Friday, June 17, 2011


I woke up, my muscles screaming with tension, my mouth dry and salty with caked blood, sounds of the ocean rushing through my ears. I was in a small white room with Spartan decorating: a window overlooking a dirty little beach and a single wooden chair, which naturally, I was strapped to. I tried to stand up, but my legs were tucked neatly between the seat and the bracing support between the two front legs, each one individually tied. I’m…moderately lithe, but I’m no Houdini, and these guys had really thought this out: I didn’t bother trying to escape. Call it learned helplessness: I felt like one of Seligman and Maier’s dogs, trapped in a harness, waiting for the shock. Apparently this thought manifested itself in action; I could hear myself whimper a little. Shut up, that’s not going to help either. I looked around the room further, noting only one piece of decoration: a single artist’s easel with a white canvas and…that symbol on it, from the basement all that time ago. Though it was a little different this time. I made the connection: It was the Crying Man’s eye. Big Brother is watching.

I contemplated my available actions, and decided that there was no point waiting around: this was an inescapable situation. At least on my own. So I tried to change it up a little. Let’s see if he really IS watching.

I shifted my weight forward in the chair a little, prepared myself, then flung my body back, knocking the chair clean over and knocking my head on the hard wood floor: a clatter on the outside, but in my mind it sounded like a sickening ‘crunch’. Ignoring the beating pain, I swung around to the left, trying to prop myself up on one side, facing the eye. I didn’t have a master plan here, I just wanted to test my boundaries. I eventually manage, and found that while my legs were still securely bound, I could slip one shoulder back down through the ropes, and then the other, until they were constricting my neck. I tried to pull my arms away, but this pulled the ropes around my neck tighter, like a noose, until I couldn’t breathe particularly clearly. I laughed a little at my own ineptitude, but then the laughter slipped away as it dawned on me that I was seriously in trouble, in this tangle of rope; if I moved my arms any more, I’d run the risk of cutting off breathing entirely…

Then the masked men came in, practically barging their way through the door with their shoulders. My fucking saviours. They grabbed the ropes around my neck and pulled my chair to its feet, de-restricting my airways at the same time. The ropes on my arms slipped off. I coughed briefly, then winked at the painting of the eye. Not that I expected it to wink back or anything, I was just glad my theory had panned out, but realized that the conclusions I could make from my test…were just as troubling. He wants you alive.

Why does he want you alive?

”Doctor, if you cannot be conscious for more than a minute without trying to kill yourself, are you certain you should be a practicing counsellor?” That cold feminine voice was back. I looked up, massaging my throat, and there he was, business suit looking rather immaculate. “What friend ties another friend up?” I asked, defiance clear in my eyes despite my rampant headache and my mouth tasting like shit. “Curious way of showing your friendship, buddy.”
”I apologise, it was for your own protection. The driver hates you very much, it is not your fault. Roël can be silly sometimes, he is young. He does not speak much anymore, otherwise I would make him say sorry.” I blinked, having not heard that name in a long while. “When did Roël stop speaking?”

”Oh, sometime around his initiation. The first one we’ve ever had in this city, in fact. He made…a sacrifice, shall we say? Jason and himself were our first fresh recruits.”

Another familiar name. Troubling. I didn’t speak.

”You are wondering why you are here, yes?”
”Do you have unicorn magic? However could you have guessed that?” I tried to be the sarcastic wall, though that might not have turned out as well as I could have hoped.
”Doctor, there are things beyond the mind. Beyond your mind, beyond my mind. Slivers of another reality, manifest in our world. Another, darker reality, one which none of us could possibly comprehend, let alone exist in a semi-natural state.”
”We still talking about unicorns here? I really hope we are.” I was trying to cut down all his melodramatic posturing, and my mind was still a little off, I make no apologies for any of my actions.

Not that it did any good.

