Slender Man's Story
James walks along the edge of the forest. His father had warned him about the dangers of being spotted by humans, but James, being a daredevil, would ignore his father's advice. Besides, he would tell his father, Slenders and humans have been against each other for long enough. Someone has to make the first move toward tolerance.
The sun begins to set, and soon all the Slenders will come out of hiding. James finds it completely unfair that Slenders are the ones who should go into hiding. What did Slenders ever do to deserve this?
He spots a little boy up ahead. Why is a child out alone at this late hour? he wonders. Even though the child is far away, he can tell the boy is scared and crying. It is a sixth sense all Slenders have. James looks around, but there are no houses anywhere near here. The boy must be lost. Pulling the hood of his cloak over his face (as his father always instructed), he approaches the child and says, "Pardon me, are you lost?"
The little boy looks up at him with a pouty face. "I wanna go home," he wails.
James kneels down. "Do you know where you live? I can always take you home."
"My parents told me not to go off with strangers."
"Mine say the same thing - except they view everyone as strangers, so it gets very lonely and boring. I'd much rather have a friend." He sets a hand on the child's shoulder. "Would you like to be my friend?"
The kid sniffs and nods.
"Wonderful. Now let's get you home." James stands and picks the boy up in his arms.
"You're pretty tall," the child says, calming down.
James chuckles. "Everyone in my family is tall. Now, I need you to tell me where you live."
"Um, I live in a blue house...it's by Chestnut Park."
"Got it." The pressure changes around them, and all of a sudden they are standing right in front of the boy's house.
"Whoa!" He squirms out of James' arms. "How did you do that?"
Uh oh. James' father never told him what to say to humans when they asked that. In fact, his father told him not to talk to humans at all. "It's...magic."
"Cool! My friend's magic!" James laughs as he follows the boy up to the front door. The boy looks up at him with big eyes. "Can you come inside?"
"Not tonight." My father would kill me! "Maybe I'll see you at the park sometime."
"Okay. Bye, mister!"
James waves goodbye, but he hides behind a nearby tree, just to make sure the kid gets in okay.
The little boy knocks on the door, and a moment later a woman in her early 30's opens it. "Charlie!" she cries, scooping up the boy in a huge hug. "Where have you been? Your father and I were looking for you, but we couldn't find you! We called the police, but they didn't know anything!"
"Susan!" A man runs into view, but stops when he sees Charlie. His jaw drops, and he joins the hug. "My son!"
"A tall man took me home by magic," Charlie tells them, proud of the fact.
His parents exchange worried looks. "Charlie," the mother, Susan, says, "did you know this man?"
"What did we tell you about talking to strangers?"
"But he was nice. He just wanted a friend."
"Well, at least you're safe now," the father says. He pokes his head out the door, looks both ways, then shuts the door. James turns to head home, but he spots something in the window. He cranes his neck so he can see the TV. The parents must have been watching something while waiting to hear from the police. On the screen are two men dressed in black suits. That looks pretty cool. James stares down at the clothes he's wearing: simple, loose pants and a shirt. Plus the cloak. I'll have to get a suit like that. He teleports himself back into the middle of the forest.
Already the Slenders are gathering. He spots one and hurries up to her. "Hello, Margareta," he says.
"Hello, James. Where were you? Kendrick and I were looking for you earlier."
"Oh, just...hanging out by the edge of the forest."
She sighs, tilts her head as if smiling knowingly. "Always testing the boundaries."
"It's really not as bad as my father says. You and Kendrick should come with me sometime and check it out."
Her head lowers. "I can't."
"Yes, you can. Just forget about the rules for once! They're obsolete anyways!"
"Obsolete?" James turns around. There, standing a few yards away, is his father, wearing a thick cloak over his black tunic and black pants. He steps toward his son, hands behind his back. "These rules keep us alive, James. Whether you think they're obsolete or not, they protect you, so they will stay."
"But, Father, you keep telling us that humans can't be trusted, that they could bring an end to our people. You've never tried to get to know them!"
