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"Tales to Terrify Tots"


Prologue
Tales To Terrify Tots - Prologue

By snodlander

“… And they lived happily ever after.  The end.”  Daddy shut the book and kissed Annabelle on the forehead.  “Goodnight, Pumpkin.  Sleep tight, and don’t let the bedbugs bite.”  And, as he did every night when tucking her in, Daddy pretended his fingers were bedbugs, running them over her tickle spots. 

Annabelle giggled, then squirmed down under her covers.  “Goodnight, Daddy.  Don’t bite the bedbugs.”  And, as she always did, she laughed at Daddy’s funny face as he imagined biting bedbugs.

Daddy closed the door, and Annabelle closed her eyes.  Then she opened them.  Something wasn’t quite right.  Mr Clown, propped up against the wall, seemed to be staring at her.  It was only a stuffed toy, but suddenly, in the silent, empty bedroom, it seemed mysteriously alive.  The bookcase next to the window threw a shadow exactly like a monster hiding.  The wardrobe door creaked, as though someone inside had pushed it a little, just enough to see if it was locked.

Annabelle had seen all this before, and knew exactly what it all meant.  The wardrobe door creaked again.  Yes, no doubt about it.  The Bogey Man was back.

Quietly she slid out of her bed and grabbed Teddy.  Then she crept up on the wardrobe on silent feet.  She reached out her hand and grasped the wardrobe door handle.  With one sudden movement she flung open the door.

There stood the Bogey Man, his hand outstretched to give the wardrobe door another creaky push.  For a couple of seconds they just looked at each other, Annabelle with an angry look on her face, the Bogey Man with a look of complete surprise on his.

Then the Bogey Man suddenly pulled himself together, raised both hands above his head and shouted “Waaaaaaaaaaah”.

“Stop that!” commanded Annabelle, and the Bogey Man stopped.

“I’m trying to get some sleep!” she continued.

“And I scared you so much you can’t sleep now?” asked the Bogey Man, hopefully.

Annabelle sighed impatiently.  “No, you’re making the door squeak, and it’s keeping me awake.”

“What, aren’t you even just a little bit scared?”

“No,” answered Annabelle.

“What about the evil clown or the monster by the bookcase?”

“That’s just you trying to be scary, but you’re not very good at it.  Where’s the proper Bogey Man?”

“I am the proper Bogey Man,” said the Bogey Man, straightening himself to his full height, which was hardly worth the effort.

“You’re not the one I usually have.  Are you new?”

“Um … no.  No, I’ve scared loads of children, me.  Lots and lots and lots of them.”

“How many?” demanded Annabelle.

“Oh, I don’t know.  Thousands … hundreds, maybe … scores … a few? … Oh, okay then, yes, I’m new.  This is my first job, and I have to scare you.”  And he lifted his arms above his head again and cried, “Waaaaaaah!”

“I told you to stop that,” Annabelle told him.

“Sorry.”  The Bogey Man seemed to think for a moment, then suddenly turned on Annabelle and said, “I’m going to wait until you fall asleep, and I’m going to eat your brains.”

“I’ve got a teddy,” said Annabelle, in the tone of one who knew how to use it.

“I’ll eat his brains too.”

“Don’t be silly.  He’s just a toy.  He doesn’t have brains, just stuffing.”

“I’ll rip your arm off and hit you with the soggy end,” said the Bogey Man, getting desperate now.

“No you won’t, because you’re not allowed to hurt me.  It’s the rules.  The other Bogey Man told me.”

“He never did!”

“He did too.  You’re not allowed to hurt me, and if you don’t get enough children to scream they demote you and you have to go and scare frogs and worms and stuff.”

It was true that the Bogey Man wasn’t allowed to hurt anybody.  He wasn’t sure about having to scare frogs and worms and stuff if he was bad at his job, but it sounded like it might be true.

“So,” continued Annabelle, “if you don’t want to scare frogs and worms and stuff all your life, you’ll have to tell me a story.”

“A story?  A story?” cried the Bogey Man, aghast.  “What sort of Bogey Men tell little girls stories?  I shan’t do it.”

He folded his arms and looked away from Annabelle.

Annabelle folded her arms and her expression looked like thunder clouds in a summer sky.

“Oh yes you will, Mr Bogey Man.  You will tell me a story, or I will tell on you to the Bogey Man Council, and then they will make you eat slugs and snails, and you’ll only ever be allowed to scare frogs and worms and stuff until you’re so old your beard will go twice around your body.”

The Bogey Man was surprised that such a little person could have such big sentences inside them.  He also thought that might be just what the Council would do to him.  He quite liked eating slugs, but snail shells caught in his teeth.

He sighed.  He knew when he was beaten.

“Okay,” he said, as Annabelle jumped back into bed.  “Once upon a time …”

“And make sure there’s blood and guts and stuff,” she said, snuggling down once more under the covers.

“It was a dark and stormy night …” began the Bogey Man.  He bet it was going to be a long night too.


Chapter 1
The Tale Of The Terror Trees

By snodlander

It was a dark and stormy night.  With each lightning strike the trees froze in eldritch poses as they advanced slowly on the lonely house.

 

“What’s ‘eldritch’ mean?” asked Annabelle. 

 

“It means … it means … weird,” said the Bogey Man, not sure himself.  “Didn’t you know that?  What do they teach you at school?”

 

“Sums and reading and writing.  Why don’t you just say ‘weird’, then?”

 

“Because this is a scary story, and it’s always eldritch in scary stories.  It’s the law.”

 

It was a dark and stormy night.  With each thunderclap the werewolves howled in the forest.

 

“How could there be a full moon if it was raining?  The werewolves wouldn’t know.”

 

“It said it was a full moon in their diaries.”

 

It was a dark and stormy night.  Lots of scary stuff was happening in the woods as the thunderstorm raged at the ground, throwing thunderbolt and lightning into the earth.

 

In the little house by the forest, Anne hid under the blankets in abject terror.

 

“I’m not scared of thunder storms.  I don’t hide under my blankets.”

 

“I didn’t say it was you, did I?  This is a totally different girl, that just happens to be exactly like you.”

 

It wasn’t the thunderstorms that frightened her.  Oh, no.  Only silly babies were scared of thunder and lightning.  I mean, what was the worst it could do?  Strike the roof of her home and burn the house to the ground with her inside.  That was nothing, not for a girl like Anne.  No, there were far more scary things afoot on this evil night.

 

Anne was all alone in the house.  Her Mummy and Daddy, though they said they loved her, were really only looking after her long enough for her to grow big enough to eat.  Because you know what they say, a loved little girl is a tasty little girl.  But on this occasion they had left her all alone in the big, empty, dark, creaky, scary house.  They were off at a special grown-up party where they gossiped about how terrible little children were, and argued about who had the nastiest little child.

 

Which meant that Anne was all alone in the huge, echoing, creepy, terrifying house.  And outside, just a few yards from the garden fence, was the forest!

 

Oh, I can see by your look you don’t think that there is anything frightening about a forest.  You imagine it is just trees, where little birds flit, singing songs to the fluffy bunnies?  Perhaps you’d have a picnic in a shady glade, laughing at the butterflies lightly settling on the summer flowers?

 

Oh, no.  Not this forest, sister.  In this forest the birds try to eat the bunnies before the bunnies can eat the birds.  If a butterfly landed on a flower the flower would just gobble it up.  This is a bad forest.  An evil forest.  A hungry forest.  Hungry … for blood!

 

Now, if grown-ups knew about just how evil the forest was, why, they’d just come along in their bulldozers and tractors and turn it into a shopping mall.  So the forest was clever.  It would only attempt to capture tasty, little, nasty children when there were no grown-ups about.  Like the dark and stormy night I am telling you about.

