Warren was always a strange boy. There was something about him, something you couldn’t quite put your finger on, and that nobody would ever be rude enough to bring up to his parents. But his parents noticed it too. Even from his earliest days they’d never been quite at ease around the boy. They’d always felt the strangest sensation of discomfort, as if while they were leaning over little Warren’s crib, something was leaning over them. But they put it out of their minds. Warren was their only son, and they thought it was one of the innumerable trials of parenting. They were sure their unease would be short lived.
But of course, it wasn’t. And as Warren aged he started to realize the effect he had on the people around him. At first he thought he was just unpopular. But even among the outcasts and the bullied he was an anomaly. Even among them, he was unwelcome, and unlike them he was never made fun of or assaulted. He was avoided, constantly, by everyone. And soon he realized that his classmates did not hate him or think him a freak. They feared him. Within a year of this discovery, Warren was a master manipulator. No one, not his parents, not his peers, not his teachers, were immune to the creeping terror that he inspired. They did everything they could to stay in his good graces, and that made it very easy for him to get what he wanted.
But despite this, Warren lived a lonely life. He was ill understood, friendless, and sad. He could intimidate and wheedle his way into any material wealth he desired, but try as he might he could not mold fear into friendship. But when he was fifteen years old, he made a discovery that would change his life forever. Little Warren found God. It was an accident, really. School assignments were among the many things that Warren found he could scare his way out of. But for lack of anything better to do, he consented to read a few Bible verses for English. By the end of the night he had read half the book. Warren’s parents were not religious, and he had never understood the concept of God. But now it seemed so clear. God was a friend, someone that loved him unconditionally, but more importantly, that would never be afraid of him. Not even Warren could intimidate the divine. And that meant that God would never shy away from his love, as everyone else did, would not flee from his friendship or shun his company. In God, Warren found his first and best friend, and newly devoted, he was the happiest he had ever been in his life.
But his happiness did not last long. For the more he poured himself into his faith the more he noticed the impiety of the people around him. But it was not just their lack of faith that bothered him. No, far more so it was their lack of fear. These blasphemous, self-absorbed people, they could not see beyond themselves. They did not understand, indeed, could not fathom the notion of a higher power. Their fears were trivial, spiders and heights, tight spaces and darkness. These were fears of the flesh, transient and petty. They did not fear for their souls, for their very celestial essence, and it frustrated Warren to the point of madness. But what could he do? He was fearsome, certainly, but he could not inspire the fear of God.
He could bully them, of course, but that would not make them truly repentant. No, for the first time in his life, the boy’s strange power was useless to him. Warren was accustomed to getting what he wanted, and this failure ignited a flame of resentment and bitterness in his heart. He prayed for an answer, but found none. And as his anger at the heretical souls around him burned hotter and hotter, his effect on them grew. He noticed, through a haze of indignation, the raw fear in their eyes when he looked at them, and way they glanced over their shoulders nervously when he was nearby. But it didn’t matter how much they feared him. It wasn’t he that was important. And then, on an innocuous Sunday afternoon, in Warren’s 20th year of life, something very interesting happened.
Warren’s time in college was not unlike his time in high school. He kept to himself, had almost no friends, and silently raged against the nonbelievers around him. It was different in only one respect. Warren had finally found a human being that could stand up to him in the form of his roommate, Chris. Chris was a brave young man, an athlete and, infuriatingly, an atheist. And for some reason, Warren’s power simply never seemed to affect his roommate like it did everyone else. As a result, the two fought often. Having little knowledge of social cues and little experience in not getting what he wanted, Warren tended to be rude, impatient, and demanding. And while the two shared the closest thing Warren had ever experienced to friendship, their clashes were constant and brutal. It was in the midst of just such an argument, a religious debate, that something in Warren gave way. As Chris’s blasphemous arguments washed over him, an unspeakable rage bubbled to the top of his mind.
