Tuesday, April 19, 2011

tomorrow is our permanent address

Agnes found me behind my apartment building sitting next to the garbage cans.

"Want a smoke?" she asked. I sat with my knees pulled inward. She held out a cigarette. I shook my head. Silence pervaded the air around us. Then she asked, "How much do you remember?"

"Not much," I said. "Just the beginning - in the psychiatric clinic. After that, it's just bits and pieces. You know what scares me?"

"Plenty of things, I bet." She smiled.

"What scares me," I said, "is that I might be back in the clinic right now. This might just be a dream or a story or something."

"Do you really believe that?" she asked.

"I don't know what to believe," I said. "I don't know if the Slender Man really took me to another world or if he was just messing with my mind. I don't know if he was trying to warn me or trying to recruit me. I don't know, I just have no fucking clue about anything."

She reached out and held my hand. "Stop. Breath. Wait."

"Wait for what?" I asked.

"Wait for anything," she said. "Wait for something. I waited for you and you arrived."

I stopped. I breathed. I looked up to the stars and waited. "This feels kind of silly," I said.

"Your face looks silly," Agnes said.

I started to talk. "I have no job. Turns out not going to work for two weeks means you're pretty much fired. I won't be able to pay the rent. I won't be able to buy us all those breakfasts at IHOP. And then...then there's the Slender Man. I don't think he'll go away."

"He never does," Agnes said.

"Then what?" I asked. "We run?"

"That's an option," she said. "Except it won't be like last time. We won't be running away from something. That's not the way. We'll be running towards something. We'll be waiting."

"For what?" I asked as she lifted her face to the heavens.

"Waiting for tomorrow," she said. "Running towards the future. That sound good?"

I looked up as well and stopped and breathed. "That sounds great."

Monday, April 11, 2011

though the stars in their silence

I need to write this. I need to write this down. I need to remember this.

Aladdin Sane (and it just now occurs to me that his name can be heard as "a lad insane") drove me to the base camp. It was an abandoned theater – called the Rialto, I believe. He unlocked the doors and pushed them open, letting us into the dusty, velvet interior.

"He's upstairs," Sane said as he started climbing the thick carpeted stairway.

"Who is?" I asked.

"I thought answers only lead to more questions?" he said looking back at me. "C'mon. Let's just go see him."

Upstairs, I saw Sane approach one of the projection room. The door to the room was guarded by two men – one of them, upon seeing Sane, said, "Going to see Tiresias? He's in a bad mood now."

"Isn't he always?" Sane said. "But don't worry. I picked up what he wanted." I approached the door and both guards suddenly stood up straight and stared at me. "Quit gawking," Sane told them. He took hold of the door handle and said to me, "You go in. Only you."

Like before, I followed his orders. He opened the door and I went through. The projection room had been stripped of its projector – it was purposeless now, just an empty room with chairs. And there was a man standing next to the projection window. From the back, he looked familiar.

Then he turned around and he was me. He was I. It was like looking into a mirror – a strange mirror that shows you some alternate version of yourself, what you would look like if different things happened.

"Hello, Tav," he said. He wore dark sunglasses and his hair was cut short. "I supposed you're wondering why you are here." It wasn't a question, but a statement. "He brought you here to see something. To witness an ending." As he was talking, he turned back to the projection window and I realized that he was blind – the men outside had called him Tiresias, the blind prophet.

"What happened to your eyes?" I asked.

He turned back to me with a blank expression on his face. "I wasn't as...lucky as you. I didn't have anyone to help me when I started being a receiver. The things I saw...overwhelmed me. He helped me though."

"The Slender Man...helped you?" I was incredulous.

"Yes," he said.

I took all this in and said, "You're a proxy."

"I'd prefer not to be called that," he said. "But, essentially, yes. It's not as simple as you think."

"How?" I asked. "He kills people. He drives people crazy. How is that not simple?"

The other me was silent for a few moments and then said, "You've been outside. There are other beings than the Slender Man and they're all at war with each other now. And war makes strange bedfellows. It's either work for one of them or die...and sometimes it's the other way around."

I put my arms together in a defensive posture. "So why bring me here? What did you want me to see?"

The other me started walking then – and watching him walk was a weird experience, as he seemed to know where things were without looking at them – and he opened the door. "Come on," he said to me. "We're going outside," he told the guards at the door. "Nobody follow us."

We walked down the stairs and through the large entrance way (and I was tempted to "walk this way" like in those old Mel Brooks movies). There was a side entrance and the other me unlocked it and walked outside. I followed.

We stopped in the parking lot. There were old, rusted cars around us. "They were never meant to war outright," he said looking up. "What they are...it sort of bends reality. And the more reality bends, the greater chance it'll break. I'm afraid...I'm afraid something broke. And now it's worse. Worse than you can imagine."

"I can imagine a lot," I said.

"Imagine nothing," he said. "A vast nothingness. A vast and alive nothingness that's spreading. That's overtaking us all." He lifted his arms upward and I finally looked up. He said, "There is always a last time for everything."

And the stars softly vanished into the deepness of the night sky.

I can't. I can't remember what happened next. Can't remember.

Agnes here. Tav's sleeping right now. I don't know if he'll remember anything of what happened in those two weeks or if what he does remember is true. On the one hand, I want to implicitly believe everything he says, but on the other hand: the Slender Man messes with minds. Messes with memories. I don't know why he would go to all things trouble (does he want to recruit Tav?), so I won't speculate on whether this actually happened or not, I'll just write down what Tav told me happened.

After the stars went out, Tav said everything went dark. Then there was a light – all the lights had gone on around the base camp – and with the light Tav saw him. The Slender Man. Except this time he was slightly different.

For one thing, he was twenty feet tall. The Slender Man loomed over him, like Godzilla. Then he lowered one arm and his hand closed around Tav. Tav said he shut his eyes tightly and when he opened them again, he was in his bed, in his apartment. His actual apartment this time.

Like I said, I won't speculate on whether any of this was real or not. To me, it doesn't matter. What matters is that Tav is safe.

And the rest is silence.

Friday, April 8, 2011

a soon forgotten tune

Agnes reminded me of something that I didn't include. Two things actually. I just...forgot them. Even after she told me, she had to tell me again so it wouldn't slip my mind. I know that tomorrow I'll read this post and won't remember writing it.

Anyway: during our drive to the base camp, there was plenty of graffiti scrawled on the empty freeways and roads. Some of it was different, but most of it said one thing:

the quiet claims us all
Then there was the next thing. I need to remember this. I'll read this tomorrow and wonder why I ever forgot.
The base camp near the beach turned out to be an abandoned movie theater. Someone had spraypainted on the marquee the Operator symbol, the circle with an x through it. And below that, this was written:

Thursday, April 7, 2011

a hell of a good universe next door

So, I've been trying to piece together this in a coherent story. I've forgotten a lot of it, but I sat down with Agnes and she reminded me what I had told her before. Things I had said. I even have a notebook that I tried to write it all down in, but it just descends into random words.

