Imagine the scene: it’s the dead of night and you are fast asleep. Suddenly, though, things change radically and you find yourself far from asleep: you are now wide awake but unable to move. You are completely paralyzed. You try and cry out but it’s no use. Your heart pounds and your head spins chaotically. Worse still, you see hunched over in the shadows of the bedroom an eight-to-nine-foot-tall, skinny and emaciated creature. It is dressed in an old-style black suit, has a pale face that lacks eyes, a nose, ears and a mouth. As for its arms and legs, they are almost like those of a spider: long, thin and spindly. Rubbery, octopus-like tentacles protrude from its torso; they wave and flicker ominously in your direction. To your horror, the night-fiend slowly moves toward you and leans over. Its foul breath makes you wretch. It whispers that you are about to die. Or, that it is coming to take your soul. Maybe you will be its eternal slave in its forested, ancient abode. Now in a state of complete terror, you finally manage to cry out and wake up in a cold sweat. The terrible thing is suddenly gone. You have just had a trauma- and fear-filled encounter with the Slenderman. But, mark my word, he will be back. He always comes back eventually.
The Slenderman has curious origins: he began “life” purely as an Internet creation, specifically the work of a man named Eric Knudsen. In June 2009, Knudsen, via the pseudonym of “Victor Surge,” uploaded a couple of doctored photos of the Slenderman to the forum of the Something Awful website. In no time at all, others began writing – and posting online – their very own tales of the Slenderman. Short stories, blogs, novels, online games, chat-rooms, and more soon followed. Then, something menacing and sinister happened: people, all across the world, began to see the Slenderman. Not just on the Internet, not in novels or in the pages of comic-books, but in their homes. In their bedrooms. In mysterious woods. In dreams that rapidly escalated into full-blown nightmares.
With that all said, there’s another issue to be addressed. Namely, the matter of the Slendermen that came long before Eric Knudsen’s creepy creation. That’s right: over the years, decades and centuries, there have been a number of reports of creatures that sound eerily like the Slenderman. Now, onto those cases. We’ll begin with the story of a terrifying monster that Elliott O’Donnell described in 1917. The location: an old, large, Irish home. The witnesses to the skinny thing said that, “Suddenly I heard the sound of heavy footsteps crunching their way along the gravel drive. ‘It will be nothing visible,’ I said to myself, and then I got a pretty acute shock. Coming towards the house with short, quick steps was a tall figure, with its head bowed low. Its arms and legs were very long and bony, the feet and hands enormous. It was quite nude, and from all over its body, which was of an exaggerated whiteness, there emanated a strange, phosphorescent glow. The Thing came right up to the window, and then raised its face. If I live to be a thousand years old I shall never forget what I saw. The proportion of the face was not human, and it was partially covered with hair, but the eyes were the same shape as ours, only very much bigger. They were pale, almost white, I thought, and their expression.”
Moving on, there’s the matter of a 2001 encounter in the Cannock Chase woods in England. It was in June 2001 that Johnson’s path crossed with that of a Slenderman – and, in terms of the path, I do mean that literally. At the time in question, Johnson was working on a project with the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust and the University of Wolverhampton – specifically in relation to the area’s flora and vegetation. Notably, when Mike had his encounter with the Slenderman, he was only a stone’s throw away from the aforementioned, and supernaturally-saturated, Cannock Chase German Military Cemetery. Mike told me that the figure was he briefly saw was not just tall, but impossibly massive for a human – somewhere in the region of nine feet. He was dressed in a dark gray-colored outfit that fitted him, or it, tightly. The thing’s head was bald and elongated, and his neck was incredibly long. As for the arms of the entity, they reached past his knees. What was particularly odd was the fact that Johnson could not make out the face of the man-thing. It was as if there was no face – or that it was somehow blurred.
Black-Eyed Children expert David Weatherly told me of a fascinating story that fits right in with the rest of this article. Janet grew up in rural Virginia and, it’s fair to say, she is someone who has been menaced by the Slenderman to a significant degree. Interestingly, the home in which Janet grew up was dominated by trees – indeed, behind the house was a large area of thick woodland. It’s in woods that so many encounters occur. Janet’s experiences began when she was a child. She says: “Over the years, I’ve seen glimpses of him, or it. It’s a very, very tall man and his arms are impossibly long. I’ve never seen a face, just glimpses of his head, which I can tell is bald. I’ve always felt as if it’s just waiting for me to come outside, to see it closer and find out what it is. I think that’s what it wants, but I don’t think I would ever come back if I went out there.” And one more:
Robin Swope, an expert on the Slenderman phenomenon, revealed to me another, equally strange, story; it’s a story of not just one Slenderman, but an entire army of them. Robin told me: “When I first started researching the phenomenon, I got a bunch of letters from pastors. One pastor from Ohio said that, one day he was out in his field – he owned a farm – and by a forest edge, all of a sudden everything got quiet and it was twilight and a group of these creatures walked through the field. He had never told anybody; he just told me privately. Such an odd story.” “Odd” is arguably an understatement, as you will now see. Swope’s source wrote to him of the affair, which occurred back in the 1950s: “I glanced out the garage window and saw an entire line of these ‘Slender People’ coming out of the woods just beyond our neighbor’s house. They were heading our way.” The pastor added: “I was momentarily frozen,” which is hardly surprising. Notably, he added that: ‘They were all slender, but some were taller than others…There were a few Slenders of small stature, whom I took to be children, all of whom were holding the hands of the taller ones. The pastor watched, filled with fear, as the skinny procession in black passed the property at a ‘slow, relentless pace,’ and finally vanished from sight. They did not return, which was surely a good thing from the perspective of the pastor.”