FICTION / Horror
FICTION / Thrillers / Supernatural
FICTION / Thrillers / Suspense
FICTION / Thrillers / Crime
“Now what?” Irma said as they walked back to the SUV.
“Let’s go back to your place and go through what we have so far. Especially that weird website.”
The fog still hung in the air when they arrived at Irma’s.
The minute they walked into Irma’s apartment, the Staffie was prancing about, making it known that he needed to go outside.
“I need to take Mr. Dibble for a walk. I’ll be right back,” Irma said, placing her backpack on the dining table.
“I’ll get a pot of coffee started,” Pacie said, walking into the kitchen.
“I don’t know if I need caffeine,” Irma said with the leash in hand. “My adrenaline is still pumping from that . . . murder.”
“Mine, too. Just a habit, I guess,” Pacie said, taking the coffee from the cupboard.
While the coffee brewed, Pacie walked to the front window and raised the blinds. She looked out on downtown Black Water. Through the thinning fog, she watched the traffic light change from red to green. One lone car drove slowly down the street.
She turned and looked at the apartment. Dirty dishes were not only scattered on the kitchen counters, but also on the coffee table and desk. A rumpled blanket lay on the couch and the kitchen trash can was overflowing. Something must be wrong because Irma rarely kept her home this messy.
The coffee pot clicked. Pacie took the last clean mug from the cupboard, poured herself half a cup, and sat at the computer.
Pacie typed in the PIN to move past the screensaver and unlock the laptop. She looked at her phone and pulled up the picture of the computer screen at the murder house and was about to type in the URL when Irma opened the apartment door.
“That was fast,” Pacie said, looking back at Irma and Mr. Dibble.
“All we did was take care of business.”
Mr. Dibble ran to Pacie. She leaned over and petted the pooch on the head. “How are you today, Mr. Dibble?”
The Staffie danced a moment, before racing to his food dish where Irma was filling with dry kibble.
“You have such a cheerful dog,” Pacie said.
“I wish I was as happy as him,” Irma said, walking over to Pacie. “Have you looked anything up?”
Pacie turned back to the computer. “I was getting ready to put in the address of the web page we saw on that house’s computer.”
Irma’s body tensed.
“Are you all right?”
Irma held onto the edge of the desk. “I don’t know.”
Pacie stood up. “Sit down. I’ll get another chair.”
Irma sat at the computer while Pacie placed a dining chair next to Irma.
“Have you been sleeping?”
“No, not really.”
“What time do you want me to pick you up tomorrow for your sleep study?”
Irma thought a moment. “Doctor Benson said to be there around nine, so I guess get here around eight-thirty.”
“Do you want to spend the night at my house tonight?”
Irma thought about it for a moment. “I’ll be fine here, it’s just one more night.”
“Well, think about it.”
“If something’s going to happen, it will happen there just as well as it can here.”
“You’re right, but at least I’ll be around,” Pacie said. “And I’m a light sleeper. If you happen to sleepwalk, I’ll probably hear you.”
Pacie held up her phone so that Irma could see the web address. “Type this in.”
Irma began typing in the URL but stopped.
Irma took her hands off the keyboard. “I don’t know if it’s a good idea. There might be a subliminal message that could come through.”
“I suppose. But I don’t think subliminal messages work all that well.”
“I remember reading that back in the late nineteen-fifties, movie theaters wanted to make more money so they would flash split-second messages like drink Coca Cola or eat popcorn. Only the subconscious mind could see them,” Irma said. “And it worked.”
“On a single frame?”
“It would have to be.”
“Would you be able to find subliminal messages on the website?”
“Only if I could download the video and play it in my software.”
“We should at least check it out because it was on that computer where the girl killed her mom, or at least I suppose it was a mother and daughter. If she had the website address, her friends probably have it too. I don’t want other kids being affected by it and another person being murdered.”
“Okay, let’s do it.” Irma finished typing in the web address and pressed enter. The screen went black.
