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|“||Don't fear the dark. Fear ME.||„|
|~ The Bogeyman, taking the player on a roller-coaster ride|
The Bogeyman is one of the secondary antagonists of The Secret World MMORPG and the primary antagonist of the tie-in game The Park. One of an increasingly rare species of monster known throughout popular folklore, this particular bogeyman has abandoned the traditional hunting grounds beneath the beds of children, and instead haunts the derelict rides of the Atlantic Island Park on Solomon Island. Having been left mostly undisturbed since the Park's closure in the 1980s, the Bogeyman feeds off the emotions of others - joy and terror being popular forms - and will go to any lengths to inspire it in anyone unfortunate enough to trespass on his territory.
Few could ever mistake the Bogeyman for a human being, even at a distance: unnaturally tall and improbably thin, he strides across the park on stilt-like legs, reaching out towards his victims with long, spindly arms. His right arm is missing all but one of its fingers, leaving it little more than a nail-tipped tentacle. His neck is so swollen with goiters that he appears almost chinless, his bloated throat dominating most of his lower jaw. His face, though still somewhat humanoid, is frozen in a deranged grin, his mouth remaining perpetually open in a ghastly parody of a smile; this only becomes more pronounced during his appearances in The Park, where his already-hideous teeth are so large that they appear to be forcing the Bogeyman's jaws apart, leaving him with the needle-fanged grimace of a deep-sea angler fish.
Befitting his rule over the amusement park, the Bogeyman is dressed in the tattered costume of a ringmaster, complete with a stitched-up top hat, a ragged longcoat, a pinstriped shirt and trousers, and a theatrical staff. Judging by the cutouts left through The Park, this costume actually used to belong to Nathaniel Winter when he was still human, and he adopted it for full-time usage following his transformation into the Bogeyman.
However, few - if any - see the Bogeyman up close: most of the time, he prefers to toy with his victims from a distance with illusions and nightmares, only attacking a target head-on if he has no other choice.
Unknown to all but a select few, the Bogeyman of Atlantic Island Park was once human - and had once been known by the name of Nathaniel Winter.
Winter had grown up fearful and neurotic, often frustrated with how helpless he was in the face of his many anxieties. He vowed that one day, he would never be afraid again - that he would somehow find a power that could make him immune to fear and doubt. This desire to live without fear never left him, even as he matured into adulthood, ultimately driving the young Winter to the creation of a corporate empire spanning most of America and a fortune valued at several hundred million dollars. However, though his wealth brought him great power, it was never enough to satisfy his need for security: no matter how much money he made or how many political allies he cultivated, he could never truly be without fear.
Eventually, this obsession with power brought Winter into direct contact with the Secret World in the 1960s, and from there, the Illuminati. Upon discovering that the supernatural was real and well within reach, Winter was overjoyed, immediately convinced that magic was the power that he'd been looking for after so many years; making contact with the Illuminati, he petitioned them for membership, hoping that his vast fortune could easily grant him access to lessons in magic. However, though the Illuminati were more than happy to maintain a healthy partnership with the aging property mogul, his request for membership was politely denied: Winter simply didn't have the kind of influence they were looking for in their more political members, and lacked the innate magical ability that might have gained him entry as a junior mage.
For the first time in decades, Nathaniel Winter found himself unable to buy his way into power. Infuriated, he looked elsewhere for means of acquiring magic, but the results were always the same: without any innate gifts, he'd have to learn magic the hard way through years of dedicated study and learning. But Winter's ambitions had grown further: he wanted to be known as the greatest magus the world had ever seen, and he wanted the power immediately.
Theme Park Tycoon
His search for possible shortcuts to thaumaturgical power eventually led him to Solomon Island in the 1970s: by then, the island was already known as a nexus of great power that the Illuminati had tried and failed to harness centuries ago, and more than one mundane company had been left bankrupt by magical disasters at Blue Ridge Mine. Undeterred by the ominous reputation surrounding the island, Winter began investigating the lands and writing of the infamous Archibald Henderson, a long-dead sorcerer who had given up a life among the Illuminati to become a farmer on Solomon Island - only to promptly turn his newly-mastered skills against the locals. "Old Man Henderson" had known of the dark energies lurking beneath the Island, and had tried to harness them by using the hatred and fear of his victims, though his success rate is still uncertain. Winter believed that he could tap into the same power by different means, imbuing himself with the magical power he lusted for - though it would require a significant hunt for resources first.
Seeking out a legendary architect said to sail the Calypso Deep, he paid handsomely for the designs to a machine capable of harvesting and storing Anima (raw magical energy) - even outbidding the infamous Phoenician Brotherhood in the process. He then brought the plans back to Solomon Island, bought up most Old Man Henderson's land, and began construction of the machines that would allow him to achieve ultimate magic power. However, where Henderson had believed that negative emotions would be the key to harnessing the energies, Winter believed that he could do so by positive emotions - joy and laughter and exhilaration.
So it was that Nathaniel Winter's anima capacitor was disguised as an amusement park, eventually named Atlantic Island Park. Unfortunately, problems beset the construction site almost immediately: equipment malfunctioned, workers died in horrific accidents, and the half-built rides were said to "whisper" at night. Winter ignored any complaints from the workers, too enamored with the possibility of magical power to entertain any delays; by then, he had learned that the anima capacitor could even grant him immortality, making him even less tolerant of the workers' fears. For the time being, his influence with senators and local officials ensured that most of the deaths were dismissed as accidents without serious investigation.