”I posit that you already know about some of these…slivers, so to speak. You have done enough research into it, judging from your little blog. Change your password sometime, by the way. ‘bandura7’, while elegant, was easy to guess.”
“We were talking about slivers, not my internet security.” I consciously put on a poker face, reticent. Let’s play a game, you fuck. “You are talking about those blogs?”
”Yes, yes. These, incidents shall we say, these anomalies in our dimension…while each possessing some similarity, always have an element of difference to them. A mouth. Different clothing. Different, modus operandi. Different symbolism. Why is that?”
”Dramatic licence, I suppose.”
”You’ve hit the nail on the head, haven’t you Rivers? Dramatic licence.” He clapped politely, his hooded head still staring intently at me. “…You have a headache, do you not?'”
”I suppose.”
”Get the good Doctor some asprin.” He clicked, and one of his masked men left the room, only to come back a few moments later with two white pills and a glass of water. I took them both from him gladly, and took the pills.

Not likely. I watched Marble Hornets, didn’t I? I stashed them beneath my tongue, and took a long drink of water. I only planned to take a sip, but it made my mouth feel so much cleaner, hydrating and cooling my throbbing tongue, so I finished the entire glass. I passed it back to the masked servant and wiped my mouth, spitting out the pills into my hand as it glided past.

”I will then posit to you a new theory. Soon, the Storm will come. We have been awaiting it since the New Year. Our events have been set in motion long ago, and now…He comes with the wind.” The Crying Man motioned towards the window, at the darkening sky. “Our reality and His will draw close, just for a second…long enough for a sliver of an idea to emerge. And emerge it will, unformed and fluid. Our perception will solidify it…And because of the rituals we have put in place, the storm will bypass us. We will be in control.”
”Patient’s thought patterns move along lines rather than through logical flow; he is under the delusion that he is a supervillain summoning a dark God into the world. Schizophrenia? I believe so.”
”Psychoanalyse me all you want, doctor. When the house shakes and distorts by His power…you will see the truth in my words.”
”I doubt it.”
”The bigger the skeptic, the stronger the shift in perception when they are proved to be well and truly out of their depth.” He tapped me on the head softly, and then left the room, once again leaving me alone.

I settled down and waited. No matter what happened…the swiftness of the response meant I would not be able to escape until they wanted me to. I looked down at the pills in my hand, noting that they were most definitely not asprin. They looked more like a brand of dopamine antagonists I had had prescribed to a patient of mine a few years back, though I was hardly going to taste-test them and find out. I threw them to the floor in disgust.

And the sky darkened just a bit more

and the sounds of the ocean slipped away, leaving only silence.

Deafening, screeching silence.

I cleared my throat, if only to give myself something to hear.


I tapped my ears experimentally…my sense of hearing had completely faded away.

Sigmund Freud, during his clinical work in Vienna at the turn of the century, found a common theme running throughout many of his patients. In the socially repressed Viennese, 19th century society, he had patients come to him with seemingly biological symptoms, with no apparent biological causes. It had been known as ‘hysteria’ since before Christ, but it wasn’t until Freud that a connection was made between these apparently physical symptoms, and the mind. He called it ‘conversion disorder’, due to his theoretical reasoning that these physical symptoms were not organic at all: but were, in fact, anxieties, distresses and unfulfilled drives converted and manifest in physical symptoms: ‘switching off’ a part of the physical body to protect it from this overarching, repressed anxiety.

I’m not the biggest believer in everything Freud did, and all of his theories, but for the life of me, considering what came next, I can only assume my swirling, dark Id was preparing itself for what was to come, discarding the senses which I would not need, distorting my hearing because what I would be hearing otherwise was just too unfathomable to accept.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


It’s a strange feeling, that horrible realization, of that one simple fact.
You are being followed.
You try to forget it, you provide every logical counter-argument you possibly can. You’re jumpy. You had a rough couple of days. Get home, have a nice glass of vino, just calm down.
Yet still it persists, the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end, a shiver of fear goes down your spine, your pace quickens. And suddenly it doesn’t matter whether it’s real or not, every innocent noise, every twig snapping, every breeze of wind disturbing the trees, takes on a sinister unnaturalness. Your senses get clearer, alert, ready, waiting for any sign of danger so you can fight or flee.

And on the 15th of April, that night…I wish I’d fled faster.

The day started normally enough. None of the doom and gloom I’ve been alluding to since my, reluctant hiatus ended. It was a brisk Spring day, as they generally are, with the light reflected in the misty dew on the ground as I walked from my apartment over to the precinct. I generally do like to walk, rather than drive; it’s not too long away, and in this instant gratification world…we need more times where we can just unwind, put one foot in front of the other, and relax. (Plus, gas prices these days, what up? Yes, as always, I am bringing you the best in topical humor; you should hear what I have to say about airline food, it’s a doozy.) It was a bright day, and…well, I find myself always drawn back to remembering that walk to work on that day, it was just so…naive. And free. The last moment I can remember like that. Uncomplicated, expected…normal.

