This story is by Luke Geldmacher and was part of our 2018 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
If I had known this day would end with a bloody hook embedded in my shoulder, I would’ve stayed in bed.
I was running through the dilapidated halls of Kirkwood Sanitarium with a crying teenage girl in tow. Her boyfriend’s blood covering the hook now stuck in my left clavicle. I was sent out here to investigate a series of disappearances- a few runaways and a lot of couples. In my investigation, I found a boogeyman strong enough to manifest a physical body waiting for me.
Well, he wasn’t waiting for me. I’m not exactly his flavor. This particular one liked to prey on young couples looking for some private time away from home. Why do creepy abandoned buildings attract so many of the young and horny?
I took a hard right, almost slipping on some broken tiles on the floor. After I slammed through the doors of the administration wing, I pushed the girl against the wall. She was gibbering in panic and her tears traced paths down her blood-drenched face.
“Hey, hey, quiet,” I said. “Everything will be okay, but I need you to calm down and be quiet.”
She stopped making sounds and stared at me with wide, cornflower blue eyes.
“What’s your name?” I asked.
She swallowed, her fear made her whole body shake. This had not been an easy night for the teen. Her voice quavered as she spoke, “S-Shelley.”
“Okay, Shelley,” I said pulling my .45 caliber pistol from its holster and checking the magazine. ” I’m going to need to you to stay down and out-of-the-way while I take care of business. Can you do that for me?”
She nodded her head in affirmation, took a short breath and muttered, “Who are you?”
Satisfied with the state of my pistol, I then took out a bag of salt and tore it open. The hook was still in my shoulder rubbing the bone as I winced in pain.
“My name is Joby Walker, I kill monsters.”
I pulled out the hook and poured a little salt on my shoulder wound, ouch. After that, I bent over and began walking around her in a small circle while pouring the salt into a thick, unbroken line. Confusion kicked her fear to the curb as she asked, “What are you doing?”
Pouring the last of the salt out, I said, “Giving you some protection. That was a boogeyman; a non-corporeal entity that feeds on fear. This one has become strong enough to manifest a physical body. The salt will help.”
I couldn’t hear anything outside the office door. That wasn’t good. Boogeymen are very good at sneaking up on people and I couldn’t fight what I couldn’t see.
She shook her head and began to cry again, “I don’t understand,” her voice cracked, “Why is this happening? Why is it coming after me?”
I took her gently by the shoulder, careful not to disturb the circle of salt.
“Listen, this thing feeds on fear and you’re a big, old buffet of it right now. But it’s still a spiritual being and salt is a metaphysically purifying element. It can’t cross that line easily, so it will help.”
She looked sharply at me, “So, you’re using me as bait?”
I gave a slight shrug at that and waved my hand back and forth, “Umm, a little.”
She slapped me and my teeth rattled. “You asshole!” she shrieked.
I blinked away the spots from my eyes, “Okay, ow. It’s not as bad as it sounds. I could’ve just left you and your boyfriend to die.”
Her eyes widened again at that. “Oh my god, Chad. Do you think he got away?”
Almost as if it were waiting for a cue, the door behind us creaked open. I turned towards it, putting myself between the girl and the dark doorway. I stared into the black, searching for any hint of movement in the thick darkness. Something flew out of the shadows and landed with a wet thud in front of me. Chad’s head rolled to a stop at my feet, his empty sockets staring at me in accusation. Shelley screamed and dropped to her knees while I looked over the head. Chad’s eyes had been dug out leaving thick gouges around the sockets, and his head had been violently ripped off. The boogeyman stepped into the room and I broke out in a cold sweat.
It was wearing a dingy, orange prison jumpsuit underneath a dark poncho and towered close to seven feet tall. I couldn’t see its face, but malevolent eyes glowed back at me from the depths of its hood. It held a gleaming hook, Chad’s blood pooling on the floor beneath it. I raised my pistol and fired off three quick shots. It anticipated the shots and darted to my right, the last shot hitting the hook its hand and sent it clattering down the hall.
