"The body was never found, but from what evidence we have, we can only assume he's dead," the officer said in an emotionless voice. "All we have is a tape that was recorded after the car had crashed, our specialists didn't find anything, so I have permission to show you the tape, that is, if you would like to." I went to a meeting with my best friend's parents to hear what the officer in charge of his case had found out. Apparently he is missing, not dead. I hate the fact that everyone has given up on him to the point that they don't believe that he is still alive. Well I still believe it, and if nobody else is going to look for him, then I will.
"No thank you!" his mother said, crying uncontrollably.
"No." his father said, obviously trying his best to hold back his tears.
"Yes, I would," I said, trying my best to show that I haven't given up on George, not crying, keeping a straight face and looking at the officer in the eye, like he is supposed to look at mine and read my mind. "Play the tape, I want to see what happened, and maybe he said something to his parents or me." Both of George's parents looked at me, I could only assume that they were saying "what the hell is wrong with him" or "that sick bastard". But I didn't care, what if he did say something like "I love you mom" or "thank you dad". Maybe then they will appreciate the fact that I asked to watch it.
The officer walked over to the television, he put in the tape, and it started with loud distorted talking and the colors inverted for the first five minutes. Then everything went back to normal. George started recording after the car had crashed into a tree, he looked at his leg and his shin bone was sticking out of his leg. I bet his parents loved seeing that. He then got up and started limping into the forest; it looked as if he were heading toward a small light in the distance. After about five minutes of him limping and grunting in pain, he finally found the source of the light, a warehouse with a candle in the broken window. George limped around the warehouse until he found a doorway, inside was a circle of candles. "It must be a memorial for someone who died," George said. "Hello?"
George continued limping toward the circle of candles. "Stop the tape, now," George's father said in an upset voice. "This is upsetting my wife!" George's mother sat there hunched over with her hands on her eyes crying. As much as I wanted it to stop myself, I grabbed the officer's hand to keep him from stopping the tape. George had made it to the candles; they were around a symbol, a circle with an X in the middle of it, drawn in white chalk. George started to breathe heavily and turned around to get out, but as soon as he did, the tape ended with him looking at the chest of a man in a black suit and tie. The remaining ten minutes of the tape is that image with distorted audio. After a minute of that I turned off the tape I ran outside of the police station breathing heavily and sweating.
On the front porch of the police station, I pulled out the rock and rubbed it with my thumb. That had to be him, I'm sure of it! But I thought it was a dream, but how did I get the rock that I saw land in the water. What does this thing want with me and George? I walked home rubbing the rock with my thumb looking behind me from time to time. I bet I looked paranoid to everyone who saw me. As soon as I got home I looked up the symbol from the tape.
"The Operator Symbol; a symbol that represents the face or lack of that belongs to The Slenderman. This symbol is said to be used to summon The Slenderman or to show that an area or person belongs to The Slenderman. You might find this symbol on playgrounds that children are never seen playing on or a building that has been abandoned for years. It is also tattooed or scared on 'targets' of The Slenderman. Try to stay away from places with this symbol, there is a high chance that whoever put it there must have drawn it there had said a spell that summoned The Slenderman."
The Slenderman, that's what this thing is? What the hell did me and George do to deserve to have this horrible thing haunt us? What the hell does this thing want from us? Why can't he just leave us alone? "Give George back you faceless bastard!" I yelled at a picture of him on the computer monitor. Then there is a knock at my bedroom door. I close all the windows and hide all the printouts I have regarding The Slenderman and go to answer. "Who is it?" I ask in a quiet worried voice.
"It's me," my grandmother says. "I heard you yell, are you ok? Open the door."
My hand slowly goes on the handle and pushes down. I slowly open the door as I look out the crack to make sure it really was my grandmother. When I see that it is, I open the door fully and step over to my bed and sit, my grandmother sits next to me. "I know you miss him. He was a good friend. I remember when you used to play that game where you got your bear in the middle of the night and pretend to play hide and seek with it. You guys also played that one Zelda game I got you even though it was broken and you both tried so hard to convince me that it was haunted. You guys were like brothers, ever since you met on that one day all those children went missing and he was the only child who stayed at the park."
"What?" I ask.
"You remember don't you? It was all over the news. Thirteen children went into the woods and only one came out, you. They interviewed you and everything. I'm surprised that you don't remember."
I quickly go on my computer and look up what my grandmother told me. "Twelve children went missing today in Villa Park without a trace, the only witnesses, two seven year old boys, Tovar Perri and George Maxwell. 'He wanted everyone to go play in the forest, but I stayed at the park.' George said when we questioned him. Tovar said 'Sledy took them.' when we asked him where the children went. Hopefully we will find these children soon, if you know their whereabouts, please contact the authorities right away."
When I look up the names of the missing children all I get is pictures of children, but with the face blackened out. My grandmother comes to me and says "Oh I remember her, she went to your school and you had the biggest crush on her." I look where my grandmother is pointing and I see a small girl wearing a white dress holding a white doll with long legs and only two black beads for eyes, almost like a voodoo doll, and her face was blackened out.