Normality flew out the window with the client I had waiting at my desk when I walked into the PD, however. “You forgotten about me, mate?”
I had not forgotten about him, the journalist: Mister Lance Franklin. Since our last meeting, we had been keeping online correspondence, e-mails and Skype mostly, revolving around a compiled article regarding the Slender Man Mythos. We had....mostly worked out our differences, though to be honest, this was because he had decided to stop baiting me, and had decided he needed my help. While at the start, I was…less than approving of his original idea: a scathing appraisal of the police department for not looking at the generic signallers of the Mythos, after our minor disagreement around this (as arguments on the internet tend to pan out, I was called a ‘fascist’ and I retaliated with something along the lines of “you anarchic, convict fuck”) we decided that we could work together on something purely to bring attention to the stories as an emerging frontier in new media; an entirely communal concept, loosely banded together as a cohesive whole.

“No, I haven’t forgotten about you. I’ve got the research you asked for right here.” I reached into my desk (shooing him out of my chair in the process, directing him sharply to the couch) and pulled out a manila folder with a fair amount of writing analysing the conventions of the genre. I’d show it to you guys, but you’ve already seen it: I lifted the vast majority of it directly from my blog posts, cut out any sensitive information, and compiled it under the rough guise of a thesis. It pays to recycle. And it’s not ‘re-using’ so to speak, it’s about being efficient. “I trust this will serve your purposes, Lance.”

”Lance? We’re on first name privileges now, Matthew?” The journalist’s eyes widened, and he mimed a melodramatic faint, face down on my couch. “This is the happiest day of my life.” Except at this point, he was still becoming familiar with my cushions, so it came across more as “’S iv meh ‘appies ‘ay o’ I ‘ive.”
“Names aren’t important, it’s how one distinguishes the time to use which name. First names, last names, nicknames, impersonal references…choosing to use any one of these says something about the relationship. Us, considering we are now working as equals in the same field, are most definitely on first name privileges.” I replied, as he sat himself up and looked at me incredulously. “Is that some honest-to-god homebrew psychology I hear? You just make this shit up as you go along, don’t you mate, or do they actually teach you fluff like that in shrink school?”
“Yes, I make it all up. You caught me. That’s also how I got through all my assignments, my Masters and my Doctorate. What, have you never been to university?”
He laughed, accepting my sarcasm with a wave of his hand. “Well, I’m glad to have this information. I’ve done some asking around, going to do a couple of online interviews with some of these blogger college students, so on and so forth. With your talentless hack Arts degree analysis and my immense skill at writing, this could be a damn good article. I mean, it’s hardly front page material, it doesn’t offer the incisive social commentary and exposé on police inaction that it COULD have, but hey, we’ll get a page. Maybe after the funnies.” I smiled, letting the insults wash past me. “So, when do we talk about my payment?” I didn’t hold out much hope for this, nor did I care that much; I hadn’t done much work for this, and it wasn’t as if I was strapped for cash.

“I’ll see what I can work out for this article, and any other followup studies you and I may compile on in the future. Seriously though, mate: thanks for this, I’d be buggered without your help,” he said, earnestly of all things, standing up and moving to the door with the folder. I was taken-aback, though I managed to keep that under lock and key. “You’re welcome, Mr. Franklin. Anything else I could help you with? Perhaps we can get a start on treating that vibrant narcissistic personality disorder that you’ve got going on there, though I will warn you, you’re going to be on the clock for that. Gotta put food on the table, don’t you know?” He grinned his trademark beam again, (the kind that made you feel dirty just to witness), and tapped two fingers on the door before turning the handle. It made a satisfying wooden, ‘thock-thock’ sound. “She’ll be right, mate. Seeya around!”

