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The Slenderman Cometh

Can a fictional boogeyman be brought into being?

Although he seems to have put on a little weight in this photo, the fictional "Creepypasta" character called "Slenderman" will be conjuring dreams and nightmares for bored Millenials for many dark, distressing years to come. 

Whoever—whatever—Slenderman is, whether he is a demon from hell, a mass delusion, or something summoned up from the collective ID, given a real startling life by young people sitting at their keyboards—I have seen him before. In dreams. I KNOW.

They say he began as a photoshopped picture, sent out as "Creepypasta" over internet message forums devoted to such urban legends and weird vignettes and pics. I don't know. He has a little of the "Blair Witch" quality, something played as popular entertainment, but which blurs the line, at times, between fantasy and reality.

I first dreamt of him as a child. I was standing in my grandparent's kitchen, and the place was deserted, run-down, but pervaded by the color green. Suddenly, I saw a long, lean back, seemingly that of a man rail-thin and immensely tall. Maybe I was staring ta the back of old Abe Lincoln? This figure was dressed in Victorian tails, heavy threads.

He was also a living skeleton—really, when I say rail-thin, I can't quite convey the impression correctly I fear.

But he did not seem frail, it is important to remember. Matter of fact, he seemed as solid and hard as a skeleton of adamantine steel. His hands were gloved.

He walked away from me, disappearing into the living room and out the front door. It was as if I was the eye of some cinematic camera, and was photographing his back dead-on. His head disappeared into the ceiling, or else, I never thought to look up. I followed to the front door. Outside, in an ancient, battered car--could have been a hearse, I suppose--two identical "men", each bearing slicked-back hair and curling, waxed moustaches, were sitting in the front seat. One seemed as if he were in a sleep-like, even death-like repose. The other turned and looked at me with eyes of blazing, demonic hatred.

"Revenuers," it said. But, in my mind, it is spelled, "Revenoors."

My long lost friend John, with whom I wrote a book about ghosts, long ago, mentioned a comic book called The Invisibles by Grant Morrison, and characters called "The Infernal Tax Collectors." In other words: Revenuers. And of course, they looked in the comic exactly as I have described them.

When I dream about them, or Him, every few years, they are wont, at times, to wear a stove-pipe hat such as Lincoln wore. And, of course, the arms are unnaturally long, stretching, comic-grotesquely, past the waist.

Like the arms of Freddy Krueger in one of the opening scenes from the original Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), a scene where Freddy (Robert Englund) torments a young girl before ripping her to pieces while invisibly trailing her across a bedroom ceiling.

Freddy, of course, was a "dream demon," conjured up from the collective unconscious of a group of horror movie teens. Slenderman has jumped, like a time traveler, into the current world of social networking, gaining a real, deadly life in the twisted imaginations of emotionally crippled Millennial youth. And given a real, true life, in their nightmares and daydreams.

Two teens were charged, not many years ago, with luring a young classmate into the woods. They attacked her, stabbing; thankfully, NOT killing.

They blamed the attempted homicide on the influence brought to them by "Slenderman."

Can a "dream demon," a fictional character, be brought to life, if enough people truly, sincerely believe in him/her/it? Is it possible to create a being from your subconscious, and then, as if by magic, bring that being into reality, via the vast, interconnected "World Wide Internet" of the Collective Unconscious?

Many people believe H.P. Lovecraft's fictional Necronomicon was a real book. And so, we have paperbacks of the Necronomicon, claimed to be pregnant with actual occult purpose. Life imitates art. (Furthermore, in Satanist Anton LaVey's book The Satanic Rituals, there is a literal "Call to Cthulu." LaVey believed that magic was mostly emotional and "mental decompression." In other words, the mind predominated, and could conjure ANY reality. Thoughts are things.)

Writer Alan Moore once claimed that his fictional character, Ozymandias, from his graphic novel The Watchmen, once walked into a bar as he sat there. Life imitates art.

Famed gothic writer, Edgar Allen Poe wrote, in his Narrative of A. Gordon Pym, of shipwrecked sailors devouring a cabin boy named Richard Parker. forty-six years later, a group of similarly shipwrecked sailors went on trial for cannibalizing the cabin boy whose name was...Richard Parker. Life imitates art.

The novel Futility, which had as its plot the shipwreck of a sailing vessel thought to be "unsinkable," was so close to the ship Titanic (the fictional ship had the same tonnage, nearly the same number of passengers, and also the same number of casualties as the real ship. And, of course, was similarly named.) that, upon reading the descriptions of both ships, people are astounded to realize that Morgan Robertson's novel was published FOURTEEN YEARS before the actual Titanic went on her fatal, maiden voyage. As Jack Palance might have said on a TV show I use to watch in terror as a toddler, "Believe it, or not!"

Life imitates...you get the idea.

But, returning to Slenderman.

When I walk around the public library museum, through the glassed-in Victorian living room display, I see rail-thin mannequins dressed in 1893 clothing. No faces. No faces at all.

Dressmaker dummies.

Going past the old leather doors with the circular windows panes in each side—placed there when the original library was built, a century ago—you walk past a glassed-in Victorian boudoir. A tall, top hat is on the bed, a pair of gloves. One could easily see a silent film villain accosting some poor, Perilous Pauline here; him wearing a short cape, tails, a top hat, waxed moustache, white, Jack the Ripper gloves and slicked-back hair. Mary Jane Kelley in a more elegant boudoir. And then the blood might fly, and then the screaming would start.

Alexandra David-Neal, the famed mystic, when she was traveling in Tibet in the early years of the last century, claimed to have seen Tibetan monks or mystics create a psychic being, a Tulpa, from the mind. Apparently, the thing could eat, sing, and behave like an average, normal human being. But, it was not so.

Slenderman lives, we must postulate, in some nebulous place, "just beyond the veil." Perhaps some other dimension where, Pied Piper-like, he lures unary children to his crumbling, abandoned house in the woods. There, to make dark disciples of them...or a never-ending supply of little gingerbread boys and girls OUT of them.

An ogre from a fairy tale.

I've seen HIM. In DREAMS.

I KNOW.

'Scary Urban Legends' by Tom Baker. Illustrated by John C. Eng

Read next: Dragon Ring
Tom Baker
Tom Baker

Author of Haunted Indianapolis , Indiana Ghost Folklore, Scary Urban Legends, Midwest Maniacs, Midwest UFOs and Beyond, Scary Urban Legends, 50 Famous Fables and Folk Tales Notorious Crimes of the Upper Midwest : tombakerbooks.weebly.com. 

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The Slenderman Cometh
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