"Do you remember the story of your great-great-great-grandfather?"
James growls. Not this story again. He feels an arm wrap around him, and he sees Margareta give him an assuring nod.
His father begins to pace as he recounts, "He lived in the Black Forest near a German village, too shy to approach anybody. The one time he did, however, was during one of their festivals. It looked like fun, seeing all the humans dancing, singing, and feasting, and he went out to join them. Not long after they saw him, however, they screamed and almost killed him. If the rest of his clan hadn't been hiding in the forest, he would have been killed. The humans followed them into the Black Forest, where they killed half the clan. They would have killed the others, but the forest was too dark, and humans can't see as well in the dark as Slenders can."
"Then he made the rules that we couldn't go out and see humans," James finishes boredly. "I get it. But that was a long time ago! Humans have changed."
"How do you know, James?"
"I don't, but we have to give them a chance. Maybe they were scared by Great-Great-Great-Grandpa John sneaking up on them."
"We can't take that risk. Besides, you know what humans are doing to our forests. All over the world, trees are cut down for human greed. Just imagine what they'll do to us if they find out we exist. I can't risk that of our people."
James throws his hands in the air and makes a noise of disgust. He storms off, leaving his father and Margareta behind. "James Nightfall Slenderman, you get back here!" his father says, but that just makes him run faster.
James angrily throws rocks into the lake. Why does his father have to be so closed-minded? Just because he is the head of the clan.
He knows Margareta is hiding in the bushes before he can hear her. "What are you doing here?" he grumbles, picking up another rock.
"I came to make sure you're okay," she says, approaching him.
"I'm okay. Perfectly fine," he says sarcastically.
"No, you're not." She brings a hand to his cheek and turns his face so he can see her - figuratively speaking. "I know you don't like the rules, and I don't blame you. They do become hard to deal with. But please be patient. We can't risk anything now, not when developers are planning to tear down the forest."
He reaches up and pulls her hand from his face, holding it in his own. "Maybe that's why we should risk everything now."
"Look, the humans don't understand what the forests mean to us. If we keep hiding, they'll just keep taking what they want. Someone has to make the first move."
"And I agree. But please, wait. It's almost time for your father to pass on the family job to you. Maybe then you could do something."
He wraps his long arms around her, pulling her to him. "Maybe," he says. But in his mind, he thinks, I'm going to the park tomorrow. I'll see if I can get the boy on my side.
James hides behind a tree near Chestnut Park, watching the people come and go. He watches Susan take Charlie into the park, and he teleports behind a tree within the park. He nervously tugs at the collar of his new white shirt. He spent a good part of last night making his new black suit with a white shirt and red tie. He likes how the new outfit feels - but it does not have a hood or any way of concealing his face. Whatever happens today, everyone will know he is a Slender. No turning back.
Actually, that was the plan he came up with last night while the Slenders were mingling and planning how to take back the forests. James plans to approach Charlie when he is pretty much left alone, tell him the Slenders need help, and hope the child will be kind enough to agree. He hopes if enough people see how friendly he and Charlie are, they will be more sympathetic to the Slenders.
He patiently waits behind the tree. It is in his nature as a Slender to be still and patient. Charlie plays with his friends on the grassy field while his mother sits on a bench and chats with friends. Finally, Charlie heads his way in a game of hide-and-seek. His laughter ceases when he rounds the tree and sees James. He gasps, but then remembers with a smile, "Hey! You're my magic friend!"
"I am. I have to ask you something, Charlie."
He looks so innocent with those huge brown eyes. "It's about...well, I, uh..." James rubs the back of his head. "I really don't know how to say this."
"Charlie?" A kid runs around the tree. "Found ya!" Her eyes trail up to James' featureless face, and her grin becomes a wide O. "Who's that?"
She's not screaming.
"He's my magic friend," Charlie says proudly.
The little girl waves at James, still wide-eyed.
"I wanted to ask Charlie for help," he tells the kids.
