We’ve all heard the tale of a spirit or monster that would take children away when they were being bad, naughty, or not listening to their parents. Lots of cultures have their own versions, with their own takes on what the creature does to those bad kids. It comes in many shapes, many forms, and appears in many places. But what I’m about to tell you is not folklore, it’s not myth, and it sure as shit isn’t make believe. This is a true story…something that happened to my Brother and I when we were very little, and something that plagued me well into my teenage years. Even now, as an adult, I can no longer go into the home where I first encountered it. Just writing this makes me think that the creature, or whatever the hell it is, is about to pop up and grab me. Maybe I should just…start at the beginning.
Like all my messed-up encounters, this starts when I was very young, maybe around 5 or 6 years of age. I grew up in Montreal, Canada, living on the same street as my Grandparents (both sides), and as you’d expect out of a child of that age, I was kind of a pain in the butt. Always running around being hyper, always getting into scraps or into trouble, kind of a brat. It only got worse when my little Brother started getting into trouble with me. We were horrible to one another (oh, that sibling rivalry…) and we were a pain to our parents. One day, my parents decided to leave my brother and I with our Nana. She was an amazing woman of Native American heritage, and had plenty of tales to share with us. She passed when I was 16, which devastated me, almost destroyed me. When we were young though, she wasn’t just a storyteller or disciplinarian, which is where this tale of the Boogeyman comes from, she was also sensitive to the spirit world. My guess is that it’s due to her, and my, Native heritage; something in our bloodline tied us to that world.
As you’d expect, my brother and I were being little shits. My Grandfather, an old, retired, Italian man who really didn’t want to bother with us since we were probably being extremely annoying, left our Nana to discipline us. So, she sat us down, and told us the story of the Boogeyman…a malevolent being that lived in the dark…that would come for any child that didn’t listen to their parents. Well, we scoffed at that at first, but we did as we were told and behaved the rest of the night, mostly because of the threats of being spanked. No kid liked being spanked, even if it was just taps on the behind. Although, I admit, the story of the Boogeyman she told did sit in the back of my mind…it was a terrifying thought that something under the bed, in the basement, somewhere in the darkest reaches of reality, was waiting to get me if I wasn’t a good kid.
So, life went on, we’d be babysat by our Nana, she’d discipline us if we got out of line, nothing major really happened…until one night when I was there alone at my Grandparent’s home. My Brother had gotten sick and my parents needed to take him to the hospital since he had a high fever, so I was left with my grandparents. I think I was around 7 at this time, and I was being a brat as always, wanting to go home to play with my Nintendo. I was told I couldn’t and was being forced to stay there. So of course, I protested, and was disciplined, and reminded of the Boogeyman, which got me back in line. I was good the rest of the night, and before long, I had fallen asleep. I don’t know exactly what time it was, since they didn’t have a clock in their living room and I was pretty little at the time, but I was woken up by a scratching sound coming from the basement door. It was faint, like maybe a small animal like a mouse or something was trying to get through the door. I got up from the sofa and pressed my ear to the door. There really was something on the other side, scratching away. After what I can guess was a few seconds, it stopped. Now, they didn’t own any animals, so I shrugged and thought I’d tell them in the morning about the mouse, and went back to sleep.
The next morning, I told them all about the mouse in the basement. My Grandfather laughed and took me down there with him to investigate and put down some mouse traps. Now, their basement is an extremely dark area. There are no windows looking outside, the lighting hardly worked, and they used it more for storage, doing laundry, and my Grandfather had a cellar area where they’d keep their bottles of wine (did I mention before that he was old-country Italian?) So, we went down there with flashlights and looked around, but we couldn’t find anything that would explain the scratching. He looked at me like I had made it up, but instead of arguing or disciplining me, decided to put mouse traps down around the basement just in case. As we were headed back up the stairs, I felt uneasy, like I was being watched, but couldn’t figure it out.