Once he left, the room went back to normal for a grand total of ten minutes. I spent this time contemplating whether or not a psychologist should have his walls painted the dull orange that mine were. By the time I had come to a completely biased conclusion (yes, yes we should), it was time for my first appointment of the day, who I thought was Detective Morrow, but no, Detective White came bursting through my door on the hour. “Can I help you, ma’am?” I asked sardonically, earning myself a dirty gaze for my troubles. “Detective Morrow’s sick. I thought I might get my appointment out of the way now so I can get back to doing work around people who aren’t a massive smartass with a degree and a douchy face.”
What is it about my non-professional relationships and this wise-cracking war of words I always seem to get myself into? Putting on some facade of urbane cruelty, to distance yourself from the fact you might actually care about people. Do I inspire this in people? I don’t know how to feel about that. It does make for interesting conversations, though.
”Because I can definitely handle you this early in the morning. Least you could’ve done would be to buy me a coffee.” I retorted, sitting at my desk and looking for a pencil. White paced the room for a moment in silence, then spoke up. “I’m fine, Doc: clear me and I’ll let you get back to staring at your walls.”

I wondered how she knew I was doing that, but I also noticed a tinge of something in her voice; a throaty catch, quite subtle, but definitely there, and not usual. “I could do that, or you could tell me why you’re so eager to get out of here.” I glanced upwards, to see what sort of a reaction that would garner.
Jess bit her lip for a moment, then sort of fell into the couch. “I’m worried, okay? I’m worried, and I’m annoyed. And it’s because of that case. How the fuck could I not be annoyed? That bastard’s gone quiet, he could be in fucking Florida sipping on a piña colada in the sun. And the world will still be spinning. He’ll get away with it, just like that.”
”That’s not the way the world works.” I said, talking out of my ass as I walked over to the couch, sitting next to Jess. She wasn’t talking to me as a psychologist, she was talking to me as a friend. She didn’t want analysis, she wanted someone to go through this with. “People get theirs. It’s karma, really. One day, he’ll slip up; he’s clearly got some choice antisocial tendencies, and now he has a taste for it. He’ll slip up, and someone will nab him.” Or so we could hope. It worried me too, but…The world will still be spinning, as she said.

“God, I hope you’re right, Matt. I really do.” She paused to think for a couple of moments, before apparently driving it from her mind, and brightening up slightly. “We still on for dinner tonight?”
”Absolutely! I’ll grab my car and drive past your place at 7. We’ll grab sushi.”
”Hey, at least I’m a healthy pussy.”
”Are you sure you’re a dude, Rivers?”
”Want to find out?”
She punched me, I flinched a little, and we both laughed. Life goes on.


It was 6:30PM. Not even that late, the sun was barely down. I pulled my coat around me further. It was a cold dusk, and I smelled rain on the approach. Down the main road for a while, then a left, cutting through a local park. Well, what passed as a ‘park’ in my neighbourhood. It was barely a nature strip, it was roughly 50% tree, and 25% pathway. High walls on one side, interrupted periodically by gates into the houses beyond, extending down a long, long path to the middle of suburbia. The sounds of traffic lessened and lessened as I walked down the path, leaving only my footsteps and the wind. That rustling, murderous wind, setting my nerves on edge. I focused on the sound of my own breath, willing myself to calm down. It’s nothing, you’re projecting your own insecurities onto the world around you.

I heard a shuffle behind me, and almost gave myself whiplash to see who it was. Nobody, just some kid. Alabaster skin, a backpack and a hoodie, which he was in the process of pulling up to protect himself from the wind. Yet my mind was still screaming for respite. I turned around and deliberately slowed my pace, breathing rhythmically, pushing the fear from my mind.

Then I heard the rusty ‘squeak’ of a gate in front of me, and the fear came flooding back. Another person walked out from one of the archways on the side of the path and started walking in the same direction as me, a fair distance in front. Nothing to worry about, he didn’t even take a second glance at you. You’re a fully grown man for God’s sake. Is Jess right? Did you lose your balls somewhere?

It was only when I heard a second gate open, behind me, that I started to give my mind some credit. A man wearing a hoodie, completely concealing his face emerged from the shadows, walking briskly towards me, brushing past the kid. I started walking briskly forward, trying to catch up with the guy in front of me, but suddenly he turned around, face completely covered in a neutral white mask, personalized only with red circles encapsulating his eyes. I faltered in my pace, felt a shot of adrenaline course through my system, weighed up the situation, and broke into a dash, making a beeline for the guy in the mask. I don’t think he suspected I would choose ‘fight’ over ‘flight’, so he wasn’t prepared for the shoulder barge I gave him, knocking him over with a satisfying ‘thump’. He was far from beaten, though, and swung around, grabbing my leg and pulling me down to the ground with him. I bit my tongue as I went down and my jaw cracked on the pavement, feeling salty blood fill my mouth. “Bastard,” I spat, kicking him in the side of his head with my free foot, once, twice, finally causing him to let go with a groan of pain.

