Tuesday, March 22, 2011

His Children Gather, Part 3.

I don’t think the children understood the gravity of what had occurred. They were all very young, the other members of that Sunday school. The oldest would’ve been about 11. The oldest of the, others was about the same age.

Sometimes I think I don’t quite understand the gravity of the situation, myself. I feel like I should be tearing out my hair, sobbing, screaming at the world. Making some sort of a gesture, something to let those who’ve passed know that I care. Not only the most recent death…All of them. Those we’ve named, those we’ve found, those who have vanished without a trace.

All I have is this dull ache in the corners of my consciousness, this knowledge that there is something inherently wrong with the world. And I don’t know if I’ll ever escape from that knowledge. I look back to last year and think about how na├»ve I was. How little I knew about the other side of the fence, the people who I spent my days diagnosing and treating. Now, I know fully well that there is no fence. People are fragile; it’s one of the hallmark traits of humanity. Fragility, yet resilience in the face of that.

These children, all of them, they were taken before their time. And the only thing I could do about it, was try my best to make sense of it.

The day following the investigation of the crime scene, I’d organized to speak to several other members of the church group, with their parent’s consent. Not many of them were very willing speakers; particularly the older ones, who had enough of a grasp on the situation.

The youngest one however: Timmy Malone. 6 years of age. A blond, sunny little kid…he didn’t understand, and in that, he became the most useful part of my investigation. I’m not the best with children, and I was not altogether there, but it didn’t seem to matter. He spoke a lot.

“So, tell me about your Sunday school.”
”My teacher is Mister Smith. He is nice and smiles a lot and talks about God.”
”What about the kids in your class?”
”There are a lot of people! There is John, and Samir, and…”
”Has there been anything strange about your lessons?”
”No!” That would’ve been far too easy. Of course.

”Tell me about the church.”
”It’s really big! The windows have all the colors of the rainbow, and at lunchtime, the bell goes ‘bonnng’…The Crying Man says that a monster lives up there and rings the bell, but I think he just saw that on TV.”

From the mouth of babes.

”Who is the Crying Man?”
”He lives at the church. He doesn’t like the sun, he says it hurts his eyes. Did you know that it’s a biiiig ball of fire a million miles away? The Crying Man told me that! He said it was another world, one with a lot of little boys and girls that have been very bad.”
”I don’t think that’s true…What else has the Crying Man told you?”
”The Crying Man is really nice, but he is very upset. People don’t like them, and he doesn’t like them. He wants them to all drown.”
”In forty days and forty nights of rain! Like the story of Noah. Mister Smith told us about that. I think the Crying Man heard him. He hears a lot of things in the church. He told me that Samir and Michael were saying bad things about me when I was outside playing with Heidi and Mark. He said I shouldn’t be friends with them anymore.”
”…Has the Crying Man ever hurt you, or touched you in a way that made you feel uncomfortable?” Standard procedure, which I fell back on while I was trying to process what I was hearing.
”He’s really nice! He wouldn’t hurt any good boys or girls, he said. He said only the bad ones would drown, and the good ones would be able to come with him when he went to talk to Jesus.”
”Has Mister Smith ever heard about the Crying Man?”
”No, the Crying Man told me to never talk to Mister Smith about him, otherwise he would have to go live somewhere else! And mommy and daddy couldn’t know, because they would tell Mister Smith. Promise you won’t tell him, Mister Doctor! Please?”
”Why didn’t you tell me this when I asked if something strange was going on at your church?”
”He’s not strange, the Crying Man says everyone else is strange. He wears a mask to stop them making fun of him.”

I didn’t tell “Mister Smith”, but I did tell the police department who requested his utmost cooperation in whatever they had to do.

And so, in layman’s terms…we raided the church. Under cover of darkness, a group of Homicide detectives burst in through the doors and scoured the building with flashlights. And it was only when we made it up to the bell tower that we found something. Forensics later pushed that something up to ‘something, a straight, black hair and a fingerprint’. It wasn’t much, at least, not for the police, but even just the piece of paper gave me renewed hope, and…something in my mind clicked just looking at it. Rather, what was written on it.


This isn’t a game for the police. This is a game between us and them.

I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X. Ready or not, here I come.

Friday, March 18, 2011

His Children Gather, Part 2

Actions never occur in a vacuum. There’s always someone watching, someone perceiving. Someone they impact on. Otherwise, can we really call them actions? I suppose a way to explain it is through the old “If a tree falls in a forest and nobody is around, does it make a sound” question.

What I’m trying to say is…someone heard. And someone told the world.

”’Police Appreciation Slender With Church Children Massacre’, by Lance Franklin. What do you think, Doc? Too subtle?”

Fucking journalists. I’d just got back from four hours with the bereaved families (which will not be discussed), and that prick springs this shit on me. I…snapped a little. 

“Look, buddy, I’m not sure how things work back in motherfucking Britain, but here, we have a sense of goddamn propriety and sensitivity when it comes to tragedies like this. Your little pun is cute, but for fuck’s sake, do you get off on shit like this? Does seeing a maniac jump around disembowling people make you hard? And did you really think that making a sweet little joke about dead children is going to get you a page that someone will actually read? The fact that you’re standing here, hoping, waiting for someone else to get hurt, sickens me. You plain fucking disgust me. And I’d appreciate it if you’d get out of my face.”

His smile didn’t even waver. “I’m actually Australian.”
”Fuck off.”
I tried to push past him, but he stood firm, his face taking on an oddly curious look. “You’re certainly experiencing a veritable flood of emotion right now, aren’t you, Matt? I…am sorry we got off on the wrong foot, and I’m sorry for you, because we actually have something to talk about. You and I are the only ones who know what is truly going on here. That this killer is clearly basing his work off an original. Forget what those other papers are calling it. ‘The Fishmonger’. ‘The Mad Surgeon’. You and I both know that we are looking at ‘The Slender Man’.”

