I should be doing an essay right now. Odds are you should be too.
I recently went through and itemised all of the essays, assignments and assorted paraphernalia that I have to do for Uni before the semester is over (in two weeks). The list was daunting and the dates attached to said items…painfully close. If I was a normal person I would be focussing all of my attention on completing said tasks but instead I have been conducting experiments on my fear threshold and thinking about the kinds of people I could make on The Sims if only I could find the required disks to play it again (probably a blessing in disguise that I haven’t because then my procrastination levels would reach CRITICAL MASS and I would explode in a shower of not doing my assignments).
At the moment my procrastination levels are sitting at an alarming (but not dangerous) EASILY AND WILFULLY DISTRACTED. I should be completing a journal due next Wednesday and writing philosophical reports that are due in a week…but instead I have been seduced by something much stronger than academia (which could be anything at all when you think about): Fear.
I have become an addict of terror, and I mean it. This isn’t just some writer hyperbole to make my life sound more interesting like an imaginary collection of monsters living in my apartment (although a small goblin has taken refuge in the freezer box after being drawn there by left-over slurpee from BYO Cup Day at 7Eleven. He’s proving quite difficult and won’t be coaxed out with bread crumbs like the last one). This is super serial you guys. I know this now after watching an interview with Russell Brand on Sixty Minutes…
You see he defined his addictions as a repeated engagement in an activity even though you know it’s detrimental to you (although I’m pretty sure that’s not Brand’s definition as it is probably shared by psychologists and school nurses the world over). After thorough examination of my psyche, I have come to conclusion that I too am participating in this sort of behaviour…although before you freak out and think I’m a meth (couldn’t afford it) and/or sex (not enough stamina) addict, allow me to clarify that my addiction is of the ‘not worth going to celebrity rehab’ variety.
As I mentioned above my current addiction stems from fear, and the willing search for said emotion through a single means: playing computer games (or game, singular in this case). I’ve recently, and tragically, discovered ‘Slender’. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, it’s not a porn fetish featuring starving refugees. No. It’s a terrifying video game based around the Internet created monstrosity known as The Slender Man. Included below is an image of said creation…in of all his faceless, slender glory. Below that is a brief history of said nightmare fuel.
The Slender Man is an urban myth popularised and created by the Internet (it’s kind of cool how social media has replaced the campfire with the creation of nightmare spawn). With its origins traced back to a Photoshop competition, similar to the above image, the myth has since grown into an uber-legend and has invaded the Zeitgeist on the back of a series of copycat photos and found-footage YouTube videos (my first experience of which was the brilliant Marble Hornets series…I’d include a link but I’m lazy and if you’re really interested you can just Google that shit). The back story came after the initial photo but is best described as a tall, faceless, creature/man steals kids and kills anyone who crosses his path.
The Slender Man’s habitat of choice is woods. Usually creepy. However he has been known to descend into cities and towns like a wraith and, in some instances, into houses (he’s probably right behind you right now as you’re reading this…please don’t turn around). Characterised by his plain dark suit, abnormally slender body shape and faceless orb for a head, The Slender Man’s rise to fame is no small part due the relatable horror and simple imagery at play here. I mean come on: You see it. You freak out. It’s not complicated. It’s not Biblical. It’s just unsettling as all buggery (Uncanny Valley…maybe that will be for another post). Also adding further to the mythos is the docu-real-this-is-a-true-story-happened-to-a-friend-of-my-cousin aspect, planting small seeds of doubt that maybe this isn’t a hoax.
Anyway enough exposition, the game in question that has been testing my nerves and ruining my study habits is a simple game that can be downloaded from any internet-able (please don’t judge my made-up words) source. It’s a first-person style game, where the player wanders through a creepy as fuck forest with a flashlight. The controls are simple, you walk around moving the flashlight across misty woodlands and abandoned trucks/toilet-blocks etc. The objective? Collect 8 pages randomly placed throughout the game. Simple.
Until you get the first page and suddenly the sound of footsteps on gravel is joined by eerie music and your heartbeat…and every now and again your torchlight catches glimpses of towering, slender, faceless figure in the shadows…at which point you have to RUN THE FUCK AWAY or you die. Yeah. I’ve only got three pages max before I’ve succumbed to the Slender Man’s stalking. Oh and if you keep your torch on too long it dies. And if you turn around he will most likely be behind you but because the game operates on a randomly generated system sometimes he’s not and why is blood pressure rising and what is the wet sensation running down my leg into my socks…
It’s that kind of experience…and despite the fakt that I am absolutely hopeless and can barely keep it together once the heartbeat starts and I collect my first page…I continually find myself replaying the game over and over. I begin playing and two minutes in I start to question my sanity, because why am I doing this again? Oh god I am so scared…OH MY GOD THERE HE IS!
So that’s what I’ve been doing instead of researching my Cinema Studies essay or re-drafting my screenplay. I’ve been willingly engaging in an activity that is making me shit my pants in fright. I need help. Or better control of my bowels. Whatever. That’s all for today. Sweet dreams…?