"I assure you, Mister and Missus Fitzgerald, I hold your daughter's safety in high regards," he says.
The couple huddled together on the couch still do not trust this man. He came into their house fifteen minutes ago and since has been trying to get them to divulge information on their precious daughter, Lily. He told them he cares for her well-being and that he needs to speak with her at once.
It would not be so hard trusting him if he took off the black hooded cape and pale smiley mask. The mask is creeping them out.
"Now," the strange and frightening man continues, "I'll ask again: where is your daughter?"
Mr. Fitzgerald, one arm around his wife, leans forward, a defiant look on his face. "Even if we did know where she is, why should we tell you? We don't even know you."
The man in the mask, with hands behind his back, casually takes a couple steps toward them, stopping short of the coffee table. "I'm sure you must have heard of me before. It was all over the news, wasn't it? Years ago."
"What are you talking about?" Mrs. Fitzgerald says, more confused (and slightly annoyed) than scared.
The stranger gives a small chuckle as he reaches up to lower the hood and take off the mask. At once, the parents recoil, their eyes wide and their jaws dropped. Both gasp at the sight of the man, at the scar on his left cheek, the crooked nose, the cold, red eyes.
"You!" the father cries out. "I...we...but-"
"You all thought I was dead, no?" He smooths out the front of his suit. "I merely disappeared for a few years to plan my revenge."
"Revenge for what?" the father says disbelievingly.
The man turns from the terrified couple and paces calmly along the carpet. "Normally, a person like me has no need for revenge. If I want someone out of the way, I just light their house on fire or I plan for them to be shot at a certain place and time. But one day, years ago, I was minding my own business, planning another murder, this time at a park." He stops pacing and looks at the couple. "The same park your daughter and her friends used to play at."
They gawk at him. "How-" the mother starts to say.
"A serial killer does his research well," the man interrupts, resuming his pacing. "I hadn't killed any children in a while and just when I had the pieces in place, that...monster appeared." He stops pacing, his back to the Fitzgeralds. "That creature, that I so loathe and fear, blew my chances of pulling off a successful kill. I tried to turn the police against him, but one officer recognized me and nearly got me arrested. I made myself disappear then. Never had I been so scared in my life, but that face-" he snarls, "-that non-existent face...has haunted me throughout these years." His hands curl into fists, his eyes narrow, and his voice lowers. "It never goes away! It taunts me, reminding me every single day how I let a pathetic monster foil my plans!"
He growls and whips around, coming in very uncomfortably close to the parents. "I swore on that day I would never rest until I killed it and all its friends."
"There are more?" Mr. Fitzgerald asks. He recalls that creature - he had snatched Lily away from it as fast as he could - but he never thought there would be more like it.
The boss clears his throat and straightens, dusts off his cape. "Ever since that day, I've been turning everyone against the Slender Man. Making them so scared of him they'll do the job for me." He clasps his hands together in a businesslike manner. "And that's where your daughter comes in."
"Leave Lily out of this!" Mrs. Fitzgerald screams.
"I promise you I will not harm a single hair on your daughter's head...well, at least not yet."
"What makes you think we'll turn her over to you?" the father demands.
They gasp when the Black Circle leader takes out a gun and aims it at them. "I'll kill you both either way, but your cooperation will help me tremendously."
"What?" The boss, gun still pointed at the Fitzgeralds, steps sideways toward the window overlooking the driveway and the rest of Elm Street. He pulls back the curtain and sees his black car being wrecked by five kids. One attacks the engine with a trash can, two are throwing rocks through the windows, one's kicking out the headlights, and one whacks his car with a walking stick. He smiles wickedly and sadistically. "Perfect," he says, for he recognizes all of them, despite it being dark outside.
Behind him, the Fitzgeralds gasp.
"What are you-" he starts to say to the couple. But when he turns around, they are not there.
"Run!" One of the kids outside says.
He looks back out the window. The five are running to two Slenders - two! - and the shocked parents are with the one in the dark suit and tie. The one from the park. When they all meet up, they vanish.
"Mom! Dad!" Lily says breathlessly as she throws her arms around her parents after James lets them go. "Are you guys okay?"
Neither of them answer that question. They are too busy staring at James and Victor.
James straightens his jacket while Victor lifts a hand and says, "Hello."
"Honey," her father says, holding her out at arm's length, "we have to get you out of here right now." He grabs her hand and starts to run.
"No, Dad," Lily says, pulling out of her father's grasp. She goes to stand between the two Slenders. "They're not dangerous. They're friendly."
"It's true, Mister and Missus Fitzgerald," Charlie says. "Those two have saved our lives."
"Charlie?" Mrs. Fitzgerald says. "What are you doing here? What do you mean they saved your lives?"
Charlie and Kevin exchange looks. "It's a long story," Charlie says.
Jenna speaks up, "What was the leader of the Black Circle doing at your house?"
"The creep with the mask that was talking to you."
"How do you know about that?" Mr. Fitzgerald says.
Lily says, "I snuck up to the house and peeked inside. One look at the leader and I knew we had to get you out of there. So-" she beams as she motions to all her friends, "-we totaled his car while James teleported inside and got you out."
"He had a gun pointed at them," James says.
"What?" Lily's eyes widen (not quite so much as her parents' are right now) and steps toward them. "Oh, my God, I'm so sorry. He didn't hurt you, did he?"
"Well, no, but..." Her parents look at each other, then at James, the Slender they recognize. "He wants to hurt you...and probably you, too." They motion to Victor.
"We know he hates us already," James says. He rubs the back of his pale head. "Although, we're not sure why he's getting you humans involved."
"The park," the mother whispers.
Mrs. Fitzgerald meets James' eyes (if he had any) and says, "It has to do with the park." She and her husband reveal everything that had happened in their house.
The boss clicks the button on the fob, and the car's lights flash twice. He presses the button that makes the garage door go up. "Since those brats ruined my car, I'll just take this one." He slides into the driver's seat and starts the car. As he pulls out onto Elm Street, he searches through the notes app on his smartphone for an address. He recognized two of the four kids from the park in that demolition mob. Have they contacted the other two? He needs to check. His plan could carry on without any of those four, but it would help much if he could get his hands on one.
How did Lily escape? He remembers distinctly sending men out to snatch her and throw her in the locked cell. He even made sure they had chloroform that time. How did she escape the mine?
It had to be those Slenders. He grits his teeth and growls as he turns onto another street. Next time, he is going to keep his prisoners near him. In the meantime, he turns on his music app and plays the Slender Man song.