Anyway, here goes:

Have you ever seen that old show Twin Peaks? That rhyme they had on the show: "Through the darkness of future past, the magician longs to see. One chants out between two worlds...fire, walk with me." Well, we were certainly between two worlds right now and I was walking with fire. I was walking with the Slender Man.

The woods stretched around us, seeming to go on forever. The Slender Man took long strides and I walked quickly to try to catch up to him. Questions sprang up in my mind: "Why did you bring me here?" "Where are we going?" "Why haven't you killed me yet?" I said nothing.

Finally, the Slender Man came to a stop and I stopped just in time to not bump into him (which would probably have been a very, very bad idea). I looked at the woods in front of us and then looked around, so that when I looked back, I was very surprised to see there was a door. A door standing in the middle of the woods. Leading to exactly nowhere.

The Slender Man stood aside. I assumed he meant for me to open the door, so I did. I turned the handle, opened the door, and before I could do anything I felt a hand on my back push me and I stumbled through the door and fell. The Slender Man had shoved me.

I stood up and realized I was now back in my apartment. I looked for the door, but it wasn't there, then I looked around. My apartment was distressingly empty. No laptop, no books, nothing. Since I didn't have a cellphone to call the cops, I decided just to walk there.

Outside, it was a dead silent. This was when I realized that the Slender Man hadn't brought me back to my own world. I was somewhere else.

Trash littered the ground (like in those cheesy post-apocalyptic movies) and there was way more graffiti than normal. There were symbols spray-painted outside my building – they looked like two hourglasses.

As I walked down the street, I realized that I was probably going to walk for a while. I didn't seem as if there were any buses or vehicles of any kind on the street.

As I passed a church, I saw the marquee outside now read:
life sucks and then you die
drop out of the human race
give up the past, give up the lie
come accept the archangel's embrace

Blocks up from that, there was graffiti which read:
the rAke At the gAtes of hell

Finally, I found someone else. There was an alleyway with graffiti on it that read:
out of the dark was suddenly heard
welcome to the home by the sea

And standing underneath the graffiti was a young man in a brown hoodie. He was hurriedly spray-painting what looked to be the omega symbol. "Hey," I said to him. He turned to look at me with an expression of pure shock and then began to run.

He didn't go far. At the end of the alleyway, he tripped on some wires. And then the wires started to move and twist and turned and they wrapped themselves around the man and as he screamed, they dragged him away. (Unfortunately, his scream is one of the things I do remember – it was so loud in that quiet world.)

I ran. I turned from the alley and started running. I could hear something slithering behind me, but I didn't look.

Suddenly, there was a jeep on the road. It slowed down beside me and the door swung open. Inside was Special Agent Aladdin Sane. "Get in!" he yelled at me and I followed his orders without question. In the rear-view mirror, I could see what looked like watery pieces of cable trying to follow us. "Goddammit," Sane said and stepped on the gas. The cable was quickly left behind. "You just had to wander into its territory, didn't you? Couldn't make things easy at me." He began to laugh and I realized that he was very different from my world's Sane. "Don't worry, we're in safer territory now. We'll be coming up to base camp in a few hours. You got any questions?"

"Yeah," I said. "But I think every answer will just bring more questions."

He laughed again and I shivered. "I like you," he said. "Didn't think I would, but I do."

"I'm glad," I said. "Where are we going?"

"Base camp's near the beach," he said. "Funny thing is, it doesn't like the beach. Doesn't like the ocean. Likes everything else except the ocean." I didn't particularly find that funny, but I stayed quiet.

"So," I finally said. "Where's Liza Jane?"

Sane got quiet. "You knew Liza?" he asked. I nodded. "She was a good partner. I liked her. Got too involved though. Tried to save her sister from the kid."

"Agnes?" I swallowed nervously. "What happened to her?"

"The kid took both of them," he said. "I don't want to talk about it." So we both stayed quiet as he drove us closer and closer to base camp, whatever that was.

It was at base camp that I really found out what was going on. When I learned about the war and the quiet. That's where I met myself.

Monday, April 4, 2011

the reason for waking

Where was I? Oh, right: I had just learned that my life for the past three months was a lie. A lie perpetrated by myself. Did I believe that?

Hell no. Yet, the evidence was before. I recognized that computer. I remember typing into that keyboard. How could I do that if I had never been here before? How could things be both familiar and foreign to me?

"Remember that code in the beginning of your blog?" Dr. Gallagher asked. "You know why it hasn't shown up again? Because you got bored of it. Do you know why it always seems to be raining or foggy or cold? Because you're depressed, Tav. And you put all that into your story."

I walked slowly back towards my room (and yes, I didn't have any trouble remembering where it was) and Dr. Gallagher followed me. At the door to my room, he said, "I'm sorry to have been the one to pull you out of your delusion so quickly. Usually, if a patient is as immersed in a fantasy world as you were, we like to gradually pull them out."

I sat on my bed and the doctor leaned against the doorway. "I would still like to you take the medication. Is that alright with you?" he asked.

I looked up at him. "What if I say no?"

He shrugged. "Nothing will happen. You're here voluntarily. You don't have to accept any treatment we offer. You could even leave here if you want, though I wouldn't recommend it. You're mind is...very confused right now."

"I'm tired," I said and it was true. I felt so tired – perhaps I had slept in between the labyrinth (had it been real?) and here, but I didn't feel like it.

"Get some sleep," he said. "I'll see you tomorrow."

I leaned back on my bed and remembered there was a book on the floor, the pages opened, the spine creased. I couldn't leave it like that, so I turned over and picked the book up with one hand. It was The Lost Books of the Odyssey. I looked at the page it was turned to, the last page I had apparently read before dropping it to the floor and falling into my delusion. It read:

Then, mercifully, revelation comes. He realizes that this is not Penelope. This is not his hall. This is not Ithaca—what he sees before him in a vengeful illusion, the deception of some malevolent god. The real Ithaca is elsewhere, somewhere on the sea-roads, hidden. Giddy, Odysseus turns and flees the tormenting shadows.

I fell asleep thinking about those words.

When I woke up, it was nighttime. I stood up slowly and looked out the barred window. There was a garden with benches and beyond that there was number of trees. Beneath the shadow of one of the trees, I saw a figure, tall and thin. As I looked out, he stepped into the light and I saw his white and featureless face.

