I woke from a horrible nightmare. I had been another person in another life. It had ended with me dying. killed by a being I vaguely remember calling itself "Slenderman".
I sat up and looked around my dark room, then glanced at the LED display of my alarm clock. It read 2:15am. I sighed and put my head in my hands, knowing it wouldn't be easy getting back to sleep.
So, I pulled off the covers, got up, and went of to the closet and picked out a random shirt to put on. After I had pulled it on, I went out into the small living room of my apartment. Walking across the the room to the kitchen, I noticed the door to the second room, the one I used as an office, was ajar.
This was strange, because I had made it a habit to shut the door every time I left the room. I walked over over, opened the door, and flipped on the lights, and looked everything over.
This room was my life. My computer, electronic devices, art supplies, CD and DVD collections, video games, and a safe I kept important documents and emergency cash in. I wondered if I had simply forgotten to shut the door. I didn't see anything missing or out of place, so I decided I had, and shut the door. I went to the kitchen, opened the fridge and stared at the contents, wondering what I should eat. Just as I made my choice, I head a soft thunk.
I lifted my head to the sound, and found the door to my office wide open. I again, walked over to the door, and flipped on the lights. I found the room trashed. Papers were strewn everywhere, my computer was destroyed, and the safe had been opened and looted. Despite the mess, I was more alarmed at what was written on the walls.
Messages and oddly familiar symbols were scratched onto the wall in what looked to be blood. The characters ran down the wall, leaving trails of ghoulish red tears.
I stared in disbelief. Who did this? It had only been a mere minute or so when I had last checked this room and it had been completely normal. I rubbed my eyes, hoping that my mind was playing tricks on me. When I opened my eyes, the room was normal again. I felt a mixture of relief and horror as I once again searched the room and, again, found nothing missing or out of place.
Shaking my head, I again shut the door, firmly this time, making sure it was shut, went to the kitchen, snatched a couple cookies from the fridge, chased them down with some water, and went straight back to bed.
The next morning, I got up and checked my office again. Again, everything was normal, so I dismissed the foggy memories of the night before as part of the nightmare. As I went about my daily routine, the memory faded, and by that afternoon, I had completely forgotten about it. I worked at home, making videos, paintings, memorabilia, as well as doing work for various companies, producing concept art for their projects. I was also moonlighting on a video game a friend and I were working on.
As I worked into the afternoon, I got a phone call from the same friend who was helping me with the video game.
"Hey Rocco!" came the voice from the other end of the line.
"Ahoy Mal." I replied.
"I still can't get used to you answering the phone with 'Ahoy'." said Mal.
"It's just what I do Mal. Get used to it." I said, shouldering the phone to my ear as I worked on some a piece of concept art.
"Ya, whatever. Hey, you want to go on a trip this weekend?" asked Mal.
"Can't man, I need to meet a deadline on Tuesday, and there's no way I'll make it if I go on one of you little adventures." I said.
"Come on, you like going on our little adventures."
I paused for a moment before saying "True. But that doesn't mean I can just drop what I'm doing just to keep you and your girlfriend company."
"Maybe. What if I told you Lynda was coming?"
I stopped what I was doing and grabbed the phone "Lynda is going?" I asked, the interest in my voice was obvious.
"Absolutely." Mal sounded pleased with himself. He knew he had me. I had liked Lynda since my freshman year in college.
I mulled over the idea, then decided I would just cram the project.
"Fine I'll go." I said "But she had better be there, or else I'll make sure you have to gum your food for the rest of your life."
"Yum." said Mal "Oatmeal everyday. Sounds like heaven on Earth." Mal laughed.
"You're sick, you know that right?"
"It's why we're friends. Anyway, this Friday, my place, 5:00pm."
"Alright. See ya Mal."
"Later Captain Ahab."
I could almost see him saluting me.
When Friday rolled around, I packed for the weekend, including my clothes, my sketchbook and pencil, and a couple essential internet enabled devices. I took the bus across town, and arrived at Mal's place at around 4:30. I walked around back, and came through the sliding doors into the kitchen.
"Everyone remain calm! This is a robbery!" I yelled.
