November 8, 2010

The Beginning

“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.

On Jun 10, 2009, Victor Surge added this contribution to the Something Awful thread “Create Paranormal Images”, which intended to spark fake accounts of monsters and ghosts, and maybe pester some paranormal websites and radio shows [i]. What you see above appears on page three of the thread, about one third down. From this post on, the forty-six page, one thousand eight hundred and forty+ response thread is almost exclusively about Slender Man.
There are fifty-two known ARGs spread across blogs, twitter, youtube, and other media, thirty-seven of them active (one preparing for its second installment), thirteen of unknown ending, and two just beginning but showing very strong signs of Slender Man relation [ii]. This explosion of enthusiasm begins on the very same page as Victor Surge’s original post, when cowboythreespeech innocently makes the comment that can be said to have killed us all:

“I wish the ‘Slender Man’ one was legit.”

“The Slender Man”

In the second image of Victor Surge’s post, we get a confirmation of the three circumstances presented in the first one: 1.) Slender Man almost innocuously stands in the back of the image, 2.) in a circle of children, and 3.) the description suggests the photographer of the image, Mary Thomas, immediately went missing. Two more aspects were included: Slender Man appears to have multiple appendages (referred to commonly as His “tentacles”), and the photo’s description goes beyond merely connecting Him to the children’s disappearance, but also to the subsequent fire at the library in which the photograph was being kept. Furthermore, it makes it clear He has no fear of broad daylight, public, or cameras- a rare and dangerous quirk in a monster.
Victor Surge was not done with his creation, and the tentacles make a reappearance. Though with slightly more hint of a face, this post goes on to describe one of the only instances of sound being associated with Slender Man: “a sound like a watermelon being [unintelligible].” In a vague description of the results after the photo was taken, the first mention of “losing time” and electrical disturbance of any kind is made, along with one of very few descriptions of Slender Man’s victims. In this case, there was little to be described other than “blood and human tissue”.

The Children and the Forest

From here, it began to develop rather quickly and more details were added to Slender Man’s mythos with each post by the creator. One image he posts depicts Slender Man with clear multiple appendages, one of a police report with classic SM paranoia scribbles all over it, Leechcode5 adds a photo of a school fire with multi-appendaged SM in the flames, and in one of the most recognizable incarnations of SM, Victor Surge fabricated an entire child’s birthday party and subsequent missing child report, including a photo from the party with the harrowing tall figure of Slender Man hidden just behind a tree.
Not long later, Bluedeanie selected the original two photos- of the kidnapped children and dapper Slender Man, the playground and the tentacle Slender Man- and the later photo of the children’s birthday party, and made the first declaration of what Slender Man sums up to.
Victor Surge still wasn’t finished yet. Soon came two photos of foggy woods concealing the Slender Man of the trees, with long tentacled arms buried in the ground like roots, hoisting the already elongated figure into the air. A story describes the dissection and organ displacement of a victim among the sound of “a children’s laugh, like a giggle.” Another bit of information reveals more of what is later dubbed the Tulpa effect[1][iii], suggesting the photographs be burned immediately.

Alternate Reality

On page five of the thread, Victor Surge said he’s “done with this Slender Man stuff,” due to giving himself an uneasy feeling, and was glad his friend was coming over.
In the very next post, there is an extreme close up of Slender Man, with something of a face, followed by a slightly incomprehensible message stating:

“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”

The first example of storytelling in the Slender Man mythos. Doedipus comments:

“Ditto that the whole 'Slender Man' thing is fantastic. I actually thought it was a real photo at first that was a bit blurry and someone just came up with a story to make it ‘paranormal.’”

Slender Man began to bleed into reality.

It begins to get farther from the core as the pages go on, but He is continuing to be created in the mind of the forum. There are several mentions of “embraces”, “burning embraces”, and the ability to attract His victims to Him. Mentions of people forced to act against their will, against their friends.

“Every time I walk past the window at the top of the stairs, I always look out it, even if just for a moment. It's a habit I've had since I was tall enough to peek over the sill. But tonight, as I stepped out into the hall, my head refused to turn; even my eyes remained fixed on the other end of the corridor. It was as if my body was trying to tell me something... Not the frantic 'Don't look, don't look, dear god please walk faster,' but instead the eerily calm 'There's no need to look. You already know He's there.' –KatWithHands

‘An observer’ begins what can be called the first Slender Man ARG, detailing a story of a weird nighttime walk experience with photos that contain clear examples of a stalking Slender Man. It resonates through the forum.
User ‘Wonder Bra’ seemed to see what was happening.:

“It's because He lives in our primal, ancient, subconscious mind that He appears more often when people begin to think of Him. He changes because He plays on our fears. He lives in a nebulous, timeless twilight that constantly shifts.”

The Beginning

There He was. A very tall man with no face, wearing a suit of some kind, with a propensity to stand silently behind lamp-posts.
And yet no one could sleep that night. Did you sleep on that first night?
Uncanny Valley is as perfect a definition for this visual effect as anything could be. Yet, it just doesn’t seem to cut it. Slender Man was clearly more than uncanny valley even then.

“I'm not usually one to get all bandwagony but Slender Man is honestly one of the most inspiring and sinister things I've seen lately. Something about It seems to strike some sort of primal 'wrong' chord.” –TheRiffie

There was something innately disquieting, unspeakable- as Evan of EverymanHYBRID said,

“Clearly this is not just some dickhole messing with us, clearly this is not just some man in a suit. This is something soooo much worse.”

[i] which they successfully did with the Slender Man Mythos
[ii] Unfiction has a more or less complete list available
[iii] to be discussed fully in a later entry

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