A theory

My last post was about the information I’ve managed to dig up so far. Between that post, the previous one on blogs, and the post about news articles, I feel I’ve gathered up more than enough information to build a theory. I’ve exhausted the supply of existing information, so now it’s my turn to leave something behind for anyone who follows.

It’s safe to say that the Tall Man is a being like nothing that’s been previously encountered. It is similar to the bogeymen of old. It snatches people, murders them in terrible ways, or breaks their minds by its mere presence. There’s no remorse, no pity, and no humanity. There is nothing but inevitability.

Everything about the Tall Man makes one’s mind reel away, refusing to acknowledge its existence. Yet, at the same time, you come to accept it as part of your universe shortly thereafter. It’s simultaneously impossible and yet completely natural.

Considering my upbringing, this combination of attributes brings to mind something that I find highly unlikely, yet must consider.

This is a creature, both illogical and logical. It is otherworldly. It claims to be making things right. It seems to target only those who commit or will supposedly commit evil acts. It operates under laws that cannot be understood. If I were a more religious man, I’d claim the Tall Man is an avenging angel.

This, however, is patently ridiculous. I cannot accept this possibility for one very simple reason: It means accepting my future demise.

Instead, I choose the theory that keeps my spirits high enough that I will join Nil and the others who disappeared rather than those who died, went mad, or were taken. I choose to believe the Tall Man is not an angel, but something pretending to be one. It manipulates, it destroys hope, it instills doubt and madness until finally it takes its prey with ease.

I don’t know where the Tall Man came from, why it plays this game, or how it does what it does. I know that I could be very wrong. Still, this is what I believe.

It’s what I must believe.

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A week’s research

I’ve spent this week submerging myself in whatever I can find that might be related to the Tall Man. In particular, I’ve been reading more blogs. The more I read, the more of a consistent narrative seems to arise.

Someone has a negative effect on people around them. This person notices the Tall Man. They spend a period of time attempting to elude him. Some try to fight him. Some go mad. In the end, they all die, or simply stop updating.

I’m beginning to wonder about the ones that never have a finished story. They’re often the most optimistic of the bloggers. They make the choice to stand up. Their last posts are often hopeful goodbyes. Then, they never appear again.

What happens to them? Does he kill them? Does he take them?

Nil’s A Spot of Luck ended with him going over his plan to kill the Tall Man with another one of the being’s targets, Emily. Neither of them updated their blogs after that. Clearly his plan failed, or I wouldn’t be in this situation. Instead, I can only try and glean information from his tale.

Which is nothing. Nil’s story is just like the others, only more hopeful.

This is all I have after one week: Theories as to the Tall Man’s origins, ways to fight or flee him, and a curiosity about what happened to those who never updated again.

I’ve gotten all I can from those who came before. There’s only one place to go now.

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A reflection

I spent all of yesterday staring out my window at the lake. I didn’t sleep after my encounter with the Tall Man. I shook, I opened my curtain, and I looked out at the water.

I thought.

For an entire day, I thought. My mother called me for breakfast, and I didn’t move. My father called me for church, and I didn’t move. He shouted, and I did not budge. For the first time, they left without me.

For one whole day, I looked out at the lake, reflecting on what happened there. From before the sun rose until after it set, all I did was think. So many thoughts running through my mind as I struggled, trying to comprehend everything that was said, what it meant, and what it meant to me.

This morning, two hours into the new day, I made my decision. I posted it here, the only place that maintains a record of my story, and fell fast asleep. I awoke to find him sitting at the foot of my bed, staring at me. I didn’t flinch. I didn’t move away. I looked at the Tall Man, and I shook my head. The next thing I remember is waking up again, my room empty.

I have reached a conclusion: The Tall Man is wrong. Or, if he is right, then I cannot accept it.

He claims that my existence is wrong. He says that I am dangerous, a threat to all things. He says that I have to be removed.

I don’t believe this. I thought about it for an entire day. For some time, I believed he may be right. I considered taking my own life then and there with the rifle that I still had from our conversation. I’ve hurt many. I’ve proven myself to be walking potential violence. I don’t have friends who would miss me, besides Cassia. I am a burden to my parents. I thought that if I am the cause of such disarray that this being has to remove me, perhaps I should do it myself. If I am the source of disorder, I needed to be removed.

But I don’t believe that’s true. The universe is naturally orderly. It is built upon the chaos of people making choices, subjectively “right” or “wrong”. We cause pleasure, and we cause pain. In the end, all our decisions simply further the existing order.

I make those decisions. They are not made by some impossible man. They are not forced upon me. I will not allow him to take control of my fate. He claims to know better, and perhaps he does, but I will not let him take the one thing that makes me human, all under the guise of knowing more.

I may be wrong. I may be making a mistake, but it is mine to make. I will find a way to freedom. All will be well, once I prove the Tall Man wrong.

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A position

No.

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An answer

“You obsess over guns. Desire mastery of death. Still, worthless. I am beyond.” The Tall Man said to me. I stood there, hands empty, no longer grasping my weapon.

