Azrael has been staying over for a few days this holiday. You're really happy about that, obviously; she's your partner in crime, your 'BFF', your most trusted pal. She usually helps you with managing your weird YouTube channel which has surprisingly gained a lot of traction the past couple of days. Your channel is comprised of slightly disturbing humour, the kind of nonsensical little videos that make one's parents severely concerned. Azrael helps you catch footage, audio and the like, and is often a test audience to the things she hadn't participated in, and you couldn't ask for a better friend.
Today, a warm April evening, Azrael and yourself are playing a few rounds of Super Smash Bros Ultimate to wind down after a tiring day of editing. You are currently beating her ass as your main, Young Link.
"God, no fair! Link is OP as hell."
"Nah, you just decided to be Kirby when you could've been literally anyone else."
Azrael sticks a tongue out at you and you both laugh. You're about to start a new game, scrolling through colour palettes for Link when one catches your eye that definitely wasn't there before. This is just the regular skin but his eyes are completely back with red pupils, just like some pretentiously edgy internet story. You select it.
"The fuck's that?" asks Azrael, noticing your choice. You shrug and hum, making a face.
The match then begins. Somehow she manages to make the first hit, but as soon as she comes into contact with you your character bursts into flames, immediately ending the match.
"What the fuck," you both say in unison. You both look at each other in solidarity that that indeed just happened. You go to turn off the TV.
"Well, I think that's enough games for today, huh?" you stretch nonchalantly, but confusion is evident in your voice. Azrael agrees. Luckily, your mother calls that dinner is ready and you both hurtle down the stairs. Afterwards you both get into bed and decide to watch some random thriller you found, since both of your brains are kind of numb from your Cool Internet Videos and lack of common sense. As it ends you shut down your laptop, but instead of the text saying "shutting down" it read "no eyes, always watching". Certainly the kind of thing you want to see straight before going to bed. Though you don't really have that many fears, two things that freak you out the most are being followed and technology glitches. Being followed is for obvious reasons, and even though your hobby consists of being on a computer most of the time things out of the ordinary on a screen really unnerves you. You guess it's because a computer is meant to function in a predictable way, so anything out of place doesn't sit well with you. Or you played the Scary Maze Game one too many times when you were a kid. Azrael and you then decide to sleep and wait for the glorious comfort of morning sunshine.
You are awoken by an incessant banging on the flyscreen outside your window. The room is pitch black besides the glow of game consoles charging, and you only hear the light breathing of Azrael beside you. Normally you'd ignore something like this; probably a branch or a dumb bird or something, but the ceaselessness is certainly purposeful and the previous happenings of today flood your mind. The irrational part of you wants to go and see what it is, but your last functioning brain cell tells you to go back to sleep because that's definitely not real and there certainly nothing outside you window at the current moment. Somehow the knocking gets louder and Azrael stirs, flipping over to you and the window.
"What-?" she whispers.
"I don't know. I hate it." Your brow furrows deeper than before. Azrael wakes up a bit more and slight panic washes over her face.
"I'm... I'm gonna go see what it is." You say lowly. Azrael nods but her expression says otherwise.
You move over to the window and grab the corner of the shade. You pull it to the side slightly, taking a peek into the pitch black night. The thing right there makes your heart feel like it's going to jump out of your throat. It's completely featureless, blank face is angled directly towards you, about two feet away from your window. A black, tentacle-like appendage is positioned directly on the flyscreen near your face. A voice echoes inside your head.
"Hello, Y/N. I would like to talk with you and Azrael." You're completely frozen and your brain feels like it has shut down. Azrael tentatively puts a hand on your shoulder.
"What is-" Azrael freezes too.
"Now, children. Don't be afraid, I won't hurt you." Azrael and you both look at each other. You exhale a wheeze through your nose that vaguely resembles a laugh and a bit of consciousness returns to your brain finally. Your turn your head back slowly to the thing and choke out some words.
"Wh-who are you?"
"I am known as Slenderman. I have come to ask a favour of the two of you."
For some reason you nod hesitantly. Azrael squeezes both of your shoulders.
"I would have liked to talk to you at a more reasonable hour for a human, however there may not be enough time for you."
"What do you mean 'not enough time'?"
"Your videos. Truly fascinating. You may have noticed their recent boom in popularity, yes? Cases have been reported of some viewers experiencing extreme nausea, nightmares, and temporary bouts of insanity. The most recent observation was about four and a half hours ago; a fifteen year old girl stabbed her brother in the arm with scissors just minutes after watching your most recent upload, titled "yeehaw funtime yeah". The girl immediately regretted her actions and sobbed, saying she didn’t know what she was doing. In the last two hours there has been much discussion and speculation about your channel on several websites, and apparently, there have been reports to police. You must be aware of the effect your videos have, certainly. Impeccable craftsmanship such as this is no mistake."
Once again Azrael and you look at each other bug-eyed. How the fuck did your dumb little YouTube uploads make some girl loose her mind for a second? Why were people reporting them to the police? Why is this horrifying monster telling you this? You just made them for fun, the shock value and self-expression, and you honestly had no intent of making people so severely disturbed, but somehow that interested you. You finally understood what Slenderman meant about there no being enough time.
"I-I don't know what to say." And you honestly meant it.
“Anyways, in reference to the favour. I would like to personally recruit you two for your skills. I strongly believe that you can use them in a beneficial manner. "
You would've been more insulted if you weren't severely confused. And scared shitless. "Uh... and how would that be? I-I mean, for what cause?"
"There are forces unknown by humans that wish to corrupt and destroy this world farther than it already is. There is a constant battle between ultimate destruction and the casual havoc performed by certain individuals, and only time and power can stop the world from reaching a hellish state. So, will you consider?"
You thought deeply for a second. You guess that some if inhuman entity approaches specifically you and your friend, the "destructive forces" are probably at least a little true, and you'd be lying to say you didn't like some aspects of existence. But you have also no idea whether to actually trust this guy or not. Maybe he's actually the evil forces and the other ones are trying to do something not terrible? Before you can say anything Slenderman mind-speaks again.
"I understand that you cannot trust me, Y/N. But I will say honestly that the other side is something that even I can't bear to think of. The restraint of time put upon us is certainly no pleasant fate, but I must urge you to make a decision."
Okay, he can read minds apparently, very cool. Not weird at all. You decide to have a private conversation with Azrael about everything that just got set out for you.
“So, we either wake up tomorrow morning with the cops at our door sayin’ we’re arrested for crimes, and then mum flips her shit because her we got popular on YouTube with some serious conspiracy bullshit, or we go off somewhere with a rando and potentially help the world to basically not die. I’m kinda leaning to the second one ‘cause mum is scary when she’s mad.”
Azrael stares off, seemingly in deep thought. “Hmm… well, to be honest, this actually sounds kinda fun. I mean, really dangerous but fun. And that one video did have your face in it, so the cops will be able to track you down eventually…”
Now that some strange, other-worldly opportunity has finally opened itself to two very teenaged teenagers with underdeveloped prefrontal cortices and an insatiable hunger for adventure, neither you nor Azrael could seem to pry yourselves away from this. You both give in like a house of cards in a gentle breeze.
“So, uh, what’s in it for us if we do make that video or whatever?”
“You won’t have to worry a thing about your traces on the internet. We have someone to clear up that problem right away. And a few other benefits we can discuss later.”
The two of you look at each other. You both nod.
“We’re in.” you finalise.