Tuesday, 13 September 2011

~Steele~ Through the Loop?

I always sleep so much more soundly when I'm not in that House. Why is that? Isn't the whole 'home sweet home' ideal supposed to be a place you can lay your head? Without fear? With dreams, not nightmares? I have the sweetest sleep when I'm out here, in the middle of a field, in a crappy old van...out here, Proxies in the basement seem so far away.

So I can finally write about Matthew Rivers. Ex-police psychologist. Currently, private practice. It occurs to me now that I ought to recommend him to the masses, as frankly, the amount of people I've met in my years knowing our dark and handsome businessman, who could use psychological help...

Just a friendly thought. Y'know, for the next time any of you folk are in New Jersey. His blog is at Origin of Simulation, though the bloke's no longer comfortable with the idea of blogging.

"To blog would be to reveal my movements, and more importantly, my thought patterns." He said to me, after introductions. I picked him up, though not before he said goodbye to a rather sour looking lady who I could only assume was his partner. "And my thought patterns are sacred in this little game we have going afoot, hmm? But business continues as usual." His speech patterns were always very measured and dry, though beneath the rather cold exterior, you could sense a deadpan wit. That said, you could also see a haunted look in his eyes, and hear it when he slept...Muttering, always muttering. Something about the wind.

He also had a certain propensity for monologuing. You could tell by the way he spoke that he was one of those guys who were continually thinking, theorizing...But perhaps not a man of action. (After living on and off with Mr. Gung-Ho Fitzgerald for the last few years, a man of words was a welcome change.)

For instance, about an hour out of Atlantic City...Already he was waxing poetic about some of his...readings. "Every experience with the construct is different. Have you ever noticed that? Across the board, those who have this paranormal insurgence, or at least, those who record it in their blogging and video diaries, report wildly different symptoms, and symbolic interpretations."

"I don't read about other people's experiences, mate." I replied. "I live it, why would I want to hear about other condemned blokes running around Mr. Slim, achieving nothing?"
"Knowledge is key, Mr. Steele. Know the victims, and you can make assertations regarding the villain. Profile the construct, understand it. But when you rely on a self-reporting structure for all of your test subjects, how much of the information given is truly the construct, and how much is a product of the mind?"

Matt loved his rhetorical questions; I could tell he wasn't looking for a conversation, but an ear to talk off, so I remained silent and focused on the road.

"And so I come back to my original point: Apparently, every experience is different...though perhaps it is because of the subjective nature of interpretation. Some of the 'Runners' foreground the horror of their situation through the attention placed on the construct itself, while some others let him take the back seat, and focus on his "Proxies", or any otherwise human antagonistic figure. Though this is pure conjecture as you fine folk are indeed the first Runners I have come into contact with, so there is no theoretical grounding, my hypothesis would be that those Runners who focus on the construct believe their situation to be both stable, unchanging, and possess a global sense of doom, both of which are traits which have been clinically linked to depression, whereas those who focus on the human aspect are far more likely to take little victories to keep their spirits up, and attempt to maintain a semblance of life..."

He talked a lot. Some of it was interesting anecdotes, though most of it was along those lines...Studying Runners, and studying 'the construct' as he so very much liked to put it. Which I did get a little annoyed at at one stage, I will admit.

"You're looking at people in the same situation as your own like they're lab rats or something, mate." I said, as we pulled over at the motel for the night.
"Same situation...somewhat. As I have said before, the experience changes depending on multiple factors, particularly the participants and their respective set and settings. That said, there also appears to be a sense of stability once a modus operandi has been established within a continuity, but..."
"Plain English would be lovely right about now, darling."
"Simply put? My Slender Man is not your Slender Man. Not exactly. And I'd like to find out why."
"I'll show you mine if you show me yours." I said, grinning, not realizing at that moment that I was doing little but tempting fate.

I definitely found out the night before we got into Nevada, though.

The lights of the Vegas Strip had never looked so inviting after that.

"So what exactly are you looking for down this way?" I was sitting on my bed as he typed away on his laptop at a dimly lit desk. The wind was rattling the windows outside, so sleep wasn't exactly an option quite yet.
"Answers." He said shortly. Which was odd for him. I was going to inquire further, but then I heard a knock at the door.

"Who is it?" I called, hopping off the bed and walking to answer...