 

So, between lightning flashes, the trees would drag themselves closer and closer to Anne’s house. She could hear them between thunder claps.  CRASH, drag, drag.  CRASH, drag, drag.  Closer and closer.

 

BANG!  That was the garden fence.  One was in the garden now, getting closer to Anne’s bedroom window.  She could hear the rain splatter against its trunk.  She could hear the wind whistle through its branches.  She risked a peek over the edge of the blanket.  Just at that moment a bolt of lightning lit up the outside like a paparazzi’s flash gun at a nightclub.  Etched in black and white across the ceiling Anne saw the silhouette of a bare and twisted tree.  It was here!  It was right outside the fragile glass of her window.

 

The girl-eating tree tapped at the window, scraping its twigs over the glass.  “Little girl, little girl, open the window and come to us,” it hissed.

 

“Go away, I’m not afraid of you,” called out Anne, though she was very afraid indeed.

 

“Little girl, little girl, come sit on our branches, and we will show you the whole world from up high in the sky,” came the hissing.  This, of course, was a lie.  They just wanted Anne to sit on their branches so that they could rip her into pieces and gobble her up.

 

Anne sat up.  “Could I really see the whole world?”

 

“Yes, yes.  Come to me and I will show you the four corners of the world, and its edges too.”

 

Anne got out of bed and stood on the carpet.  “And would I really be high up in the sky?”

 

“Yes, yes.  As high as the clouds, as high as the birds, as high as the moon itself.”

 

Anne walked towards the window and looked out at the tree.  “I don’t believe you.  You don’t look very tall to me.”

 

“I am taller than a house, I am taller than a telegraph pole, I am taller than the tallest thing you can imagine.”  And the tree stretched itself up to show her.

 

Anne put her hand to the window latch.  “You are quite tall, I suppose, but I’m sure I’ve seen taller trees.”

 

“Taller?  Taller than me?  Impossible!” hissed the tree, and stretched himself to its very highest reach.  “I am the tallest tree in the forest!”

 

At that point there was a blinding flash, and down from the heavens streaked a bolt of lightning, looking for something tall to earth itself on.  With a bang that threw Anne to the floor, the tree exploded in a ball of flame and woodchips.

 

“The tallest,” agreed Anne, picking herself up from the floor.  “And the stupidest.”

 

Anne jumped back into bed, safe in the knowledge that all she had to deal with now was the possibility of the house catching fire.

 

But though she had defeated the tallest (and possibly the stupidest) tree in the forest, Anne knew that this wasn’t the end of it.  Oh, no.  Because outside, beyond the broken-down fence, lurked hundreds of more trees in the evil forest.  On days when dark clouds scudded low across the sky, Anne would hear the trees hissing out for vengeance for their fallen comrade.  If she stole a glance in their direction, she would see them lean towards her, branches reaching out like a million grasping fingers.  Just like that tree there.

 

The Bogey Man pointed to the bedroom window.  Annabel turned to see what he was pointing at.  The Bogey Man poked her in the neck with his bony, stick-like finger.  Annabelle let out a scream so high-pitched dogs for miles around barked.  With an evil laugh the Bogey Man leapt into the wardrobe, seconds before Daddy rushed into the room.

 

Job done!


Chapter 2
The Baby-Sitter Shock

By snodlander

Notes to Mummies, Daddies and other grown-ups who are reading this aloud to your little … darlings.  The font size in this story is indicative of the volume that the story should be read.  The smaller the font, the quieter you should read, the closer to your little … angel you should lean.

 

“You cheated last night!” accused Annabelle.  “I wasn’t scared, you just poked me when I wasn’t looking.”

 

“You screamed and I won,” he answered smugly.  “I am the Bogey Man, and you screamed for your Daddy like a little baby.”

 

“Only because you cheated!  No touching tonight.  No poking when I’m not looking.  That’s cheating!”

 

“I’m the Bogey Man.  I can cheat if I want to.  It’s not in the rules that I can’t cheat.”

 

“Don’t poke tonight.  I’m warning you.  No cheating.”

 

“Okay.”

 

“Promise!”

 

The Bogey Man sighed.  “I swear by the Bogey Man Oath that I will not poke you tonight.”

 

It was a dark and stormy night.

 

“Why is it always a dark and stormy night.  Why can’t it be nice out?”

 

“Because this story I’m telling you is a true story, and it really was dark and stormy on that terrible night when such horrible things happened.”

 

It was a dark and stormy night, but clearing up by morning with sunny spells and light winds by afternoon.

 

Anne was in bed, sulking.  Mum and Dad had gone out again, but after the house had nearly burnt down last time, they had decided to employ a babysitter.  She wasn’t a baby, she was six years old.  Who needed a babysitter when they were six?

 

Besides, as a babysitter, Sue was useless.  As soon as Mum and Dad had left, Sue ordered Anne to bed.  No story, no milky drink, and absolutely no cuddles.  Sue thought that just because she was a teenager she was better than Anne.  But she wasn’t.  Anne could hear her downstairs, playing rock music at full volume.  She was probably reading magazines with titles like ‘Just Sixteen’ or ‘In Love and Suicidal’.  They were probably full of pictures of boys and stories of how to kiss a boy without actually throwing up.

 

What use would she be if the house caught fire?  She probably wouldn’t even notice.  For a while Anne imagined a little story in her head, where the house was burning down.  Sue was trapped in the flames, surrounded by all those inflammable magazines, wishing, oh wishing, that she had been nicer to the little girl that now stood on the lawn, looking in.

 

Anne smiled to herself, because she was blessed with the ability to laugh at the misfortunes of others, or at least when they were imaginary misfortunes.

 

She had just got to the bit where the mayor was awarding her a medal for rescuing Sue from the fire, when she heard the doorbell.  Sue, of course, was too busy dreaming of rock stars and marrying a famous actor to hear.  Besides, she was playing her music so loud even the goblins who lived in the attic were covering their ears.

 

Oh, didn’t you know that every house has evil goblins in the attic?  No?  Well, you do now.

 

Anne thought that it might be the police, coming to tell her that her parents had been killed in an horrific accident on the way to their selfish party.  Or perhaps it was her parents, who had decided that Anne was just the right age to be roasted and served up for Sunday lunch.  Or maybe it was her real parents, who had lost her as a tiny baby, come to tell her that they have a houseful of toys waiting for her.

 

But then Anne thought it was probably none of these things.  It was probably something much more ordinary.  Or much more extraordinary.  And she would never know, because the stupid babysitter was playing her music too loud for her to hear the doorbell.

 

Anne decided to creep down to the front door and peer through the window set in the door.  She wouldn’t open the door, because only an incredibly stupid girl would ever open the door to a stranger.  But if she could stand on the chair and look out, she could see whether it was her parents or an evil monster wanting to come in.  Then it would be Sue’s problem after that.

 

Anne put on her fluffy pink dressing gown, the one with the bunnies on, and opened the bedroom door.  As she crept along the dark landing, the light from the stairwell threw huge shadows in which anything could hide.

 

At the stairs she carefully picked her way downstairs, missing out all the creaky spots that could summon the troll that lived in the cupboard under the stair.

 

Oh, didn’t you know that every house has an evil troll in the cupboard under the stair?  Well, you do now.

 

At the foot of the stair Anne turned towards the door, and there she saw a sight that froze the blood in her heart.  There was no monster the other side of the door.  There was no policeman or stranger.  There wasn’t even her Mum and Dad.  There wasn’t anything the other side of the front door, because, to Anne’s absolute horror, the front door … stood open.

 

Anne gripped the banister in terror.  Who had been at the door?  Where were they now?  How had they opened the door?

 

Suddenly, the din from the lounge snapped off.  Sue’s rock music, that had started the instant Mum and Dad had left, was silenced.  Why?  What had happened to it?

