A Plan and a Cat
Two of the Black Circle members stand guard near the entrance to the mine. One is pacing back and forth, while the other is trying not to tremble in front of his colleague. He does not want to think about what would happen if the Slender Man should come. Would he kill them? He knows as well as the others that the boss was the one behind all the "Slender murders" - but still, there is that small chance that maybe, possibly, the Slenders could do that to people.
"Nothing yet," says the other man, the one who is pacing. "Reckon we should head back inside?"
"Yes," the fearful man says, hoping he does not sound too eager. He follows his partner, thinking about having a nice cold beer.
The men freeze. They look back over their shoulders. Nothing there.
The trembling man cries out all of a sudden and jumps into his partner's arms. "What, the-"
"I saw something in the trees!" he moans, pointing a shaky figure at a space between two trees.
The man squints into that space. He sees nothing but shadows. "You wuss," he says, literally dropping his "buddy" on the ground. "There's nothing there. You're just scared of a little-"
The men exchange looks, then scramble to the entrance and stare out. Again, there is nothing but stillness, trees, that tall skinny shadow moving between the trees -
A tall skinny shadow moving between the trees? Uh oh.
They are motionless and hold their breaths as they watch that one shadow slowly pass back and forth through the trees. As it nears one end of the forest, more shadows join it.
"I wanna go home," whispers the tremulous member.
"I feel stupid doing this," one of Victor's clan-members whispers.
"My arm's are getting tired," complains someone from Alder's group.
"Quiet!" hisses James' father. "We have to time this right." Trevor hears rustling and figures that James' father is leaning forward on the branch he is sitting on. He can picture the older Slender looking through the trees at the two humans still within the entrance to the mine. "What now, Trevor?"
"Just keep acting creepy," the blind boy says from his special spot at the base of the tree. He leans in the direction he thinks Kevin is in and asks, "How many do we have?"
"We've got about half of 'em," he replies.
"Good. Let me know when all mannequins are out."
"I don't care what the boss told you before!" the pacing guy nearly screams into his walkie-talkie. "Get as many men down here as you can! The Slenders are grouping!" He tucks his device away as the shadows continue to come together with each pass from one end of the forest to the other. The shaking member has fainted already, and while his partner rolled his eyes, he had contacted the second-in-command and told him about the slender shadows. A thick fog starts rolling into the area between the forest and the mine.
The shadows get larger.
Or are they getting closer?
The man growls, shoves his device in a pocket, and half-drags, half-carries his fallen member back into the mine. A dozen Black Circle members, all with guns and knives, round the corner. He drops his comrade and hurries up to them. "'Bout time you got here!" he says.
"Where's the Slender Man?" one of them, probably the leader, says.
The man points at the thickening fog. "I saw him through that, but good luck finding him now!"
"Dude," one of the terrorists whispers, "this is creepier than the video game." Any other time, the other members would have rolled their eyes or scoffed. Now, all of them grab their weapons and brandish them, bracing for the Slender attack.
"Okay," Trevor says in a low voice, "Victor, wherever you are-"
"Here," his voice calls.
"'Kay, you and your group get ready with the shadows. James' dad, you still on the branch?"
"Of course," comes the Slender's voice from above.
"As I'll ever be."
If Trevor could, he would narrow his eyes and tilt his head, for dramatic effect. Instead, he blankly stares into space as he says, "Let's do this."
James watches his friends from afar as they send out the Slender-dressed mannequins. He has to agree with the humans: through the fog, the mannequins look a lot like real Slenders. He sees some real Slenders standing next to some of the humans, ready to teleport them all inside the mine. While Trevor had told everyone his plan to use decoys to lure out the cult members and sneak inside, James had gone off. He thought it might be better - safer - if he removed himself from their plan. Besides, he has a plan of his own: he is going to sneak inside, find Margareta himself, and should he encounter the Black Circle leader...he will give himself up.
