A Story From the Book of Slender

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Slender was an ancient being. He had seen the sun shine on the pyramids while they were being built. He had watched the stars on the night that Judas had marked Jesus with a kiss. He had hidden in the woods for years when it seemed the whole world was at war.

The woods were where he liked it best. He liked the darkness of it, the coolness. There was something calm about the forest. He could lay in the ground, burrowed in the dirt for hours. He stared up at the trees and the patches of sky that peeked through their branches. He stayed completely motionless as bugs crawled over him, their tiny feet a mere sensory whisper that he relished.

Lately, Slender had been remembering. As a creature who experienced emotions only in a very muted sense, memories were an unusual occurrence. Slender could function for months without having a truly cognizant thought. His design was arguably superior to a human's in the sense that he had far fewer biological needs. Slender ate nothing. He had no need to expel waste. He did sleep, but could manage without rest for far longer than any person could. He was strong and built sturdy enough to outlast the apocalypse.

Where the humans had really surpassed him was on an emotional level. Slender was very intelligent, no doubt, he could observe his surroundings and learn quickly to adapt to them. But as far as feeling anything like sadness or joy, he tended to experience these feelings as an afterthought. Whereas people could be overtaken with their emotions, to the point where they doubled over in laughter or smiled from ear to ear or cried heaving sobs, Slender felt emotions the way a human might experience a song being stuck in their head. He was aware of a feeling, sensed it, but it was always on the horizon, removed from him. He would recognize it without fully experiencing it.

So when the memories came, he was poorly equipped to deal with them. Mostly, they left him confused. But because this same memory had been plaguing him for so long, he was starting to make sense of it. He knew it was important.

So focused on this memory was he, that it was minutes before he noticed the crying.
He looked down blankly at his right hand. There was a child in it. His long bony fingers were wrapped firmly around the midsection of a soft pink fleshed child. And it was screaming in his hand.

As the current moment came more into focus, Slender tightened his grip and observed. The skin on his long hand was white and wet looking, like a fish belly. It contrasted interestingly against the child's flushed skin. As it continued to cry and thrash and scream, the child's color was deepening. It was now red everywhere except its face, which had turned purple. Clearly, it was fatiguing from its efforts. Now the cries were interrupted as it began to choke. The sobs were so heavy that every time it inhaled, its breath was getting caught in its throat, resulting in the intermittent choking. First it would choke, then it would cough.

Slender lifted his arm so he could inspect the child more closely. Its whole body was heaving now. Shrieking and choking, alternately, its face was sticky with tears and mucus. Slender had had enough.

He raised a tentacle, those extra appendages that were clearly tied to his thought process, as they only emerged from his body when he needed them, and very carefully the tentacle began to wrap itself around the child's head. The wet ink colored flesh of this octopus-like appendage caressed the toddler's head, covering first its eyes and then forcing itself over the little mouth, parting the lips as it did so. The cries became much quieter, though they did not stop. Slender watched himself squeeze tighter and tighter until the cries stopped. The little human skull gave easily as he tightened his grip. At first, there was a pressure as the bone fought to protect the brain, but in a moment, there was a pop and then the pressure was no more. Blood and other slick fluids were running down Slender's tentacle.

His chilly detachment was apparent despite his featureless face, which was watching the death closely. Slender had no eyes but he could see. And he had seen this more times than he could count, the end of a human child's life. It left him empty but the crying had stopped and that was satisfying.

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⏰ Last updated: Mar 02, 2023 ⏰

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