A Nightmarish Reunion

📅 Published on March 6, 2022

“A Nightmarish Reunion”

Written by Chisto Healy
Edited by Craig Groshek and Seth Paul
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on CreepypastaStories.com are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

ESTIMATED READING TIME — 15 minutes

Rating: 10.00/10. From 1 vote.
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Corey was at the bar getting himself another old-fashioned with an Irish stout chaser when he stopped to look towards the back of the bar.  He saw someone on his way up from the outside smoking patio, someone that looked familiar, but he couldn’t place them.  That was the way it went at the bar, wasn’t it?  Maybe they would recognize him and come up to speak to him.  That would make the whole thing easier. Then he would just have to smile and go, “Oh yeah!  Hey!  How are you?”

Corey paid the bartender, left a cash tip on the bartop and carried one drink in each hand as he made his way back to the patio out back.  He stared at the drinks and concentrated on not spilling them.  It was more difficult than it sounded, as he had already had a few.

Corey preferred to go to the bar with company, but sometimes it was nice to come alone and make friends here.  He wasn’t married.  He didn’t have any kids.  He just had his job, his apartment, his cat and his freedom to do whatever the hell he pleased.  Some days, like today, what pleased him was to knock back a few and maybe go home with a stranger.  STIs were scary, but he always had condoms and insisted upon using them even when his partners didn’t want him to.  Even when Corey was wasted, his principles were intact.

Corey stopped at the back door to the bar.  He sipped his liquor and then used his butt to push the door open.  Then he slipped outside before it hit him and caused a spill.  Everyone that was out there, smoking and mingling, looked up when he came through the door.  They always did.  That was the way.  He did it himself.  They wanted to see who had arrived if it was someone worth talking to or maybe more.  “Just me,” he wanted to say with a laugh.  “Go back to your drinks and your dates.”

Corey set his drinks on one of the tall tables and tugged his cigarettes from his pants pocket.  A hand came before him, holding a lighter.  He leaned into the flame, took a drag and thanked the smiling blonde who walked away with a confident swagger. Maybe he should follow her, he thought.  She had that look in her eye.  Tonight could end well.

Before he could make a move, someone else came to his table, blocking the blonde from his line of sight.  Corey frowned and sipped his liquor, following it immediately with the stout.  “We need to talk,” the newcomer said.

Corey looked at them clearly for the first time and realized that it was the man he had seen earlier.  “I know you,” Corey said, eyeing him with curiosity.

“Well, I sure hope so,” the man said, giving Corey a wide smile and showing his near-perfect teeth.  Corey looked away and went back to his drinks.  He felt embarrassed.  He had no idea who this man was, only that he was familiar, yet it seemed the man expected him to know more.  This was awkward, and Corey wished he had moved to follow the blonde woman before this man had moved in.  He sighed.  “So what do we need to talk about?” he asked, wanting to get this strange interaction over with.

“Your childhood,” the man said, flashing his smile again.

Corey took a drag off of his cigarette.  “That’s why you seem familiar, but I can’t place you,” he said after blowing out smoke.  “You’re someone I knew as a child.”

The man nodded.  He smoked a cigarette of his own that Corey hadn’t noticed in his hand before now.  That felt strange because he should have at least seen the smoke trailing up before the guy, but he didn’t remember seeing any smoke but his own. Then again, he was a little tipsy, and the guy was outside in the smoking area, so it made sense for him to have a cigarette.  Corey wasn’t sure why he was thinking about it so much.

“We were close,” the man said, no hint of the smile he wore only moments ago. “Then you forgot all about me.  Now you don’t even recognize me or remember me. That’s why I’m here.”

“You’re at the bar because of me?” Corey asked.  “You were taking a shot in the dark, or you knew I came here?” I’m sorry I don’t remember this guy from childhood, but this is getting a little weird.  It’s beginning to feel like he’s been stalking me or something.

“I’m in this town because of you,” the man said.  “I live far away from here.  I just never got over the way you ditched me and forgot I existed.  I wanted to, no, I needed to find you, to make you remember me.”

