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.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Pasta Prime

Back from doing my laundry at night. Usually I do it around 11 am, but I figured since I wasn't sleeping anyway and the laundramat is open 24 hours, what the hell.

I've also cleaned out my fridge of leftover pasta. Which brings me to a weird thought:

The evolution of leftover pasta is an interesting one. Pasta is not really a food that becomes leftover well (the best leftover food is pizza, the second best is Chinese food). For one thing, pasta is only really good when it is hot and soft, straight from the pot. Mix in sauce and parmeson and it's a wonderful meal (which I always invariably make too much of, thus leading to leftovers).

Refridgerated pasta is, on the other hand, not quite as good. For one thing, it's cold. Reheating it in the microwave does it some good, but it's not quite the same as it was. For one thing, there's always some pasta that will stay cold, no matter how long you nuke it. For another thing, something happens to some of the pasta in the fridge: it becomes hard. So hard, it'll chip your tooth.

So, perhaps on the first day of pasta leftovers, you eat some it. Then you put it back and the next day, more of it becomes hard. So you leave it in there and forget about it and it no longer becomes leftovers, it becomes That Thing In The Fridge That You Move Aside to Get At The Tortillas. Cold and hard, it has ceased to be pasta. It is, if you'll forgive the pun, antipasta.

Now, suppose you get hungry for pasta again. You don't want leftovers, you want it hot and fresh, so you make a new batch. And, of course, there is more than you can eat, so you put tin foil on that and stick it in the fridge and four weeks later, you have four dishes of cold, hard leftovers. You can't reach the tortillas anymore. Every time you open the fridge, they seem to taunt you.

Finally, I got sick of it and decided tonight was the night to be rid of them. I removed the tin foil from each one and tossed it in the trash. The worse ones were the ones where the pasta had started to turn blue.

So: beware of leftover pasta. Be sure only to make the correct amount of pasta for you or anyone who eats with you. Leftover pasta is not your friend.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Re: Cant

While trying not to sleep, I've been reading The Book of Cant, the book I picked up at the library last week. It's a dictionary for the Thieves' cant, a secret language used by thieves and rogues from way back when.

Reading through it, however, some definitions seem to stick out at me. I found these scattered throughout the book. See if you can pick up a theme:

* Old Mister Gaunt -- see: the Skinny Bastard.
* Branched Men -- those touched by Old Mister Gaunt.
* Hatchet Men -- those who work for Old Mister Gaunt without being touched.
* Dance -- to die. "He danced in the fire started by that Skinny Bastard."
* Blackbook -- a journal, often kept by those who see the Skinny Bastard or run from him.
* Legmen -- those who run from Old Mister Gaunt.
* Nemo -- those crazy enough to fight against Old Mister Gaunt.
* Sleight -- how the Skinny Bastard travels. "He sleighted through the streets, always appearing wherever we looked."
* The Skinny Bastard -- see: Old Mister Gaunt

This book was published some forty years ago. The Thieves' cant is over five hundred years old.

I wish I could say I was surprised.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


I'm so tired, but I can't fall asleep. The lamp beside my bed is on and it's casting shadows across the wall. I want to turn it off and take away the shadows, but I can't. The light has to stay on. I can't go to sleep. If I sleep, I'll dream. I'll dream about yesterday.

Yes, I know: what happened yesterday? I'm trying to write it down, but it's difficult. The words won't form properly. I keep deleting things and retyping them. What should I put in, what should I leave out. What needs to be written, what doesn't.

The first thing that hit me yesterday was the cold. It was freezing. And there was construction on the block where I live, so I had to take a roundabout way to get to work. Those combined made my morning less than ideal, but it was nothing compared to what happened after work.

Have you ever walked ahead of somebody and thought they might be following you? Had that strange "something is watching me" feeling? I had that in spades. There was a man in a hoodie behind me when I was walking home and I stopped at the supermarket just so I knew he wasn't following me. He kept walking while I paced restlessly through the pasta aisle (whenever I'm in a supermarket, I'm always drawn to the pasta - the only thing I know how to cook well). After twenty minutes, I left, content that my paranoia was misplaced.

At my apartment building, the hooded man was sitting on the steps leading up to the front door. His hands were in his pocket and he looked at me as I approached. No need to panic, I thought, he might live here as well. I've never met all my neighbors.

These rationalizations quickly vanished when the man took out a handgun from his pocket. I stopped moving and my stomach flipped. The gun wasn't even pointed at me, it was just pointed downward, as if the man knew even the presence of a gun was enough to make me scared. When he spoke, his words were cracked and gruff. "You know who I am?"

I tried to talk, but it came out as a whisper. "You- you broke into my apartment."

"Yes." The hood kept his face in shadow, but I could make out the gray of a beard. "You know what I'm looking for." It wasn't a question. "Take me to the box." There was no question that I was going to do what he said. No 'Or else' needed. His body language was relaxed. He didn't care if anyone on the street saw his gun. I remember what Special Agent Jane had told me about this man - that he had killed many people.

He stood up and said, "Turn around and start walking." I did as he told me and then felt the gun pushed in my back. "No tricks, no running. Got it? Nod." I nodded.