"Good luck finding anything!" Mal shouted back from his bathroom, "Only things I have here are dust and termites!"
It was sort of true. Mal's house was full of knickknacks and strange items that not many people would think had any value to them.
I put my bag on a chair, walked into the living room, and slumped onto the couch. A few second later, Mal came in, and sat next to me.
"So, what are we doing?" I asked.
"You'll see." said Mal with a wink.
We sat around for a couple minutes before I asked "Is Sheryl coming?"
"Of course. Why do you get to hang with a girl for a weekend and I don't?" said Mal.
"Because I'm better looking." I said with a grin.
"Ya, and I'm He-Man."
"Where is Sheryl by the way?" I asked.
"She went to go get groceries. She'll be back soon."
I let my head hang back. "So are we just going to sit around while we wait?"
"No." Mal got up and went to his television. Seconds later a console controller landed in my lap.
We played video games until Sheryl came in through the front door loaded with groceries. "Want to help here? My arms are about to fall off."
We both rose from the couch and to relieve her of the bulk of the bags.
As I grabbed some of the bags from Sheryl's hands she smiled. "Hi Rocco! Thanks."
"No problem." I said as I carried the groceries to the kitchen.
As we were packing the food into a cooler Mal brought out of his pantry, the doorbell rang.
Mal answered the door, and came back with Lynda following behind him.
"Oh, hi, Rocco!" said Lynda.
"Hi." I replied a bit sheepishly, not knowing what to say.
"Well!" Mal clapped his hands together. "Dearly beloved, now that you are all gathered, let me tell you where we are going."
"It had better not be a pull off on the side of the road like last time." said Sheryl.
"No, no." laughed Mal, "Not that classy. We are staying at my brother's cabin."
"I thought we were going camping?" said Lynda.
"This is camping to Mal." said Sheryl.
"Yup. And he's letting us stay there for the weekend rent free." Mal puffed up his chest like he had won the place in a bet.
"Nice." I said.
"Yes. Yes it is. Now get your crap, bring the food, and lets get going."
After a few hours of driving, we arrived at a cabin deep in the woods. All of us were very tired, so we hurriedly unpacked the Sheryl's car, dumped everything inside, and went to sleep.
The next morning, I woke to the smells of a homemade breakfast.I got up from my makeshift bed on the floor and walked into the kitchen, where Sheryl was cooking.
"Morning gorgeous." she said when I shuffled in.
"Morning." I replied, "Where's Mal?"
"Outside doing who knows what."
"Ah." I was too tired to say anything else.
I sank into a chair at the counter and watched Sheryl cook.
A couple minutes later, Mal burst through the door. "I demand to be fed!" he boomed as he sidled into the kitchen.
"Demand denied." said Sheryl, "You can have breakfast with everyone else."
"But I-" Mal tried to say, but was stopped when Sheryl kissed him.
"I said wait." she said.
"Fine." huffed Mal, a hint of humor in his voice.
Lynda came in, rubbing her eyes. "So much commotion over food. You sure know how to spoil a girl Mal."
"Sorry Lyn." said Mal.
"You should see him when he's tired and hungry." I said, "Then anything is fair game to be eaten."
"Anything?" Lynda said, "Even human flesh?"
"Especially." I said ominously.
Lynda laughed as she sat down next to me.
"Breakfast is ready." announced Sheryl.
We ate, cleaned up, and then got dressed for the day. Mal said he knew a spot we could hike to, so we left the cabin and started hiking. Along the way, we all talked and joked, fooled around and basically had a good time. After a couple hours, we arrived at a lake surrounded on all sides by trees except for a meadow on the side we had arrived on.
Sheryl gasped. "This is beautiful! Why haven't you brought me up here before?"
"Guess it slipped my mind." Mal said.
"Come on, I want to go to the lake!" Sheryl grabbed Mal's hand and pulled him with her as she ran to the lake.
"Oof!" grunted Mal as his arm was nearly pulled from it's socket. He looked back as Sheryl pulled him along, shouting, "Don't you two wander off!"
"You want to go?" asked Lynda.
"Nah, I'm not much of a water person." I replied.