"How do you know that's her? Her face is gone." I say.
"What are you talking about, it's right there, look she's smiling like she always used to. She was one of the children who went into the forest, all they found was that doll."
"Oh now I see her face, it must have been my eyes playing tricks on me, I've been playing too much video games." I lie.
"Okay, well I'll let you get back to whatever you were doing, be sure to finish your homework." my grandmother says as she walks out of the room.
I then go onto Facebook to get my mind off of all this. Then I see an odd post, it's from George on my wall. "I told you not to go into the forest." It was posted just five minutes ago. I look at the attached picture and it's of all of us at the park, playing. All the children's faces are blackened out except for mine and George's, we have The Operator symbol on our face. In the background I see a man sitting on a bench looking at the camera, he seems to be tall, but not as tall as The Slenderman, more like seven feet tall. He's wearing a hat and a black trench coat over a black suit and tie. He has a face, but why does it look so familiar? Then it hits me, his face is my own, my seventeen year old face. This man, in a picture that was taken of me ten years ago, is me, now. Why am I in the picture? Then, suddenly, the screen of my computer goes black, along with the lights and box fans. I put together that the power has gone out and reach for my cell phone to use as a flash light, but it's not turning on. I try everything I can until I panic and go for my flashlight that still sits on my nightstand, but even that doesn't work. I look outside and it is pitch black, not even the moonlight is showing anything. I then call my grandmother. "Nana, where are you?"
"In here." I hear her voice come from her room, as if she is not being affected by this. I slowly go to open her door and feel a large blast of cold air on the back of my head. I turn around and nothing is there. I put my hand on the door knob and it feels warm, not like room temperature, almost like someone put it in the oven for a minute or two. I ignore all these strange things going on and I open the door as fast as I could.
"Nana, the power is out and-" I stop to see my grandmother sitting listening to her old record under a lamp knitting a sweater. The odd thing about it is not that the power is only working for her; she is listening to a song that I never heard before, it sounds almost as if the record is playing backwards. It's also not her personality to knit things, she hasn't knit things in years, and I don't even remember her starting a sweater. "Who are you? Where is my grandmother?" I tell her looking her straight in the eye.
"Honey, it's me, your grandmother," she says, but it sounds like it's in multiple voices, three to be exact, a little girl, an old man, and a demon of some sort. "Now come here and lets listen to music together." She stands up and her limbs start to stretch, her body starts to get slimmer and her cloths start to morph into a black suit and tie, her face melts away to reveal The Slenderman, standing in my grandmothers room. Tentacles shoot from his back and go straight for me. I turn and run away, crying about what I have just seen. As I run to the front door I look out the window to see if anything has changed, still, pitch black without a trace of light. I scramble with the lock of the door until I get it open and trip outside landing on my hands and knees.
I get up and it is now bright, only, foggy. If I where to put my arm out in front of me I would see up to my wrist. I turn around to look back at the front door of the house and I see nothing. I start walking forward and hear splashing. I look down to see what the sound was coming from and all I can see is fog. I try to fan it away to see what I was standing on, I'm walking on water. I put my hand in the cold floor of water and it slips through as my feet float on top, I swirl it around and get a nibble on my finger by a bluegill. I continue walking trying to ignore what was going on and I find myself on the shore of the pond that I found the rock; I pull it out of my pocket and rub it.
Then, a large gust of wind blows into my face, causing my hood to fall off my head and choke me a little. All the fog is gone and I see that I am in a grey world; I hear a noise to my left and see myself skipping the rock. I look across the shore and see The Slenderman. I run into the forest and hide; I hear a noise to my left again and see myself only younger, this is when I went into the forest with all those children. The Slenderman then bends over from behind us and looks right into our faces; I scramble out of the spot and continue running. I run into a park, the same park George stayed at when we stupidly went into the forest. I look around and I see a younger George swinging on the swing set, all grey. Then next to him, George, the real George, the one in color, swinging next to himself. "George," I cry out "George it's me! You're alive I knew it!" George stops swinging and looks at me, tilts his head, and then his face brightens up as if he had just saw someone he hasn't seen for years.
"Tovar! What are you doing here? Did he get you too?" George asks as he gets off the swing running toward me and hugging me.
"No, I got away from him."
"If you did, you wouldn't be here Tovar, he must have gotten you and you didn't realize it."
"What? So that means."
"Yes, he got me, did you see the tape?"
"Yea, so is there a way out of here?"
"Yes, I know exactly where to go, but we need the key."
"Damn it!" I pull my rock out in frustration and start rubbing it with my thumb.
"That's it! Where did you get that?"
"I skipped it in the pond and found it on my nightstand after a nightmare."
"Wait, what kind of nightmare?" I told George about what happened in my horrible dream, how his skin tore, how the sound of my grandmother's scream being silenced haunts me to this day. How everyone in the town was gone. "That wasn't a dream, that is when he got you." George said.
