I'm one of those kids who grew up on the old Universal horror flicks. Watching them all alone at one in the morning in the basement, then running a lightswitch brigade on the way to bed. You know the drill: run ahead to turn on the light, run back to turn off the light in the room you just left, run ahead again to turn on the next light, and so on until you get to your bedroom, where you judge the distance to the bed, turn off the light, and make a leap for it. Then pull the covers over your head and listen for the werewolf. I loved
But I watched so much of it that I got desensitized. By the time I was a teenager I didn't think anything would ever scare me again. I'd read The Stand
. It was brilliant but not particularly scary.
Then I started reading Night Shift
, an early collection of his short stories. And I came to a story called The Bogeyman
. As the story went on I kept glancing sideways at my closet door and getting more and more freaked out. By the time the story ended I was absolutely thrilled. I couldn't believe someone had actually succeeded in scaring the shit out of me again after all these years.
I was so excited I had to share it with someone. The only other person in the house was my sister, who was watching TV in the basement. I ran down there. The door at the bottom of the stairs was closed. I reached for the knob, and at that exact same time she must have been heading up because when I opened the door there was this shadowy figure silhouetted in the opening.
I finally learned the meaning of the phrase "climbed the wall". I swear I jumped a couple of feet off the floor.