 

With eyes bigger than saucers, Anne started to edge towards the lounge door.  She could see the light spilling under the door, but all sound from the other side was missing.

 

With a hand that trembled more than a jelly in an earthquake, Anne slowly reached out for the door handle.  She didn’t want to see what horror lay beyond that dread portal, but she was compelled to find out, as though she were being moved by some unseen force.

 

Pushing the door open with an eerie creak, Anne crept in.

 

There, in the middle of the floor, lay Sue.  She was quite, quite still.  Deathly still.

 

“Sue?” queried Anne, her voice as tiny as a mouse, as quivering as an icy rain drop down the back of your neck.  Sue did not respond.

 

Looking anxiously around, Anne slowly advanced, dreading what she might discover.

 

“Sue?” she whispered, in a voice as rasping as Daddy’s chin when he hadn’t shaved.

 

By now she was as close to Sue as I am to you.  She leant over her, like this, trying to see if Sue was still breathing.

 

Sue’s eyelids fluttered, then opened.  She licked her lips, as though they were too dry to speak.  She breathed a word, so quietly, so gently, that Anne, close as she was, could not make sense of it.

 

“What, Sue?  What did you say?  I didn’t hear,” whispered the little girl, bending over even lower, like this.

 

Sue swallowed, then said …

 

She said …

 

“Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagh!”

 

Annabelle screamed in surprise at the Bogey Man’s sudden shout, and the Bogey Man danced towards the wardrobe.  “Annie screamed for Mummy, Annie screamed for Mummy,” he chanted in a sing-song voice.  The wardrobe door closed behind him just as Mummy ran into the room.

 


Chapter 3
The Beast With Five Fingers

By snodlander

Annabelle was sitting up in bed, arms folded, a look of determined disapproval on her face.

 

“Ready to scream for your parents again?” the Bogey Man asked, stepping out from the wardrobe.

 

“You didn’t scare me.  I just wasn’t ready for that shout.”

 

“I wonder if it will be Mummy or Daddy that comes tonight, when you scream like a baby again.”

 

She shook her head.  “I’m not going to scream tonight.”

 

“You’re not going to scream … again?”

 

She shook her head again.  “And it had better not be a dark and stormy night, either.”

 

It was a bright and sunny day, the last ever time Anne went to her piano lesson.

 

“I can play ‘Chopsticks’ on the piano.”

 

“I can play the funeral march on the ribcage of a skeleton,” answered the Bogey Man, grinning.

 

Anne wasn’t the sort of girl that simply played ‘Chopsticks’.  Any baby can play ‘Chopsticks’.  (“I’m not a baby!” retorted Annabelle)  Anne went to proper piano lessons at a proper piano lesson house.

 

Anne hated the piano.  Not in the way that you might hate carrots, say.  Or the way you hate kissing Aunty Joan, who has whiskers and smells of old cats.  Anne hated the piano in the ‘murder with an axe then bury in the back yard’ way.  Anne hated having to stretch her fingers.  She hated having to practice the same stupid tunes over and over again.  She hated it when she hit the wrong note, which was too often.  She hated the piano and everything to do with it.

 

But most of all, more than anything else in the whole world, Anne hated her piano teacher: Miss Johnson!  Every Sunday afternoon Anne would be dragged to Miss Johnson’s house by her mother, music book clasped under her arm.  She would have to sit in the dark hallway, swinging her feet and staring at the framed embroidery hanging on the wall, which said, ‘Bless This House’ in faded wool.  Ha!  That hadn’t worked, had it!

 

Then it would be her turn.  She would be pushed gently but firmly into the room by her mother.  Then she would spend half an hour that seemed like all the boring bits of an entire lifetime, all rolled up and stuffed into Miss Johnson’s small parlour room.

 

Anne hated Miss Johnson for all the boring misery she poured into Anne’s Sunday afternoons.

 

And so it was a bright and sunny day, the very last time that Anne visited Miss Johnson.  But Anne didn’t notice.  It could have been a dark and stormy night, for all the joy that was in her heart.  Maybe, if Anne had known that Miss Johnson was going to be horribly murdered later that same day, maybe then Anne would have been happier.

 

Miss Johnson didn’t seem to be herself, that fateful afternoon.  She still winced when Anne hit a wrong note, but her heart didn’t seem to be in it.  And she forgot to give Anne any homework to practice, which was unheard of.

 

But Anne thought no more of it, happy only that she had got a welcome escape that week.

 

But the next day, the neighbourhood was full of gossip.  Had you heard the news?  Miss Johnson had been murdered!  Strangled in her own home.

 

But that was not the worst of it.  Oh, no.  Not by a long chalk.  The undertakers came and took the body away, but later, when they came to put the lid on the coffin, they were greeted by a sight that … that … No!  It’s too awful, I can’t say.

 

“Don’t you dare!  Don’t you dare stop there, Mr Bogey Man,” commanded Annabelle.  “What did they find?”

 

“You’re just a girl.  You’re far too little to hear.  Would you like to hear about the three bears instead?” teased the Bogey Man.

 

“No!  I’m not too little.  I asked you for blood and guts days ago, and now you’ve got to some, you can’t stop.”

 

When they came to put the lid on the coffin, they weren’t prepared for the grisly sight that they beheld.  Men hardened to dealing with dead people all day went white as sheets.  For there, lying in the coffin, was Miss Johnson, her arms crossed over her chest.  In her left hand she held a butcher’s knife, dripping with congealed blood.  Of her right hand there was no sign.  It was totally missing from the blood-soaked stump of her arm.

 

But even that, horrible as it is, is still not the worst of it.  Oh, no.  I wish it were so, but there is even worse to come.

 

A few days later, little Johnny Thompson was asleep in his bed.  He had been a pupil of Miss Johnson.  He awoke to hear their piano playing in the dead of the night.  He crept downstairs to investigate the noise.  They found him there the next morning, in his pyjamas, strangled to death.

 

The next week, the same thing happened to little Amy Cartwright.  Then to Billy Martin, and he could only play ‘Chopsticks’.  The police never found the murderer, but everyone knew who it was.  It was the ghostly hand of Miss Johnson, blood clotted at the wrist, creeping through the night on its fingers like a ghostly crab.  It was taking vengeance on all those children that played the piano badly.

 

Even now, in the dead of night, it scurries around in the dark, looking to fling itself around the throat of some unsuspecting person, and strangle them to death.

 

Suddenly a disembodied hand grabbed the Bogey Man by the throat.  His eyes bulged as he made horrid choking noises, frantically pulling at the five-fingered beast with his left hand.  Annabelle’s hands flew to her throat and she screamed.

 

The Bogey Man stopped and grinned.  The phantom hand turned, and waved at Annabelle.  Now she could see that it was the Bogey Man’s own hand, that he had slid up inside his sweatshirt and was now peeking out of the neckline.

 

Annabelle grabbed a pillow and hurled it at her laughing tormentor.  It bounced harmlessly off of the wardrobe door as he slipped away, just in time to miss the arrival of an irritated Daddy.


Chapter 4
The Bed Monster

By snodlander

The wardrobe door creaked open, and long, bony fingers slowly wrapped themselves around the edge of the door.

 

“Oh, no!  It’s the dismembered hand, coming to get you,” called the Bogey Man, from inside the wardrobe.

 

“Oh, ha ha,” answered Annabelle, sarcastically.

 

The Bogey Man appeared and checked his appearance in the mirror.

 

“A hat-trick.  Three screams in a row,” he said, adjusting the hang of his jacket.  “I wouldn’t be surprised if the Grand Council gave me a commendation.”

 

“Not tonight, they won’t.  I’m going to be as quiet as a mouse.”

