He moved silently, gliding above the ground as the long arms that protruded from his back pulled him through the dark pines. Slowly, he melted into the branches of a large fir and surveyed a campsite below him. Echoes of laughter and the crackling of a fire mixed with the scent of s'mores and bug repellent. Someone shouted angrily, something about a mosquito. Slender Man laughed, or did something comparable; mosquitos don't go near him.
He lowered himself further down the trunk until he could make out a few more details through the wispy smoke and hissing embers. A large green tent, the fire circle, and a family of four seated around it. They loudly stuffed themselves with marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate. He gave a tiny shudder of pleasure. They were so puny, so unknowing, so out of place --
Slender Man looked up. In the distance, perhaps a few hundred yards away, he thought he could hear someone - or something - moving through the trees. The humans below, of course, would not notice. He was worried; surely whoever or whatever it was wasn't coming here, to these people?
The movements were getting closer. It sounded human, perhaps a teenager. Alone. He looked further out into the trees, straining, searching for some hint of the boy. Suddenly, a glint of steel flashed into the clearing. A man - the father, of course - looked up suddenly, perhaps seeing the glint out of the corner of his eye; but by then it was too late.
The boy - a teenager, as Slender Man had known - sprinted into the campsite, drawing two long, curved blades from sheathes at his waist. With a scream, a mixture of exhilaration and excitement and pleasure, he pounced onto the father, burying one blade in his chest and the other in his face.
He screamed, squirming, but it was too late; there was an audible crack and he was upon the mother, who was halfway to raising her arms, halfway to shielding herself, halfway to wasting her time as her final act; for once again his blades were only a flurry of silver, ripping away all the frailties of humanity in a spray of angry red. The two children, one boy and one girl, screamed; the boy made a break for the trees and the girl simply shrank back into her chair, quivering with sobs. The teen made it quick; he kicked her in the chest, sending her and the chair flying back before landing at the base of a tree ten feet away, broken shards of rib showing through her shirt and blood flowing from her temples and forehead.
A leg of the same chair tripped the brother, and as he fell the look of horror at seeing his sister was still etched upon his face. There was another crack as his wrist broke upon hitting the forest floor, and he shouted out in pain and fear as the teen dragged him by the feet back into the clearing. He turned him over and faltered for a moment, blades raised above his head, hesitant for just a split second; but it was gone, and the blades were singing through the air, down, down upon the boy. There was one, final, drawn out scream, and with a squelch it was silenced.
Slender Man was not fazed by the murders themselves but by the fact that the killer was simply a teenage boy. Cautiously, not wanting to reveal himself, he moved a few feet lower. From here he could see, in the firelight, the glints of blood - blood, covering everything - and the boy's knives. He could make out, clearly, the terrified expressions of the family. Then he noticed the boy himself, his white hooded jacket almost completely stained red, rocking back and forth on the ground, sobbing.
He should have felt the usual instinct; to reach out, quickly, silently; to envelop his victim, lovingly, tenderly; to drag them away, back to where he always took them. But Slender Man felt something else; he wanted to comfort the boy, to calm him down. For a moment he had nearly lowered himself to the ground, about to step out of the shadows, before he realized what he was doing and quickly pulled back up into the branches.
But the boy had noticed, even above his loud, almost hysterical sobs. He looked up, slowly and deliberately, and suddenly all else that Slender Man had felt dissolved as it was replaced with an enveloping sense of dread. Please, he thought, please don't look up. Don't look at me. Don't look
The teen looked up, his eyes making exact contact with the places from which Slender Man saw, and he realized that the teen's sobs had not been sobs at all; it was laughter, high-pitched and hysterical, just subsiding as the boy's eyes bored into Slender Man. Then he finally realized that the boy's face was not a face at all
Leathery white skin, thick and glowing brightly even in the firelight; the cherry red lips, twisted back into a sinister and eternal smile; the teeth, nearly fused into one solid, bright-white piece; and lastly the eyes, brightest white of all, eyelids burned off so that all that remained was a black ring.
Instead of taking him, taking one of the very few whom he had let See, Slender Man lowered himself to the ground, one of his back-arms brushing dirt from his suit before sinking into him with the rest. The boy stared at him as if observing a particularly interesting lab specimen; Slender Man slowly cocked his head sideways, sizing him up. The boy was not afraid. Slender Man was not afraid either. Both, however, were slightly intrigued by each other.
"P-p-pleasure to meet you on this fine night, huh, mister?" The boy's lips scarcely moved as he talked.
Slender Man debated whether or not to respond. Before he could make up his mind, the boy filled in the silence for him.
"Not much of a talker, hmm? I'm Jeff, by the way." Slender Man looked down at the bodies, and Jeff noticed. "No reason," he explained, "just felt like it."
