The story poses itself as a cry for help from a young man increasingly scared of Facebook content seemingly coming from his dead girlfriend. Formally, it's a sequence of paragraphs arranged in chronological order, each linked to a screen capture of some creepy bit of Facebook activity. The narrator sets up each graphic, then reacts to it.
For example, here is one of the early exchanges. "Nathan" is the story's narrator, the boyfriend; "Emily" is the supposedly dead girlfriend:
Note the anonymizing features, which add a documentary feel to the story. And note, too, the final open text box, which gives an extra sense of ongoing conversation.
Later the exchanges become more like a ghost story. For example, this screenshot shows Emily complaining about temperatures - of the grace, most likely:
Two girls dreamed of Slenderman, and tried to kill a third. It's a Gothic story, one that crosses between the boundaries of Gothic fiction, real-life horror, and digital media. It is in some ways the ultimate Infocult story, and deserves our attention, dear readers and minions.
If you don't know the Slenderman mythos, it's a fascinating one. Users at the Something Awful forums concocted it out of whole cloth as a kind of DIY internet horror meme.
And from there Slenderman just grew. The subject of games, movies, photoshops, and especially short fiction. Call him the first native boogeyman of social media, or the spook of prosumer culture.
So how did fictional Slendy cross over into real life without a Borgesian pathway? It's hard to say much, given that the story is only a few days old, and wrapped up in multiple layers of secrecy. But we can tackle this from a number of angles.
For example, this affair is a story about stories and horror. Listen to this account of events, starting with the worldview:
[accused attacker Anissa E.] Weier told police that Slender Man is the "leader" of Creepypasta, and in the hierarchy of that world, one must kill to show dedication. Weier said that Geyser told her they should become "proxies" of Slender Man — a paranormal figure known for his ability to create tendrils from his fingers and back — and kill their friend to prove themselves worthy of him. Weier said she was surprised by Geyser's suggestion, but also excited to prove skeptics wrong and show that Slender Man really did exist.
The suspects believed that "Slender," as Weier called him, lived in a mansion in the Nicolet National Forest in northern Wisconsin.
What a fine imagining. There's the fairy tale castle grounded in the upper midwest (a mansion? did Slendy join the 1%?). There's the cult-like sense of shared sacrifice and crime. Then the fusing of identity, whereby the girls would become part-Slendermen, proxies. And the faithfulness to the source material, locating the fearsome tall man in darkness and horrible acts against children.
Beyond the worldling, the girls concocted a scheme, both practical and poignant:
The plan was to kill the victim and walk to Slender's mansion. After school on Friday, Weier told police, she and Geyser went to Weier's house, where she packed a backpack with clothes, granola bars, water bottles and a picture of her mother, father and siblings. She didn't want to forget what her family looked like after leaving for Slender's mansion.
And the tactics:
Geyser and Weier originally had planned to commit the murder at 2 a.m. Saturday, according to the criminal complaint. They'd duct tape their victim's mouth, stab her in the neck and pull the covers up to make it look like she was sleeping. Then they'd run.
But the plans changed after they'd been out rollerskating Friday night. Instead, they'd try to kill her in a bathroom at a nearby park the next morning. Weier knew there was a drain in the floor for the blood to go down, she told police.
Very practical. How much of this was drawn from crime fiction, and how much from solid DIY instincts?
Then there's a blend of crime and young adult chaos:
Weier said Geyser then tackled the victim and started stabbing her. The victim was screaming. Weier said when Geyser got off the victim, the victim screamed, "I hate you. I trusted you."
Weier said the victim tried to walk toward the street but was stumbling. They didn't want anyone to see her, so Weier grabbed her arm and pulled her away from the street. The victim fell. Weier said the victim couldn't breathe, see or walk. Weier told the victim to lie down and be quiet — she would lose blood more slowly. Weier told police she gave the victim those instructions so she wouldn't draw attention to herself, and so she would die. Weier told the victim they were going to get her help; but they never planned on actually doing so. They hoped she would die, and they would see Slender and know he existed.
SCP is a fascinating, addictive storytelling project. It purports to be documents around the activities of the Secure, Contain, and Protect Foundation. The group tracks down mysterious and dangerous... artifacts, then tries to S, C, and P them.
Each entry is a single wiki page, sometimes with supplemental materials, such as images, logs, or further evidence. Entries classify objects based on their threat level to humanity, how (if) they are currently archived, and what the Foundation currently knows about them.