 

“Even mice scream,” said the Bogey Man.  “Right before you eat them.”

 

“Eeeeewwww, you’re disgusting!”

 

“Yes, it’s my gift.  Wait!  What’s that?”

 

The Bogey Man held up a finger for silence and listened intently.

 

“What?” whispered Annabelle.

 

“That!  It sounds like … Oh, I hope it’s not!”

 

“What?  What?”

 

The Bogey Man grabbed a tennis racquet that was leaning against the wall (Annabelle wasn’t the tidiest girl in the world).  He squared up to Annabelle’s bed and gingerly took hold of the edge of the sheet.  Suddenly he whipped the sheet up and swung the racquet wildly to and fro under the bed.  Then he bent down low and checked underneath.

 

“Oops, my mistake.  I thought I heard a bed monster, but it must have been wall elves.”

 

“What are wall elves?”

 

“They’re elves that live in the walls, of course.  They wait until you’re asleep, then they creep out, pick their noses and then wipe the snot all over your face while you sleep.  Didn’t you know about evil wall elves?  Well, you do now.”

 

“Ew!  I can’t hear anything,” Said Annabelle, listening to the wall.

 

“Exactly!  They make no noise whatsoever.  That’s how you know they’re there.  Anne had a run-in with a bed monster, once.”

 

I can’t remember what the weather was doing on that particular night, when Anne met the bed monster.  The events were so horrible, so gruesome, that my mind has erased many of the details.  If I could remember it all, I’m sure that it would have driven me mad by now.

 

Anne became the unfortunate owner of a Bed Monster.  Bed Monsters are strange creatures.  They live inside the mattresses of children.  Mattresses are warm and snug, and if the Bed Monster is lucky enough to be owned by a bed-wetter, it’s nice and damp, too.

 

“Eew, gross!”

 

“Don’t knock sleeping in a wee-soaked mattress until you’ve tried it.”

 

“You are so disgusting!”

 

Not only is it nice and warm there, the Bed Monster gets to eat as well.  As the little child sleeps, so little flakes of skin rub off and fall into the mattress.

 

“Yuck!  It eats skin?”

 

Now, Bed Monsters don’t eat these flakes of skin, because they are too small.  But the bed bugs do, and then the Bed Monster eats up all the bed bugs.  But by now, naturally, the bed bugs taste of little children.  So the Bed Monster begins to get a taste for little children.

 

During the day, the child is perfectly safe, because the Bed Monster is inside the dark, warm, moist mattress, and so full of bed bugs that it can’t get out.  But when a child lies down on the bed, and especially if the child bounces up and down on the bed, it squeezes the Bed Monster out of the mattress and onto the floor.

 

When this happens, heaven help the unwary child.  The Bed Monster becomes irritable, because it has been kicked out of its home.  It becomes angry, because the fluff gets up its nose.  And it becomes very, very hungry.

 

The Bed Monster is a coward.  It could quite easily jump out from under the bed and devour a child, even if that child was awake.  But it is too scared.  It will never attack a child face to face.  But, if it sees an opportunity, that’s different.  If it’s a warm night, or if the nightmare pixies make the sleeping child restless …

 

Oh, didn’t you know about the evil nightmare pixies?  Well, you do now.

 

Then, maybe the careless boy or girl will drape an arm over the edge of the bed.  Or perhaps a leg will drop to the floor.  And from under the bed the Bed Monster will see the limb, like a fish sees a worm.  He will lick his lips and listen to the rumble in his tummy.  Slowly he will reach out with both powerful, taloned hands.

 

And then Snick!  Snock!  Snack!  He has the hapless little child in his grips, under the bed.  Then he swallows them whole, starting at the toes, so that the last thing to disappear is the head.  By the time Mummy and Daddy come to check up on their little darling, the Bed Monster has been absorbed back into the mattress.

 

There is one, and only one, defence against this evil and cowardly monster.  Never, ever turn your back on it.  All the time you are facing the Bed Monster, it will not, it cannot, attack you.

 

Anne, being a clever girl, and not at all a baby, recognised the signs.  One night she heard all the sounds that weren’t there, and knew that the noises that weren’t happening were not being made by the Bed Monster.  That’s always a give-away there is a Bed Monster: when you can’t hear it at all.

 

She told her parents, but grown-ups are stupid, especially Mums and Dads, when it comes to creatures such as the Bed Monster.  They didn’t believe her, and told her to get straight to bed.  So she bravely climbed onto the bed.  As she did so, she could imagine the Bed Monster being squeezed out underneath.

 

She knelt on the bed, facing the edge.  “I know you’re there, Mr Bed Monster,” she said, for it always pays to be polite to monsters.  “I am facing the edge of the bed, so you can’t come out.  I am going to face the edge all night, and every night, so you had best not think of trying to eat me.”

 

So she knelt there, facing the edge, defying the evil Bed Monster.  But Anne had forgotten one thing.  One very important thing, that would cost her dear, that would put her very life at risk.

 

“What?  What had she forgotten?” asked Annabelle, anxiously.

 

She had forgotten that …

 

Suddenly, the Bogey Man sat down on the floor, his legs under Annabelle’s bed.  His face was a picture of horror.

 

“It’s got me,” he wailed.

 

Annabelle clamped her hands to her mouth.  She would not scream this time.

 

The Bogey man dropped down so that his face was level with the bedspread, his hands gripping onto the bed for dear life.

 

“Help me,” he cried.

 

Then he jerked further down, so that now all that Annabelle could see was his hands, then they, too, disappeared.

 

“I know you’re only trying to make me scream,” said Annabelle, determined not to be tricked again.  But just to make sure, she knelt on the bed, facing the edge under which the Bogey Man had been pulled.

 

“Come on out, Mr Bogey Man,” she called.  “There’s no such thing as Bed Monsters.”  (But it wouldn’t hurt to keep facing the edge, would it?)

 

There was a burp that shook the bed and rattled the chest of drawers.  The Bogey Man’s jacket flew from under the bed and landed by the wardrobe.

 

“I know that’s you, because only you could be that disgusting,” she said, leaning forward.

 

“Mr Bogey Man?”  Annabelle leant even further forward, but she wasn’t going to let her hand or foot drop to the floor.

 

Suddenly from behind her two strong, bony hands grabbed her ankles and pulled.  Annabelle screamed in terror and tried to kick the Bed Monster away.  She rolled over onto her back, and there was the Bogey Man, grinning.

 

“What Anne forgot,” he said, “was that a bed has two sides.”

 

And he sauntered over to the wardrobe, picked up his jacket, and left.


Chapter 5
The Attic Goblins

By snodlander

Annabelle heard the Bogey Man before he appeared.

"Four Nil, four nil, four nil, four nil," he sang, from inside the wardrobe.


"It's not nice to gloat, you know," said Annabelle, as he swaggered into the bedroom.


"But gloating is better than losing," he answered, moving to her bedside.


"I knew it was you."


"But you still screamed."


"Anyway, I don't believe in the Bed Monster," she said, crossing her arms firmly across her chest.


"But you still screamed," repeated the Bogey Man.


"You tricked me."


The Bogey Man looked up at the ceiling and frowned.


"Hmm-hmm," he agreed, preoccupied.  "How long have you had goblins in the attic?"


"Don't try to change the subject.  You cheated.  Again," she accused.


He returned his gaze to Annabelle.  "Oh, I won't need to cheat tonight.  Not when I tell you about Anne and the Attic Goblins."


Most houses have attic goblins.  They're called attic goblins because they're goblins, and, well, they live in people's attics.  They're mostly in the attics, anyway.  Except when they're really hungry.  But they're hardly ever so hungry that they leave the attic to hunt for food.  Hardly ever at all.  Normally they have enough to eat:  Rats that run up the inside of the walls; pigeons that fly in under the eaves; sometimes a mouse for dessert.  The rat doesn't know, of course.  There it is, scurrying around in the dark, when suddenly a goblin will pounce on it, and then it's all over.  The worst bit is the blood.

