Contemporary Romance Fantasy

The Boogeyman

By Merry Marcellino

“Are you coming tonight?” Zane popped his lips as he waited for my response.

           “I don’t know.” It was already getting dark, and I wasn’t sure if this was a good idea. I clenched the phone in my hand. 

           “Come on. Are you afraid?” He was teasing, hoping I would take the bait.

           “I don’t know Zane. Spending the night in a haunted funeral parlor doesn’t sound like a good time.”

           “I’ll be by your side the whole time. I promise. I won’t let the boogeyman get you.” He chuckled at the mention of my childhood nemesis.

           “Not funny. I still have nightmares about that.” When I was little, I thought I saw the boogeyman in my closet and Zane had never let me forget it.  I didn’t think about it most nights, but every once in a while, I had a nightmare that woke me in a cold sweat. 

           Zane and I had been friends since we were five, and he teased me now that we were adults. When we were children, he’d protected me, making sure no one knew about my anxiety. 

           I saw the boogeyman several times after, and although I was afraid of him, I also felt drawn to him. Those feelings scared me more than anything.

           “I’m sorry, Pop. You know I love you. I promise I’ll protect you and won’t tell a soul.”

           My name was Penelope, my parents called me Poppy, and Zane called me Pop.

           “Ok.” My voice wavered as I said the words. “I’ll go.”


           Zane and I reached the Ainsley Funeral Home by 9pm. It was dark, the moon covered by clouds from the rain that had fallen earlier. Trees surrounded the building, almost camouflaging it. If you didn’t know the building was here, you would miss it while driving this street. 

We were standing on the doorstep. I was shaking so badly, Zane had to steady me. 

           The building had been in disrepair since the 1930’s. Once the parlor closed, it sat unused for decades. Boards were falling off, some torn off. The once blue shingles were black with dirt from storms that had passed this way. 

           Most of the windows at the upper level were intact, but the lower-level windows had been shattered. Whether from storms, or vagrants searching for a place to sleep. Fragments of glass littered the ground. The door was intact, but the hinges were rusty. Zane pulled, using his muscles to try to open the door. It wouldn’t budge. 

           Craning my neck to see over his six feet, I pulled out a screwdriver from my backpack. “Let me try.” My dad was a carpenter and he’d taught me how to use tools.  We’d worked together building my treehouse when I was younger. It was a valuable talent to possess. 

           Moving aside to make room for me, he held the door while I unscrewed the hinges. Rust coated my hands and the screwdriver by the time I was finished. 

           Zane pulled the door loose and propped it against the building. “Once we’re inside, I’ll prop it back in its rightful place. No need to announce our presence.”

           Not that anyone would be passing this way. The only thing here was the parlor and an old cemetery from the 1600’s.

           The squeal of the screen door opening made me cringe. At least I didn’t have to utilize my screwdriver for that. 

           I waited in the foyer as Zane put the door in place. The hairs on the back of my neck stood on end. My eyes darted everywhere, making sure nothing was lurking about, ready to attack. 

           “It’s ok, Pop. Let’s check out the rooms.” He reached for my hand.

           Grateful to him for understanding my fears, I grasped his hand tightly as we moved to the first room. It appeared to be a meeting room. A few regal Victorian chairs still stood, their flowered material, torn and stained. There was a portrait on the wall. Staring at it, I noted the country scene looked sinister with cobwebs and dust covering most of the picture. 

           Feeling like someone was watching us, I turned to scan the room.

           “What’s wrong, Pop?” Zane pulled me away from the picture.

           “Just a strange feeling.” I shivered and followed Zane to the next room. 

           The carpets were worn and dirty, footprints were everywhere. A few bugs skittered across the floor, and I felt itchy.

           We next entered a showroom, where caskets would have been on display. There was only one casket in the room, sitting on a pedestal. Thankfully, the lid was closed. The carpeted floor in this room, was not as damaged, but still looked dim and not its former bright red. 

           “Let’s check out this casket.” His enthusiasm made me smile nervously. I didn’t want to spoil his fun, but opening that coffin was the last thing I wanted to do. “It’s ok Pop. I’m sure there’s nothing inside.” 

Somehow that didn’t reassure me. 

           Releasing my hand, Zane handed me his flashlight. I pointed both his and mine at the coffin, waiting to run if something was inside. 

           The hinges creaked, and I wished for WD-40 to spray on them. Once Zane had the lid open, he pushed it so it would stay open. It fell to the floor with a crash!

           “Sorry, Pop.”

           As he peered inside, his face fell. “Nothing.”

           I wasn’t sure if he was teasing me but took a chance and looked inside. Empty, indeed. Thank you, God!

           “Sorry Zane. I know you’re hoping to see something.” I rubbed his arm. His love of the macabre was disconcerting at times.

