I wrote this after reading Stephen King's Night Shift, so please forgive me if it resembles his writing to a degree. Modeled after the story: The Bogeyman.
Jack Horens sat in the office of a well-known psychiatrist, fingers drumming nervously on the torn leather of the chair.
Christ why's it torn why's it dirty why is this place so goddamn shitty—
He jerked visibly, embarrassment rushing through him as quickly as the reflex had come. He stood in the same quick motion and walked over to the female secretary who had called out his name.
"Dr. Whelan will see you now," she said, turning from his sweat-ridden face to her glowing computer screen.
Jack walked over to the wooden door ahead, frosted glass with the words 'Dr. Michael Whelan' imprinted on it taking up half of the door itself. He twisted the knob and pushed it open, stepping into a pleasantly air-conditioned office.
Gotta relax I'm not crazy don't want him to think I'm crazy…
"Mr. Horens," the man sitting in the leather chair to the corner said. "I did pronounce that correctly, I hope?"
"Yes," he murmured, walking over to the doctor.
Dr. Whelan's hands were free of any recording device, pad or electronic otherwise.
"Pick a spot, Mr. Horens. Would you like to sit or lie down?"
Wordlessly, Jack took to the chair opposite him and sat.
The office was quite large. A bookcase stood next to the door and framed proverbs dotted the evenly-painted dark green wall in no particular pattern. A closet door with the same design was set into the back corner.
"Now, then." He uncrossed his legs, planting both feet onto the brown carpet quietly. "You set this appointment up for discussion, Mr. Horens?"
"Yes," he said, trying to avoid staring the man in the face.
Dr. Whelan was dressed in dark clothing, all but matching the room they sat in. Small glasses rested on his face, which he peered through calmly. He looked pretty young—early thirties, maybe.
"I'm all ears. What would you like to talk about?"
He breathed deeply, eyes watering out of dryness more than fear. There was no fear left. It had been replaced by something dark. Cold. Horrible. The urge for mourning had been overtaken as well, driving a black recess into his soul.
Suddenly, insistently, the necessity of articulation clicked in his mind, and Jack's mindset righted itself in a quick thrust. "Have you ever been afraid, Dr. Whelan?"
Expression unchanging, he replied, "That all depends, I suppose. What do you think fear is?"
Jack's eyes were glassy, staring directly at Dr. Whelan's face and yet not seeing him at all. "Fear is…" He hesitated. "I think I will take that lie down."
"Be my guest," Dr. Whelan said, gesturing at the homey looking leather couch.
Jack walked over silently and took up a horizontal position, head resting at a slight angle so that he stared directly up at the bland ceiling. For close to two minutes he said nothing, Dr. Whelan simply sitting patiently and waiting for the continuation of his response.
"It's a horrid thing," Jack said finally. "A thing that can drive into your soul and never let you go, ever. So much that you're afraid your neck will snap from the many instances of glancing over your shoulder.
"It's an entity that lives inside you not symbiotically, but as a parasite that feeds off of your spirit like a taunting bastard lamprey. Have you ever been afraid, Dr. Whelan?"
Had Jack remained in the armchair, he would have seen the flicker of uncertainty that flashed across the doctor's face. "In that case, I suppose I have not, Mr. Horens."
Jack's mouth shifted slightly into what might have been a derisive grin. "No, I suppose you wouldn't have."
"Would you like to tell me what…instilled this fear?"
Stare remaining towards the ceiling, Jack replied, "Well, that's why I'm here.
"About a four months ago my wife of six years, Sarah, and I had a child. We were happy wesucceeded—we got the confirmation two weeks after our copulation. Or fornication. Fucking," Jack said, thoughts clearly elsewhere.
"So it came in July—a girl. My wife named her: Kristen. She was beautiful—thin but vibrantly red hair, cute face—she hardly even cried when she came out. A little angel.
"For the first three months she slept in a specially designed crib—you know, the ones that are made so the baby can't roll over and suffocate. Once she matured, I brought it up to my wife that she should sleep in a regular one.