I went to the door to my room. It was unlocked. My bare feet made no sounds as they tread the tiles and I reminded myself to get some shoes.

But first I needed to get someone. As I navigated the hallways, I remembered where his office was, remembered that he often worked late. As I stepped to his door, I wondered if this was a good idea.

But I had to make sure. I had to be certain I wasn't crazy.

I knocked and after a few moments Dr. Gallagher opened the door. "Tav?" he said. "What time is it?"

I looked at my watchless wrist and said "Two freckles past a hair, doc. Come on, I want to show you something."

To his credit, Dr. Gallagher followed without complaint. He asked where we were going and I replied "Outside." I remembered to ask for my shoes and he helpfully led us to where the orderlies had stashed them. As I slipped them on, they felt comfortable, and I realized I was right. I hadn't seen these shoes before, but they fit completely.

I smiled as I led Dr. Gallagher outside and walked passed the garden and the wooden benches and to the trees where I had seen him. "Why are we here, Tav?" he finally asked.
"Philosophically or physically?" I asked. He frowned at me. "Fine. Do you know about the Many Worlds theory?"

"Isn't that some quantum physics thing?" he said.

"Something like that," I said. "Basically, whenever someone makes a decision, there is also a world where they made the opposite decision. There is, in fact, a world where they made every single decision they could make. Theoretically."


"And I don't think this is my world," I said. "I think the Tav in this world is depressed and did write all those things while here. But I'm not him. I think...I think I'm recognizing things from dreams. Because I think we had the same dreams, being a receiver and all."

"You're not a receiver, Tav," he said. "That was just a story."

"I am," I said. "I can't quite explain everything though. I mean, I don't really know why the Slender Man brought me here."

"There is no Slender Man," Dr. Gallagher stated emphatically. "He's just a story!"

"Dr. Gallagher," I said. "Turn around." The doctor slowly turned around and saw the Slender Man. His face tilted upwards until he saw the Slender Man's lack of face and then he jumped backwards so quickly that he fell on the ground.

"I think...I think I have to go with him now," I said. The Slender Man stood there, arms at his side. "This isn't my world. I don't think he'll hurt me...not yet. I think he just wants to show me something."

"But but but..." The doctor was clearly not coping well with this turn of events.

The Slender Man turned and started walking through the woods. I began to follow him, but stopped and turned back to Dr. Gallagher. "Just remember," I said. "He's only a story."

Then I turned back and followed the Slender Man through the woods.

The next part is sort of complicated. I'm having trouble remembering parts of it. I told it all to Agnes and I'll try to get her to help me remember what I forgot. I think I had to forgot some parts. Maybe it was the only way I could get back here.

a dream deferred

I don't really know where to start. I'm going to try writing it all down, but it's going to take more than one entry.

I was in the labyrinth. The Slender Man was standing there, Agnes was clutching my arm, the rain was coming down, there was a sudden bright light...

...and I opened my eyes. I was in a room. Instinctively, I knew this was my room, even though I had never seen it before. The bed I was laying in was unknown to me and there was a book on the floor that I didn't remember reading (but it was mine, I just knew). There were penciled drawings in neat stacks on the dresser and above the dresser there was a window, barred.

I got up and went to the door. It was unlocked. I walked down a white, tiled hallway, my shoeless feet almost slipping once or twice. Eventually, I reached a sort of common area where people were milling about, playing board games, or watching television.

There was a door on the other end of the room. There was an orderly looking person sitting on a chair next to it. As I walked to the door, the man said, "Everything okay today, Mr. Lowe?"

I paused. Clearly this person knew who I was. Perhaps it was better to just get straight to the point. "Not really," I said. "Where am I and how did I get here?"

The orderly looked at me with a rue smile and said, "I guess we'd better get Dr. Gallagher here. He can explain everything to you." The orderly then led me to a chair on the other side of the room and condescendingly said, "Why don't we just sit here and wait for the doctor, okay?"

"Okay," I said. Perhaps I had had a brain injury in the labyrinth and they had brought me here while I healed.

After about ten minutes, a young man in a white lab coat walked towards me. The orderly whispered something into his ear and the man (whom I assumed to be Dr. Gallagher) nodded. Then he sat down across from me.

"Tav," he said, "do you remember who you are?"

"Yeah," I said. "I'm not a complete amnesiac. I just don't remember how I got here or where here is. So, if you could tell me, that would be a great help."

"Alright," the doctor said. "I'm Dr. Gallagher and you're at the Ashfield Psychiatric Clinic. Your parents brought you here around three months ago."

I slowly processed this information. "...three months ago? It's already June?"

The doctor raised his eyebrow at that and said, "No, it's still March. You've been here since January."

"That's impossible," I said. "I've been going to work and...doing other stuff. I've never even been in this place before."

"This 'other stuff,'" the doctor said, "would that be encountering the Slender Man and the Cold Boy?"

I swallowed. "So you've read my blog. So what?"

"I've more than read your blog, Tav," the doctor said, "I helped you create it."

And he began to explain. He explained how my parents had admitted me for clinical depression. He explained how I had refused to take any of the medication, so he tried treating me through other means. He explained how he encouraged me to create a blog, to make it into a story, a story where I could resolve my problems.

"The Slender Man was something that really interested you," he said. "And I thought it might help for you to personify your problems like that. To make them into a physical form, so you could defeat them. But I was wrong, Tav. I didn't understand. You chose the Slender Man because in his stories, he's never beaten. You literally chose an invincible foe to represent your problems.

"I thought you were getting better when you introduced Agnes and the Cold Boy, because these were new elements, elements that you controlled. Here was a new monster you could defeat." Dr. Gallagher sighed. "Sadly, I don't think that worked either. The metaphor of the Cold Boy – the 'coldness' that you feel – that hasn't gone away has it? I think you need to accept the medication now, Tav."

I hadn't said anything throughout his explanation. Finally, I looked him in the eye and said, "This isn't real. This isn't true. My life isn't just fiction."

"Of course not," the doctor said. "You just made parts of it up. Surely you remember writing it, don't you?"

"Of course I wrote it," I said. "I wrote it down because it happened."

The doctor sighed again and then stood up. "Come on, I want to show you something." I stood up and followed him. We walked down the hall to another room, this one set up with several tables with computer monitors on them. "This is our computer lab. We allow some of the patients here access so they can email family members. Look." He opened up a window and typed into the URL – and my blog came up.

"Look at the URL," he said. "Nihilartikelling." He pronounced it nigh-hill-art-ick-elling. "Do you know what that means? You must because you decided on it." I didn't say anything so he changed the website to Wikipedia. "Let's just look it up, shall we?" He typed in the work and the page changed – to a new page called "Fictitious entry."