           “It’s ok. I don’t want you to have a heart attack on me.” His mouth turned up as he grabbed his flashlight and my hand. “Let’s try the next room.”

           “Ok.” I was feeling a little better, since we hadn’t come across anything scary yet. The old place was frightening enough. No need for anything to jump out at us. 

           Still jumpy, I held onto Zane’s hand, probably cutting off the circulation. He didn’t flinch. My eyes flitted, trying to see every corner and crevice. I knew my belief in the boogeyman was irrational, but the feeling of being watched never left me. As I grew into adulthood, I pushed it back into the recesses of my mind, but it lingered. 

           “This is another coffin room.” Coffins were stacked on top of each other like giant Legos. Most of them were broken. It appeared to be a storeroom. 

           “I guess they didn’t empty these rooms when they left?”

           “No. They left in a hurry. There was bad business going on here. They didn’t bury all the bodies. They would cremate the bodies and throw the ashes in the cemetery.” Zane had found information on the internet about the funeral home, which gave him this crazy idea to check it out.

           We came upon stairs in the hallway. Stopping at the door, Zane let go of my hand. “This is the basement. I believe the embalming room is down there. Do you want to stay here?”

           Biting my lip, I thought for a moment. Do I stay here and possibly be killed, or do I go with Zane into the dead people’s room and possibly be killed? Choices. “I’m sticking with you. As scary as the embalming room sounds, I’m not staying up here alone.”

           “That’s my girl.” He grabbed my hand again and opened the door. Hitting the light switch, he descended with me in tow. Stepping around the broken stairs, made our movements slow. Just as we stepped onto the last step, there was a loud pop as the light bulb blew.

           Jolted, I knocked into Zane and he hugged me. “It’s ok Pop. We have our flashlights. He turned his to full power as we walked the long hall. There were four doors lining the walls.

           Opening the first door, Zane stopped inside, pulling me along. Everything was dusty. Our clothes were covered from exploring the building. Zane sneezed, as dust fell from the top of the door. 

           Inside the room, was a long table, with a shelf beneath. There were a couple of sinks on the far wall and a cabinet. 

           Bang, bang!

           Zane and I jumped, as the loud noise sounded above us. 

“What was that?” My face paled, and I was sure Zane’s was ashen too. 

Wiping his hands on his jeans, he clasped my hand again. “Slow your breathing or you’re going to hyperventilate.” Zane looked into my eyes, breathing slowly so I would follow along. “That’s better. Something probably fell from us touching things.”

           I hoped he was right. Sweat beaded, and my T-shirt clung to my back. I couldn’t stop shaking, and was thankful, for Zane’s contact with my hand. 

           Zane moved to the embalming table.

           Click, click. Footsteps walked along the hardwood floor upstairs, then we heard shuffling as they reached the carpet.

           “Someone is in here, Zane!” I was hoping whoever it was couldn’t hear my loud whisper. 

           “Maybe someone saw us come in.” He closed the door to the embalming room, and we waited, not moving. My uncontrollable tremors were at least silent.

           Under the door we could see the flicker of the hall lights. I was holding onto Zane so tightly he was going to have a bruise. 

           “It’s ok, Pop. We’ll be ok.” His voice trembled as he hugged me.

           Our flashlights suddenly went out. “Zane.”

           “Not sure what happened. These are new batteries.”

           The footsteps seemed to have stopped. I blew out a breath of relief, still holding on to Zane for dear life.

           Behind us, a creak sounded, and we slowly turned to the cabinet. The door was opening!

           My mouth opened in a silent scream. Frozen in fear, we watched in horror as a shadow emerged from the cabinet. Tall, black, and translucent, it floated toward us.

           “Poppeeee.” The ragged whisper, called to me, reaching out long fingers.

           “No.” Tears fell onto my cheeks and I grew dizzy. “Zane. It’s the boogeyman.” My voice was barely audible. My knees wobbled and my grip on Zane’s hand was so tight, my fingers hurt, but I wasn’t letting go.

           Zane cleared his throat. “What do you want?” The tremble in his voice gave away his fear, despite his brave exterior. “He’s real Pop.”

           “Poppeee.” The apparition floated to us and stopped before me. It’s hollow eyes seemed to see me, into my soul.

           “W…who a…are you?” I was going to pass out. My childhood monster was real and coming for me.

           “Poppeee, come.” The ghostly hand reached mine and didn’t pass through. It felt solid. Cold seeped into my skin, reaching my bones.


           “I won’t let it take you Pop.” He pulled me but the wraith didn’t let go. I felt like I was in a tug-of-war between the two. Both were strong.

           The boogeyman leaned into Zane and blew into his face. Zane’s eyes closed as he crumbled to the floor. 