I don’t know what happened to the round I’d fired at him. I might have missed. I might not. Maybe he stopped it, or maybe he didn’t and it just didn’t have an effect. I’ll never know for sure. I just know that my hope fell into the depths and left me alone with him.

I struggled against the tendrils that held my wrists. They took hold of me when he knocked the rifle out of my hands and into the water. Now, he stepped forward. I could only see the very tops of his legs, like he was standing atop it, but I knew they extended deep beneath the surface. They had to be inhumanly long, to reach the lake’s bottom. Still, he moved with an impossible grace, like he walked across the water, rather than across the ground below. There weren’t even waves.

He approached the nose of the boat, leaned down, and looked at me. The tentacles on his back moved in that eerie way they always do when he speaks.

“You submit, small one?”

I tried to answer, to tell him no, but… it wasn’t that simple. I don’t recall talking. I don’t think any words came out of my mouth that night. Instead, I remember one half of his tendrils stopping, and then moving in a different pattern from the others.

“No,” I replied.

He seemed to pause for a moment before tilting his head, “Understood. Time remains. Twenty one days, small one. If submit, here. If not, elsewhere. Removed either way.”

I felt his grip on my wrists weaken, the tendrils untying themselves from me. Just as they were about to release me, I spoke. I’m still not sure why, but it was like I felt my opportunity to speak slipping away. I had a question, and I needed an answer.

“Why?”

His hold on me tightened again. My feet left the deck of the boat as he stood up straight, pulling me into the air and holding me up to his face. “You inquire? Odd. You are a threat.”

“To you?” I asked. My legs dangled above the water. His control of the situation was complete. All it’d take was shoving my head  beneath the surface and I was gone.

The Tall Man slowly shook his head back and forth. “To people. Your existence creates imperfection – cracks. The only option: Removal.”

“What?”

“You live, small one, everything breaks. Excision must be made.”

“What are you?”

“You know.”

The next thing I remember is waking up here in my  bed. My father’s rifle is sitting beside me. There’s no water damage, no sign it was ever in the lake. I checked the magazine. It’s full, like I’d never even fired that single bullet.

I’m shaking.

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A decision

I can’t believe I did that last night. How long have I spent running from myself, running from my anger? Last year, I sent Thomas to the hospital because he pushed me too far. I reacted by just getting better at taking it. I just kept taking it.

“The universe works out.” That’s what I always tell myself.  “It’s all a part of the order. It isn’t their fault. You don’t need to get angry or fight back. Just force it all down, accept it, and move on.”

I’ve been so good at it too. I don’t think I’d have lost control if things were different. Ryan was being a creep, but normally I’d have just done what I could to neutralize the problem. I wouldn’t have gotten angry. I wouldn’t have lashed out. Everything would have been quiet. No one would look at me like I’m a monster. My parents wouldn’t keep telling me how disappointed they are in my actions. I wouldn’t be the violent freak, just the quiet one. Everything would have been different, if only I wasn’t so stressed.

The Tall Man seems to follow me everywhere. I see him at least once a day. He’s always lurking somewhere in the distance. He’s watched from rooftops, from the side of the road, from over an aisle in the supermarket. His shape is always changing. His posture is always the same. He’s never quite threatening, he’s just there. He’s just wrong. He’s just slowly wearing at your mind.

I have a theory. Looking at everything I’ve read, from those old news articles to the blogs online, the Tall Man brings out the worst in people. He brings out stress. Stress weighs on the mind. It makes us more prone to make mistakes. It reveals who we truly are, underneath the calm shell.

The Tall Man is a mirror, and he only shows our dark side.

I’m sick of it, though. I’m not going to let him turn me into another one of his victims. I will not become a monster. I have my father’s gun. Perhaps this is the reason for all those years of being forced to go to the shooting range with him. I’m going out on the lake tonight. I hope to see the Tall Man there. And I hope it will be the last time.

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A swing

Ryan pushed too hard today. Again, a stream of insults and jibes poured from his mouth. It wasn’t directed at me this time, though. He decided to pick a new target this youth group, instead of going for me. I guess I’m just not that appealing anymore, considering I hardly react. No, he decided to go at Cassia.

As soon as I walked in, I could tell what was going on. He was standing there by her. She was drawing in her book, trying to ignore the asshole who wanted to make her life miserable. I heard his words as I walked closer. I heard the misogynistic insults, the chauvinistic desires, the conformist pride spilling from him at her.

And she just took it. Is that what I look like? She just took it.

I couldn’t. I have some monster telling me I’m on his hit list. I dream every night about being chased by a mass of tentacles that infects everything around me. I see him daily: on the tree line, in the mall, on the deck of my goddamn boat. I didn’t need more stress. The fact that this time it was coming from something human, something I knew, something I could affect…

The pastor sent me home early tonight. It was worth it. My parents yelled at me the whole way home. It was worth it. Seeing that asshole doubled over in pain was worth it.

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