"They suck blood?" asked Annabelle, aghast.


"No, that's the whole point."


Goblins eat every little bit of what they can catch, except for the blood.  They hate blood.  They cannot abide it.  To them it tastes like ice cream.  Oh, you might think, 'what's wrong with tasting like ice cream?'  Well, let me ask you, would you like to eat rat-flavoured ice cream?  So they squeeze every little drop from their food before they eat it.

But what do you think would happen if the people in the house noticed the gallons of blood sloshing around in the attic?  Why, they'd bring in the goblin exterminator in a trice.  In half a trice, probably.  So the attic goblins use magic to make it invisible.  You could have a swimming pool of blood and not notice it.  At best you'd think you had a burst pipe.

Normally, there are enough creepy-crawlies to feed a family of goblins in an attic.  But sometimes the family grows.  A few extra goblin mouths to feed, and suddenly a rat can only go so far.  They have to go look for more food.  Out of the attic, where they are no bother to the people in the house at all.  Down the walls and onto the landing.  Down the stairs and through the house.  Looking for dinner.  Something nice and juicy that they can bite the heads off.

The Bogey Man looked up at Annabelle’s ceiling again and pursed his lips, as though he was thinking of something.


Anyway, Anne had attic goblins, but they were no nuisance.  Anne quite liked the idea that any rats that happened to be scurrying around were being eaten.  But one night, deep in the dark stillness, Anne woke suddenly.  She was sure that she had heard something.  Had Sparky, her dog, been barking?  She listened intently.  No, there was no dog barking at all.

Then she heard a scurrying, scrabbling noise from the ceiling.  Oh, it had just been the attic goblins.  That was okay, then.  And without another thought, she went back to sleep.

The next morning, Anne noticed an invisible stain on her bedroom ceiling.

“How could she see it if it was invisible?” demanded Annabelle.


“How could she not see it?  It was right above her head,” the Bogey Man replied.


The next morning Anne washed and dressed herself, then joined Mummy and Daddy at the breakfast table.

“Have you had Sparky in your bedroom again?” asked her Daddy.

Anne never kept Sparky in her room any more, because it was against the rules.  Unless he sneaked in when Anne wasn’t looking.  Sometimes Anne had to not look very hard indeed to miss Sparky sneaking into her bedroom, because Sparky wasn’t very good at the quiet type of sneaking.  Noisy sneaking was his speciality.
“No, Daddy,” Anne replied, because this time she hadn’t accidentally on purpose not noticed him.

“He’s probably run off to meet a new friend,” her Mummy said.  “He’ll be back later.

“Darling,” she continued to Daddy.  “We need to get a man in.  I’m sure I heard something in the attic last night.  I don’t want rats or pigeons infesting the place.”

“Oh, no,” explained Anne.  “Those are the attic goblins you heard.”

“Honestly, Anne,” sighed Dad.  “Attic goblins?  Where do you get these ideas from?  I blame television.  We don’t need to get a man in, Honey.  I’ll check it out tonight when I get back from work.”

Sparky didn’t return that morning, and when Anne got back from school, he still hadn’t.  “Don’t worry, darling,” soothed Mummy.  “He’ll come back when he’s hungry.”

That night, when Anne went to bed, the invisible patch was bigger.  “Why is it getting bigger?” she thought to herself.  “And where has Sparky got to?”

Outside on the landing, she heard Daddy setting up the stepladder.  Daddy wasn’t very good at the quiet sort of sneaking either.  She heard him bang the ladder on the banisters.  Then there was the clomp-bang of him resting the end of the ladder on the floor.  Next was the squeak of the legs being unfolded.  Finally there was the muffled noise that sounded like Daddy shouting with his hand over his mouth, which meant that yet again he had caught his finger in the ladder.

After Anne had made a careful note to ask Daddy what the words he had used meant, she heard him climb the ladder and open the attic trapdoor.

“I can’t see any rats,” he called out.

“Well, of course you can’t,” Mummy replied.  “They will have heard you galumphing about and ran off.  Look for rat droppings.”

Anne heard Daddy muttering indistinctly as he climbed into the attic.  She heard the ceiling creak as he trod slowly over her room.  Then there was a sudden rushing, rustling noise, almost exactly like seventeen attic goblins leaping out of hiding places and running forward.

There was a thump on the ceiling, and to Anne’s horror, she saw the invisible stain above her head grow even bigger.  Then a great big dollop of invisible liquid fell from the ceiling, directly onto Anne’s head.

The Bogey Man paused and again looked at the ceiling.  “Where is your Dad this evening, anyway?  Does that stain look bigger to you?”


Annabelle looked up at the ceiling, and a big dollop of cold, wet liquid hit her in the face.  She screamed with the shock of it and turned to the Bogey Man.  The Bogey Man was sitting there with a great big grin on his face, dipping his long fingers into the glass of water Annabelle kept on her bedside table.  He flicked some more water at her.


“Oops, I accidentally spilled some water on your face.  I’d get a new glass, by the way.  I haven’t washed my hands for weeks.”


Then he made an odd, quiet roaring noise, like an audience cheering very, very quietly.


“Thank you, thank you.  No, really, it was easy.  She’s only a little girl, after all.  She screams so easily,” he said, bowing to his imaginary audience.  Then he leapt into the wardrobe before Annabelle could throw the rest of her water at him.


Chapter 6
The Tooth Fairies

By snodlander

The Bogey Man was carrying a glass when he came back the next night.  He giggled as he dipped his fingers in and flicked them at Annabelle.

“Stop it!” ordered Annabelle.  “Flicking water at people isn’t nice.”


The Bogey Man put the glass away in his pocket.  Annabelle wondered how it didn’t spill.


“Actually, it’s not water.  I’ve had a runny nose.”


“Ewwwwww!” cried Annabelle.  “How can you be so gross?”


“It’s practice.  Had any more invisible blood drop on you?”


“There’s no such thing as invisible blood.  You just made that up.”


The Bogey Man held his hands to his face, pretending to be shocked.  “You mean, you screamed over something that doesn’t really exist?  How stupid do you feel?”


“I’m not stupid!  You tricked me!”


“I’m the Bogey Man.  What do you expect?  It’s my job to make you scream.  And you scream so beautifully.  Anne hardly ever screamed.  Though I remember she did once.”


One evening Anne asked her Dad why Sparky was acting so strangely.

“Wait a minute!  I thought the attic goblins had eaten Sparky and her Daddy,” interrupted Annabelle.


“Oh, Annabelle.  I thought you said that was all make-believe.  No, it was just a burst pipe in the attic.”


“Really?”


“No, not really.  The attic goblins ate them all up, right enough.”


“Do you tell fibs all the time?” asked Annabelle, confused.


“No, I never lie,” lied the Bogey Man.


Sparky kept barking at the walls, as though they were alive.  Sometimes he would bark at the dresser in the living room, whining at the doors.

“It’s probably those rats,” said Mum.

Dad sighed.  “There are no rats.  No attic goblins either,” he added quickly, before Anne could say anything.  “It was just a burst pipe.  Sparky is just … just … I don’t know.  Maybe he has been listening to Anne’s stories too much.”

Anne scowled, but her Dad wasn’t looking any more.  But now that she had noticed Sparky’s odd behaviour, she started to feel uncomfortable.  Every now and then she thought she could hear a faint scrabbling in the walls.  If she held her ear really, really close to the wall, she could almost swear she heard whispering. 

Not wall elves, then.  Wall elves are silent.

Not attic goblins, either.  They would never climb down from the attic while Mummy and Daddy were around.

