Rourke stretched as he walked into his office the next morning. ”Okay, first things first,” he muttered putting down his briefcase. ”I’ll get a list of Meredith’s neighbors and make some phone calls.” He opened the laptop on his desk and tapped the power button. It began to hum to life. As it did, Rourke slithered out from behind his desk and grabbed his coffee mug from the corner. He looked inside it and made a little face. Brown residue from the previous day’s coffee clung to the sides and bottom of the cup. ”Eh, I’ll just rinse it out,” he said as he walked to the break room.
As he ran some water into his cup his phone began to ring. Sighing, he put the mug down and pulled out his phone. A number he now recognized as Mira’s was on the screen. ”Hello, Detective Rourke,” he said answering the phone. He reached over for the coffee pot as he talked.
“Detective Rourke, it’s Mira Grolinsky,” Mira said. Her voice was tired. But it wasn’t the tired of no sleep. It was the tired of one who was too emotionally stunned to entirely accept what was going on around them. It was something, unfortunately, Rourke had heard a lot of in his line of work.
“Your mother died last night?” he said, gently. He placed the coffee pot down next to his mug.
“Yes,” Mira said a quaver in her voice. A pause. ”No, she didn’t die, she was killed. He did it, I know he did.”
“The man from last night?” Rourke asked. He leaned against the counter top, careful not to jostle the coffee pot.
“Yes. No. I mean–” She stopped. ”I need to talk to you in person.”
“That’s fine, Mira, that’s fine. Do you want to come to the precinct? Or do you want me to come to you?”
“Let me come down there. I have to get out of here,” she said.
“Alright, let me give you directions.” He gave her quick directions to precinct and then after re-assuring her again, he hung up the phone.
“Great, another dead witness,” he said, pouring the coffee into his cup. ”This has career ending case written all over it.”
Thirty minutes later, Mira was sitting down in front of his desk. There were no traces of tears on her face, but it looked like it had been freshly scrubbed with soap and water. Her cheeks were still a little red because of the violence of the washing, as were her eyes, likely from the violence of her tears. Rourke steepled his hands. ”What did you want to tell me, Mira?”
She looked down into her hands. ”You’re going to think I’m crazy.” She shook her head slightly. ”I think I’m crazy.”
Rourke glanced over at Connor’s book, “By the Fire’s Light” still sitting on his desk. His eyes widened slightly as he remembered the words Meredith had screamed as the ambulance attendants loaded her up. ”Why don’t I try to guess,” he said slowly, still looking at the book. ”The man you saw, you don’t think he had a face.”
Mira’s head snapped up, brown eyes meeting Rourke’s hazel ones. ”Yes,” she said. She stared at him for a moment longer. ”How did you know?”
“Well,” Rourke said, sliding the book over to Mira, “that’s going to take some explaining.” Briefly he narrated the events of the past few weeks to her. First the death of Connor, followed by Cassandra Brighton, then Ellen Kennedy, and now her mother Meredith Grolinsky.
Mira turned the book over in her hands. ”And so, this ‘Slender Man’ has been spotted in some way, shape or form at all the deaths?”
Rourke nodded, then paused. “Well, most of them. I haven’t interviewed anyone who saw him around Cassandra’s death yet. But she did die in a fire, like the victims in Connor’s books. Cassandra thought she saw a faceless man look out Connor’s window. Your mother saw what she thought was a tentacled man leaving Dr. Kennedy’s car. And now, you, you think you saw a faceless man shortly before your mother’s death.” He put a hand to his forehead. ”I don’t know how he got in or out without anyone seeing him, but I think you really did see your mother’s killer. I think we have a Slender fan on the loose, and we need to catch him before he gets anyone else.” He stood up and Mira looked up at him as he did so.
“You think I’m next,” she said simply. ”He goes after those who witness him and his crimes.”
“I think it’s possible,” Rourke said. ”I want to assign police protection to you for the time being.”