Well, the years went by, we spent a lot of time at my Grandparent’s home. I loved hanging out with my Nana and my Grandpa, their home was a sanctuary whenever I had issues going on at home. I think around this time I was about to start high school. My Brother and I were at my Nana’s home one night, late, playing cards. My parents were away for the night, a work dinner or something. In between hands of the card game Battle, the basement door creaked open by itself. We could clearly see it, since the two of us were sitting in the living room on the floor. That’s when we heard the most ungodly, guttural growl coming from the deep darkness of that basement. I rushed the basement door and slammed it shut, holding the door closed. Then, I heard it again…the scratching…but louder, quicker, more violent, as if it was trying to get through the thin wood that held the door closed. As quickly as this event happened, it stopped. I stared at my brother through tears and sweat, his expression was pale and cold…did this just happen? Or did we imagine it? We told our Grandparents about the monster or animal or something in the basement. My Grandpa didn’t believe me, said it was our imagination, since we were heavily into horror TV shows like Are You Afraid of the Dark? and Goosebumps at the time. But my Nana was the one who had a worried look…she believed us.
My Nana passed away during my senior year of high school. This absolutely destroyed me, I almost didn’t graduate, I almost didn’t survive high school. My one and only support was gone. She was the one person I could talk to about everything and anything, and never felt judged for it. Her home didn’t feel like the warm, loving place that it once did. It was like there was a veil of darkness that had overtaken it. My Brother refused to go over there after she passed, he said it felt weird being there. I kept going because my Grandpa needed help or I had to go get something my Dad needed that was in their basement. Their basement had been creepy and dark before when I was a kid, but…that memory of the growl and the thing that had been clawing at the door, came flooding back to me. Gave me the creeps, but I shrugged it off, tried to ignore it, and would just go do as I was instructed. My family was having dinner together on this night, at my home, and my Dad wanted me to go get a bottle of wine that my Grandpa had been saving in his wine cellar for ages. I protested, mildly, mostly because I didn’t want to go into that house, but eventually gave in and went anyway. I wasn’t kidding about the darkness that had taken over this home…you could feel the tension, the despair, as soon as you passed the threshold. There was also a smell…the only way I could describe it was rot. I took a deep breath and walked into the house, ignoring the smell and the weird feeling I had. In my mind, I decided that the smell was because my Grandpa had become kind of a mess after my Nana passed, and that the weird feeling was just my mind playing tricks since I was overcome with grief.
I walked the short distance to the basement door, which sat wide open. It was never wide open when we were little, because my Nana was afraid someone would fall down the stairs and injure themselves. I guessed that now that we were older, that it didn’t matter if the door was open. I flicked on the light…which of course didn’t turn on. I sighed and grabbed the flashlight my Grandpa had next to the door and made my way down the steps. I was older and taller now, so I had to duck at a few places as I walked down the hallway, since the ceiling was pretty low. Finally, I got to the wine cellar and opened the door, looking for the bottle my Dad asked me to get. That’s when I heard it…a hissing sound that turned into the most Hellish growl I had ever heard. I frantically grabbed the bottle my Dad asked for, bolting through the cellar door and down the hall as fast as I could, climbing the basement stairs two at a time, and running out the front door, and as I fumbled with the keys to lock it, I heard the most terrifying laugh…it was mocking me…I vowed never again to go into that home, not even if my life depended on it. Unfortunately, a few years ago, I had to help my Grandpa go back to his house. He’s got arthritis and it’s hard for him to get around. It was winter time, I was visiting from my new home in Texas, and I figured what the hell…it’s been years, there’s nothing there that can harm me, at least not anymore. I was wrong.
That familiar stench as we crossed the threshold, the tension…it was still there. I ignored it, instead focusing all my strength on my Grandpa, helping him up the steps to his bedroom. He told me he was alright on his own, so I agreed I would lock up, maybe clean up a bit for him. He entered the restroom and closed the door. That’s when I saw it, clinging to a corner of the ceiling. Its skin was slick and black, like tight leather. It had a mouth filled with sharp teeth. Its eyes were red as blood. It had no tail that I could tell, but it’s hands ended in long, sharp, claws…And it…it smiled at me…and winked… I bolted, running down the stairs and locking the door behind me. I haven’t been back in that house since…
I’ve asked my Aunt, who lives in the apartment that’s attached to the home if she’s encountered anything or if she even believes my story. She’s told me she hasn’t seen it, but has felt it before, this Boogeyman from the dark… My Grandpa hasn’t experienced anything out of the ordinary, and his arthritis is actually doing a bit better. Which makes me wonder…where did it go? Why isn’t it…wait…do you hear that? A scratching…from my closet? Or am I just imagining it…?
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