That could only leave … no, surely not.  Anne ran her tongue around her mouth.  No, none of her teeth were in the slightest bit loose.  There were no gaps either.  So it couldn’t be them.

Could it?

“Who?” asked Annabelle.  “Who couldn’t it be?”


The Bogey Man smiled.  “It couldn’t be … them.”


Annabelle sighed.  “That’s no help, is it?”


“Nope,” giggled the Bogey Man.  “None whatsoever.”


Just to make sure, after dinner, when the table had been cleared away and Mummy and Daddy were in the living room, Anne opened the door at the bottom of the dresser.  Inside, she moved the crockery around, looking.

And there it was.  Behind the china jug that Mum never used, there was a hole in the back of the dresser.  Not a big hole.  Just big enough for them to get through.

“Who get through?” Annabelle asked.


Peeking through the hole, Anne could see another hole, the same size, in the wall behind.

Well, that was odd.  Why would tooth pixies be digging holes in the living room?  Why would they be digging holes in the walls anyway?  Anne didn’t have any gaps in her teeth.

“Fairies!” exclaimed Annabelle.  “It’s tooth fairies, not tooth pixies.  Whoever heard of tooth pixies?”


Tooth pixies, as Anne knew, because she wasn’t stupid; tooth pixies work with the tooth fairies in the distribution of baby teeth.  Anne knew, unlike some other stupid girls I could mention …

“I’m not stupid!  Stop calling me stupid!”


… Anne knew that tooth fairies take baby teeth away from small boys and girls when they fall out.  Then the tooth pixies take the teeth to boys and girls who are missing teeth.  They creep out in the middle of the night, with a tooth in one hand and their big silver hammer in the other.  Slowly they creep out of the wall, into the bedside table, onto the bed where the poor child is fast asleep.  Then they take hold of the poor child’s nose and hold it closed.  When the boy or girl opens his or her mouth to breathe, the pixie takes the tooth and hammer…

“No!  They don’t.  Don’t say it,” cried Annabelle, her hand flying to her mouth.


They put the tooth in the mouth, and then raise the hammer high over their heads.

“Ooh, that’s horrible,” wailed Annabelle.


Then they bring the hammer down as hard as they can, hammering the tooth into the gap.

But Anne wasn’t worried, not one tiny little bit, because she didn’t have any gaps in her teeth for the tooth pixies to hammer in any new ones.  It was annoying, though, lying on her bed that night.  The tooth pixies were scurrying around in the wall, whispering.  She could hear them scrabbling at the plaster, finding a hidden spot where they could sneak out undiscovered.

“Be quiet!” she called, but to no avail.  Finally, in an effort to block out the noise, she buried her head under the pillow.  At last she gained some peace, and slowly drifted off to sleep.

But Anne was wrong.  They weren’t tooth pixies at all.  They were tooth fairies.  And you know what tooth fairies do, don’t you?  They find their way into children’s bedrooms, looking for teeth that have been left under the pillow.  And Anne’s whole head was under hers.  Did you know that it isn’t just the tooth pixies that carry silver tooth hammers?

“Wait!  What’s that?” the Bogey Man exclaimed, listening to the wall by the head of Annabelle’s bed.


Annabelle sighed.  “I know you’re just trying to trick me,” she said.


“No, really, this time I can really hear something.”


Annabelle placed her ear to the wall.  “I know there’s no such thing as tooth pixies,” she said.


But when Annabelle placed her ear up close, she could hear a scrabbling, scratching sound.  She turned to the Bogey Man, her eyes wide.  The Bogey Man returned her look, his face a picture of fear.


“I think it’s coming from your bedside table,” he said.


The pair of them moved their ear closer to the bedside table.  It was true; it did seem to be coming from the cupboard in the table.


The Bogey Man slowly stretched out his hand towards the handle of the cupboard.  Annabelle shook her head, silently pleading for him to keep the door closed.  Carefully he turned the handle and gently pulled the door open.  Suddenly the scratching sound became a drumbeat, like a hundred elephants disco dancing.  The cupboard door flew open and the Bogey Man fell backwards.  Annabelle screamed.


The Bogey Man laughed.  He drummed his long black fingernails against the edge of the table.  He scratched them against the wall.  It sounded just like a troop of tooth pixies trying to dig their way through.


He scrabbled his fingernails along the wall as he made his way back to the wardrobe.  “Sweet dreams,” he laughed, then closed the door.


Chapter 7
The Killer Slugs

By snodlander

Annabelle heard the scratching and rustling against the wardrobe door.
 
“I know it’s you, Mr Bogey Man,” she accused.
 
“Are you sure it’s not the tooth fairies?” came the Bogey Man’s voice from inside the wardrobe.
 
“I know it’s you, so you might as well come out now.”
 
The Bogey Man came out of the wardrobe, a smug grin on his face.  “Yes, it is I, the scary, frightening, makes-baby-Annabelle-scream Bogey Man.”
 
“You only trick me into screaming.  You can’t make me scream like a proper Bogey Man should,” said Annabelle, ignoring the ‘baby’ insult.
 
“A scream is a scream,” said the Bogey Man, ignoring the ‘proper Bogey Man’ insult.
 
“What’s the story tonight?  Has it got blood in it?”
 
“No, worse, much worse,” giggled the Bogey Man.
 
“Has it got guts and broken bones?”
 
“Oh no, much, much worse than that,” laughed the Bogey Man, hugging himself with glee.
 
It was not a stormy night.  It very nearly might have been.  The rain had poured and poured so much for the past week it was like the whole world had wanted to take a bath.  It had rained so much grown men with sensible clothes had started to borrow books from the library on ship building, and were considering whether they needed planning permission to build a jetty in their back gardens.
 
The sun was just a distant memory, as the whole world tuned grey and soggy, like Weetabix that has been left in the bowl too long.  And gradually the moisture began to soak into everything.  Anne’s clothes felt damp, even when she put them on in the morning.  The inside of the windows were as wet as the outside.  The floors and walls felt damp and unpleasant to the touch.
 
The people, too, seemed wet.  Their spirits seemed dampened.  Mum complained about not being able to dry the washing.  Dad complained about the government letting it rain for so long.  The postman complained about the rain that ran down his neck and the milkman complained that the water was making his milk float run slowly.
 
Everything and everyone was grey and damp and miserable.
 
So when Anne went to bed, it wasn’t stormy outside, it was just raining steadily like it had all week.  It rained as if it had every intention of raining all next week too.  And the worst thing about rain, apart form its wetness, is that it is so boring.  So Anne was damp and miserable and bored.  If she had known what had happened next door at the Joneses, and what was going to happen that night in her house, she would not have been bored.  No indeed.  She might have been horrified, terrified, any sort of –fied at all, but not bored.
 
Earlier that day she had gone next door to see if Sean Jones wanted to play.  Sean was about Anne’s age, but he was a boy.  He thought all the games that Anne wanted to play were silly.  Anne thought everything that Sean thought and said and did and played was silly.  But she was just so bored, even spending an hour with Sean would be better than staring out of the window at the grey rain.
 
When she knocked at the door, Sean’s Mum led her into the lounge.  She seemed odd, different somehow.  She had a faraway look in her eyes, as though she couldn’t see Anne at all.  Sean’s Dad sat in the armchair and didn’t even look in her direction.  Most odd.
 
Sean was sitting on the sofa in front of the television.  His eyes were unfocused and his mouth was half-open.  He was staring at the screen as if hypnotised.  So at least he was the same as usual, anyway.  But he didn’t want to play any games.  He didn’t want to chat.  He didn’t even want to call Anne names until she cried.  That was most unusual.
 
After a little while Anne decided that spending an hour with Sean would be even more boring than staring at the rain, so she left.  This was just as well, for if she had stayed a little longer, she would have met … the Slugs!
 