We walked like that for what seemed like hours, though I knew it was only twemnty minutes. The sky was the color of a bruise as we finally got to the Post Office. It wasn't far from my apartment - part of why I had chosen it. The front door was open, though one side of the Post Office was shut with the metal cage. I walked towards the PO Boxes and felt the hooded man follow. I stopped in front of box 444. The hooded man grunted and said, "That mean something? A code?"

"In Chinese, Japanese, and Korean, the words 'four' and 'death' are pronounced the same." Was I really talking about minutiae like this? "So, four is considered unlucky. Nobody around wanted this PO Box, so the price was less."

"Heh." The hooded man stepped forward, the barrel of the gun poking into my back again. "Perhaps they're right. Open it."

I took out my keys from my pocket, found the right one, and fitted it into the lock. The PO Box opened. Inside was another key, this one on a chain. "It opens the back door. The box is inside, on a shelf, next to some other boxes." We walked outside, me holding onto the key, him with the gun in my back. My mouth decided now was the right time to explain why I had hidden it here. "The Purloined Letter, you see." When he didn't say anything, I kept going. "It's an Edgar Allen Poe story about a stolen letter. The reason nobody had found it was because it was in with a bunch of other letters." We were next to the back door of the Post Office when I heard the click and then the voice.

"Phillip Jeffries." It was the voice of Special Agent Liza Jane. "You are under arrest." The hooded man, who I could now assume was Phillip Jeffries, raised up his gun and pointed it at my temple as he turned around. I saw her and her partner five feet away from us, both of them holding up guns. Her half-smile was gone and he was no longer thrumming. He still had sunglasses on for some reason, though.

"You don't get it," Phillip Jeffries said. "I'm so close. It's in the box, what we need. What we all need."

"Let him go," Jane said. "We'll see what's in the box without hurting anyone."

"Everyone gets hurt," Jeffries said. "It's only a matter of time. He's a receiver, you know. Maybe, maybe I can cause the big guy some pain if I kill him." My mouth was suddenly dry and it felt like my heart was beating a million times a second.

"Don't," she said and suddenly there were words in my mouth and I was speaking and I didn't know why.

"His eyes are closed!" I yelled and Jane and her partner stepped back and I felt Jeffries pull away. "His eyes are closed! And his mouth is open!"

"Stop it," Jeffries said and the hand that held the gun was trembling now. "We're nowhere near any trees. He can't come."

"His eyes are closed!" I shouted. "His mouth is open! And his arms are oustretched!" The world flickered for an instance and suddenly there were trees all around us.

Jeffries pulled back the hammer of the gun and said, "Stop" but I couldn't.

I shouted as loud as I could. "His! Arms! Out! Stretched!" The world flickered again and not only were there trees all around us, but there was an entire forest. I could see it and smell it and if I reached out, I knew I could touch it.

Jeffries was still pointing his gun at me, but then there was a noise and he pointed it somewhere else.

There was a man walking through the forest towards us. He was tall and thin and wore a suit (or an approximation of a suit - the lines seemed off somehow) and his arms hung down past his knees. I didn't even try looking at his face.

Jeffries said "No" once and then pulled the trigger. The Slender Man didn't even flinch. Jeffries fired again and then turned to ran. I watched him, as if hypnotized, as he tried to run, but the Slender Man seemed to walk faster. Jeffries turned to shoot at him again and the Slender Man reached out with his hand and I saw that each finger was long and sharp. Four thin red lines appeared on Jeffries' face. He coughed once and then collapsed, gun still clutched uselessly in his hand.

The Slender Man then turned to look at me and I closed my eyes tightly. When I opened them, I was outside the Post Office. Special Agents Liza Jane and Aladdin Sane were looking at me. Then I realize they were looking behind me and I turned around and saw Jeffries' body.

I threw up.

There were questions, but I told them the truth mostly. I fibbed a bit about what I saw in the woods - they hadn't seen it apparently. They saw Jeffries firing in the air wildly and then get cut and collapse, but no forest. No Slender Man. I didn't tell them.

When they asked why I had shouted those words, I answered them honestly: "I don't know." I didn't know a lot - I didn't know why Jeffries had called me a "receiver" or what was in the box. They also insisted that I give them the box, but when I opened the backdoor of the Post Office, it wasn't there. Perhaps he took it. Maybe I delivered it after all.

They finally let me back into my apartment at about two am. I watched late night TV and infomercials until I fell asleep and dreamed of Jeffries, sprouting thing red lines of blood like flowers, trees sprouting up in city streets, their branches stretching over buildings and cars, and a man walking quickly and quietly with long, thin arms and fingers like knives.

It was the first time I've seen him. I don't think it'll be the last.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


i fear for when i see his face
the box is where no one will find
for me there is no place

i'm mixed up in this race
in the middle of all yet blind
i fear for when i see his face

there is no way to erase
destiny, no way to rewind
for me there is no place

who is in this chase?
the poor players undefined
i fear for when i see his face

am i just another nutcase
in a room, walls with padding lined?
for me there is no place

in the lines that interlace
in the plan that is designed
for me there is no place
i fear for when i see his face