The Samaritan Chronicles: Fact and Fiction

The girl looked to be probably in her early twenties. That was a disadvantage in what she was about to do; it would have been easier a few years ago. Easier when she looked more like a child.
So she’d had to compensate. Research was the key; he was always summoned – or called or irritated into paying a visit or whatever it was he was – always by research. Research into him.
So for the past week, she had done nothing but research. Constantly. Day and night, every minute of every hour. Tracking down every shred of data, information and rumour she could.
And now there he was. Just standing there, silently, not doing anything. As it seemed he often did. He looked almost disappointingly normal – at least, he looked normal to her.
The two figures stared at each other, blankly. One a short, slight, reassuringly sweet-looking woman in clothes that had probably been cool round about the nineteen-eighties; the other a tall, thin, bald man in a business suit, with a face that seemed somehow just a bit off. Unnervingly so. Almost as unnerving as his freakishly elongated torso and arms. And fingers.
The Samaritan broke into a friendly smile. The Slender Man did not.
“Slendy,” she said, with the jovial air of one greeting a friend. “I’ve been reading about you. You’ve got a reputation. Killing people and rearranging their insides, driving children insane, burning down buildings, all sorts of unpleasant things. I think it’s almost multiversally agreed that everyone would be much better off if you were gone.”
The Slender Man said nothing. It could have been that his arms grew slightly more branch-like.
“Of course,” the Samaritan nodded. “You don’t speak. You laugh occasionally, but you never say anything. It’s all in the records. I don’t think you even can.”
The Slender Man, or course, still said nothing. He didn’t even move. He didn’t even blink.
“You know what else it says about you in here?” the Samaritan asked, gesturing to the computer screen. “You run on other people’s awareness of you. You can only be seen by people who already know of you. To everyone else, you’re completely invisible. You could follow someone around for years and until they found out about your existence they’d never know. That’s pretty creepy, I’ve got to admit. It just comes with one little problem.”
The Slender Man was definitely more tree-like now, his branch-like arms curling into something approaching claws. It was difficult ever to tell the emotions of an eldritch, otherworldly being, but a casual observer, had there been one available capable of seeing him, would have been forgiven for concluding that this one was getting annoyed.
“The problem,” the Samaritan continued, carefully stepping off of her chair and standing up, “is that your very existence contradicts itself. You can’t be seen by those who don’t know you, so how can you possibly become known in the first place? You can’t even tell people about yourself, because you never speak. If you really existed, no-one would know, and therefore no-one would be able to see you. I can clearly see you, and therefore you cannot possibly exist.”
The Slender Man’s expression changed. The corners of his mouth seemed to tug slightly, his eyes almost narrowed. It could have been said, by the loose-tongued and melodramatic, that he actually smiled. He seemed to gesture towards the computer screen with one twiggy finger.
“Ah, of course,” nodded the Samaritan. “I forgot. There are photos. You show up on camera.” She smiled brightly. “But there are problems with that too, aren’t there? Photos can only be taken of things that exist, obviously. What is it they say about you?”
The Slender Man’s finger curled back again. The smile – if there had ever been a smile – was gone.
“Oh yes,” the Samaritan nodded happily. “That’s right. ‘He only exists if you think about him. Now try not thinking about him.’ The White Bear Problem. Easy to avoid of course, if you simply don’t know what a white bear looks like. Which, as we’ve already concluded, nobody ever could with you.”
There was a pause. And then the Slender Man opened his mouth and gave a low, eerie chuckle. The temperature in the room began to rise. More thin, elongated, branch-like arms began to burst out of the Slender Man’s torso, making him look more tree-like than ever. There was a crackling as, against all laws of physics, the walls themselves began to spring up tiny flames, which grew rapidly, joining together with the clear aim of eventually creating four full walls of fire, penning the Samaritan and the Slender Man in.
“Oh, yes, of course,” nodded the Samaritan. “You don’t even need to speak to get across your response: you clearly must exist, whether it’s possible or not, because you’re right there in front of me.” She stepped forwards, her neck bent right back to glare up at her adversary, her smile suddenly gone.
“I’m afraid not, Mister. You are a being that runs on knowledge. For you, knowledge literally equals power. You only exist because people think you do; you can only be seen by those who know you’re there; you are attracted towards the targets that have spent the most time researching you. What people know about you governs what you do, what you are. Well I have news for you. I trust in my own logic, wholeheartedly, far, far more than I trust my eyes or my ears. And right now I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that the thing in front of me does not exist.”
She blinked. The temperature was cool again – in fact, now that she thought about it, it had never really risen. The flames she had thought were there were clearly not – they had always only ever been a trick of the light, of course. And it was the same with this thing in front of her that appeared to be a figure. It wasn’t actually there. Her eyes were playing tricks on her. She could see that now. The Slender Man did not exist. He never had.
And then logic caught up with the situation, and the trick of the light in front of her appeared, for a brief moment, to be looking very existentially-confused. Its own existence had been the proof behind its non-existence, which caused… issues. Issues that, in the land of fiction could only have one possible resolution due to the irrevocable rules of what does and does not make a cool story.
“You only don’t exist as long as you think about yourself,” the Samaritan said pleasantly to the empty air. Had there ever been anyone there she would have been explaining to them why she had won, but of course she knew that was not the case. There was no-one there. It just amused her to voice this explanation to a person that wasn’t there. There was nothing wrong with that.
“So,” she continued, switching off the computer (she had just about enough time to note that what she had been reading was gone from the screen already) and turning to leave, “just try not to think about yourself.”
And the non-existent Slender Man exploded in a completely-harmless blast that immediately ceased to have ever been there.

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