"Me either. They seem like they are." Lynda lifted her chin to Mal and Sheryl, who were playing around in the water.
"Sheryl is, and Mal just plays along."
We stood there watching the scenery, listening to the sounds of the forest around us, as well as listening to Mal's shouts as Sheryl splashed him.
Suddenly, I felt a something strange. As if someone was watching me. I turned towards the trees on my left, a stared into the shadows. I couldn't see anything for a couple seconds, until, like a splash of cold water, I saw him.
He stood just behind a tree, his blank, white face watching me.
Snatches of a dream invaded my mind, and I took a step back, accidentally bumping into Lynda.
"Oh! Hey, what's wrong?" she said, "You're white as a sheet."
I looked away from the slender figure to Lynda, then back to the trees. He was gone.
"Oh, um nothing. I thought I saw someone, but it was just a tree." I said.
We were interrupted as Mal and Sheryl came back soaking wet.
"Now that my chances of hypothermia have been sufficiently increased, mind if we build a fire?"
There was a small campsite that Mal said him and his brother built years ago on the shore of the lake. We rested there, starting a fire so Mal and Sheryl could dry off quickly. We sat around trading stories, eating lunch, and watching the sun slide across the sky. Once Mal and Sheryl had sufficiently dried off, we doused the fire, and continued on the trail, which Mal said looped around the lake.
As we hiked, both Sheryl and Lynda said they felt uneasy, and asked if we could hurry back. We picked up the pace, arriving at the cabin just as it was getting dark. That night, I was woken by a noise. I couldn't remember what it had been, just that something outside had made a noise.
I rose from my bed, and walked to the living room. Outside it was moonlit, the trees casting deep shadows. I wondered if an animal had simply run by the cabin. I turned to the kitchen, wondering if there was anything to eat. That's when the light from the window dimmed. I slowly turned back to face the window I had just looked out, and found him staring back at me. He stood at the window, a tall, suited figure, blank face staring back at me. The appendages from his back were extended, and were waving in a rhythmic motion. It was...rather hypnotic.
I stood there watching in silent horror as the figure stood there, transfixing me. Then, it's arms stretched out to it's sides, as if it were trying to give the cabin a bear hug. Too my complete disbelief and utter horror, my feet started to move forward. I couldn't believe this was happening. I willed my feet to stop, to go the other way, but they refused to listen. I advanced to the window, coming to stand just in front of the pane of glass. It's appendages stopped swaying, and materialized back into spider-leg filaments. It stretched the filaments through the glass, and grabbed me.
I blinked. I was facing the glass, staring out into the moonlit forest. I was shaking, I found it difficult to breath, and my face was slick with a cold sweat. I turned around to see Lynda standing at her bedroom door.
"Are you alright?" she asked.
"I uh..." I couldn't think straight. "I'm not sure."
Lynda came over to me and took my hand. "You need to sit down. You look ill."
I nodded, and went with her to the couch and sat down.
"What's happening?" she asked.
So I told her.
After I got through with everything that had happened to me over the past couple of days, she sat, staring at me thoughtfully.
"I know it sounds crazy." I said, "But this feels real."
"I'm not sure how to process this. It sounds like you're having recurring hallucinations from a dream you had."
I laughed. "You sound like a shrink."
"Sorry." I said, "I didn't mean to be rude."
"It's alright." she said. "You want me to make you something to eat?"
I shook my head. "No, but thank you."
She felt my head. "You seem fine. You were probably just sleep walking."
I nodded, my mind latching on to this sane idea in the ocean of madness.
"You should go back to bed. Get some sleep." Lynda squeezed my hand and smiled. Then she got up and went to her room.
I sat there for a moment before getting up and heading to my room. I looked back to the window, and thought I saw a slender silhouette among the trees. I shook my head, and went back to my room.
The next day, during breakfast,Mal said that before we went home, he wanted to show us something back up at the lake. When we had finished eating, we all met Mal out by a shed. He went inside, and came out with a model airplane.
"Oh cool!" said Lynda.
"Can you fly it?" said Sheryl.
"Of course I can." Mal said, "I'll show you when we get up to the meadow."
