We’ve all heard the stories: There was a killer upstairs! There was a killer in the backseat! They sold my kidney on the black market! And while once they may have frightened us, these days, no more. We are no strangers to urban legends; even the ones that have their roots in truth have lost their bite. They’re funny, maybe a little silly, but certainly not scary.
But here’s the thing about urban legends: They evolve. They find new forms. And when they reappear, they get scary all over again.
The modern age is a particularly interesting time for these sorts of tales. The ease of communication allows them to spread faster than ever, and now, they have not only words, but also images and videos to enhance their impact. The lines blur more easily between fact and fiction, and in some cases, being told a tale is no longer a passive experience– indeed, some may find themselves becoming part of the stories themselves. In this series, I’ll be bringing you a new tale each week. You may have heard of these tales, or you may not have; but odds are that even if you don’t think you believe in them, a tiny part of you does. Or wants to. Or simply can’t help it. So come on in. Draw up a chair. Have I got some stories for you.
WARNING: There’s a lot of creepy contained within, so consider yourselves warned and proceed at your own risk.
Allow me to introduce:
THE SLENDER MAN
The Slender Man first appeared with nothing more than a pair of pictures picture and a few words. These were the pictures, and these were the words. Can you spot him?:
“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.
One of two recovered photographs from the Stirling City Library blaze. Notable for being taken the day which fourteen children vanished and for what is referred to as “The Slender Man”. Deformities cited as film defects by officials. Fire at library occurred one week later. Actual photograph confiscated as evidence.
1986, photographer: Mary Thomas, missing since June 13th, 1986.
And with that, a legend was born. Sightings of the Slender Man were reported across the country, then across the globe, and images ranging from photographs to woodcuts revealed his presence throughout history. The Slender Man is tall and thin– unnaturally so– with exceedingly long limbs. Some reports claim that his limbs are tentacles. He has no facial features. He wears a black suit. The impression one gets of him is that he is attempting to fit in– possibly even to disguise himself as one of us– but that something is a little bit… off. He is the familiar made strange, and for that very reason, he is terrifying. He often appears just before the disappearance of a child, or, in some cases, children. Plural. He has also been known to dissect and reassemble adults by removing their organs, bagging them in plastic, and replacing the them in the body cavity, after which the bodies would be found impaled on tree branches. Tale has built upon tale, and in the telling, he has been found in words, images, and even in sound: [tagbox tag="Creepy Things That Seem Real But Aren't"]
No matter where you go, Slender Man will follow. Maybe you’ve seen him yourself.
But is he “real”? Nope. That first appearance of his came as result of a Something Awful thread entitled “Create Paranormal Images.” His maker? A SA user known as Victor Surge. Almost as soon as Victor introduced his creation to the forums, it began to take on a life of its own, until eventually, it moved beyond the forums to the internet at large. These days, the Slender Man is known to be entirely fictional, but for a time, he made the already hazy line between ficton and reality just a little less solid in that way that only the best legends can.
This still does not stop me from checking under my bed periodically. Just in case.