"You see, there are people who want to destroy my home."
"Well, that's not very nice," the little girl says, crossing her arms.
Such sweet kids. "You're right. It's not. I'm hoping I can get enough people to help me and my family."
"We'll help you," Charlie says. "I'll go tell my mom right now." He runs out from behind the tree.
A man with shades, a T-shirt, and really loose jeans approaches the boy. A boom sounds in James' head. Another gift Slenders have is the ability to tell someone's motive. Anyone who is shady in any way sends a boom through their minds, an instant warning. "Miss," he tells the girl, holding a hand out, "stay here."
"What are you gonna do?" She gasps when he extends a tentacle-like arm from his torso. "What's that?" she nearly shrieks.
He shushes her. "Think of me as a protector. That man right there isn't very nice, and I have to get Charlie away from him." James lowers his new arm to the ground and snakes it over to the bad man. He spots the stranger pull something out of his back pocket. An explosive.
James extends another tentacle arm out and also snakes it towards the two. "Hey, Lily," another kid says as he and his pal meet up with the little girl. "Who's the tall guy?"
"He's a protector," Lily says. "He's helping Charlie."
"Cool!" the other kid says. "Can you teach me how to make arms come out of my sides, too?"
"Maybe later," James says. He manipulates one arm behind the stranger and the other behind Charlie. When the stranger holds out the explosive for Charlie to take, James grabs the stranger's ankle and yanks him down. At the same time, he wraps his arm around Charlie's waist and pulls him behind the tree.
"Whoa, cool!" the kids are saying.
Charlie laughs. "That was fun! Let's do it again!"
If James could smile, he would. But another boom sounds in his mind. He looks over and sees the strange man getting to his feet. He spots the group of kids and comes over. He's not going to hurt them, James thinks. Not on my watch.
The stranger rounds the tree - and stares up at James in fear. "Monster!" he screams.
This got the attention of every adult in the park. Some of the nearby adults scream when they see James' face (or lack thereof) and his tentacle arms. "Leave those children alone!" someone shouts rushing forward to pull the kids away.
"He wasn't hurting us," Lily tries to tell them.
The strange man grabs Charlie's hand and starts to lead him away.
"Hey!" James shouts. "Let go of that boy!" He shoots a tentacle arm out and hits the stranger smack in the chest, making him release Charlie.
Susan runs over, and her eyes widen when she spots James. "Charlie, we're going home right now!" She grabs her son's hand and pulls him away.
"But, Mom," he whines, "he saved me. He needs help." He screams louder as his mother picks him up and carries him out of the park, nearly breaking into a run.
James cannot believe this. They just took one look at him, and they are afraid? Isn't someone going to give him a chance to explain things?
The stranger moans, rolling over onto his stomach. James extends a hand in front of each of the remaining three kids and leans forward. "Just try to take them, you monster," he growls.
The stranger pushes himself up and attempts to glare at James, but he is too scared. "M-Monster?" he says. "Ha! You're the monster!"
"I don't try to hurt children," James says. If he had eyes, he would have narrowed them, and if he had a mouth, he would make it curl into a sneer.
"Lily!" a man calls, running up to the small group. He freezes when he sees James. "Lily, get away from that thing!"
The stranger scrambles to his feet. "I was trying to save the kids," he lies, "but that monster attacked me and threatened me!"
"That's not true!" one of the other kids shouts.
"Lily, we're going home right now." Her father grabs her hand and quickly leads her away from the group.
Sirens blare, and a police car pulls up. Oh, great. My father's going to kill me.
"Hold it right there!" one of the policemen shouts, stepping out of the car and aiming a gun at James.
The driver also gets out and aims his gun at the Slender. "Step away from the children!"
Wait, why are they pointing their guns at him? He was trying to help the kids, not hurt them. He lifts a hand up -
BANG! James gives a cry as he grabs his main arm. Did that man actually just shoot him?!
"Step away from those kids!" the police officer says again.
God, help those kids, he thinks as he teleports back to the forest.
