Hey everyone. It’s me. Henry. Been a while.
I bet you thought I wouldn’t make it, huh? Thought that “killing the Slender Man” meant going out fighting. Thought I was dead.
Well, here’s a little secret.
Have been the whole time.
I guess the Catholics got purgatory right, at least for some people, because I think that’s where I might be. In some personal variation of it, at least. I’ve known for a while now what I was going on, and have been working towards breaking out of it. Towards moving past all the regrets I had in life and moving on. That’s why you couldn’t help me: because it was my own personal fight. The very definition of “something I have to do alone.”
So now that I feel I can actually share what’s going on, let me address a few questions I’m sure you have. First, how am I blogging if I’m dead? If this is all within my mind? And how did I leave comments here and there? That one I can’t exactly explain. I’m not exactly inside time anymore. The best I can figure out, what you seen has been written up by some sort of go-between (“proxy” is a better word but one I can’t use without explanation due to its connotations for you Slender Man people). Someone else recording my story in my words for me. Who that person is, I’m not entirely sure. I don’t think that either you or I can ever know.
Second, what happened to Erin? Where do she fit into this? Well, she’s gone. She and everything else sort of…dissipated when I made my decision. This was never really about her. This was about facing my mistakes. Facing myself. Moving past my regrets. She’s gone because I moved past her. Everything else from my life is gone now that I’ve moved past it.
Even after I reduced my world to what was essentially an infinite, featureless plane, there were still two things I needed to move past.
I sat down, closed my eyes, and waited, knowing he’d show up eventually. There was a flash of light. A sound. An explosion. When I opened my eyes, he was lying on the ground, slight confusion on his face. It was him, all right. Only he would arrive by explosion.
The man I had promised a duel to the death looked up at me. “Alright…where the fuck am I this time and why do people know my name here?”
“I’m…an old friend, I guess you could say. Or maybe an old enemy.”
“You might need to be just a tad bit more specific than that. For the second category, that is. I wasn’t even aware anyone belonged to the first category.” He stood up and looked around. “Though that still leaves the question of where I am unanswered.”
I pulled a greek tragedy mask out and placed it over my face. “Do you remember me now?”
He thought a second before his face lit up. “Heeeey, yeah! You’re the guy who stood me up and got himself killed by zerosage!”
“Jekyll. Or Hyde. Though my real name is Henry.” I decided to take a chance. “I don’t suppose you’d share your real name.”
“Arkady is my real name. The name on my birth certificate belonged to some pretentious loser who no one cares about.” Of course not. I didn’t press my luck further.
“You were wondering where you were?” I asked him. “You’re in…I guess you could call it my afterlife. A form of purgatory. And you’re here because I have a few requests of you.”
“Huh.” He started wandering around, looking at all the surrounding nothingness. “Your afterlife is boring as hell. So what do you want from me?”
“Two things. First, I had some…unfinished business with you when I died. I let you down. And I want to follow through.”
He instantly perked up, sprung forward, and punched me in the face before I could continue.
“Dammit! Just wait! Wait a second! You don’t just jump into the fight like that!” He was Arkady, though. Of course he did. “You’re supposed to ask me what the second thing is first!”
He held his hands up in surrender. “Fiiiiiine, fine. What else do you need me for?”
“I’m sorry, it’s just that the dramatic reveal doesn’t work if you punch me in the face before I get to the second part and…right. Sorry. The second thing. Arkady. I want you…” I paused as dramatically as possible, “…to help me kill the Slender Man.”
A huge grin spread across his face. “I like the sound of that request!”
I figured I had given him enough exposition. We both have a flair for the dramatic, so I figured I’d start the show for him. “Now, we’re obviously both dead, so it’s not like we can actually kill each other. But that only means I won’t hold back when we duel.” I snapped my fingers and my sword appeared in my hand. He, however, decided to remain unarmed.
“Ah, needless dramatics. Good show, mate.”
