A/N: There's nothing worse than backing yourself into a corner.

The fear of being trapped without escape is quite possibly one of the most primal fears imaginable. The very idea of running, only to find yourself unable to run any longer, to find yourself forced into your own end, is truly something that I'm pretty sure everyone's had at least one nightmare or nervous thought about. To be caged, caught, trapped, ensnared by something or someone that wants to make your life a living hell. To find yourself buried alive or entombed somewhere, unable to dig your way out and too far away from others for anyone else to hear your screaming. To become entangled in a mystery so labyrinthine and vast, only to realize too late that this maze is filled with nothing but dangerous dead ends. And furthermore, to find yourself in the stranglehold of something that is far more powerful than yourself, something that can destroy, control, or alter you with no more than the smallest twitch of its little finger.

Such is the feeling I wanted to evoke with this short tale. My brain likes to hold on to ideas about things that scare me way too well, and that often results in such creepy questions as "What exactly would being caught in the Slenderman's tentacles feel like?", "What if he can have them appear anywhere he wants at will without being attached to him?", and "What would he use those tentacles for besides grabbing and holding prey?". Thanks, brain – I really needed more vitamin nightmare in my diet.


Ensnare

The hallway. The dark, dark hallway of my unlit home, harboring the darkest of night – that's what greets me as I fling the door open in a panic. A dark hallway that seemingly stretches on for miles before me, that ratchets my anxiety up to eleven and makes what remains of my leftover courage falter. I really don't want to walk into that empty blackness that makes my familiar daytime home into a claustrophobic evening nightmare, but I have no choice. I have to get inside, and quickly.

Because I'm being followed.

I don't remember much about the run home, but I do remember the fear. It was a faint feeling at first, a soft and whispering anxiety as I walked home from work through the misty gloom of night. It began as nothing more than a simple, slight uneasiness down the very back of my neck that turned gradually to the sick, cold fingers of fear twisting in my gut. A mocking tingle of eyes on my back that became the slow, searing sizzle of pinpoint precision lasers. A vague, human figure, stretched to ridiculous height and slimness, caught by my eyes as they flicked sideways in growing nervousness. And a whispered, cold voice that nipped at the edge of my earlobe, caressing it in a sinisterly seducing manner, speaking to me what I longed to do most.

Run…

And so I did, anything to escape that awful gaze that followed me, those icy fingers gripping my spine… My legs burning with tiredness and my breathing short and ragged, I ran all the way home, and flung the front door open to find the darkness staring back at me.

The pricking fingers of fear slide leisurely down my back, and the voice whispers to me once more.

Get inside, now. Hurry, hurry. He's coming.

I vaguely wonder who "he" was as I stumble inside, spinning dizzily on my heel to slam the door shut. The deadbolt slammed into place, and I begin to tremble in the pitch darkness, feebly searching for a light switch with one shaking hand.

God, I hate my house at night. Every settling baseboard sounds like footsteps on the wooden floor; every tree branch tapping gently on the windows looks like a hand reaching out to grab me. Nervously, my hand finds the light switch and rapidly flicks it on, but no light greets me.

A burned out fuse. Wonderful. Because that's exactly what I need right now – even more crushing darkness.

Wait, something… is…

I-is someone tapping on my front door?

The blood drains from my face so rapidly that I swear I'm going to faint, and a jolt of pure dread skitters down my back, through every nerve in my body. Oh, God. Oh God, I really was being followed…

The basement, the voice whispers conspiratorially. The fuse box, you need to get to the fuse box. Quickly, before he gets inside!

Something like a whimper escapes my throat at the very thought of the front door rattling open, at revealing my pursuer, at being found and… and then what? That was the worst part of all, I not only didn't remember who was following me, but I didn't even know what this person wanted. But I can't let him find me, I knew that much. And there was a flashlight in my basement, just at the bottom of the steps. If I made it down there, I'd soon have some light, however miniscule…

Steeling myself, I start to jog nervously down the dark hallway, to the closed basement door, to the shiny brass doorknob that seems to leap into my hand as I grab it and turn. Behind me, the front door rattles.

Move now get downstairs now hide hide hide!

I pull the basement door wide open and run into the stairwell, slamming the door shut behind me. I'm totally surrounded by darkness now, totally enclosed.