"It's German," the doctor said. "For 'nothing article.' It's a fake article writers would put into dictionaries or encyclopedias to catch copyright thefts. So nihilartikelling would be the process of making fake entries." He turned to me. "It was your little joke, Tav. You made it all up."

I have to stop here. I have to get my thoughts in order. They're all jumbled up now and untangling them is getting harder and harder.

I'll trying writing more tomorrow.

Saturday, April 2, 2011


He's back.

I was waiting outside the supermarket where we first met, one hand petting Opus, the other holding on to Poems of the Night, and then there he was. He walked out of the market holding onto a new brown umbrella, taking off the plastic coating and discarding it.

I got up and watched as he walked right past me, not even noticing I was there. "Tav," I said.

He stopped and turned. He looked at me and said the four saddest words: "Do I know you?"

Well, fuck that shit, I thought. Amnesia or not, I'm telling him everything. But maybe I didn't need to. "Why are you buying the umbrella?" I asked.

He looked down at the umbrella, confused. "I...I lost my old one. I don't know where it is."

"I do," I said. "I left it in the labyrinth. Do you remember the labyrinth?"

His face was blank for a moment as if he was trying to recall something that wasn't there. And then something changed. His eyes grew wider as he looked at me. "I saw his face in the labyrinth," he said. "I was his mouth."

"Yes," I said. "Do you remember me?"

"Agnes Day," he said and I silently rejoiced. "Lamb of God." He looked down at the umbrella again. "I remember it all now, I think."

"You've been gone for two weeks," I said. "Do you remember where you were? What happened?"

"I think..." He paused. "I think I need something to eat. How about you?"

So we went to IHOP. And there he told me the story of two worlds. One world where he was crazy. And one world where it was the world itself that was crazy.

I'll let him tell you those stories though. I'm just glad to have him back.

 - Agnes

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


He's still not back. (I wait outside his apartment every day, sometimes roaming the paths we took, following our faded footprints.)

I found a book next to his bed (one of many stacked in uneven piles). It was Jorge Luis Borges' Poems of the Night. There was a bookmark in it, which lead to the poem "Insomnia." There was a part of the poem that was highlighted (did he do it awake or asleep? do receivers read of electric sheep?):

In vain do I await
the disintegration, the symbols that come before sleep.

Universal history goes on:
the tiny course of death through the cavities in our teeth,
the circulation of my blood and of the planets.

There's another passage later on that's also highlighted:

Tonight I believe in fearful immortality:
no man has died in time, no woman,
no dead person, for this inevitable reality of steel and mud
has to traverse the indifference of all who are dead or asleep
--though they hide in corruption and in the centuries--
and condemn them to a ghastly sleeplessness.

Rough clouds the color of wine lees will stain the sky,
and dawn will come to my tightly closed eyes.

I have the book in front of me now. I'm flipping through it, listening to the soothing turning of pages. I always liked Borges - labyrinths, mirrors, tigers.

It's a warm night tonight. I think I'll wait outside for him and read under the stars.

 - Agnes

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

---The Cold War---

This is not what happened:

There was a great battle, an epic fight between good and evil and good triumphed and the hero won and everyone cheered and the evil monster died and they all lived happily ever after.

This is not what happened:

We changed our minds, told dear old sis and the SMSC to go screw themselves, then ran away and lived on the lam, picking news names for each day of the week.

This is what happened:

He is not dead. He did not die. "Gone" is not a euphemism - he is literally gone. He was there one moment and then next he wasn't.

I am getting ahead of myself. Begin at the beginning, end at the end.

This is how it started:

Special Agent Aladdin Sane picked us up at six in the morning. It was raining and Tav carried a slightly worn blue umbrella over our heads. Sane drove his jeep in front of us and told us to get in.

"Where are we going?" I asked.

"You'll see," Sane said. He didn't sound smug or mean. It wasn't a smirking "You'll see," it was a comment that said "This is what this is."

It took several hours to get to where we were going. Sane rarely talked. Instead, he played music - classic rock mainly. We sat in silence and let the sound of strumming guitars wash over us and let Opus stick his head out the window and get his fur wet.

Then we arrived at the labyrinth.

"It's not a labyrinth," Liza said. She was in front of the labyrinth in a black van, security equipment set up. Teams of men and women in body armor waited with automatic rifles and smoked cigarettes. "It's a corn maze. We were lucky to find one that hadn't been taken down yet."

"Yeah," I said. "Lucky." It looked like a labyrinth. The corn stalks were high and the corridor they created looked dark and cold.

"Reminds me of The Shining," Tav said. "Wish I hadn't said that." He smiled at me.

"We've set up cameras throughout the maze," my sister said. "We'll be able to watch your progress as each of you go through."

"Wait," I said. "Each of us? As in, separately?"

"Yes," Liza said. "That's the plan." She rubbed her knuckles together, a nervous tic I knew from years before. "From what we know about the Slender Man - and the Cold Boy, too - it most often shows up when its targets are alone. Isolated."

"Defenseless," I said.

"Yes," she said. Never let it be said that my sister sugarcoated anything. "You will each go a different way through the maze. Hopefully, when you are alone, the Slender Man and the Cold Boy will each show up for you. Then you will meet in the middle."

"And then what? They kill us?"

She looked at me and I suddenly remembered her face after mom died, that steely gaze that said "I am not fucking around anymore."

"Hopefully," she said, "they will kill each other."

"That's your plan?" I said. "Turn them against each other? That's idiotic. That's..."

"The only plan they've got," Tav said. "And it might work. You said the Cold Boy doesn't come near you when your around a receiver. Maybe...maybe that's because we're marked somehow. Marked by the Slender Man. And if the Cold Boy was to be near me when the Slender Man was there...maybe that'll spark a war. There's just one problem: you don't know that the Slender Man will appear. I've only seen him once and he hasn't exactly followed me around."

"There is something you had that he wants," Liza said. She went to the van and brought out a brown box taped up and with words written on it. "Remember this?"

Tav looked at it. "That's the box. The...the Return to Slender box. You said it was gone."

"I lied," she said. "If you take this box in the maze with you, will the Slender Man show up?"

"Maybe," he said. She handed him the box and he looked at it. "He follows the box, the Cold Boy follows Agnes. We all meet up in the middle and do-si-do."

"That's what we're hoping for," Liza said. "So far, there's been no weapons that work against the Slender Man. Maybe another creature similar to him can kill him."

"That's a big maybe," I said.

She looked up at the watery sky and said, "Yes it is. But that's the plan. Take it or leave it."

We took it.

"Operation: Asterion is a go," Liza said into her walkie-talkie and went into the van of security cameras.

