Kill the Killers (Parody)

April 1, 2014 at 8:00 PM
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The shack was dark, almost, too dimly lit for a normal person to see into. But he was used to it, after years of wandering the darkness his eyes had accustomed to the absence of light. The only source of luminance was the screen of a small computer, too old to do more than simply process small internet searches.

In the quiet light of the monitor, his features were simply made out. He was grotesque by the most basic of standards. Nothing about him was recognizable as human. His eyes were bloodshot with the inability to blink, and due to the lack of eyelids, mounds of crust formed where the tear ducts should have been. The sickening shade of white that colored his face, and the rest of his body, was a nauseating bone color. And the scars were the most disturbing part, the burns that had healed up caused flaking and a horrible sheen in some areas. This man was no longer human, neither in body nor in spirit. The small amount of emotion left in him was simply rage. Love was as non-tangible to him as the moon.

He sat there staring at the screen his askew mouth agape in horror as he read. The looks of disgust that registered on his disfigured face, would make many believe he was watching the ‘BME Pain Olympics’ Final Round. It was, in fact, much worse.

In front of his eyes unfolded the most disturbing things he had ever envisioned. Some female, had written something, beyond legible, passing almost into the infantile. A shudder passed down his distorted visage. Her claims of carnal knowledge of his body disturbed him, and even slightly nauseated him. This was enough for him.

He stood up from his kneeling position on the unsound floor, grabbed his knifes, and headed to a nearby house. Quickly and silently he moved around the place, this was no time for his normal Theatrics. There was no prelude, no “Go to Sleep” that had made him famous. No the butchering was quick and simple. Jeff the Killer needed to make a phone call, the situation was out of hand.

**

“Take HIM DOWN!” She screamed at the top of her lungs at the television set in front of her. Almost as disturbing to look at, Jane could care less, anymore that is. All those years ago she would have killed Jeff, given half a chance. These days, however, she rarely ever ventured into the daylight. Her marred beauty no longer hurt her the way it had once. Now she sits around during the day watching pro wrestling. For some reason she got it into her head that it would be possible to find a new rival here.

Reconciling her differences with Jeff had left her completely bereft of an opponent worthy of her talents, all because they tried to “hook-up” a couple years ago. Jane nearly choked on her soda at the thought of that travesty.
The ringing of the phone snapped her out of her thoughts. Who the hell was calling her….

“City Morgue, you stab them we slab them, how may I take your order today?” She answered the phone laughing.

“What the Hell Jane?” The voice on the other end quizzed. “Did you take some kind of fucked up happy pills today?”

Jane’s eyes narrowed and she growled into the receiver.

“Listen here you charred briquette, just because I no longer want to kill you for maiming me does not mean that I won’t should you piss me off.” Jane sighed. She just wanted to be whimsy, was that so wrong?

“Blah, blah, blah, I have something that we need to take care of, and as soon as possible if you don’t mind.” Jeff was exasperated.

Jane thought on what he was saying as he explained everything to her. Jumping onto her computer she listened to him talk. Crappypasta.com……was typed carefully into the web-browser. Her annoyance hit the fan in less time than it would take to get Miley Cyrus to lick a piece of construction equipment.

“What the holy shit is this?” Jane yelled out loud…Forgetting Jeff was on the phone she preceded to begin a rant that caused every nun in the state to begin praying for no apparent reason

“Fuck shit fuck…..” Jane was just swearing to swear at this point. “Why the hell would I wear a mask? Or have kids, all they do is eat, shit, and scream; Like I really want to deal with that bullshit.” Jane quickly gathered her own set of knives and headed over to her friends place.

**

Entering into the broken down cottage in the middle of the woods, a tall and dark figure ducked below the cross-beam. His most recent work out with his personal trainer, Hans, left his tendrils feeling like Jell-o.

Slenderman sat down in his lazy-boy chair and had just propped his feet up when there was a banging on the door. Sighing he stood up and dragged his sore overly long limbs to the door. Standing at the crumbling entrance was Jeff and Jane, both looking utterly pissed off.

“Yo Slendy my man, we have a major problem.” Jeff started off right away.

Dragging Slenderman to the computer in the back room, Jeff proceeded to show him the worst story he had ever found on the internet.

By the end Slenderman was puking out the window into his garden. Jeff tried not to envision what it was like for a man to purge when he had no mouth.

After a while the three of them sat in a circle discussing how they were going to deal with their problems, and it was decided that they would all target an author to destroy. The method of destruction would correlate directly to the offence that was written.

**

Jane stood outside her target’s house. A 15 year old female whom had felt it was okay to tell a story in which she inserted herself into the Jeff/Jane the killer world. Jane’s inner Grammar Nazi began to emerge. The complete lack of comma’s had her seeing red.

Having made sure the girl’s parents had left the house, Jane snuck in. Climbing the stairs slowly, careful not to creak, she made her way to the female’s room. Carefully she looked into the crack of the door the girl was typing away on her keyboard. Jane decided to drop the quiet approach and kicked in the door.

The girl’s head whipped around. The second her eyes registered the form before her, a squeal of excitement escaped her adolescent lips.

“OH MAH GAWDDDDDD” the girl jumped up from her computer chair and began to jump around the room.

Jane looked around the room in horror; every wall was plastered with fan rendered images of her and Jeff. Some naked, some in compromising positions. Agitation quickly replaced the disgust and quick as lightning, Jane pulled out some rope.

The girl didn’t even seem to notice what was going on. She was still in random, taco, middle school mode. Her ramblings were too fast to even make sense, something about wanting to get Jeff’s phone number off of her so that she could rub it in the face of “Besties.”

Jane snapped and trussed the girl up faster than a cowboy at a hog tying contest. Standing back she admired her handiwork. Then she grabbed the keyboard off of the computer desk.

The girl started crying, A thing that Jane pointedly ignored. Pulling out her knife she popped off a key on the keyboard.

“Do you know what the most used letter in the English language is?” She giggled at the hysterical girl.
“It is the letter ‘E’.” Jane screamed it at her face, forcing the key down the girls throat. “You see, when people completely ignore the basic constructs of the English language, I get a bit testy.” Jane was now screaming like a banshee.

“You use question marks when asking a fucking question, dipshit!” The question mark key was the next to be stuffed into the girl’s gullet.

One by one, Jane shoved every key down the girl’s throat. Forcing her to literally eat the words she had butchered then published on the internet. Taking the now barren keyboard, she pulled back and smacked it across the girls face.

The girl sat there crying, blood trickling from the corner of her mouth, snot dripping from her nose. Her stomach was horribly distended and she was having difficulty breathing. She looked up at Jane trying to speak, but was met with cold heartless eyes.

Jane grabbed her knife and slowly made her way over to the broken girl. Her smile was sadistic, lopsided with the uneven pull of burned and scared muscle on her face. With a thrust she drove the knife into the girls stomach slicing it open, the eaten keys poured out. By now the girl only had moments left to live. She was unable to cry, let alone speak.

Jane stood there smiling at her, watching as the light faded from her eyes. Turning around, she grinned
evilly at the web-cam that was mounted on top of the desktop monitor. The face on the screen stared in sheer terror.

“Pass on the literature lesson.” Jane said and turned and walked out of the room.

**

Jeff sat in the tree outside his victims house, the girl he was hunting was a 14 year old who created horrible stories about sleeping with him. The shudder that ran along his spine almost dislodged him from his tree.

She walked into the room looking around even gazing out of the window. Letting out a sigh she closed the door behind her. When Jeff saw what was behind the door he almost fell out of his tree again, there mounted on the back of the door, was a life sized “manga” poster of him. With no pretense he dove through the glass window, scaring the shit out of the girl.

She screamed for her mom, but what she didn’t know is that Jeff had already silenced her family.

“You want to be beautiful like me right?” Jeff asked the girl doing his best to sound romancy.

The girl struggled then her eyes opened wider. The horrid visage in front of her was nothing like she fantasized about. His bleach white face made her want to retch. The bile rising up into her throat was stopped by the hand he wrapped around her Larynx.

“See girl you wanted to look like me now you will look like me. Just like me.” Pushing her out of the window into the kiddy pool he had filled with bleach, he laughed maniacally. “Just like me Girl, we will be Forever beautiful.”

Just saying the words, Jeff wanted to wash his mouth out with soap, god who would want a 14 year old girl friend. He hated 14 year old girls when he was 14. Nothing had changed after all these years.

Looking out the window he saw the girl floundering in the bleach pool, looking disinterested he lit and dropped a Zippo lighter into the pool. It instantly went up in flames. The girl screamed for a few moments before going silent.

“Oops….I thinks I may have over cooked the lamb.” Jumping out he grabbed onto the tree and climbed down.

He looked down at the girl. She was burnt to a crisp but somehow still breathing. The girl tried to smile up at him, but failed.

“Am I beautiful now?”

Jeff recoiled, this was not the reaction he was hoping for.

“What is with girls these days? Why won’t you die already?” Jeff huffed at her.

“Because, I love you Jeff, I want to be with you forever, I want to have your children.”

She tried to sit up and reach towards him, which should have been impossible. (But this is a story so what the hell why not.)

Jeff tilted his head back and laughed until he was gasping for breath. The girl looked at him strangely. Why was he laughing at her, that was so mean.

“I…I can’t have children you stupid fucking kid….I don’t have a penis. I lost it in a horrible zipper accident when I tried to hook up with Jane….of course by horrible Zipper accident I mean she had braces.”

The girl looked horrified no penis? But then who would she fantasize about. Maybe she could just pretend that Jeff had never told her that. Jeff continued laughing and talking to her.
“And what makes you think that I want a Pre-pubescent teenager any ways? Look, I’m a sociopath, not a pedophile. Not to mention, I really don’t dig pizza faces. Not that you have that issue anymore do you, then again you don’t have a face anymore.”

The girl tried to cry but her tear ducts were burnt away. She looked up just in time to see Jeff towering over her with a knife.

“Go to Sleep.” Jeff slit her throat and walked away. Looking back over his shoulder he sighed. Kids today….

**

Slenderman was slinking around in the woods behind his victim’s home. He had the worst punishment he could imagine in mind. He picked up the bucket at his feet and blended into shadow. He began to head towards his target.

Her story was by far the worst of the worst, spawning almost as much hate mail as “did you stumble across herobrine.” He shuddered, she had turned him into a complete bishie…damn-it how hard was it to figure out he was gay, why on earth would he want a girl let alone breed with one.

He was halfway across the lawn when he was stopped by a set of headlights. He froze, that was a Mustang, oh shit.

Not now, please not now, not when his plan was almost complete. The mustang stopped and out stepped a man. Who looked like your average middle aged dad. He brushed back his duster and pulled out a desart egal.

“Put the bucket down Slenderman, or pacemaker is going to put a hole in your gut.”

Slenderman sat down the bucket, and put his tendrils up. Everyone knew you didn’t fuck with the time traveling dad. He was the coolest dad ever. And chances are if you did Yossarian would tear you a new asshole in the comments.

“Slendy, you know using legos for this author is going too far. Why are you making me do this?” TTD asked like any patronizing father would. Slendy pulled out his mobile phone slowly and showed the story to TTD.

The look on the fathers face went from annoyed to disgusted. He looked back and forth between the story, the comments and the legos.

“You know derpbutt is going to be pissed. He said Legos are going to far. But, I am all for it, lets go Slendy, that shit was just plain wrong.”

Between TTD and Slendy they were able too pour legos all over the writers room, put tacks in her shoes, and in essence make her life miserable.

Slendy followed her around for about a year, placing legos under the arches of her feet everwhere she went.

Paybacks are a Bitch.

Credit To – Ahriannah, with thanks to CrappyPasta Regulars

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The Road

February 15, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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I spend most of my Thursday nights driving. I drop the girl off at home and then I go, I just go anywhere. I need those few small moments where I can feel completely free from everybody.

