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