The serial killer growls and kicks the van, unaware of the resulting pain in his foot. The boy is gone. "How?" he seethes. "I left him in here before-" His eyes are nearly slits and he breathes heavily, full of hatred. "Slender Man! It has to be!" Without a second thought, he pulls out of the trunk a bottle of rum and a matchbox. "If that's how you want to play, Slender Man, so be it." He lights a match.
James stands outside of the forest, his heart racing. This is it, he thinks. This is the end. At least everyone is okay. He looks down at the ground, imagining a line separating the woods from the rest of the land. Cautiously, he stretches a foot over that line and sets it down. No booms. No explosives. Just eerie silence. It's too quiet, he thinks, but he walks further into the forest anyway. Step after step, he nears his fate. He wonders how long it will be until he comes across the killer. He has not felt any booms yet, so that must be a good sign. But if Victor or Margareta meet the killer first, or any of the others...
Something crunches under his foot, making him jump. He steps back and stoops to pick it up. It is a white mask with the eyes and lips outlined in black. He recognizes this as the same kind the Black Circle cult members wore. But he thought they were all taken care of. Why would it be here? Be alert, he Slender-thinks. I found a Black Circle mask in this forest. If you see any dark figures, run.
But I thought we got them all? Victor thinks back.
I thought so, too, but I found this here.
Wait, Margareta adds, didn't the killer say there was a "traitor?" Maybe when he switched sides, he left his mask behind.
James shudders. He just wants this all to be over with. Still be careful. Have you found the humans?
No, but they said they were heading for a radio tower, she tells them.
Victor grumbles, Who's bright idea was it to put a radio tower in the middle of a forest?
James chuckles out loud in spite of himself.
He whirls around. Now he wishes he brought some sort of light, a flashlight or a torch or something. It is too dark, even for nighttime, even for a Slender. All he can see is shadows. He turns and gazes about. Over there are shadows of trees, over there outlines of bushes, over there a red and orange dot -
Wait. Red and orange dot? He peers forward. What the...? The dot grows from a speck to the size of a human fingernail. A bunny startles him by hopping out of a nearby bush and hurrying in the opposite direction. What has got the bunny spooked? He turns back to the red and orange dot - now he can see yellow. Huh?
James, run! Margareta Slender-thinks.
Why? What's wrong?
Both Margareta and Victor scream, FIRE!
If there are two things James is scared of, they are enclosed spaces and fires. It has to be the killer. James has lived in forests his entire life and knows that most if not all forest fires are started by someone. Either an idiot threw out another cigarette - or, most likely, it is the killer trying to draw James out. Either way, he is not staying to find out.
He turns and runs away, not wanting to accidentally teleport into the killer's waiting death grip. Find the humans and get out now! he tells the two. Up ahead! The edge of the forest! James then teleports the rest of the way, halting just outside and putting his hands on his knees as he takes deep breaths. His heart is racing. He is not sure he can face the killer on his own.
The other Slender comes to mind, the one who offered to watch Ricky and Trevor. That Slender comes from a very peaceful clan, so peaceful they refuse to get involved in any dilemma. Not only that, they do their best to keep others happy and away from trouble as well. Maybe with that Slender on his side, James could placate the killer enough to get him to the "jail." It is a long shot, but it is still much better than going at this by himself - well, himself and Victor and Margareta. He teleports to the back side of the Kullman Mining Facility and spots the boulder not too far away, where he last saw the three. "Hey, guys," he softly calls out.
"Hello? It's me, James. I need to talk to Harry."
"Trevor? Anyone?" This is not good. His heart pounds. He is sure the killer was still in the burning forest, but why is no one answering? Are they too scared? Did they leave a cult member behind and he attacked them? Slowly, James nears the boulder, stopping a foot away. Though he stands over seven feet tall, he stretches even taller and cranes his neck over.
There is no one there. All that lies there is a piece of paper with something scrawled on it. He picks up the paper, and reads the writing: "We're going to the forest. The kids are worried about you and want to help. See you there! :)"
If James could smirk, he would. Harry Splendorman is the only Slender he knows who would use smiley faces while - wait a minute. They are going to the forest? They are ACTUALLY going to the most dangerous place in the world right now?! They may be worried about him, but he is now more worried about them. Harry has a crippling fear of conflict, Ricky is too young to get involved in violent activity, and Trevor is blind. They are all gonna die! He gently sets the paper on the boulder, as a marker in case he and the others do not make it. Someone will see this and know they tried. With one last deep breath, he teleports inside the forest.
"James!" Trevor shouts. The fire roars in his ears, the heat makes him sweat, but he taps on, desperate to find his friend first. As soon as James left, Harry told him about how he rescued Ricky from the trunk and how he saw a box of matches and a bottle of clear liquid. It did not take long for Trevor to figure out the killer was planning arson. Ricky had no idea what those things were for because he is still just a little boy, but Harry knew, and he purposely avoided those things. He never liked violence and was scared of conflict. But Trevor knew how dangerous it was for James. The Slender's last words echoed through his mind: "I wouldn't be here right now if it weren't for you...I don't want to risk losing you to him."
But he does not want to lose James either. They are both friends. It is hard to believe they met only two or three days ago, so much has happened. He has learned to care for all Slenders, and would be willing to die for them. Trevor knows the risks involved, but he cannot let the killer win. "James!" he calls again.
