There is a curious and pervasive phenomenon can be seen across a wide range of cultures worldwide. From one corner of the earth to the other, there seems to have always been a mother telling her child to watch out for what lurks in the night, waiting to prey on those who have been bad or misbehaved. Such tales know no cultural boundaries, taking on myriad forms but always coming down to one basic concept- that of the foul monster in the shadows waiting to strike out at wicked children from the dimness. There is not always any consistent form that these monsters might take, but they are often called collectively the “Boogeyman,” which is derived from the word bogge, meaning “something scary” or "hobgoblin" in Middle English. Other than that, it might be the thing in your closet, hiding in the basement, or tucked away under your bed. It is a formless avatar of terror for children far and wide, depending on the culture merely scaring kids or taking them away to devour, and it can take countless physical forms, but it is always completely terrifying.
Whatever form it may take, there have been numerous reports from terrified witnesses who think that they have witnessed what they describe as some form of Boogeyman. One from True Ghost Tales comes from a witness who calls herself “Charmaine," and who says that this happened to her when she was just 7 years old. She claims that she began seeing a dwarf-like creature she says “had sharp yellowish teeth, had red eyes and it’s fingers looked like they were sharpened.” This little beast would often appear lurking in the shadows just to stare at her, often right in her own room, and sometimes it would smile “the evilest smile I had ever seen.” She says of her harrowing experience with this thing:
I tried to ignore it, but it wouldn’t go away. I was so scared to go to bed at night. It would appear each night, when the lights were turned off and my parents were sleeping. They never believed me when I told them about the ‘thing’. After a few months I ignored it and it didn’t like that, he started to scratch the under side of my bed, I still ignored it… until one night that it jumped on my bed and scratched me. I screamed and my parents came, and told me I had a bad dream. The next morning there were scratches on my arm. This continued for over 6 years. I got fed up with it and one night I looked it in the eyes and told it to go away and it did.
I never saw it again, but felt it’s presence one more time. I was 16 at the time. I was visiting my friend and it was late so I decided to sleep there, we were sharing a bed (me, her and her boyfriend). I woke up because her boyfriend was freaking out and said that the boogeyman was here. I sat up and I could feel the ‘thing’, but didn’t see it. I ran to put the lights on and when we looked at her boyfriends arm there were scratches on it. He told me what he saw… he describe exactly the same thing that I saw years ago. I went cold and the fear came back. I told him that I faced my fears and told it to go away and it did. This thing lives on fear.
Whatever this thing was, it certainly fits the mold of the traditional Boogeyman, flitting about in the dark to scare young children, maybe even preying on that fear. In another report from Your Ghost Stories, a witness from South Africa says she was 13 years old at the time of her experience, and that it began with waking up at all hours overcome with a sick, thick sense of dread and fear. At first she never did see what it was that could conjure up such emotions of pure terror, and it seemed to come in waves out of absolutely nowhere, until one night she finally got a glimpse of her unseen tormentor, dragged into the light in all of its hideous glory. She says:
I then woke up again, with the same fear and panic, I looked around my room again and that's when I saw it. It was sitting on my desk in front of my bed. It was small, like a garden gnome, it had yellow eyes, sharp little teeth and pointed fingers. It just stared at me. I never felt so scared in my life. I screamed and my dad came to my room. As soon as he put the light on the creature was gone. My dad didn't believe me when I told him what I have seen, he thought it was just a bad dream. It felt so real, I know I was awake and I know I saw it and it saw me. I slept in my parents room for the rest of the night. I was now scared to go to bed, to be alone in my room at night. I could always feel it watching me. It also started to scratch the underside of my bed at nights. I once again woke up and saw the creature sitting on my desk, he stared at me and smiled.
This apparently went on for several more years, this strange intruder making sporadic visits to this frightened child’s room. She tried to tell her parents what was going on, but they simply wrote it all off as a child’s ramblings and overactive imagination. Unfortunately for her, things would begin to escalate quite spectacularly. She says:
Whenever I saw the creature I just covered my face with my duvet. Prayed and hoped I will fall asleep quickly. It seemed like it didn't like that I ignored it and things got worse. I saw him sitting on my desk again, I just closed my eyes and covered my face, I knew he was still there, I could feel him watching me. I then felt him jump onto my bed. I didn't dare move, I have never been this scared in my life. I didn't dare look, I just laid there. I could feel him scratching my arm and I screamed. My dad came and put the light on and the creature was gone. I slept in my parents room again. The next morning I saw the four scratches on my arm, but my parents said I must have done it in my sleep.