He walked over to the boy, blood still dripping from his neck. "This one reminds me of Liu a bit
" Jeff seemed to pause for the second time, and Slender Man wondered who or what Liu was - or had been. Jeff aimed a kick at the boy, and he landed next to his sister with a snap and a fleshy thud, neck broken. "Best to forget, eh? Besides, they're so much happier now
"Who was Liu?" Slender Man's voice sounded gravelly from lack of use.
Jeff looked mildly surprised. "So you do talk, huh?"
"Who was Liu?" He repeated.
"Not one for formalities, at least," he said, chuckling. "Liu was my brother." He laughed again, then added, "He's asleep now."
Slender Man gave a curt nod.
"They went to sleep as well."
"How did you get here?"
"The forest?" His eyes bored into Slender Man's face. "Not very far from where I lived."
"You should not be here."
Jeff's smile seemed to give a twinge. "And why is that, mister?"
"You must leave this forest. This is my forest tonight."
"Is that so?'' Jeff stretched out his arms, signaling to the wide expanse of trees in every direction. "I think there's room for two of us here tonight, don't you?"
"No. You have already stolen my first hunt. You must leave."
"Did I get that right? Your first hunt? Let me make something clear to you, mister
" Jeff pulled the blades from his waist and held them up barely inches away from Slender Man's face, which was level with his as he was stooping down. "I go where I want to go, got it? You will never tell me what to do, got it? You will fuck off, got it?"
Slender Man pulled himself back up to his full height and stared at Jeff, amazed by his audacity.
" he croaked.
"Yes, Tom Riddle, I dare. Now screw off." He turned and walked through the campsite, about to reach the trees, when Slender Man snapped. His arms whipped out and lifted Jeff up by the ankles, slamming him into a tree trunk with such force that it it was ripped out of the ground from the roots, toppling over and disappearing into the darkness. He dragged Jeff back into the clearing, smashing him into the ground periodically, leaving indents in the hard, packed dirt. When he finally pulled Jeff up to face him, he gave a small shudder of satisfaction.
Jeff's face was bloodied and raw, his eyes shot and his leathery skin torn apart in some places. A large flap of it dangled on his cheek, splattering blood on Slender Man's suit. He slammed Jeff down and let go to clean himself in disgust.
Jeff stirred, coughed, and stood up shakily, wiping his mouth and pushing the flap of skin back as best he could.
"Is that," he said shakily, "all you've got? You fight as well as my mommy did, and she's dead!" He laughed. Slender Man's arm lashed at Jeff's face, and a new gash appeared, bleeding profusely. Jeff giggled again.
"You done yet?" He collapsed in a fit of giggles and fell onto Slender Man. He tried to push Jeff away, but he was firmly gripping Slender Man's waist. He lashed out again and again, tearing apart his blood red and bright white hoodie and turning his back into ribbons of flesh.
Suddenly, Slender Man felt a sharp pain in his abdomen; one of Jeff's blades was buried to the hilt. A black blood-like substance, slow and oozing, dripped thickly from the wound.
"Insolent boy!" He roared, lashing out again, his back-arms erupting and pulling himself far into the tree branches, carrying Jeff with him. Further and further they rose, and almost instantly they broke out of the canopy and were assaulted with a frigid wind. Jeff laughed again, voice echoing over the trees and through the mountain valley. Slender Man grasped Jeff and brought him up, lifting him far over his head, and thrust him down with as much force as he could muster. The wind whistled in his ears as Jeff's body rushed past; there were the sounds of branches breaking, leaves rustling, and finally, a loud, sickening crunch.
Slender Man lowered himself back to the ground, wincing as the blade dug into him a little more. A large hole had opened up in the ground at his feet; a few yards down lay Jeff's limp body. With relish, Slender Man pulled him up - and nearly dropped him again in surprise. He felt a heartbeat.
Jeff looked up, laughing even harder than before, his entire body rocking back and forth in Slender Man's grip.
"It takes much, much more than that, mister," he said breathlessly.
Slender Man barely had time to react; there was a flash of silver and suddenly his right arm was on fire, and the thick black blood was everywhere, and there on the ground he could clearly see a long, black, writhing shape, his arm, severed completely, and the pain was unbearable
Jeff giggled and jumped onto Slender Man's back, putting his arms around his neck and squeezing. Slender Man twisted, trying to shake him off, but his grip was too firm. He concentrated, channeling his energy, forcing everything he had into his back-arms, straining
And then suddenly they erupted, forcing their way through Jeff, so that he had a dozen wide holes clean through him, the arms wriggling, slick with blood, savoring the air, before pulling back into Slender Man. Jeff screamed and let go, falling the nine feet to the ground and breaking his arm.
Slender Man picked him up with his left arm, all pain from his wounds gone, unimportant compared to what lie before him. He brought Jeff level with his own face and the boy tried to grin a little bit wider at him. Slender Man bowed his head, then looked back up, his arm already regrowing.
"Nice knowing you, Jeff." His voice was clean, cold, and high.
"You too, mister… sweet dreams…"
Slender Man tightened his grip; there was a final, ear-shattering crack, and Jeff was dead, broken, and finally asleep.