The Spookymen

 

The most defining trait of Spookymen is their hunger for fear, or more accurately, the energy put off by beings that feel it.

Named by children who encountered them at summer camp in a Midwestern forest, these creatures come, synchronized to the tides, phases of the moon, and humanity’s nightmares.

They are shape shifters compelled to terrify fear-feeling creatures in order to obtain sustenance; their appearances limited only by their imaginations. They show preferences and different tastes, but most Spookymen have a special attraction to humans in the grip of extraordinary, acute terror and even horror.

They seem to capitalize on the nearly universal legends of Bogeymen in human culture, even perpetuating the tales themselves through their numerous guises. They are the darkness that obscures, the voice that taunts, the threatening noise from the gloom that causes man to flee, puppeted by the wild instincts of his mind.

Their true appearances are humanoid but all resemblance to us stops there. Their skin is leathery, colored a pale blue or green, and their heads are abnormally large, adorned with numerous fins, spines and bony triangular crests that frame a face too alien to relate with. Short almost reptilian muzzles jut from their faces, crammed with unnaturally thin silvery teeth. So stiff and toothy are the Spookymen’s mouths that it seems they can barely open them at all.

They only serve an outward purpose, an unconsciously shown manifestation of warped souls.

Luminous, almost beautiful icy blue eyes are set on each side of the heads, sometimes several pairs but usually appearing in odd numbers.

Their backs are hunched with curved bony formations sprouting from them, giving the appearance of external spines.

The arms and legs are long, lanky, seemingly with more than one elbow or knee joint, and each hand has irregular fingers, some long, some shorter, and like their eyes hardly ever in even numbers. Some have claws or hooks on the end, and others have suction-cupped tips. These features are the only physical individuality these creatures possess, and they choose to project them. Their movement is graceful and controlled despite awkward appearances. They communicate via telepathy which also allows them to get inside the heads of potential food sources.

No one knows what world from the multiverse they came from, or if they are from the human-inspired Void.

They prefer places where victims are isolated and not likely to summon help. Alternately, they will take the opportunity to feed on large numbers, herding them like cattle until they collapse from exhaustion or are too shocked to fight back. They will change shape again and again to get the desired reaction from someone, first telepathically extracting the knowledge of their greatest fears, then exhibiting remarkable creativity by mixing these elements in increasingly horrific ways. Spookymen will often drag humans off to a desolate location if not already in one, and torment them until satiated, or until victims are an unresponsive catatonic mess.

Psychological torture in other ways is often employed to heighten fear. They might even manifest as someone’s dead relative or friend, or even simulate catastrophes. Depending on how powerful the individual Spookyman is, it can sometimes warp not only its own appearance, but the surrounding area, plunging prey into a specially crafted nightmare.

This power eventually depletes however, and they have to let it accumulate again to repeat the process.

They also seem to have their own language, a mishmash of bizarre syllables and eerie fluctuations, as rhythmic as poetry or mantra. It is similar to human language in many ways, despite them not having lips to speak with.

Much like hunting dogs locate the scent of prey, Spookymen find their victims via psychic energy traces left behind.

In other worlds they are free to go where they please due to the terror and chaos they inspire and are known as “Slave Traders” by the denizens of some areas due to their ability to inspire hallucinations and easily kidnap creatures. They will also build or steal temporary vehicles to fulfill objectives quicker, and due to their ruthless attitude won’t hesitate to extract victims from hard to reach places with destructive force. Exhibiting what could be mistaken for mercy or something even close to it, however, they might actively try not to kill or seriously injure in the process, especially if targets are doomed to be taken as slaves for whatever sinister purpose.

Cooperation with neutral entities allows them to not only obtain fear, but other helpful goods as well, with which they may create things to aid them in their fast-pased nomadic existence. 

Motives are often unknown, and the ultimate fate of slaves is of no importance to them. And sometimes they might not contend with their end of a deal, instead taking rewards and quickly vanishing, or even frightening the other party into submission.

They seem to have increasing comprehension of the physical planes and their ways, and have created a living tool for themselves: Narzarkahs, huge hollow-toothed raptor-like creatures with a piercing wail and a numbing venom. Seemingly designed for their purposes, how the Spookymen engineered these things is a guess, or if they even did it themselves at all. 

Their vehicles and actions vary from world to world, depending only on current needs, and since they are almost always filled with hunger, a quick way recieve is to give. True giving without returning is something only two known Spookymen have managed to achieve, and even these had to inhabit the bodies of human beings in order to understand the pain they cause.

As powerful as Spookymen are, their seemingly god-like influence over reality dissipates on one difficult to come to realization: that everything these monsters show their victims is an illusion.

 

The End

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