I haven't updated in over a week. But for a good reason.
I went to go pay Mr. Armeen a visit.
Wasn't easy, I'll tell you that much. I must've almost gotten caught by authorities twenty times. Thankfully, with the longer, messier hair and the beard, I'm almost an entirely different person now. I got my money, my fake ID, and my gun permit from my contacts that would allow me to get on a plane without a lot of questions and booked the first flight of the morning. I did get a couple of concerned looks, but the papers I provided proved that I was an undercover agent on an assignment. They bought it.
Glad to see that airport security is still top notch in this country.
I took a flight out to Montana, which is where Armeen was last known to have been located. Drove and asked around the state for a couple of days before I finally got wind of his location off a couple drinking buddies.
He lives out in a cabin on a hill. No trees aside from a woods you can see from the top of the hill, but in the wide open, so for once, the sight of all the trees didn't make me weary. I stepped out of the car, cocked my gun, and went over and knocked on the door.
I heard shuffling feet and then the door opened to show Mr. Armeen in his morning robe. He had not aged well in the couple of years since we last saw him, but then again, the last time he had seen me was when I was pounding his face to a pulp. For what its worth, his face did look better than it had after our introduction, but he had definitely gained more weight (if that was at all possible), and his nose, offset due to my love tap, was constantly running mucus down his face. His eyes were red and bloated, there was a trickle of drool running down his chin, and his thinning gray hair was messy and sticking up. His eyes were gray, dull, and having lost all signs of light or power. If this had been a demonic man that had haunted Lizzie her entire life, he had long since lost his luster.
He looked me in the eye, and even with my disheveled appearance, I could tell just by the way his eyes grew as big as dinner plates and the way his mouth just dropped that he knew exactly who I was. This was further proved when he tried to slam the door in my face. Unfortunately, my reflexes were a hell of a lot faster than his, my foot caught the door, and before he could react I had launched the door open, shoved him against the wall and had my gun right against his chest.
“I don't think so,” I hissed.
“I did what the courts said!” he babbled in quite a pathetic little manner. “I haven't gone near her once since that night, I swear! I haven't touched her! I swear on my wife's grave, please don't hurt me again!”
I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Not the fact that he was dissolving into a puddle of tears before me. The fact that even after all these months, he still didn't know his own daughter was dead.
“Shut up!” I demanded, and he did. I felt a satisfying feeling surge through me; it was good to be in control again, to be out and about. “I'm not here to talk about you, I'm here to talk about Lizzie.”
He frowned. “What's wrong with your voice?” he asked. I acted like I hadn't heard him. I didn't want to talk about my throat. Not then. Not when I had more urgent questions.
I went and quickly shut the door, then turned around, gun still trained on him.
“Now then,” I said, fast and clear enough for him to understand. “Here's how this will work. I ask you a question, you give me an answer. One question, one answer. You get all that? Good, now pay attention, because this part is important. If you don't answer my question, or if I don't get an answer I like, then we're going to have a problem. And when I say we have a problem, I mean you have a problem. Let's not have a problem, okay?”
Though it was clear that he had just woken up judging by his appearance and the smell of him, I could tell he understood clearly.
“When Lizzie was a kid,” I began, “did she ever say anything about any visitors or mention anyone coming to see her? Specifically a tall guy in a suit?”
His answer wasn't exactly an answer, but it was all the answer I needed.
“Mr. Friendly?” His face was a mix of shock and fear. “How did you know about him?”
“Oh, so you are useful for something other than a punching bag. Who would've thought? What was he?”
“He was her...imaginary friend.”
I lowered my gun as he lowered his arms and looked down at the ground. His face shown a hint of...regret? Remorse? I don't know. There was clearly more to the story than just that. But if he was her imaginary friend, why was he acting like this?
“It was right after her mother died,” he told me. “At first, I just thought it was her way of coping, her way of having someone to talk to, what with her mother being gone and me being...who I am. She called him Mr. Friendly, said that he listened to her, played with her. He paid attention to her when no one else would. I didn't think much of it at first, I thought it was good that she had something to make her happy...
“But after some time, some of the things she said he was doing...it seemed to me like he was doing more harm to her than good.”
“What did she say he did?”
“She said he came into her room at night...and he was taking her somewhere. Showing her things. She says that some of the things he was showing her scared her. Then it got worse...there were times where she showed up in rooms and couldn't remember how she ended up in them, times where she was doing things and had no idea why she was doing them. One time I caught her carving his name into a tree with a steak knife and when I approached her about it, it was like...snapping her out of a trance, she dropped the knife and looked around as though she had no idea where she was...”
I hung on every word. All of it sounded familiar to what I had already experienced. My theory on her was proven true. Lizzie and Slender Man had met before our adventures last spring.
“At first I just thought it was her acting out because of her mother...but then I started notice more physical changes. She used to scream at nights, and sometimes when I went in to calm her, her window would be wide open but I remembered it being closed when she first went to sleep. One time I came into the living room and all the furniture had been re-arranged. Another time her bedroom had been completely torn apart. And then...”
He paused then. “And then what?” I asked impatiently.
He gulped. “And then he started showing up in the pictures.”
Cold swept through my body as I understood exactly why he seemed to believe he was real when most parents would just wave it off as a childhood fantasy. Because he had evidence.
“Show me,” I demanded.
He left the room for a while, then came back holding a big brown book and handed it to me. “It starts on the fifth page.”
I opened the book and flipped to the fifth page. The first picture I saw on it was a three-year-old Lizzie sitting in the sand, her hair in pigtails, wearing some dress with watermelons on it. She wasn't wearing glasses yet; this was before she needed them. At first, I didn't see anything wrong with the picture, but then I glanced at the tree in the background to her right and I saw a familiar sight.