We hiked up to the lake, Mal carrying the model plane, and me carrying the controller for the plane.
When we got to the lake, Mal led us to the center of the meadow, where a small dirt runway had been dug into the ground. We spent the day watching Mal fly the plane. He made it do flips, rolls, and a variety of tricks. He flew it over the lake, making it skim the waves, and flying it out to the point where it looked like a small bird. We each took a turn trying to fly the plane, but none of us were as good as Mal.
As the day progressed, I felt a mounting anxiety. I wasn't sure why. I liked it up here, and I enjoyed my friends company, but I just had the urge to get back to civilization as quickly as possible. Sheryl and Lynda voiced similar feelings later in the day, and by the time it was late afternoon, it seemed even Mal was edgy. We all decided to wrap it up. However, no sooner had Mal landed the plane, than a large flock of crows burst from the canopy of trees to the north. The feeling of anxiety now exploded into full fledged panic.
"We have to go." I said.
"That's what we're doing." Mal said.
"Why?" asked Sheryl.
"Because whatever made those birds fly off is going to be here." I said.
"What are you talking about man?" Mal stood with his plane under his arm.
I was shaking again.
Lynda came up and looked at me in the eyes. "This has to do with last night doesn't it? You think it's him?"
"I know it is." I said.
"Who are you guys talking about?" Mal asked, a hint of frustration in his voice.
"You want to tell them?" Lynda asked.
"I don't think I can." I replied.
"Then can I?" she asked.
I nodded. Lynda proceeded to tell Sheryl and Mal what I had told her last night, as well as what had happened.
"So let me get this straight" said Mal after Lynda had finished, "You think this guy-"
"Slenderman" I said.
"Ya, Slenderman, is some sort of monster?" finished Mal.
"I think so, yes."
"Right. So for all we know, he's just trying to get someone to give him $20."
"I doubt it."
"Rocco man, you need to stop staying up so late reading those internet wikis."
"At any rate." Sheryl chimed in, "We need to go, it's getting late."
We all agreed and started heading back. However, we hadn't gone more than half way across the meadow when another flock of birds burst from the trees in the direction we were headed. We all paused, looking into the woods.
Suddenly, Mal stiffened.
"Shit." he said.
"What?" asked Sheryl.
"I...uh. I think I just saw him."
A feeling of dread seeped into our group. We stood there for another minute or so before Sheryl took a step forward. As her foot hit the ground, a light mist seemed to spring from the ground, rising to our knees.
"This isn't right." said Sheryl. She shook her head.
What she said next gave me a massive does of deja vu.
"It's too warm for fog." she said.
As the last syllable fell from her lips, the temperature fell drastically. Our breathes puffed from our lips, and the mist seemed to intensify.
Lynda sucked in a breathe. "I just saw him." she said, a clear line of fear running through tone.
We stood there as the mist thickened into a soupy fog. The sunset bathed the fog a blood red. My nightmare flooded back to me. The forest, the mist, a hollow of trees, the bodies in the trees. As we stood together, a slight murmur reached our ears.
Whispers emanated from the fog. A few voices gently speaking incoherent nonsense. After a moment it rose to a babble of several voices, and increased in volume until it sounded as if we were surrounded by a legion of people all vying for our attention. Lynda covered her ears, Sheryl grabbed Mals hand, and stood close to him. I moved towards Lynda, taking her in my arms. She was crying. "Make it stop!" She yelled.
The voices stopped, and instantly I wished they hadn't. From the fog, a child's laugh wafted through the air. My palms started to sweat and I felt an icy river of fear run through my body. Something stirred at the corner of my eye, causing me to look.
Slenderman stood there, with swaying appendages. But I was not caught in the motion, I had my free will. I looked at my friends, and saw that Mal was standing straight as a post. Sheryl was desperately trying to get his attention, but to no avail. Then, the slender figure lifted his arms, as if asking for a hug. Mal, started to walk forward. Desperately trying to pull him back, Sheryl screamed at him not to go. But it was too late.