Sane stood in front of us before the labyrinth. "If the plan doesn't work, we'll have a team go in and pick you up. And if it does work - well, they'll pick you up anyway, clap you on the back and buy you the first round."

I handed Opus's leash to Sane. "If we die, you take care of him," I said.

At the entrance to the labyrinth, we held hands and then let go, going each separate way. He let me hold onto the umbrella. He went the dextrous way (right) and I went the sinister way (left). He waved at me as he passed the first corner of corn and disappeared.

I didn't think it would work at first. It felt stupid, walking in the rain, holding that blue umbrella over my head, hoping the Cold Boy would appear. I thought we would both meet in the middle, alone, and have a good laugh. I would tell my sister it didn't work and she'd laugh too and we'd all go have that drink anyway. And as the minutes passed and nothing happened, I grew convinced that nothing would.

Then I heard the singing.

   "Come to the window,
   My baby, with me,
   And look at the stars
   That shine on the sea!"

There he was, waiting for me. A little boy, eight years old, wearing yellow galoshes and a blue rain slicker. He was jumping in puddles.

   "There are two little stars
   That play bo-peep
   With two little fish
   Far down in the deep."

He laughed and I felt colder than I had felt in years. I ran, the umbrella discarded in the rain.

   "And two little frogs
   Cry 'Neep, neep, neep,'
   I see a dear baby
   That should be asleep."

As I ran, I heard him. He was repeating the "neep, neep, neep" sound and it made me shudder. Twisting, turning, I navigated the labyrinth on random chance alone and luckily (far luckier than I should have been), I made it to the very middle.

Tav was waiting for me. He was cross-legged on the ground, looking at the box. "I don't understand," he said. "This was for him. He wanted this. Why didn't he come?"

I called his name and he looked up at me. He could probably see the Cold Boy behind me, because his eyes grew wide and he drew a sudden breath. He got to his feet. "Come on, you bastard!" he yelled at the rain. "Why aren't you here?!"

"It doesn't matter," I said. "Let's just run." I held his arm.

But he just looked at the box. "Screw it," he said and started opening it, ripping off the tape. I looked behind me and saw the Cold Boy standing there, jumping to an invisible rope, counting off numbers. It looked at me with ice-blue eyes.

"Agnes," Tav said. "Look at this." He had the box open and inside there was only one small photograph, yellowed with age and slightly burnt on one side. It was of the Slender Man, his face a blur.

"So, it's a family photo, so what," I said, "let's just go."

"Look what's behind him," he said and I looked at the photo again. Behind the Slender Man there was corn. A row of corn. I looked at it and then I looked up. It was the same row of corn right in front of us, the same broken and bent stalks, the same rain coming down. Tav held up the photograph so it covered the spot where it was taken.

Then he took the photograph away and it had become real. The exact instant, that snapshot of time was now. And the Slender Man was here.

We stood in between seconds, in between moments, in between rain drops. The Slender Man was here. He could kill us all. He could kill the Cold Boy. He could do a funny walk, for all I knew.

He didn't. He stood there. That was all.

And yet...that was the worst he could have done. I could have handled if he attacked us. My mind would have flipped the "flight" option and I would have grabbed Tav and run. But he didn't.

He stood there waiting.

"Hello, Mister Slender," the Cold Boy said. His voice was like the wind cutting my skin, setting my teeth on edge. "She left the window open. She's a cold one. We're going to play hopscotch and jacks and we're going to be cold together."

The Slender Man stood there and I thought for a moment he was going to talk, but he didn't. Instead, I heard Tav say, "There are rules. There are rules even for us."

"She is cold, you know this," the Cold Boy said. "She is all frozen and stuff."

"Not anymore," Tav said. I looked at him. His eyes were closed and his mouth was open.

"Tav," I said. "Tav, wake up."

"He is my mouth," Tav said. "There are rules that even we cannot break. She is not cold anymore. She did not run."

The Cold Boy hissed. The air grew colder and I could see frost growing on the corn stalks. "Not fair, not fair," the Cold Boy said. "I wanna toy."

"Find another," Tav said.

"Hmph," the Cold Boy said. "Fine." He walked back through the corn stalks and suddenly, the rain started again and time was flowing again and Tav's eyes were open.

"Agnes," he said. I thought he was going to ask what happened and I was about to tell him, but then he said, "His face. So bright. Can you see his face? I think. I think I have to touch it."

I tried to grab him, but there was a bright flash of blinding light and I let go. I let go and when the light was gone, so was he. Both him and the Slender Man were gone.

Just me in the rain, in the labyrinth.

 - Agnes

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


I'm waiting. I don't know why - I don't even think he'll be back, but I'm still waiting for him.

My sister keeps asking me what happened. Apparently, all of their communications went wonky at the exact same time, all video surveillance blinked off, every horror movie cliche you can think of.

I haven't told her yet. I'm not sure I can.

But I want to write it down, write the story. That's what he does to us - what the Slender Man does to us. He makes us turn things into stories. People into stories. Because he's a storybook monster.

He spreads by stories. They all spread by stories. Read enough of them, suddenly you become part of the story, become the story itself.

I want to tell the story. It's itching my mind, wanting to come out. What happened in that labyrinth. When we were bait.

I don't want to give him the satisfaction of turning it into a story yet, though. I know I will soon, but...not now. Not now.

Now I'm just waiting.

 - Agnes

Sunday, March 20, 2011

He's gone.

It won't stop fucking raining and I can't stop crying and he's just gone.


"Tomorrow," she told me over the phone.

We're being bait tomorrow.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Yet another reason to dislike the dentist

Sorry I haven't posted in over a week. It's just...nothing's really happened. We're waiting to hear back from Agnes's sister, but in the meantime, I'm just going about my normal, everyday, boring routine. I haven't even heard anything weird lately due to my receiverness (receiverosity?).

Well, except yesterday. Yesterday I have a dentist appointment. And after the dentist had finished cleaning my teeth, she said, "Be careful now. He'll swallow you whole."

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Preparations and dreams

We called Agnes's sister and agreed to be bait yesterday. Liza was quick to point out that we would be perfectly safe (which meant we probably weren't) and that she was really glad we had changed our minds (which meant she was glad Agnes changed her mind).

She said that had to take some time setting up a trap. "For the Slender Man or the Cold Boy?" I asked.

"Whichever one shows," she said. "It'll be about a week or two. We'll contact you." And then she hung up.

Agnes and I talked it over, too. We know weapons don't hurt them, but Agnes will bring her gun anyway. It makes her feel safer, which is a good thing. I saw a Louisville Slugger in a thrift store nearby - perhaps I'll pick it up on my way home from work. A security bat.