Against all odds, the park was finally opened in 1978. However, the "accidents" never stopped - indeed, they only grew more disastrous: the roller-coaster derailed, killing a family of three; dozens of children went missing in the House of Horrors; another child was found stabbed to death behind the cotton candy stand; several teenagers were brutally murdered by a park employee in a Chad the Chipmunk costume. Many of these incidents were actually attributable to Winter's machines: as a result of having their joy being siphoned off by the rides, most visitors walked away feeling unaccountably fearful; a rare few - the lonely, the sorrowful and the disturbed - found their depression amplified a thousandfold by the process, some of them even being driven to murder by it, as was the case with "Chad."
In the end, the rising death toll finally forced the local government to step in, and despite Winter's best efforts, the park was closed for good in 1980. Furious at the apparent failure of the product, Winter sent his wife and children back to Boston and vanished from the public eye; in reality, he had retreated into the abandoned amusement park and made a home for himself in the House of Horror. There, he began work on a new project, trying to infuse himself with the Anima his machines had harvested.
Eventually, he was met with some degree of success: a group of students from Innsmouth Academy broke in in pursuit of thrills on the abandoned grounds of the amusement park, and Winter was able to capture one of them, putting him on a slab in the basement of the House of Horrors. Tickling the helpless student until his lungs almost gave out, he managed to force enough laughter out of him to activate the machines, not only harvesting the student but successfully infusing himself with the energy he desired.
Soon after, the dark power ran rampant throughout his body, transforming him into the Bogeyman. Deranged and triumphant in his success, he continued luring wayward children into the park, feasting upon fear in his capacity as a Bogeyman and harvesting their laughter in his capacity as master of the Park.
At some point during the 1980s, Lorraine Mailard breaks into Atlantic Island Park in search of her son Callum. In the beginning, she is under the impression that the the park is still open and flourishing, and that Callum simply ran back inside to enjoy "his favourite place in the world" - though this is most likely due to the Bogeyman's illusions and possibly Lorraine's burgeoning mental illness. In reality, the Bogeyman has captured Callum and brought him back to his lair beneath the House of Horrors.
While Lorraine explores the abandoned park, the Bogeyman only occasionally reveals himself to his newest victim, typically appearing in the control booths of the various rides, occasionally frightening her with illusions and phantasms. Also during this time, he slowly begins turning the emotional siphoning of the park against Lorraine, worsening her depression and corrupting her complicated relationship with Callum into unreasoning hatred.
However, it isn't until Lorraine takes a ride on the roller-coaster that the Bogeyman decides to get personal. Having decided to hitch a lift on Lorraine's car, he whispers mockingly in her ear about how hard Callum tried to warn her about the park. He also states that he loathes both Callum and Lorraine, as they are the "antithesis of all that we stand for"; Lorraine's depression and neglect of her son make both of them unsuitable for harvesting - as they lack joy. Nonetheless, he lures her on, enjoying their fear instead.
At the end of the game, he draws her into the basement of the House of Horrors, where Callum lies unconscious on his slab. Though Lorraine has managed to recover from the emotional distortion, the Bogeyman is nonetheless able to manipulate her into stabbing Callum to death with an ice pick - relishing her anguish when she realizes what she's done.
With one unwanted harvest disposed of, he allows Lorraine to take the blame for Callum's murder and settles in to wait for the next victim...
A Carnival Of Souls
By 2012, the park is still standing, though Nathaniel Winter's estranged son Nicholas is negotiating with property developers to have it sold off and torn down. At this time, Nathaniel is believed to be dead, a body having been found and tentatively identified as the missing millionaire - almost certainly a fakery conjured by the Bogeyman - and his few remaining properties have been dispersed to his next of kin according to his will. Despite having inherited the park in accordance with the will, Nicholas feels no attachment to the long-abandoned property, not even for the money he could earn from it.
However, the arrival of the Fog around Solomon Island and the localized zombie apocalypse brings the sale to an end - along with Nicholas' attempts at leaving the park behind. Visiting the island solely for the sake of conducting the sale and finally earning a bit of closure, he finds himself unexpectedly pinned down by the Fog, forcing him to seek refuge at the top of the Ferris Wheel. After the Fog recedes, he eventually climbs back down and shelters in his car, apparently unaware of just how close he came to meeting his father face-to-face.
It is at this point that The Secret World begins and the players are sent to Solomon Island to investigate the Fog. Though Atlantic Island Park initially seems of little concern compared to the activities of Freddy Beaumont and the Filth, the presence of Phoenician operatives on the island eventually draws the players' attentions to Nicholas Winter and the inexplicable phenomena surrounding the park - not to mention the Phoenicians' mission to acquire Nathaniel Winter's long-forgotten plans for an Anima capacitor. Initially, Nicholas serves as a guide to the players in their attempts to unravel the secrets of his father's pride and joy, but as time goes on, the emotional distortion of the park begins to corrupt him, distorting his desire for closure into an unhealthy obsession with Nathaniel Winter's legacy, eventually leaving him as hostile and vicious as Lorraine was during The Park.
Eventually, players investigate the park itself, braving the monsters loose on the grounds and ultimately getting the attention of the Bogeyman himself. At first taunting the players during a ride on the roller coaster, he finally engages them in battle during the mission "A Carnival Of Souls." Unfortunately for him, the players are not only effectively invincible but also immune to the illusions and emotion-warping powers that made the park so devastating to visitors like Lorraine.
In the end, the Bogeyman is slain in battle - the legacy of Nathaniel Winters ending once and for all in the ruins of Atlantic Island Park. For good measure, the players destroy the Anima Capacitor in the following mission, ensuring that the Phoenicians can never claim it for themselves and Nicholas can never follow his father's path into monstrosity.
- Many have compared the Bogeyman's design to the Babadook, unfortunately leaving some reviewers with the impression that The Park is really a Babadook-inspired story of mental illness. However, The Secret World was released in 2012, whereas Babadook was released in 2014, making claims of such inspiration dubious at best.