As soon as they came within a couple feet of Slenderman, the appendages stopped swaying, formed into long filaments, and grabbed both Mal and Sheryl, lifting them up to what would have been eye level, if the blank face had any eyes. Sheryl sobbed as she tried to wriggle free. Slenderman looked at her, then flung her aside, as if she was a toy doll. He then turned his attention to Mal, who seemed to still be in a trance. The slender arms moved towards him, which seemed to partially release the mental hold on Mal. "Please." He said, "Please don't."
Slenderman paused, and his pale head tilted, then he took hold of Mal with his long fingered hands, and then walked off with him. Lynda and I watched in horror, too shocked to do anything. Then Sheryl's cries came from the mist, breaking our bonds. We ran to her, finding her lying on the ground, sobbing. A quick glace and I knew her leg was broken. We would have to carry her to the car.
"Help me carry her." I said.
"What? Why?" asked Lynda.
"We need to get back to the car." I said.
"Are you crazy? There's no way we can get back there without that...thing, getting to us." she said.
"Do you want to just stay here?" I asked. She seemed to think better of it, and nodded. We both carefully lifted Sheryl, and then started towards where we thought the cabin was. We reached the trees and found a trail. I relieved Lynda of Sheryl, and we both started running down the trail. We must have ran for a straight hour and a half before we stopped for breathe.
"We should have...reached the cabin...by now." said Lynda, heavily breathing in between her words.
"It shouldn't...be too far." I replied, equally out of breath. Suddenly, the voices started up again.
"Oh no." said Sheryl, "It's coming for me!"
"How do you know that?" asked Lynda
"No time." I said, "We need to keep moving."
We started running down the trail again, the voices gradually gaining volume, until they were their loudest pitch. Then they stopped, and we heard the laugh again. As I was in front, I saw him first. He was standing right in the middle of the path, his appendages waving rhythmically.
Sheryl stopped crying as she stared at Slenderman. I tried to take a step backwards, but tripped over a root, falling into Lynda. When I was able to get back on my feet and help Lynda up, Sheryl was walking towards Slenderman's outstretched arms.
"Sheryl don't!" I yelled, but she kept walking, despite the broken leg. As she reached him, Slenderman grabbed her, momentarily breaking the trance long enough for Sheryl to scream, and disappeared into the dark trees.
By now, the sun had set and the 3/4 moon had risen into the sky, illuminating the forest with a blueish-white glow.
"We need to go." I said.
Lynda nodded, and we sprinted down the path. For what seemed like years, we ran along the path, hoping that we could find the cabin soon. Then parts of the forest started becoming familiar to me. As I became more and more horribly certain where we were heading, I heard the voices strike back up. They rose to a din of noise just as we came to the tree-house where I had shot the deer.
"I know this place." I said.
The voices stopped, leaving a deafening silence in it's absence. I knew what was going to happen. He wanted me. I didn't know why, or how I knew this, but I just felt it. I turned to Lynda, tears in my eyes.
"Lynda. I've wanted to tell you something."
Lynda didn't respond. She was staring at a spot behind me. I turned my head to see Slenderman standing there in the mist.
I felt a sickening peace settle over me. I turned back to Lynda, my eyes streaming tears.
"Lynda, I just wanted to say...I love you." I hugged her. "Please don't be afraid. Death isn't that bad." Memories of lives past flooded me, and I found myself recalling dying on several occasions. "It's like a shot. It hurts for a moment, but then everything is alright again." I let go and stared at her, watching her eyes.
She started walking forward. I turned and walked up to Slenderman.
"Please don't do this." I said.
Lynda continued walking.
"Damnit you pathetic piece of trash! Let her live! What did she do to you! It's me you want!" My voice escalated as Lynda came closer. "What do you accomplish from killing her! Nothing that's what!"
She was just a few feet away from Slenderman. "Do you do this as a hobby!? Killing everyone I've ever cared about! Then letting me live this shitty life over again?"
She reached Slenderman. He reached for her, and lifted her up to his blank face. Even though she could have said something, she didn't.
I drew back my fist and hit Slenderman in the stomach with as much force as I could muster. "I hate you! You hear me you stupid twig! I HATE YOU!"
Slenderman finally moved. He turned his head, bent down to my eye level...and smiled.