There’s a road that stretches around an old garden shop that my friends all worked at for a few years. It started just outside the South of the city, a little road that veered right so suddenly that I was doing twenty under the limit just so I can spot it on time. It led past the garden shop and into straight blackness. I’ve been on that road a few times with some other friends and I can predict most of the turns and stops far before I see them. As I left the light of the city, I flashed on my high beams and made the sudden right onto the road.

I must’ve turned in too quickly; gravel and dust filled the back window of my car, sort of a dark cloud that took away all light from the city behind me, just for a moment. The tires lost traction and I start to veer into the ditch, fortunately saving myself with only inches it spare. My little Toyota Tercel is not the best thing for dirt roads, but it’s enough to get what I want out of it.

The road stretches far beyond my sight, fading into a chilling darkness. It has a few houses, small farmlands and barns strewn along it, each with their own twisting paths. The trees above loom over, cracking all the light coming from the sky above. Long branches stretched towards the ground, like long fingers pointing. I pick up more and more speed as the road starts to straighten out, watching the edge of my headlights guide my way to a tranquil place, far beyond the worries of mine or any others.

Up on the lip of a hill is a spot that overlooks the city, a popular place for many of the teenagers here in the south end, often seen with many couples solidifying their nights and the occasional group of stoners who like to simply watch things. The road leads up to this place, curving right until the top is reached. As I climb it, I can already see the taillights of four or five cars already up there, all minding their own business. I see a darker road; far less travelled upon, emerge on my left, avoiding the city-watchers. I’ve never seen this road before, but I figure that if I have a full tank and stay one hour within the city, what the hell? Might be worth my while to see something I haven’t seen before.

This road runs directly West and is completely straight, with no houses, farms, or barns peppered along its curb. Even the trees have disappeared, opening up the view to a vast farmland with hills on both sides of the road, just cutting off the sight of any further land.

Perfect.

I stay on this road for a long time. My iPod is on shuffle and much of the music is hitting all the right notes I want to listen to, mostly that of Led Zeppelin. There is nothing like blasting “Stairway” to shut out all the noise outside. It must’ve been twenty minutes before I started to worry.

The hills on both sides of the car have grown so close to the road that they have turned into walls, blocking any sight around me; a tiny valley that seemed to stretch into infinity. I figured I should just turn around and come back the way I came; I didn’t make any turns so it should be easy for me to follow it all the way back. So I pulled over and made a U-turn. I even signaled for it, I don’t know why I did, but for a second, that signal light caught something that stopped me in my tracks. It was tall and looked like a man, but it couldn’t have. It could have been a bush that the shadows made to look taller, even thinner. I waited there for a few seconds with my headlights on that spot, but there wasn’t anything.

My car kicked into the highest gear and I was sailing. I wasn’t going any faster than I needed to be, since there are tons of deer that like to run out in front of things out here, but fast enough that I was breaking the limit more than I was obeying it.

From behind me a light started to fill my mirror. I couldn’t make out what it was at first, but it was definitely headlights, and they were coming closer. I start to slow down, but still keeping momentum in the case that it might be one of the highway rangers making the rounds on the deserted roads. But something told me that whoever this person was, they weren’t carrying a badge.

Closer and closer the car got. Gaining on me like they were being chased by something. As the car became clearer, it zoomed pass me in the oncoming lane, honking frantically. It could be a couple kids out for a kegger, I don’t know. It didn’t really alarm me until I look in the rear view again.

Behind me was a face with no features, pale as paper, staring at me. It didn’t move, didn’t even react to the bumps on the road. It was just there, like a picture on a screen, staring back at me. I was so freighted that I almost lost control of my car, drifting into both the left and right lane as I tried to grasp myself. I look behind me and there was nothing, not a single thing. The air hung fuller than before, almost damp, and every breath filled my lungs with a thick, moist air.

It was the same thing as earlier, from the turning signal.

I am terrified. I push down hard on the gas, starting to speed past untouched places on my speedometer. I begin to wonder if this is what that other person was running from and if they got out.

Then, I see a dim red light ahead of me: the other car. This time it is going slower, almost a cruising speed. I don’t know if they think they are okay, but if it just got to me, then it is most certainly able to get to them. I start to honk frantically at the car as I speed past it in the oncoming lane. It doesn’t move.

I look in my rear view again and then I see something. Not it, but me driving the other car. I start to feel an upset feeling in my stomach, like I’m about to throw up. That couldn’t have been me, it couldn’t have. I shake my head to compose myself and put the road back into my view.

My eyes cleared and the headlights behind me disappear into the blackness. I am finally out of this, and I can start to see the hills spread apart to where they were in the beginning. I let out one laugh at the situation and rub the sleep from my eyes.

When I open them up again, that thing stood in front of my car, dark and hunched over, staring back at me with the same non-existent eyes. My wheels catch on the gravel as I try to avoid it and I run full speed into the ditch, flipping the car over. I begin to think about why I chose this road. There could have been any other.

I crawl out of the wreckage with as much strength as I have left, and just before I fall asleep, a Toyota Tercel is driving down the road I just came, blasting “Stairway to Heaven”.

I didn’t even bother to scream.

Credit To – Will C.

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Silence in the Rain

December 15, 2013 at 12:00 AM
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The cat walked slowly across the concrete, pausing to lick its paw in the middle. It sat there in the moonlight, just watching the skies and heavy rain. The clouds swirled, and the night was young. Perhaps it could find a confused mouse, or a drowned frog in this time. Its tail moved with anticipation of it’s hunt.

A chain-link gate swung open with surprising speed, startling the cat, resulting in a hissy fit. The man who opened it carried no thought of the terrible weather, cat, or of anything else he was up against. Yelling an obscenity, he ran as fast as he could through the opening. That thing wasn’t getting him, no way. He sprinted through the gate, and into the alleyway. He didn’t know why, and he didn’t know how, but something was following him. His first inclination was when he kept seeing this menacing figure at every turn. No matter where he went, he kept seeing it. He had thought that it might be a person following him at first, but that had quickly changed when he saw the height and shape of the being.

Great, a fork in the alley. Mark, sped towards the right. Not because of any good feeling, but because he knew whatever it was would catch up no matter which way he went.

The figure always seemed to be two steps ahead of him. Every time he turned around, it was there, silent as the night, just watching him. He could never make out it’s features in the rain, as it blurred his vision. He could tell it was tall, and seemed to have black and white skin, with the black covering the legs and torso. He had figured since it didn’t move when it was being watched, he could look at it and just keep it frozen. It worked, but when he stared at it, he felt sick, like something was clawing its way out of him. His worst memories resurfaced in his brain, among them an embarrassing date, a lost pet, his sister’s funeral… he had turned away, and crawled for a few seconds until he could stand up again. Then he ran far from the creature, the thing that, like his memories, he could not seem to escape.

Suddenly Mark slipped on a giant puddle, interrupting his thoughts. immediately, his jeans and hoodie became soaked on contact. Picking himself up from the water, the feeling to look back was too great. He turned around. There it stood, as real and frightening as ever. What really startled him was that it was closer because of his tumble, only a mere twenty feet away. Trying not to scream, in case that triggered a reaction from the creature, he spun around and ran.

The rabbit may not know of the fox, but it will sense danger when it presents itself. This was not unlike the feeling he felt right now. He didn’t know what it was, or why it wanted him, but he felt in his genetic memory that this thing was a great threat. If this thing was chasing him, it’d probably chased other people. Which meant that nobody had gotten away from this thing ever.

Or else they didn’t live long afterward to tell the tale.

Mark ran out of the alleyway, and into the street. The rain had been coming down hard, he knew that, but until now he hadn’t realized how much. The street was overflowing with water. It was even coming onto the sidewalks. A flash flood. He wasn’t really surprised nobody was out, even if it was New York. With this weather, everyone else would be inside closed and locked doors. Leaving him alone with…

Realizing his mistake, he threw himself into the street, while turning around. The figure had come to a stop about ten feet from where he was. Then he went under the water.

It was a little surprising being underwater in a city street, but at least it wasn’t deep. Finding a hold in the asphalt, he pushed himself up, and out of the water. Looking around, he found that the street was going uphill, or downhill depending how you look at it. This meant that there was a slight current in the water. Not enough to pull him away, but enough to make him unsteady. Mark looked around, frantic about the creature’s whereabouts. In the pouring rain, he couldn’t see ten feet in front of him. If the creature really wanted him, then he was about as vulnerable as he could have possibly been. Looking around, he finally spotted it about a yard away.

This close, and in the rain, it looked like something out of a horror movie. It stood around eight feet tall at first glance, but as he tried to find it’s head, it just seemed to get taller, like an endless ladder. Looking closely at it, he noticed that what he had originally thought was skin, was actually a formal suit, complete with a tie. It was both comical and terrifying at the same time, much like a clown. it took an ordinary object, and perverted it, twisting it into something sick. Upon even closer inspection, he realized it was far from perfect. It had large rips in the tie, and one sleeve was torn off about half way up. It had many tears in the fabric, and was stained with several foreboding rust colored spots. But when he finally found it’s face, he screamed. It wasn’t that there was no face, but it was just so horrible that his mind immediately erased the image from his head every second he spent staring at it. He literally could not remember what it was, but it terrified him beyond belief.

Snapping himself out of his trance, he moved to the right, narrowly avoiding a- tentacle? How had he missed that? Ducking, he closely evaded decapitation from another. Remembering the current, he threw himself down the street, being swept away with the current down the hill. The entity did not follow.

Floating down, unable to get a grip, Mark just tried to stay up on his butt while sliding. Looking ahead, he found to his horror, that the creature was already at the bottom of the large hill. Using his feet to steer, he sped himself towards a lamp-post on the side-walk. Reaching out, he attempted to grab it, only to find himself falling. Grabbing the edge of the sidewalk, as to not be swept in, he realized there must be an open sewer grate below him, unseen in the water. Cursing, he tried to pull himself up. Looking to his right, he spotted the figure about sixty yards away now. Gripping the concrete he tried to heave himself up. Another quick glance to his right.

Twenty feet away.

Giving it up, Mark let go and fell with the water. After four seconds of terrifying free fall, he hit the ground. Hearing a crack and experiencing extreme pain, he moved his left leg. It felt fine. Then the other. Once he moved it, he felt incredibly intense pain at the base of his thigh. That meant it was his hip. Shit. Trying to stand up, he found he couldn’t. The pain was too unbearable. He started crawling, knowing he had to get away. Dragging himself across the ground, he came to the sewer canal that carried rain water and gunk under the street. Looking to his left, he thought he saw a light. He couldn’t tell, as his vision was blurry. Funnily enough, it got cloudier. Then the sick feeling started again, along with the memories. Realizing his fate, he tried to drag himself into the canal so he could drown. Surely it would be a more peaceful death then whatever this being had in store for him.

Right as his body fell in, he felt a tendril grab him by the ankle, and lift him out of the water. Flipping him right side up, he hung there, looking at the creature for the first time, face to face. He was filled with unimaginable terror. It’s body radiated evil, and he vomited from the sickness, again and again. Then he felt two claw-like fingers lightly position themselves on his eyes. He tensed up realizing what it was about to do.

. . .

The woman opened her apartment room window. Looking out into the rain, she had thought she heard screams. But there was silence but for the rain now. There was no point looking outside anyway, there was nothing to see. The rain must have been coming down very hard, as it became. She thought about her mother, and the familiar sadness washed over her. She turned away from the window. Sitting down by the lamp, she began to read a book. Looking up slightly, she was startled to think she had briefly seen the faint outline of a man outside her window. But that was impossible. Her room was on the fifth floor of the building. She laughed at her absurd thought.

Then she saw the other shadow standing next to her own.