No response. Strange.

You know that feeling you get where something is wrong, but you don't know quite what? That sudden inclination that you're walking along the razor's edge?

Taken by this feeling of doom, I stayed my hand at the handle, and instead moved over to the tacky lace curtains next to the door, peering around to take a look...

Two girls. They couldn't have been more than 10 years old...looked like twins. They each had brown, mousy hair (or so I could see in the slight fluorescent light from above the door) tied back in two pigtails, with slightly angular faces, wearing two dresses of identical make: one green, and one yellow.

But I wasn't looking at any of this. I was looking at their eyes. Shining black, as if their pupils had consumed their iris, and then the rest of the eye surface, just two inky marbles rolling around in their skulls. I was transfixed, and the feeling of doom screamed in the back of my mind.

"Let us in, Mr. Steele. It's cold outside."

"Leon, I want you to close the curtains and come back here." Rivers was now paying attention, his voice calm, though his eyes were wide. I felt my mouth speaking, as if I were a third party in the room, spectating. "But they're cold. It's very windy."

"Let them freeze. They're not little girls anymore."

I turned back to look at the girls, and came crashing back down to reality when I saw them grinning at me maliciously, jagged teeth, sharpened to points, as the wind grew to a crescendo, howling and smashing into the walls of the building like jackhammers, as I fell back from the window with a slight yelp. The little girls giggled, and tapped on the window, and suddenly there were taps from all the windows, and shadowy figures behind the curtains, as a cacophony of laughter exploded, "Let us in, Mister, let us in!" as Rivers shut the blinds and picked me up off the ground...

"It's beginning. They'll be gone by dawn, Leon; don't worry. And they can't hurt us without permission to come into the building...or so the stories go."
"So we're safe in here?"
"If we weren't, why would they ask? Why wouldn't they just come inside? Break the glass or something?"

I checked my watch and tapped the glass, hoping, praying that the second hand would start to tick again, but to no avail: indeed, it started to tick backwards, then forwards, like a metronome, taunting me, even as I ran to my bag to find some extra ammo clips, and maybe something to dull the experience a little.

"Mate, we've got a long night ahead of us." I said, pulling out a bottle of Johnny Walker and taking a swig, before looking deeper into the bag to find some other form of painkillers. You know, in case one of us got attacked.

Rivers had a bemused smile on his face as I offered him the bottle. "Really?"
"Well, you say we're mostly safe if we're inside. Unless...something else appears. All we can do is ride this out. And frankly, the less of it I can remember, the better."

Flawless Loop logic. Rivers couldn't argue with that.

He found glasses and ice, and poured himself a dram, before strolling over to the mini-bar to find more supplies. The children giggled and squealed outside, and the storm continued.


"So this Loop thing...This is a new phenomenon, one which is curiously a feature of your, and your kin's experience with the construct." Rivers said matter-of-factly, sipping from his glass as the lights in the room flickered dimly, the shadows dancing and playing around us, the endless 'tap-tap-tap' at the windows and doors going unnoticed. We had habituated to it after the first hour. "On the other hand, these children are directly related to the investigation me and my partner have been carrying out, and so they are an experience related to MY construct." We had pooled resources in the centre of the room; a veritable pile of alcohol and nicotine, which we sat around like a campfire.

"So what you are saying is, because we are undergoing an 'experience' together, the individual natures of how we perceive Tall and Slender kind of, merges?"
"Precisely." Rivers nodded, as I reached for another cigarette. "This has implications for the reciprocal nature of how the construct is created. The creature clearly has physical properties, I'm not saying he's in our heads...but there is something about our perception which drives the construct to adapt."
"You're losing me, mate..." I admitted, exhaling with a grin as he topped up our glasses.
"The construct, upon his inception into this world, probes the minds of those who perceive it, and use details from their memory to fill in details about him...of course, this is just a working model."

"So, what, you just really hate children?" I queried, motioning to outside. Rivers snorted. "Quite. I have a certain theory about that, actually...And why the Slender Man myth seems to change regionally. I have a couple of suspicions about this American...well, Western, I suppose, iteration..." His words became more disjointed, as he was clearly focusing on lighting up a smoke. I waited patiently, not even realising that the tapping outside had stopped.