Corey took a step back away from the man and stumbled.  He was drunker than he realized.  Maybe it was time to call it a night and just go home alone before things got messy.  Corey reached for his drink and missed and almost spilled it.  He huffed and returned to his cigarette.  “Look, bud,” he said.  “I’m sorry I can’t place you.  I”m sorry for whatever happened when we were young.”

“Are you?” the man asked, a sinister look in his eye.  “You worked so hard to move on, to erase me from your life.  Now you’re sorry you did?”

Corey looked at the man, studied him.  It wasn’t the face that gave him away as much as the voice.  Was it possible?  Could this man before him be the monster that tormented his dreams as a kid?  No.  That was impossible, wasn’t it?  That man wasn’t even real.  He was a figure of Corey’s imagination, a product of the trauma caused by his abusive father.  If he was showing up almost twenty years later, then it might just be time for Corey to quit drinking.  “What did you say your name was?” Corey asked.

“I didn’t,” the man answered, his smile returning.  “I didn’t say my name because I don’t have one, not really.  I just am.  Many people call me many things.  I’m the boogeyman, the monster in the closet, the tooth fairy even.  Call me whatever you want, Corey.  What was it you called me when you were young?  The Bad Man.  That was it. I remember it fondly.”

Corey shook his head.  Someone is messing with me.  This can’t be real.  It isn’t. Things like this don’t happen.  Your nightmare creature from childhood doesn’t come back twenty years later and strike up a conversation with you in a bar.  “Who are you really?  Is this your idea of a joke?  How did you find out about my nightmares? Psychiatrists aren’t supposed to divulge those things to people, but Dr. Simon must have.  That’s the only way you could know about the Bad Man.”

The other man actually laughed at him.  “Or maybe I was there.  How much fun it used to be to come out of your closet or crawl from under your bed, to watch your eyes grow and grow until that scream burst from your lips.”

“Shut up.”  Who the hell is this guy?  What does he want?

The stranger laughed again.  “You remember what happened next, don’t you?”

“Of course I do, but that was a long time ago.  It doesn’t matter.  I think I need some water.”  Corey looked around the room for someone that could provide a distraction, help him out of this bizarre situation.  Everyone seemed engrossed in their own conversation.  It almost seemed like they were purposely trying not to look at him.

“Your father would come into your room.  He was furious that you woke him, and he would scream and hit you, and you would scream and cry, and I…oh, I would hide and watch.”

“I said shut up.”

The stranger’s smile only widened.  “When your father left to return to bed, I would come back out and terrorize you some more, but you were just as afraid of your father as you were me, maybe more so, so you refused to cry, you refused to yell.  You would just squeeze your eyes shut tight like that would make me go away, and then you would wet the bed.”

“Enough!” Corey shouted.  “What the hell do you want?”

“I just want you back, Corey.  I want to be friends again.”

“You’re insane.”

“I am?  Or are you?  Look around you.”

Corey turned away from him.  When he looked at the people standing around, they quickly looked away from him.  What the hell is going on?  Did somebody put something in my drink?  Corey turned back to the man claiming to be his childhood nightmare.  “Can they see you?”

The man across from him winked.  “No siree.  They think you’re fucking nuts. Look at that blonde girl you were talking to earlier.  Take a look.”

Corey watched the man step out of the way so he could see the woman that lit his cigarette for him.  She was staring straight at him, and she looked afraid.  He wanted to apologize to her, but what would he even say?  Instead, Corey looked back at the Bad Man and nodded.  I have to take this conversation away from the public.  I wish I could take my drinks to go.  Somehow I think I’m still going to need them.  I don’t know if they have enough alcohol in the building to get me through whatever is going on, though.

Corey downed his old-fashioned.  Then he grabbed his beer and headed for the door that led back into the bar.  He looked back at the man that only he could see and said, “Come on.”

Then he opened the door and stumbled into the bar.  He downed what was left in his bottle and left it on the bar as he walked by en route for the front door of the establishment.  “You gonna be alright?” the bartender called after him.  “You want me to call you an Uber?”