Mira looked down at the book again. Her hands wandered over the title. ”Hm,” she said. ”Do as you please.” She stood up and handed him the book again. ”I have to go arrange for my mother’s funeral.” Without another word she left the office.
Rourke took the book and put it back in a drawer. Turning to his laptop, he accessed the police network and found an address for Mira Grolinsky. He made a quick call and had a patrol car assigned outside of her house. Then he began to methodically call Meredith Grolinsky’s neighbors, hoping to find clues.
The sun had set once again before Carl Rourke got up from his desk and looked out his window. ”Another day another dead end,” he said as he shut down his laptop. He hated this. This killer had been two steps ahead of him from the beginning. Killers usually messed up eventually, but he didn’t want to have a double digit body count before he caught this guy. His smartphone trilled in his pocket. Taking it out he saw, again, Mira’s number. ”Well, third’s times the charm,” he said answering the phone. ”Yes, Mira, how can I help you?” he asked.
“I bought that book today, “By the Fire’s Light”,” she said, sounding oddly calm. ”And I’ve been doing some research and some thinking. And I think you’re half right. I think I did see my mother’s killer.”
“Okay?” Rourke said, confused. ”Did you have something new to tell me?”
“I think,” Mira said, slowly, “that you have one thing wrong. I don’t think you’re looking for a man.”
“Well, it could be a woman I guess,”Rourke said with a shrug.
Mira sighed. ”No, Detective.”
Rourke’s eyebrows knit. And then he realized what she was talking about. ”Mira,” Rourke said, as if he was talking to a small child. ”The Slender Man is not real. He is a fictional entity.”
“Was,” Mira said, still calm. ”We have summoned him and he has come.” He heard the scratching of something on the other end of the line, possibly a pen on paper. ”And what can be summoned can be dismissed.”
“Mira,” Rourke said, still slightly patronizing, “it’s been a long and hard day for you. Get some rest.”
“I will when I am done. You take care of yourself, Detective. Who knows, he might move after you next if this doesn’t work.” She hung up.
Rourke quickly called the officers in the patrol car currently in front of Mira’s house. After verifying she was at home, he left instructions for them to watch for any comings and goings to her house carefully. Then, finally, he left the office for his home, this time with his copy of “By the Fire’s Light” in his briefcase.
Rourke turned on his bedside light as he slipped into bed that night. He tried to focus on the book in his hands. He just felt like there was something he was missing. And it wasn’t that this Slender Man was real. Unable to concentrate on the book and his tiredness finally catching up with him, Rourke let the story fall from his hands as he closed his eyes, not even bothering to turn off the light.
Rourke dreamed. He was in a closely overgrown forest. Every which way he turned, he brushed up against tree branches and overly tall ferns. Something tall moved at the very edge of his sight sometimes, but he couldn’t tell what it was. He caught a good glance of it to his north (or at least he guessed north from the moss on the trees) and he began to move towards it.
Something touched his shoulder. Rourke turned around and found himself looking at young man with black hair. ”Detective Rourke,” he said, quietly. ”Do not follow it. It will come after you soon enough without you encouraging it.”
Rourke raised an eyebrow. ”Who are you?”
“Connor,” the young man said.
Rourke cocked his head. For some reason the name sounded familiar, but he couldn’t place why.
Connor shook his head. ”Don’t question, just listen,” he said, looking over his shoulder. ”I don’t have much time and this is important. Dr. Kennedy had the right idea. It runs on belief. But there is too much now for one person to deny it existence.” He shook Rourke slightly. ”Do you understand?”
Rourke shook his head. ”I don’t,” he said. He felt as if his mind had been wrapped in a blanket, warm and stifled. ”But I should.”
“Just remember then,” Connor said. ”One person is not enough. Nor two.” He sighed. ”We gave the nameless one a name,” he muttered. ”And he will not give it back.” He looked into Rourke’s eyes. ”It is easier to modify a story than to negate it,” he said. ”Tell Mira that. It’s too close to her now, I can’t reach her. I won’t be able to reach you after this.”
