A little #nightmarefuel for Halloween. Enjoy.
The creature had been known by many names throughout the world, and throughout time for that matter. It was born from the fears that people had brought to this earth. Those fears were healthy on some level. It was natural to fear animals that threatened their existence. But over time humans had grown powerful and as they got older their fears became fewer. Because the creature had to feed on fears to survive it was easier to scare the children. The adults liked to believe they were rational, and that they could use that reason to explain away their fears. The creature could still scare an adult if the need presented itself. But after many centuries of existence and feeding, it’s magic was quite strong and it’s need to eat was minimal. Sometime in the 16th century, after that fiasco in Salem, the creature decided it was best to only prey on children. Children had yet to learn to explain things, especially at night when they were weary and tired. It generally visited children only once or twice. After that they stopped believing in it, usually because an adult had set them straight on what was real and what wasn’t. But the creature was very real. As long as there was fear in the world the creature would always be real. The creature shuddered to think what would happen to it if fear ceased to exist. As such, as with most nights, the creature crept into the room of a young child. A girl, it seemed, not more than six years of age.
She was perfect, in her little pigtails and sleeping softly. Sometimes the creature like to guess at what the child’s fear would be. Usually a standard few bumps around the closet or under the bed would work. The child would pop awake and call out for a parent. That was more than enough fear for the creature to sip off of for the rest of the evening. If it were a difficult case the creature would conjure the image of an animal shadow, or hover over the bed in a pale image. It could make a feast out of the screams those usually caused. If need be the creature could use it’s magic to peek into the mind of the child and find their deepest fear. But it was more fun to guess and that technique was only for the toughest cases. Besides, using its creativity to incite fear was far more inspiring. The creature rubbed its chin. This seemed a run of the mill case. Nothing too fancy would be needed. It noticed a small desk with some papers and books upon it. While using its magic to hide itself from the child’s view, the creature rattled the window as loudly as possible and then swept an appendage across the table. The books and papers flew to the floor in a spectacular display, as the child shot up and peered in awe. The creature patiently waited for the inevitable yelp.
The child sat attentively and waited. The creature checked its magic and was sure the child could not see it. With no scream and subsequently no encroaching adult the creature decided to turn its tactics up a notch. It made itself briefly visible and rushed toward the child before pulling away and disappearing into the shadows. The creature gave a hideous howl and shook the bed from underneath. The child, for her part, did not make a sound. The creature peaked up from under the bed. There should have been a virtual buffet of fear to feed on by now. Not that the creature was particularly hungry, but the night was young and a snack is always nice. The creature sighed. This was not the sort of thing it liked to resort to, but there was long list of kids to visit tonight and impatience was settling in. The creature leaned against the corner of the room in a perfectly dark shadow. It then became visible to the child and slithered forward with growing claws appearing from its body. It began to wrap itself around the child and growled out as it bared its fangs. This was sure to bring the child to tears. The creature put its claws around the child’s neck and gave out a deafening roar as sparks shot from its eyes and blood and saliva splattered from it’s mouth. Its breath was the smell of rotting carcasses and burned like freshly cut onions. The child did not wince, did not scream, did not let out even the slightest whimper for the creature to munch upon. This would just not do, the creature shrunk back and stood at the end of the bed for a second.
“Do I scare you child?”
She shook her head.
“Not even a little?”
She shook her head.
“Do you know who I am?”
“And who am I?”
“You’re the Boogie Man.”
“You know, I’ve never liked that name. I’ve been known by many names. Every culture, in every time, makes up a new one for me. None of them know my real name. Even I don’t know. But you have a name child. What is it?”
The child remained silent.
“Oh come on, don’t make me enter your mind. I can find out if you don’t tell me.”
“Sharice.” She said.
“Sharice. What is it you fear?”
The child was silent again.
“Sharice, we’ve been over this. I can just look into your mind and pull it out if I want. Tell me your fear.”
The child shook her head once more.
The creature reached out with a scaly tentacle to the head of the child. Sharice stood up and slapped it away.
The creature cocked its head. “Did you just…” No child had ever been so bold. There were those who would try to laugh at first, or maybe even pretend to not be afraid. But all of them, all of them, eventually gave in. The creature even had some try to hurt it with various weapons. Of course none of them could. The only thing that could hurt the creature was a total lack of fear, and there was never a shortage of that, there was only ever a delay in discovering that fear. This child was different. Not in a lack of fear, she most certainly had a fear. But it seemed that it was a fear that the creature was incapable of producing. That was something new to the creature.
“Very well. I shall guess. Will you be honest with me if I guess correctly?”
“Bugs, insects, creepy crawlies?”
“Hmmm… Snakes, scorpions, rats?”
“A rhinoceros, with a clown mask, wielding a machete?” Sometimes a child’s fear was oddly specific.
Head shake and a smile.
“Oh, you find that funny?”
A smile. The child got out of bed and walked over to the creature and gave it a hug. This was most unusual for the creature. “Please child, I am very busy tonight and I have many children to scare. What is it you fear?”
Head shake once more.
“I will not probe your mind for it. I will not use it against you. Please just tell me, what is it you fear.”
The child stared for a long time at the creature. Just when it was about to get up and leave in a sigh of frustration, she moved.
“Do you promise not to tell anyone?”
“Dear child. Never has one like you baffled me so. It would be my honor to keep your secret and I always tell the truth.”
“Not me. Magical creatures are incapable of lying. Something the ancient ones who created magic thought would be a good idea. Never did understand it. Regardless, while you humans may be able to lie, I cannot. That is the way of things.”
Sharice reached out and wrapped her tiny palm around a massive claw of the creature. She moved silently across the room and down the hall. At the end was a fully grown man. He was snoring while leaning against the door. He was covered in vomit and slumped over. Sharice pointed and went back into her bedroom. The creature looked back at her. She was in her bed and waving for the creature to return. The creature knew of the terrible things that adults did to children sometimes. But there were rules and limits to what magical creatures could do. The creature for instance could only feed off of fear. To that end, the creature could cause fear in order to eat. The ancient ones did not allow for any more, nor any less. But this child was different and the creature could not eat fear that it could not create. Certainly the creature could not cause harm, not any lasting harm at least. Just enough to scare. Just enough to feed. The creature went through the door without disturbing the sleeping man. In the corner of the room he saw a woman with many scars, she was shivering and holding a knife. The creature remained invisible to adults at this time, so the woman could not see it. The creature looked over at the man again and then went back to Sharice’s room.
“Is that your mom?”
“Is that your dad?”
“And you fear him?”
She shook her head.
“Do you fear what he will do?”
“I must know what you fear.” The creature went over to the man and slipped its talon into the man’s mind. The creature’s eyes grew wide and he looked back at Sharice. “Why? Why should you exist?” The creature lifted the man into the air and woke him with a jolt. “What do you fear?” The creature made itself visible to the man as he probed further into his mind. There it was. The man’s deepest fear. The creature stared into the man’s eyes and burned the image of that fear into his retina. It would be all he would see for the rest of his short time alive. The man wailed in fear and the creature began to consume until its belly was at the bursting point. The creature dropped the man who went into a plank state and his eyes became sunken and vacant. The creature went over to Sharice. “You will never have to fear again.”
“What did you do?” She asked.
“I scared him to death.” The creature made a move to leave.
“Will I ever see you again?” Sharice looked with wide eyes.
“I am not sure. There will be consequences for this. The ancient ones will come for me.”
“Are you afraid of them?” She asked.
“No child, not anymore.”