However, by this time, the other one…no, the other two had caught up to me. It was all I could do to scramble to my feet as they reached down to grab me. I managed to dodge their grasp and unleashed a swift, yet clumsy kick in one of their general directions. It connected with their side, though it didn’t seem to make a persuasive argument: He shrugged it off as his friend tried to flank me. I was having none of that, though, and spun around, sprinting like I had rarely had the occasion to before. I was expecting them to shout something, anything, but our chase scene was silent but for the pounding of our feet, and the rabid beating of my heart in my ears. If I get to the end of the path, I’m on a suburban street. Hardly the most cinematic location to have a merry old chase, but damnit, it’s wider than this death trap, I might even be able to hide.

I saw the end of the path, and I gunned it, only managing to slow down halfway onto the middle of the road. There were no cars coming…no wait, there. A Lexus SUV, the noble explorer of the suburban jungle, coming down the road. Comforting. That’s probably the best chance I’m going to have. I made the international signal for “I need a fucking ride” with my thumb, and praised the goodness of humanity as the driver slowed down. I looked behind me, my pursuers (all three of them, as it were) were a ways off, still pelting towards me. I couldn’t waste any time. I pulled open the passenger seat door and jumped in. “Thank you so much these three fucking PSYCHOS are out there and can you please drive drive DRIVE” I blurted as we moved off, and the doors locked, and I put my seatbelt on, and I wondered why the driver of the vehicle looked so terrified…


And then I wondered who was in the back seat. I turned to look over my shoulder at the cougher and felt my heart sink. A particularly well-dressed man, wearing a retro style pinstripe suit, looking for all the world like a Mafia Don if it was not for the odd hooded cape he was wearing, and the porcelain white mask he wore on his face. The mouth was covered with a strange little black box, which looked far too intricate and technological to have been a part of the simple mask, which had two tiny little red lines extending down from his eyeholes (which appeared entirely blank in this light), wavering like a heartbeat, then petering out.

Crying blood. I had seen this mask before.

“Good evening, Doctor.” The voice I heard was, not a man’s voice. I surmised that the black box was a vocoder of some description. It was cool, electronic and quite feminine-sounding.
“…Good evening.” I said warily.
”We have much to talk about, you do realise.”
”I very much doubt that.”
She…he, tutted, indicating the negative quite emphatically. “Look…we got off on the wrong foot. The pile of organs thing, the concussion…It was all very distasteful, and I did not intend for you to see that. Here, let’s be friends. Some call me The Crying Man.” He offered a hand to shake. I took it warily and shook as firm as I could manage in a surreal situation like this. “Good, we are now friends.” He said. “Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for you and the driver.”

I felt a cold, metallic sting on my neck, heard an electronic ‘buzz’, then my nervous system exploded into the pain of a million volts flowing through my system. I convulsed back into an upright position, quite possibly actually giving myself whiplash this time, and shuddered uncontrollably, my teeth clamping onto my tongue again, losing control of several bodily functions which I do not care to describe. As this happened, my seat was slowly being lowered back into a lying down position, until for the second time, I felt my vision fade as I looked up at The Crying Man, who was coolly appreciating the scene. “Don’t want you to hurt yourself sitting up so uncomfortably. And I wish you hadn’t done that, these are very nice seats. But we are friends, and friends look out for each other, do we not? I will pay for the seat, you just go to sleep, it’s all going to be fine…”

But I was well on the way already. To sleep, perchance to dream.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Under New Management.

“I need a cigarette.”
“Not in the fucking office you don’t, Doctor.” Jess was growing her hair out since we left the force. It suited her, but while we’re nominally working, I would never say it to her. Not to mention our uneasy friendship was becoming more and more strained now that our checkups and stakeouts had advanced to a 24/7 ‘job’. Well, the job of living under the same roof.

