The Slender Man is a classic example of an urban legend – the modern version of folklore or old wives’ tales. These stories have spread via the internet and entered the realm of the real world. But of course, the slender man isn’t real – is he?
The slender man legend
Some say that the slender man legend was the creation of a guy called Eric Knudsen, aka Victor Surge, back in 2009 on the Something Awful creepy pasta forum. His story of an unnaturally tall man with a blank, featureless face wearing a black suit quickly spread around the internet and resulted in a string of reported sightings of the slender man in real life.
Surge had posted two black and white pictures of groups of children which contained the tall, thin figure in the background and several eerie quotes from the supposed photographers including:
“We didn’t want to go, we didn’t want to kill them, but its persistent silence and outstretched arms horrified and comforted us at the same time…”
— 1983, photographer unknown, presumed dead
“One of two recovered photographs from the Stirling City Library blaze. Notable for being taken the day which fourteen children vanished and for what is referred to as “The Slender Man”. Deformities cited as film defects by officials. Fire at library occurred one week later. Actual photograph confiscated as evidence.”
— 1986, photographer: Mary Thomas, missing since June 13th, 1986.
Both of these were said to be fictional and that the photographs had been altered by Surge to create the urban legend. Surge was inspired to create the story based on characters such as the Mothman, as well as from the works of Stephen King and HP Lovecraft.
However, as pointed out on the creepypasta wiki on the topic, there are also a number of much older stories that contain imagery that we now associated with the slender man. Whether these helped inspire Surge or there is something much more real here is still unknown.
One example includes from Egyptian hieroglyphs from around 3100BC. In the reign of the Pharaoh Wazner, there were frequent references to the ‘thief of the gods’ and the ‘thief of Kuk’. Depictions of the thief showed a strange figure with multiple upper limbs and a tall, slender figure. These references have not been seen in other inscriptions.
In fact, there are stories from around the world that refer to the creature we know as slender man. Examples include the Fear Dubh or Dark Man from Scotland, the Takkenmann or Branch Man from Dutch folklore and the Der Grosse Mann or Tall Man from German legends. Even Romanian myths talk of the Tall Mann who ‘dressed as a nobleman, all in black’. He was said to have many long and boneless arms, did not speak yet made his intentions known.
Encountering the slender man
The stories of the slender man vary slightly in their descriptions. Some say that the being has long, slender arms and legs while others say that he has 4-8 tentacles rather than arms or even in place of arms and legs. He wears a black suit that is similar to those seen on Men In Black, associated with UFO sightings, and has a featureless face. Occasionally, there is a hat similar to a bowler hat or a top hat while there are also stories of him wearing a necktie or scarf that may be grey or red.
Perhaps the scariest thing about the slender man being real is that he is associated with the killing of children. There are many pictures where the slender man is seen in the background of groups of children as well as in areas such as woods and forests where he can prey on kids. He is also a stalker, following people with the sole purpose of frightening them as if the creature somehow feeds on fear.
Slender man sightings
One terrifying case associated with the slender man involves two 12 year Wisconsin girls who attacked a third girl for fear that the slender man would come for their families if they didn’t. they wanted instead to become proxies for the creature to save their families. The young girl thankfully survived the attack and her two attacks were certified as suffering from mental illnesses and imprisoned. One claimed that the slender man watched her, could read her mind and had the ability to teleport.
After this, there was a series of stories of similar nature including one from Ohio where a woman said her daughter, 13 years old, had attacked her with a knife after reading about the slender man. Another 14-year-old girl set her family’s house on fire after reading about the creature. There was even a number of suicides on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation on 2015 where the Oglala Sioux noted that the tribe believed in a suicide spirit that is very similar to slender man and that this belief may have played a part in the deaths.
There have also been sightings from one of the paranormal hotspots of the UK, Cannock Chase. Four people reporting seeing a slender man type figure in the area, three of whom saw the figure inside a house. One witness said she woke around 2am to hear a scratching noise in the bedroom and was terrified to see a slender man figure standing by the wardrobe. She tried to get out of bed to investigate at which time the figure seemed to stretch to around 8 feet tall with sharp fangs. Another reported it hovering over him and had red eyes.
A recent sighting came just a few weeks ago when a man waiting for a bus in Yeovil, Somerset saw a sinister figure that so unnerved him he was unable to sleep afterwards. He described the figure as wearing a top hat and having no facial features. The figure was also around seven feet tall.
The slender man became famous as an urban legend created by one man but there seems to be much more history to the story than first appears. The fact that there are countless real slender man stories from around the world also raise the point that either people are all hallucinating, misjudging what they are seeing or the creature is ‘real’. Or perhaps it is a case of belief creating reality?
Have you ever seen the slender man or anything like it? Do you believe it is real or simply an urban legend?