Him. Right against the tree. Staring right at the camera.
I looked at the rest of the pictures on those two pages, and then flipped it over. Sometimes he was hard to spot, but other times he was right in the open. Sometimes he was in the bushes, sometimes he was standing in the field, tall and stiff as a board.
I turn the page and there's just one picture, showing a four-year-old Lizzie with another girl with raven hair...and I almost dropped the book with shock. He was standing right behind them, I mean, right behind them. If they had stepped back just an inch they would have walked right into his chest. And he had the tentacles out; it was a frightening sight to anyone who wouldn't recognize what he was. It was almost like he was a father standing with his children.
“And you never saw him when you took the pictures?” I inquired.
“Not a thing until I had the last picture developed,” he answered. “Then I went back and saw him in the others. I just don't understand, even now, how he was standing right there and I never saw him.”
He tends to do that a lot, I thought bitterly. You should look up that kid in Florida. He's had that problem up the ass.
I turned the page, and there was a significant difference between the rest of the pictures in the album and the ones before. For one, Lizzie was getting older, no more pig tails, and her glasses had started to appear. For another, until around the six-or-seven-year-old mark, a lot of the pictures had that raven-haired girl in them as well. But the third difference was probably the most significant.
He wasn't there anymore.
I flipped through every picture until it ended, which according to the dates was around when she was eight or so. He never appeared again after that big picture. After a while, the other girl had disappeared from the pictures as well, and the last picture was again just Lizzie standing against the tree with a thoughtful look on her face.
“Why did he stop showing up?” I looked up at him, confused.
“She grew up,” he answered with a shrug. “Didn't need an imaginary friend anymore. Started going to school and being around other kids her age. Every kid went through it. I eventually just forgot about it as well, after all the weird things stopped happening.”
There was something else, though. I was sure of that. And another glance through told me what it was.
“Who is this?” I took the big picture out of the album and showed it to him, my finger just above the raven-haired girl's head. “She a relative? A friend?”
“That's Mary, yes. She was Lizzie's Methodist friend growing up. I think she was the reason Lizzie got over Mr. Friendly; she finally had someone her age to play with.”
“Where is she now?”
“I don't know. Her family moved away not long after Lizzie started school. They communicated through letters for a while, but eventually she moved on.”
“Where did she move to?”
“I don't know.”
I raised the gun, not necessarily at him, but close enough that he got the message.
“Please. I don't know, I swear. It was years ago.”
One sure fire way you can always tell if a person's lying? Threaten their life. Unless they're so emotionless that they just don't give enough of a shit anymore, if you threaten them with physical harm, they'll tell you who shot JFK and what kind of underwear the shooter was wearing. If they knew it, that is. Armeen's not a brave person, and I knew putting a gun to his head would get him to talk. If he was telling me no with the barrel of a gun pointed right in his face, I knew almost right away that he was telling the truth.
I lowered the gun and backed away. “I'm taking the photo,” I told him, “and I'm leaving. Sorry to have bothered you.”
I needed to get out of there before he decided to call the cops, assuming he would. I turned and went to the door and had my hand on the handle when he called out to me and I stopped.
“Is she...” I could hear the cracking in his voice. “You coming here...asking these questions about her childhood...I haven't thought about him in almost thirty years. I know I've been a horrible father, but I need to know...is my daughter okay?”
I shut my eyes tight. I hated this man, hated him more than I hate a lot of people, and I knew Lizzie had as well, but I also know that she still loved him and he was still the only parent that she had had growing up. I turned back to him, seeing the question in the eyes of a man who had stopped caring about his own life long ago. I offered him a quick half of a smirk.
All I said was, “She's better off than we are.”
And I turned and left before I could see his reaction.
So that's where I've been. I'm onto something, I can feel it. I need to find this Mary girl, or her family, or anything regarding her whereabouts. Slender Man left Lizzie alone right after she showed up; that has to mean something. I need to find her and figure out how she fits in to all this.
That's my primary concern for the time being.
One last thing before I go: As you may know, I've been running around (over the internet) trying to help out all those that are fighting him. Sometimes I'm successful, sometimes I'm not. But the one I've been trying to help the most is Celeste, the girl from Make It Count.
Her friend Violet has just posted her entry, announcing her departure. She had been planning to leave for two months, and she finally did it. I can't say I'm surprised, but I do wish she had waited a while longer.
All I'm going to say is, to Violet, if you read this: You're a Runner now. That means you have to follow the rules of a Runner. So you listen to M. Follow what he says. I'm hoping you've packed enough warm clothes for this winter (I got back to my lovely home away from home right in time to meet a fucking Nor’easter. Lucky me), and have money on you. Keep up high. Stay away from the forest. Follow those guidelines and it'll keep you alive longer than it would if you stayed put.
But the one thing you must always remember, no matter what you do:
You are not safe.
You will NEVER be safe.
Not as long as he's alive.
I'm not saying this to frighten you. I'm saying this to keep you on your toes. Never let your guard down, not even for a second. Protect yourself above all else. If you remember that there's no such thing as an unloaded gun, you'll be fine around guns your entire life. The same applies here. If you remember that there's no such thing as being safe and secure, you'll be fine around him for the rest of your life.
There are things in this world our parents never prepared us for. Monsters that really do exist in your closets. You're an adult now. How you handle those monsters is up to you.
And I promise, I'll do what I can for Celeste. I don't know how much help I can be, but I promise I'll give it all I've got.
Keep your head up. Keep alert. Keep moving. Don't ever look back.
I'll post again when I've learned more.