“I’m walking,” Corey told him.  Then he marched out the door into the cool night air and lit up another cigarette.  He took a long drag off of it and watched the door waiting for it to reopen.  He knew the other man was following him, and the guy wasn’t done yet.  He wasn’t just going to let Corey leave.  Where the hell was he?

A voice spoke from behind him, talking softly into his right ear.  “Where we headed?  You gonna take me to see your new bedroom?  I hope I can fit under your bed still.”

Corey whipped around and glared at the man.  Of course, he doesn’t have to use doors, does he?  Corey’s gaze passed over the other people standing out front, and more coming and going, and he held his tongue.  Instead of speaking, he just started walking, knowing that the other man would follow.

He walked past prying ears and kept going until he reached the park.  Corey glanced over and scoffed at the smile that was waiting for him.  “Alright,” he said, entering the park and walking the dirt road under the overhanging trees.  “Talk.  Tell me what you really want from me.”

The Bad Man walked with a skip in his step.  He swayed and spun, almost dancing.  “You remember when you were twelve years old?  That was the year you left me.”

“The year my father died,” Corey said.

“That’s right.  With him gone, things got a little easier for you to work with.  Your mom got you into therapy, and then you started seeing that psychiatrist who put you on meds, and you even got a girlfriend.  You were messed up, sure, but you weren’t afraid anymore.  That was just it.  You literally looked at me and told me to go away.  You said I wasn’t real.”

Corey sat down on the bench beside the duck pond.  “So what?  You’re pissed off that I grew up.”

The Bad Man’s smile fell away.  A wave of anger fell over his face, a muscle spasming in his cheek.  His eyes burned with hatred.  His lip curled up and then relaxed.  “No,” he said, more relaxed now but still with an edge to his voice.  “Everyone I visit grows up, Corey.  The thing is, they all take me with them.  I’m a lasting trauma, something they try not to talk about with their spouses but always feel and remember. I’m the reason they still stare at the floor beneath their bed when they enter the room at night or pack their closets so full that they know no one could fit in there.  I’m the reason they go running when they hear their kids cry out, awakened from a nightmare, because they’re so afraid what happened to them is going to happen to their children.  The fear of me is lifelong, and it spreads like a disease.  You don’t just…GET OVER IT!!!”

Corey flinched as the man screamed his final words.  “Okay,” he said quietly.

The man bent over and stared into his face.  He was snarling now, his eyes like burning embers.  Corey nodded at the sight of him.  This was the Bad Man he remembered.  This is what was missing.  The fury, the evil.  That was why he looked familiar but different, why Corey couldn’t place him before.  “So why did you wait until now to come back?  If you were so pissed that I stopped caring about you, then why didn’t you haunt me sooner?”

Two guys jogging the trail by the pond turned their heads and glared at Corey. “Freaking addicts are everywhere now,” one of them said.

“I’m seriously thinking of moving,” the other answered.

Corey watched them jog past, and he sighed.  I wish I was on drugs.

“I did try to get you back before now,” the Bad Man said.  “I was so angry.  I lashed out.  You were sixteen.  You hadn’t mentioned me in your therapy sessions.  You didn’t draw pictures of me in your journal or wake up in a cold sweat remembering the way I used to torment you.  I’m always watching, waiting to come up, but I never did.  So I took it out on your girlfriend.”

Corey jumped up from the bench, and he stormed off.  “That’s bullshit,” he said as he went.  “She moved away.  You’re just trying to scare me, to make yourself relevant again.”

“So you dated for years, and she moved away without so much as saying goodbye?”  Corey was walking so fast the Bad Man had to run to keep up with him.  “If it’s not true, then why are you running away, Corey?  That’s the truth of what happened when you were young, isn’t it?  You didn’t stop being afraid.  You just ran away, hid from the memories, took meds to block me out.”

“It was the alcohol, wasn’t it?” Corey said as he stomped through the park. “That’s why I was able to see you and talk to you again after all these years.”