Credit To – The Doctor

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I Can’t Say That I’m Proud

September 20, 2013 at 12:00 AM
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Sometimes decisions in life aren’t easy to make, and rather than being driven by morals or logic, they’re driven by emotion and sheer necessity to survive. From time to time, everyone is forced to make a decision like this, and I am no different. That being said, it doesn’t mean I’m proud of what I do. In fact, I feel downright miserable about it, but there’s nothing I can do to change the fact that this is the choice I made to get by. Not now. Now it’s too late and I’m too far in.

I just graduated college with a degree in business. I was completely broke, dirt poor, having paid my entire tuition at a community college as I went along while breaking my back just to get the bills paid so that when I got out I’d be free of debt. I’d found myself stuck in a restaurant job with a business degree and no idea where to go from there. My sister Calliope offered to let me stay with her. To most people, that probably would sound like a no-brainer decision. Why, they would ask, didn’t you think of that sooner? I did. I lived in Texas and she lived in Vermont. I wasn’t sure if I was ready to move so far from what I was used to. Calliope did offer though, and the more I thought about it, the more it made sense to me. She agreed to come pick me so that we could have a little “sisterly bonding time” over a road trip. We’re twins…I didn’t think bonding time was necessary, but I was excited to spend time with her again.

A little over a year ago now, I had packed up my belongings, climbed into my sister’s car and left Texas behind. I didn’t know what the future had in store then, and if I’d known what I do now, I can’t say for sure if I’d do it again or not. Well…I guess it’s either this or struggling in the service industry for God knows how long.

For the start of the ride, she was very quiet. I felt as though I did all of the talking, even though nothing I said was of any importance. When I stopped talking, that’s when I could feel the silence. It was heavy.

“What’s on your mind?” I asked her. For a moment, she remained silent, staring at the road ahead of her. Her eyes had a look that told me her mind was far away. Finally, she answered me.

“They never found him, and I think they stopped looking. The trail’s cold. It wasn’t ever ‘hot’ to begin with.” She sounded as though she were numb to the whole ordeal by now.

Calliope was a teen mom. At sixteen she’d had her son, Calvin, and I’d always admired her willpower. She didn’t quit school, although trying to get through with a child wasn’t ever easy, but she knew college wasn’t for her. I respected her for the decisions she made for that child. Two years prior, just a month after Calvin’s fourth birthday, he’d been kidnapped. It was all over the news for about two months, and after no new evidence was turned up, the commotion died down and the community seemed to forget. My family didn’t forget. Certainly Calliope hadn’t forgotten. We wouldn’t forget. The story was so big because of the mystery surrounding the entire situation. Calvin was outside playing, in his own back yard mind you, fenced in, and he seemed to just vanish. There were no signs of forced entry, no signs that indicated anything was askew…just a missing child.

I turned to her now. “Cal, listen…they didn’t give up, and please don’t you dare give up hope. They’ll find him—“

“No they won’t Astra! They’ll never find him! No one will find him!” She cut me off.

I stared at her, a bit taken aback by the outburst.

“I know it’s taking awhile—“

“No. You don’t understand. There was never a trail for them to follow, absolutely nothing. I know something they don’t know, not that they’d believe me if I did open my mouth. I’ve known for a few months now.” I stared at my sister, unsure how to react to what she was saying. She pointed to the backseat. “Read that. I brought it so you’d know too.” I stared at her for a second before reaching back and picking up the thick packet she’d prepared for me. Some pages had been photocopied from books, others printed from the internet. I flipped through the pages, looking over at her after getting a few pages in, enough to understand what was happening.

“You think this…slenderman took Calvin?”

She reached across and grabbed the packet, flipping to the very back. She shoved it back at me. Staring at her, I took it back once more and looked at what I was now holding. It was a series of drawings, done by Calvin according to the note at the bottom that said sloppily in children’s writing “Calvin, 4”. The pictures weren’t anything remarkable, even for what a child was capable of, but it wasn’t the skill level that was interesting. All of the pictures had one thing in common: a tall figure, in some pictures with what looked to be eight extra arms jutting out from his back; in all pictures it was clad in a black suit. It never had a face and was always surrounded by trees…except for the last one. In the last one, it was in what looked like a rough sketch of Calliope’s back yard. I looked over at her again, waiting for an explanation.

“He was drawing these in the few weeks before…before he went.”

I shook my head slowly. I didn’t know what to say. I wanted more than anything to understand, but I felt more confused than I’d ever been.

“I need to do something. I need to.” It sounded as though she said this more to herself than to me.

Just as she said this, we pulled onto a fairly deserted road in West Virginia and I noticed a sign that said “Welcome to Grassy Meadows”. We drove on in silence. Not even five minutes later, I felt the car come to a complete and abrupt stop.

“Jesus!” I said, looking around in alarm and annoyance. “What’s the problem?” I asked my sister.
“That.” She said simply, staring out the window on my side. I looked and saw a good sized building, in decent shape, sitting beside me with a “for sale” sign out front on one side and on the other, a readerboard sign that read simply “Grassy Meadows Motel”. Before I could ask what was so miraculous about it, my sister was dialing the number on the for sale sign. I sighed heavily, waiting for her to end the call and explain to me what was going on.

“We’re buying that.” She said.

“Excuse me?” I had no idea what she was talking about.

“I said we’re buying that. You have a degree in business. We’re going to put it to use.”

“What are you talking about? It’s hardly going to be put to use if there’s nothing around here besides a post office that isn’t even open anymore and a few houses. Besides, this town is like…seven miles in its entirety. I don’t have money, especially not enough to buy a motel!” I said, voice raised in pitch.

“I have money. I sold my house.”

“You what?! You spent what you’d saved up for college your entire life on that house.” I shouted, staring at her. She put the car in park, climbing out and walking up the steps.

“We just have to wait for Gary.”

“Gary. Who the hell is Gary?” I asked, exasperated, but seriously beginning to worry about my sister. I got out and walked quickly over to her. Before she could answer me, a car pulled up behind ours. A short, chubby man with mucky brown eyes and no hair waddled over to us, shaking first my hand then my sisters.

“I’m Gary! Which one did I speak on the phone with?” He seemed overly excited, having the enthusiasm of a salesman on cocaine.

“Me. I’m Calliope, this is my sister Astra.”

“Wonderful! Such beautiful names. Can I interest you girls in a tour of the old place?”

“That won’t be necessary,” my sister said “we just want to buy the property.”

I stood back in disbelief as my sister and Gary closed the deal and felt numb when his blue Audi pulled away and drove into the distance. All my sister said on the matter was, “you needed money anyway.”

That was a year ago. Tonight I sat on the stool out front, the little radio in the corner playing some pop song I’m not familiar with as I stared out the window. My sister was making dinner. The sign out front that once read “Grassy Meadows Motel” now said “Just Like Family Motel” with the words “kid friendly” underneath. I watched as a small pick up truck pulls into our drive, the engine loud and quite frankly sounding as though it needed to be replaced. Turning the radio down, I watched as a man climbed out of the front seat, going around to the passenger side and knocking on the window.

“Yo Cal, we have company,” I called to my sister. A moment later, the kitchen door opened and she stood beside me, peering out the window.

“Did you see them?” she asked, rubbernecking to get a better look.

“I saw a man get out and I think someone’s with him but I don’t know.” I heard the front door open and looked in its direction. Sure enough, the man walked in carrying a little girl in his arms. The girl was awake, but clearly drowsy. No wonder. It was roughly ten at night, if I had to guess.

“It’s terribly late and I’d like to get a room,” the man said with a deep southern drawl.

“Of course!” My sister said, explaining the whole spiel about how pay is up front and by the day, 35 dollars per. I was hardly paying attention to her. I was watching the little girl, who was looking around the room with sleepy eyes. She looked about five, maybe six with brown hair and big blue eyes. My sister handed the key over to her father and as they walked off to find their room, I shot a glance over at Calliope. I imagine the look on my face was the same as hers—somber.

“Is dinner ready yet?” I asked, gesturing with my head in the direction of the kitchen.

“Yeah, can you set the table?” She asked me, eyes clouded with worry. I nodded and set out a plate for each of us, pouring some milk into two cups and putting those out as well, along with some silverware and napkins. I heard a soft knocking on the door and turned my head. I slowly approached the door and peered out the peep hole. It was the man we’d given the room three key to. I opened the door.

“How can I help you, sir?” I asked.

“Oh…pardon me miss, I know it’s awful late, but when I came in I could smell food…I hate to ask but I’m mighty hungry and I gave the last sandwich to my daughter…could I join you ladies?”

I glanced behind him quickly. The girl wasn’t with him, meaning she was probably alone in the room. I nodded and stepped aside.

“Of course, there’s plenty.” I went to the kitchen quickly and looked at my sister. It didn’t always go so smoothly. I didn’t say a word, just grabbed a third plate and cup and walked to the dining room. She followed me out quickly.

“I hope you like lasagna because there’s plenty of it!” She said in her most welcoming voice. I felt like crying. This has been going on for a year, but I still didn’t like it. I knew we had to do it for reasons, but I felt sick.

We all sat down at the table and began eating. The man looked to be only a few years older than us, maybe twenty six at most. He told us the story about how the girl’s mom had left and the entire sob story around that. Apparently his name was Seth. After about ten minutes, my sister gave me a look from across the table and I rose.

“Excuse me, I need to use the ladies room.” I disappeared into a doorway and made my way down the hall leading to the back door. I felt around for the key ring in my pocket for a good minute before finally pulling it out. I searched for the correct one and made my way to room three. Making as little sound as I could, I unlocked the door and stepped inside. The girl was lying on the bed, chest moving up and down rhythmically. I took a deep breath and stepped further into the room, getting up the courage to walk over to the bed. When I finally did, I reached out and shook her shoulder gently. “Sweetheart…your daddy’s outside and he told me to come get you…will you please come with me?” She looked at me for a minute and then nodded slowly, tiny fists going to her eyes and rubbing. I walked over to the door and turned back to look at her, watching as she climbed out of bed. Still rubbing her eyes, she came over to me. I looked ahead again and took a deep breath. I felt her small hand grab mine and I could nearly feel my heart breaking. “Alright little one, follow me to daddy…”

“Stacie,” she said quietly as we started to walk.

“What?” I asked, glancing at her briefly. She was looking up at me with those big eyes.

“My name is Stacie,” she said with the innocence only a child could have. “What’s your name?”

“Astra,” I choked out quietly, quickly moving my eyes back to the path.

“That’s a pretty name.”

We walked on down the heavily wooded path and I listened to her talk the entire way. The more I listened to her, the more I began to regret what I was doing. However, the more I listened to her talk, the closer we got. I fought off tears.

“This won’t take very long, will it Astra?” she asked with the sweet voice of a young child, like she was. “I left my doll and I don’t want anyone to take her.”

“I’m sure no one will take your doll, Stacie” I said, voice thick as I continued to struggle with tears.

“That’s good because my mom gave her to me a long time ago. Her name is Lucy. Do you have any dolls?”

“I used to…”I said, remembering what it was like to be a little girl, when a toy meant the world to you and nothing mattered much because everything was simple.

“What were their names?” She asked, swinging our arms a little bit as we walked.

“I had one named Angel…she was my favorite. I used to take her everywhere with me…” I stopped and looked up at the large tree before us. Stacie looked around.

“Astra, where’s my daddy?”

“I’ll…I’ll check to see if he’s coming! Just stay right by this tree…right in front of it…just like that! Stay there…I’ll be right back.” I backed away quickly before turning and walking stiffly up the path. I knew he wasn’t on his way, at least not the way she expected him to be. I turned my head to look back for a moment and saw the moonlight flickering on the polluted pond behind Stacie. When I turned my head, I also saw a tall figure standing behind her, many limbs stretching out into the darkness surrounding, and grab the little girl. I turned back ahead quickly and began to run up the path toward the motel, no longer able to hold back the tears as I heard her begin to scream. I fell against a tree close to the beginning of the trail and let my tears fall. I felt sick. I didn’t want to do this anymore. I didn’t really think that bringing Him these children would bring Calvin back, but Calliope did. She thought that if she brought enough, He would return Calvin with no questions asked, but I wasn’t so sure. I heard the choking and rattling motor of the small pick up truck Seth and Stacie had rode in with and saw Calliope driving it, like usual, to the large pond at the end of the path. I saw Seth knocked out in the passenger’s seat, weighted down by a large concrete block on his lap. I watched silently, tears staining my face, as Calliope rolled out from the vehicle quickly before it hit the hill and gained speed. I turned away and walked back to room three, not caring to see anymore. I heard the loud splash, and even that was too much for me.

