The Black Circle
The four of them gathered at Kevin's backyard the next night. "Are you ready?" James asks.
Trevor nods and says, "Yep."
Kevin glances away, rubs the back of his neck, and mumbles, "Sure."
Charlie feels the folded paper in his pocket. He hopes he will not have to call the group, but he figures it is better to be safe than sorry. He keeps his face free of emotion as he says, "I'm ready."
James can sense that Charlie is being aloof on purpose, which makes his heart drop. Those past years, he had thought about Charlie and hoped he was okay. He had hoped to one day find Charlie again - and maybe form a friendship - but now, James feels distant, as if he had never met Charlie before. James reaches out a hand to the young man, but he just flinches away. The Slender slumps.
"We'd better go now," Charlie says. "Let's get this over with." Slowly, everyone gathers around James, and he wraps his long arms around them before teleporting them to the outskirts of a forest just outside of the mining facility.
"Whoa," Kevin says, looking at everything.
Trevor tightens his grip on his walking stick and asks, "What's it like?"
"It's huge, and there's big machinery."
James points and says, "I think that's the entrance to the mine right there."
Charlie's blood chills. He recalls the day he first met that group.
He was walking back to his apartment after a long day of work. He got his phone out and was checking his messages when he heard a car zooming behind him. He turned around and saw a van approaching him. It slowed, the side door opened, and three masked people jumped out. They ran at him.
Charlie whirled around and dashed madly for his apartment complex. He could hear them getting closer. He turned and jumped up, grabbing the chain-link fence and throwing himself over. He kept running, rounding a corner and sprinting for the stairs that would lead him to his apartment.
He stopped when one of those people appeared and hurried in front of the stairs, blocking his escape. "Out of my way!" he shouted. He charged at the man, tackling him into the stairs. He then scrambled to his feet in a desperate attempt to flee - but the man grabbed his ankle and yanked him down. Charlie kicked at his hand, but the masked man refused to let go.
"Release him," a voice said.
The masked man growled, but he let go of Charlie's ankle. Charlie got to his feet, watching as his attacker backed into a surrounding group of masked men at the bottom of the stairs. One of them came forward. "Very impressive, my boy," he said, giving Charlie an impressive nod. "I've never seen anyone as fast or strong as you."
"Who are you?" Charlie demanded.
The man wagged his finger. "Tsk, tsk, there's no need to be rude."
"Says the guy who tried to abduct me!"
The leader cut to the chase. "We are the Black Circle. We have been watching you for a while, Charlie."
He froze. "H-How do you know my name?"
The leader waved a dismissive hand. "That's not important. What's important is that we want to help you."
He still doubted the intentions of the Black Circle. Why were they chasing him? "Why would you want to help me?" he asked them.
"Because," the leader said, "we have a common enemy: The Slender Man."
Charlie stiffened. He knew that was the creature he had seen at the park, the one who wanted his help. No one believed him when he said the faceless man was friendly, and he was forced to visit a psychiatrist who would yell and throw things if Charlie kept insisting the Slender Man was real and was friendly. Not wanting his parents to find out and possibly make things worse, he eventually "confessed" that it was all a lie, and he had to accept a different path before he hurt himself or anyone else. It was very traumatic as a child, to go through these "sessions" when no one bothered to listen to you. Ever since those classes, he had been wary of anything relating to Slender Man, fearing he would go through the same cycle.
"It's alright, though," the leader continued. "With your help, we can get rid of the Slender Man once and for all."
Charlie hesitated before asking, "How can I help?"
The leader of the Black Circle took out a paper with a circle and an X sketched on it. He gave it to Charlie. "If you find anything to do with the monster, call us."
He looked over the paper. "But there's no number on here."
"We'll know if you call us. Or, if you prefer, we reside inside a mine. Just go through the entrance, and someone will meet you there."
Charlie looked up to say something - but they all vanished. Stuffing the paper into his pocket, he bounded up the stairs, ran to his apartment, and slammed the door behind him, locking it tight.
"Do you think Margareta is somewhere in that mine?" Trevor asks.
Charlie snaps from his thoughts.
"I don't think so," James says. "Slenders don't like enclosed spaces. We'll go in there, but we won't stay long."
"Does it drain your powers, or something?" Kevin asks.
"No, we're just claustrophobic. Another reason why we prefer forests."
A tingle goes through James as he senses something. Something he has not felt in years. He turns into the trees, trying to peer between them.
"What is it?" Charlie asks nervously. Kevin turns Trevor around so he faces the forest, too.
"I think I sense..." James leans forward. "It is!" He teleports to the figure behind the trees.
"Hey, wait up!" Kevin says, pulling Trevor along. Charlie nervously glances back at the machinery before running off to join them.
It is so dark, and cold. She hugs herself for warmth, wishing for a light in this place. But she is not sure if she even wants to see where she is.
What if she saw one of those people again?
She shudders at the thought. She has no idea who they are, only that a couple of them snatched her on her way home and knocked her out with chloroform. When she came to, she was in this little room, completely dark and dusty. One of them had opened the door, a shadow against the light in the background. He told her she would serve a great purpose, but he would not answer any questions about his identity or why they chose her. He kept silent about that. But his ambiguity was not what had frightened her.
It was his eyes.
Even after she was shut up in the darkness, the eyes have stayed with her. Blood-red eyes. They must have been contact lenses, but they still scare her.
The only other thing besides the eyes that scares her is the fact that they know her name.