Annabelle shrugged.  “What’s so awful about slugs?” she asked.  “I mean, they’re yucky, but so what?”
 
You may well ask, what’s so awful about slugs.  But these weren’t the common or garden slugs that eat your favourite flowers and hide under the rocks.  Oh dear me, no.  These were super slugs.  The rain had driven them out from the garden and into the Joneses cellar.  There, in the damp, warm air, they had mutated into super, killer, mutant slugs.  Then, when the Joneses had gone to bed, they had slithered up the stairs, under the door, onto the pillow, then slithered their way into their ears.  For these slugs did not eat flowers and leaves, oh no.  These were evil, killer, mutant slugs that feasted on brains.
 
Shortly after Anne had left the Joneses, a monster slug oozed out of Sean’s ear.  The slug was still hungry, because Sean, being a young boy, didn’t have much of a brain for the slug to eat.  It sniffed the air.  There was a scent there, a hint of … puppy?  Sausage sandwich?  No!  It was the smell of a girl, one who had recently taken a bath in … raspberry? … cranberry? … No, strawberry bubble bath.  A clever little girl.  A brainy little girl!
 
The slug started to follow the trail of clean-smelling, nice-tasting, brain-oozing little girl across the floor, under the door, out towards Anne’s house.  Now, monster, mutant, killer or not, a slug is still a slug, and slugs move very slowly, so it was hours before it reached the front door of Anne’s house.  Well after bed-time.  It listened with its slug’s ears …
 
“Slugs don’t have ears,” interrupted Annabelle.
 
It listened with its invisible, killer, mutant ears, then, when it was satisfied that all was quiet, it squirmed under the door.  It slithered up the stairs and slimed along the landing, following the trail to Anne’s bedroom door.
 
Anne was fast asleep, snoring gently in a most unlady-like fashion.  The slug oozed under the door, leaving a cupful of slime dripping onto the floor.  It oozed over to the leg of Anne’s bed.  It froze as still as a statue when Anne, dreaming, suddenly said, “Cheese sandwiches.”  Though why anyone would carve a statue of a slug is beyond me.
 
Then it slobbered its way up the bed leg and onto the bedcovers.  Gradually it crept up the bed, getting closer and closer to Anne.  Anne shifted in her sleep, and turned her head to one side.  The slug could see her ear hole, as inviting as the doorway to a burger bar or pizza palace.
 
The Bogey Man paused and sniffed the air.  “Can you smell that?” he asked.
 
“What?” asked Annabelle, puzzled.
 
“A sort of slimy, squishy, slurpy smell.  Where’s it coming from?”
 
The Bogey Man sucked the end of his disgustingly dirty finger and held the wet digit in the air.
 
“Hmmmm.  It seems to be coming from over there,” and he pointed to the pillow on the other side of Annabelle.
 
Annabelle whirled round to see if the killer, mutant, zombie slug was on her pillow.  Quicker than a slug, the Bogey Man plunged his spit-wet finger into her ear.  The scream was so loud it cracked a mirror in the hallway.
 
The Bogey Man took his finger from her ear and sucked the end, much to Annabelle’s disgust.
 
“Hmmmm.  You’ve not got anything to worry about,” he said, on the way to the wardrobe.  “Not enough brains there to feed a baby slug.”
 


Chapter 8
The Snot Shoveller

By snodlander

The Bogey Man came out of the wardrobe, dressed in matching shirt and shorts.  The pattern on the shirt and shorts showed palm trees and beaches, bright blue sea and bright blue sky.  He wore sun glasses and a straw hat.
 
“Hello,” he said.  “Brrrrr, isn’t it chilly in here.  I can’t wait to arrive somewhere hot and sunny for my holidays.”
 
“You’re going on holiday?  I would never have guessed,” said Annabelle, sarcastically.
 
“Yes, I expect it will be somewhere exotic.  The council will be so pleased with me.  I can’t think of any other Bogey Man that gets a little girl to scream for her Mummy and Daddy quite so often.  How are they, by the way?  Have they lost a lot of sleep running into your bedroom?”
 
“Oh, ha de ha.  Very funny, I don’t think.”  Annabelle could be very sarcastic indeed, when she put her mind to it.
 
“I could do with a holiday, actually.  I think I’m getting a bit of a cold.  Probably flu.  Maybe even pneumonia.”  The Bogey Man gave a dramatic shudder.  “I hope the Snot Shoveller leaves me alone.”
 
“Ew!  The what?” asked Annabelle, then immediately wished she hadn’t.
 
The Snot Shoveller (as any child knows, who has listened to her teacher at school) the Snot Shoveller is a creature who, well, shovels snot.  Tons of it, every night.  Have you ever gone to bed, your nostrils as open as a road tunnel, your breath howling through your nose like the wind, not a blockage in sight?  But then, when you wake up the next morning, your nose is so full of snot you can hardly force a finger up there to pick it all out.
 
“That’s horrible.  This is going to be one of those gross stories, isn’t it?” asked Annabelle, revolted.  The Bogey Man just grinned.
 
Well, that’s because of the Snot Shoveller.  It’s his job to make sure that the snot is evenly distributed around the world.  He runs around with a wheelbarrow full of snot, taking some from the noses of people who have too much snot, then stuffs them up the noses of those that have too little.
 
He has a special snot shovel.  Actually, he has hundreds of them.  They are so small and delicate, they keep breaking, so he has a warehouse full of them.  You might have seen them.  When he has used a shovel a few times he sells it.  You wouldn’t want him to use a snotty shovel on your nose, now would you?  So he sells the snotty ones to ice-cream manufacturers, who then stick them to the tubs of ice-creams as a spoon.  They like the Snot Shoveller’s snot shovels, because they don’t have to buy any glue to stick the spoons to the ice-cream lids.
 
“I don’t believe you!  Ice-cream makers wouldn’t be so horrible,” cried Annabelle.
 
“No, I’m sure you’re right,” said the Bogey Man.  “You’re almost certainly right.  Probably definitely maybe almost right.  You enjoy your raspberry ripple next time you’re on the beach.”
 
Anne went to bed, one dark, cold winter’s night.  Her nose was as empty as a baby girl’s head.
 
“I keep telling you, I’m not a baby!” exclaimed Annabelle.
 
“I’m sorry, I’ll change it,” replied the Bogey Man, sniffing.
 
Anne’s nose was as empty as your head.  It was as clear as a classroom at midnight.  It was so clean you could have eaten your dinner out of it.  So she drifted off to sleep without a snort or a snore.  Unlike certain people I could mention.
 
“I don’t snore!” retorted Annabelle.
 
“Have you stayed awake to listen to yourself sleeping?” asked the Bogey Man.  And while Annabelle tried to work out what he had just asked, he continued.
 
Unfortunately for Annabelle, various coincidences coincided that night that spelled disaster for her.
 
The first coincidence was that the Snot Shoveller on duty that night was new to the job.
 
“Like certain people I could mention,” interrupted Annabelle.  The Bogey Man ignored her.
 
It was his first night out alone.  He really should have been with someone experienced, who knew all the ins and outs of snot shovelling.  But they were short staffed.  It might surprise you to learn that not many people leaving school want a job as a snot shoveller.
 
The second coincidence was that the sudden cold snap in the weather had given a lot of people the sniffles.
 
The Bogey Man sniffled again, then dragged his nose the length of his sleeve, leaving a silver trail on his holiday shirt.  Annabelle screwed up her nose in horrified fascination.
 
The third coincidence was that Anne’s house was the last house on the Snot Shoveller’s round.
 
