Aphelion Issue 287, Volume 27
September 2023
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The Boogeyman

by Ray Prew

I visit the arrival site. I've lost count of how many times I've returned in the last twenty years. The portal that brought me here never did reopen. From my vantage point, I can see a woman being robbed on the street below. I reached the spot in one jump.

I shift to a more comfortable position on the mattress; my legs are going to sleep.

The robber saw me and peed his pants because he knew what was coming. I picked him up and threw him ten feet in the air. He fell hard to the sidewalk. I told him, "That's for robbing people." I threw him in the air again this time when he landed he broke his leg. I told him, "That's for robbing a woman! Tell all your friends, the streets belong to me!"

Since the woman was unharmed, I leapt away before the police could arrive. As I continued my patrol of the city, my thoughts returned to the portal and my arrival here. I was minding my own business, walking home one night after class at my local tech school.

When from nowhere a hole appeared in front of me. The temperature was very cold, the sky overcast, and the hour late. The hole drew in the surrounding air and loose debris. The draw of the vacuum was irresistible. I was pulled through the hole to here, wherever here was.

In that one moment I went from a dark frozen night to a bright sunny day. This place, whatever it was, was exactly like home, except this place seemed to be less technologically advanced. They didn't have cameras in buildings or on the street corners. They didn't have picture cell phones. In addition, their magnetic poles went east to west.

There is a urine stain on the wall, this room is disgusting.

I look exactly like the people here, except for some reason, perhaps the different poles, my strength is one hundred times that of an ordinary man. I can leap two miles, and outrun a speeding car. My skin is apparently more dense as bullets just bounce off me and only leave bruises.

From the first moment I arrived on that hill in the city park, I knew this wasn't home. Ten feet away a pimp was beating a street hooker for not having brought him enough money; I can't stand to see a man hit a woman so I tried to intervene.

I tried to grab him and pull him away from the woman, but instead of him coming back a few inches, he flew across the street fifteen feet in the air and went splat on a concrete wall.

On that day, I learned to watch my strength. The hooker I tried to save tried to stab me with a switchblade for hurting her boyfriend. The blade simply snapped against my chest and I barely felt it. The hooker fainted.

I tried to run away to think, to try to make plans to survive, but, as I ran I found I was moving at an astounding speed. I grew up a big fan of the superhero genre and here I was in a strange place with apparent superpowers. I decided to become this city's protector and live out the fantasy of being a real live superhero.

I would find an ordinary daytime job to pay rent and eat, but by night, I'd protect the innocent and punish the guilty as… as whom? I needed a name, a symbol to frighten criminals with.

I stand to stretch my legs and help the blood to circulate. It's hard to stand and keep your balance on a mattress.

I chose the electric symbol of ohm, which means resistance and, just for laughs, I decided to call myself the Boogeyman. Who needs day glow spandex? A light leather jacket and ski mask would do. Or at least it did at first.

For my day job, I needed flexibility in case I needed to change into Boogeyman. I was very lucky. The night I was transported here, I had just left my schools' film club meeting and I had the treasury donations with me. The money was easy to replicate. I made just enough to buy a hotdog wagon and rent a small room. So from then on, I was simple Charlie Grey, hotdog man by day and fought crime as the Boogeyman by night.

That was twenty years ago. Now, the Boogeyman is the scourge of the underworld. No one can really challenge me; I'm stronger and faster than any man on earth. The public is certainly aware of me, some newspapers call me the hero I am; others call me a dangerous vigilante. The cops have a public policy of arresting me on sight, while they secretly contact me with cases they want me to handle, such as capturing a serial killer or rescuing kidnap victims. That's just the city; their federal government has also asked me to help in missions for their military.

I've changed my costume over the years. Where I started with a simple leather jacket and ski mask, I now wear a loose fitting jump suit with my symbol on the front. My mask started off as a simple ski mask, now it's a blend of latex and canvas. I had to blend into something fancy and glitzy that humans relate to.

I have one advantage over comic book superheroes; there aren't any super villains to fight. I seem to be the only one with paranormal abilities. The street corner thugs don't present much of a problem.

They fear me.

I hope they come soon, I need to pee, and I don't want to decorate the wall as the last guy did.

For twenty years this has been easy, and frankly, it's been fun. It's been nothing but a game with no real challenges. However, I'm only fighting the symptoms; the disease goes on and on. No matter how many street thugs I take down, two more seem to take their place. I've even busted up the operations of major crime organizations. I provided the state attorney general with enough evidence and documents to take down two entire mob families. However, it's not enough. Crime continues in my city.

Throughout all the years I've been here, I've tried to pattern myself after my childhood heroes and not kill anyone, but lately I've come to realize they were only fictional characters portrayed in a scripted story. They didn't deal with actual dirt bags, or the true ugly side of human nature--the side of human nature that allows the strong to prey on the weak or the indifference of those who turn away from others being preyed upon.

Sometimes the only way to correct a problem is to take control of a situation. To stop crime and cruelty I must take control of these people. They must learn honesty and compassion.

I'm certain I can control a city, but I'm not so certain about a country or, for that matter, a whole planet. I can leap for two miles but I can't fly, let alone soar over a continent or an ocean. I would need followers and supporters. From some of the letters to the editor in the newspapers, and some of the callers on talk radio shows, most of the public seems to love the Boogeyman's war on crime.