"At first she disagreed, because she wasn't sure if Kristen was ready. I knew she was, though. And I was right. After she acquiesced, she let me put Kristen in a standard crib. She slept soundly, waking up with breath still in her lungs."
Jack's face twitched, mouth jerking and both eyes half-closing in a precipitous motion.
"At least, for the first week.
"About four days in Kristen began to cry at night. We always rushed into the room, my wife and I, fearing the worst. We walked in and picked her up, trying to comfort her, but she kept crying. The second night this happened, I noticed that the closet door had been opened.
"Of course, it was always closed. It was an empty, tiny closet—we never used it, so the door was always shut. But as Kristen was screaming I noticed that the door was a bit ajar. Also, a sliver of white light was creeping through the space.
"We don't have a closet light, Dr. Whelan. That closet is bare fucking wood, but there was that light. Shining through. Christ, it scared me so bad I almost pissed my pants."
Jack stood abruptly, walking back over to the chair he had sat in before. He rested in it with his head staring down in his lap, but continued to speak.
"I glanced at my wife, and when I looked back to the closet the light was gone. It was just dark. But, Christ…" His hands gripped the arms of the chair.
"Of course, I just dismissed it later. Kristen stopped crying, and she slept fine for the rest of that night and the next. The light was forgotten…until three days later.
"Kristen screamed in the nighttime again. Louder than ever—I'd swear to God she cracked the window. Sarah and I bolted to her room to find Kristen lying on her back and writhing, screaming all the while. My wife flicked on the light as I stepped over to the crib.
"The reason was obvious. There was a big, red line across the whole right side of her face. Like someone slapped her with a ruler. I couldn't help but glance at the closet. It was open, but there was no light. I couldn't remember whether or not I had closed it before.
"By this time, she had picked up Kristen and was rubbing the mark on her face. I told her that she was probably just rolling around and smacked her head into one of the crib's bars. She said that Kristen wasn't strong enough to do that. I didn't know what to say. I just said it again, and we dismissed the issue. Kristen slept in our bed that night.
"It was my fault she died." Though his voice remained unobstructed, tears fell into his lap and stained the denim of his jeans.
"After that night, I told my wife that we should let Kristen back in the crib. Buy one of those fluffy guard things and strap it to the crib, so the bars couldn't hurt her. She was reluctant, of course—I went and bought the thing anyway. Fifteen bucks. Can you believe that bullshit?"
"Quite a sum, Mr. Horens," Dr. Whelan answered.
"Yeah. Bullshit. But when I came back with it, she gave in. We hooked it on—it was like a big body pillow. No way she could hurt herself. But of course, that wasn't the problem.
"Kristen slept in the crib the night we bought the guard. There was no screaming, no crying…all was…normal.
"When we went to get her up for breakfast, her head was gone."
The tears ceased to flow.
"My wife passed dead out. Slammed onto the floor like a sack of bricks. Probably had a stroke, too. I just stared at the spot where her head should have been. The white bedding was soaked red, the neck ripped with long strips of skin just…pulled…Jesus, no wonder she didn't cry…must have happened in a flash." He snapped his fingers weakly, brown hair hiding his face.
"I should have called the cops, or helped my wife. Done something. But all I could do was stare at the closet. It was all the way open, and as soon as my wife had fainted, started shining. Bright. I'm talking spotlight glare. Not even fucking funny.
"Even worse, in the glow…a shadow appeared.
"It was nowhere close to human. Scraggly and thin…like it had a thousand arms and they were all moving. No discernable head or legs…just that myriad of limbs reaching, extending…towards me. One came out of the light—it was as black as it had been in shadow. The fingers, and there were way more than five, were long and rectangular. Which cleared up what had happened to Kristen before she died right away.
"I back away and tripped over the figure of Sarah, who hadn't moved. The hand snatched at the air where I had been and then retreated back into the closet. As I struggled to get up, literally pissing in my pants, another came at me. The sick bastard…" Jack shuddered so violently that the chair shook. "The sick bastard was holding Kristen's head. I think I blacked out after that. I remember a sick laugh…sadistic and screechy, like tooth-itching screechy. Nails on a chalkboard.
