Hi, I’m Tonia Thompson, horror writer and creator of NIGHTLIGHT, a horror podcast featuring creepy tales from Black writers all over the world.
All this month, we’re featuring a preview of content that our patrons will get as part of their membership to the NIGHTLIGHT Legion. Earlier this week, you heard a discussion between Eden Royce and myself about Blaxploitation and how it was born because Black fans wanted to see themselves as main characters instead of sidekicks and secondary characters.
In some ways, things have changed. GET OUT was a horror movie with Black main characters that was backed by a relatively high profile production company. But still, we are often absent from the urban legends and creepypastas that spread across the internet, sometimes spilling into real life news. Where is the Black Sleep Experiment? The Black Air Traffic Controller? The Black Candle Cove? Creepypastas are creeping into the television world (take Channel Zero on Shudder, for instance), but we, once again, are being left behind. Not because we aren’t interested, or aren’t writing, but because we aren’t being seen.
So we’re starting a new series called Blacklore. And our first installment is a reimagined Slenderman story. We hope you enjoy.
“Shhh…turn that up.”
“Are you serious?”
Amanda finally turns up the volume on the television and pipes down.
“It’s a news report about them white girls that killed their friend,” I say, mostly to myself. Amanda doesn’t believe in this type of stuff.
“The girls maintain their innocence,” a reporter says, then it cuts to a lawyer.
“We are pleading not guilty by reason of insanity. We will prove that the girls were not of sound mind when they stabbed the victim.”
“James Pierce, the girls’ attorney, says that ‘voices in their heads’ compelled these teens to stab their friend nineteen times, and that the girls should not be imprisoned, but rather hospitalized. This is Sydney Caldwell, reporting live from the Wood County courthouse. Back to you Sloan.”
Amanda turns the TV back down and sits back, crossing her arms and giving me that look I can’t stand.
I try to ignore her, but we both know I’ll crack before she does. She just sits and stares, daring me to say something, yet daring me to say nothing at the same time. “Jordan, let it go,” she says.
“Jordan. Seriously. Let. It. Go.”
I sit back and cross my arms. We both know this isn’t going to go anywhere. She’ll tell me that Slenderman isn’t real. I’ll tell her that he is and that I can prove it. She’ll remind me of what happened last time, and I’ll remind her of what happened to Nikki. She’ll get pissed that I’m ‘using the dead’, and I’ll get pissed that she’s never been interested in finding out the truth. One of us will storm off and slam a door. I’ll keep researching and she’ll keep telling me I’m crazy. But this time is different. This time, I know. This time, she’ll know.
But we say nothing. We’ve had this fight so many times, our eyes can say all there is to say.
Then I head up to my room and search for James Pierce.
Mr. Pierce is a fancy lawyer. Works at a big law firm—the same one who got the man accused of killing Nikki a manslaughter plea with 6 month’s jail time. If Amanda finds out, she’s gonna be furious.
A receptionist answers before the second ring. “Pierce, Lowell, and Baker, will you allow me to help you after a brief hold?”
I don’t answer because she’s gonna put me on hold anyway. Despite asking in such a weird, drawn-out way.
But she repeats her line. “Pierce, Lowell, and Baker. Will you allow me to help you after a brief hold?”
“Sure,” I say.
The hold music starts to play at the same time as Amanda’s music, but I can barely hear the smooth jazz over the heavy metal. She’s angry this time. She only listens to metal when she’s really mad. Like wants-to-punch-someone mad.
I don’t bother trying to yell at her to turn it down. Instead, I retreat to my closet to wait my turn.
“That’s the last time I saw her,” Amanda says. Five whole hours since he took me and she still hasn’t stopped crying. Her eyes are so swollen, I’m not entirely sure she can see properly.
As for me, he only allows me to see her.
Her—calling our mom to say she can’t find me and that maybe I’ve run off to investigate this ridiculous legend I’ve been obsessed with.
Her—who’s too scared to admit to herself that I’d never leave my phone behind—especially since it could be used to document photographic evidence of the thing she doesn’t believe exists.
The thing whose breath I feel on my neck.
The thing with cold, thin fingers it uses to drink my tears.
The thing I thought I knew so much about, only to find out I knew nothing.
It’s not man, woman, or human.
But it’s not NOT human either.
Seven days. That’s how long I’ve been missing. They keep telling Amanda not to lose hope. Our parents tell her they’ll find me.
She knows its a lie.
She sees the search and rescue team moving on, dwindling in numbers by the day.
The search dogs have been replaced with new ones. Ones more attuned to the scent of decay.
We visited her last night. She pleaded with me to come home. To give up my search. Then Slenderman wrapped one of its long arms around her neck until she woke up gasping for air. She thought it was only a nightmare, until she saw the marks the suckers left on her.
Now, she believes.
Forty one days. Yesterday was my birthday. Amanda tried not to think about me, but then there was a news story about those girls. Guilty, the jury said. They weren’t wrong, but they weren’t right either.
But more importantly, Amanda found my journal yesterday. All of my research. She’s working on a plan to save me. She knows dates that add up to prime numbers are important.
We visit her every night now.
Sometimes, she doubts our existence. Convinces herself it’s all in her head, a nightmare or hallucination.
But we always leave something to keep her believing.
It won’t be long.
Day three hundred and eleven. Amanda turned 16 without me. She spent the day telling me how sorry she was that she didn’t believe. That she’d do anything to bring me back. That she swears she will find me.
I believe her.
It’s Halloween. A prime day. 10, 31, 18. Fifty nine. It’s an important day to us. Amanda figured that out. A prime Halloween day. Our first, in 2010, hundreds of people went missing after looking for Slenderman. In 2012, they found all their bodies. In 2016, the massacres—including the girls who killed their friend. Slenderman didn’t exist before 2009. Amanda learned about the theory of him being written into existence in June of that year a few months ago.
But she still hasn’t figured out everything.
She doesn’t know Jordan is dead.
Or that as I cradle her in my sprawling arms, lapping at her tears, she is the reason I exist.
She has given us life.
Her belief has given us life.
And now, she will join Nikki and me, giving others a reason to believe.
Remember, if you want to hear more True Frights stories, and Blacklore, you’ll need to become a member of the NIGHTLIGHT Legion on patreon. Just go to patreon.com/nightlightpod to join us today.
We’ll be back next week with another story.