The Bogeyman Is Dead, We Killed Him
Halloween has a varied past depending on how you want to look at it. For some it is a pagan celebration, for others it is the night demons, witches and ghouls come out to play and wreak havoc on the world, and for the vast majority in our more commercial technology driven modern world it is an excuse to dress up in costume and go trick or treating. And in so doing we killed the bogeyman.
I remember as a kid being scared of the dark, or more accurately what lurked therein, walking along country lanes after school in the chill of autumn where the days are shortening and night is readying to be king, looking over my shoulder every minute or so as a new sound creaked or cracked in the shadows of the surrounding treeline. At the end of October, those shadows are already lengthening before you’ve sat down for your evening meal. And as you hit Halloween, you can bet your bottom dollar that your legs are going to be pumping like crazy to get home before the bogeyman comes to get you. But that was then.
Now I’m all grown up and somewhere along the line the bogeyman grew old with me and died without me noticing. Perhaps it is simply me being older and theoretically wiser. But I’m not so sure.
I think technology is largely to blame and especially the internet. We now live in a world where we demand proof for everything and that proof has to be delivered instantaneously. If you don’t believe me then just go and look at any online argument where links to evidence are demanded and that they must be rubberstamped with professorial endorsement. We didn’t have that back in the day, or not to the same extent. When I was growing up ,and even before that, all we had were grainy photographs taken from distance (think Bigfoot, think the Loch Ness Monster, think 101 varying ghost sightings) or apocryphal stories of ‘my friend said his cousin once saw a ghost in the cellar of the local pub’. And you believed them. Every single village where I grew up had its own ghost. Every. Single. One. You knew exactly where they were and what the conditions had to be for you to see them. And they were always going to be there if you were brave enough to stay up until midnight on 31st October. If.
Nowadays we all have video cameras sitting in our pockets hooked up to show the entire world within seconds what we’ve seen. But in that time has anyone captured a ghost on film, one which has made the national or international news, not the ones which are found on ghost-hunting programmes on the more isolated cable channels? Have we had more definitive images of Big Foot or Nessie or any of the other myriad mythological beasts and spirits which fascinate us so? And even if you were to capture something, to get a fleeting glimpse of the supernatural, would you simply be shouted down for lack of proof, accused of faking things with editing software? Probably.
So we back off from believing because we haven’t got the proof. And yes, the bogeyman tried to change with us as we changed, chain emails and websites which would bring death if not forwarded or shared for one example, stories of Slenderman for another, but our hearts aren’t really in it anymore.
Gone are the days where the bogeyman was going to get you. Now we live in an irrational age of rationality where Halloween comes and goes, where kids dress up as superheroes and celebrities, eager to see how much candy they’ve gained rather than glancing over their shoulder as the shadows creep closer and the bogeyman sharpens his claws. Yet with all good bad guys, and the bogeyman is the baddest of them all, there’s always a flicker of a pulse waiting to be reinvigorated no matter how many feet of earth they are buried under. So maybe, if you want the bogeyman to be reborn, hang out until midnight on Halloween in the dark in isolation and wait and wait and wait just to see if you feel his warm breath on the back of your neck.
Phil Sloman is a writer of dark psychological fiction. He was shortlisted for a British Fantasy Society Best Newcomer award in 2017 for his novella Becoming David. His short stories can be found throughout various anthologies and his collection Broken on the Inside has received widespread praise. In the humdrum of everyday life, Phil lives with an understanding wife and a trio of vagrant cats who tolerate their human slaves. There are no bodies buried beneath the patio as far as he is aware. Occasionally Phil can be found lurking here or wasting time on social media – come say hi.
Phil Sloman’s BROKEN ON THE INSIDE presents a quintet of macabre mentality in:
Broken on the Inside
The Man Who Fed the Foxes
There Was an Old Man
Richard leads a simple, uncomplicated life in the suburbs of London where anonymity is a virtue. His life has a routine. His cleaner visits twice a week. He works out in his basement, where he occasionally he kills people. Everything is as Richard wants it until David enters his life. What happens next changes his existence in its entirety and the lives of those around him. Is he able to trust anything to be true? And will he be able to escape David or will David take over Richard’s life completely? A Novella from Hersham Horror Books