Doctor Procter reached out with his hand. His feet would not move, but the darkness began to move from his hand on its own accord. Doctor Procter knew it would not leave him, but the darkness would gladly absorb another if given the chance. He looked at his own arm. The darkness had swallowed his hand and climbed all the way passed his elbow to disappear beneath his sleeve. Doctor Procter did not want to look closer.
The bogy man’s eyes appeared in the dark. They were wide and full of a fear far greater than even the fear it instilled in some humans that drove those humans insane. It might have escaped if it returned to its insubstantial, spiritual nature, but for a moment it was frozen by its fear. That was all the time Lockhart needed.
The shotgun blast hit the bogy dead center, and the marines were not far behind. They each shot several bullets into the figure. The man in the dark collapsed while Doctor Procter quickly stuffed his hand back into his glove. Roland shook himself awake at that point and with hardly a thought he pulled his sword and chopped the bogy head off. Curiously, there was no blood. There was just the stump of a neck where the head had once been. The head rolled into the rocks. Roland began to hack the limbs apart and Mingus joined him in tossing those limbs out into the bushes below as far apart from each other as possible.
“A bogy can heal and reconstitute,” Mingus said. Lockhart and Captain Decker stepped up to help but Mingus waved them off. “Don’t touch. Bogys are powerful spirits. Being spiritual creatures ourselves offers us some protection. For you humans, though. I’m afraid even a touch might give you nightmares for the rest of your lives.” Given the nightmares already experienced that night, Lockhart and Decker needed no more inducement to back away.
After the deed was done, Mingus and Roland washed themselves with water and dirt in a ritual washing. Then they sat down and while Mingus built up the fire, the others gathered around. It was no surprise that no one felt like sleeping.
“You see,” Mingus continued his thought. “The bogy man is now broken to pieces and scattered more than far enough away to prevent a rebuilding of the body before sunrise. Once the sun is up, the light will burn away the body remains. Otherwise, if the bogy rebuilt itself, we would have to fight this battle all over again tomorrow.”
“I see,” Lieutenant Harper said, and once that was said, no one felt like talking for a long time. Boston was in tears or sniffling most of that time, and she would not let anyone hold her to comfort her. She did not want anyone to touch her. Captain Decker and Lieutenant Harper simply looked at each other and looked away again and again. Lockhart was lost in his own thoughts, and while Lincoln and Alexis sat beside each other, they did not touch or comfort each other or even hold hands as was their norm. Only doctor Procter seemed unconcerned with it all, and he began to snore.
When the sun started to rise, the words finally came. It is remarkable how a little sunlight and talking about it can make the shadows of the worst nightmares fade, and these were the worst. They were the kind that clung to the mind even after one was awake. Still, it was not long before everyone felt better and even Boston cracked a smile. Then they heard the scream, the kind some call blood curdling.
It took a minute to find the head of the bogy. It was trapped between two rocks on the edge of the ledge and the sun was on it. It was steaming and screaming and the eyes were open and looking around. Fortunately, it did not last long as it caught on fire and soon became little more than steam, ash and dust that was blown away on the wind.
Alexis covered her eyes. She did not want to look. Boston got right up to the edge and stared straight into that face until the end. Then Alexis spoke.
“We have to find a better way of dealing with these things other than shooting them full of holes.”
“You realize, now that you said that, in the next time zone we will probably need the guns more than ever,” Lockhart teased.
Alexis wrinkled her nose in disapproval of Lockhart’s words. She looked at Lincoln, but he was busy getting their things together. She felt a brief stab in her heart as she remembered the nightmare once more. Things were not right between them, yet.