The Bogey Book
Smithburg was a cozy town, a quite place to live that possessed the typical historical flair of the northeastern states. It was Hometown USA, were children were raised with a loving touch and everyone tried to uphold common values without appearing too conservative. It was a wonderful place to live with friendly neighbors and sprawling houses that nestled amid the old trees and forests.
But Smithburg had a secret, a secret so dark and ancient that only the walls of the old library could tell the story. Something dangerous had settled in the city, spending century upon century spreading its darkness. But the darkness was slow and weak from the lack of belief in the spectacular so, in the two hundred years since it's last attack, it had only been able to manifest itself in the form of a book. It was bound in red leather with gold detailing and took many faces: sometimes it was The Labyrinth, a play of fantasy, and sometimes it was the nightmarish Le Livre De Bogey.
It was often said that no harm ever came from reading a book; the saying was dead wrong. The course of human history had been inexorably altered by Bogey books, each new reading bringing humanity closer to chaos, closer to the lawless feeding-ground that the dark power craved.
In fifty years, the book had only been checked out once, but it longed to be checked out again. It yearned for the soft touch of the girl who had been so foolish as to think that she could truly hide from the Bogeyman.
"You're a heartless bitch, you know that?!"
"Yeah? Well you're a cold fish!" Sarah Williams shouted to the retreating back of her now ex-boyfriend. The argument had started over something stupid, as arguments often did; they had been discussing what they were planning to dress as for Lenny Jenkins's Halloween party and one small disagreement in costume ideas had lead to a shouting match about the inadequacies of their relationship. Will said she was emotionally distant, and she said he was overly needy; he said he couldn't be intimate with someone who wasn't willing to commit to the relationship, and she had said there was nothing to commit to because, if a discussion about the benefits of a ruffled shirt could turn into a five-alarm emergency, they were obviously through.
Will's angry shoulders disappeared around the bend in the road, and she couldn't help but think that he was storming away like an angry child. How could she commit to a relationship when she secretly thought that he had all the emotional maturity of a tadpole? The sad thing was that he was definitely one of the more mature guys she knew. Sometimes it felt like she was looking for something that didn't exist; her eyes were wide open, but in all her eighteen years she had never found whatever it was she was looking for.
Sarah let out a disgusted sigh as she grabbed her car keys; she would leave matters of costumes for another time, right now she needed the peace of the library and the thrill of a good book.
The Smithburg Library was surprisingly empty for there being less than a week left before Halloween; usually there were droves of people looking for scary stories to help them get into the spooky mood or for proper costume ideas. Still, it was a Monday, and she couldn't help but be a tad grateful for the solitude. There was something in the air of the library that Sarah loved, a certain feeling of mystery and adventure, and it was easier to appreciate that when she was alone. She had tried to explain it to Toby once, but he hadn't understood, nor had any of her friends; they had all told her that she was just being dramatic. To them the library was just old and musty, but to her it was alive, and it was keeping secrets.
Smithburg's library was not particularly large, but nor was it particularly small; it was built of old stone and the inside reminded her of the reenactment villages that she had visited as a child. The wooden floors creaked, the stairs groaned, the lights seemed to twinkle with the remembrance of candle-flame, and the ancient books waited on their shelves, just begging to be read. If she had ever come across a more tempting sight, she could no longer remember it. And the library was a treasure-trove, too; she had passed through its arches hundreds of times, but each new visit uncovered new discoveries: books she had never heard of, never thought to look for, older than the elderly Victorian that she lived in, on countless subjects, each book a glimpse into a time gone by.
This visit was no exception. Deep in the stacks, where others rarely went, was a dusty world of forgotten tomes. Faded, twisted spines lined the shelves, their brilliant lettering dulled from time, each one begging her to take a peek inside. She had found a wonderful book here once, hadn't she? A play of some sort, she thought absently. She couldn't remember anything about it, other than the fact that it had been an intense reading. The title and details had long since faded from her mind, but she had spent countless visits looking for something she wasn't even sure she'd be able to identify.
Sarah walked up and down the forgotten shelves, running a curious finger over the spine of each book. Nothing had really caught her eye until her finger came to rest upon soft leather binding. It was a brilliant red, compared to the others, paradoxically aged and yet still looking fresh next to the tattered volumes that lived beside it. Gold lettering adorned its spine and, when she pulled it off the shelf, she saw that intricate knot-work played across its cover. Something about it seemed strangely familiar, but she couldn't place what it was.
"Le Livre De Bogey," Sarah read, affecting her best hammy-French accent. She was no expert on foreign languages, but she thought it meant The Bogey Book. Strangely intrigued, she flipped through the pages; much to her relief, it was actually in English. Flowing script raced across the pages, looking as though the tome had been penned rather than printed. Her fingers froze when she reached the dedication page. To Sarah, it read simply. No explanation, no further dedications, just for Sarah.
A strange feeling stole over her then, seemed to creep up through her fingers and settle into her chest. It was an interesting coincidence that the book had been dedicated to someone of the same name and she briefly wondered who this Sarah had been, but warnings where suddenly flashing in her head, telling her that there was no such thing as coincidence. The book felt unnaturally heavy in her hands, the strange sense of unease making her palms sweaty.
Sarah sat at her desk, idly flipping through the pages of a book.
She would never quite figure out what had happened that afternoon. After a few more seconds of anxious dread, she had slammed Le Livre De Boogey back on its shelf and walked away. She had spent the next hour in the section of the library dedicated to plays and the theater, once again searching for that mysterious book that stayed just out of the reach of her memories. The hour had passed by slowly, but by the end of it she had found two likely candidates.
It wasn't until she was halfway home that she realized there were three books stacked on her passenger seat instead of only two. Dread had swept over her once more, but she had waited until she was surrounded by the comforts of her bedroom to investigate the mystery.
Her hands started to shake a bit as she flipped a few more pages. The book that shouldn't have been there was red and gold, its brilliance seeming to mock her.
She had checked out The Bogey Book.
A/N: I've never written a Halloween story before, but I'm going to do my best to update this one each day until the climax on Halloween night (this Friday). Keeping that in mind, the chapters will probably be a bit on the short side (like Wedding Dress For Sale was).
I give blatant thanks and praise to Disney Channel's Don't Look Under The Bed. It was a made for TV Halloween movie, back in '99, and it's one of my favorite movies of all time. It' a bit campy, but fun, and I stole from it left and right for this story.
This story is my contribution for the Scary Faeries Halloween writing challenge, over at The Harem. The idea was already bouncing around in my head, but the Ladies gave me that extra push I needed to write it.
I would highly recommend listening to classic Halloween songs while reading this: Thriller, Bad Moon Rising, Witch Queen of New Orleans, Monster Mash, Somebody's Watching Me, Welcome to My Nightmare, Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, Sweet Dreams, Hocus Pocus, Love Potion No. 9, People Are Strange, and other songs like that.
Disclaimer: Le Livre De Bogey is from Don't Look Under The Bed, which belongs to Disney. Sarah and any other characters from Labyrinth belong to Henson.