The Madman is a spooky bedtime story about scary campfire story about a farmer who, for some reason, went stark raving mad and murdered his entire family. It was inspired by a scene in a horror movie that was made in 1982, called “Madman”.
It all started at Camp Varney, a summer camp for kids and young teenagers. After the sun went down, Old Man Varney helped the kids build a campfire and promised he would tell them a scary story before bedtime. As they sat around the crackling flames, eating sausages and wolfing down roasted marshmallows, the old man stood up and cleared his throat.
“Now it’s time for my story,” he said. “My story deals with a man who used to live in the old dilapidated house behind those trees over there. We’re not usually supposed to be this close to it, because many strange things happened around here.”
“Many, many years ago, there was a farmer who lived there with his family, a wife and two children. He was an evil man, ugly and mean. He beat his wife almost every night and brutally whipped his children whenever the mood took him. He always drank at the same tavern and spent his time picking fights with the other customers. He once had a piece of his nose bitten off in a bar-room brawl and didn’t even feel a thing.”
“It was a night like this, many, many years ago. Now that I think about it, it was around the same time of year. It might even have been the same night as tonight. The forest was silent and dark. The moon was pale and full and there wasn’t a cloud in the night sky. The farmer was finishing up some work in the barn when, for no apparent reason, he went stark raving mad. He walked into his house with an axe in his hand and crept up the stairs. Then, he went into the main bedroom and, as his wife lay sleeping in her bed, he chopped her up into little pieces.”
“Surveying the carnage, his thirst for blood was awakened and he walked down the hall to his son’s room. With a few swift blows of his trusty axe, he made mincedmeat out of the poor boy, but he still wasn’t finished. Quiet as a mouse, he crossed the corridor and slowly opened the door of his daughter’s room. Without so much as a word, he brought his axe crashing down and chopped off her head. Then, he calmly walked into the local tavern, laid the bloody axe on the bar and ordered himself a beer.”
“Well, it wasn’t long before the townsfolk discovered what had happened and when they did, it was all over for the mad farmer, or so they thought. In the end, it took ten strong men to overpower the farmer. They wrestled him to the ground and dragged him screaming to the nearest tree. They put a noose around his neck and hoisted him high into the air. One of them grabbed the bloody axe and struck the farmer on the head, leaving a deep wound on one side of his face. They left him there to hang by the neck until he was dead.”
“The next morning, when they went out to cut him down, they found that he was gone. It was then that they noticed that the bodies of his wife and children were also missing. To this day, their bodies have never been found and on certain nights, when the moon is full, they say he goes out there stalking in the woods, searching for people so he can decapitate them with an axe or hang them from a tree.”
“At this point, you’re probably wondering why I never told you the man’s name. Well, I’m not going to and there’s a reason for that. A very good reason. You see, it is said that if you speak his name in the forest, louder than a whisper, he will hear you… because he can be anywhere at any time… and if he hears his name being called, he will come for you… and if he comes for you, he will kill you…”
“If you remember nothing else, remember most of all
Never say his name out loud, for if he hears your call,
One by one, he’ll come for you and one by one, you’ll fall,
Before the night is over, he’ll come to take you all…”
As soon as he finished his story and took his seat, every last one of the kids gathered around the campfire began begging and pleading with him to tell them the man’s name.
“Why can’t you just tell us?” asked one little girl.
“I simply can’t,” he replied. “It’s too dangerous.”
“Aw come on!” cried one young boy. “That’s so unfair. You can’t just leave us hanging like that!”
Eventually, the old man gave in. “All right then, I’ll whisper it to you,” he said.
He cupped his hands around his mouth and all of the kids leaned forward as he whispered, straining their ears to hear the name.
“What did he say?” asked one of the younger children. “I couldn’t hear! Monkey Man?”
“It sounded like Mighty Mouse or something like that,” said another.
“His name is Marz!” shouted one of the older girls. “Madman Marz!”
Everyone turned and stared at her in shock.
“Woohoo!” shouted the girl. “Madman Marz! We’re over here! Come and get us, you crazy old coot!”
“Now look what you’ve done!” cried the old man, jumping up from his seat. He ran over to the girl, his fists clenched tightly in anger. “Don’t you realize you’re messing with things that you don’t understand? The man… whose name I dare not speak aloud… will think you are making fun of him.”
The teenage girl just laughed in the old man’s face. “Get a grip, Grandpa,” she said. “It’s just a dumb story you tell the kids to scare them into behaving themselves at bedtime.”
Old Man Varney turned around and stared into the trees. His hands were trembling.
“She didn’t mean it!” he cried. “She’s just young and stupid! She didn’t know what she was doing!”
The other kids eyed the woods nervously. The branches swayed in the breeze and the light from the campfire threw strange shadows on the trees that surrounded them. When the old man turned back to face them, his skin seemed pale and his eyes were frightened.
“Let’s hope that stopped him in time,” he said. “If not, then no one is safe in the woods tonight. Whatever you do, just stay inside where it’s safe. Don’t go into the forest alone. You won’t hear him and you won’t see him. You’ll just smell the foul odor of death and, when you turn around, you’ll catch a glimpse of his horribly mutilated face, staring down at you. That’s the last thing you’ll see before… CHOP!… off goes your head.”
With that, Old Man Varney grabbed a bucket of sand and poured it over the campfire.
“That’s enough for tonight,” he said with a sigh. “Time for bed.”
The kids all got up from their seats and went back to their cabins. A few of them threw nervous glances over their shoulders at the woods. As they were leaving, the older girl happened to look over at the dilapidated old house that lay beyond the trees. For a moment, she thought she saw a shadow lurking in the darkness. Was it really the shape of a person or was it just the moonlight playing tricks on her eyes? She wasn’t quite sure.
Safely back in her cabin, she undressed and got into bed. After the lights went out, she lay awake for a long time, thinking about the story Old Man Varney had told them. Perhaps she had been too reckless when she shouted out the name of Madman Marz. She needed to go to the toilet, so she got up, put on her slippers and walked outside.
The outhouse was just a few cabins away and she glanced around furtively in the darkness. The night was silent and nobody was around. A chill went down her spine as she made her way towards the lonely outhouse. As she approached it, she noticed a terrible stench in the air. The door of the outhouse was ajar and it creaked in the breeze. She tried not to think about what could be lurking inside.
Holding her nose, she crept closer to the outhouse. She was sorely tempted to run back to her cabin and jump back into bed, but she really needed to go to the toilet. Cautiously, she reached out, grabbed the handle and slowly opened the door.
The outhouse was empty.
Breathing a sigh of relief, she went inside and sat down on the toilet. When she was finished, she flushed and opened the door. Standing behind it was Old Man Varney. There was a look of furious rage in his eyes and, in his wrinkled hands, he was clutching an axe.
She opened her mouth to scream, but the scream died in her throat the moment her head hit the ground.