“What happened? Did your computer just die?”
Irma moved the mouse around and fiddled with the power cable. She was about to restart the laptop when the screen flashed on with a momentary blast of bright white light, then a disturbing slideshow began playing. Not images of cuddly kittens or cute little puppies, but instead images of death. A dead raven, a corpse in a morgue, and a snake eating a mouse. Even the symbols that randomly took screen time were disturbing. Some strokes looked like the texture of a rat’s tail and were disjointed.
“Why would anyone watch this sickening thing?”
“I watched it, but not by choice,” Irma said. “And I don’t really remember it.”
“Can you tell if you can download a video of it?”
Irma clicked around. “I think so.”
“You’re not working on it here by yourself. Come back to the house with me. I won’t accept no for an answer.”
“Do you think we’re being exposed to subliminal messages right now?”
Pacie looked at the images cycling every few seconds. “I have no doubt, but I’ll bet they only affect the impressionable. At least I hope so. If not, we’re doomed.”
“You had to say that, didn’t you?” Irma closed the browser tab. “I don’t want to look at it anymore. Everyone, even us, are impressionable to some degree.”
“I’m thinking of calling the police,” Pacie said, “but they must know about this site because it was on the computer at that house this morning and I’m sure they’ve found and read the journal, so they know about all this.”
Irma connected her video camera to the computer. “Let’s look at the video I took of the journal.”
“Here we go. I’ll pause it page to page.”
The first several pages read like a normal diary. The young girl talked of school, the new neighborhood boy, and everyday events.
“There’s nothing unusual in this part,” Pacie said.
With each turn of the page after that, the entries grew darker. Hand scribbled images of a faceless man began filling the pages along with words about him wanting her to do something to get a reward.
“Go back,” Pacie said. “What was the date when things changed?”
Irma rewound the recording. “Looks like the first of June. Just a couple of weeks ago.”
“Has anything happened in Black Water at that time?”
“I don’t know. Anything new or out of the ordinary.”
“I can’t think of anything.”
“Me either. We’ll have to go through the newspaper.”
Irma continued going through the video.
“She first mentioned Slenderman a week ago,” Irma said. “And something about going to live at a mansion.”
“Stop there,” Pacie said, scooting her chair closer to the monitor. “Her handwriting has gone from normal to broken words.”
“It’s like something has taken her over.”
“What does that say?” Pacie pointed to a sentence.
“It’s something about her and her friends creating something. I think it says, we did it. We created a tulpa, here in my room. But it looked different from what we imagined and then he faded away.”
“What’s on the next page?”
Irma moved through the frames, stopping on the next page. She zoomed in. “He came again tonight, a tall man dressed in black. This time was easier, but it was still not the pony. Instead, we got this thing. We created this thing who calls himself Slenderman. His form was more filled out and he growled. We screamed and ran out of the house. Now I’m really afraid, but I had to come back to my bedroom before mom got home from work. My friends refused to come with me and instead went home. I don’t see him right now.”
“They created or summoned something. A spirit or demon.”
“Slenderman,” Irma said with trepidation.
“It’s like tulpamancy. Where people use some type of occult practice where they use thoughts and emotions to bring about, so-called, real things.”
“How and why?”
“I really don’t know much about it, but I think they use meditation or lucid dreaming, stuff like that. I only know about it because I remember hearing about people creating tulpas from their favorite characters like on My Little Pony. They actually believed they created real living beings. The Internet makes it easy for young people to find out about this stuff and get drawn in.”
“So it sounds like some innocent young teens, trying to create a pony, ended up bringing Slenderman to Black Water instead.”
“I think you’re right. You and Mr. Dibble are definitely coming to my house. Pack up your laptop and whatever else you need,” Pacie said. “The guest room has a desk; you can set up there, for now.”
“I guess it’s a good idea,” Irma said, closing the laptop. “Come on, Mr. Dibble, we’re spending the night at Pacie’s.”