He awoke to Robin’s dazzling eyes, staring into his. “Morning, sunshine!” sang her voice from behind a smile. One of her hands was on his head, tousling his hair.
“How long was I out?” he yawned, shaking off his drowsiness.
“Er, that depends.” Robin looked up at James, standing tall behind Walter’s seat. “How many of those movies did we watch?”
“Four out of six,” he answered, begrudged. “Now I gotta take some time out of my busy schedule to watch the rest.”
That’s right, Walter remembered, we marathoned that The Forest and The Court series. He only remembered watching the first two, then must have fallen asleep.
“We’re almost to the drop zone,” Robin informed him.
“You thought I was kidding about the sky-diving?” James said, smiling down at him.
Walter groaned. “Where’s Kriskin?” He didn’t see her anywhere in the cabin.
James flicked his head to one side. “She’s outside the plane. Don’t look at me like that, see for yourself!”
Out the window, there was nothing to see but starry skies until his eyes found the wing of the aircraft. There was a dark, flowing shape laid prone atop the structure. He couldn’t make out what it was until a blinking light illuminated her face for half a second. Walter gasped, “What’s she doing?!”
“Nothing she hasn’t done before!” Robin assured, “She’d getting ready for the jump.”
“Should be any moment now,” added James as he looked at his phone.
Walter swallowed a yawn and slapped his cheeks. “We’re really doing this, then. Do we have any parachutes?”
“Don’t need ‘em.” As if on cue, a new window appeared in the cabin next to James; a portal that opened up to the nighttime sky. A howling wind rattled them, turning the seats and scattering litter. “Come on!” He extended a hand, beckoning Walter to join him outside.
“That easy, huh?” Walter mumbled, rising cautiously from his chair.
“I get off work in a couple of weeks!” Robin shouted to Walter, clinging to a seatbelt to keep her anchored. “See you on the island?”
“Uh…maybe!” While Walter waved goodbye, James yanked on his arm, pulling him out onto the wing. Though it was much windier outside, it seemed much calmer without the struggle for stable pressure.
“Lie on your stomach and scoot over!” James commanded, getting down on his belly.
Walter followed suit, leading the way as they shimmied toward Kriskin. “Can’t the rest of the passengers see us?”
Kriskin pointed ahead. “See that?”
Walter looked, then immediately regretted it. He jumped back, and they both grabbed his shoulders to stabilize him. Far below, amidst an endless canvas of blackened waves, was a large grey dot; a swirling circle of clouds. “You mean the thunderhead? Yeah, I see it!”
“That’s home!” James exclaimed, the wind stretching his smile.
“Hold hands,” Kriskin instructed, “We’re going to let go on three, then slide off the wing. I’ll take care of the rest. Ready?”
Walter gulped, staring wide-eyed at the open sea.
“Are you ready?!” Kriskin shouted.
“Y-Yes!” he cried, shutting his eyes tight.
As a trio, they skimmed off the wing like autumn leaves off a tree. The wind was so strong Walter was unable to scream, let alone breathe. He kept his eyes shut and held on to their hands for dear life, telling himself it would be over in just a few seconds. A whole minute had passed before he changed his mind. Opening his eyes, he could see that the other two had joined hands, forming a circle. Both of them were grinning ear to ear like they were having the time of their lives. This was not their first time.
Looking down, it didn’t seem to Walter like they had fallen at all. Their destination still seemed as small as ever. Looking up, he could see the plane they had jumped from. It was only a shadow with blinking lights scooting across the star-filled sky. Then the strangest sensation fell over him; it was like a balloon was swelling in his chest. To release the pressure, he whooped and laughed until his throat hurt.
“Look at that!” James remarked, “He has a sense of fun!”
The more they fell, the calmer and quieter the salty sea air became. “Almost there,” Kriskin announced. “I’m gonna let go in a few seconds. Just stay calm, and we’ll be on solid ground in no time. Got it?”
