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Leslie Blackwell Leslie Blackwell
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Countdown to the Bogeyman Part Three

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She had a friend.

Part three of a horror story. This is still a work in progress so any feedback would be most appreciated.

“When I was a lot younger, I had the bedroom you are in now,” started Daniel. “Back then I was scared of the dark.”

“Most young kids are.” I empathised.

“Well more than just a little scared; I was terrified. I would reach around and search for the light switch, instead of actually entering a dark room, and that hallway used to scare the living daylights out of me. By day I was able to wander up and down it without any problem, but once it got dark…that was a different story altogether.”

“Did you ever see any ghosts?”

“No…well not at that stage. As time went by my fear of the hallway got worse, and it resulted several times in me wetting the bed, other than facing that walk to the bathroom. I was too embarrassed to tell Mum the truth.  She never yelled at me, but I knew she was getting tired of the extra laundry.

“Finally, unable to take it anymore, I broke down one afternoon and told Sasha about my problem, and she said she would help me overcome my fear of the dark. She also promised not to tell anyone else about it.”

“Each night, after our parents went to bed, she would get me to go into that Rumpus Room upstairs. She would shut the door and time how long it took until I freaked out and ran back out again.

“The next night we would do the same thing. If I could will myself to remain there longer than the previous night she would reward me with lollies, if not then we would try again the night after and the night after that. There were no penalties for failure, only rewards for progress.”

“I thought she would kick your ass or something.”

“She said penalties would only add to my overall panic. If I ever wanted to overcome my fear of the dark it had to be on my own terms. Getting my ass kicked would certainly keep me in longer than I was comfortable with, but once that threat was no longer an issue, I would just go back to being too scared to enter in a dark room.”

“That makes a lot of sense. She must have really been concerned about you.”

“We fight like cats and dogs and most times she treats me like a slave, but we are still brother and sister. I know this sounds silly but deep down I think she loves me.”

“It’s not silly at.”

“Well anyways, one night about twenty minutes after Mum and Dad went to bed, Sasha came upstairs and ushered me to the Rumpus Room, as usual.

{i}““Two nights ago you got to two minutes forty eight,” {/i}she said {i}“if you can hold on till three minutes I’ll buy you a chocolate milkshake tomorrow.””

{/i}“That sounded a pretty good deal, so I entered the room and stood as still as I could whilst she shut the door and…”

Daniel cut off in mid-sentence, and hastily changed the subject. Seconds later, Sasha entered the room.

“What are you two fish wives gossiping about?” she grilled suspiciously.

“Nothing,” replied Daniel, with feigned innocence.

I wondered why she thought we looked or sounded like fish-wives, but chose not to show my ignorance and remained silent.    

“Well, Mum wants you both to get off your lazy little butts, and go and wash the car.”

“Oh, do we have to?” we both groused in unison.

“She says it would be in your best interests, if you want any lunch, to do as you were told.”

So we went outside and started washing the car. Daniel sprayed me with the hose, I emptied half a bucket of sudsy water over him, and we both shrilled and giggled inanely. At the end of our chore the car was reasonably clean, but we were completely saturated.

After changing into drier clothes, and getting scolded for our aquatic mischief, we spent a brief period in "timeout", before returning to the living room. Daniel waited until Aunt Gwendoline and Sasha were both out of earshot, and then resumed his paranormal antidote.

“One night about twenty minutes after Mum and Dad went to bed, Sasha came upstairs and ushered me to the Rumpus Room as usual,” he recapped “{i}“Two nights ago you got to two minutes forty eight,”{/i} she said {i}“if you can hold on till three minutes I’ll buy you a chocolate milkshake tomorrow,”

{/i}““That sounded a pretty good deal, so I entered the room and stood as still as I could whilst she shut the door. All was dark and eerie and the urge to leave somehow felt stronger than ever. I had a watch but could not see it when the lights were out, so I relied on counting to myself; which I could do fairly accurately most of the time.

“As I reached the two minute mark, I thought I heard a very faint whispering but ignored it, believing to be my imagination. Then I made the mistake of counting the last minute backwards.”

“As I did this countdown, I started getting this horrible thought that some sort of bogeyman was sizing me up, and it would surly pounce on me as soon as I got to zero.”

“How would it possibly know what number you reached, if you weren’t counting out loud?”