I could hear the words of Stacie in my head as I walked and knew that, even though it was foolish, it might make me feel better. I went back to room three and I took her doll. Lucy, she’d said. Don’t worry, Stacie…I’m sure no one will take your doll…

Now, I’m standing at the tree, right in front of the spot where He had taken her and I’m holding Lucy in my hands. Calliope is back up at the motel, probably sitting on the porch and waiting for something that will never happen. I look at the tiny rag doll in my hands and place it in front of the tree. I run up the path and don’t glance back.

Sometimes decisions in life aren’t easy to make, and rather than being driven by morals or logic, they’re driven by emotion and sheer necessity to survive. From time to time, everyone is forced to make a decision like this, and I am no different.

Credit To – Ashleigh Margaret

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Full Circle

July 21, 2013 at 12:00 AM
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This is the sixth and final part of the By the Fire’s Light series.

Names we give have power
As we discovered too late
For we have named the nameless one
And thus have sealed our fate.

Our time has come full circle,
And now we have the end
Of lives or story who can say
As we turn the final bend.

Oh Wanderer of Blazes,
Will you please pass me by?
I am not worth your interest
So leave me here to die.

As the flames close in and curl
Around this frigid winter night,
I pray I will not see you coming
By the fire’s light.

Rourke lay in the early morning twilight, unable to sleep, staring at the green canvas above him and listening to the twittering of birds. He heard Mira typing quietly on her laptop on the other side of the tent. They had bought an external battery that held a decent amount of charge to keep it and their phones running out in the wilderness. The battery was running low though. They’d have to go to a town somewhere to charge it up.

Mira stopped typing and Rourke heard her close the laptop. “It’s finished,” she said to herself.

Rourke pushed himself up on his elbow. “You’re done?’

Mira looked over to him, eyes red from lack of sleep and nodded. “It’s done. I’ll still have to look over the proofs when they send them to me. But the story is finished. I am ready to send it in.”

Rourke scooted out of his sleeping bag. He zipped it up and began to roll it tight. “Well, good timing. We needed to go into civilization to charge the battery anyway.”

“We’ll need to hit a place with free wi-fi,” Mira said. She was sliding her laptop in her duffle bag and packing in other small items, like her notepad. “And coffee. Good coffee.”

Rourke laughed. “What, you don’t like percolated coffee?”

“Not when you make it weaker then water,” she said, unzipping the flap at the front of the tent. Sunlight streamed in and Mira blinked against the sudden onslaught. She poked her head outside slowly, looking left and right. “No signs of tall people in business suits,” she said pulling back into the tent.

“That’s good,” Rourke said, hefting his duffle bag up. “You have everything?”

“Yeah,” Mira said, hefting her own duffle bag. “Let’s pull the tent down and get out of here.”

Mira and Rourke ducked down and walked out of the tent. It was a decent sized tent, meant to house a family. It was camouflage colored and blended in with the foliage around it. For the past two months, Rourke and Mira had moved from campsite to campsite and state park to state park, and, occasionally, private property (which was when the camouflage came in extra handy). It was somewhat ironic, hiding from the Slender Man in the woods, but as long as they stayed near a water source like a lake or river or even a stream, they didn’t seem to have too much trouble.

As long as they didn’t stay anywhere too long that is. As they walked, Mira remembered back to the end of their first week of camping. They were at a state park site, camped near a decent sized lake. It had been three in the morning and Rourke had been sound asleep. Mira, however, had had trouble sleeping ever since her encounter with the Slender Man at the hotel that ended with the entire hotel in flames. She was determined to finish her story and bring it to publication, to try and put some dent in the path of destruction this thing was weaving.

As she had been typing, Mira had noticed a long thin creeping shadow in the pool of light made by her screen. With a gasp she had turned around to find a tall slender shadow just outside the tent. She had leapt forward on Rourke, shaking him awake. Which turned out to be a good thing when a tendril ripped through the tent fabric and struck where she had been sitting, splitting her laptop in two.

Rourke had grabbed a knife he used for paring down sticks for the fires he made sometimes and used it to slash a hole in the other side of the tent. Pushing out, they had run through the woods to the lake, crashing into the frigid water. The thing had stood on the shore watching them until the sun came up.

They had both staggered to shore, shivering, with blue lips and numb fingers and toes. Luckily, they had been able to get back to their camp and gather their things, only pausing to change into dry clothes. Even though it was the middle of summer they had cranked up the heat in Rourke’s car as they drove away from the state park. They had had to buy a new laptop for Mira and another tent. Since then they hadn’t stayed at a single site for more than three days.

Mira snapped back to the present as they came up to Rourke’s cars. As they loaded their things in the back, she frowned and turned to Rourke. “Hey, Rourke,” she said.

“What’s up?”he said as he shifted their duffle bags to the floor so he could squeeze the rolled up tent in.

“You remember our first collective encounter with the Slender Man? When we dove in the lake behind my house?”

“Yeah, it’s when I told you about how we needed to modify its story instead of negating,” Rourke said, shutting the door. “Because it’s easier.”

“Well, yeah,” Mira said, opening the passenger door. She climbed in and belted herself in and waited for Rourke to do the same on the passenger side. She turned towards Rourke as he started the car. “But there was something else you said. About us not being enough.”

Rourke revved the car and then let it idle as he sat back. He closed his eyes, thinking. “Yeah,” he said. “It was something Connor told me in the dream that prompted me to come check you. He said that one would not be enough. Or two.”

Mira’s eyebrows knit. “I don’t understand then.”

Rourke cocked his head. “Don’t understand what?”

“Why water has been so affective against it,” Mira said. “I mean there is some speculation in the Slender Man mythos that it is weak to water, especially in the Marble Hornets series, but nothing definite. Nothing concrete. So how can just the two of us believing it be enough to keep it at bay?”

Rourke stared ahead out the windshield for a few moments, watching the trees wave in the wind. He shrugged. “I don’t know,” he said. “Maybe Connor was wrong? Or maybe that speculation combined with our belief is strong enough?”

“Maybe,” Mira said, sounding unconvinced. She shook her head. “I can’t think without coffee. Let’s make our brief trip into civilization before we rough it again.”

“Sounds good to me,” Rourke said. He reached forward to turn on the radio.

–tenth disappearance in the area.– the disembodied voice said. –When questioned, authorities would only say they were investigating all possible leads. When questioned as to whether the disappearance of the children in the area was connected to the sudden spike in child abductions nationwide, authorities had no comment.

Mira and Rourke stared at the radio and Rourke shook his head. “You can’t get that story in soon enough,” he said to Mira, shifting the car into gear.

Twenty miles down the road they found a small town with a coffee shop that advertised free wi-fi in the windows. Mira had ordered the largest black coffee should could and a bagel. Taking her laptop, she settled in a corner by an electrical outlet and plugged her laptop in, letting it charge. Rourke sat down across from her and surreptitiously plugged in the battery they were using to charge their equipment.

“So,” Rourke said, settling down with his own coffee. “What’s your story called anyway? Did you finally decide on a name?”

Mira took a long swallow of coffee, appreciating its nearly scalding heat as it slid down her throat. “Oh, so good,” she said, putting the coffee down. She was definitely going back for a refill.

Rourke eyed her with amusement. “I take it that’s not the title.”

Mira rolled her eyes. “No,” she said, attaching her story to an e-mail she was sending to her agent Maureen. “I called it ,The Wanderer of Blazes.

“Catchy,” Rourke said. He swirled his coffee around. “So, how will this stop that thing?”

“Well, first we have to hope we can reach a fairly wide audience. If it bombs we’re back at square one,” Mira said. She lifted her cup for another gulp and drained it.

“It won’t,” Rourke said, trying to sound encouraging.

Mira stood up to get a refill. She patted Rourke on the shoulder as she passed. “That’s nice of you, but even great stories have bombed in their time. And I don’t think I’ve written a great story. Maybe a good one though.”

Rourke settled back in his chair as Mira went for her refill. The past couple months had been harder on him they he cared to admit. He had resigned from the force when he had gone underground with Mira. He really didn’t have any other options if he wanted to disappear without a thousand following hounds. Not that his employers weren’t curious to his reasons or wouldn’t investigate. But, there had been nothing to tie him to the hotel that had gone up in flames (more like exploded really…) since Mira had made all the reservations. Aside from being available for questioning in the disappearance of Jared Holloway from his prison (and he remembered his gun in Jared’s hand as Jared turned it on himself…) he had nothing to tie him down.

Mira sat back down with a new cup of coffee and checked her screen. “Good, it sent,” she said, taking a sip. “We should probably check in to civilization every couple days so I can get the proofs.”

“You still haven’t told me how this story is going to help us,” Rourke said, leaning forward.

Mira shut her laptop lid and set her elbows lightly on top of the shiny dark blue surface. “A few things,” she said. “One,” said, ticking the point off on her fingers, “we really establish water as a weakness in this story. Make it something that can seep into the mythos. Two, I wrote about a way in the story to pull people from whatever horrid place that thing takes them to.” She took a breath. “And three is tied to two. When we pull the people out, we force a large de-power in the thing. Since it runs on belief, once we steal the belief batteries its been running on we cut its power down to manageable levels.”

“Huh,” Rourke said. He finally took a drink of his coffee as he
contemplated this. “But doesn’t it run on the belief of people who aren’t
currently spending eternity with it?”

“Well, since I’m guessing that’s how it first came to exists, yes,” Mira
said. She shrugged. “We’re not going to destroy it in one sitting though.
If the book sells well, I can write another hey, maybe even get in a trilogy
that ends with this thing’s permanent defeat!”

“That’d be nice,” Rourke said, leaning back in his seat. “It’d be nice to
get back to life again.”

Mira reached across the table and grabbed his hand. “I’m sorry,” she said.
“You’ve had to give up a little more than me. I can still do my work while
we’re running.”

“Yeah, well, just do a good job so I can go back to mine,” Rourke said
gruffly, looking away from her, a thin shiny film on his eyes.

Mira opened her laptop again and became engrossed in it until Rourke turned
back towards her. He glanced down at the battery. “Battery’s charged,” he
said, reaching down to unplug it. “We should hit a grocery store before we
pick our next campsite.”

The rest of the day passed quietly after he and Mira had set up camp again.
A strong stream wound by the tent, rushing on its way to who knew where.
Mira sat with a book in the grass by the stream, head bent over the pages.
She looked up as Rourke walked restlessly out of the tent.

“Would you like to read it?” she asked.

“Read what?” Rourke asked, walking over to her. “That?” he said, pointing
at the book in her hands.

“No, my book,” Mira said, closing the one she was reading. “You’ve read
bits and piece, but never the whole thing.”

“I–” Rourke said. He stared at the stream for a moment and then shook his
head. “No. I don’t want to know more about this thing than I have to.”

Mira shrugged. “Fair enough.”

“Do you have anything else?”

Mira reached next to her and held up a small paperback. A dark haired
mysterious man had one hand waving a gun and his arm around a blond woman
with breasts so large Rourke wondered how they stayed in her half buttoned
shirt. “Cheap thriller I picked up at the grocery store,” Mira said.

Rourke laughed. “I’ll take it.”

The proofs had finally showed up in Mira’s inbox a week and a half later.
Mira spent the next couple of days glued to her laptop as she poured over
her pages, looking at the marks the editors had made. “And done,” she
finally announced at the end of the second day. She glanced towards the
setting sun. “You wanna go in now or wait until tomorrow?”

