- To those in a crowd, they appear as the dust of an empty tabletop,
- a can of peaches to a grocery store butcher,
- the hairs of the bartender crawling up from seeing a pile of sick.
- But for any person fortunate enough to feel alone standing amongst their colleagues,
- the true believers in a disbelieving world,
- it is the hero they have been seeking, inhabiting the dream itself.
- from “Manifesto of The Faith” (Author Unknown)
The myth of the Formless Form has been only commonplace to a select few fable enthusiasts, perhaps due to its unfathomable nature or the perceptible contempt of the more plain-sighted academy of macabre folklorists that seem all too happy with taking up hours discussing blood drinkers and reanimated bodies.
But while there is considerable argumentation regarding the exact origins of the creature, a number of well-accepted truths permeate the discussion.
Basis and Sightings
No one can pinpoint when the Formless Form was conceived (or as some would say, "located"), but experts agree it is a fairly new phenomenon, dating to 2007.
It is then that a professor of crypto-ecology, Dr. Nathan Montgomery, first wrote of the myth in his personal journal which went unpublished on account of it being a private diary. Dr. Montgomery referred to the Formless as "Franklin Franks," and that he met this person at a laundromat during his tenure at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. "Franklin" was sitting in front of an empty dryer that for whatever reason was activated. The conversation between Dr. Montgomery and the alleged Form was short, dealing mostly with the professor's routine of weekend laundering. Below is an excerpt from the journal.
- "Hello, mate," this oddly-comfortable man said to me as his unbroken gaze into the spinning drum continued to amaze me. "You're back at your usual time."
- I did my best to ignore him, but after a few more attempts at catching my glimpse, I went over to the night manager sitting at the desk. I asked him about the man sitting in front of the running dryer with no clothes inside, and he merely waved off and told me someone must have put too many quarters in it during more hectic hours.
- As I finished my brief questioning of the manager, the sitting man was laughing. "Come now," he said between laughs, "Just face it. You want to talk to me as much as I want to talk to you." He remained still in his previous position.
- As I stood in front of the desk, this man made a few more comments, and rather personal ones. He knew of my current paper on the Mexican Yeti and that my son had decided to pursue chemistry at NYU. Turning around to ask the manager of the sitting man, I heard the dryer stop. Before I could look behind me, the man had left.
More elaborate reports began filing in, though some of these should have been refuted and noted to be opportunistic. Details ranging from the number of arms it has (some claiming as many as eight), to where it lives (such as how it can only sleep within 100 yards of a cemetery), to the color of its hair (mostly red with spots of white) were entirely frequent and consistent with pranksters wishing to cause a ruckus.
However, some of these details lined up and a consensus began to accumulate: the Formless Form was generally a bipedal organism that showed itself sporadically during "weird" happenings and would speak of things only a trusted family member or confidant would know, and the only people to truly see it were deemed extraordinary by the Form itself.
The Four Visits
The Form seems friendly at first sight, but begins to use its knowledge for the purposes of extortion later on, going from an unexpected fan to the carrier of dangerous libel during its third visit to the party.
It will attempt communication four separate times. On the first attempt, it will use platitude and kindness to win the respect of its subject, oftentimes individuals who do not entirely belong to their occupation or demographic group. Feeling as though they are unheard or unappreciated, the Form will be an admirer and a supporter.
A few weeks to a month later will come the second communication, when the Form will ask questions about a particularly secret event that has taken place since they previously spoke. This attempt will only happen with individuals with whom it has spoken prior to this. Again it will materialize next to something unusual in the environment.
It will bring up a farfetched request such as the retrieval of a protected item or an unattainable amount of foreign currency, leaving with the phrase, "You be a good friend, and get me this," or "Do this for me, won't you?" which has also been quoted as the Form's repeatedly-stated parting message.
The next encounter will be a couple days after the second, and its physical stature will be more unkempt, along with a change of personality, as if it were disappointed or enraged. The personal details will be brought up with new vigor. Dr. Montgomery's journal of his third meeting with the Form was dated during the June of the same year.
- Franklin was not doing well, I was sure of that. He was looking intently on a sputtering ceiling fan in the lobby of the library and he, as before, refused to make eye-contact.
- "Nathan, I thought we were friends," he said. I told him we were hardly acquaintances and he scoffed before whispering, "I didn't want to do this."
- He reminded me of the student transcripts he wanted me to give him. I have no clearance to the documents, I told him, but he didn't seem satisfied by this.
- "I need those, and you need to get them for me."
- When I explained why this was impossible, the fan stopped turning, the only one to do so on this very muggy day in the library. The young men and women continued their silent studies, and I had to feel unnerved.
- "Nathan," he spoke with more fury in his voice, "It would be unwise to fail me. Kevin wouldn't like to hear about your...transgressions."
- I asked him what he meant and that I wouldn't be intimidated by his lackadaisical muscling. But the fan made a loud noise and he said the thing I feared he would.
- "Kevin doesn't know about Cori. Shall he be ignorant, or spiteful?"
- And he was gone. My knees were weak and I was sure the entire room had overheard. The affair with my assistant would be known by everyone.
Similar encounters have been described, each of them featuring the Form quickly leaving after bringing up the unwanted topic. Some have said they acquiesced and did whatever it was the Form begged of them, and these reports were accompanied by another encounter.
The fourth visit from the Form will occur exactly ninety-six hours after it has been granted the request and regardless of what the person is currently doing. Its former cheery demeanor will be reestablished and it will, in return, present a telephone number or email address for another person with whom it has in some way shared correspondence.
Payment and Punishment
For the more likely event of continued denial, correspondents suffered consequences. The information would be leaked, citing a random source, and in the instance of Dr. Montgomery, everything he had tried to conceal was indeed in the public awareness. He was forced to resign and later committed suicide by hanging himself in the hotel in which he was residing.
It is generally accepted the Form is exchanging obedience for entry into a group of like-minded outcasts who call themselves "The Faith." When and where this small gathering comes together is unknown, as divulging those details to anyone not part of the congregation is grounds for removal by drastic means.
A subset of the discussion, while not by any means in agreement, has been quoted stating members of The Faith tend to be imaginative and in some way shunned by contemporary culture, only to eventually hold esteem once they are granted entrance.
In Other Media
The story of the Formless Form has been adapted into an obscure erotic novel entitled The Man Who Really Listens, and has been referenced to have an influence on several major motion pictures.
While the community has yet to confirm this, a subset of the discussion has stated members of The Faith could be involved in these productions, and their ranks could be found in other facets of the entertainment and technological industries.
It is unknown whether this claim is speculative assumption or has been allowed by the group itself to enter the discourse revolving around The Formless Form for the sake of indoctrination.
A number of poems indirectly show appreciation for The Form, including the one in the beginning of this article.
The Formless Form has never been verifiably photographed, though in a few documented encounters correspondents have said its appearance is perceivable only by the people it selects and any picture of it maintains this quality.
Below are supposed photographs taken of the Formless Form during encounters.