Had a strange dream last night though. Agnes and I and her sister and Aladdin Sane were standing in the falling snow.

"Watch us now as we unfold," Agnes said, "skin never touching, for we are cold."

"Flying with arms transfigured to wings," her sister said, "dancing like puppets without any strings."

"As we resemble something that has not yet occured," Sane said, "waiting to release that one fatal word."

"Nothing below us, nothing above," Agnes said, "I have never loved you dear as now I love."

And then they all melted away to a nothingness that's only possible in dreams.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Home means run no more

I found Agnes next to the dumpster behind my apartment building. She had a cigarette in her hand and was sitting on the ground, knees pulled towards her chest.

"You smoke?" I asked.

She looked at me. "Not for a while."

I sat on the ground next to her. "You know why the nun went to the department store?" She looked at me with crinkled eyebrows. "She had bad habits." A smile lit up her face.

"So," she said, "guess you're wondering why I'm out here."

"I know why. I checked the blog. 'Under the spreading chestnut tree' - 1984, right?"

"'I sold you, you sold me,'" she said, sucking in another lungful of smoke and then exhaling it.

"You haven't sold me yet. You said no to them."

"But they won't stop," she said. "And the Cold Boy won't stop. And the Slender Man. That's why there are runners. Because running is the only option sometimes."

"And sometimes it isn't." I stood up and looked at the night sky and the moon. "They want me to be bait, right?"


I looked at her. "Then let's be bait."

---Under the Spreading Chestnut Tree---

I lied to you, Tav. They didn't want me to join them. They wanted my help, yes, but my sister would know not to ask me to join. She was the rebel, I was the runner.

Instead, she asked for my help to get you to join. They want to use you, Tav.

They want to use you as bait.

But is that any worse than what I'm doing? Because this wasn't my first lie. That receiver I knew before - I figured out then that the Cold Boy wouldn't attack when I was near her. I knew if I was near you, I was safe. I used you, too.

But how long will that last? How long until the Cold Boy catches me alone or the Slender Man or whatever other foul things are out there? How long until a proxie kills me or you?

I don't want to run. But maybe I have to.

 - Agnes

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Sane's story

Breakfast at IHOP this morning, we had a little surprise: just after we were served our food, Special Agents Liza Jane and Aladdin Sane walked up to our table.

Agnes looked up at her and said, "Well, if it isn't Special Agent Liza Jane. Or is it Lady Stardust? I could never keep track."

"Agnes," Jane said. "We need to talk."

"No, we really don't." Agnes turned back to the menu, studying it intently.

Jane put her hands on the table and said, "We can talk outside or we can arrest you. I know you have a gun on your person."

Agnes looked madder than I'd ever seen her. Finally, she put the menu down and stood up. "Fine. Five minutes only though."

"Won't take longer than five minutes," Jane said and they both walked outside, Agnes in front.

Special Agent Sane sat down on the other side of the table from me. I didn't know what to say or if I should say anything. Finally, I said, "I didn't know they knew each other."

Sane started tapping his fingers on the table. Tap tap tap. "There's a lot you don't know."

"Well, I know that," I said and tried to smile. He continued tapping. "So, how'd you, you know, end up doing this stuff?"

Sane tapped his fingers and was silent for a few seconds, then said, "I worked narcotics in Miami. One day, we raided a warehouse to try and bust some drug dealers." He stopped tapping. "All the dealers were dead though. Other cops said rival dealers must have held them at gunpoint and made them drink bleach. But that was stupid. Why poison them if you could just shoot them? And why wouldn't the dealers fight back?" He started tapping again. "I looked over some security footage and couldn't find anything - until a few days before the raid. A...man walked in and then walked out of the warehouse. He wore some sort of overcoat and a mask, with a long beak. Looked it up later on - it was a Venetian costume, Medico Della Peste. The Doctor of Plague." Tap tap tap. "Just looking at him on the security footage made me want to wash my hands until they bled. And I knew. This man had done something. Just five minutes of being near him and the dealers chugged bleach like they were fourties. They must have felt so..."

He stopped tapping and I turned to see that Agnes and Agent Jane were back. "We're done here," Jane said and Agent Sane got up.

Agnes was silent for a while and we ate our breakfast without words. I was afraid to ask her what they talked about, but I finally got the courage to ask "How'd you two know each other?"

Agnes leaned down to pet Opus before saying, "She's my sister. Wanted me to work for them. Turned her down."

"Oh. Okay." I pushed the food around on my plate. "Do you want this? I'm not really hungry."

"Sure." She took my food and I watched her eat.

Friday, March 4, 2011


Those words below? I saw Tav write them. But he was still sleeping, his eyes closed to the world.

Guess he's still a receiver, awake or asleep.

Now comes the question: what's he's receiving and who is it for?

 - Agnes

ice is

the bark of rivers
the roof of the wave
the destruction of the doomed

One foggy morning

So today was foggy. Very foggy. Like "can't see ten feet in front of you" foggy.

Agnes has been quiet a lot this past week - I think telling that story took a lot out of her. She holds back a lot of things - but we still walk to my work together. Today, I tried engaging her in some conversation, but all she did was nod.

Halfway to work, Opus started barking at something. There was still construction going on, so I figured he was barking at some construction workers, but Agnes immediately pulled him to the side and stopped. I stopped with her. "Is everything okay?" I asked. (I know: dumb question.)

She shushed me and then leaned down to pet Opus, rubbing his head while she reached in her jacket pocket. She took out a small gun and suddenly I was way more nervous.

The fog seemed to thicken as we waited. Opus barked twice more and then started on a low growl.

"Doggy?" A voice called out. It was a strange voice - like the wind blowing through the opening of a plastic bottle. "Doggy doggy, where are you?" It make my skin crawl just listening to it.

A figure appeared in the fog. The shape of a small boy. The fog obscured his face. "There you are doggy," it said. "Nice doggy." Opus's growling grew louder. "Nice doggy with nice lady. Wanna treat, doggy?" The boy held out one hand and inside the hand was a bone. The hand itself looked blue and cold; the bone looked fresh, pieces of meat still clinging to the ends.

Agnes raised her gun and pointed it at the boy. "Go the fuck away," she said, her voice almost a whisper.

"Not nice lady," the boy said. "Just wanna pet the doggy."

I didn't know what to do. I didn't have a gun to point at it. Even if I did, the gun didn't seem to scare it or cause it any harm. Could I do what I did last time? I didn't even know how I did that or if it would do any good. But I could try.

"His eyes are closed and his mouth is open," I said. The boy's face turned to look at me. "And his arms are outstretched."