He watches the humans charge at the decoys, screaming at the top of their lungs. The team of Slenders and humans take this opportunity to teleport inside the entrance to the mine. James follows behind them and ducks into the shadows, wishing he had Victor's clan's power of shadows. A couple of Slenders turn around, sensing his presence, but they either do not spot him or do not care. The whole team splits into smaller groups, each with at least one human and Slender, and the smaller groups take off down different hallways. James waits a few seconds before sneaking down one hallway.
Margareta, he thinks, hoping she can sense his thoughts. Slenders cannot read each other's minds, but sometimes if the thought is strong enough, others can sense it. Margareta, where are you? Hallway after dim hallway, there is no response. He has to hide a couple of times from some patrolling humans, but for the most part everything is empty. And silent. It makes him feel lonely and a bit scared. True, he was on his own in the dark, semi-silent woods, but at least he was out in the open. The low, narrow hallways make him feel trapped - which he pretty much is if any Black Circle members show up with those horrible tasers.
Soon, James loses track of time, and he now thinks of Margareta despairingly, his hope of finding her dwindling. He stops and leans against a wall. "Margareta," he says aloud, "where are you?"
James turns his head to the left and sees two glowing dots on the ground. They come closer and closer to him - and a cat steps into the dim light, the glow in its eyes fading. "Hmmm?" What is a cat doing within the mine? He vaguely remembers Jenna saying something about her missing cat, Mittens. Is this her? He crouches down, slowly extending one hand. He does not have to go very far before the cat strides forward and rubs her head on his hand, purring. If he had a mouth, he would be smiling right now. "Aren't you a good little kitty," he says in a cute voice.
A familiar tingle goes through him before he even hears, "Who's there?"
He looks up. He sees a figure in the shadows. But he would know that feeling anywhere. He felt it yesterday in the forest. (Was it really not that long ago?) He straightens and runs over to her. "Margareta!" he cries, throwing his arms around her. "You're alive!"
"So are you!" she says, returning the hug. The two stay like that for a minute, just happy to be together again. Margareta leans back enough to look up at James. "How did you get into the mine without the cult members finding you?"
He tells her everything that happened since she was captured, from sneaking into the hospital to save Trevor, to saving the parents from the serial killer, to Ricky being kidnapped. "And that demon," he spits, "wants me to turn myself in, or he'll kill you and Ricky and who knows who else."
"Oh, James," Margareta says sympathetically. "I'm so sorry. No one should have to deal with that."
"That's why we need to get you out of here now. We'll alert the others we've found you. We'll all get out of here and never have to come back. We can-"
They both tense. James looks over his shoulder, but sees nothing. Great. "We need to get out of here," he says. "Where did you just come from?"
Margareta says, "I actually got lost after Mittens helped me recover and escape from that torture chamber."
"Yeah, I got lost, too."
The danger is coming closer, but neither of them know where to go. With the unknown danger, the dim lighting, and the narrow hallways, along with all the stress they already had, it is a wonder they have not broken down to nervous wrecks.
They look down and see Mittens stare at them before padding down a hallway. One silent glance at each other, and they both follow the cat.
Mittens is proud to finally be of some use to the Slenders. Cats have pretty good night vision, plus she got to explore the place a bit before finding Margareta, so she knows where she is going. She keeps looking back to make sure the two are right behind her before she rounds any corners. Thankfully, they have not run into any Black Circle members, but she can smell their fear behind her. Those poor creatures have been through a lot. She stops for a moment and rubs against their legs with a purr. She normally refrains from acting like this with humans, but then again, they never had to deal with stupid bad guys in masks killing everybody and framing them. Margareta and James seem to calm down a bit, and they reward her with pets. She would rather have some tuna or catnip, but this works, too.
Finally, she leads them around the last corner. "Look!" James says. "There's the entrance!" The fog and shadowy smoke have already dissipated, and mannequins and fainted cult members speckle the field.
"We can finally get out of here!" Margareta says. They can finally escape this nightmare!
The closeness of the danger makes them jump - but not as much as the gunshot and scream that come from a nearby hallway. Though James has never heard that scream before, he knows who it is. "Trevor!"