"What? How is that possible? I talked to my grandmother, your parents, I played with my dog. How-"
"He makes a fake world for all of us; we're like lab rats to him. Once he sees that we start going insane in his world he brings you here. Next is when you start working for him, become, a proxy, a puppet to his will. You go into the real world, leave tapes on the internet or on front porches, kill people, or just bring sacrifices to him. There's a whole network, at least ten proxies per state. All of them wear masks to hide themselves from the real world. I fear for the day that he makes me one. He erases your memory, your friends, family, and your identity, gone."
"Am… I going to become one?"
"You won't as long as you get out of here. Let's go." George leads me into the field of the park which slowly transforms into a town. We go down an ally and find ourselves in a forest. "This world is like a broken video game." George says trying to make me laugh. I chuckle a little and continue to focus. We then find ourselves at the warehouse that George walked into on the tape. George picks up a piece of chalk that is next to the operator symbol on the ground and draws a door on the wall. He takes my rock and puts his hand over it, glowing comes from between his fingers and he opens his hands to reveal a skeleton key with the operator symbol at the end of it. "Now all you have to do is put the key on the keyhole."
I place the key on the keyhole gently and a wooden door starts to form on the wall. I open the door and I see a forest. I turn around and ask George "Are you sure this is the real world?"
"Yes, that is the real world, the one you got taken from."
"Okay, let's go George." George stands there staring at me, smiling at me. "George come on, what are you doing? We have to go before-"
"I'm sorry Tovar, I can't go, I have to stay here." George reaches into his pocket and pulls out a black, elastic, silk sheet.
"George, what is that?" George puts the sheet over his head and stretches it across his face, revealing a black mask with a red operator symbol on it.
"I'm one of them Tovar, he liked me so much that I'm his right hand man now. If anything happens to him I take his place" George tilts his head as The Slenderman comes from the shadows and puts his four fingered boney claw on George's shoulder. "One day he will come for you, and make you like me, we will work together Tovar."
"No, no, give him back you son of a bitch!" I scream at The Slenderman as he just mockingly tilts his head and grips George's shoulder tighter. "You don't have to do this George! You can come with me! We can see everyone again. Don't you want to see your mom or your dad again?"
"But everyone is here; all of us work for him now." All the children, now older, come from all directions and start to put on their masks. One girl, in a white dress, wearing a mask with black lips, circles on the cheeks, black eyeliner looking as if it were cried down the cheeks a bit, and long eyelashes drawn on it with sharpie came up to me, she took off her mask to reveal a girl with a beautiful smile.
"I believe you have something that belongs to me," she says as she reaches into my hoodie pocket pulling out the doll from the pictures. She kisses me on the cheek, grabs my hand, pricks my finger with a rusty needle and draws tears of blood on the doll. "Something to remember you by. Call me dollface." She then walks back into the crowd and puts her mask back on hugging her doll tightly.
"So this is it, you are going to stay here, with, him." I say to George as tears go down my face from the pain of my finger and in my heart.
"I have no choice Tovar, soon you will be here, and you will be in our family."
"No, I refuse to join you and your little cult or whatever you want to call it; I will make sure that I stay away from you and this thing. I will never join you. When you want to come to the real world and be sane, come and see me, I'll be at home." I then run to George and grab his hand and try to pull as hard as I can toward the door. But The Slenderman pushes George back and reveals his true form. His jaw, again, ripped open, long tentacles coming out of his mouth, spider like legs coming from his back lifting him from the ground, his tie once black is now blood red, and his suit now morphs into an exoskeleton. The screech of the three voices almost deafens me. Dollface then jumps in front of me with her arms spread out.
"Go! This is your only chance." The Slenderman then hits her across the room.
"You dare defy me" he says to her.
"No!" I scream and a man in a skull mask with an operator symbol cracked on the forehead pushes me into the real world.
"Good luck," he says as he closes the door and it disappears from the side of the tree.
I lay there, crying, "Tiffany, Tiffany was her real name." I say to myself. "I did have a crush on her, for Valentine's Day I made her that doll, she told me it was creepy but she liked it. Then a boy who also liked her came up to me and poked both of my eyes like on the three stooges and I cried blood. Now she's in there, hurt, because of me." I get up and walk home.
As I am walking home, people are looking at me funny. I hear things like "oh my god it's him" and "where has he been." As I finally get home I walk into my room from my personal front door, but something's not right. It looks as if a seven year old lives here. "Nana?" I call out. My bedroom door bursts open and she looks at me with tears running down her face. She runs up to me and hugs me tightly while she cries on my chest. I look around and I remember my room being like this, ten years ago. I look over at my bed and I see a poster "missing: Tovar Perri, last seen at Westmore woods." On the poster is a picture of me when I was seven. "Nana, what is going on?"
"Don't you remember?" she asks "all of you went into the forest and all of you went missing, George was the only one who came out." George then walks into the room with the same smile he had in the warehouse.
"Hello Tovar, long time no see."