His pale, blank face split. A seam ran from the center of his face out and up to where his ears should have been. The seam opened wider, the sound of skin ripping as the grin grew bigger, revealing a black rotten face underneath the smooth white skin. This blackened face actually had a mouth, which also split into a smile, revealing four rows of glistening fangs.
I stared into Slendermans maw, and roared back into his face "I HATE YOU SOLLAMAN!"
Sollaman? Where did that come from? Was that this wretched stick's real name? If so, how did I know it?
I slugged Slenderman in the face. The grin disappeared, and his blank, pale, featureless face flowed back together, and he stood back up. His attention returned to Lynda. His head tilted to the side for a moment, as if contemplating something, then he turned back to me, presenting Lynda to me. She looked at me, tears in her eyes, as she said, "I hate you." Slenderman then turned, and walked into the mist.
I collapsed, and started to cry. The memories of my past lives started to ebb away, and I was left with my current memory. I sat there for a minute before I decided that it wasn't safe here. I got up, and racked my mind for which way I had ran in my dream. I recalled I had ran away from the next treehouse. So this time, I ran towards, and then past it.
I ran for half an hour until I reached a cabin. It wasn't Mal's brother's cabin. I remembered it was Phil's and my cabin we used during the hunting season. It was run down, and covered in symbols, the circle with the x through it.
"The Operator's Symbol" I whispered, remembering a memory I didn't have.
I walked in, and saw a flash of a memory.
Rich Redmond and Phil Coalson walked into the cabin with the real estate agent.
"It's the best price on a property for miles." said the agent to the two young hunters.
"Ya sure, but I'm not sure it's the biggest dump for miles." said Phil, "Who lived here before? Drug addicts? An occult? Those symbols spray-painted on the walls outside are a nice touch."
"Well, I do suppose it could use some touching up." said the agent, clearly taken hurt at the allegations.
"Don't worry about him." said Rich. "He can be a bit grouchy when he has to clean something."
Phil snorted and walked outside.
"So, are you interested?" asked the agent flatly. She obviously wanted to be done.
"It is a good price, and even though it is a bit neglected, I'm sure me and my friend can fix this place up. We have a deal." Rich extended his hand.
The agent took his hand and shook it. "Perfect! Shall we go back to my office and fill out the paperwork?"
Rich stood to the side and waved his hand "After you, Ms.?"
"Myers. Julia Myers." she said as she walked by. As they walked back to the Julia's SUV, Phil leaned over and whispered "You like her don't ya?"
"Shut yer mouth." replied Rich.
I snapped back to the present moment. I examined the inside of the cabin, then went back out and looked at the outside walls. Despite being a bit cleaner, it was in the same shape as when I had bought it as Rich Redmond. I had memories of a future life.
I let this sink in. Did this mean I was having visions of a life to come? Or was I moving back in time? If I was living multiple lives, was everyone else? Or was it just me?
As I contemplated this, the fog cleared, revealing a moonlit forest. I felt that I had one more place to go. I let my feet wander for what seemed hours. Eventually, I came to a thick part of the woods. I knew the way. I walked through all the trees, winding my way through the shadows.
I finally came to a place where the trees grew so close together I couldn't get through. I walked around until I found the Symbol of the Operator carved into one of the trees. I looked at the base of the tree, and found a black rose growing among the roots. I leaned down, and pricked my finger on one of the thorns. I stood up, and traced the symbol with my bleeding finger.
The tree moved aside. Beyond was a small hollow chocked with black roses. I stepped inside, and the tree behind me moved back, blocking the hole in the wall of trees. I looked around, the Symbol of the Operator carved on each of their trunks. I didn't look up. I knew what I would find, and I didn't want to see. That's when he came.
I felt his presence before I saw him. I turned and found him towering over me. He was smiling again.
He produced his filament appendages, grabbed me and listed me to his eye level.
He smiled at me for a moment before lifting his hand to my throat and tilting my head back.
I found Mal, Sheryl, and Lynda, as well as Phil, and others who I assumed were my past, or future, friends. All were impaled upon bare limbs in the canopy, staring down at me with lifeless eyes.
"I hate you." I said.
Then everything went black.