           “Zane! No! What did you do to him?”

           “Safe. Cooome.” He pulled me until I had no choice. He wasn’t releasing me. I was suddenly floating off the floor, out the window. My breath caught in my throat as we flew over the building, into the cemetery. 

           “Why are we here?” I was afraid to look into his empty eyes. I was going to die. He brought me to the cemetery to die. We traveled deep into the cemetery. Tears flowed anew, down my cheeks, as we alighted on the soft grass.

           “Please.” I wanted to beg for my life. I didn’t want to die. Pushing at his hand on my wrist, I pleaded. 

           Moonlight shone through the trees, the clouds clearing in the wind. The cemetery had an ethereal glow. It looked magical. Curiosity ate at me, and I forgot about my fear for a moment. I was confused.   

           The hand that held me, became solid and human. My eyes snapped to the boogeyman, whose body was changing as I watched. He was no longer ghoulish and translucent. Black hair covered his head, his eyes were also black, but his skin was pale. Six feet tall, he stood over my five feet, four inches. His robe became jeans and a Henley, molded to his muscular physique. 

           Both my hands were now in his as he watched my facial expression change from one of horror to confusion. “I don’t understand. You’re the boogeyman?”

           “No. I’m the angel of death.”

           My eyes widened. I was going to die. “Why?”

           His eyes held mine as he answered. “I’ve been wandering the earth for centuries, alone, never knowing anyone. My duty is to take souls to their final destination and then I move on to the next. I didn’t mind when I was young, but as the years passed, I realized what a lonely this is.”

           This is not what I expected.

           “When I came to take your grandmother, I spotted you, and was mesmerized. You were too young at the time to understand, so I had to bide my time. I would visit you, but you feared me so much, I couldn’t communicate with you.”

           As he spoke the words, I remembered I first saw him in my closet, when I was five years old.  The year my grandmother died. “You have been watching and following me since then?”

           “Yes.” His eyes sparkled and his mouth turned up.

           “But why?”

           “I don’t want to be alone anymore. I want you to come with me, to be mine.”

           “But you’re the angel of death. How can I come with you?” 

           Clearing his throat, he pulled my right hand to his chest. I felt his heart beating and something else. I felt kindness in him. His aura became clear to me. His human life had been full of good deeds and few mistakes, so he was granted the honor of becoming the angel of  death. 

           “You would have to leave your human life behind.”

           “I would have to die?” My heart stuttered. 

           “It won’t be painful. If you decide, you will come with me, and the people you knew on earth will see you as having died.”

           “My friends? Oh my God! Zane!” I’d forgotten about him in my fear.

           “Your friend is fine. A police officer was checking out the place and found him,”

           Sighing in relief, I regarded the angel of death again. “Do you have another name besides the angel of death?” That could get tiring. Wait, was I actually considering this?

           “My name is Marco.” He waited patiently for me to shuffle through my thoughts.

           My family was deceased except for a few cousins I never saw. My job wasn’t anything special, but Zane. Zane was a good friend. Frowning, I glanced at Marco’s face. He continued to smile at me but made no move to persuade me or sway my decision. 

           Zane was my only tie to the human world. I would miss him, but he had a girlfriend, and I was still searching for someone. “Can I say goodbye to Zane?”

           His eyes clouded with sorrow. “You wouldn’t be able to see him again if you decided to come with me. If you stay, I will take you back to the funeral parlor, where you can call your friend.”

           The moon had started to fall from the sky and soon the sun would peek over the horizon. The night was flying by.

           “You only have a short time to decide.” He held still.

           “Marco, if I stayed in my human life, would I ever see you again?” He was an enigma that I wanted to learn more about.

           Closing his eyes, he swallowed before speaking. “No.”

           He wouldn’t push me, but this was the only night I could decide. I didn’t know him, yet in a way I did, from feeling his heart. I wanted to go with him.



           “Yes. I want to come with you.” Smiling shyly, I took his hand.

           His face shone as his arms wrapped me close. Wings snapped from his back as he lifted me, and we disappeared from the cemetery. 

July 25, 2021 19:15

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Alex Sultan
23:57 Aug 04, 2021

I really like the atmosphere you wrote for this story - it's just scary enough, especially in the first scene when you go into memories, and even better in the second with the imagery.


Merry Marcellino
11:04 Aug 05, 2021

Thanks Alex! I love paranormal and fantasy writing. I'm writing some books. We'll see how it goes.


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Jon Casper
22:35 Aug 04, 2021

Very enjoyable story!


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Alice Richardson
08:37 Aug 01, 2021

Ooo. Scary! Good pace and good plot.


Merry Marcellino
14:46 Aug 01, 2021

Thank you, Alice!


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