Walter nodded, unable to stop grinning. She let go, just as she said, giving the other two a double thumbs-up as she drifted above and beyond them. As Walter gave her one in return. He didn’t notice the sly expression on James’ face. He let go as well, and before long, Walter was alone. Falling by himself in open void of darkness, all his fears returned. Too quick to notice it, a circle flashed around him, and all the stars in the sky washed away. Gravity shifted, and now it felt more like he was falling up rather than down.
“Walter!” Kriskin called out as she appeared in front of him. Without thinking, Walter reached out and grabbed her legs. Together they fell in a tangled mass.
Fortunately, they found a soft bush to land on. Unfortunately, her elbow had found its way into Walter’s injury. She apologized profusely as he rolled around in the dirt in pain. “Are you okay?” she finally asked him as she hoisted him on to his feet.
“Yeah,” Walter whispered, yet to suck in any air. “I’m fine.”
James’ laughter then rang out from somewhere in the fog. Floodlights illuminated their surroundings, shining upon colorful displays of flora and fauna. A fence surrounded them, gleaming with alternating posts of silver and gold. In the center of a garden stood a statue, tall and bronze. It had a strange shape to it, though as Walter stared at it, he realized it was partly because James was sitting on it.
“How did you do that?” The words came out of Kriskin’s mouth, to Walter’s surprise.
“I’m a ninja,” James answered as he dropped from the statue. “Remember?”
“Ninja or not, you scared me!”
“Aw, I’m glad you care.”
While they bantered, Walter circled the statue, trying to get an idea of what it was. It wasn’t an abstract sculpture, but there was something to it that just seemed uncanny. At first glance, it depicted a man with long hair blowing in the wind. His pose was semi-dynamic, with one hand reaching out to the ocean. The other hand fanned out at his side…and a third hand, closed into a fist, held close to his collar. That was it, Walter found. This bronze man had three arms—one on the left like normal, and two on the right.
“Hey,” Kriskin called him over. “Let’s get going, we still gotta move you in.”
Walter followed them to another side of the garden, down a set of stairs that led them to a balcony. They turned around and let themselves into a building. So far this place seemed more like a strange boat than an island to Walter. Inside was a spacious office with marble floors and a red carpet leading to a pair of double doors. It was too dark to get a good look at the knick-knacks decorating the walls.
“This is Dust’s office.” Kriskin’s voice echoed through the room. “I’ll bring you back here to meet him if we don’t catch him at home.”
“He can’t already’ve gone to bed, can he?” James wondered aloud. “It’s only like, seven PM.”
“He’s got a cold, remember?”
“What is this place?” Walter asked as they passed through the doors and into the elevator in the next room.
“The tower.” James answered this time, requesting the lowest floor. “It’s just an oversized board room for Dust and his business partners.”
“…While that’s part of the truth,” Kriskin chimed in, “it’s a lot more than that. I’ll give you the tour if you want.”
Walter approached the outer wall of the lift, a glass window to the outside. There wasn’t much to see. “Is it always this foggy?”
“No, not usually,” Kriskin answered before James had a chance. “Like I said, Dust hasn’t been feeling well, so…”
Walter raised an eyebrow. “…Huh?”
“Dust controls the weather.” James blurted. “Why are we still here?”
Kriskin shrugged, “I dunno, I thought we’d show him around a little bit.”
“Not much to see, is there?”
“If you’re so anxious to go home, just tell me.” With that, Kriskin opened a portal and showed the boys through. The air changed from warm and still to cool and wet as they landed on the porch of a house.
“Home at last,” James cheered, barging through the front door.
“Follow me, Walter,” Kriskin requested, “I’ll show you to your room and help you unpack.” He followed her up two flights of stairs and onto the second landing. “To your left is James’ room,” she pointed out. Given the pin-ups and caution tape, it seemed obvious. “And to the right is yours.” Walter went in first, surmising the kidney-shaped chamber as he flipped on the light. The floor plan allowed for a lot of space. To the right was a bed, and to the left was an entrance to the bathroom. In the corner, it was already furnished with a desk and dresser. The outer wall and corner was a broad window, open to the sky. It was certain to make for a nice view once the weather was nicer.
