Fist, I must set the scene: The Mojave. There is no silence that can match that of night in the desert. It's oppressive, it suffocates. Perhaps because you're too afraid to breathe, least you attract whatever lurks out in the shadows of the Yucca and Joshua Trees. It's dark too, but in an unusual way. Your eyes can adjust to unnatural levels, so even the tiniest spark a world a way is like Times Square. The stars are something utterly indescribable. It would be an insult to try and put them into words, so just see them for yourself one day.
Everywhere in the desert are towns that have boomed and busted. Old foundations, stone chimneys growing out of the dust like petrified logs, vestiges of civilization slowly brought down to all fours by the twin ravages of time and weather. The well runs dry, the gold mine dies, and everyone leaves. We truly are Nature's bitch.
Between the myrid ghost towns are the gas stations. Oasises. There's thousands of them between the sea and Vegas. Most are empty, devoid of life save for the sagebrush, the coyotes, and the occasional Meth Alchemist.
That was where I was standing, on the cracked pavement beside an old, abandoned Texico station with a paper bag over my head.
My, shall we say, chaperone guided me to the boarded up convenience store. Through the cracks in the stucco, I could see the blue-white light of a Coleman gas lamp. Those lamps are terrible to take camping if you're scared of the wilderness. Everything seems desaturated in it's glow. Everyone looks like a corpse. My stomach sank. "In space, no one can hear you scream," I thought. There's plenty of space in the Mojave. My escort, was about a head and a half shorter than I was, and wearing a mask that probably would screw with his peripheral vision. Running was always an option.
Needless to say, I didn't.
"Stay." he said. His voice was flat and deep. When a hostile stranger tells you to do something, you do it. You do it without thinking. Sounds counter-intuitive, but that's what most survival handbooks say, and that's the strategy I adopted. He pushed away a length of plywood covering what used to be a door, and entered. There were cheers. There was clapping. There were was talking.
The "door" slid open again, and a hand beckoned me inside. It was different than the V wannabe. It was older and feminine. I squeezed through the opening, and as my eyes adjusted to the Coleman Corpselight, I was greeted with applause.
There were 7, including the V wannabe. All wrapped in bedsheets, all wearing masks that covered their full faces. On every wall, the X inside the circle. His glyph.
One of them, a woman who looked like she had a crow super-glued to her her face stood up and said, "A friend of A.J. is a friend of ours!"
"Hi," I managed to say, too weirded out to form proper questions such as, "who are you?" and "How do you know A.J.?"
They answered those for me. The next to rise looked like he got his mask out of a five year old's Easter-basket. It was a pastel yellow rabbit face, carrot-sucking grin and all.
"We, are the Hermetic Order of the Black Sun. We read the blogs," he said between breaths.
I remember wanting to make a joke about how a cult dedicating to blogging would be better off getting a Tumblr, rather than meeting in the desert, but the Bunny man continued.
"We look for information about Him."
"Slenderman?" I asked.
"That is one name," he wheezed.
"And you guys wanted to see me?"
"We weren't aware you were coming until ICKS said you were here. It's good to meet you, David."
"So. Black Dawn," I said, "You guys interested in Slenderman, I take it."
"He is The Piper at the Gates of Dawn," whispered another one. She had a white china mask with a red and blue lightning bolt over one eye. "When the black sun rises, he will take us."
Damsel in distress? Oh, A.J. Stopped Slendy, maybe they want to know too.
"It's simple, you just got to stand up to Him."
"And we will stand with Him and walk to where the black sun rises." said the bunny-man
"Did she ever tell you what He was like?" said a naisly dude wearing a Dubya mask. "In person. I remember when I was little, it was amazing."
"Are we talking about the same Slenderman here? Monster of the dark, sets fires to schools and kidnaps children?"
"No, we're talking about Yao fucking Ming," said the kidnapper.
Silence. Oppressing, suffocating silence.
"Wait," I said after a while, still trying to put the pieces back together, "Who are you guys again?"
"The fuckin' Order of the Black fuckin' Sun," said the kidnapper. "It rises, he comes, we go."
"We were chosen by him," said Dubya, "When, we where kids. We all were. Then they came."
"Noctis?" I asked
"Fuckin' Noctis, man!" said Dubya, "They just ruin everything!"
Oh goddamnit, I thought to myself. What have I gotten into?
"So, Slenderman stalked you when you were kids, then the Noctis helped you out, but now you want Slenderman to stalk you again?"
"He is the Piper at the Gates of Dawn. The Black Sun will rise, and he will lead us to the great Elsewhere." said the chinadoll.
You have got to be FUCKING KIDDING ME!
"And a new day will Dawn for those who stand long. And the forest will echo with laughter," Said lady crowface.
Helter Skelter: She's comin' down fast.
The next couple hours devolved into music discussion, some stupid political bullshit, and talking about the various hobbies of the people in the group. I tuned myself to a different station. If anything important was said, I don't remember it. I did eventually catch on to the "names" of these Black Sun dudes.
I (pronounced EE): Bunny-man, and will henceforth be Bunny-man to me, because typing "I" would be just too confusing..
II (EE-yai): had a soft voice that kind of sounded like she was far away, that the wind only barely carried her words to your ears. Her mask was porcelain, possibly hand made. It made her look like a chinadoll Ziggy Stardust.
III (Aye-ee-YAI) was crowface lady. Middle-aged, possibly. Eloquent, and her voice carried. As a theater nerd myself, I could tell she had been in a few plays. Her mask was some sort of black, feathery thing with a large nose.