I will have to start small and build up a powerbase of followers, first the city, then the country, then the planet. The street corner cameras I despised on my world suddenly made a lot more sense. The cameras could monitor the city for me and I would simply collect the guilty and bring them to justice, my justice.

I must refrain from executions at first; the public will see I am a benevolent ruler. I will bring order and control, through peace and mercy, after that will come the executions.

This means a transition from hero to the vigilante the papers call me. It means becoming the kind of villain my heroes used to fight. My law will be fair and just. This place needs order and control. Anyone can see that. The population will balk at first and rebel, but after a few years, they will welcome the order and peace I will bring.

I begin my nights patrol with a new purpose. I will no longer just fight crime like somebody from the comics, I will end it altogether.

From a rooftop vantage point, I can see a police chasing a car through the city, the car they were chasing narrowly missed hitting a blind man crossing the street! This would be the perfect place to start my law.

I lay down to rest and wait for breakfast.

I leapt to the pavement and chased both cars overtaking them. I pulled the driver door off the fleeing car and pulled the driver out, allowing the car to go into a ditch. The cops screech to a halt. They get out with guns drawn. I break the drivers' leg and turn him over. The cops looked at each other dumfounded. I've been known to be rough on felons but not like this.

I leapt from the spot to the top of a nearby building then from rooftop to rooftop until I reach the city's television station. Next, I burst into the broadcast studio and interrupted the newscaster in the middle of a story about a man that was trapped in an elevator for over 24 hours. I announced the start of my rule of the city, from this point forward, crimes against the elderly or the sexual harm of woman or children would be punished by death. The authority of the city's' police would be absolute. There would no longer be a need for judges or courts. From now on, I would make all rulings of innocence or guilt.

The next day I arrived at City Hall in my Boogeyman costume. I assured the mayor he would keep his job and his office. He would simply handle day-to-day administrative duties. I told the chief of police to only bring me true criminals and felons; his officers could decide the penalty for those that commit misdemeanors.

The chief tried to arrest me! I tossed the chief in the air. I caught him, and tossed him back up a bit higher, and caught him again. I gently put him back on his feet. I told him he was still the chief, except now he worked for me.

The city had a small amphitheater inside city hall so I chose that as my court and throne room. I commissioned a local furniture maker to build a throne for me. I paid him with money collected from drug deals I busted up. If I am to be a proper ruler, I must pay for what I want, never just take.

The next day I arrived at my new court to find all manner of military vehicles awaiting me. The governor had called out the National Guard. Their captain whom I've worked with before approached me apprehensively and read aloud the order from the governor to stand down and submit to arrest. I refused, he turned and walked away. After he got a few yards away, he yelled:

"Open fire!" and bullets and rockets from the military vehicles and the armed soldiers rained down on me!

This is not how I wanted to begin my law. I knew there would be resistance at first, but not so much thereafter. I leapt away to avoid further confrontation. I can't hurt the soldiers, they're just doing their jobs, and to hurt them would only frighten the public. I must show them that I'm a gentle ruler. I will bring peace and safety, not guns and explosions.

I never revealed my daytime identity, Charlie Grey the hotdog man. I had something to retreat to, somewhere to make plans and to think.

Throughout the next day, as I sold hotdogs, all my customers wanted to talk about was how the Boogeyman had gone mad. Even regulars that used to joke with me about stories they read about the Boogeyman in the paper expressed fear. The major newspapers all ran the headline about how the Boogeyman had declared himself in charge. All of them called for my capture. No one supported the Boogeyman, no one. This will make taking control much more difficult.

Didn't these people understand? I would bring order and control. There would be peace and harmony now. This city could be the birthplace of a new era, the rule of the Boogeyman. I don't want to do this by force but someone must take control.

This room stinks.

The next day I arrived at city hall to again begin my reign. The captain again approached me with the governor's order to surrender. Again I refused, except this time I ran inside the building before they could open fire. I walked to my throne room and was glad to find that my throne had been delivered. They must have expected I'd make it this far I thought.

As I approached my throne, a portal opened before me. A way home, the first in twenty years! I can actually see my home. I dive for the portal and the way back!

I hear the sound of my cell door opening. I shift on the mattress to a more comfortable position. It's difficult to gain your balance when your arms are restrained. I squinted against the light as my doctor and nurse entered my padded cell.

"How are you today Mr. Grey?" asked Dr. Enfurder cheerfully.

"I was almost home this time and then you interrupted me."

"Well, your home now," Dr. Enfurder responded with his big toothy grin. "But if you're willing to behave, I'll have Nurse Anslong remove the straight jacket. We'll let you out of this room, back to your regular room!"

"I was a hero! I was the Boogeyman! Criminals feared me."

"I know, I know, we'll talk about it in session tomorrow. Go on into the dayroom, Mr. Grey, and grab some popcorn. It's movie night, they're showing a Marx brothers marathon." They led me out of the isolation room and down the hall to the patent's dayroom.

I grab a bowel of popcorn and settle into a chair. "I was a hero, people liked me," I said to no one in particular. It doesn't matter, tonight when I dream I'll return to my city, I will protect my citizens.

The Boogeyman will not be defeated!


2013 Ray Prew

Bio: Ray Prew has been published in spinetinglers.net, Aphelion, and the Cynic Online magazine.com( 3 times). One of his horror stories, "Let Me Out", which appeared in the now-defunct horrorbound.com, was turned unto a YouTube video (adult language).

E-mail: Ray Prew

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