Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The World of Slender Man

I wish I could blame my failure to post anything on Blogger being buggy lately (which, to be honest, has been a real problem for me), but Minecraft also deserves a large part of the blame. Okay, most of the blame. Building an underwater fortress made of Obsidian takes time, you know.


What I want to do today is essentially an overview of the setting which the Mythos takes place in. While once we used to be able to claim that it was the real world, with all the horrible implications that implied, it’s become more difficult to do that (at least, if you try to accept every story out there as canon). The Mythos has grown too large; in the past, it was just a few stories, and we can accept a scattered few mysterious disappearances. But now the Mythos has over 200 stories, each discussing several disappearances, deaths, proxies, huge events, all occurring across the globe. The scale has expanded just a wee bit beyond our regular everyday world. Taking it all as real is especially hard for me, as accepting the Mythos would mean I’d have to believe that a forest less than half a mile from where I’m living was burned down. Last I checked, it was still standing. When that place goes up in flames is when I’ll start to worry.

But claiming it isn’t real with a snide tone while snobbily sticking your nose into the air isn’t fun, so we’ll forget that, and throw ourselves right into the Mythos. It isn’t going to be a safe trip there, and we can only hope that the hole which I’m blowing in the Fourth Wall stays open long enough for us to make it back to the real world. If any of you don’t make it out alive, do not worry. We shall forever remember you as heroes who sacrificed yourselves for the glory of Meta.

Now that we’ve landed in the Mythos, let’s take a look around. At first glance, it’s not that different from out world. We’re likely in an American suburban neighborhood. The East Coast is a popular location, although more western settings are becoming common (sadly, for most bloggers, Texas remains a pit stop, instead of a permanent headquarters). The essential point is that, on the surface, it looks just like a regular town.

Once we start investigating, that’s when things begin to look suspicious. A child has gone missing, vanishing from the park in the middle of the day. The police have been unable to make any headway on the case, their only witnesses being young children who talk about a “Tall Man”.

For the family of the missing on, times have been hard. Just a month after the abduction, their only other child killed herself. In the weeks before her death, she had been obsessing over her little brother’s disappearance, and her parents wonder if this may have led to her suicide. It takes a great deal of convincing, but eventually we talk them into letting us see their daughter’s notes on the abduction.

Through studying her notes, as well as several cross references, it becomes clear that this was not an isolated case. Mysterious disappearances have been occurring in this town for decades. But these are not unique to the town; we find evidence of similar disappearances in surrounding towns and cities. When we look into them, it only leads us to more, spreading further abroad.

Soon we’re traveling across the country to investigate the growing number of cases. As we cover more ground, the number of vanished increases; first into the hundreds, and then maybe even as high as the thousands. We find entire towns left empty, their whole population having vanished in a moment. It becomes clear that there are very few places to have been left untouched, even overseas.

After further traveling and research, one begins to wonder if those who disappear are the lucky ones. Stories arise of people found horribly mutilated, organs torn out and bodies impaled on the limbs of trees. Like the disappearances, these slayings are not focused in a single area, but spread across the world.

Though perhaps most horrible of all are those we do not just vanish, but are erased from existence. We interview a man who claims that one day his girlfriend vanished, but no one except he could even remember her. She is not only gone; she never even existed to begin with.

Looking through all the information we’ve been able to gather, the casualties are surprisingly high. It’s likely that the real number is even larger, due to deaths being misattributed to suicide or homicide. Surrounding many of these incidents are other unexplained phenomena: fires without any visible origin, or mutilated animal carcasses.

As we dig further, patterns begin to emerge. A figure, or silhouette, seen in the background of photos. A stalker alluded to time and time again. And a name which has appeared all too often: the Slender Man. There are variations of the name; The Gentleman, Tall Pale and Faceless, The Slender One, The Operator, or even the almost endearing “Slendy”, but all refer to the same creature. None can agree on just what the Slender Man is; even its reported abilities are inconsistent, ranging from simply a powerful monster to a nigh omnipotent god which toys with space and time. Its motives are an even greater mystery. No one can explain why it does the things it does, or how it chooses its victims. But at any moment, it may choose to stalk, abduct, or kill any human, of any age or background, in the world. Occasionally commonalities emerge between victims, but in the end, anyone is a potential target.