Rourke looked from the sun to Mira. He wanted this story off as quickly as
possible. But he didn’t like being out at night. It wasn’t that this thing
could only attack during the night, but it seemed to prefer to. And he
would rather not be around other people if it decided to make an appearance.
The burnt down hotel with dozens and dozens dead had taught him that lesson.
“Let’s wait until tomorrow,” Rourke said.

That night Mira slept well, with an actual smile on her lips. Rourke
guessed it was because she had finally finished her story. She had been
stressed out over it, working almost non-stop, typing, revising, and then
typing again. At times he had wondered if he was going to have to start
making her take tranquilizers to get at least some sleep.

Rourke, however, did not sleep. A slow creeping sensation of doom had been
building in him ever since Mira had finished her story. He didn’t
understand it and he couldn’t shake it. All he could do was lie awake and
watch and listen for anything unusual. The night crawled by slowly, each
cicada buzz, each small gust of wind, setting his already frayed nerves on
edge. It was with relief he saw the light of the sun start to creep into
the tent. It was only then he allowed his eyes to close and he dozed for a
couple hours.

They had managed to creep their way across the state over the past couple
weeks with their constant changing of campsites. They were in the southern
tip of it now and they ended up in a small town that sat right on the
border. They walked into a McDonald’s to take advantage of the free wi-fi
and to get some breakfast. Rourke felt unfriendly eyes on his and Mira’s
back as they walked in. He looked around curiously as they got in line
behind a woman and her small boy. The woman glanced over her shoulder and
almost casually reached over and pulled her boy closer.

“What is everyone’s problem?” Rourke muttered as he and Mira stepped forward
to order.

“Oh, don’t mind them,” the young girl manning the register said, brown curls
bouncing as she shook her head. “It’s just, five kids have gone missing in
the past couple weeks. It’s a small town, the kind where everyone knows one
another, so they’ve been eyeing daggers at any strangers passing through.”

“Here too,” Mira said softly.

“Well, the cops said it’s not related to the national spike, but,” the girl
leaned in conspiratorially, ” I think they’re lying. I saw some guys in
suits in government type cars at the station earlier. Looked like the FBI.”

“Wow,” Mira breathed. Rourke and she took their order to go and set up at
one of the table on the patio outside.

“Glad the wi-fi reaches,” Mira said, opening her internet browser on her
laptop. She looked to Rourke. “Should we try to tell someone?” she asked.

Rourke looked up from his biscuit. “Tell them what?”

“About all this,” Mira said waving her hands in vague circles.

Rourke raised an eyebrow. “Tell them a faceless tentacled abomination is stealing these children and setting fires? With no proof, no evidence, and photos?” He shook his head. “Only if you want to spend the next couple years in jail or a psychiatric hospital.”

“I just,” Mira said, typing as she spoke, “I want to protect these kids somehow.”

“That’s what you’re doing by sending in that story,” Rourke said, pointing at the laptop. But even as he said it, he felt a feeling of doom rise in his chest.

“Am I?” Mira asked, as if she could feel it too. She sighed. “You’re right there. Who would believe us?” She shook her head. “Nobody else has. Even people who saw it, who you tried to warn.”

“Yeah,” Rourke said, folding up the rest of his sandwich and putting it back in the bag. He wasn’t feeling very hungry anymore.

“Let’s start making our way to the coast,” Mira said suddenly.

“Um, okay. But why?” Rourke asked, getting up. He tossed his bag into a nearby trash can.

“If the story does well, we’re going to need to be near a lot of water,” Mira said. “And if it doesn’t,” she looked around her, “I just don’t want to be here anymore.”

“Well, east, west, or south?” Rourke asked. “Unless you felt like heading to Canada?”

Mira smiled. “No. Let’s go south. But let’s take our time. It’s going to be a couple months before the book is published.”

The next two months were almost pleasant for Mira and Rourke. With the story out and awaiting publication, there was nothing to do but wait. Well, that, and keep moving so that the thing didn’t catch up with them.

The Slender Man showed neither tendril nor tie the entire two months, and it bothered Rourke horribly. It made him feel worse than if it had shown up everyday. His feeling of doom grew worse as each day passed and slipped through his hands like so much sand.

After two months of meandering travel, Rourke and Mira had finally ended up in Florida. Mira had taken to wandering back into civilization daily once her book hit publication.

“It might not do as well as it could,” Mira said to Rourke as she sat in a donut shop with him. “Since we’ve been on the move, I wasn’t able to help promote it.” She bit her nails.

“Well, it certainly would have made an impression if the Slender Man had showed up during an interview,” Rourke joked.

Mira looked up from her screen with something close to relief on her face. “Well, early review are mostly positive. Good but not great. A good way to while away an afternoon. Stuff like that.” She clicked some more. “And it’s starting to show up on a lot of blogs dedicated to Slender Man stuff.” She held her hands together. “This just might work,” she squeaked excitedly.

“So,” Rourke asked, “does this mean we need to be near a lot of water?”

Mira closed her laptop. She took a breath. “Maybe. Ask me again in a week. And let’s keep going south, all the way down to the tip.”

They rolled south, stopping at beach campgrounds as they went. It was getting to be the tail end of summer. Rourke would have thought that the campgrounds would be full, but they weren’t. He learned from a local at one of the shops they stopped at for Mira’s daily book check that the campgrounds were scarcely inhabited in the hotter months. “Just as well,” Rourke had said to himself.

At the end of the week Mira had looked up from her laptop in the coffee shop they were in with a mix of determination and pride. “Look,” she said, turning the laptop to face Rourke. It was the New York Times bestsellers list. And there was The Wanderer of Blazes at number 11.

Rourke felt himself smile. “That’s great, Mira!” he said and he meant it.

“I think it’s time I told you how to pull the people out,” Mira said, slowly closing the laptop. She looked around the shop full of laughing teens and college aged peoples, with beads of all colors hanging in strings from the ceiling. “But not here.”

“We should go set up camp anyway,” Rourke said, getting up to join her.

They drove to the beach campground located the furthest south and found an isolated spot to pitch their tent. It was heading towards noon when they were finished, so they had both crawled inside with bottled water and a small fan to escape the heat.

“Well,” Rourke said, fanning himself with the copy of the cheap thriller Mira had picked up a couple months ago, “what’s the plan.”

Mira took in a deep slow breath and then let it out. “You aren’t going to like it.”

Rourke sighed and leaned forward, still fanning himself. “Please don’t dance around the issue. How can it be any worse than what we’ve already been through.”

“Well, you see,” Mira said tentatively, “you know how it was sort of able to weaken the barriers between our reality and its that time at the hotel?”

“When it set everything on fire? Yeah, I remember,” Rourke said. He frowned. “I’m really not going to like this, am I?”

Mira shook her head. “Well, I sort of made it that if it decided to try and pull that trick when near water, that the weakening would twofold. It could pull things in, but the those trapped with it could push back and out. Wake up out of whatever state it has them in.”

Rourke stared at her. “Are you saying that to save these people, we have to purposely call the Slender Man to us and purposely piss it off enough to try and breach worlds again?”

“Yeah, basically!” Mira said, cheerfully smiling wide. Her smiled faded quickly.

“Oy,” Rourke said, putting his book down and rubbing his eyes. “The more water the better I take it?”

“Yep,” Mira said. “That’s why we’re here. I think I can handle calling it to us and pissing it off pretty easily, though.”

“Do tell,” Rourke said, looking back up even though he still felt a dull throbbing behind his eyes.

“I will start writing my second story. And I will plain old try to write it out of existence. It’s why it came after me the first time. It’s has to be the main reason it’s afraid of people who know it’s ‘really real’ as Jared told you. When it comes, we’ll go in the ocean where it can’t reach us.”

“And if it decides to just stand on shore and watch us like it has before?” Rourke asked, picking his book back up to fan himself.

“I thought I’d, y’know, taunt it and stuff,” Mira said.

Rourke laughed. “You’re going to taunt the eldritch abomination. That’s great.” He laughed again. “But I don’t have a better plan. When did you want to try?”

Mira folded her hands. “I wanted to wait here a couple nights. Give it some time to catch up with us.”

Rourke nodded slowly. “Okay, Mira. I trust you. I’ll do this with you.”

Mira looked away. “Don’t say that. Don’t say you trust me.”

“Why?” Rourke asked, genuinely surprised.

Mira looked back and there were tears in her eyes. “If– if you get hurt, if it hurts you, I don’t want to think it was because you trusted me.”

Rourke smiled softly. “Mira, I think it’s out to hurt me whether I trust you or not. And you for that matter.” He became serious. “Be careful. I feel like we’re reaching the end somehow.”

Two nights later, Mira and Rourke sat on the most deserted beach they could find. It was rocky and the waves were choppy and was entirely unpopular, which was perfect for their purpose.

“Here goes,” Mira said, beginning to scribble on her notepad. A portable lamp sat next to her giving her enough light to write by. She had opted to not use her laptop so the saltwater wouldn’t ruin it. “Keep an eye out.”

Rourke merely nodded and stood up and walked a slow perimeter around where Mira sat. Ten minutes passed. Half an hour. Two hours.

Mira’s lamp started to dim and she looked up from her notepad to Rourke. “Anything?” she asked.

Rourke shook his head. The feeling of doom and dread were larger in him than they had ever been but there had been nothing. Not even a stray shadow.

Mira sighed, looking disappointed. “I had hoped… well I didn’t relish it coming but–”

“I know,” Rourke said walking back to her. He picked up the lamp as Mira stood up. “What now?”

Mira looked around her. “We could just wait until it shows up. It always has eventually.”

“We could,” Rourke said. “We can decide in the morning.” The only sounds their feet crunching in the sand and stones, they headed back to their camp.

Rourke lay quietly in the tent listening to Mira’s slow rhythmic breathing. Everything was off. They hadn’t seen the thing in over two months. Mira had purposely invoked its personal berserk button and nothing had happened. Only, something was happening, Rourke could feel it hanging over him. He just didn’t know what. He turned restlessly over and saw the sun’s light beginning to peak through the tent.

He abruptly sat up. That light was too orange and wavery to be the light of the sun. In the space of a couple of seconds he was out of the tent and looking towards the horizon inland. He stood stock still even as he heard Mira calling him and crawling out after him.

She stood next to him as still as he. “What on God’s green earth?” she asked.

Flames reaching so high they looked like they licked the sky were before them. Not near them. Not in their campsite. No, the flames were coming from what Rourke knew was the nearest town. The whole sky was orange with their light, like an aurora borealis of one color. They were moving steadily south, towards them.

Rourke staggered over to his car and Mira followed. He turned it on and fired up the radio. Maybe a local news station could tell him what was going on. A loud screeching met his ears and he jumped back it was so loud. “Ah!” he said as he hit his head on the door. “What is it?”

Mira had her hands over her ears, eyes wide. “I think it’s the emergency broadcast system!” she said. Her gaze kept flicking back to the flames that were marching ever closer.

This is not a test – the voice said – this is not a test. This is the National Emergency Broadcast System. A large scale terrorist attack has set massive fires in the major metropolitan cities of the continental United States. All people living in or near such areas need to evacuate immediately. Further instructions will follow later. This is not a test– the voice began again.

Mira backed away from the car, eyes wide. “No, no, no,” she was saying over and over again. “You don’t think, oh, God, Rourke, you don’t think?”

It was then Rourke noticed the air around them was starting to shimmer. Just like it had at the hotel. “Later!” Rourke said, grabbing Mira’s arm and dragging her after him towards the ocean. She found her footing quickly and he let her go as they kicked off their shoes and waded in.

“Out further,” he urged. “Beyond the pull.”

Mira coughed out a mouthful of seawater, but kept swimming.

About thirty feet from shore, Rourke felt they were far enough from the shimmer to be safe. He turned with Mira, expecting to see the whole shoreline in flames with the Slender Man dead center.