“I’m not sure…when you’re a scared kid, such logic is not always a consideration. Anyhow I got down to the final ten seconds…{i}ten, nine, eight, {/i}my heart was now racing and I really wanted to flee but held my ground… {i}seven, six, five, four, three, two, one {/i}and then the dreaded zero.”

“What happened?”

“Nothing, I just stood there too scared to move. The whispering stopped and the room was still dark and silent for a time. My heart was thumping and then all of a sudden a cold hand grasped my shoulder. I looked around and gasped with horror.”

“What did you see…was it an old man in a crumpled hat?”

“No, something far-far more scarier than I had ever seen in my worst nightmares…He had this long narrow face with a pointed chin, red glowing eyes and a fang like teeth. He snarled like a dog and opened his mouth wide as if about to take a bite out of me.

“Somehow my mind blocked out what happened next, but I remember coming too sometime later, on the bottom of the stairs. According to Sasha I came bursting through the door, knocked her out of the way and continued down the corridor, eventually going head over turkey down the stairs. She swears she never saw anyone chasing after me, or heard anyone else in that room.”

Daniel ceased talking again. Looking around, I saw but we were still alone in the living room. He drew a heavy sigh and asked if it would be okay if he continued the story some other time.  I noticed that his eyes were starting to mist slightly, so I obliged his request, and we refocused our attentions on the jigsaw.

During the first few months of my adoption, my stepmother introduced me to my new extended family, one of whom was an aunt that had spent several years in a Nazi concentration camp.

“She suffers from dissociative-amnesia,” she told me before we got there “it’s a sort of memory loss caused by extreme trauma. The brain sometimes blocks-out memories that are too painful to bring to mind.”

I assumed something similar, though to a much lesser extent, must have happed to Daniel. It was also possible that the ghastly face was merely a false memory; something tangible to account for what really scared him out of the room. If this was the case then what exactly was it he saw, or thought he saw? More to the point, how could he possibly have seen such a face, if the room was dark as he said it was?

Later that afternoon, I was lying on by bed listening to{i} “The song remains the same” by Lez Zeppelin{/i}. It was one of those albums best played loudly, so I had opted to use headphones. My attention was suddenly drawn to the bedroom door, as it slowly opened. I immediately assumed that I was once again going to be the subject of the Bogeyman’s torment, but to my relief it was merely Aunty Gwendoline.

“What can I do for you?” I asked pulling off the earphones and giving her a welcoming smile.

“I’ve been calling you for several minutes and you didn’t reply,” she affirmed. “I was worried something might have happened to you.”  

“I’m sorry; I couldn’t hear you over the music…what’s wrong.”

“You’re wanted on the phone.”

There was no need for her to tell me who was calling.  Tears of joy sprang to my eyes as I scrambled off the bed, ran out the room and then down the stairs; but I composed myself moments before picking up the phone.

“Hello,” I said calmly.

“Hi sweetheart, how’s it going,” replied my stepmother. “Have you been behaving yourself?”

“Yes Mum….I miss you.”

“I miss you too, darling.”

“I’m sorry I’ve been such a pain this year. I promise I’ll be a good boy from now on.”

“Don’t worry about that now. It’s all water under the bridge. Aunty Gwen tells me you’ve been very helpful around the house, and are getting on very well with your cousins. She also tells me you’ve been polite, well-mannered and respectful of her house rules.”

“I’ve been a perfect little angel; like always.”  

“Yeah right, I can imagine. I hope you’ve been remembering to brush your teeth and comb your hair every day and…”

We chatted for some time, and then she handed me to my Stepfather, whose tone sounded a lot less scornful than the last time we exchanged words. I also got to speak briefly to the rest of the family.

“We went to “Rainbow’s End”” regaled my youngest stepbrother Lucas “And I went on a rollercoaster, drove the dodgems and even went into a haunted house.”

“Was the haunted house scary?”

“Na, I ain’t scared of spooks. If I saw a ghost, I’d say “come on man” and he’d say “Come on man” and I'd say "Come on then" and he’d try and get me, but I’d do the old kung-Fu…like Hong Kong Phooey, and he’d run away, crying for his mummy.”

They put me back onto my Stepmother who told me that she loved me and was counting the days till the three weeks were up. I told her I loved her also, and was looking forward to our reunion. There was a clicking noise as she hung up. I did the same a couple of seconds later , and stood staring at the phone; feeling my heart slowly breaking with in.

My foster parents periodically took turns chastising me, whilst my stepsiblings seemed to enjoy making my life a misery, but all

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Next: Countdown to the Bogeyman Part Two