Records become even more inconsistent when discussing encounters with Slender Man. Some treat it almost like a human, and even claim to have communicated with it. More consider it to be something totally incomprehensible to the human mind, and that all attempts to humanize it are wishful thoughts. Its origins are even harder to identify. Our studies appear to be leading towards the hypothesis that the Slender Man is a new creature, only for additional evidence found in a dusty library to claim that the creature is at least as old as Ancient Egypt, if not older. In the end, about the only things which can be confirmed for certain through studying witness testimonies is that the Slender Man is a creature alien to what we believe reality to be, which appears as a tall faceless man in a suit, and which is, for some unknowable reason, hunting humans.

But if this creature has killed so many, surely it must have been noticed? For this answer, we cannot rely on old journals and newspaper clippings. After a series of Ocean’s 11 style escapades, we succeed in securing several secret documents from Washington D.C. From reading them, we learn that the American government is very much aware of the Slender Man. But in true bureaucratic fashion, their response is divided and ineffectual. Agent Fisk and his branch of the FBI seek to cover up information pertaining to the Slender Man’s actions, ensuring that it never receives mainstream attention. As their goal is suppression of information instead of fighting back, they often end up hindering the victims of the Slender Man, instead of helping them. On the opposite end is the SMSC, another FBI branch which is more proactive in engaging supernatural threats. Though while they may actually be trying to help, they can do little to stop the monster.

It seems that the most effective organization in combating the Slender Man is not a government group, but an international paramilitary organization, the PTC. They are a surprisingly large group, with technology far beyond any nation, devoted to the capture, study, and destruction of supernatural entities. The PTC is an aggressive organization, having attempted multiple direct confrontations with the Slender Man. But while they may be currently working for the benefit of Slender Man’s victims, this was not always the case, and it cannot be said for certain that they will continue their benevolent actions in the future. There is little to no information about why the PTC is interested in the supernatural, how it gets the funding needed to run such a large organization, or even who its leaders are.

Of course, these large organizations aren’t the only ones seeking to combat the Slender Man. Throughout our travels, we have encountered many people who refused to give into despair, and have taken up resisting Slender Man. They’re a varied group, and trying to describe them all would take far too much time. Some group together for the safety of numbers, while others act independently. There are saints who give everything to protect others, and monsters who will use any means necessary for their own preservation. Some are nomadic, some stationary; some aggressively attack the Slender Man, others focus on survival. The only common ground between them is that all are being stalked by Slender Man.

Through the power of the Internet, these Runners and Fighters have found a perfect way to communicate with one another. Miniature dramas are played out in the growing network, as stories and advice is swapped, inspiring leaders emerge, relationships form, and common purpose is found. But the attitude which fills these blogs and discussions is usually far from confident: an air of fatalism pervades this community. Survival is not likely for anyone, and they are aware of the fact; all the time, accounts are suddenly going inactive. Sometimes, the others are fortunate to be given some kind of closure, either through a hurried last message from the user before their end, or a witness providing testimony of the person’s death. More often than not, there is no explanation, and their internet presence simply vanishes. Survival in this community is measured in months; those few who survive for years are often held in extremely high regard.

But there is a darker side to humans being aware of Slender Man. We soon realize that we are being followed; not by the Slender Man, but by humans. These are proxies, the humans who have, for various reasons, chosen to serve Slender Man. They are as heterogeneous a crowd as the humans opposed to Slender Man. Many are mindless drones, their sanity crushed by the horror of the Slender Man, who live out sad and short existences. Many others have chosen to side with the Slender Man on their own free will, though the reasons for doing so are as many as they are. Then there are the cults, whose members may not even have seen Slender Man, but who consider it to be some kind of god to worship.

More frightening than individual proxies is the amount of influence they control. People who believe themselves to be followers of Slender Man existing within government bodies is not unheard of. And in certain parts of the world, these people have taken control of patches of land; during out travels, we (very quickly) pass through a city in Indiana completely under the control of a Slender Man cult. Of course the government is aware of the existence of these towns and cities wrested from their control, but remain unable to do anything about them beyond hiding their existence.

After an epic battle against a group of proxies, we are forced to seek refuge in the town of Lusk, Wyoming. It is there we learn a terrible secret: there is something which sleeps in the town, something that even the PTC fears. For Slender Man is not alone in this world. While he may be the most active creature prowling through the shadows, there are others, each of which presents its own danger to humanity. Many of you are already familiar with the Rake, a humanoid monster with long sharp claws. Less known are Archangel, the Cold Boy, and a host of many other monstrous creatures.