“Ha!” I yelled in triumph and fired off six more shots at its fleeing form. It retreated into an office and I dropped my empty magazine and loaded another, chambering the first round. Shelley was still whimpering in the center of the salt circle so I began to edge away from her to get a better line of sight of the threshold. The boogeyman’s hand raised slowly in the vacant doorway. The flesh began to separate and with a wet, squelching sound another hook manifested through the skin and settled into the boogeyman’s hand.
“Okay,” I complained, “That’s just not fair.”
The fear the boogeyman feasted on tonight had made it extremely strong. It could manifest objects according to whatever narrative it was following- your worst fear just became its greatest weapon. Things just got more complicated. It charged through the wall at me in a shower of old plasterboard. The cloud blocked my vision and I shot blindly before the creature rammed it’s shoulder into me, sending me flying into the opposite wall. My gun flew clattering into the dark.
I hit the wall with a resonate thud and put a nice Joby-sized dent into it. The impact knocked the breath out of me, and the few gasps of air I could draw, coated my mouth with the ancient dust. Suddenly, I felt pressure around my throat as I was lifted by the bogeyman and slammed against the wall. The thing wrapped its hand around my neck and when it squeezed, stars danced in front of my eyes. I could hear Shelley screaming as I scrambled inside my shirt for the punch dagger I kept around my neck. I pulled it out and shoved the entire three inch blade deep into one of its glowing red eyes. It dropped me, screaming and clutching at its face. I’m guessing it wasn’t used to an iron and silver alloy blade that had been dipped in holy water. Yeah, I can fight dirty too.
I drew the .22 revolver I kept on my ankle and emptied all six rounds into the boogeyman’s chest. The bullets, like my blade, were iron and silver alloy and doused with holy water. They tore through the boogeyman’s manifested form like tissue paper. It crumpled to the floor and I jumped on it. Ripping my dagger out of it’s eye, I plunged it into what I estimated to be the boogeyman’s throat repeatedly. Thick black blood squirted out of the terrible wounds and coated my face and chest. I must have stabbed it over dozen times before it finally stopped moving and began to dissolve.
Taking a few deep breaths, I stood up and went over to Shelley, holding out my hand for her to get up.
She took it and stood, “Is it over?”
I shook my head, “Not quite yet. Its physical body is gone for now, but it can come back. Let’s get out of here.”
I put my arm around her shoulder and shielded her view from her boyfriend’s head as we walked out. When we got outside, I called the cleanup team for Chad’s body. The Spook Squad began their ritual to exorcise the boogeyman’s spirit. The medical team checked over Shelley. Once they cleared her, they sent her to agency headquarters to be debriefed and assessed for counseling. My back felt like one giant bruise and the hole in my shoulder throbbed with every heartbeat, but I saved the girl, so I guess it was worth it.
No one in the agency had expected another boogeyman in the area. This was the fourth instance this month. Something was going on and I wasn’t going to get caught off guard again. Next time, I’m loading the big gun with the special bullets.
Sheila A Burns says
Good story telling! Good gore and some good humor well placed. But I have to say weak ending for a short story, it wouldmake great first chapter for a book or longer story. But I don’t want to feel I need to turn another page to find out about the special bullets or the cause of the frequency of the boogeyman. I read a short story for instant gratification. As well written as this was it didn’t satisfy me at the end.
Luke Geldmacher says
Positive and constructive feedback is always welcome, so thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed the storytelling, and I agree about the ending. I could’ve made it more definitive and less open ended. Thank you for reading my story and for your feedback.
Steve G says
Interesting story. I’m not aware of the criteria or if there were limitations to length but it seemed that there was a need for more character development. I wanted to get to know them better. I agree with Sheila it could be longer but that’s a good thing. Room to expand the story. I liked it.