Jennifer had no idea where she was.
She’d woken up in the middle of a pitch-dark forest, dressed in her school uniform, and with a torch that she could have sworn she wasn’t carrying when she’d blacked out. Come to that, she couldn’t remember blacking out, or what had happened before.
The torch was already on, and the batteries inside were new-looking, so she assumed they were near enough to full.
Shivering, from both fear and the biting cold, she walked forward.
Looking up, she saw an immaculate sight. The whole galaxy’s worth of light was smiling back at her. This wasn’t a good sign: the more stars you see, the further from civilization you are.
Trying to ignore this fact and enjoy the scenery as best as possible when in near impenetrable blackness, with only a single tool for comfort, she moved on.
Something began to loom out of the darkness. A tree far taller than the others, branches reaching into the sky, like lightless lightning bolts. There were no leaves on this tree, which stood alone in a clearing.
Approaching it, she saw something that gave her some, even if small, hope.
A piece of paper.
However, as she drew nearer, her fear, which had been slowly ebbing away, increased 100 fold. On the paper was a sentence written in a child’s handwriting.
Don’t look or it takes you.
She picked up the paper, and ran from the tree, along the only visible path, which wound away into the foliage.
After sprinting for a few seconds, she’d left the tree and her blind panic behind. ‘Don’t look or it takes you.’ What could that mean? What was ‘it?’ Why was it provoked to ‘take you’ when you looked at it? Perhaps this wasn’t a child’s, but a madman’s message?
“I’M NOT MAD!”
The sound split the silence and caused her to panic so much that she fell to the ground, and dropped the paper and torch.
The beam of light snapped off as the on button collided with the ground, and she was left in total darkness.
The sound of what she recognized as a young boy’s voice, with a slight Germanic accent, still rang, from seemingly everywhere, as she fumbled for the torch. To her delight, she found it, click the button, grabbed the piece of paper and looked up to see…
In the distance, but still visible, was a very, very tall figure. Too tall to be a man. A pale head stuck out from the neck of a black suit. She assumed it was facing away. Or at least, she couldn’t see its face.
Don’t look or it takes you.
Fresh panic seemed to course through her like an electric shock, she turned heel and ran, ran as fast as possible, away from that monster.
She was so focused on putting as much distance between her and that thing that she failed to notice a tree root on the path in front of her, and she tripped, and went flying right into a rusty old truck, parked with its front wrapped around a tree.
Wincing in pain, she got up, and saw another piece of paper, tacked to the side of the vehicle.
Always watches. No eyes.
It was completed with a rough illustration, a stickman’s head with x’s over where eyes would ordinarily go.
Heart thumping, she remembered the tall man. She’d thought he was looking away. Did he really have no eyes? And what to the rest of his face? Did he have a mouth or nose?
The words were whispered this time, again emanating from all angles, even the ground.
With no reason not to do so, she ran, a little slower, in the direction she’d been heading, dodging trees and keeping off the beaten path. She thought she’d seen him watching from the sidelines at one point, but obliging the instructions of the first note, ignored it.
After about 5 minutes, she encountered a cement semi-circle. It looked like a section of a huge, half-buried pipe, or perhaps it used to serve as a bridge or cover, over a road now buried in the earth? Either way, she’d been expecting the note which, sure enough, was present, about half way along the passage.
This one didn’t have a message. Just a picture. A collection of trees. She surmised this must be the forest that she was in, as the other two related to…him.
Suddenly, as she emerged from the other side, she began to feel nauseous. Her vision clouded, a buzzing filled her ears. For the second time she fell to the ground, hands over her ears, but she did at least keep grip on the pages and torch, which, to conceal her whereabouts, she turned off manually.
She couldn’t hear footsteps, but knew he was nearby, and so, making sure to face where she knew he wasn’t, walked off.
After a much longer time, what felt like hours even, she came to an out-of-place looking structure. It was a large pillar, jutting from the ground, a dull brick colour.
Here was fastened another note;
She turned. It was watching, so far though that she could only see his head, floating eerily, as though unsupported. He wasn’t bothering her, so she walked, not away, but on parallel path to…it or him?
“It always knows.”
The voice took her by surprise, but she recovered, and trudged on, until she came to a collection of rocks, at the center of which was a fifth note;
Leave me alone!
“I couldn’t agree more,” she though aloud, grimacing at the thought of another person, younger than herself, alone out here. At least she had light. But then, how had the messages got to all of the locations?
She turned off the torch again, half from respect of the boy’s memory, half from wanting to preserve it until she thought she needed it.
A few minutes in the dark had her thinking that now was such a time. Thankfully, she was able to excuse herself, as she came to another truck, presumably an oil tanker, with yet another page pinned to the back, this one another illustration.
It showed a similar cluster of trees, but at the center of which stood a stick figure, roughly sketched and absent of facial features.
The brief memory of scanning a German vocabulary list brought back memory of the words.
Der just meant ‘the,’ as a masculine object. Mann, being the second part of its name, was the German for man.
Schlank, though? She thought back. Schlank. Schlank. Didn’t that come under descriptions? Schlank. Of people? Schlank…
Then it hit her.
Memories of all of those wild stories flying around the internet, memories of that creepy kid who was obsessed with finding creatures of legend babbling on about his project in Bavaria…
“Well,” she thought aloud, “he certainly is slender.”
She flicked the light around, until she saw where the truck had probably been heading. It was a site filled with about 8 other tanks, all supporting the Shell logo.
And there was another note.
Ominous, she thought, though it didn’t scare her as much as the thought that the thing described with such fear by some was indeed real, alive, and within an uncomfortably small radius of her.
On the same site was a building. She walked inside, and to her dismay found thin passages, all-to-perfect for ambushing someone.
“He’s going to fucking rape me in here.” She joked to herself, as she slowly made her way through the corridors, and rooms.
After inspecting 3 rooms respectively, she finally found one with a dirty floor, and an overturned chair, upon which was, what she hoped to be, the last message. Completed with another picture, detailed to the point that you could tell that he had a shirt and tie, was the same word, repeated about 10 times.
Her vision clouded as before as she felt what she couldn’t describe behind her. As though her dread had condensed into a presence in the room right behind her.
Her conscience screaming to heed the warning not to look, but her annoyingly curious nature natural to humans telling her that she had to know, she turned around.
“I did tell you not to look…”
That kid! He was there! In the room!
She laughed with relief and hugged him, burying her face into his dirty clothed chest.
But suddenly, the clothes weren’t so dirty, but soft and smooth. And, his waist size staying the same, his head rose from her height to much higher.
She pulled away as the Slenderman unveiled himself from his disguise, and bore down upon her, soundless, but menacing.
The familiar buzzing and fog filled her brain, as she saw his faceless head drawing nearer and nearer…