I grinned beneath my mask, slipping into my Hyde persona. “I find that the dramatic, no matter how needless, tends to make things much more…exciting.”
I lunged. He lunged. And I’m not a fighter, so I don’t know how to even describe our fight, but it was long, and it was fierce. We were both dead, so we took and gave far more punishment than we normally would. I’m pretty sure I would have died at least three more times. But I did manage to stab him a few times and I’m sure that I would have killed him at least once. I don’t know how long we fought. Maybe minutes. Maybe hours. Maybe days. But a victor finally emerged.
I stared up at the sky from my back, ass thoroughly kicked. Arkady sat down beside me. He probably didn’t want to show it, but he was breathing heavily. He looked over and smirked.
“Was that good for you, too?”
I grinned back. “As long as I managed to satisfy you.”
“So now that we’ve gotten that business out of the way, how do you intend to go about killing Ol’ Slendy?”
“Well…with a sword, and possibly with my bare hands. I mean, it wouldn’t normally work, but things are, you know…different here. It’s my afterlife. My dimension. We can’t die, and can probably control how powerful we are and how powerful he is, to an extent. Because he’s, well…you know. Less real here.”
His face fell. “So we wouldn’t exactly be punching out a god, would we?”
I propped myself up. “Well…if you wanted to…you could probably try making him more powerful….”
His face brightened as he stroked his chin. “Hmm…I confess I am intrigued. It may be a poor substitute for managing to kill him as we both were back home, but it is a substitute nonetheless.”
I pushed myself to my feet. “Shall we get ready, then?”
“Let’s. What do we need to do?”
Well, if you have everything you want to use to fight him…wait.” I picked up my sword. He simply stared off into the distance, a look of utter boredom on his face. He followed my sword with his gaze as I pointed. I very faintly heard music in the distance.
He cracked his neck. His music grew louder. Beethoven’s 9th. Ode to Joy. “I’ve been looking forward to this for a long fucking time.”
My “tragedy” mask had broken in the fight with Arkady, but I pulled my “comedy” one out now, placing it over my face. “Well then, my friend, whenever you’re ready…let’s dance!”
The two of us charged the Slender Man, Ode to Joy echoing through the featureless plane. His arms blurred and split as we attacked, smashing us around. I looked over at Arkady, and he was struggling to avoid an assault of his tentacles. His feature, apparently. My Slender Man never had tentacles. It wasn’t right. I wasn’t supposed to face a Slender Man with tentacles. that wasn’t part of my battle. The man blurred some. It was like he was made of smoke and liquid, caught between two forms. He wavered, then split into two. Similar, though slightly different. Arkady leaped at the new one, I faced the old one. It was familiar again. The Slender Man I knew.
I looked into his (lack of a) face. Slashed at his arms as they tore at me. The world faded and shrunk until it felt like the two of us were the only things that existed in any possible universe at any possible time. There was nothing else. I shoved my sword through his chest. Ripped pieces of his suit away. Scratched at his face. And as I fought, he changed again. Grew shorter. More humanly thin and less unhumanly thin. His face grew a mouth. Eyes. A nose. Ears. Hair. It became a reflection of mine.
I screamed. Tore the mask off and shoved it onto his own face, watching as his skin closed around it and absorbed it into himself. Threw him to the ground. Jumped on top of him and began pummeling him with all my might. I ripped pieces off of him, throwing them aside, feeling them vanish into nothingness as I cast them behind me. I just kept ripping and tearing and beating and sobbing until there was nothing left. Until I could face myself. Face my failures. Accept them, and move on.
And now it’s time for me to go. You won’t be hearing from me again. Maybe we’ll meet in another life. Maybe not. Who can really say? Until then, though, good luck. Keep running. Never give up, and even more importantly, never give up on yourself. Don’t let your regrets consume you. Because we fall, yes. Sometimes we fall hard. But we need to find the strength to stand back up. To keep walking, no matter how hard it is to stay on our feet. To not look back. Because if we can’t face our inner demons, we’ll never be able to face our outer ones.
and of course,