It had been a month and a half. Slender did not think it practical to move too far from their previous camp but he made sure he took the body of the Other far away from the village.
They sat together. Slender watched the stars as he always had. Sometimes he held the Other’s hand.
At night, he laid in a deep dirt hole and held the Other, as he knew this had always comforted that one when it was distressed. He waited patiently to hear its thoughts.
He tried to communicate with it every day, sending out thoughts. He asked how it was. He told it what he had seen or done that day.
Sometimes he grew uncharacteristically frustrated and asked in distressed tones if it would please just wake up. He begged.
He even brought back water and cleaned all the blackened blood off of its head. He never left its side.
Every time he awoke from sleep, he thought that surely this would be the day it would all be back to normal.
Maybe the Other would be groggy, maybe injured, but there, present as they had always been in the same mind. But they were never to communicate again. Slender was alone in his head now.
The only thoughts he heard were his own.
So it turned out that they could die. Neither of them knew. It seemed an unnatural thing to happen to such a strong creature, one with so few biological needs, that did not die from aging alone.
Especially at the hands of fragile humans. And human children, at that. Somewhere in the back of his mind, Slender knew he was angry.
But as was his way, he didn’t really feel it, he just logically knew. It didn’t matter. He needed to keep the body of the Other safe.
He did not admit to himself that he never stopped believing the other part of him might wake up. He carried his companion to a mountain and left him deep in a cave, where he was safe.
He thought the area much too desolate for humans to disturb.
He surrounded the body with branches from trees and with piles of soil so that, when the Other awoke, it would be reminded of the forest where they liked to spend their time.
Slender continued to wander. They had always done so when they were together and he would continue to do so on his own. He favored forests always, but also spent many nights in fields and caves.
He stayed away from the humans. They had never held much interest for him anyway. But as time passed and the population grew, it seemed more and more often that the humans were coming to him.
Even when he had wandered out to remote areas, here they came camping and hiking. Still, he generally found them easy to avoid. But not every time.
One night, Slender lay in the ground. His great long hands were folded over his belly, and he faced up to the sky, feeling the little feet of centipedes crawling over him.
A small beam of light shone into his hole. First, it illuminated his feet. Then, slowly, the light rose until it rested on his non-face. This annoyed Slender.
“Holy shit, what is that?!” A young voice cried.
Two small faces look down at Slender in his shallow hole. They were little boys who had been having a sleep over, wandering into the woods to tell ghost stories.
In a flash, the anger that Slender had known existed but never experienced bubbled up into his black blood. His whole body felt electric.
In one savage movement, he sat up and a tentacle shot out. It wrapped quickly and tightly around the boy with the flashlight who instantly dropped it.
Slender moved so quickly that there was no time for the child to even scream. He was on his feet now, standing in his hole that looked like a shallow grave.
The tentacle that was strangling the squirming boy rose high into the air and crashed down violently into the earth. Small groaning noises escaped the child before it happened again.
And again and again. There was a satisfying dull smacking noise each time Slender slammed the body back into the ground. He heard bones breaking.
He saw blood ooze out between the wraps of the tentacle. This went on until the thing that Slender held did not resemble a human at all.
It was a gooey misshapen sack of flesh, with hair on some spots and leaking blood and fluids from every crevice. Slender saw this without emotion. But he was done.
He dropped his victim into the hole and stepped out calmly. It was time to move on. The other child had run long ago. That was fine. For now, the anger had subsided.
And Slender could not help but think of the Other.
They had done this to the Other. They had taken it away.
They would pay.