Survive him, Thrive with him.

Claire Mathews had a particulary normal life; good friends, nice education. The only things thatmade her different was her paranoid friends, and complicated family life.
She never really experienced more than her little secluded box of life and comfort.
In an eventful short period of time, that little box is stretched far and wide, opening up past what her mind can comprehend and bringing her 'normal' life to a screeching halt. She wasn't Claire Mathews anymore, and she wasn't the same girl who did all her homework and kissed her mother goodnight over the telephone.
What happened? A certain man of myth decided to knock on her door.
A certain man with surprising news and a shocking, if not believable, story to tell.
A certain man with no face.

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19. Chapter nineteen

Jacob shakily starts his car, trying desperately to remember his training from several years ago. All of that work, yet he preferred biking, especially since the only things he needed to do were in close range.

 

He presses on the pedal and starts to feel it coming back to him, the periods of studying, the fake crashes in the empty parking lot.

 

He takes the car down the road and merges onto another street, crossing the town to visit Claire.

 

She didn't even tell him when she got her own place. Her mother didn't know about this, and they were all shocked when they heard that her father was going to jail for child abuse, testified by Clair herself. How could they not have heard this?

 

Jacob contemplates about when the guys will come over again. Last night they tried to put together new missing child and teen cases to see if The Slender Man choose victims specifically. So far, nothing, but they weren't going to stop until they found him.

 

But, oddly enough, something inside of him was telling him to stop searching and stay away from the topic, but he passed it off as the scared part of him that is afraid he will find The Slender Man, and won't know what to do.

 

Hell, they might even die if they see him.

 

Jacob shivers as he pulls up into a long wooded driveway, his mouth widening as he cuts through the trees and sees a dark looking mansion, ivy climbing up just about every surface it could grab. The place gave off an evil feel, but it was too interesting for Jacob to listen to his instincts.

 

He parks in the driveway and steps out, eyes still roaming the landscape. Maybe they could explore the vast woods surrounding this place for The Slender Man. Him and the guys planned last week, but they all chickened out before they could go.

 

Claire runs out and greets him with a smile, wearing a black sundress and her hair up. A man follows her, but slower, as she grabs Jacob's hands and squeezes them.

 

"Hi! How have you been?" She asks.

 

"I'm pretty well. Who's this? Jacob asks back, eyes never leaving the blonde's blue eyes.

 

"This is my fianceé, Dyn Main. He's from Whales." She enthusiastically tells me. He feels part of his heart sink over this. She hasn't told him anything, and all of this stuff happened in such little time!

 

Father in jail, moving out, fianceé!

 

Where did the time go?

 

"It's nice to meet you." He croaks, holding out his hand to shake Dyn's. As soon as their skin touches, Jacob gets a cold sensation that travels up to his elbow, but then gets as warm as it was before. He takes his hand back quickly and forces a smile, Dyn's expression warm, and inviting.

 

"Well, we shouldn't just stand here! Let's go in." Claire exclaims, leading them inside. The inside of the house was even spookier than the outside. It was antique, but everything had the feel that it was fresh, like they were still outside. Jacob doesn't question it as Claire sits him on an old style, hand carved sofa and sits next to him, Dyn siting next to her.

 

What kind of name is Dyn anyways?

 

"Believe it or not, this house was recently renovated. You can still feel the wild running through this place." Claire breathes. Jacob half expected her to take out china cups and tea, but instead Dyn stands up and walks away, practically floating across the floor.

 

"Why didn't you tell me about all of this?" He whisper ask.

 

"I did, I went to your house and Will brought tequila." She explains, rolling her eyes.

 

"You know Will?" He ask.

 

"Yes. Will, Derek, Bryan. I'm pretty sure none of you remember much that night, you all passed out before the bottle was even gone." Claire explains, smiling. Jacob slowly nods with confusion, pretending to know.

 

"So, when did Dyn come in?" Jacob asks.

 

"We met at a flower shop. He handed me a lavender colored rose and we had a few dates after that. I wanted to keep it a secret until the right moment, but that changed when he asked me to marry him. I do love him, with all my soul." Claire dreamily explains.

 

"How much do you even know about him?" Jacob asks, hoping to possibly steer her away, jealousy in his mind.

 

"I know a lot, and he tells me things every day. I know he was bullied all his life, rejected every time he tried to find someone to love him. He loves nature, and children. He finds their innocence amazing, since they accept things so easily. Don't you try to do anything, Jacob." She scolds and he blushes slightly.

 

"What? No. I wasn't doing anything." He defends a little too quickly. Claire smiles.

 

"Of course you were. Besides, nothing could separate us. You know what they say..." She remarks, looking up at Dyn, suddenly appearing by the window. Jacob jumps in his seat.

 

"If you can survive him, you can thrive with him."

 

***

 

Will is shaken by Bryan as soon as the enthusiastic teenager gets through the door. He would rather listen to his music in peace, but the obvious excitement caught his attention.

 

Bryan only got this excited for one thing.

 

"Call the others! The new Slenderman game is out!" He practically squeals.

 

With a simple phone call, their little gang was up and running down the streets to the HD TV in Will and Bryan's basement. When all four hunker down on beanbag chairs and one office chair, they relay their days as Bryan downloads the game online.