"Oh, dear, I don't like this at all," Harry moans, his hand to his mouth, gazing around at the flames fearfully. As he is one of the few Slenders with a face, the fire reflects eerily in his charcoal black eyes.
"It's too hot," Ricky whines, shaking his shirt out.
"We have to keep trying, guys," Trevor tells them.
Harry steps forward and lays a hand on Trevor's shoulder, stopping him. "Lad, we can't stay here long. The bad man will find us." He and Ricky share the same worried expression.
Trevor cannot tell. He grips his walking stick tighter in his good hand. "I know. I'm sorry you guys are here. If I could see fine, I wouldn't drag you two with me. As soon as you see or hear the killer, run."
"What about you?" Ricky asks.
"Don't worry about me. Save yourselves."
Harry flinches so much, it almost feels like he is having a seizure. "Someone just sent out a distress call, but I can't tell from where." He scans the surrounding area, but he cannot see well through the smoky haze. "Oh, if only I had some ice cream. Ice cream always makes me feel better."
Ricky grins up at the Slender. "Me too!"
Harry beams. "Let's have some together - after this." He looks worried again, tapping his mouth.
Harry flinches again. The killer is near by. It is his job to protect the humans - so even though he would rather run away from this nightmare and cuddle up in his warm, soft bed with a bowl of strawberry ice cream, he stays where he is, one hand on Trevor, the other holding Ricky's hand. In a blink, he teleports away - right in front of the killer. "Gah!" He teleports again before the red-eyed monster can react.
"What happened?" Trevor asks.
"The killer," Harry squeaks, trembling. "I accidentally teleported in front of the killer."
"But we're gone now, right?"
"Uh-huh." Boom. "But he's coming closer!"
"Then run!" Trevor starts running, but his stick gets caught on a tree root and he trips, grimacing when he lands on his bad leg. Harry scoops both boys up under his arms and without looking back, charges through the forest. He does not want to risk teleporting in front of the killer again.
Victor shoves the burning branch off of him and slaps the fire off his clothes, another one of his hands waving the smoke away as he coughs. He hopes someone heard his distress call, but at the same time, he does not want anyone coming for him. He gets to his feet, still coughing, and scans the area past the flames that encircle him. Where did the killer go? He saw him through the flames not too long ago. He knows the killer is not behind him - there is only the ditch with decomposing corpses. Though he comes from a tough warrior clan, he still hates the festering stench. It takes all his will to keep from recoiling from the smell.
Can anybody hear me? he thinks.
I can, comes a quick response.
Who is this?
I'm Harry, Harry Splendorman.
Right, you're James' friend. What are you doing here? I thought you didn't want to fight.
Well...Trevor insisted on coming.
What?! You're all here?
Victor instinctively stretches out all his limbs and whirls around. He sees fire on the other side of the ditch, but there is no one else there. But there is that one shadow over there by the bush moving. It does not look like a bunny. The bush shakes as the creature comes closer. Victor braces himself. He stands still as he sees coming out of the bush...
A hand. Followed by an arm. Followed by a head.
"Lily!" he screams.
She startles when she sees the ditch she almost tumbled into, and again when she sees Victor across the way. Her mouth is moving, but he cannot hear her voice over the roar of the flames.
"Hang on! I'm coming to get you!" He remembers that that was the last thing he ever got to say to Karie, before she was killed. He could not save her, the least he can do is save her sister. He teleports over there, scoops up Lily in his arms, then teleports back to the somehow-fire-free patch he was in. He sets her down and brushes the fire and dirt away from them both. "What happened to you? Where are the others?"
Lily coughs from the smoke before saying, "We couldn't find the radio tower, so we decided to split up." She coughs a bit more. "But then we saw a fire, and we all panicked. I was with Kevin, Jenna, and Peter, but I don't know what happened to them. Everyone got separated."
"It's the killer," Victor says. "He started this fire. I'm sure of it. The question is, why? He can't be that desperate, can he?"
He jumps, wrapping a few of his arms around Lily. "We need to get out of here! It's not safe!"
"What's that?" she asks, pointing at something behind him.
He turns around and stares up at the tall, metallic structure.
Margareta wipes her forehead as she scans the forest. She hopes everyone is okay. She heard Victor's distress call, but before she could teleport over, a burning tree fell down in front of her. She dodged it thankfully, but it created more flames, smoke, and haze. She coughs as she tries to find a safer place to stand on, but it is hard to see more than a few yards in front of her, and everything is ablaze. Where can she go?
There is only one safe place right now that she can think of. She teleports up onto a branch that (fortunately!) has not caught fire yet. She perches on it and realizes she gets a much better view of the forest from up higher. The only down side is there is a lot more smoke up here. She climbs higher and higher, until she is out of most of the smoke. This is a pretty good view, she thinks. Now, I can keep an eye out for everyone and the killer.
There is that ditch over there! And Victor and Lily! What are they looking at? Margareta follows their gaze...to the really tall, really out of place radio tower. Lily points at it, Victor hugs her close, and they both vanish. Probably inside the tower. Now she knows where all the humans are, or at least will be, but what about -
She frantically searches for any body - wait, that over there. That can't be...
They're alive? But how?