He wanted to win, to dominate. He wanted, more than anything, for Chris to cower before him. And as Warren’s anger boiled to its breaking point, a picture took form in the young man’s mind. A monster, a raging beast of hell, shouting a thousand times louder than Chris ever could, its body and its words formed of Warren’s longing and fury. Warren felt something deep within him shift. And as it did, Chris shrieked, recoiling. He stumbled backward and fell, writhing, desperately trying to distance himself from his roommate. Warren stared at him, perplexed. Chris was backed into a corner now, breathing hard. “What… the… hell… was… that?” he breathed. “What was what?” “Are you kidding me? That… that… demon-thing.” As Warren looked down at his cowering, defeated roommate, things began to come together. The more Chris spouted details of his vision, the more it sounded like the roaring beast that Warren had pictured. And the clearer this became, the wider Warren’s smile grew.
Warren had made the discovery of a lifetime. His powers were more profound than he had ever imagined. The fear that had kept him lonely and sad all his life was only the most basic, passive version of his gift. He could do more, he realized, and, perhaps, much more. Over the next few months, Warren practiced, ceasing only to eat and pray. His reward was a treasure trove of untapped power.
Warren soon discovered that he could cast illusions, and not just the raging demon from before, but anything he could dream of. He could force people into unconsciousness or steal bits of their memories. He could influence them without words, bending them to his will. He could mark pictures and video, so that anyone who laid eyes upon it would see only what he desired them to. And as Warren trained his abilities on the homeless or the unfortunate students out for late-night walks, as his power grew and the terror in the faces of his victims deepened, his purpose became clear. For his curse was not a curse at all. It was a blessing, a gift from the Lord himself. Humanity would never begin to fear God on their own; they were far too consumed by their sins. Someone needed to wake them, to rouse them from their wicked and self-serving slumber, and Warren would be that man.
He would use his powers to awaken his wayward race. He would reintroduce humanity to its oldest and most powerful emotion. But for this task, the illusory giant insects, generic demons, and disfigured monsters he had been casting in his practice would not be enough. No, what Warren needed was an avatar, a single, consistent entity that could terrify anyone, anywhere, a symbol for the fear of God. He needed an avenging angel. Warren combed the scriptures for descriptions of the Lord’s servants, editing and reshaping his creation. He molded it in the shape of a man, but made it tower far over any other. Despite its height, he made it slight and slim, for it would not bring fear through physical strength, but through the shear power of the Lord. To that end, he garbed it not in the armor of a warrior, but in the robes of an ambassador. Like the Biblical angels, he gave it wings, great, dark, sinewy wings that seemed to reach out and seize those that beheld them. At last, he bestowed it a shining face, like the one that God had granted Moses, so that sinners would be blinded and humbled at the sight of his angel. Looking over the sketches of his angel, Warren could not help but smile. With his power behind it, there was no man that it could not terrify. His creation was complete. He was prepared. One night, Warren left, vanishing without a trace. His mission had begun.
Several years have passed since Warren first released his avenging angel upon the world. Chances are, you have seen it, though likely not in person. A thousand artists have sketched it. It has been written about. It has been photographed and filmed, even parodied by some. And though Warren continues to carry out his task personally, he hardly needs to, for his creature has seeped into popular culture. It has become a symbol of terror, of paranoia, a universal manifestation of the boogeyman hiding under your bed, the cold breeze on the back of your neck when you aren’t quite sure you’re alone, the eyes that watch you from the darkness. Untold myths have been told of it. Myths that guess at its origin or its purpose or its powers. Myths that claim it has servants of its own, skinless dogs and mindless madmen that do its bidding. For Warren created the avatar of fear, and humanity ran to its altar like a lost traveler to an oasis in the desert. Warren lit the match, and we doused it with oil.
But above all, the greatest contribution that humanity has made to Warren’s creation is to bestow it a name. A name both general and specific, that calls to mind the predator and the stalker, the strange and the eerily familiar. A name that has become synonymous with the creeping paranoia of being watched, with the deathly chill that comes when you stare into the dark and something stares back. A name that is inexorably tied to the fear of the mighty and alien unknown. They called it:
The Slender Man
Credited to BucktheWonderSlave