He blinked. While the Slender Man was indeed standing on the shore, tendril floating above it and waving in the breeze, there were no flames. Rourke squinted. There weren’t flames, but there were impressions in air, indents, almost as if the air had become a liquid curtain that people were pushing against.

Rourke and Mira gasped as people began to spill out of nowhere onto the beach. Hundreds of people, most of them children, now filled the deserted beach. But the Slender Man did not move, merely stood unmoving and turned towards Mira and Rourke.

For a moment those who had appeared from nowhere were still and silent on the beach. Then, they began to stir, almost as one, and moved for the water. The adults were urging the kids into the water, helping carry the ones too small to understand what was going on.

“Yes!” Mira shouted, waving towards them, bobbing in the water. “We got them out! We can stop it!”

Rourke was looking at the thing though, standing on the beach, a backdrop of flames that were steadily moving forward behind it. It didn’t look very defeated. “Mira,” he began. Mira grabbed his arm and nearly dragged him under, though, as he spoke.

“Rourke!” she screeched. “Look!” She pointed away from her with a trembling hand.

Rourke followed where her hand was pointing. He watched, dumbfounded, as the people, the adults and children, on the beach began to deliberately walked into water over their heads. They were not resurfacing.

“No, stop!” Mira cried, striking out towards them. “You’re out! We can stop it!” A wave pushed her under and she came up again sputtering.

Rourke swam after, always with an eye on the thing on the beach. He saw a young man detach himself from a young woman and a few children and swim towards him and Mira. Rourke squinted. “God in heaven,” he said, as the man came abreast them. “Kurt Kent.”

Mira looked at the young man. “Kurt Kent? Connor’s friend?”

Kurt nodded looking from Mira to Rourke solemnly. “I just wanted to thank you for letting us get out and giving us a chance to get away before the end.”

Mira stared at him open-mouthed. “The end? What do you mean?”

“The end,” he said again, simply. He pointed to the sky above him. Mira and Rourke looked up. Rourke sucked in his breath. The sky looked like it was literally pulling apart at the seams. There was a gigantic rip in the dark blue above them and behind it was a deep burgundy red. What looked liked slime was dripping from it and then a thousand mouths full of sharp teeth opened and roared. Long black tendrils slipped in from the rip and began to dangle down.

“How,” Mira said helplessly, only paddling enough to keep afloat.

“I’m afraid it’s your fault a little bit,” Kurt said, apologetically. Mira stared at him. “Oh, this would have happened eventually I think. You just gave it a little boost.”

“How did I give it a boost?” Mira screamed. She looked towards the thing on shore. Standing. Unmoving. Waiting.

“You made us more important,” Kurt said, eyes boring into Mira’s. “You called us its belief batteries. Before we just gave it the belief of a regular person, albeit boosted a little because we though of nothing but it. You must important, though. Special. You amped up its power through us. And well–” He shrugged. “It doesn’t need us anymore.”

“Kurt!” the young woman he had left behind called to him urgently.

“Coming, Ellen!” he called backed. He turned to Rourke and Mira. “You should go too. You don’t want to be here when its done.” He swam away without looking back.

Rourke put an arm around Mira and looked up at the sky. The rip was widening and quickly. The water pulled him backwards oddly and he looked behind him. The water was angling up and back into a looming darkness that was blacker than black, a black so deep his eyes could not process it. A black that hurt to look at. And the blackness was moving forward, sweeping towards them. He looked forward again. Flames and the thing waiting on the beach.

“Mira,” he said, quietly. “There’s only one way out. Really out. And we need to take it quickly if you want.” He squeezed his arm around her. “I said I was with you until the end though, and I meant it.”

Mira stared steadily at the Slender Man on the beach. Her eyes narrowed. “You’d like that wouldn’t you,” she hissed at it. “Well I’m not afraid of this story and where it’s taking me!” she screamed at it. It cocked its head but made no move. Mira looked up to Rourke. “This is our world,” she said. “And I will not surrender it to that thing.”

“Okay,” Rourke said, holding her close, bobbing in the water.

Mira wrapped her arms around him and squeezed tight. “It was a corner of darkness in our reality. Maybe we can be a corner of light in its.”

They held each other fast as the blackness approached and the sky spilled open above them. The held each other not like lovers, or even like friends, but as a child holds its bear, a last shield against the darkness.

“To the end,” Rourke breathed.

“To the end,” Mira echoed back.

Then the blackness engulfed them. The world around them fell away and they said no more.

Credit To – Star Kindler

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Fighting Fate

July 14, 2013 at 12:00 AM
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This is part five in the By the Fire’s Light series.

Mira Grolinsky sat at her desk in the hotel room sorting through stacks of paper. A biographer by trade, she was used to gathering large amounts of information and then synthesizing it into one coherent package. What she was not used to was not needing to source check. Of course, when you were researching a creature that literally ran on belief, that meant any and all sources on it were valid, in their ways.

Mira bit the pen in her hand as she sorted the large stack of paper in her lap into smaller stacks. That didn’t mean that all the information was equally important, though. The most important pieces were the ones that the most people had seen. That meant things like Marble Hornets and Connor Russell’s hit book By the Fire’s Light held a little more stock than the latest Slender Man story posted on fanfiction.net.

“Worth pursuing,” Mira muttered, passing a piece of paper to a very small pile. “Garbage,” she muttered passing one to a much larger pile. She sighed. This was the easy part. When she was done, she planned to write her own story. This creature thrived on belief and Mira planned to turn that to her advantage. Mira had already talked to her agent, and she had convinced Maureen what a good idea it was to jump in on this Slender Man thing. After all, Connor Russell was dead and his book was popular. People would want more. Maureen had eventually caved in and was already in talks with several publishers. Mira was hoping she could get her usual publisher to pick it up for their fiction division.

She finished with the pile of papers in her lap. Unceremoniously, she swept the garbage pile into the trash bin next to the desk. “We’ll start by establishing water as a weakness, get it to the major population,” she muttered, pulling a notepad to herself. “Then I’ll figure out some way to bind you or something.” She had learned the hard way that just writing this thing out of existence was not an option, at least not right now. She began to scribble notes to herself as she worked through the small pile of things she was keeping.

Her phone began to trill. Still scribbling notes, she picked it up and put it to her ear. “Yeah, Mira here.”

“Mira, you need to get out now.”

Mira stopped writing. “Rourke? What happened?” She put her pen and notepad down and grabbed a duffle bag on the floor by the desk. She began to scoop everything on the desk inside it.

“Later,” he said, sounding out of breath. “It showed up, I don’t know if you’re safe. Grab our stuff and go. Don’t pick the next hotel on the list, go to a random one. I’ll call you later.” The phone cut off.

As she hung up, Mira grabbed the laptop on the bed behind her and stuffed it in the bag. Luckily this was the last day Rourke and she had planned on staying in this hotel so most of their things were already in her car or his car. She grabbed Rourke’s duffle bag by his bed, and with hers balanced in her other hand, she was out the door.

Five minutes later found her driving down the highway. She checked her rear view mirror, but she had seen no signs of the thing, which was good she supposed. Ever since her and Rourke’s close-up encounter with the Slender Man at her house, they had both been on the move. She had pointed out to Rourke that the protagonist’s that lasted the longest against Slender Man in the stories she had seen tended to A) move around a lot and B) have partners. So, that was exactly what they had decided to do.

Of course, they had only been at it for a few days, and Rourke had already had another encounter which did not bode well. Still, she didn’t know the circumstances. In fact it might be fruitful. It might be something she could put in the story she was going to write.

After fifteen minutes, she pulled off at an exit with a coffee shop with free wi-fi. One latte later, she sat down with her laptop and pulled up her list of hotels and then a random number generator. She plugged in her range of numbers to the generator and it spit one out at her. She groaned looking at it. It was a hotel fifty miles away. Shaking her head, she made a quick online reservation. Closing her laptop, she picked it up and stopped to grab a to-go sleeve for her coffee at the counter. She texted Rourke the location of the hotel and then headed out.

It was two in the morning when Rourke finally entered their motel room. “Great place,” he said, looking around at the water-stained paper and carpet spotted with blotches of all colors.

“Well,” Mira said, yawning and typing away on her laptop, “it wouldn’t be truly random if all I had on the list was five star hotels.” She saved and, with a flourish of her hand, shut down her word processor. “So,” she said, closing the laptop and placing it next to her on the bed, “what happened?”

Rourke stretched and then put a hand to his head. “I screwed up. Big time.” He sat down on the second single bed in the room. He whipped his arms out for balance when the mattress nearly sank to the floor. “Your bed doesn’t do that,” he said, frowning, momentarily side-tracked.

“No, it doesn’t,” Mira said, cheerfully. She grew serious. “What do you mean you screwed up?”

Rourke shook his head. “I pulled some strings. Got them to give Jared and me complete privacy. I thought it might help convince him to talk.”

Mira raised an eyebrow. “And?”

He looked over to her. “Don’t you see? It was just me and one of the only other people that have seen this thing in action alone in a room with no one readily available to help us.”

Mira processed this for a second and then a hand flew to her mouth. “Oh my God. Is he dead?”

Rourke’s shoulders slumped. “I don’t know. I was sort of able to distract it. Made it make enough noise that the guards opened the door. But it pulled Jared back into the room with it.” He made an unhappy noise. “Actually, I think Jared might have saved me. He let it pull him back so I could get away.”

“What happened to him?” Mira asked, sitting up and leaning forward.

“I don’t know,” Rourke said. “He was just gone. I’ve just now finished talking with everyone at the scene. They’re tearing apart the interview room now, looking for trapdoors or hidden passages.” He laughed. “It’s the only way they can explain what happened that doesn’t involve monsters.”

“What about the guards?” Mira was sitting all the way up now and pushed her legs over the side of the bed.

Rourke shrugged. “I tried to warn them. Told them they needed to run. At the very least not go back to whatever home they lived in. That the thing would follow and kill them, sooner rather than later. I don’t think they’re going to listen.” He shook his head. “Like I said, screwed up, big time.”

Mira reached over and put a hand on his shoulder. “Hindsight’s twenty twenty,” she said. “We can’t undo it, all we can do is try to stay one step ahead of it long enough to beat it.”

Rourke sighed. “I guess.”

Mira squeezed his shoulder. “We should both probably get some rest. I finished the outline for the novel just as you were coming in. I’ll get started on the rough draft tomorrow.”

“Great,” Rourke said, trying to sound enthused. He took his coat off and tossed it in a corner of the room. Kicking off his shoes, he pulled the covers back, eyeing the bed dubiously. “How long do you think it will take to write?”

“Well, once I have my information, I can crank out a rough draft for a biography in a couple weeks. I’m hoping this will actually go faster since I don’t have to cross-reference as much information as normal.” She too pulled back her covers and got under them. She reached towards the lamp on the stand between the beds. Her hand froze by the fixture. “Wait, you said you distracted the thing.”

Rourke’s eyes popped open. “Um, yeah,” he said, sounding embarrassed.

“Well, how did you do it?” Mira pressed. “Anything helps at this point.”

“I,uh, well, I remembered about the water thing and how well it worked last time…” Rourke said.

“And?”

Rourke closed his eyes and grimaced. “I– I shot it with a water gun.”

The edges of Mira’s mouth twitched. “You did what?”

Rourke rolled over. “Yeah, ha, ha, it’s funny. I’m still alive aren’t I?”

Mira chuckled. “Where’s the gun?”

“It crushed it,” Rourke said flatly. “Crushed it when I was trying to use it to save Jared.”

Mira grew quiet. “I see,” she said. She turned off the light. “Good-night, Rourke.”

The next morning Mira woke up to the quiet snip of the bathroom door closing. She lay still in the darkness for a moment before turning over to look at the alarm clock. 7 am. “Wow five whole hours of sleep if that,” she grumbled turning back on her side. She considered throwing the blankets back over her head and going back to sleep, but given that Rourke was up and about already, she might as well get up and try to be useful.