The Snot Shoveller, new as he was, started his rounds by ensuring that the regulation amount of snot was in each person’s nose.  He didn’t notice that he was taking out more than he was putting in until it was too late.  By the time he got to Anne’s house, his wheelbarrow was full to overflowing.  Have you ever gone out into the garden first thing in the morning and seen silvery tracks on the lawn?  Does your Mum tell you that they were left by slugs and snails?  No.  They were left by the Snot Shoveller’s wheelbarrow sloshing snot over the side.
 
So when the Snot Shoveller realised that Anne was the last person on his round, and that his wheelbarrow was full, he panicked.
 
First, he started to shovel snot into Anne’s nose.  But the shovel was so small and the wheelbarrow so very full that it was taking too long.  The sun was nearly peeking over the horizon.  So then he started to get great handfuls and threw them up her nose.  Of course, even her nose wasn’t big enough to cope, so that it started to run down the side of her face and into her hair.  It ran into her eyes and into her ears.  But still there was more.
 
The Bogey Man paused, and put his finger under his nose.  “Aaaaah … Aaaaaah …”  Then he stopped.  “No, no sneeze.  April fool!”
 
“It’s not April Fools Day!” said Annabelle.
 
“Of course not.  If it was, you’d be expecting it.”
 
Anne’s head became glued to the pillow, and still the Snot Shoveller shovelled his sticky mess of snot.  Anne woke, but she couldn’t open her eyes.  She tried to call out, but she couldn’t open her mouth.
 
The Snot Shoveller was so frightened at this point he just tipped up the wheelbarrow and poured the contents all over Anne, pinning her body to the bed under a mound of congealing snot.
 
Suddenly the Bogey Man’s head shot backwards.  “Ahhhhhhh …”  Then his whole body flipped forward as he gave a monstrous sneeze.  “ … Chooooo!”.  He buckled forward so far and so fast that his mouth and nose landed on Annabelle as he shouted the choo, so that he gave Annabelle a wet and tickly raspberry on her tummy.
 
Annabelle screamed, again.  The Bogey Man wiped his nose on her pyjama top.  “Bless me!” he said.  Then skipped off into the wardrobe.
 


Chapter 9
Tales To Terrify Tots - Epilogue

By snodlander

The Bogey Man slipped out of the wardrobe, grinning his usual grin, walking with his usual swagger and, as usual, ready to trick Annabelle into screaming for her long-suffering parents.
 
“I’ve brought ear plugs tonight, because you are going to scream so loud the roof is going to collapse,” he boasted.
 
Annabelle shook her head.  “No, tonight you are going to scream, because I’m going to tell you a story.”
 
The Bogey Man froze as still as an ice-lolly, an expression of shock on his face.  Then he laughed.  He laughed so loudly Annabelle was sure her parents would come in.  He laughed until he had to hold his sides.  He laughed until he fell over backwards.  Annabelle waited, sitting in her bed with her arms folded, waiting for him to be quiet.
 
“Oh, oh dear me.  Oh, sorry.  Oh, but that is the funniest thing I have ever heard,” gasped the Bogey Man, wiping his eyes with his sleeve.  “You?  Scare me?  And how do you think you are going to manage that?  I do scary all the time.  I’m friends with trolls.  I have dinner with monsters.  I go to ghosts’ birthday parties.  How is a little, scaredy-cat, girly baby going to scare me?  I am the Bogey Man!”
 
Annabelle scowled.  “I’m not a baby!   Just you sit down there, Mr Bogey Man, and listen to my story.  You are going to be so scared you’ll beg me to stop.  I’m going to scare you so much you won’t be able to sleep for a week.  I am going to make you scream so loud that they will hear you all across Bogeyland.”
 
Shaking his head, giggling quietly under his breath, the Bogey Man sat on the edge of Annabelle’s bed and waited for the story.
 
Once upon a time, there was a brave, clever girl called Anne.
 
“Oh, so this isn’t a true story then, if she’s brave and clever,” interrupted the Bogey Man.  Annabelle ignored him.
 
Every night Anne was visited by a Bogey Man who was learning to be a proper Bogey Man.
 
“I am a proper Bogey Man,” whined the Bogey Man.
 
“This is a totally different Bogey Man from you,” replied Annabelle.  “He just happens to be just like you.”
 
The problem with this Bogey Man was: he wasn’t very scary.  He would try to frighten Anne by creaking the wardrobe door, but the squeaking just annoyed her.  He tried to scare her by making shadows look like monsters, but they just looked like furniture in the dark.  He tried to terrify her by groaning and moaning, but he just sounded like he had tummy ache.
 
But the Grand Council demanded that little girls scream for their parents.  It was the Bogey law.  Anne was too brave and clever to be scared by the Bogey Man, because the Bogey Man was too cowardly and stupid to scare her.
 
“I’m not …” started the Bogey Man, but stopped when he saw Anne’s angry glare.
 
The only way that the Bogey Man could get Anne to scream was to trick her with his stories.  He told her stories of ghosts and ghoulies.  He told her tales of blood and guts.  He told her legends of murder and mayhem.  But instead of frightening Anne, she enjoyed them.  They weren’t scary in the least.
 
“You must have been scared a few times.  Just a little bit?” asked the Bogey Man.
 
Annabelle shook her head.  “No, not once.  Not even a tincey wincey bit.  But this story isn’t about me, it’s about Anne.  Be quiet!”
 
Anne liked hearing the Bogey Man tell his stories.  They were different from the usual fairy tales Mum and Dad read to her, as though she were a baby.  And the Bogey Man was funny, trying to be all scary and horrible but being so very, very bad at it.  The only way he could get her to scream was to trick and cheat and lie, and even then, she only screamed in a fun sort of way.
 
And so it was, night after night, the Bogey Man would tell Anne a bedtime story, and Anne would scream at the end, just so the Bogey Man didn’t feel bad.
 
One evening, when the Bogey Man was sitting by Anne, telling her a completely ridiculous story (about the headless teacher that spent all eternity giving ghostly detention to children), Anne decided it was time to thank the Bogey Man.
 
So she sat up in her bed and threw her arms around the Bogey Man’s neck, like this.
 
Annabelle threw her arms around the Bogey Man and hugged him.  The Bogey Man was horrified.
 
“Ew.  Let go,” cried the Bogey Man.  “Eeeww, that’s horrible.  Wait a minute.  I can smell soap!  Oh no, you’ve had a bath, haven’t you?  Yuck!  That’s disgusting.  Stop it, stop it.  You’re getting me all clean and nice-smelling.”
 
The Bogey Man tried to push her away, but Annabelle kept tight hold of him.
 
And then Anne leant close to the Bogey Man’s ear, so close he could feel her breath, and she whispered, “I love you, Mr Bogey Man.”
 
The Bogey Man shivered, as though a big centipede had run up and down his back.  “That’s a horrible thing to say to someone.  Love?  Ew, I hate that.  Don’t say it, don’t say it!”
 
And then, do you know what she did?  To thank the Bogey Man, Anne pursed her lips like this …
 
“No,no,no,no,no,” shouted the Bogey Man.  “Don’t say it, please don’t say it.”
 
Then she turned her head like this ….
 
The Bogey Man started crying.  “Stop it, stop it, stop it, please.”
 
And she gave him a big … wet … sloppy … slurpy kiss, just like this.
 
And Annabelle gave the Bogey Man a big, wet, sloppy, slurpy kiss on his cheek.  The Bogey Man gave out a scream, so loud, so high, so horrible that only bats and children could hear it.  He tore Annabelle’s arms away from his neck and danced around the room, trying to rub the kiss and hug off his face.
 
“You cheated!” he shouted.  “That wasn’t scary, that was … that was … that was nice!  Being nice to a Bogey Man is a terrible thing to do.  Cheating to make me scream doesn’t count.”
 
But, of course, they both knew that it did count.
 
 


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