"James?" his father says, walking out from behind a tree. "Where have you been? Your mother and I - what happened to you?" He gently takes his son's arm and inspects the bullet wound. "How did this happen?"
James keeps silent, too ashamed to tell his father. You were right, Father. You were right about the humans.
For nearly a week, James stays inside the forest. His arm is healed, but it feels sore whenever he moves it too much, too long. He would come out and greet the other Slenders, but he would not partake in any of the festivities, claiming he was not feeling up to it. He is sitting on a tree branch in the middle of the afternoon reading a book, when he hears voices. He cocks his head and focuses on them.
"This is kinda creepy," one of the voices says.
"What, you scared of going into the big, dark, forest?" the other one mocks.
"No!" the first voice quickly defends. "I just...don't want to run into a bear."
"There aren't any bears in this forest. And even if there are, I brought my gun, so we don't have to worry about them."
Gun. That word sends a chill down James' spine. If those two find the Slender clan, they could kill them. He teleports his book back to camp and silently climbs down, bracing himself for whatever happens next.
He sees two people in the distance among the trees, both boys, most likely in their late teens. "But what about that slender fellow?" the first boy says. "You know, the one that tried to kidnap those children in the park?"
Are they talking about me? I never tried to kidnap those children!
His friend motions to his gun, strapped to his side. "I can use my gun on him, too. It worked to get rid of him before."
The first boy doesn't look too sure.
James has to warn his clan before they get seriously hurt. If these boys are anything like the adults at the park, they will not give him a chance to explain; they will shoot first, ask questions later.
The first boy freezes. "What's that?" he asks fearfully. James realizes the boy is looking straight at him.
"What's what?" the second boy glances around, but obviously doesn't see him.
"There." His friend points right at James.
The second boy finally spots James. "Oh, my God!" He scrambles to get his gun ready, but James teleports back to the center of the forest, where the rest of his clan is resting.
"Everybody, you have to leave now!" he tells them.
"Aww, why?" Kendrick asks, lounging on a branch above.
"There are boys in this forest with a gun."
That gets everyone's attention. "Where are they at?" James' father asks.
"I think they're a few miles away."
"Good. That gives us just enough time." He turns to the other Slenders. "Warn as many people as you can! We'll meet up in the Black Forest! Go!"
Everyone scrambles around before disappearing one, two, or three at a time. Margareta runs up to James. "I'm going with you," she says.
"No, Margareta, you need to go now."
"I don't want to be without you."
James' heart melts. Taking her by the arms, he pulls her closer and says, "I don't want to be without you either. But you have to go now. I'll meet you in the Black Forest."
She nods glumly. "Fine, but take this." She takes off her gray jacket and hands it to him. "Stay alive and bring it back to me when you're done," she tells him before vanishing.
"No." James whips around to the direction of the sound - and sees his father lying on the ground, clutching his side. "Father!" He runs up to his dad and kneels beside him. "No-"
"Don't worry, son," he says through gritted teeth. "They didn't get me." He moves his hand to show his dented, silver belt buckle. "Though it really stings."
"Here, let me help you up."
"Where'd that creep go?" one of the boys says. He sounds nearby.
"There's no time," his father hisses. "We have to go now."
James nods his head, but realizes he left Margareta's jacket behind. "I have to get something first."
"No, we need to go now."
"I understand. I promise I'll meet up with you soon."
Too impatient to argue, his father nods. "Take care," he says before vanishing.
"Look what I found," one of the boys says.
The jacket. James whirls around and zips behind a tree. He leans out enough to see the boys looking at the jacket.
"Looks like it belongs to a woman," one of the teens says.
"Where could she be though?" the other wonders, looking around. He freezes when he sees James. "It's the Slender Man!"
His friend looks up. "You got her," he says before cocking his gun. "You got that woman! Where is she?"
"Somewhere you'll never find her," James says, glad that Margareta left when she did.
Their eyes widen. "Oh, my God!" the first friend shouts. "You killed that lady!"