By the time Rourke was out of the shower, Mira was setting two cups of coffee down and a couple of bagels down on the stand between the beds. “Despite the questionable decor,” Mira said, nodding at the blotched carpet “the coffee smelled okay and the bagels look passable.” She dumped a few creams and sugar down that she had hauled with her.

“Thanks,” Rourke said, sitting down on his creaking bed.

“What’s the plan for today?” Mira asked.

“I have to go back to the prison site. Answer some more questions,” Rourke said, in between swigs of coffee.

Mira nearly dropped her bagel. “You’re not going back there are you? That thing nearly killed you there!”

Rourke shrugged. “I can’t afford to quit the force. We’ve got too many of our leads that we can’t follow if I quit my job.”

Mira stared at him. “Well,” she said, putting her bagel down, “let me come too. So I can watch your back.”

Rourke shook his head as he chewed his bagel. “And what? Get killed too if the thing shows up again?” He leaned back. “In fact, I think we should change hotels again tonight.”

“But I booked this place for three nights!” Mira said, playfully. “Don’t you want to stay here?” Rourke glared at her and she waved a hand. “Whatever you say,” Mira said, sliding her laptop out from under the bed. She booted it up, threw her hotels through the random number generator and found a new one. “Well, this one’s closer to home at least, only fifteen miles out,” Mira said, showing it to Rourke. “I’ll book the room and head down there later.”

“Sounds good,” Rourke said. He grabbed his coffee cup and got up. “Everything I need is in my car, you should only have to pack your stuff.”

“Righto, chief,” Mira said with a salute. “I’ll start cranking out the words today.”

“Good,” Rourke said, eyeing his bed. “I really want to sleep in my own bed again.”

***

Mira packed everything in her car soon after Rourke left and headed out for the next hotel. A couple hours later found her comfortably situated in her (much nicer) room sitting at a small desk next to a window. The sun streamed in through the glass warming her hands as they hovered over the laptop. Mira took a breath. She had written many books before but none as important as this one. True, she hadn’t written any fictional books before, but how difficult could it be?

Two more hours later found Mira staring at her still blank first page on the word processor after a dozen attempts. She ran a hand through her hair and looked at the clock. Noon. It was noon and she hadn’t written anything. “Errragh!” she exclaimed pushing her chair back from her desk. She grabbed her outline off the desk and began to go over it as she paced the room.

“I don’t get it,” she said as she circled the trash can by the far wall. She walked back towards the window and the desk. “It’s all right here! Just like always! I have a plan, I know what I want to do! So why doesn’t anything sound right?” She flopped down on the bed and closed her eyes and let her outline drop on her face. She let out a large breath and the pages fluttered up and back down. “I can’t have Rourke come back and find me with nothing but a blank page to show for my day,” she muttered to herself.

She lay still for a couple more minutes. Then, groaning, she sat back up and made her way back to her laptop. She typed in the URL of a writer’s board that she frequented. She didn’t write fiction, but several of the other regulars did.

Hey, need some help, she typed. I’m writing a fictional novel for the first time. I did my research, I have my outline, but every time I write, it just comes out sounding all wrong. What should I do?

Mira pushed her chair back from her desk and got up. She’d take a quick stroll across the road and pick up some lunch. Hopefully by then someone would have answered her.

About an hour later, Mira settled back in front of the computer. She refreshed the page and found someone had replied to her thread. It was one the regulars who went by the handle “Unfettered”.

Hey, glad to see you moving out of your comfort zone! it read. I’ve seen some of your work before, and you write great biographies. You really make people come alive. You’re very detail oriented, you know all your facts, and you know just how to make all the puzzle pieces fall into place. I think that might be your problem here. You’re treating your characters like puzzle pieces instead of like people. Treat your characters like you would one of the people you research. Get to know them inside and out. And, don’t be afraid to ditch the outline if the story moves in an unexpected direction. You should never be afraid of where a story takes you.

Mira read the response and repeated the last line to herself. She gave a small laugh. “I think I should be afraid of where this one take me,” she said. She stared at the screen. It made sense though. To her, the characters had just been props to move the story along. It might make for a publishable book but not a memorable one, and she needed this book to be memorable.

She reached into her duffle bag by her bed and pulled out a pen and notepad. “Marlin Forest,” she said, writing down her main character’s name. “Let’s get to know you.”

Mira spent the next hour doing a biographical sketch of Marlin. The hour after that she made smaller ones for her other characters (Except one. She already knew plenty about it.). When she was done she looked up at the computer screen again, feeling oddly energized. “Yes, I think I know what you were doing in that woods now,” she said sitting at the computer again. “And maybe your friend doesn’t have to die. At least not in chapter one.” She began to type and this time she did not delete the words after she finished the first paragraph.

When Rourke came in around midnight, Mira didn’t even look up. The tippity tappity of her typing filled the room. Rourke circled around behind her to read over her shoulder. He glanced down at her page count and whistled. “How long have you been at this?” he asked.

Mira glanced down at the time in the bottom corner of her screen. She blinked. She hadn’t realized how late it was. “Uh, around eight hours I guess.” She smiled. “I’ve never gotten lost in a story like that. Writing one anyway.”

“Hmm,” Rourke said, scanning the page. “That seems like a rather cruel and unusual death,” he said, pointing at the screen. “That’s a lot of stabbing.”

“I mirrored it after Kurt Kent’s death,” Mira said quietly. “At least what I imagined his death at that thing’s tendrils was.”

Rourke walked over to his bed and sat on it. When it didn’t sink to the floor he grinned appreciatively. “I’m going to follow up on some of these missing kids cases tomorrow, see if I can get any details on how they disappeared. Maybe get an idea if it’s really that thing or not.”

Mira nodded. She saved her work and closed her laptop. Her rhythm had been broken. She’d pick up where she left off tomorrow. “By the way, before he was taken, did Jared have any idea why the Slender Man fixates on children so much?”

Rourke shook his head. “No. He said he thinks it’s afraid of people who know it’s really real.” He pointed at Mira and then himself.

Mira nodded. “Makes sense. We can shapes its story.”

Rourke scratched his head. “And he said something about not letting them die. The children and the others it takes I think.”

Mira stared at him. “You mean all those people this thing has ‘killed’ might not be truly dead?”

Rourke froze in place. “Y’know,” he said slowly. “You remember the night I helped save you from that thing?”

“How could I forget?”

“I had a dream that night. I saw Connor. He said… He said ‘I am free but others are not.’ And I think he said he couldn’t help them but we could.”

Mira reached for her notepad that was still sitting on the desk and began to scribble furiously on it. “That needs to go in the story then. We can’t leave those people to suffer if it really does have them.” She shuddered. “I would not want to be stuck with that thing for eternity.”

Rourke nodded slowly. “That is true.” He stretched and yawned. “I think we need to get some rest. We both put in some long hours today.”

“Dibs on the shower,” Mira said, darting off the bed, before Rourke could object. The doors shut with a small snikt behind her and she thought she heard a sigh but nothing more.

***

Mira woke with a start. Rourke was shaking her, looking at the television against the other wall as he did.

“I’m up!” Mira said, bouncing against the pillow.

Rourke let her go but did not turn to her. “Grab your things. We need to leave.”

Mira glanced over the clock. Five in the morning. “Now?!” she said. “What, is the Slender Man in the bathroom or something?”

Rourke just pointed at the television. Mira crawled across the bed and squinted at it. There was a small “live” caption in the corner of the screen and a reporter standing in front of a burning building. Another caption at the bottom of the screen said “Hotel fire”. Mira felt her heart stop. “Oh my God,” she whispered. “Is it?”

“Where we were staying last night,” Rourke confirmed, hurriedly stuffing his things into his bag. “I don’t know, maybe that thing was able to track me from the prison to the hotel. And since I went back to the prison yesterday and came here…”

“It could be here next,” Mira said, jumping off the bed. She began to shove her things into her duffle bag as well with wild abandon. “Where do we go, though?”

“Let’s go to the precinct. You can write in my office. I’d feel more comfortable if you were in a place with a lot of people and a lot of cameras, which the precinct has. You can figure out what hotel to go to while you’re there and let me know later.” Rourke hefted his bag over his shoulder. “Come on, I’ll walk you to check out and then we’re leaving.”

Just under an hour later, Mira stood in Rourke’s office and yawned. Rourke looked up from his desk. “There’s some coffee in the break room down the hall and to your right. Cups should be in the cabinet. Steal one of the chairs while you’re in there so we can share my desk.”

“An officer of the law telling me to steal,” Mira scoffed as she turned to leave.

“Yeah, yeah, funny,” Rourke said, waving a hand at her.

“You want some?” Mira asked, pausing at the door.

Rourke shook his head. “No thanks. I don’t think it would be good to mix caffeine with adrenaline rush I took this morning.”

Mira shrugged and headed down to the break room. She found the cups and some powdered creamer in the cabinets. She threw some in her coffee, hitched her arm around a chair, and went back to Rourke’s office. When she pushed open the door she found Rourke sitting abnormally still and rigid, staring at his laptop. “What is it?” she asked, closing the door behind her.

“They’re dead,” Rourke said, quietly, eyes never moving from the screen.

Mira set the chair in front of his desk and sat down, balancing her cup carefully as she did. “Who?” she asked.

“The guards. The guards who saw that thing when it took Jared.” He put his head in his hands. “God, have we become a walking blight? I feel like everywhere we go, we’re dragging that thing behind us.”

Mira sat quietly and stared into her coffee. She had thought much the same thing that morning as she had stared in horror at the television screen. But what else were they supposed to do?

“Maybe it would be better if–” Rourke began and then stopped suddenly.

“Better if what?” Mira pushed.

“Connor said he was free. The only difference between his death and the others is that Connor died by his own hand.” Rourke tapped a few fingers nervously on his desk.

Mira reached over and grabbed his hand. “No,” she said firmly. “That is not the answer. If we die, so does all knowledge of how to fight this thing and then it can do whatever the hell it wants. How is that better than what’s happening now?”

“It’s not,” Rourke admitted. He sighed. “I just wish it wasn’t like this.”

There was a rap at Rourke’s door and Mira and Rourke turned to look at it. “Come in,” Rourke said. A young man with blond hair poked his head in. “What is it, Deloran?” Rourke asked.

“Landers down in Robbery wants to talk with you,” Deloran said. “Someone apparently broke into your house sometime in the past few days. One of your neighbors behind you noticed the back door broken open when he was taking his dog for a walk. Cops on the scene say the rain water on the inside makes it look like it’s been at least two days.”

Rourke cursed quietly. “That’s just lovely,” he said, getting up.

“Not been home much lately, eh?” Deloran asked. His gaze turned to Mira. “Who’s this?”

“Mira Grolinsky. She has some information for me on the Connor Russell and related cases.” Rourke said.

“Grolinsky,” Deloran said, slowly. “That is odd.”

“What?” Mira asked, half getting up.

“Do you live at 444 Sweetspring Avenue?” he asked.

“Yes,” Mira said, now standing.

Deloran whistled. “Well, Landers was just getting ready to call you actually. Your house has had a break in too.”

Mira and Rourke looked at each other. “Do you think its related?” she asked.

“Oh, yes,” Rourke said, moving for the door.

“To the Russell case?” Deloran asked as he stepped back to allow Rourke out. Mira followed him.

“Something like that,” Rourke said. “Come on, we can both go talk to Landers.”

***

Mira walked out of her house just after noon with Rourke in tow. There were some books and clothes tossed around and it looked like someone had searched the desk with her computer on it, but the only thing that appeared to be stolen was a tablet e-reader.

“I don’t like this,” Rourke said, looking around to make sure none of his fellow officers were in ear shot. “This doesn’t feel like the Slender Man’s style, but I can’t believe it’s not related.”