IV (IVY) Male, sounded much older than anyone else in the group. Never said anything important and moved very little. His mask was gold colored plastic.
V (VEE) Dubya. Ironically enough didn't have a V mask. Would not shut up!
IX (ICKS) My kidnaper.
VIII (Vee-aye-EE-yai) I met in Expo park wearing the horse mask, and VI and VII were away on some non disclosed "business trip".
As I grew more at ease, I began to ask more questions. (paraphrased, of course. It's been a while, and I may be leaving something out.)
Me: So, you think Slenderman is good?
I: It's more complex than that.
Me: But, I don't think I've seen him do anything good?
III: You've seen him?
Me: Read about him, I mean. In all the blogs.
I: How many of those blogs are telling the truth?
Me: A.J. was.
III: You get unreliable narrators in stories all the time. Maybe she just misread something in His intentions.
Me: so she misread Slenderman killing a bunch of people in front of her, whipping her senseless, and giving her cancer?
I: We are tiny things in this universe, so small that we cannot comprehend what our own cards are.
Me: Slenderman works in mysterious ways?
Me: What is He?
I: Many things. Many names.
V: He is a reflection of us. Think about it, He takes the form of a tall white man in a black suit, because we've been told by the government, and by school that we should trust the tall white men in suits!
II: I think, He's a Fairy.
V: No, listen. He wants us to trust him, because he sees us, and he sees that we do put our trust in the men in suits.
III: I don't think it's that at all. If he wanted our trust, he'd probably look different to each person. Instead, he kind of looks scary.
V: He's scary because that's what the men in suits truly are. That's what they look like with out the haze of propaganda and brainwashing. He is truth reflected and distilled.
Me: Why children
V: *long winded speech that boils down to "children are innocent. The big bad Government hasn't gotten them yet, blah, blah, blah"*
I: A.J. was preventing Anya from going with The Piper. She interfered with higher powers. She's lucky to escape with that much.
Me: Anya didn't want to go.
III: She was scared. We all were when it was our time, and still are to some extent.
II: David, what do you think He is?
Me: I don't know. I didn't even believe He existed until recently, until he hurt my best friend. I don't care if he is good or bad, that alone is reason enough for me to hate Him.
III: Take a guess. It's what we do.
Me: He's a fairy.
II: He is. Not like Tinkerbell, but, like a Fey.
Me: Well, Miss Aye-yai-yai, what's your opinion.
III: That's a longer story. When I was 10, He came for me. I was scared. I cried almost every night knowing he was out there, looking through my window at me. Or maybe in my closet, or just down the hall. It kept getting worse and worse, until I broke down and told my aunt. She took me to see these strange men. They all talked in whispered and had funny names. They called my aunt Nahual.
III: Noctis. One dark night, we gathered in the desert. Myself, my aunt, six men, and one I thought was a werewolf. Don't laugh, I was ten. He was old, smelled like piss and had more hair on his face and chest than his scalp. Then He came. He took the the man in his, tentacles, I guess you could call them that. He tore the man up, like he was tissue paper. And He vanished. Never saw him again. And I went home, to a house that smelled like whiskey, and I tried to sleep despite my parents yelling, and I envied the strange, pee smelling wolf man. I began to pray for Him to return. To take me.
Me: I'm sorry
II: He doesn't do that to the children though. They just vanish with Him. Just the ones Noctis give to Him.
III: I wanted to vanish too. Everyday I wonder what could have been. Where He would have taken me.
IV: Only Him, Only Him. No more, no more. (first and last words on the subject of Slenderman he said all night).
III: to get back to your question, to me, Slenderman, The Piper, whatever you want to call him, He is a protector lost children. And he wants to help them, but he's not human, He doesn't know why the children are frightened of Him or understand. And Noctis, being what they are, don't bother to understand either.
Me: I think the fact that he kills people is a pretty big tip off.
V: He kills people that deserve it.
Me: Like the hobo-wolfman.
V: Slenderman works in mysterious ways, brother.
Me: and he only goes after kids who know he exists, who believe in him.
II: like a fairy.
Me: Like a fairy.
There is more in heaven and earth than is dreamt of in your philosophies, Horatio.
Not long after, one by one, they pulled out their sleeping bags. I sat there watching the metamorphosis. Pupa to Chrysalis.
Zhuangzi dreamed he was a butterfly. Happily he fluttered. He did not know he was Zhuangzi. Suddenly, he woke up, very much Zhuangzi, and he asked himself, "Am I Zhuangzi, who dreamed I was a butterfly, or am I the butterfly who dreams he is Zhuangzi?"
The sun was rising, I decided to leave. I pulled back the board, breathed in the desert morning. There was IX. A smoldering cigarette in his fingertips.
Me:So, about my window.
IX: next time you answer when called.
Me: Don't be so cryptic, then.
IX: Not my problem. Gimme your phone.
I obliged. See above for how I handle hostile people making demands. He typed something in.
IX: Contact info.
Me: So, Slenderman takes children to Neverland?
IX: *shrug* Not my problem what Slenderfag does with his jailbait.
Me: Why am I here?
IX: Because you want to know. This is lesson one: Slenderman is not one entity. Slenderman is everyone He's ever touched, or killed, or stalked. You don't recover from what He does to you. Do you still want to know?
Me: To be honest. No.
IX: Then go home.
And that was that. I've put the whole affair behind me now. Life continues as normal.
And what's left is just this half-assed blog. I'll still speculate from time to time and post my ruminations here. So it goes. Don't expect frequent updates. As you've already seen, I'm bad at those.