It’s been a while since we last delved into the mythos of the most infamous creepypasta legend — the unearthly, faceless being who goes by many names, including “The Operator,” “The Tall One” and “Der Großmann.” His most common nickname is, of course, Slenderman… and the few who claim to have encountered him and survived have never been quite the same again.
One such witness is Samuel Kelling — a noted author of fantasy-adventure tales, best known for his New York Times Bestseller THE TRAVELER’S GUEST BOOK.
Samuel didn’t write horror stories himself (at least not at first), but he certainly knew about the Slenderman mythos. Still, he dismissed those tales as nothing more than the modern equivalent of urban legends… that is, until the day he claims to have experienced his own fateful encounter with the nightmarish entity.
He even came up with his own nickname for him, befitting the eerie way in which they allegedly crossed paths: The Pen-Man.
After three decades as a professional writer, Samuel finally enjoyed the rewards of his labors, living comfortably off the royalties from his best-selling books (as well as a lucrative option from a major movie studio) and dedicating himself to writing something more substantive — more literary — after having severed ties with his previous publishing house.
His wife Amber, who was also his editor, not only supported this creative decision, but became something of a muse for Samuel’s latest book, which tapped into her family’s rich history for its subject matter. She also helped him in a more practical way — by typing up his handwritten manuscript pages so that she could edit them on her laptop.
Oddly enough, it’s Samuel’s old-school approach to writing — scribbling his thoughts down furiously onto dozens of notepads with his favorite fountain pen — that ultimately led to the moment of horror that changed his life forever.
Samuel’s story begins with these words: “The date is January the 23rd, 2011, a very crisp day. Clouds blanket the sky and shroud the sun…” On the surface, this passage doesn’t seem worth noting… but it will be, very soon.
Samuel continues to describe his morning routine, heading downstairs to find Amber sipping her coffee. She was examining a small object, turning it over in her hand when he entered. She placed it on the marble counter between them.
“I found one of your pens in the yard today,” she said as he poured his own welcome cup of coffee. He recognized it immediately as the same high-end brand and model of fountain pen with which he had written all of his best-selling novels. It was like a talisman to him — a source of comfort and inspiration in itself.
At first, he wondered how it might have fallen outside… but just as he was about to return it to its stand at his writing desk, he saw that it was one of two. His favorite pen was already in its place, so the one Amber found had been a duplicate, down to the last detail… except for one chilling exception.
On the black-lacquered cap, a tiny symbol had been crudely etched, revealing the gleaming metal beneath. The symbol seemed strangely familiar — a circle with an X slashed through it. The same symbol that adorned countless memes throughout creepypasta culture… the sigil of Slenderman.
When the realization struck him, Samuel felt a sudden chill descend upon the room, and a low, steady humming began to rise in volume, seemingly coming from within the walls of his study.
His instinct told him to throw the pen out the window… but he had no sooner opened it when a cold, powerful tendril wrapped itself around his arm. In an instant, he felt his body go limp, overcome with a dull tingling sensation, as if the blood had left his limbs.
Then he saw the thing’s white, featureless face.
In the moment of pure terror before he lost consciousness, he thought he could hear it humming a faint melody…
When he awakened, he tried to surmise what had just happened. The coffee in his cup was still slightly warm, so he couldn’t have been out long… but in his lap, one of his notepads was open; on the paper was a handwritten passage which he had no recollection of writing. Stranger still, the handwriting was not his own.
The page begins: “The date is January the 23rd, 2011, a very crisp day. Clouds blanket the sky and shroud the sun…”
He read the entire page, his hands shaking as he realized it was a detailed description of the morning’s events… including his encounter with the tall, faceless figure he’d believed to be nothing more than a bad dream.
He was jarred out of his paralysis by a burning smell… which he realized was coming from the kitchen downstairs. He sprang to his feet, dropping the pad and running, nearly falling down the steps in his haste.
Even before he reached the kitchen door, he knew he wouldn’t like what he saw inside.
The kitchen was filled with pungent smoke; it was emanating from the toaster, where slices of bread had been reduced to ash. The windows were obscured by grass and weeds, and the fruit on the table had long since rotted. Amber wasn’t there, but her clothes were… or at least scraps of them.
He collapsed to his knees, feeling a scream of despair rising within him… until he heard a deep, booming male voice emanating from the stairwell.
Even as he slowly staggered upright, Samuel knew what would be facing him from the top of the stairs… but he went toward the voice anyway. He knew he had no choice now.
Through his tears, he saw the pale, faceless form… and it spoke again.
“SHE IS NOT GONE,” the figure said.
He looked at the spot where a normal man’s eyes would have been, his eyes begging the silent question.
“IF YOU WRITE AS I COMMAND, SHE WILL RETURN TO YOU.”
With that, the figure vanished.
Samuel knew what he must do next: he had to write the story of what he’d just experienced. He had to document the tale of The Pen-Man.
That story has an ending… which is best shared in the author’s own words:
I find myself sitting at a cafe on a sunny day. It is August 5, 2012. I know not where I am. Catching stares and glances from those around me, I find my clothes to be nothing but a ragged, torn black suit, as though I had just run through the woods after a funeral. On my table sits a thick book and full cup of cold coffee.
In the distance, I see a woman in a mourner’s black dress, in the same condition as mine, approaching. She sits down in front of me. It is Amber.
The waitress approaches and places my receipt on the table before me… it simply says, “You are free now.”
I embrace Amber. “I love you,” I try to say, but all that comes out is a low, deathly hum…