Obey the rules. It’s the only way to survive the night in a short story about what hides in the dark by the New York Times bestselling author of The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires.
Marcus grew up believing his father killed his mother—then blamed it on the boogeyman under the bed. Always leave the lights on, his father warned, or the boogeyman will get you. Marcus still heeds the superstition, especially when he invites his new girlfriend over. Is Marcus haunted by a creature or has he just inherited his father’s murderous delusions? The night will tell.
Grady Hendrix’s Ankle Snatcher is part of Creature Feature, a collection of devilishly creepy stories that tingle the spine and twist the mind. They can be read or listened to in one petrifying sitting.
As if I needed another reason to love Grady Hendrix, he gives us his own take on the traditional boogeyman, the Ankle Snatcher. One of the shortest in length out of all the entries in the Amazon Creature Feature Collection, “Ankle Snatcher” is such a creative execution of a well-explored topic. We meet Marcus in the middle of a second date with a woman named Tess. When their flirty banter turns to serious conversation, Marcus reveals something startling: his father killed his mother but claimed it was actually the boogeyman. See, the cardinal rule in Marcus’ household was to never get out of bed without turning a light on first. Unfortunately, Marcus’ mother failed to do so and ended up dead. Tess, not deterred by the revelation, agrees to go home with Marcus who despite the insanity of the idea still abides by the rule to always turn on the light before leaving bed.
As things unfold within the next fifteen pages or so, Hendrix delves into the idea of how we as human beings tend to fully reject or embrace the ideas of our parents. While Marcus has spent all his life believing his father to be a murderer, the events that transpire in the story call all this logic into question. If the one thing Marcus came to believe to be true is false, what can he believe?
I would venture to argue that there is a small sense of world-building within this short story in explaining and defining the lore of the Ankle Snatcher. I was very much entertained by the creative spin on the boogeyman, especially when the idea of “Thing in the Closet” and “Mr. Walks in the Hall” are introduced later in the story. More than anything, I want a full-fledged novel expanding upon this short story and how Marcus navigates his current reality. I have so many questions I won’t pose here to keep spoilers out of this, but boy is there an opportunity for a detailed exploration into the legends of the things that go bump in the night.
Overall, “Ankle Snatcher” is a unique, fun, grotesque read that will have you making sure all arms and legs are always kept inside the boundaries of your bed. Grady Hendrix displays his unique voice in horror storytelling as always with relatable characters and unique rules to obey. Don’t let the short length fool you; this story packs a terrifying punch.