“Okay,” said Kriskin, “this is gonna be a little unorthodox.” Standing in the corner by the window, she pulled out a thick, copper band, suspending it over the center of the room. It opened wide and—flop. All of Walter’s clothes, hygienic supplies, bedding and more dropped to the carpet floor in a massive pile.
Walter scratched his head at the mess. “What do you call that thing again?”
“A portal pocket. Socks go in the bottom drawer, right?”
For the next hour, Walter and Kriskin exchanged in small talk while they put away his things. Kriskin shared that she enjoyed hawking and the art of bonsai. “I have a falcon named Gwen. Can you hear those birds? That's the aviary next to where I live.”
“Mhm! So what do you like to do?”
“Nothing fancy like that. I just watch movies and play games like any other guy.”
“Hmm. You might want to join James downstairs when we're done here. He's got a nice set up.”
Walter nodded. “Maybe.” Not, he said on the inside. Something nagged at the back of his mind as they worked, like he’d forgotten something important. That was, until it revealed itself from underneath a pile of shirts. Where he knelt, it was out of his reach—and Kriskin grabbed it first.
“What’s this?” she asked, holding it up to the light. It was a thick, leather-bound tome with a snap-button clasp.
Walter could feel rivulets of steam jet out from his hair and under his arms. “My journal,” he blurted, reaching out for it.
“Oh. Right.” A little flustered, she handed it to him right away. “Yeah, I found it in your night stand. Just be glad James didn’t find it first.” Walter flipped through the book, finding that nothing was amiss. With a sigh of relief, he placed it on his bed. “Do you write often?” Kriskin asked, putting another stack of shirts in a drawer.
“No,” Walter was honest, “just when something important happens.”
“…Like the last twenty-four hours?”
Not much else was said as they continued. It wasn't until they finished that Kriskin finally asked, “Is that the last of it?”
“I think so.”
“Okay, I'll leave you to it,” said Kriskin as she got to her feet and smoothed out her jeans. “Oh, I wanted to give you something, as kind of a housewarming gift, I guess.” She reached a hand into the inner pocket of her jacket. “Here.”
Dropping it into his palm, she gave him a small, black stone cut into a rectangular shape. Its surface was smooth and glossy, and cool to the touch. “What is this?”
“I call it a lucid stone,” Kriskin answered. “Take it with you to bed, and when you go to sleep, it'll help you dream.”
Walter turned the charm around with his fingers. “What's it made of?”
“A type of rock found on this island,” she said on her way out, “I kinda discovered it on accident. Anyway, I'll call you in the morning when it's time to see Dust, alright?”
Walter nodded, “Alright. Hey uh,” he paused to rub the back of his neck, “for what it's worth...thanks for being the good cop.”
Kriskin smiled at him over her shoulder from the doorway. “Don't thank me,” she sighed, “it was almost the other way around.”
Hey man, I got your ask the other night about the Boogeyman. I was gonna do a post with my answer, but I decided against it, since this could, potentially, be sensitive information. But I KNOW you from our high school days, so I think I can trust you. I CAN trust you, right? LOL
After I read your question, I did some research. Of course, I couldn’t find any legit articles or news reports, but I’m not the only one that’s seen him! I found this forum thread talking about strange encounters and urban legends. A bunch of them came in talking about how they or a friend of theirs saw a person in a skull mask. Incidentally (or not?), they all claim to be residents of our fine city of Rigrod! All of them! Every single one of them! Don’t believe me? Just click the link I provided and read for yourself. Keep it bookmarked, because I plan on joining that conversation.
I know what you might be thinking, “You can’t believe everything you read on the internet!” Think for yourself, man! These are real people coming together to post their stories, to the only place that will take them seriously. You’ll notice that all of them share very different experiences each, though they all give the Boogeyman similar descriptions. That can’t be a coincidence!