"Ever heard of the Man in Black urban legend?" He asked, back into it.
"What does Will Smith have to do with this?"
"No, the sightings of these men around any paranormal or extraterrestrial activity...Roswell, Mothman, Kenneth Arnold and the like. The secretive government agent, black suit, hidden eyes, covering up UFO sightings, has been a trope ingrained in the Western consciousness since 1947. Whenever someone considers 'is there anything out there beyond ourselves?', invariably their minds will either go to aliens, or God. And for those who believe in aliens, the Man in Black is their greatest antagonist."
"So you're saying Slender Man works for the government?" This man's theorizing...I was struggling to follow his jumps in logic. All I could do was follow along, watch him work, as the walls melted around us and there was only black.

"No, that's the beauty of it. I published a preliminary study of this on my blog earlier in the year. The Men in Black are a feature of culture, not of government; they're an easily identified symbolic icon for the paranormal, for secrecy at any cost. And if a construct without a definable form was to enter into the human subconscious to look for a form which would symbolically communicate that purpose, secrecy, protection of us from that which is a way, to gain our trust...What do you think it would automatically gravitate towards? This being from beyond...latches onto the symbolism of the times, in order to communicate an unsaid purpose. In medieval Europe, to the serfs, he was Der Ritter - the Knight. The purpose and drive of the nobility was one that was similarly unfathomable to those who saw it. What if our little Man in Black is here, to protect something...up there? Something bigger, and more unfathomable?"

I poured myself another scotch.


I was shaving for the third time tonight, when I finally heard birds chirping outside. "Rivers? Rivers!" I shook him awake, shaving cream still on my cheek. He had opted to let his facial hair grow as a means of keeping track of time; he looked a far cry away from the professional figure who had entered the motel about 8 hours ago. In real time.

"The sun's rising, have a look!"

And so we stood by the window of our crappy motel, admiring the first strains of red to appear over the horizon, still drinking to avoid the terrifying hangover we knew we were going to develop eventually...

"Oh shit, I still need to drive you to Nevada, don't I?"


After about 6 more hours of slow, yet terrifying drunk driving on both of our parts (We were driving along a perfectly straight road, in the desert, and we STILL managed to roll off into the sands), we arrived at the destination, off the interstate, just overlooking Las Vegas Boulevard...the parking lot of a musty old diner. "You know, when you said Nevada, I was thinking you were going to be holed up in one of the casinos, not roughing it out here, hun." I said, critically crinkling up my nose as I imagined the quality of their bacon and eggs. And oh god, the coffee.

"Oh, I'm not roughing it out here by any means, Mr. Steele." Rivers said, reaching into his suitcase and taking out a particularly thick envelope. "This is just where you and I must part ways. I have...other friends to take me the rest of the way."
I pocketed the paycheck he offered to me and nodded. "I'm going to head into Vegas for some R&R anyway, it's no trouble for me to take you the rest of the way."

"Leon, I'm not going to the Strip. I'm heading south a ways." He looked over my shoulder and nodded, prompting me to turn around, noticing two men in dark suits standing by a black luxury car...looked like a Lincoln. "I'm stopping off down by Groom Lake. Catch some of the sights."

"Men in Black, huh?" I said in a neutral tone, though I was intrigued. "Looks like you know a lot more than you letting on, mate."

"You just didn't ask the right questions. Don't worry, it happens. All that has happened is, my research has had some interest taken in it. No big secret here...I'll get in touch sometime. Take care." And with that, he was off in the Lincoln, the only indication he had ever been here being the wad of what was hopefully cash, sitting in my back pocket.

And his curious words, still floating around my mind.


  1. For the record, if you find your way back into that Loop and age yourself to about 35, that does not meet the criteria for getting the life-sized cocaine statue of yourself. You have to earn it the hard way.

    Rivers seems like a very interesting man. I'm sad I didn't get to meet him.

  2. Who do you think he is, Norma Jean?

  3. What? No, I just don't imagine he'll need another escort, and I doubt he'll drag himself all the way out here just to compare notes.

  4. All of that adds up really well with everything I know about Kittykins. Maybe I should've stayed in Nevada and tried to find him.

  5. May I remind you of that vunderful invention of e-mail?

  6. I used it, but I'm still waiting for a response.

  7. revealing your movements and thought patterns doesn't matter

    the monster can see everything