Many characters of horror begin with a folk tale or urban myth. These may spring from campfire tales, and prey upon people’s fears, often times with a moral agenda. Underage sex and parking dates? The Hook Handed Man. Messing with dark forces of the occult? Bloody Mary. Promiscuous sex? The black market kidney thieves and bathtub full of ice. Misbehaving children? The wood tailed mother.
One, spawned from an internet meme competition, rules them all and takes on its own dark life. Who is this creature that preys on fear and innocence? This bane of children?
His sinuous form was birthed on June 10th, 2009 by Victor Surge in response to a Something Awful (SA) Forums Photoshop contest. The contest asked forum members to submit paranormal pictures. Two seemingly simple but hauntingly suburban pictures were submitted.
“We didn’t want to go, we didn’t want to kill them, but its persistent silence and outstretched arms horrified and comforted us at the same time…” – 1983, photographer unknown, presumed dead.
“Slender Man (a.k.a Slenderman) is a mythical creature often depicted as a tall, thin figure wearing a black suit and a blank face. According to the legend, he can stretch or shorten his arms at will and has tentacle-like appendages protruding from his back. Depending on the interpretations of the myth, the creature can cause memory loss, insomnia, paranoia, coughing fits (nicknamed “slendersickness”), photograph/video distortions and can teleport at will.”In this writer's opinion, what makes him truly frightening is his featureless visage. He is out of focus and nebulous while the live children and scenery around him remain in crisp contrast.
The response was astounding. By taking a few pictures and altering them slightly, adding a hint of the creature, and posting them, he birthed a monster so alluring and frighting there are entire forums dedicated to this icon of horror. Other users clamored for more...and thankfully, Victor provided.
1994: Wilks Estate. One subject reported nothing out of the ordinary before taking photograph. Lower stairs area was said to be very dark. Subject states that after the camera flash she heard a sound like a watermelon being *unable to understand subject*.
Subject unable to recall events after manor power failure. Unable to question other two identified subjects. Camera and film acquired from Gloria Cready, current resident of Woodview Mental Hospital and Psychological Rehabilitation Clinic. Film mostly uncontaminated despite mass of blood and human tissue present on camera. No positive ID on anomalous tall and slender subject. Facial blur caused by possible contamination.
Early digital analysis indicates tall subject may have no eyes. Anomalies, previously thought to be film errors and flash artifacts, now thought to be appendages.
Final identified subject reported missing along with other thirty-three patients and staff of Woodview Mental Hospital and Psychological Rehabilitation Clinic south wing.
Further inquiry to cease immediately.
(see report No.3339-2)
Victor even provided some lovely pictures of a child's birthday party, a newspaper clipping and children's drawings that show Slenderman invading their psyche.
Then, more pictures, beautiful stark things,that gave me chills the first time I saw them.
Both subjects were hunting in the Steinmen woods four hours before sundown. Surviving subject states that while hunting both men grew uneasy as fog levels rapidly increased. A constant murmuring sound accompanied by a low hum eventually became apparent to the two men an hour after the fog increased. An object falling out of tree stuck one of the men in the left shoulder causing him to discharge his weapon. Object said to be the body of a man of unknown age. It was very precisely dissected, with major internal organs still contained within the rib cage in what looked to be clear bags. Surviving subject placed organ bag within backpack. Attack followed several minutes later after a "low children's laugh, like a giggle". Surviving subject ran until he reached his vehicle. Subject then drove to assumed safety.
Surviving subject is classified as a B7 witness. B7 witness to be placed in quarantine "Blind Box" until resolution.”
“2007: Investigation team discovered twenty-two bodies of both genders and various ages impaled on broken tree branches in a radiating circle pattern with chest mutilation as often noted with Slender Man. Upon confirmation, lead investigator ********* called for an immediate evacuation of investigation team at 1700 hours. Bodies first discovered at 1100 hours. Deadline for safe evacuation of team with only viewed physical evidence of Slender Man approximately 1730. Lost contact of team at 1725. Safety procedures fell well within established protocols. Reason for abnormality is unknown. Second team recovered camera equipment one week later. Slender Man safety procedures require this incident's physical photographic evidence to be disposed of by no later than 10/20.
I honestly don't get what half this poo poo means. I'm done with this Slender Man stuff. It's starting to make me uneasy. It's like reading the GBS ghost story threads before I go to bed. Why do I have to look at this stuff while it's super late?These postings suggested there had been an investigation, witness statements taken, and the witnesses hidden away by some organization, likely law enforcement. The conspiracy and darkness was suddenly elevated to a new level. No longer was it a creature that was truly hidden, but one that was hiding and being covered up.
Luckily, my friend is coming over.”
And then, this picture and a snippet of phrase like it had been broken off as the victim had been typing.
“My friend is herejus camein barely made up staairs got pictur locked door but it s right there inthe hall dont look at its pictures it dosent want to be known about dont loo”What strikes me about this is how much the creature looks like an image of “The Scream” by Edvard Munch. It is as if the artist had seen Slenderman in 1892 and had actually captured him in his art. However, researching the background of the famous painting, Munch describes its inception as a moment where the sunset gave him the impression of nature screaming (or shrieking). While this explanation seems fitting, it should also be noted that the area where Munch conceptualized this masterpiece was located near a slaughter house and insane asylum. His sister was committed in this asylum. Wouldn't it stand to reason that his sister could have glimpsed this creature? Normal people didn't even see Slenderman unless accidentally captured on photographs, but perhaps the mad could. Furthermore, the stress that Munch likely had--the psychic assault of an asylum, the slaughterhouse and his sister's affliction--could have opened up his mind just enough that Slenderman would register on his subconscious. Victor Surge may not have intended it, but here is a great little nugget of conspiracy that makes my black little heart quicken.
It was then that other people gifted in Photoshop (or perhaps research) began submitting their photos. Some short movies were made by other folks and posted on YouTube. Forums dedicated to the Slenderman came into existence. Some video games even began using the image.
Doing a search on Deviant Art will reward you with childlike and creepy images that honor this meme made myth. I find myself doing an internet search for new images every few weeks and growing to love this creepy child-snatching adult killer more and more.
Just a week ago I was fortunate to go and play at Heartstoppers Haunted House in Rancho Cordova. Nestled among the trees were Slenderman figures; Easter eggs for the haunter. It warmed my heart, and admittedly, gave me a bit of a chill at first. Some of the workers there had never heard of him until they saw him in their haunt. They told me tales of how “normal folks” (a.k.a. customers) could be heard calling out through the darkness “Look, guys, Slenderman!”
I am not a person who frightens easily, and I have to admit I hold a special place in my heart for the shiver of fear this tall, dark, and creepy elegant thing gives me. But what I really love, is that in a world with so much real darkness, the Slenderman has slipped unseen into the fears of a large population. He did this without an ice cream truck, a hook, a bathtub, or a mirror. He did it with electrons and fear.
And that should scare you.