I told a friend what was happening and luckily he believed me. He told me this thing thrives on fear and that I should sleep with a bible under my pillow and tell it to go away. I did just that, I could still feel him sometimes watching me, but never saw him again. I was 16 at the time. This is when it got even creeper, I was doing much better, 2 years had passed without any incident, I was 18 at the time. I stayed over at a friends house, we all slept in front of the TV. Her boyfriend screamed in the early hours, I woke up and I could feel the creature looking at us, I knew it was there.
There are quite a few of more of these creepy tales floating around out there. On Reddit there is a witness who claims that when he was younger his family moved to a large and very old wooden house that did not sit well with him from the very beginning. He was apparently often left at home alone in that spooky place while his parents were away out at work, and it was on one of these days being alone in this creaky old building that he had his own brush with something very reminiscent of some sort of Boogeyman. He explains:
One early evening when I came home the house was still dark. I called out, “Mum?” and heard her sing song voice say “Yeeeeees?” from upstairs. I called her again as I climbed the stairs to see which room she was in, and again got the same “Yeeeeees?” reply. We were decorating at the time, and I didn’t know my way around the maze of rooms but she was in one of the far ones, right down the hall. I felt uneasy, but I figured that was only natural so I rushed forward to see my mum, knowing that her presence would calm my fears, as a mother’s presence always does.
Just as I reached for the handle of the door to let myself in to the room I heard the front door downstairs open and my mother call “Sweetie, are you home?” in a cheery voice. I jumped back, startled and ran down the stairs to her, but as I glanced back from the top of the stairs, the door to the room slowly opened a crack. For a brief moment, I saw something strange in there, and I don’t know what it was, but it was staring at me.
In another account the witness says she was around 7 years ld at the time when she was jolted awake by a piercing pain in her ear. The pain was intense enough that she got out of bed to go tell her mom and stepfather, but something kept her from completing her journey to their room. She says that as she crept through the living room, she was suddenly, alarmingly aware of someone sitting there in the murk in one of the chairs. She says of what happened next:
The person looked strange (the face was just kind of distorted) but it was dark and I couldn’t see well. “Mom?” I asked. The person shook their head, and I started getting scared. “Mike?”. The person shook their head again. I decided the best course of option was to go back to bed so I wouldn’t have to walk past this…person. I climbed in bed, and closed my eyes for a second, before opening them and seeing the person standing in my doorway, smiling madly and nodding furiously. I screamed at the top of my lungs and closed my eyes. My step dad came running out of his room in his underwear with a baseball bat (that was a scary sight in itself). There was nothing there, but clothes my mom had folded and put on the chair where strewn about the living room. For the longest time I told myself it was my cat, sitting on the clothes.
It is not even always just the children who sees these things, and some reports indicate that parents have stepped in to see something they were perhaps not meant to. One Reddit witness says that his 2-year-old child would often wake up screaming uncontrollably, and that when he went to provide comfort his young son would simple babble “Bad man. Bad man.” One night things graduated to full on bizarreness when he says:
Heard him whimpering one night and saw a freakishly tall figure in the baby monitor. Nearly shat myself, grabbed my pistol, and ran to his room to find my son locked in the closet and the figure nowhere to be found. The door can only be locked from the outside. There was a grey wool scarf on the floor of his room that I had never seen before. Cops came and filed a B&E report, but there was no signs of forced entry or anything. We’re planning on moving in a few months.
Was this an regular human intruder or something else? Why was it there and where did it go? It is interesting to note that across so many cultures we still get these stories of something mysterious terrorizing children, and it does make one wonder if this is all just a child’s way to deal with the fear of the unknown or something more? This is a universal feature, these tales to terrify kids, as well as the many children calling for their parents in the middle of the night as something they cannot fathom looms there in the dark. Could it possibly be that the phenomenon has spurred on the stories rather than the other way around? Could these be some form of entity that feeds on the potent fear of the very young, harvesting their terror? Or is it just stories, folklore, and an unchanging archetype upon the human psyche, cautionary tales used to keep children in check? Whatever you may think, kids across the world will probably keep on being scared by these perceived threats, whether real or not.