From behind the basement door, I can hear another door click open. The front door…

My eyes widen in panic and my pulse leaps like a terrified jackrabbit. Inside. He's inside the house…

Quickly get the flashlight trip the breaker switch now now now now,the dark isn't safe, the dark is his ally…

Panic grips me, clawing in my chest as if begging for release as a scream. But I can't scream now, my pursuer will hear me, and besides that –

Oh no. No. No no no.

He's heading towards the basement door. I can hear footsteps above me, the leisurely tapping heels of polished black dress shoes on the wood panel floor…

I launch myself down the steps as if possessed, running for the flashlight I keep in the corner by the stairs. My shaking, fumbling fingers reach for it, I feel my hand closing around the metal shaft…

There! It's mine! The light is finally mine!

Turn it on dear God turn it on turn it on now!

I press the soft, pliable plastic button down, hearing the satisfying click as it depresses… but no light springs from the bulb.

No. No, please. Not now. I know your batteries are old, but you were working fine just the other night, don't give out on me right now!

It's no use. No matter how many times I press the button, the flashlight refuses to do more than faintly flicker. I stare in complete and utter horror as my thumb frantically clicks the button over and over and over and over and over and over.

I feel something slowly slither across my bare leg. Something mildew slick and incredibly cold, something that leaves my skin numb where it touches…

Oh God, no. I remember now. I remember what scared me so badly earlier. I remember him… The blankness of his face, the stare without eyes that pierced my heart as thoroughly as if it were tissue paper, the suit as black as absolute midnight, and the hundreds – no, thousands of pitch black, slimy, branching… Christ, the only way I can possibly describe them as is tendrils. Writhing, twitching, slithering, sliding tendrils, reaching for me from all angles, just about to brush my pale, horror-stricken face with their curious, numbingly cold tips…

My white-knuckle grip on the flashlight tightens even further as another thin, oil slick tendril brushes mockingly against my ear, trailing furtively along my scalp, entangling itself in my hair like a snake in undergrowth…

The voice in my head whispers softly once more, sending pure panic through my veins with its words.

He's here…

I turn on my heel, spinning with the same sick motion as my stomach, desperately trying to make the flashlight work. I constantly press the button, praying that this time – just this once – the flashlight will turn on. I just want light. Give me light!

The flashlight slowly flickers to life, a dim circle of light spreading across the dark room.

I wish to God it hadn't turned on at all.

Everywhere. The tendrils are coming from everywhere. They writhe and wave smoothly from the shadows clinging to the walls of the laundry room, they're thrashing around on the ground like irritable, sentient weeds, they're slithering along and across the ceiling towards me like shadowy snakes. They wind over my feet and around my legs, their greasy slickness sending shudders of revulsion through my whole body. It's sickening to watch them spread, infection-like, engulfing and chilling everything they touched; God, there has to be at least a hundred of them, if not more…

As soon as the flashlight's beam hits them, they all snap towards me, twitching, grabbing, reaching…

Found you.

I can't bear the sight of them any longer. I run. Up the stairs, towards the door. Their coldness is chasing me; I can hear their slimy motion just behind my back as they move! My hand grabs the doorknob, gripping it in a stranglehold, but refuses to open. Locked. It's locked.

… Something's touching my bare feet…

I look down, and recoil in horror. Black tendrils are sliding from underneath the door, grasping eagerly at the air in front of my feet, slimy tips squirming around my toes as they try to grasp my leg…

I almost fall down the stairs as I turn to run, taking the stairs two at a time. And all the while, the whisper speaks softly to me, now mocking me where once it had guided.

Don't run away. There isn't any point… no reason… no escape…

It's horribly, painfully right, I realize as I back away from the stairs, from the cold tendrils forcing me away from the door. My only possible way out is blocked off by… by those things, those black, slithering, slick tendrils of night, backing me into the corner by the dryer, reaching out to claim me for their own… I can feel something wet and salty slide down my face, followed by more and more in small rivulets. Tears of fear, of mortal dread, of an indescribable panic I cannot break free from…

I watch in horror as a tendril slides leisurely along the floor towards me, watch as it wraps around my ankle, three, four, five times. A sudden icy numbness grips me, spreading like poison through my veins and up my leg. Not yet. Oh God, no, please no, not yet!

