In response to Zero's Call to Arms. Sorry I'm late to the party, Z. In the words of Frank Miller, pull on your tights and give him hell. I hope my contribution helps. ~A
Beneath the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year
One wonders if Robert Frost wrote those lines in reference to the Winter Solstice.
The air is cold. The snow crunches beneath her feet. It is dark, so dark that not even the beam of her flashlight seems to cut through the darkness.
He is here. She can tell.
He has haunted her dreams her entire life, watching her, even during the day. So many others have been haunted by this shadow, she knows. So many have come close to insanity when facing this monster.
So many have fallen.
She doesn't know how long she's been walking. Her toes are cold, her fingers are cold, her lips and nose are cold. She trembles all over, but still she walks on.
Finally, she stops. It is a small clearing, but good enough for her purposes. She stands there, feeling the cold seep into her clothing. "I know you're there," she says. "You can come out."
It takes a second, but, with a soft whisper, he appears, stepping out of the shadows and into the flashlight beam. Tall, slim, with no face and wide eyes.
The Slender Man.
"Hello," she says calmly.
The Slender Man stares back, but does not reply. Already she feels the fear begin to seep into her skin, the insanity whispering into his ears. Her hands tremble, but she fights against the fear. "You know what tonight is," she tells him. "Everyone is going to fight you."
It is only then that he makes a sound, almost a low chuckle. The sound reverberates through her bones, making her cringe, almost driving her away. But she holds her ground. "I don't think you're going to win," she says, despite the fear that lodges itself into her throat. "And do you know why?"
The Slender Man does not respond.
"It's because I'm not afraid of you."
Slender Man is very very amused by this. He laughs again, that awful laugh. She fights the urge to flee. "I know what you are," she says. "We created you. You're a monster. We take off your face, take away your name, give you powers we can't counter. You're the end result of our childhood nightmares." She tilts her head to the side, feeling a slight surge of courage. "But you know what? I'm not a child anymore. I don't have to be afraid of you."
Slender Man's not buying it. She can tell. He glares, his back beginning to come alive with waving, creeping tentacles. Let me show you how afraid you really are, he seems to say. Let me show you that you still fear me.
She knows that she should be terrified, that she should be turning and running right now.
But...for reasons she will never understand...she doesn't.
Instead, she pulls out her hunting knife and screams: "I AM NOT AFRAID OF YOU!"
Slender Man lunges.
In a split second, two things happen.
One: tentacles wrap around a slim neck, fingernails claw at a human face and sink into her stomach.
Two: the knife buries itself up to the hilt in suit fabric and flesh, coming inches away from passing straight through his body.
For a second, the forest is still, silent, save for the strangled sound of the girl's strangled gasps.
It is only when he looks down and sees the black substance coating her hand that he realizes it.
He is hurt.
The Slender Man releases her neck. Pulls away. If he had eyes, they would be wide from shock. As it is, he is staggering back, seeming not so much in pain, but in shock.
Someone has managed to hurt him.
The girl falls back, gasping for air, already feeling the bruises form on her neck. Blood drips from her face, staining the snow. Head wounds bleed a lot, she knows, and he got her good. The pain is enough to make her feel light-headed, and she knows that the blood loss will follow. "B-bastard," she stammers. She sees the wound, grins. "I told y-you. I-I'm not afraid of you. And n-neither are t-the rest of us."
The Slender Man looks down at the wound, then back up at her. Sinks to his knees. Despite a total lack of facial features, the girl thinks she sees something there.
She feels the blood oozing from her wounds. Already the cold is making her feel light-headed. And dang, she didn't know his nails were so long. She staggers back towards the trees. "Y-you slime," she says. "Y-you slime."
She has to retreat. She'll die if she stays.
But still she stays, leaning up against a tree, glaring at him. He stares back, his blank facing seeming even more blank.
"You..." The girl feels the blood drip from her body. "You go to hell."
And then she is gone, staggering into the woods.
The girl is found the next day, half-dead and missing a lot of blood. The last thing she says before sinking into unconsciousness? "Free."
And the Slender Man?
He knelt there into the morning, watching his wound drip with black blood, slowly healing until there was nothing but a tear in his suit.
And he knew, that even if the Runners did not defeat him tonight, they had struck a fatal blow.
The Slender Man had been hurt. And he would never feel invulnerable again.