Been some busy days.
I’m in Austin now, inside the home where I spent my childhood. The familiarity brings comfort to my mind, something which I am in dire need of now.
It was Monday night when…. Things…. Happened. Or more accurately, Tuesday morning. 3:33 AM, to be precise. (Of course it had to be repeating numbers. Anything else would just be silly.) I awoke suddenly at that exact hour. Nothing had caused me to wake up; there had been no sound in my room, nor any suspicious movements. In a moment, I instantly was fully conscious, in spite of all the sleep meds I was on. As though someone had just flipped the on switch in my head, skipping past all the grogginess that should come with waking that early.
There were noises coming from behind my door, so I dressed myself (if one is to face death, you should at least look acceptable when you do so) and opened it. Jason was in the hall, terror filling his eyes. Once those fear filled eyes saw me, he grabbed me by the shoulders, and started whispering, “He’s HERE, he’s HERE, he’s right outside, WATCHING us!” Jason’s hands trembled and his speech was stuttered; I’m amazed he was able to get nine whole coherent words out in the state he was in. Here I felt a strong urge to make some witty reply to his statement, but the chill I felt informed me that it was not the proper time for such joviality.
Apart from the quiet whispering from Jason’s mouth, nothing inside the apartment was unusual. Not even a cryptic note slipped underneath the door. The visible normalcy did not dispel the slow dread creeping upon me. Perhaps I was just being infected by Jason’s feelings, but there was fear in the air, which I struggled to fight against.
A compulsion came over me then, pulling me towards the balcony. Unbidden, my feet walked towards the glass door. The part of my mind filled with knowledge on these situations screamed that the smartest course of action would not be to walk onto the balcony, but to run in the opposite direction, towards the front door, into my car, and then drive until I had crossed five state borders. My legs vetoed this suggestion, and continued walking. Jason was just behind me, also being pulled along by an invisible rope.
Outside the air was freezing. Colder than any Texas weather should have been, even during a winter night. My breath crystallized as it left my mouth, creating a cloud which floated by my head. The air around us crackled as the moisture within froze solid. I tried to still my body, but could not stop it shivering in response to the hellish freeze. At least the only one who could witness this moment of weakness was Jason, a man whose attention was entranced by things other than his roommate’s chilliness.
The balcony gave us a wunderbar view of the courtyard three stories down. Fog had rolled in from all directions, covering the ground in a grey sheet. In the midst of the fog, standing there so starkly visible, as though no fog at all were obscuring his figure, was Slender Man. He was looking at us, with a stare more terrible than any eyes could create. Tentacles surrounded him…. Though I’m not sure if tentacles is the correct word. They looked almost like branches, but they moved with a fluidity of motion not seen in trees. I’ve read people counting the number of tentacles he had during an encounter, but now I’m uncertain how they could have managed such a task. The tentacles were everywhere, coming from each part of his body, and then branching into dozens more. With their constant motion, it was hard to distinguish what was part of Slender Man, and what was just another shadow in the fog. This…. Thing…. No longer resembled a human in any way. Just a mass of twisted branches, with its white face gleaming through the black like a beacon.
He made no hostile moves towards us, just stood in the courtyard, watching us, like he was waiting. I wanted to run from that spot, start running and never look back, but I could not turn my eyes away from the white glow of his face. Jason stood next to me, hands gripping the rusted railing around the balcony, shaking in terror. His face was pale, almost as pale as Slender Man’s, and the only sound now breaking from his lips were whimpers. Carefully, I put a hand on his back. And then I pushed him off the balcony.
The old rails broke easily, and Jason fell down to the waiting tentacles below. The look he directed at me as he descended wasn’t what I had expected; I had thought it would have been anger, but instead, it was disbelief. Like he thought this couldn’t be happening, that it wasn’t happening. The black branches rose up to meet Jason, catching and embracing him. Gently they lowered him until he was level with Slender Man’s face. With graceful precision, more tentacles reached towards Jason, and cut through his chest.
That was when the screams began. Pain and fear, together with one voice, came from Jason, as Slender Man reached inside his body, like a doctor dissecting a lab animal. Dozens more tentacles came, each performing their own delicate task. From the fog, another sound arose; laughter. It was the sound of children laughing…. But…. Not quite right…. It sounded not like I was hearing the laughter of children, but the echo of laughter. The noise mingled with Jason’s screams, creating a harmony. The result was almost musical, a horrible song which played across the night.
I know that you will all damn me for what I did. I can feel your hate and condemnation already. To that I say, Jason was dead already. In his condition, he would have not survived long, and if he did, his sanity would be in terrible shape. The best he could hope for would be to have ended up running around in a mask doing Slender Man’s will. Pushing him off only caused him to meet his inevitable fate a few days earlier.
But that is an excuse, not the reason. Why did I push him off that balcony, knowing he would be taken by Slender Man? Because I had to know. So many people have written about Slender Man killing people, or making them disappear, but I had to see it with my own eyes. I had to understand how he does it. It was an unanswered question, and that is something which I cannot stand.
My hope that I would see the entire process of Slender Man killing Jason was quickly cut away. The fog rose to surround the two, smothering the noise of Jason’s screams. Soon all I could hear was the laughter, rising from the grey cloud. The fog rose with the laughter, drifting closer towards me. I attempted to rush back inside, but the door had locked behind me, trapping me on the balcony. The fog surrounded me, filling my vision with cold blankness. It was the last thing I saw that night.
I woke up on my bed, with my clock telling me it was 5 in the afternoon. My clothes, laptop, and all other belongings I had been planning to take to my parents’ were all carefully packed up and ready to be transported. The apartment had been cleaned spotless; everything carefully organized and put in its place. There had been two finals which I had been scheduled to take earlier that day. I called both professors, and they told me that I had been to their class, and taken the final. Next I got onto Facebook and spoke with some of my acquaintances; they all told me they had seen me, and even interacted with me on campus during the day.
That’s nearly 14 hours of my life which I have no recollection of. 14 hours when practically anything could have happened to me, and I would have no way of knowing.
But that isn’t the thing which disturbed me the most. When I was looking around my apartment after waking up, I glanced into Jason’s room. Everything had been moved out. His television, lamp, clothes, even the old cup of ramen. All that remained was his bed, which had been tidily made with fresh sheets. I quickly left the room and closed the door behind me.
So now I’m here in Austin. I haven’t seen Slender Man since that night. I’m grateful for that. But now, whenever I look out of any window of this house, and see the mass of trees everywhere…. A shiver runs down me.
I’m thinking of going into those woods, and seeing what happens.