I nodded, too drained to even make an attempt to walk away. Lance Franklin was a charismatic kind of guy, even though I found him absolutely distasteful. “Sure, yes. That is what a lot of my research is about; using the Slender Man Mythos to provide some form of warning as to what we will have to deal with.” I sighed, making no attempts to move.
“A noble cause. And what do the police think of your theory?”
”That it has merit, but that traditional police techniques will be necessary as well.”
”Do you have any suspects?”
”Yes, I do.”
”…But you’re not going to tell me them.”
”Of course not, you’re a journalist.”
”I know. I’ve got to fly, Mr. Rivers, but I have some research into the Mythos of my own that I’ve been doing, so would I be able to contact you further down the line to compile? I won’t even mention it in the context of this case, we’re talking pure literature appreciation here.”
”Why not? Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go sit down.”

And I did. I sat, and I watched the police mill by. And thought about all the people we’ve lost, and how little progress all my 'literature appreciation’ had made towards catching the criminal. I wasn’t in the best of headspaces at the time, due to the lack of reward for the work I’d been doing. All I’d received in thanks was a concussion and sleepless nights.

Little did I know at the time, my work was about to pay off.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

His Children Gather, Part 1

I promised myself I would not leave this seat until I updated people on what was going on.
But why am I updating you anyway? Why do I feel this compulsion?
Is it a narcissistic desire to document my life, due perhaps to negligible perception of my own self-worth? Perhaps.
Is it a civic duty? We all deserve to know what is going on in our world...the good and the bad. Possibly.

I've been sitting here wondering for the last half hour, 'why am I sitting here, talking to people I don't even know, about events which don't involve them? Especially after being on hiatus for so long. I shouldn't be.

I think...it's a defence mechanism. By narrating these events, to an audience, I'm somehow making them...less real. Making them just another chapter. It's like that one quote from the Blair Witch Project I posted...couldn't have been too much more than a month ago.

But I'm steadily realising just how relevant it is, even outside of the Mythos.

Since I last updated properly...I've been working fairly steadily. Not on the case. On my clinical duties, and on my own personal research. Occasionally I delved into the Mythos again, but that was more out of personal interest than any attempt to develop the background of this case. In fact, I had a bit of a post developed… I remember the exact moment that particular piece of work got put down, in favour of...something else entirely.

I'd just got into work for the morning, though I didn't have an appointment until 2PM that afternoon. I'll be honest, this...Slender Man case simply wasn't a prominent feature of my work before then. Since I looked at the crime scene again...I've been a bit spooked. I've been focusing on clinical assessments, and consulting on other cases. My actual job. None of this crime drama bullshit that I seem to be heading towards.

Then, Detective White walked through my door, oddly subdued. And polite. That set the warning sirens off immediately. “Look, Rivers, I know you’re busy. And that you didn’t want to get involved in this case again. But I think I can change your mind. And I think you SHOULD change your mind.”
”And why is that?”

Detective White closed the blinds of my office before crashing down on the couch, clearly exhausted…mentally or physically didn’t seem to matter, it had come to the point where it was both, regardless. “Because I need your help. I need someone, anyone who can use this to bring this fucker down. I need someone who can rationalize this and say it was all part of a greater plan. And I…I kind of need someone to be at the crime scene with me.”

”What is…’this’?” I asked, strangely horrified. It wasn’t like White to request companionship so openly, and…honestly. That she needed it, rather than wanted to freak out the wimpy psychologist.

”Will you help?”, was her response, looking up at me with those brilliant green eyes for just a moment, before looking away.
I didn’t want to. But I couldn’t turn down such an open request; psychologically speaking, turning her down would close her off again, and it’d be months before I could regain that trust.

More importantly, she was my friend.

And that’s how I found myself standing outside of a church, with the bodies of five children arranged, extending, like petals from a flower, out from a solitary, dying yew tree in the middle. Weighed down with the swarm of black bags, looking like a murder of crows from the distance. The police were bustling around me, scrutinizing the area for evidence, but everything seemed silent. All I could hear was the beating of my own heart in my ears, and Dr. Aspen’s assessment of the crime scene. Her coldly professional demeanour was slipping as well. I don’t think I can blame her for that. I don’t think I can blame anyone for that.

“They died in about one to two minutes. Longitudinal incisions along the neck, severing the internal and external jugular veins, and in most cases, the carotid artery. Three out of five cases were also heavily drugged; we found evidence of intravenous delivery of an opiate on their arms. They wouldn’t have felt a thing, I think. The, jagged cuts on this child’s neck though, indicates a struggle, and it looks like he took two tries to…” Dr. Aspen took a deep breath in, and composed herself. “The organ harvesting procedure appears to have gone smoothly, and quickly. We’re getting the crime scene photos and then taking them into, the lab.”

I nodded. “Do we know who they are? Have their parents been informed?”
“They went to the Sunday school at this church. They were supposed to be on a camp for the weekend. We’re getting the parent’s contact details now.” Aspen said, pulling off her latex gloves and brushing her hair out of her eyes. “I don’t envy the person who needs to inform the parents.”

“I’ll call them in.” I don’t know why I volunteered for it. I guess I felt I’d be able to provide the most sensitivity. And in a situation like this, I felt everyone had enough on their plates.

I’ve been trying so hard to write this update, but the words just haven’t been coming out. It feels like such a weight off my chest to be able to finally share this…I’ve been troubled.

I’ll speak more later.