The Bad Man’s voice came from the other side now, whispering into his other ear.  “That’s right.  You claim to be healed, to be over me, but you spend your nights drinking alone at a bar and stumbling home.  You’re not over anything.”

Corey growled.  “You have no idea what you’re talking about.  I’m a social drinker.  I don’t usually drink alone, and even if I start off that way, I don’t end the night that way.  I could have gone home with that blonde if you hadn’t shown up and ruined it.”

“Believe what you want to believe.  Didn’t she look at all familiar to you?  Don’t all the blondes you meet when you’re drunk?”

Corey stopped in his tracks.  “She looked like Lindsay,” he said, more to himself. “She’s the one thing I never got over.”

“Because she left you without so much as a goodbye, and you were so in love, Corey.  You thought you were going to get married and live happily ever after, and to this day, you can’t understand why you didn’t.  You’re constantly drawn to women that look like what she would look like if she were still alive.  You take them home and make love to them, but you won’t ever date them or start a relationship because you don’t trust them to stay, to not break your heart the way sweet little Lindsay did.  I made sure that the fear and hurt she caused lingered because my own didn’t.”

Corey threw a punch at him, but his fists only sliced through the night air.  He swung again and again.  “She’s not dead,” he snarled as he tried to hit the man who just disappeared and reappeared at will, laughing at him and his pent-up anger.  “She moved away!”

“Get a load of this guy,” someone said as they walked by, drinking a beer in a paper bag.  Another young man next to him with a similar choice in beverage said, “The first rule of fight club,” and the two of them laughed hysterically.

“Screw you!” Corey yelled.  He lowered his head and charged at them. “Attaboy,” the Bad Man said from behind him as he ran.  The young men yelled out, Whoa!” and then laughed some more.  Corey swung his fists at them the same way he had the man of his childhood nightmares, and just the same, his punches failed to connect with anything.  The boys laughed and threw their beer cans at him before running away.

“Oh, Corey,” a voice said into his ear.  “You can do better than that, can’t you? That’s just pitiful.  I mean, I knew you couldn’t hit me, but you should have been able to beat those brats into submission.  Has anyone ever told you that you drink too much?”

Corey fell to his knees.  He put his hands to his head and covered his ears, squeezing his eyes shut tight.  “Just shut up,” he said.  “You’re not any more real now than you were back then.  I’m not going to let you do this to me.  Just go away.  I’m done.”

“Are you really, though?” The Bad man’s voice traveled like he was walking circles around Corey as he sat upon the ground.  “You were just trying to pick up another girl that looked like Lindsay, and you mean to tell me you really want me to leave?  You don’t want to find out what actually happened to her?”

“She moved away,” Corey said without opening his eyes.  You’re not real.  Go away.”

The Bad Man laughed.  “Then tell me, Corey, why you were never able to find her.  I told you I’m always watching, waiting on my moment.  I know you’ve been looking for her for years.  You called people and searched social media.  Even her parents didn’t know what happened to her.  That was strange, wasn’t it?  They just had that note I watched her write, the one that said she was running away and going to live a better life.”

Corey’s eyes snapped open, and he stared angrily at the smiling man before him. “And that’s what happened!  Her father wasn’t any better than mine.  That’s what drew us together, understanding and compassion through shared trauma.  She had reason to run away.  I just wish she had told me or given me the chance to come with her.  I would have gone.  I would have gone.”

The Bad Man stared into Corey’s eyes and grinned.  “And she would have asked, and deep down you’ve always known that.  You’ve always known that something terrible happened to her.”

Corey felt defeated.  His shoulders slumped, and his head hung down, his eyes on the ground.  “Tell me.  What did you do?  Tell me.”

The Bad Man backed away and stood, Corey’s gaze following him as he did so. “You didn’t come to this park by coincidence, Corey.  You always walk this way because you used to come here with Lindsay.  You came here because she was on your mind…because she’s always on your mind.  It’s no different than the blondes at the bar.”

