’t laugh or think I’m crazy.”
“One of my teachers once told us that there is no such thing as a stupid question. Asking is the only way we learn. If you are not sure of something and too scared to ask then you’ll never know and that is where stupidity thrives.”
“Okay…um, you know how there is a bogeyman?”
“Would you believe me, if I told you that I met his daughter?”
“I don’t know…if that is true, then that would mean he probably has a wife and they might have been married, by the Bishop of “Bogey Wonderland”.”
“I’m serious, Daniel, I thought I saw her a few nights ago. She seemed nice at first but attacked me in the hallway later on. I’m not sure if it really happened because the next thing I knew I was back in bed, with Chubs licking me.”
“Well, if you say so…but that doesn’t get away from the fact there could be a Missus Bogeyman, and I don’t know about you, but I for one, am not keen on meeting her anytime soon.”
He seemed to be getting a little spooked with all the talk of bogeymen, so I changed the subject. By 11pm we had talked ourselves hoarse, and were both a little groggy, so we called it a night; with Daniel on the left side of the tent, me on the right, and Chubs in the middle.
I woke up again about 1:30am, with the urge to pee. Daniel and Chubs were still fast asleep so I carefully unzipped the sleeping bag, exited the tent and made my way back to the house. Aunty Gwendoline had locked up before going to bed, but left us a spare key so we wouldn’t have to disturb her.
The household was dark and silent, as I crept along the lower-level passageway toward the staircase. About halfway up the stairs I once again became acutely aware of some demonic presence awaiting my arrival. The more I climbed, the stronger it became, and by the time I got to the top my legs were trembling.
The urgency to use the bathroom overcame my anxiety, and I hurried down the hallway, trying my best not to make too much noise. After doing what needed to be done, I cautiously inched open the bathroom door and started my way back.
Goosebumps returned as the presence slowly ascended to the ceiling behind me; preparing no doubt to swoop onto its luckless prey. I hastened my pace again, but came to an abrupt halt when I heard footsteps stomping up the stairs. They seemed too heavy to be that of Aunty Gwendoline, Sasha or Daniel’s; or even Chubs for that matter.
“Norton!” sounded a voice from nowhere. Seconds later Spookilla materialised in front of my bedroom door. She swiftly flew across the hallway and grabbed hold of me.
“Let me go!” I cried, but she ignored my protests.
The door to the Rumpus Room opened, as if my magic, and then shut again behind us after she had ushered me inside. The footsteps seemed to cease and I felt a little safer now.
“Thank you for your help.” I told her, trying desperately to regain my composure.
“Help?” she retorted incredulously. Her image glowed dully, but was still bright enough to make out. “I did not here to help you.”
“So why did you bring me in here for?”
“Daddy’s hungry for Liver and Kidneys.”
I stared at her for a few seconds, trying hard to figure out if she was serious or not. It occurred to me that this could very well be some sort of elaborated prank that Sasha had devised in order to scare me; but the more I thought about it the less likely it seemed she was capable of such a complex hoax.
“Please don’t let him hurt me.” I said at last.
“It will only hurt for a short time,” she affirmed. “After than you’ll feel no more pain. I promise you…Daddy’s very efficient.”
I gave a slight whimper as she vanished before my eyes. Desperate to flee I ran back to the door but was horrified to find that it was now locked. I fumbled for the light switch. The room illuminated for a couple of seconds, before the bulb flickered rapidly and fizzling out.
The voice sounded low and raspy; as if belonging to some malevolent banshee, eager to rip me apart where I stood. I tried the door a second time but it still remained fastened.
A sudden low growl chilled my heart.
“Stay away from me!” I pleaded.
I carefully scanned my pitch-black surroundings and saw nothing, but knew that something was definitely there. Something, not merely obscured by the absence of light, but somehow beyond the very darkness itself; as if trying to gain access into our dimension from some Hellish netherworld.
My eldest stepbrother once told me that the Bogeyman can take-on whatever shape, sizes and even age it chooses. He searches his victim’s subconscious, for his/her biggest fears, and worst nightmares and manifests himself accordingly in order to scare the bejesus out of you.
“Norton!” it repeated in a loud whisper “I’m coming to get you.”
“Aunty Gee! Sasha! Daniel! Chubs help me!” I hollered, pounding at the door with the side of my fists.
“I’m coming to get you Norton…here I come!”
Once again, I could hear footsteps coming up the staircase, and though relieved to know assistance was on its way, I wondered how on earth I was going to justify disturbing the peace at such an ungodly hour. It seemed doubtful they would believe that I was being lynched by some pan dimensional spook.
The door burst opened and to my amazement the light bulb relit the room, as if woken from the dead, chasing away the demon which seemed to vanish without trace. We I stared at Aunt Gwendoline for a few seconds without saying anything, and then ran into her arms; embracing her tightly like an overwrought toddler.
“Calm down, Aunty Gee’s got you” said Aunt Gwendoline in a soothing tone.
“The Bogeyman was going to eat me, Aunty Gee.” I blubbered.
“You were just having a bad dream; sweetheart. No one’s going to hurt you.”
“If I was dreaming, then how come I’m here, and not back in the tent?”
“I think you may have been sleepwalking. Come on sweetheart, its late. Let’s get you back to camp.”
I disengaged from the embrace, took my aunt’s hand and followed her back outside. She gave me a reassuring hug and ruffled my hair affectionately before we parted ways. I dried my eyes, quietly re-entered the tent and crawled into the sleeping-bag.
Shaken and disturbed by what I had witnessed, I found it hard to get back to sleep. My nerves were shot and every noise I heard seemed to startle me. At one stage I became convinced that something was walking around and around the perimeter of the tent as if searching for a way in. I thought I could hear it whispering my name; over and over again. It stopped and then trudged away in the opposite direction.
Eventually, I settled down and drifted off to a haunted sleep.
CONTINUES - Countdown to the Bogeyman Part Five