Rourke felt the hairs on the back of his neck raise. There was something behind him. He could feel it. He could see it in Connor’s terrified gaze. Connor’s hands tightened painfully around Rourke’s arms. Rourke tried to turn and see, but Connor held him fast.
“No,” Connor whispered. ”Don’t look, not yet.” He leaned in close and whispered in his ear. ”I am free, but others are not. I can’t help them, but you and Mira can. Please remember.”
Rourke nodded. ”I will.”
“Good,” Connor said. ”Now,” and his face suddenly twisted, “wake up!” he screamed, still leaned in close to Rourke’s ear.
Rourke jumped up in bed. ”Holy Mother of God,” he said, head in his hands. ”What was that?” Without thinking he was already reaching for the notebook he took with him on investigations. Quickly, he began to jot down the dream. A sense of urgency permeated him, a feeling that he could not let this dream slip from him.
Rourke shook his head as he transcribed. ”Lord, Rourke, you are losing it. Have a dream about Connor Russell, and don’t even realize its him in the dream. Some detective.” He glanced over at his clock. Two in the morning. Even though he thought he was a fool, the feeling of urgency did not leave Rourke. In fact, if anything, it was growing stronger. ”It’s too close to her now,” Connor had said. Slender Man was obviously what his dream Connor was referring to.
Rourke considered going back to bed, but he knew he wouldn’t be able to sleep. Not unless he was sure Mira was okay. He pulled his smartphone off his nightstand and dialed Mira’s number. It rang five times and then went to voice mail. He hung up and stared at the floor for a moment. If it was only two in the morning the same patrol car would probably be in front of her house. He dialed through to the officers inside again. They quickly assured him no one had gone into or left the house.
Hanging up the phone and putting it back on the stand, Rourke grunted. ”That’s that.” He moved to turn of the bedside light he had left on when he went to sleep. His hand hung there as he stared at the light. The dream may have been just a dream, but Rourke had learned to trust his gut over the years. And his gut was telling him he had to get over to Mira Grolinsky’s house right now. He took in a deep breath, held it, and let it out. ”Fine,” he growled, getting up.
Mira lived in a small community about thirty minutes from his house. There were about fifteen house arranged around a good sized lake in the middle. A light breeze brought the smell of the water to Rourke as he climbed out of his car. He nodded to the officers in the patrol car as he walked over to it.
“Something wrong, Detective?” the young woman said inside. Rourke recognized her as Samantha Layton, a five year vet of the force.
“No, I don’t think so,” Rourke said. ”Ms. Grolinsky just called, said she had something she wanted to show me,” he said, lying through his teeth. He’d be damned if he told these officers that a bad dream had prompted him to come here. ”Keep an eye out, though, okay?”
“Will do,” Samantha said with a nod. She prodded the young man next to her. ”Hear that, Craig?” she said, as he started slightly.
Rourke turned from the car and walked up to the house. A motion sensor light on the garage went off as he walked up the driveway. His long black shadow stretched away behind him as he rang the bell on the house. He followed this up with several solid knocks. Silence met his ears as he waited. He put his head down and listened. No, it wasn’t quite silence. Just there on the edge of his hearing he thought he heard… crackling.
Whipping away from the door, he moved to the living room window. He peered through the partially open blinds and saw a soft orange glow inside. He drew in his breath.
Whipping away from the door, he moved to the living room window. He peered through the partially open blinds and saw a soft orange glow inside. He drew in his breath.
Rourke turned back to the patrol car that Samantha was already climbing out of. ”Call the fire department!” he yelled. ”And stay back!” Rourke pulled a Maglite flashlight out of his coat pocket. With a straight focused blow, he hit the corner of the living room window with the butt of the light. It fragmented and fell into little pebbles, designed to break in a way that wouldn’t leave shards that could cut people. He smashed the window again, leaving a hole big enough for him to climb through.
“Mira!” Rourke shouted, flipping on the light as he dragged himself through the window. A small trail of smoke was filtering into the large living room, past the two black leather couches and easy chair. He ran, following the trail and the orange glow towards the back of the house.