"I regained my state of mind outside of my house, in a park two miles away. I had somehow gotten into real clothes, instead of a bathrobe. I must have looked like a jackass. I just sat down on a bench and started crying.
"I don't know how long after that, but at least two hours later I got up and took a bus home. I didn't look in Kristen's room. My wife hadn't come out, from my inference. That son-of-a-bitch must have gotten her, too. For all I know she's still lying in that room, headless.
"I slept in the bathroom, which was the only place in the house without a closet. Don't know how I drifted off, but I did. Oddly, no nightmares. I was too scared to have nightmares.
"I kept up a charade of normalcy for three weeks after that, never going back into my baby's room. When I had to eat, I ran into the kitchen, grabbed something, and ran back out, because there's a utility closet in there. One of those doors with the slats. I bet it watched me every time, wanting to trip me up and rip off my head.
"And it almost succeeded two weeks ago.
"I ran to the kitchen, but, stupidly, I let my guard down because I had avoided it for so long. Asinine! I walk doing a little fast walk past the closet, which is set into the entry hall of the kitchen. There's only one way in, right past that closet. Normally I stay far to the opposite wall, but this time I just walked down the center like a fool.
"Well, it saw its chance and took it. The door blew outward and off its hinges as a number of the black limbs slammed into it. The door knocked me down—I had shingle-like bruises across the left side of my body for four days. I fell, and those arms reached for me. They grabbed me around the ankles—I think there were four of them. Cut right through my jeans." At this, he lowered his hands and lifted his jeans from his ankles. Long, shiny red scratches ran from the inside of his shoe up to where the jeans began to cover his legs.
"I screamed. The ruler-like fingers were sharp as hell, and they were snagged onto my pants like Velcro.
"Panic gave me some strength. I kicked like a madman and managed to break one of the arms. I went through it like balsa wood, and the hand dropped from my ankle. Even more came from the closet.
"At that point, I ripped off my pants and crawled like a baby on steroids. I don't know how, but I made it onto the linoleum trailing red behind me. I never looked back, but those hideous arms were probably grabbing at my boxers and missing by a hair's width. I made it to the back wall and climbed onto a counter, ripping a couple of steak knives free of a wooden case.
"The arms were gone, though. I think that once they tasted my blood they were sated for that day.
"After that, I gave up trying to live there. I made this appointment and left the house. I always keep my wallet in my shirt pocket, so I didn't lose it. I holed up in a hotel, specifically requesting a room without a closet. I did fine there…and then I came here."
Dr. Whelan always did his best to remain featureless, but this time he was having quite a challenge. "This account is true, Mr.—"
"Yes, it's fucking true!" Jack screamed, glaring the doctor with reddened eyes. Then he lowered his gaze. "Sorry. Shit. I just…hate reliving it…but I can't live with this."
Light began to slide from under Dr. Whelan's closet door.
"I just wanted to tell someone before I died. Protect yourself, Dr. Whelan." Jack stood and turned around, facing the shining closet door.
"Mr. Horens, I'm sure there is a—"
"I can't take it anymore. Living like this," Jack said, taking a step toward the radiance. "But if I kill myself then I'll go to hell."
Dr. Whelan began to stand. "Mr. Horens, if you would sit back down—" He then caught a glimpse of the closet. "Oh, dear God…"
Jack reached the closet door and gripped the silver handle. Twisting it, he said, "You'd better run."
The door was opened, and a twisting mass of black things wrapped around Jack, who was now laughing.
Dr. Whelan fell back into his chair.
A burst of light emitted from the closet, engulfing the entire room in its dazzling luminosity. Dr. Whelan's eyes were forced shut, and as the glow faded, he opened them.
The closet door was shut once more, unchanged from its previous appearance.
Jack Horens was gone.
Dr. Whelan stood and shakily walked over to his desk, hitting the intercom button. "Miss Willis…I need you to get in here and call the police. And maybe the church."
Hope it scared you. Tell me what you think.