“What did you do?” Corey snapped.

The Bad Man simply smiled.  “I’ll show you.  I’ll make it all make sense and, in turn, make sure that you never forget me again.  Go to your special place, the place where you and Lindsay used to go to hide away from your dads and feel safe.  Even after your own dad passed, her dad kept your fear of him alive and well.  Come on. Let’s go.  Lead the way.”

Corey went to the walking bridge, and he stepped into the stream that ran under it.  He looked around just like he did when he was in high school to make sure that no one was looking.  He could almost feel Lindsay next to him.  Not a day went by that he didn’t miss her.

When he judged the coast to be clear, he crawled under the bridge that was barely above the ground.  His clothes got soaked in the stream.  He reached down into the water and grabbed big rocks, removing them from a piece of rotted old wood.  Then he moved the wood, and there was a metal cover.  He strained to lift it from the water.

“I knew you would still remember the way,” the Bad Man said from beside him. Corey looked over to find the man squatting next to him, looking joyous and gleeful. Corey just snorted and went back to the task at hand.  He needed to prove to himself that all of this was in his head, that nothing was down there.  He needed to see with his own drunken eyes that Lindsay had moved and the Bad Man wasn’t real.  Then he could talk to his therapist about all of it next week when they met again.

Once the metal cover was removed, Corey slipped into the exposed end of the pipe, sliding down in water that spilled in from the stream.  He remembered doing the same with Lindsay and laughing together before kissing when they reached the bottom. “Come on,” he could hear her say in his memory.

Corey ran along the tunnel until he reached a hole in the wall, and he climbed through it.  It’s still here.  I can’t believe it’s still here after all this time.  I guess it was pretty well hidden.  “This is it,” he said out loud then.

“You put the metal lid on yourself, and Lindsay covered it with cardboard.  You stole it from the manhole by the school.  Do you remember?”

“Of course.  It was heavy as hell and crazy, but Lindsay was afraid that the wood wasn’t enough, that her father would find our special place and make it terrible just like home.”

“But he never did.”

“I don’t think so.  I’m pretty sure he would have killed both of us if he had.”

“That’s why you still came this far in and went through the wall into this place after coming down here, just to be safe.  You were both safe here, safe together, right? This was your special place where you could be together, and nothing could hurt either of you.”

“That’s right,” Corey said, but now he was feeling nervous.

“Except it isn’t.  If it didn’t get too wet on the way down here, take your phone out and turn on the flashlight.”

Corey wanted to argue, to snap at his childhood monster again, but he was too afraid, so he just did as the Bad Man said.  When he had the flashlight on, he cast the light around the room, illuminating the scene a few feet at a time.  It was on his third sweep that he saw her.  She was little more than a skeleton now, sitting up in the corner.  She was still wearing the floral print babydoll dress she used to wear all the time because he liked it.  No.  It couldn’t be her, right?  It had to be someone else. Surely someone else had found this place other than them.  Maybe someone overdosed.

“No one ever found this place,” the Bad Man told him.  “It was yours, and it is still yours, just like Lindsay.  Do you believe me now?  Do you fear me?”

Corey started to shake.  He whipped around with a fury to glare at the Bad Man, but he wasn’t over there.  He could feel him on his other side, and Corey screamed, whipping around again.  The Bad Man laughed as Corey jammed a finger into his smiling face.  “What did you do?  What the hell did you do?  You told me you’d tell me.  You said you’d make it make sense, so make it make sense, damn it.  What did you do?!”

The Bad Man offered his signature smile.  “I didn’t do anything, Corey.  I’m not real.”

Suddenly Corey found himself alone with the skeleton that had been hidden away for so long and he collapsed, sobbing.  He crawled across the floor and took the old bones into his arms.  He coughed from the dust and cried into the dress that had all but disintegrated over the years.

Rating: 10.00/10. From 1 vote.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Written by Chisto Healy
Edited by Craig Groshek and Seth Paul
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Chisto Healy


Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on CreepypastaStories.com are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

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