Rounding a corner, he spotted a glass sliding door that was now reflecting a wall of flames that danced in an almost impossible straight line in front of it. A table with a golden tablecloth shined brilliantly in the light. And there, in a corner behind the table, flames surrounding him, stood a tall man in a business suit, towering over the cowering Mira in a corner.
“Halt or I will shoot!” Rourke said, pulling out his gun and dropping the flashlight.
Mira looked out around the man, eyes wide and unbelieving. ”Detective?” she said, fear and hope mingling in her voice.
The man turned to face Rourke, which was a funny choice of words since he had no face Rourke could see. Rourke leveled his gun on his extremely skinny center mass. ”Do not move!” he roared.
The man cocked his head and took a gliding step forward. And as he did, to Rourke’s astonishment, the flames danced and followed him, gliding perfectly. Training overcoming amazement, Rourke made sure Mira was not standing behind the man and then opened fire. He fired three shot point blank into the man’s chest.
He didn’t even stagger. He glided closer to Rourke. Rourke’s eyes widened. ”Bullet proof vest,” he gasped stepping back. ”But even with a bullet proof vest, he’d still feel the impact,” a small corner of his mind whispered back. Ignoring that part of his mind for now, Rourke leveled his gun at the man’s head. He fired. He watched as the bullet hit dead center where its face should be. It, because even Rourke had to admit, when a man was hit in the face with a bullet, the bullet didn’t stop and then slowly sink into the face without leaving a trace. A black tendril whipped from behind the thing’s back and Rourke realized he was about to die.
“No!” Mira screamed, dragging herself from the corner. She coughed as she ran past the thing, and grabbed Rourke’s arm. ”Don’t believe in him!”
The thing’s tendrils began to whip angrily as she spoke and it moved forward aggressively. Rourke looked around him. The flames had circled them, blocking the entrance back to the front door and to the sliding door that led down to the lake below. ”The lake,” Rourke said, an idea forming in his head. He grabbed Mira. ”Come on!” he said, whipping the table cloth off the table. He wrapped it around them and ran as the thing struck forward, its tendrils landing where he and Mira had been standing a mere second ago.
Rourke propelled himself and Mira through the flame wall in front of the sliding door. He felt the flames biting into the tablecloth, felt the heat searing into him. With a bounce he hit the glass door. In desperation, he ripped off the tablecloth, Mira helping him, as he grabbed the door. With a shove, it fell open, and he and Mira were running breakneck down the hill leading to the lake.
“It’s easier to modify a story than to negate it!” he said breathlessly to Mira, as they ran. ”What is the natural enemy of fire?”
Mira’s eyes widened in recognition. ”Water!” she said, as they closed in on the lake. She started to turn to look back.
“No!” Rourke said, waving an arm to keep her attention. ”Don’t look back!” And then they were plunging into the water. It seeped into Rourke’s shoes and socks, making his feet feel like someone had placed weights in them. Rourke and Mira struggled forward, each helping the other, until they could no longer feel the lake bed beneath them and they were dog paddling in the water.
“We have to believe,” Mira said through chattering teeth looking back at the house.
“We won’t be enough,” Rourke said, looking back with her. The thing, the Slender Man, stood at the edge of the shore, the flames following him in a dancing swirling line down from the house. It stood, black suit melding into and out of the smoke. But it did not come forward. Sirens filled the air as a fire truck approached the house. The Slender Man tilted its head as if listening. And then, slowly, it seemed to melt into the very shadows made by the flame’s light.
Rourke felt Mira grasp his hand. ”Well, it was enough for now,” she gasped, trying to stay afloat with one hand.
“For now,” Rourke agreed, beginning to swim for shore.
And just like this my dears we are back, sorry for the wait we were gone visit some relatives...Sadly back I am, but not both are back...
So you must realize Zane is gone, ocupied otherwise...
Please, we expect you back for more of this macabre dance...
Only My Masters...
~Jane, the Red Dress