I should probably explain, but…Christ it’s a long story. Don’t worry, you’ll hear it eventually. After our, exit from the precinct, we pooled resources, sold off assets and set up office in the same building. It was a sensible decision, considering we’d both just left our regular, state paid jobs for the perils and pitfalls of self-employment…not to mention in our particular services. A licenced psychology practitioner across what we described as a ‘hall’ (but could also be described as an indoor alleyway or a maintenance tunnel, depending on how kind we were feeling in the morning) from an unlicensed private detective. (well, ‘security investigator’. Who takes Private Eyes seriously these days, it just conjures up the image of a chap smoking a pipe in a funny hat.) I’m good at my job, but the location was not ideal, and I’d had to call in a damn load of favors from my college buddies to get any clientele in. Thankfully, I have a friend based out of Kandahar Province at the moment, who is sending the returned PTSD cases my way for ‘follow-up checks’. It’s similar to the old work, but I won’t talk too much about that except perhaps in passing: This blog was once a way to deal with the stress of what I do at work, but now, it’s about what I do in my free time.

Jess’ business is going…surprisingly well too. Monetarily at least. It’s a far cry from police work, or the illustrious cases of Holmes or Poirot. Hell, it’s a far cry from Marlowe and Sam Spade, too, though marginally more seedy. We don’t get any Maltese Falcons there; the largest market for the, ‘security investigation’ business these days is spited divorcees, looking for anything they can use against their once loved ones in court. It’s a type of justice, or so I tell her, but it’s not what she wants to be doing, and not what she should be doing. But it pays the bills, better than police work on most occasions. And who knows, it’s early days yet, she might find a case that appeals to her.
But for now, the case that appeals to her is our case, which started…god, it’s not even two months ago. It feels like fucking years.

Anyhow. I’ve, digressed somewhat.

“Well maybe if you would’ve let us get a place with a balcony, I wouldn’t have to smoke in the office.”
“Well maybe if you didn’t get yourself a shiny new addiction during your little crazy time, I wouldn’t have to bitch you out!”

It was a fair point, but with the events that happened to us, both of us picked up some bad habits to cope, and we both knew it. I would bring to light the minibar full of Russian Standard which Jess had insisted on, but I didn’t want to escalate this into a full-scale civil dispute. Which I wouldn’t win. Jess still had her gun, and all I had was my charming good looks and modest personality. I excused myself and went across to my own office, opening a window and letting a chill breeze sweep through, sending an involuntary shiver down my spine. It reminded me of that day, looking out into the sunset and seeing only burning, boiling death, and feeling only revulsion, utter, surging revulsion.

The killings hadn’t stopped. The, ‘Slender Killings’. They’d paused for a moment, just a blink of an eye, comparatively. And then one day, they began again.

And that time, that day, I was there to see it.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Shifting Situations.

Have you ever had that feeling, right after you wake up, be it after a good dream or…well, more commonly, after a terrible nightmare…where you’re not sure if it has quite ended? The twilight zone of the unconscious, where the swirling Id sublimates its insecurities, its unspeakable desires, into visions and hallucinations which plague you even when the birds are singing, the trees are mildly shaking off the morning dew in the calm breeze, and all you can do is lie there, stuck in a moment, paralysed with fear, regret, and the ineffable horror that is your own mind, churning like a whirlwind, going on and on and on until you feel sick to your stomach and the bile rises and you clench your eyes because it’s all you can do and the lights flicker and the curtains waft and the room spins so cold so cold and the Storm approaches...

I’ve been living for days at a time in that twilight zone lately, and nothing seems to help.

…I should backtrack, and explain what has happened, what…kept me from updates on my situation, the situation of…that case, the situation of Detective White…Well, Jessamyn White.
I will say now, though…neither myself, nor her, are at the Precinct anymore, as advisors or otherwise. Due to… extenuating circumstances. Completely, horrifyingly out of our control, fragile Man that we as a species are. Fragile, cruel Man, and fragile, cruel me.

It…was a decision I made, to leave the police’s employment. I still don’t know how I feel about it. But on the bright side, my conscience is now clear regarding talking about the Slender Man intrigue…and believe me, there is much to discuss about that. The past month has been…eventful, to put things mildly.

Stay tuned. It’s full steam ahead from here on in.