"He is near and he is far," the boy chanted. "Closest house and furthest star. No more sadness, no more fear. He is far and he is near." He giggled and my skin felt cold. "Bye bye now."

He turned and walked away. The fog seemed to lift and Agnes lowered her gun and put it back in her pocket.

We continued walking and when we finally came to my work, she said, "I know you have questions. I learned a while back that asking questions just leads to having more questions. I don't know why it left us alone - maybe because you were there. Maybe it just wasn't the right time." She shrugged. "But whatever happened...thanks."

Friday, February 25, 2011

---The Cold Boy---

Forgive me for hijacking this blog, but I don't think I can tell this story out loud to Tav (and he really shouldn't leave his account already logged in - no need to guess his password). He's sleeping right now, but I've found that I have a difficult time falling to sleep when I can hear the patter of rain. I've spent many sleepless nights trying to block out that sound.

I first saw the Slender Man four and a half years ago. I started running three years ago.

Two years ago, I met the Cold Boy.

(I know what you're thinking: what a stupid name. Yet, it seemed to fit and I can't call it anything else now.)

I was in Portland, working in a bookstore. I hadn't reached my low points yet - I wasn't sleeping in the street, I had an apartment, I was only running when things got really bad - and the bookstore was a good job. It was quiet and I like reading. The sound of pages turning is soothing.

It was closing time and I was checking every inch of the store, just to make sure no patrons were still there when I locked up. That's when I saw him: a boy, no older than six or seven, sitting Indian style in one of the aisles. His hair was blond and he wore a blue striped shirt.

"Hello?" I approached him. "Is your mommy or daddy here somewhere?" The temperature suddenly dropped and I could see my breath.

The boy turned to me and his face looked weird, like a Polaroid that doesn't come out right. "Mommy's in the ground and daddy put her there," the boy said. "He dug and dug and dug all night and when he put her in, his fingers and lips were blue with cold. He died soon after. The cold took him." The boy smiled at me. "The cold takes us all, sooner or later."

I backed away. There was a gun in my purse, but that was near the front door and that seemed like it was miles away.

"Your mommy and daddy are gone, too," the boy said. He stood up and where he walked, there was frost. "We can be orphans together." He stepped forward and I stepped back. "We can be cold together."

I turned and ran. I felt icy fingers trying to grab my shoulder, but I swung my elbow backwards and connected with what I thought was flesh, except it was colder than I had ever felt before. It let go and I finally grabbed my purse and the gun and swung around with the barrel pointed straight ahead.

The boy's face was cracked. It looked like he was made of ice and when I hit him, it created a single crack down the side of his face. "You aren't very nice," he said. The floor was covered in frost and my elbow was painfully hurting from where I had touched him. "It's so cold. I think someone left the window open, because it's so cold." He stepped forward again and I pointed my gun straight and fired. The sound seemed deafening in the bookstore and a small hole appeared on the boy's head, but no blood. "You better shut the window," he said, "or you'll let the cold in." He smiled at me again and then he fell backwards and shattered into pieces.

The store immediately warmed up and the ice the boy was made of started to melt and become slush and then water. I put my gun back in my purse, locked the store, left the key on the doorstep, and ran.

 - Agnes

A disquiet that follows my soul

Agnes and I have gotten into a sort of routine this past week. In the morning, I buy breakfast burritos for us and we walk Opus on my way to work. She goes off to wherever she goes while I put in my eight hours and when I got off from work, she always seems to meet me on the way home.

We usually talk about the Slender Man, theories about what he is, theories about being a receiver, the weird things I've heard and seen. She rarely gives out information about herself, but I've heard her talk about living in Texas and Utah and Oregon. She never says why she left those places, but I can probably guess.

Today, after work, I told her about the "We are cold" incident and she got real quiet. "I wonder what it means," I said.

Then she said something that made me uneasy. "There are other things than the Slender Man out there."

We walked the rest of the way in silence.


It started raining in the afternoon today and I forgot to bring my umbrella (something which was unusual - I bring my umbrella every day, even when it's bright and sunny). So, on my twenty minute break, I rushed to the local Big Lots to buy a new umbrella.

Big Lots is one of those "we sell everything" stores, where they sell food and toys and furniture for cheap, but it always seems sort of off-putting when you step inside. I went to where they had the umbrellas and luckily there was one left. I grabbed it and went to the checkout line.

As I came to the front of the line, a little girl behind me said, "We are cold." I didn't pay any attention to her until she said it again and then I turned to look at her. She was holding her mother's hand and looking at me and her mother was looking at me, too. "We are cold," her mother said.

"We are cold," the boy behind the checkout counter said. "We are cold," the people in line said in unison. "We are cold," it seemed everyone in the store said.

"This isn't real," I said.

"We are as real as the rain," the little girl said, her mother still clutching her hand. "When the wind bites, do you not feel our teeth? When the thunder claps, can you not hear our scream? We are screaming. We are biting. We are cold."

Everyone's faced blurred for a moment, as if the entire world was a bad photograph, and when they came into focus again, the boy behind the counter said, "That'll be four dollars, fifty cents."

I gave him five dollars and left before he could give me change.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Tuning to Radio KRZY

For some strange reason, all important conversations I have now seem to take place in IHOP.

Case in point: yesterday was cold and wet and rainy. Almost immediately after I stepped outside, my shoes and socks were soaked through. Coming back from work, I decided to take a break from the rain and wander the aisles of the grocery store.

I packet of pasta and a bagful of frozen dinners later, I left. And next to the store's sliding doors was sitting a homeless girl and her dog. She had a very baggy jacket on and a large cap and was holding out a Styrofoam cup. I dropped all my change into it and started to walk away.

"You've got that look, you know," I heard her say behind me. I stopped and turned back. "Like you're trapped. And you are. Trapped." She was rolling one of my quarters through her fingers, as if to see it was real. "You're in one of his stories now."

"What do you mean?"

She smiled up at me. "Let me guess...a blog, right? Probably started by posting some of your crappy poetry. Then you saw something...or someone saw you. Am I right?" I didn't say anything for a few seconds, so she said, "I'm not a hallucination, you know. Not gonna scare you by bleeding from the eyes or shouting cryptic messages. I can tell you stuff, though. Stuff you're gonna want to know."

"Like what?" I asked.

She smiled again. "First, a warm meal somewhere away from all this fuckin' rain."

Thus: IHOP. It was close, it was open, and they didn't mind the girl's dog. "Oh, Opus is allowed anywhere," she said, anticipating my question. "He's been following me around for years. I think he's he's a German shepherd or something. Never good with identifying breed."

"What's your name?"

"Agnes," she said before taking a gulp of coffee. "Agnes Day."