I yank my leg back in defiance, trying to escape the tendril's constricting grasp, but to no avail – the more I pull away, the more it pulls back, sending still more branching tendrils out to cling to me. And the unearthly chill only spreads further and further up my leg, my back, my neck… Still more and more tendrils reach out from the shadows to wind around my arms, my other leg, my torso, my neck, all pulling me inexorably into the darkness that they spawned from. My hand are growing so numb from the deathly cold that I can't hold on to the flashlight anymore; I feel it slipping out of my fingers and I watch as it rolls slowly away from my grasp. No, please. No, come back, please; don't abandon me to the dark! Don't let them take me!

Please, I need the light. I need the light! I can't move, I can't breathe, I can't scream…

Come to me, the voice hisses, abusively gentle. Don't fight it. There isn't any use…

I claw at the floor, trying to regain the pitiful safe haven that was my corner, but to no avail. They're far too strong. He is far too strong. The numbness and panic fills every part of me, spreading so far and so fast that I can't think. I can't feel.

I watch the ground fall away from me as the tendrils pull me into the air, as I squirm in a desperate last attempt to free myself, as the tendrils constrict around me so tightly that I can no longer move. And as suddenly as a light bulb flickering on, he is there, holding me captive with his tendrils, no more than a foot from my face. His blank nothingness scans me thoroughly, scrutinizing my fear as if slowly drinking in and savoring a finely aged Merlot.

I can do nothing but tremble. Never before have I felt so much like a helpless, scared child. Never before have I so badly needed to scream but been so unable to do so, anything to remove the awful dread tearing into my mind, to stop the rising panic in my chest, anything to make it all end!

O-Oh my God… he's laughing at me. He positively radiates a sadistic sense of amusement, a dark and morbid glee at my entrapment, as if he's grinning without a mouth.

No, the voice whispers, the sick realization of its owner dawning on me as it speaks. Not just yet…

My skin itches terribly where the tendrils grasp me. Burns. Oh my God, it burns, it stings, something is squirming its way beneath my skin, up my arms and legs, burrowing deep beneath the muscle and sinew to wrap around the bone, what in the hell is he doing to me?

My eyes flick warily down to my arms, seeing the tiny slits each twining tendril tip has made there, watching them slide beneath my fascia as easily as roots through soil.

Oh, Jesus Christ, I'm going to be sick…

My intestines reel in revulsion, unless that's just the tendrils coiling in my gut like blind snakes, resting just between my liver and stomach, growing upwards through my ribcage to wrap tightly around my rapidly beating heart and burning lungs. I can't breathe. I can't breathe.

Why do I feel so weak? So tired, so weary, so drained and unable to struggle any longer… The pain… the searing cold pain of the tendrils around me, inside my body, sapping every last bit of strength I have… He's feeding on me. Feeding off me. Oh God, someone help… I can't bear this pain, it racks my whole body, sending high voltage agony down my spine in constant bolts… the tendrils, I feel them, I can feel them twining around my spine like it's a trellis, sliding upward and around the vertebrae, spreading slowly into my skull, slithering between my meninges like a sentient infection…

Oh God, the visions, the horrific things he's showing me… T-the children, dead children, hung from the branches of trees, impaled, eviscerated, eyes plucked with surgical precision from their sockets… T-the missing, the overtaken, the slowly destroyed! He devoured their minds, their bodies, their souls, their blood his wine and their panic his bread… And still, still I can't scream, he won't let me scream! I can cry in silence, my body beset with pained whimpering, I can quiver, I can beg him with my eyes to spare me, but the one thing I so long to do, the one small noise I want so much to make, he won't let me emit. The Devil… he surely must be the Devil, come to take my soul… no, no, not even the Devil would torture me this horrifically, for this long! Not even the Devil himself would have an aura this menacing, this alien, this terrifyingly evil!

Oh, no, no, no. Eternal damnation would be far more preferable a fate to this, far better than what he had in store for me, than the hell I'm suffering now in his sinister, inescapable embrace…

The tendrils in my mind clamp onto my cerebrum, and I sob in agonized dread as I feel them digging into the delicate tissue, rooting themselves in firmly to control all I feel, all I see, all I hear…

I swear to God I just heard him laugh, a low, deep chuckle. I'm going to black out, I can't bear this… I can't endure…

The voice is the last thing I hear, whispering into my mind a final time as my consciousness fades out.

Now, my prey… Now you have my permission to scream…