Timothy was 16 the first time he had read Lovecraft’s stories. The book had been a birthday present from his uncle. He didn’t pick it up until a couple days later, but once he did, he couldn’t put it down. The weird, wild, and wonderful tales had wormed their way into his brain and sparked his imagination. As he continued reading, the sun slowly sinking beneath the horizon, he felt a cold, creeping, chill slowly make its way up his spine. As he reached the last page, he shut the book closed with a slam and laid down on his bed, staring up at the ceiling, heart beating a bit faster than it probably should.
“Oh… my… gosh…” he whispered. “That… was amazing!”
Timothy was 16 the first time he had read Lovecraft’s stories. It was probably ironic, loving a collection of horror stories when there was so much horror in his life already, but he didn’t much care anymore, to be honest. Despite the deep bags under his eyes, he had stayed up into the wee hours of the morning to read the book he had checked out (using someone’s dropped library card) from the local library. He would have brought it with him to the next town as well, except for the fact that he had to carefully allot the space in his backpack, and bringing a thick book full of stories he could just look up on the internet was too much of a luxury.
However, after that, he made a habit of printing out a few stories every couple towns and carrying them around for a bit. He’d read them sometimes when he had a quiet moment, and be able to forget about his plight for a bit, pretend that his life was just another one of the strange stories he had read about. Sometimes he’d get so absorbed, he could almost believe that he’d look up and he’d be in some cozy living room, reading to adventure, not to forget, could almost believe that there was no Slenderman, had never been a Slenderman, that he was still in high school, still on that path to that boring monotonous, safe , future that seemed like some far-off golden dream now. It was always bittersweet when he finished and had to face reality again, had to face the constant lump of fear in his stomach and his nervous breakdowns. He was so fucking messed up. Timothy rubbed his temples, trying to stave off the incoming headache, and pulled the notebook and a pencil out of his ragged backpack.
A scene from The Outsider had stuck in his mind recently, probably because it felt a bit too close to home, and he’d felt the urge to get it down on paper, get it out somehow, an urge he hadn't felt in a long time. He’d been a good artist before everything that had happened, you know. He'd even won second place in a district competition. But that was long ago, an entirely different life.
Now, the lines were shaky and trembling and he couldn’t really stop himself from gripping the pencil for dear life. With a too-strong grip, Timothy shaded in the endless forbidding forest he knew all too well, haunting the darker parts of his mind. A couple hours of almost frenzied scribbling later, the pencil dropped out of his hand, rolling onto the termite-damaged desk before coming to a stop near the edge. Timothy stared down at the drawing. It was nothing like he could have made before, no, but then again, nothing was like it was before. Nothing at all. It was still passable though, still recognizable. He’d created something, something new. It was just a drawing, but all of a sudden, it meant more than that. The Slenderman hadn’t taken that part of him, not completely, he supposed. Not like It had taken almost everything else. A thought started to stir in his mind. Maybe, just maybe, what was left of his life didn’t have to be just that of a rabbit on the run. He’d die soon enough, he knew that, his body spread throughout some acre of forest, but maybe before that, he could be something more than a shade, floating from town to town, half-dead already, not really part of the world anymore. Maybe he could leave behind something more than his dead body, mangled beyond recognition. It wouldn’t be much, but at least it would be something the Slenderman couldn’t take away. As he leaned back in the chair, for the first time since Bainville, Timothy started to feel the slightest bit of hope bubbling up in his chest.