I chuckled a bit. "Why can't meet girls these days with normal names?"

She raised an eyebrow at me. "Words are powerful, names moreso. You think you know his real name?"

"The Slender Man?" I almost whispered it.

"No, the fuckin' Easter bunny. Yes, the Slender Man. That's not his real name, that's just the name we gave him. Still has some power, though, it's been used so often. So you should cut it down, make it weaker. Call him Slendy or Slendra or whatever. Call him something else."

"The Skinny Bastard," I said.

"You've read about the cant," she said. "Good. Secret languages, hidden symbols, these things have power too." As the waitress delivered our food, she continued, "Don't know why exactly. Maybe it's because he can't speak, so doesn't bother trying to decipher shit. Or maybe he can speak and just lets us play these games to amuse himself." She starting digging in to her scrambled eggs.

"You said I was trapped in a story."

"One of his stories, yes," she said. "There are all types. Runners, rebels, radicals. I'm a runner, myself. Starting running three years ago, haven't stopped." She started on the hash browns.

"Which one am I?"

She stopped shoving food into her mouth and looked at me, still chewing thoughtfully. "Been watching you. You don't look people in the face, you look at your feet when you walk. You don't hear people. You try not to notice things." She took another drink of coffee. "You're a receiver."

"I've heard that before," I said. "What does it mean?"

"What am I, the exposition fairy?" She started scraping the food around her plate with her fork, moving it into larger piles. "You're tuned into the same frequency as he is, you see. Don't know why, some people just are."

"I'm...tuned in? I'm seeing the same things he is?"

"No. Not the same things. You'd probably go crazy if you did that." She took off her cap and a shock of black hair fell down to her shoulders. She started scratching her dog's chin and fed him some hash browns. "It's like you see things about him. For him. It's like there's a radio somewhere and it's sending out a message for him, but you're getting it also." She took another sip of coffee. "Met a girl in Texas who was a receiver. She said sometimes it was really bad. Entire days where everybody she met started just screeching at her."

"How did she handle it?"

"She didn't. Took her dad's .45 to the temple one day. Goodbye, cruel world." She gave another piece of hash brown to Opus.

I reached out to pet Opus and said, "I don't want to do that. Can you help me?"

She looked me in the eyes and said, "Long as you keep buying me meals, I'll help."

So I made a new friend. A new homeless friend who is currently sleeping in my bathtub (Opus is sleeping right on top of her, too). For some strange reason, this is actual comforting to me. Even if I'm crazy, at least I'm not alone.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

This Week in Weirdness


To take my mind off of recent events, I decided to go see to the mall. Took the bus there, wandered around Border's for a while (ended up buying Jeff Vandermeer's The City of Saints and Madmen), then went to the theater to see The King's Speech (good movie, especially to someone who used to have a speech impediment as a kid).

In the hallway before I entered the theater that was showing the movie, however, I was stopped my an old couple - they looked to be about in their sixties. "Excuse me," the woman said. "What's that movie about the boxer?"

"Um, The Fighter?"

"Oh yes," she turned back to her husband, "that's what it's called. The Fighter." Then she turned back to me and said, "You can't fight him, dear. Fighting only makes you fall faster. Like , what's the word..."

Her husband chimed in: "Quicksand?"

"No, no, not quicksand, the other word, what's the other word..." While she was busy talking to her husband, I turned around and walked into the theater, where it was dark and comforting.


At work, we have a new phone system in place. Debtors call in and can push a button to speak to various people. Thus means, unfortunately, that I get a lot more calls than I should - people who don't need to talk to me and I can only forward along to the people they do need to talk to.

After almost a full day of this, I'm tired and just want to clock out. But before I could, I get a call at 4:55 and so I picked it up and say "Law office." There's no one on the other end. "Law office," I repeated. "Hello?"

Suddenly, I heard "Law office. Law office. Hello?" My voice was echoing back. I hung up the phone. As I left the room, it started to ring again. I turned off the light and let it ring.


I've been going around the construction on my street. They are tearing up the sidewalks and widening the roads, so I just have to cross the street and walk on the other sidewalk. But this day, they started to tear up the other sidewalk as well.

I was standing on the dirt and gravel of the torn-up sidewalk, next to a sign that stated "Open Trench," waiting for the green walk sign to light up. I heard a voice say "Be careful," so I turned around and there was a construction worker standing next to the sign. "Be careful," he said again and then smiled. His teeth were yellow. "El esta a la espera de la tormenta."

The light turned green and I rushed across the street.


I felt sick, so I stayed home. Slept until noon. Watched television. When I went to pick up my mail, there was a slip of paper sticking out of my mailbox. It was a copy of the Tarot card The Fool. I crumpled it up and threw it away.


On my way home from work, I stopped off at the grocery store to pick up some things. When I checked out, there was an old man in front of me taking his time packing up all his groceries. I couldn't start paying for my stuff because he was standing right in front of the debit card machine. Finally, I said, "Excuse me."

He turned to me and said, "He's waiting for you, in a sense. In another sense, he has already met you, killed you, given you life. He is, has been, will be." Then he turned and shuffled away, holding his groceries with two hands.


My computer screen went wonky for a moment and when it went back to normal, I saw that Notepad had been opened and in it was typed "The Quiet Claims Us All" several times.


I decided to do my laundry on Saturday instead of Sunday. It takes approximately two hours for the entire laundry process to be finished, so I wait at Starbucks reading my book (currently One For the Morning Glory by John Barnes).

Finally, my laundry was ready and I started folding it and putting it into my basket. A woman a few feet away from me is doing the same thing, but then she says, "This is a fucking disgrace. These machines ruined my clothes." I tried to block out her voice and kept folding my clothes. "Hey," she said in my direction. I looked up. "You'll back me up, right? You saw me put my clothes in the machine. They're fucking ruined now."

I just shrugged and said, "My clothes are fine." I don't even attempt to explain to her that I never saw her until right now, that I try not to look at people on the street or in the laundromat, that I try to block out people's voices, try to hear only the silences and empty voids. Not listening is harder than listening is, but it helps with my sanity.

She doesn't take the hint, though, and walked over with some clothes in her hand. "Look at them!" I tried not to look, but even a tiny glance showed that there was nothing wrong with them.

I finished folding my clothes, picked up my basket, and started to walk out. "Sorry," I mumbled.

The woman evidentally wasn't satisfied with such a mumbled apology. "This is a fucking disgrace." She walked back to her pile of clothes and then said, "Next time you see him, tell him it's a fucking disgrace. He can wipe away everything and leave it to the fucking birds." I tried not to listen as I walked away, but I heard her say, "He can wipe it all away."

Sometimes, forgetting is easy.