“Well, I’ve arranged for a new hotel, anyway,” Mira said. “I’ll text you the location after I leave here.” She pushed her bangs out of her eyes as the wind whipped her hair around. “I guess you’re headed to your house next?”

“Yeah. I’m willing to bet its a lot like this one, though,” he said, turning back to look at it. “I’ll probably be late again. You don’t have to wait up.”

“Wasn’t planning to,” Mira said, with a grin. She gave a small wave. “I’ll see you when I see you then.”

“Be careful,” Rourke said, turning to to re-join his comrades.

The new hotel Mira had found was located about halfway between the now burnt down one and the one she had stayed at last night. She sat in a lounge chair by the pool with her laptop and enjoyed the afternoon sun. She wasn’t typing with the same frenzy as the day before. That particular moment of inspiration had left. But Mira had been writing long enough to know inspiration only covered about five percent of your writing, if you were lucky. The rest was forcing yourself to keep typing even when it felt like you were pulling teeth just to put the next sentence on the page.

She had a local news reader widget on her desktop and she checked it regularly. She kept expecting to see that the hotel from the previous night had gone up in flames too, but nothing scrolled across the widget except a reminder that Proposition S was up for a vote next week.

As the sun began to set, Mira picked up her laptop and headed to her room. Once there, she turned on the TV and set it to a local station to serve as background white noise and then kept writing. The local news came on and she stopped momentarily to listen. No messy deaths. No recent child abductions. No fires. She breathed a small sigh of relief and then went back to typing.

As she typed, Mira would occasionally make notes on the notepad that sat next to her on the bed. Eventually, though, her pen ran out of ink and tore a hole in the page as she scribbled. “Oh, bother,” Mira said. She pulled open the drawer of the night stand, hoping to find another pen. Her hand closed on a small book. Curious, she pulled it out. “Oh,” she said, holding it in her hands and leafing through it. “Gideon Bible.” The page fell open to one in the Gospel of Matthew. Mira’s eyes were drawn to the red font that indicated the words Jesus had spoken. “Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it,” Mira read to herself. “Hmm, faith like a child and all that I guess,” she said, sticking the book back in the nightstand. Her hand closed around a pen and, pulling it out, she shut the drawer. Then she paused. “Faith of a child,” she breathed. “Oh my God, the faith of a child! That’s why it take children!” she said, excitedly, bouncing in the bed.

The door handle clicked and Mira checked the time on her laptop. Just after eleven. “Well, this is positively early for you,” Mira said looking up. “I think I figured out the children angle.” Then she froze. Rourke was not standing in her doorway. A man she didn’t recognize in a ripped orange prison jumpsuit stood in the doorway.

He closed the door behind him and then turned to Mira. “Stole a key from the desk when the attendant stepped out to give someone towels,” he said off-handedly as he leaned against the door. He rubbed his left shoulder. Through a tear in the jump-suit Mira could see livid, red, inflamed flesh.

Mira slowly got up off the bed, her laptop clutched in her hands. “Who are you?” she asked, standing up.

The man shrugged. “Jared Holloway. I take it you’re Mira,” he said. “Your passwords are crap. You should look into changing them. Or, well, I guess it doesn’t matter,” he said, still leaning against the door. In his left hand, Mira could see her stolen e-reader.

Mira felt the blood leaving her face. “You’re not dead. You got away from it.”

“Well, I’m not dead,” Jared said, rubbing his shoulder again. “I wouldn’t say I got away from that thing though,” he said, quietly.

“How, how?” Mira stuttered, trying not to shake.

“Did I find you?” Jared asked. “Well that thing indicated it wanted to find you and was having some trouble. I broke into Rourke’s house and your house. Your computer was most revealing. You’ve got all your accounts linked,” he said, pointing at her laptop and waving her e-reader. “It was just a matter of checking your search history.” He sighed. “Though you threw me at first by registering for three days and then leaving after one.”

“You burnt down the hotel!” Mira exclaimed.

“Oh, no,” Jared said quietly. “I didn’t. I just led it there.”

Mira sucked in a breath and took a step back. “You can’t!” she said. “We’re going to stop it! If you get us killed it will just do what it wants!”

“It already does that,” Jared growled. He laughed at her. “You think you have a chance?” He shook his head, his hand digging harder and harder into his shoulder. “I’ve seen it and where it lives. You can’t stop it. No one can. Now just be a good girl and–”

Jared stopped as Mira dove forward and crashed her laptop into his head. He staggered back from the door and Mira yanked it open, dropping her laptop and running out the door.

As she ran towards the main office, the air in front of her started to shimmer. She pulled up short, staring at it. Mira glanced wildly over her shoulder, looking for Jared. He was just outside the door, panting and holding his shoulder, looking ready to pass out. “It comes,” he said, pointing back towards the shimmering air.

Mira turned back around. It almost looked like the very air itself was growing thin and stretching, as if something was trying to pull itself through from behind the curtain that was her reality. Several black tendrils reached into the air. Mira didn’t wait to see more. She turned around and fled the other way.

She heard Jared give a cry of pain behind her. Pounding feet told her he had finally gotten up and given chase. She looked down at her shadow that stretched in front of her. She could see Jared’s elongated one catching up, and, behind it, a dozen thin waving ones. Mira looked up and saw the pool in front of her. Without thinking, she jumped into it. It wouldn’t save her from Jared, but it might give the other thing pause.

Her clothes clung to her as she swum towards the middle of the pool. A splash behind her made her turn, and she saw Jared swimming towards her. And behind him, at the pools edge, was tall, dark, and slender itself. Tendrils waved and reached over the water but did not touch it. It’s tendrils seemed to grow and reach forward, and arched over the pool, touching down on all sides. Jumping in the pool was starting to look like a very bad idea.

“Come on, stop delaying this!” Jared said,lunging at her. Mira pushed back and he fell just short.

“Stop giving in to that thing!” Mira shouted back. Why wasn’t anyone coming outside? Didn’t they hear this?

“I won’t go back to the flames!” Jared roared, and he caught a handful of her hair. He pulled Mira’s head under the water.

Mira twisted and clawed at his grasp. She wondered for a second if he meant to drown her. But after that moment, Jared hauled her head back above water. He tried to hook an arm around her waist, moving back towards the edge of the pool and the thing as he did.

“No!” Mira said, twisting in Jared’s grasp. He didn’t have a huge muscle build, but there was a wiry strength in his arms belied by his slight size. Mira saw the tendrils retreating from around the pool and back towards the thing. By now they were in the shallow end of the pool and mere feet from it. Mira gritted her teeth and readied to fight the tendrils reaching for her.

Then, amazingly, something hurtled into the tall slender being above her. It appeared to be taken off guard and it fell towards the water, the person who had tackled it falling in with it. It splashed down next to Mira and Jared and instantly began to writhe, its tendrils flailing indiscriminately. Mira felt one strike her forehead and felt blood flow down it. It dropped in her eye.

The person who had tackled the thing pushed back off it, hissing in pain, his hands a burnt red. “Rourke!” Mira said. She turned and angled her elbow up into Jared’s nose. Surprised, he cursed and let her go as his nose started to bleed.

Rourke waded over and tackled Jared, and they fell in the water splashing. “Get out of here!” Rourke said, trying to drag Jared out of the pool.

Mira pulled herself out of the pool, but found herself unwilling to leave Rourke behind. The Slender Man was lodging tendrils into the ground around it and starting to pull itself out of the pool. “Rourke, let him go, we gotta run!” Mira said, standing up and backing away.

Rourke wrested Jared out of the pool and they hit the concrete together not far from Mira. “Come on, why would you want to help that thing?” Rourke asked as they struggled. “You should come with us, help us fight it!”

Jared savagely kicked Rourke in the stomach. As Rourke rolled away from the kick, Jared leaped on top of him and reached for something at Rourke’s waistline. He stood back up with a gun.

Mira and Rourke froze as Jared held the gun in his shaking hand. “I don’t want to help it,” he whimpered. “And I don’t want to hurt anyone else.” He shook his head. “But I won’t go back.” Then, suddenly, he pushed the gun into his mouth.

“No!” Rourke shouted. Mira gave a small scream and turned away. There was a gunshot and then a meaty thump. When Mira looked back, a pool of crimson was already gathering around Jared Holloway’s head.

Rourke was grabbing Mira now and pulling her away. Mira looked up and saw the Slender Man, now out of the pool and using its tendrils to hold itself off the ground. Absentmindedly, Mira noted there were now plenty of people opening their hotel room doors, pointing, gasping, screaming, and generally acting as shocked as they should be. The thing turned its head, as if registering this fact. More tendrils grew from its back and hit the ground.

“It’s like its digging itself in for something,” Mira muttered as Rourke dragged her away. The air started to shimmer again. It wasn’t just a small patch now. It was all around them and back towards the hotel.

Rourke looked around him confused. “What is this?” he asked.

Mira looked at the air and felt a cold fear that belied the heat that was rapidly rising around them. “It’s how he got here. It was like he was pulling himself in from somewhere else. I think it’s–”

“Trying to do the opposite,” Rourke said. He cupped his hands over his hands. “All of you, run! Get out of here!” he shouted at the watching spectators. Then he turned and ran with Mira following.

“They won’t listen,” Mira said, feeling tears filling up her eyes.

“I know,” Rourke said quietly.

They were stumbling through the parking lot and Rourke was pointing to his car. Mira was feeling a strange backwards suction on her skin as she spilled into the passenger seat. Rourke threw the car in gear and pealed from the lot. The shimmering air line terminated several feet down the road from the hotel.

Mira twisted in her seat as Rourke drove away. For a few seconds more the night was still. With the suddenness of lightning, a giant singular flame erupted from the middle of the hotel compound. Mira shielded her eyes and turned away. When she looked back, the entire hotel and surrounding area was in flames.

Mira sat back properly in her seat. A small gasping sob escaped her, and she leaned forward, trying to pull air into her lungs. All those people. Jared. All gone.

“I don’t get it. It’s so powerful,” Rourke said, hitting the steering wheel with his hands. Rourke hissed in pain and the car veered too far to the right. Rourke yanked the wheel back to the left.

“It’s the children,” Mira said, leaning her head against the window, still able to see the orange flames reflected in the glass.

“What?” Rourke asked, briefly turning to look at her confused.

“Who has faith like a child?” Mira asked. “We believe things so hard when we’re kids. We believe in fairies, and promises, and pots of gold,” she rambled. “And it runs on belief. And it does not let them die.”

Rourke sucked in a breath. “So it preys on children because they make it stronger…” he said.

Mira nodded. “I think so. And it has taken so many children lately.”

Rourke gripped the steering wheel. “Did you lose your story in the fire?” he asked.

“No,” Mira said tonelessly. An enormous tide of emotion threatened to wash over her, but she kept it at bay. She needed to function for just a little longer. “I had it saved on cloud storage. I can access it from anything that can connect to the internet.”

“Good,” Rourke breathed. He pulled over to the side of the road. His hands were shaking as he did.

Mira noticed again how red his hands were. “Did it burn you?” she asked.

“Yes,” Rourke said shortly. He turned to her. “I think we need to go underground for now. No more hotels. No going home.”

“Where will we stay?” she asked.

“We’ll hit a Wal-Mart and buy a tent and supplies. We’ll set up somewhere by a river or a lake to help keep it at bay. Just–” and he had to compose himself. “Just somewhere where there’s no people around.”

“I agree,” Mira said, voice trembling thinking of the hotel they had just left. “What about tonight?”

“There’s a rest stop about fifteen miles down the road,” Rourke said. He signaled and drove his car back on the road. “We stay there tonight. Empty out our bank accounts tomorrow. Cash only so we can’t be tracked after the initial withdrawal.”

“Sounds, sounds good,” Mira said, settling back in her seat.

Rourke reached a hand out to her. Mira gently grabbed it, trying not to hurt his burn. “Whatever happens, we’re in this together, Mira.” Rourke said, firmly.

Credit To – Star Kindler

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