10. "The Boogeyman" (Short Story)
Original publication date: 1973
Included in: Night Shift (1978)
“The Boogeyman” is one of King’s coldest and most haunting tales, anchored by the deaths of three little kids. According to their father, the young victims were murdered by an unseen monster, which they all called “the Boogeyman,” while sleeping in their bedrooms. Pops is sharing his accounts with a psychiatrist, coming off as a paranoid schizophrenic more so than a grieving dad. But, as it turns out, the patient isn’t the one with the split identity.
In a master stroke, King supplants the usually kid-centric fears of the “Boogeyman” onto a grown man, turning every child’s least favorite monster into a predatory demon who follows its prey from home to home, a la the Paranormal Activity entity. Written with permeating dread, “The Boogeyman” creeps through a narrative complete with broken-necked infant corpses that culminates in a bleak and ghoulish kicker that’s not recommended to experience before heading to bed.