‘The boogeyman always knocks’
As a divorced man living alone in a large house, I rarely encounter noises I can’t explain. Sure, every place has its own unique quirks, but in the past I’ve always been able to pinpoint the source of mysterious bumps and groans. Last night was different. Exceptionally so. I was awakened in the dead of night by the unmistakable sound of something ascending the stairwell!
Since my bedroom is upstairs, I keep the door locked. That’s mostly to feel a superficial sense of security. The flimsy, decorative door and cheap knob aren’t going to stop anything from making it past the threshold. At least I’d hear the lock being bypassed, I told myself in the past but I never expected it to really happen. No one does. To hear the door handle being aggressively challenged put the experience in an entirely different light. My heart pounded as I tried to listen for clues.
At first I considered it might’ve all been an ugly dream. My dog hadn’t barked downstairs. She should’ve alerted me if there was an uninvited intruder. It had all been quiet as far as I knew prior to awakening. Now I was faced with the terror of the unknown. Who, or WHAT was trying to gain entrance? My mind raced and my heart pounded. Did I have any nearby weapon to defend myself? The knob shook incessantly. I decided to stop letting that jarring noise so much reign terror in my heart.
“Who are you and what do you want?”; I squeaked nervously. I sincerely hoped being addressed would frighten away the intruder. There was always the offhand possibility he thought the house was empty but my gamble did not achieve its desired effect. The individual behind the door did not retreat. I could hear him breathing heavily on the other side. An unpleasant odor reached my nostrils through the narrow gap underneath.
“I am, what you might refer to as… ‘the boogeyman’.; an incredibly gruff inhuman voice rasped through the door frame barrier. The timbre and incredibly low tone was that of a very large, menacing creature of questionable mortality. It wasn’t an ordinary person pretending to be intimidating. I had little doubt of the authenticity of its chilling claim. Just when I thought my home invasion couldn’t get any worse, I came to accept the intruder was neither human, nor holding a pulse.
“What do you… want?”; I croaked. Whatever false bravado I might’ve possessed earlier was long gone. I just managed to rudimentarily respond out of necessity. I hoped to dissuade it from whatever ghoulish mission it was on. Strangely, there was a gentle knock on the door. It was the most bizarre thing in the world. This massive beast on the other side of my dark stairwell door could’ve easily ripped it off the hinges or punched through the thin veneer. The knock was… disarming. I realized later, that was the purpose.
“May I come in?”; It inquired sheepishly. Even as polite as it was posed, hearing it requested from the unsettling voice of a decaying corpse was still a bit hair-raising. It seemed like it would be a highly unusual action for the boogeyman to knock first before entering the room I was in. That enigma struck me as worthy of further consideration.
“What if I say no?”; I managed to get out. None of it made any sense at all. I fully expected the knob to be twisted off in a fury, at any second. I could hear it’s labored breathing and the death stench was potent, even from the other side. There was no immediate response and that emboldened me to pose another hypothetical. “I bet you aren’t even allowed to enter this room, without my clear permission or consent. Am I right?”
The very idea was beyond ridiculous but there we were, two very different creatures engaged in a pointless debate; only separated by a hollow, interior door. I could hear the top step creak from the massive weight of this unseen night ghoul. It was the only explanation I could fathom for why it hadn’t already burst through the door and dispatched me to the boneyard. There wasn’t any other possibility I could think of for why I wasn’t already dead.
It growled in obvious contempt. I had struck a painful nerve. “No! I could come in there if I realllllyyy wanted to, but it’s ‘suggested’ that I get permission first. That’s alllll.”
For the briefest of moments, I almost forgot the mortal danger that I was immersed in, up to my neck. It was as if I’d confronted a contemptuous child and stumbled upon a steadfast rule it had to begrudgingly follow. I decided to push my luck even more by taunting and teasing it about my suspicions. It’s not like my mocking was going to change anything. Either ‘the boogeyman’ would burst through my door and savage me, or it couldn’t.
“Bullshit!”; I spat contemptuously. “You can’t come any closer unless I agree. Guess what, Bozo? I’m not going to let you in. Now buzz off, you stinking pile of crap!” Even as the acidic words rolled off my cowardly tongue, I felt the hair on the back of my neck tingle. I was really pushing my luck. I felt it’s grip on the door knob tighten but there was a long lapse in our conversation. It was probably thinking of a clever retort that made an excuse for whatever inconvenient rule it was forced to follow.
“Listen, just because I’m an unholy boogeyman on a diabolical mission doesn’t mean I don’t have feelings. I know I stink. It makes it impossible to sneak up on most people. Also, this is a thankless job and everyone dreads when I come to visit them. I promise, I’d even knock if I could. Now, would you mind if I used your shower. That would really help take the edge off my decaying odor. What do you say?”
I sincerely felt horrible. I could really take teasing too far at times. It was just doing it’s job and by the sound of things, it was extra difficult with so many rules to follow and that hideous stench that preceded its approach. Allowing it to take a quick shower might’ve went a long way in making it feel less depressed about it’s eternal trade. I was just about to open the door when I remembered that inviting it inside for ANY REASON would fulfill it’s necessary requirement.
“Oh, that’s very clever!”; I admitted sarcastically. “You almost had me there. You probably don’t even stink normally. It’s probably just a sly little ruse to trick your victims into feeling sorry for you.”
I heard it snort in dejected defeat and trudge back down the stairs. I think it was anticipating ‘the game’ being over but I wised up at the last minute and lived to see another day. “I’ll be back.”; It snarled.
“I know.”; I replied assuredly. “And I’ll be waiting for your MANDATORY knock.”