"What? No, I-"
He teleports out of the way in time, as the second teen fired his gun. He teleports right behind him, grabbing them and lifting them up. Even though they try to wriggle out of his hold, he keeps a strong grip on them. "Let us go, you bald creep!" the boy with the gun says. He aims the gun again.
James whips out another arm to whack the gun out of the boy's hand. He wants to say something - anything - to these boys, about how humans are reckless creatures. But he holds his tongue. This is not the venue for his anger - and anyways, he cannot get Charlie and those little kids out of his mind. No matter how bad the rest of the humans are, those four kids were the nicest beings he'd ever met. For their sake, he will not become the monster everyone thinks him to be.
"Please!" the first friend begs. "Don't hurt us!"
James deliberates a moment longer, before dropping them on the ground and teleporting away. He takes deep breaths, something he does to calm himself down. "Where'd he go?" he hears. He growls. Stupid humans. Can't they just leave me alone?
That gives him an idea. He spots his book several yards away and shoots a hand out to snatch it, ripping out one of the blank pages. He looks around for something to write with, but he senses the boys heading his way and knows he has no time. Scratching his finger on the rough tree bark, he writes his message in blood. He then sticks the page to the tree, where it stays. James presses on his wound to make it stop and heal quickly and teleports behind another tree just as the boys stumble into view.
"I swear, I thought I saw him," says the more paranoid of the two. His eyes dart around anxiously and settle on the page. "Hey, Dave?" The boy walks forward and peels the page off the tree.
"What is it this time, Bob?" Dave grumbles, checking how many bullets are left in his gun.
"Look at this." Bob shows the page to his friend. "It says, 'Leave me alone.'"
"You think it's from that creep?"
Bob gulps and nods his head.
James watches from behind his tree as the boys argue about whether or not to hunt for the Slender Man. Seriously? he thinks. "Slender Man?" What, they couldn't come up with anything more original? It feels like forever, but finally the boys decide to leave. Dave says it is because he is almost out of bullets, but James could see the flicker in his eyes, despite trying to act tough. He lets out a breath and leans against the tree, sliding down to the ground. Finally, the humans are gone. Good thing all the Slenders are gone, including Margareta.
Margareta! Her jacket! He teleports back to the main spot and finds her jacket lying on the ground, a bit dirty from being dropped there. James picks it up. "Time to take you back to your owner," he says aloud. Holding tight to the gray fabric, he appears in the Black Forest.
It is nighttime here, and he can here crickets chirping. Funny, he does not seem to sense any Slender nearby. Maybe he is still shaken up from his encounter with the humans. James walks further into the forest and tries again. Still, he cannot sense anybody. But, this is where they were supposed to meet, right?
"Father?" he calls out. He does not care if any humans find him. "Father!" Silence answers.
"Guten abend," someone says.
James turns around and sees a Slender from another clan. This fellow is dressed in a white shirt with brown leiderhosen. "Um, hello," James says. "Have you seen a Slender clan come this way?"
The German Slender asks, "Is dis clan led by Paul Slenderman?"
"Yes! That's my father!"
"Oh, I'm sorry, but zey just left ze Black Forest." James' heart falls. "Somezing about getting to safety."
James slumps his shoulders and hangs his head. He just missed them. "How could they just leave me behind?" he wonders.
"I'm sorry," the German Slender says again, resting a hand on James' shoulder. "Zey vere here for a couple hours, most likely vaiting for you." It occurs to James then how long he took back in the other forest. "But zey had to keep moving."
"I understand," James says glumly.
"You are alvays velcome to join my clan, if you'd like."
James gently removes the fellow's hand from his shoulder. "No, thank you."
"Vell, if you ever change your mind, just call for Alder Grobman."
James nods and mumbles a farewell, teleporting back to his old home. He sinks to his knees. I'm alone. I have nobody...I brought this on myself. He looks at the jacket still in his hand. I can't risk putting anyone else in harm's way again, because of my stupidity. I'll never join another clan.