These short stories range in tone from horrific to whimsical. They use a made-up jargon to add a bureaucratic layer to events, which makes SFP seem both more real and disturbing. Characters and other organizations appear, including scientists, "volunteers", and competitors, which humanize the Foundation's progress. Imagine a mix of X-Files, Lovecraft, Charlie Stross, and Kafka.
We are the last bastion of security in a world where natural laws rapidly break down. We are here to protect humanity from the things that go bump in the night, from people who wield power beyond mortal understanding. We are here to make the world a safer place. We are the holders of wonders, and the crafters of dreams. We are why the world continues. In the short form, we're a creative writing site, devoted towards horror.
It's a terrific example of wiki storytelling. Multiple users can create entries. Discussion tabs show workshopping and feedback.
Warning: very, very addictive.
701, or The Hanged King's Tragedy: a 17th-century play's text is haunted, perhaps carrying a lethal memetic virus.
1845: a fox who seems to be possessed by a European ruler.
093: a disk which allows people to enter mirrors and the dire world they access.
1440: a sad, ancient, uncontrollably destructive card player.
914: a machine that... processes things. Staff misuse it.
1981, or Reagan Cut Up While Talking: a lost VHS tape of a Ronal Reagan speech. Each time it's played the president's speech alters in grim ways, and his body is tortured.
895: an ancient, demonic being kept in storage. Mostly.
Snopes snags a nice bit of short-short creepy storytelling, noting people are passing it around as urban legend. Yes, an untitled piece of creepypasta (2012) crept out of the fictive world and into the marginally less fictive sphere of must-be-true folklore.
The following is going around Facebook with the picture of a doctor and a nurse holding down a "mannequin woman." It's obviously BS, but it would be cool to know the history of it
The tale begins like so:
In June of 1972, a woman appeared in Cedar Senai hospital in nothing but a white, blood-covered gown. Now this, in itself, should not be too surprising as people often have accidents nearby and come to the nearest hospital for medical attention. But there were two things that caused people who saw her to vomit and flee in terror.
The first being that she wasn’t exactly human. she resembled something close to a mannequin, but had the dexterity and fluidity of a normal human being. Her face, was as flawless as a mannequins, devoid of eyebrows and smeared in make-up.
She had a kitten clenched in between her teeth, her jaws clamped so unnaturally tightly around it to the point where no teeth could be seen, the blood was still squirting out over her gown and onto the floor. She then pulled it out of her mouth, tossed it aside and collapsed...
Infocult: monitoring the Gothic world as it invades yours, story by uncanny story.
Another social media hoax character appeared, this time in Uzbekistan. "Gulsumoy Abdujalilova" appeared on Facebook and through comments around the Web, until she killer herself, apparently.
Using information that members of the Uzbek opposition had received from whomever was pretending to be Gulsumoy, [Elena Urlaeva, a prominent human rights advocate] discovered that Gulsumoy had never lived, much less died. A search in Munich by Uzbek exiles there yielded the same result -- or, that is, no result.
Finding no trace of Gulsumoy's existence, Uzbek activists conceded that the whole thing was a hoax. The Facebook page, which disappeared on December 14 without explanation, was a fake. So was every detail of the Gulsumoy Abdujalilova story: the note, the pictures of her sent to Uzbek media sites, and the phone calls like the one Elena Urlaeva had received.
Kendzior does a great job connecting the hoax to the weird, tense specifics of Uzbek politics. She also draws out some fine hoax issues, like the way detecting one depends on a strong sense of normative identity portrayal. Which is political:
Looking at the page again, there are signs that might stand out for a Western audience: the lack of any real photos (Gulsumoy used a headshot of a Turkish model for her profile picture-- it was openly not her photo, like when someone uses a celebrity's picture as a joke), the dearth of comments from her 114 friends, the use of a pseudonym (she posted under "Gulsumoy Andijon," a reference to the site of the 2005 massacre), and the heavy emphasis on the political over the personal. But to see these as signs of a hoax assumes a normative standard of what a Facebook profile "should" look like...
Many Uzbeks are selective or even deceptive about what they reveal about themselves on Facebook, for they are aware that the government is watching them and know giving too much up could be risky. They use Facebook to access information, not to share it. They use Facebook not to define themselves, but to find refuge, however tenuous, from the state's definition of who they are, what they can say, and who they could become.