Heyy guys! I'm not sure whether or not I was going to continue with this story but you all convinced me I should so, here it is:
"I'm not afraid," I say bluntly and sigh as if I'm bored with the whole conversation. The others huddled around stare at me through the light from the torch in the middle.
There are five of us, in all. We get together every night simply because it's too dangerous in the day what with the constant threat of being sent away hanging over our heads if we go one step too far. That's right; we're the kind to cause trouble, the kind you'd hate to be caught with alone and the kind who takes no nonsense.
"You're stupid." Butch says to my right. He's the biggest of all of us but not the brightest. He's a fighter and his face shows it, too. He leans back on his elbows as the darkness of the night seems to swallow him up. "This ain't like a myth that mothers tell kids to keep them close nor is it an urban legend told to scare each other at night time. It's real and it's serious."
The subject of our conversation is Slender. It's a common topic for when the group does meet up as it's the only reason that's really holding us back from doing anything serious enough to give them an excuse to send us to him.
"And I suppose you'd know?" I snap back, "Think about it, no one has ever seen Slender. We've been told about these terrible things that happen if you defy the laws of the city but no one has come out of that place to tell us it's all true!"
"Surely that should be a reason why it is, Arch." Kay said from directly opposite me. She's the clever one; she can steal all the money out of someone's pocket just by smiling at them and then slip away without being detected. "If no one ever comes back then there's obviously something out there."
I study her closely before my eyes flicker to each member of the group in turn. They all agree with Butch and Kay and I feel my side of the argument slipping. "Wild animals? Starvation? There are many reasons why they don't return so excuse me if I don't believe a fairly tall dude is killing them all as soon as they enter the forest."
This wasn't the first time I started to question Slender. When I was growing up, I was always wondering why we knew nothing of him except the same poem read to us every year to remind us of the threat he poses.
The argument continues for a few minutes, our voices getting more and more urgent. I'm getting angry now as I realise my efforts are futile as I'm pretty much alone against the four of them. I sit up a bit straighter. "Fine, if you lot don't have the balls to go, I'll prove there's nothing there."
There's silence for a few seconds before they're all talking at once.
"Just to prove a point?"
"He's lost it."
"Shut up!" I finally shout. They learned to obey me long ago, even big Butch who towers over me and won't listen to anyone else wouldn't mess with me. "I've made up my mind. I'll leave tomorrow and I'll be back to tell you you're a bunch immature gits." With that, I pick up my rucksack, get to my feet and leave them to stare at each other, trying to get their heads around what'd just happened.
After about ten minutes of marching I slow down, sigh and turn around. "I hate it when you do that and you know it." I stayed there staring at the blackness of the night until I start to question myself.
Finally, though, Kayla emerged out of the shadows to stand in front of me. "You didn't mean to say that, did you? That you'll go out to find him?"
"It was all in the heat of the moment, Kay." I rolled my eyes and turned back to the path to continue walking. She fell in beside me. "I honestly didn't know what I was thinking until it was out and too late to change my mind."
She was quiet for a moment, wrapping her head around what I'd just said.
"Archie?" She finally said, "You really think he doesn't exist?"
I hesitate briefly before replying, "Of course he doesn't. The ol' man's gotta keep his city under control somehow, right? By creating Slender, everyone's too scared to jump out of line. It's ridiculous." I'm not sure how much conviction I put into my voice but Kay doesn't question me about it.
We continue on in silence until we reach her house. We live on the same road on the outskirts of the city which suits us fine as it's easy to slip out to meet with the group at night.
We exchange brief goodnights and I continue down the road and crawl into my bedroom window which I'd left ajar.
I didn't sleep easily, thinking about my own logic or lack thereof. I was stupid to volunteer to go looking into the forest by myself even though I've convinced for some time that Slender isn't the one to worry about. Sure I've been in fights before and I've lead the group through some tough times but I'm really not sure how I'd fare by myself against nature.
And what if there really is something there besides wild animals? Don't be stupid I tell myself harshly and try to push the thought from my mind. I then remind myself that it's just an in and out operation and this time tomorrow night I'll be laughing at myself for being so stupid and believing that Slender existed in the first place.
Even so, I couldn't help feeling nervous about the following day.
I'll finish her off there, me thinks. Tell me what you think!