 

"I heard you saw Claire last week." Derek brings up. They've heard stories of this girl, but she seemed so familiar in ways none of them could explain.

 

"When are you gonna ask her out, man?" Will asks, bowl of cereal in hand. Jacob shakes his head, sinking in the beanbag chair further.

 

"Never mind. She's 'engaged' to some random guy." He grumbles.

 

"Ouch." Bryan winces, eyes never leaving the computer.

 

"I'd rather not talk about her. What's this game based on?" Jacob asks.

 

"The creator said his inspiration came from a few reports given by a group of teenagers who said they met the Slenderman and...what was it again?" Derek asks Bryan, who spins around in his office chair to look at them.

 

"They gave a testimony of dark loyalty. Apparently three out of the four teenagers survived, and all had accounts of a strange woman lurking in the shadows, appearing with the Slender man as they ran away. She seemed to be a proxy, or an evil lover." He explains with a mysterious tone of voice.

 

"The Slender man doesn't love." Will reminds him. Bryan shrugs and spins back to the computer.

 

"Got it!" He exclaims, clicking an icon on the computer screen and opening a dark background and menu.

 

"Lights on or off?" Derek asks.

 

"On." Bryan states.

 

"Yeah, I don't think we're ready for off. A few Youtubers have already uploaded videos of them playing this. Ratings are high in horror factor." Will reads off his phone.

 

"Which Youtubers?" Jacob asks, the four starting to huddle around the computer screen, Bryan controlling.

 

"Uh, Markiplier, Pewdiepie, Tobuscus..."

 

"So...good sources?" Jacob replies and Will nods, putting his phone away.

 

"How did Claire and this guy meet?" Derek asks.

 

"Dude, no. We are not getting into that now. Is this proxy supposed to be in the game?" Jacob asks, waving Derek away. Bryan nods.

 

"She's supposed to. Other players have said that her appearance could mean life or death. If you interact politely with her, you live." Bryan replies.

 

"Then she isn't a proxy. She's just another CreepyPasta living with the Slender man." Will interjects.

 

"We will see." Bryan mumbles, clicking start on the menu. The screen goes black and the faint shimmer of stars lights up the darkness. The person eventually gets up and seems to pull a flashlight from a pocket, flickering it on. The first things you see is a wire fence.

 

Bryan turns the person around and starts to walk down a relatively open path.

 

The game seems to go on as the normal one. The person aimlessly walks around and comes across various objects, a few seeming to be even more dirty, and sometimes cleaner, than before. They notice how the old truck had pillows and blankets inside.

 

Then, they find part of the path that was lined with stones, getting to heavy slate tiles until they come across a large mansion.

 

Jacob tenses. That looked familiar.

 

Ivy climbed the old building, and the four whisper in excitement and adrenaline as Bryan pushes open the front door with a creek, the flashlight suddenly going off and making Bryan flinch.

 

"Jacob?" They hear from inside the game. Real life Jacob makes a noise and the others point at him because his name was in the game.

 

"You say more? Then who? Derek?" The voice calls. Bryan moves their person closer to a set of double doors, inches across the wall and going for the light under the door. The flashlight still wasn't working. Jacob and Derek grab hands and bump shoulders in victory for their names being mentioned.

 

"More? Will and Bryan? None of them?" The voice continues. All four fall silent in caution. It wasn't everyday all of your names were in the same game.

 

Something suddenly felt missing in their minds. That voice sounded vaguely familiar to three, but completely familiar to one.

 

Bryan's character opens the door and it reveals a dimly lit kitchen, one candle resting on the counter by the stove. A woman was waiting, staring at the intruder. Derek flips out, but Jacob stares.

 

"Oh my God." He breathes.

 

The woman tilts her head to the side, back against the white walls of the room. Cracks seemed to be forming outward from where she was.

 

"Turn around, turn around, turn around." Bryan demands, pressing the controls on his keyboard, but nothing. The flashlight finally flickers on and Jacob gasps.

 

There, in pixilized picture, stood Claire, staring at the screen with a sadistically happy grin.

 

"Oh. My. God." Jacob states, louder. Will shushes him.

 

"You seem to be off course. Could you turn your flashlight off, please?" She asks. Bryan freezes, pressing one button to turn it off. The candle goes out as well, and they stand in complete darkness.

 

Bryan turns the character around and dashes for the door, the slight illumination guiding them until it swings shut and they forcefully turn around.

 

"That wasn't nice to run like that." Claire scolds from somewhere in the room, the screen starting to grow static.

 

"Oh God! Oh God! Run!" Derek cries, shaking Bryan in his seat.

 

"I can't!"

 

"Why is Claire in the game?" Jacob asks loudly as the screen fizzes out with the smiling picture of Claire and the Slender man.

 

"Our names are there too?" Will asks.

 

The four carefully look at each other, minds turning.

 

"Does anyone else feel like something is missing?" Bryan asks softly.

 

"The Slender man can erase minds." Will states.

 

"What if...?" Derek implies.

 

"But we..." Jacob stammers.

 

"What if we really didn't chicken out, but we saw too much?" Will questions. The four get wide eyes, giving one last look to the computer screen, then slowly walking away from it. They were done for the night.

 

They were done forever.
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