Monsters aren’t the only supernatural forces in this world. Claims of supernatural and occult rites and powers are common. People with some magickal abilities (the extra k at the end is important, apparently), or knowledge of the Astral dimensions have been growing more common. We even meet a talking dog (Trust me, the blog featuring Tommy the Talking Dog is actually better than it sounds). Countering these claims of supernatural abilities are those who bring evidence that these claims are hallucinations, caused by Slender Man related madness. It has become nearly impossible to discern which are cases of genuine occult abilities, which are hallucinations, and which are simply hoaxes.

But now it would seem that we’ve outstaying our welcome, and a certain tall gentleman has taken an interest in us. Oh, good heavens, it just impaled Fred with one of its tentacles. Poor Fred. He was a good man. Quickly, everyone back into the TARDIS hole in the 4th wall. Time to go back to the real world, where things are much safer.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Lost Colony

I apologize for my recent lack of posting; the scapegoat which I will be using to excuse myself this time is homework. Three research papers and a full length play=Not much free time. But that’s finally all done with, and now that I’m almost done with moving, I actually have time to write.
However, countering said time to write is a newfound addiction to Minecraft. So you’ll need to excuse the shortness of this post, as I need to quickly get back to trying to add a gigantic lava moat to the medieval palace I built.

The Lost Colony

Those amongst my readers who have studied American history have likely heard the name “Roanoke”, at least in passing. For those unfamiliar with it Roanoke was an English colony founded in North Carolina established in 1585. The colony did not have the easiest time being established, having to deal with hostile native tribes and supply shortages, although relative to many other colonies during the period, it was nothing too out of the ordinary.

What makes the colony famous has nothing to do with what they did, but how it ended. In 1590, a privateering expedition landed at Roanoke, to find the colony completely deserted. The only thing found which may have been a clue to the fate of the colonists was the word “Croatoan” carved into a post.

Since then, there have been many hypotheses regarding the fate of the colonists. The most well researched is the idea that the colonists assimilated with the native tribes, and there is currently a DNA study being performed to test the viability of the claim. Other hypotheses are claims that the colonists starved due to lack of supplies, or were killed (either by native tribes or Spanish raiders).

Within the Mythos

As such a mysterious site, it was only a matter of time before people started drawing it into the Mythos. Peering in From the Outside was the first blog to fully implicate the Lost Colony into the Mythos. The claim there was that good ol’ Slendy was the reason for the colonies disappearance, wiping out all 100+ people living in it. Vivere disce later expanded on this, when Jean discussed a journal from one of Roanoke’s colonist. It’s the same story as from PIFTO about Slendy taking away the colonists, but on a personal level.

In some stories, such actions by Slender Man may seem uncharacteristic (wiping out an entire colony instead of focusing only on a victim or two at a time), but for Vivere disce, Slendy wiping out a village on a whim isn’t totally unheard of. The implication of Slender Man in the Roanoke disappearance, as well as the idea that he can and has killed large numbers of people over a relatively short time, does open the possibility of including him in more historical events. There are dozens of mysterious disappearances over the course of human history; pick and choose one you like, and put the blame on Slendy. This does run the risk of overuse: if we reach the point where every single unexplained large scale disappearance in history is blamed on Slender Man, then things have gotten slightly ridiculous (to the point where the only possible explanation left would be to claim that Slender Man is almost completely omnipotent).

Beyond the original Roanoke colony, the name has popped up occasionally in the Mythos, usually concerning the modern city of Roanoke, Virginia. It was the sight of zerosage’s and Robert Sagel’s climactic confrontation, and the occasional runner group has passed through (such as Father of Light). However, beyond the name, the modern Roanoke has no connection to the Lost Colony. The name brings up the connotations associated with the mystery, but historically, Roanoke, Virginia has nothing to do with the old colony. There are several other Roanokes in the rest of the United States. I could hop into my car right now, and after only three houhttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifrs drive northwards, I’d be in Roanokehttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif, Texas. A place which, I am sad to say, likely was not the location of any large scale Slender Man attahttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifcks. For now, at least.

Useful Links
Peering In From the Outside - //Vanished-Colonists: http://outsidepeeringin.blogspot.com/2011/02/vanished-colonists.html
Vivere disce - Flow My Tears, the Spider Said. (Tome 3): http://viveredisce-cogitamori.blogspot.com/2011/04/flow-my-tears-spider-said-tome-3.html
Roanoke Colony Wikipedia Page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roanoke_Colony