It all started with one report. A single innocuous sighting of an ill-defined, insubstantial entity. A blurry shadow in the background of an otherwise-clear image.
Nothing to worry about, we thought. Just a curiosity. Ignore it. The memory will fade over time, like the pictures in which this supernatural being appears.
But, it didn't fade.
Quite the opposite. More reports began coming in. Before long, we had confirmed sightings from numerous locations. All told a similar tale, a story that would chill the blood in an honest man's veins and leave him pondering one final icy question:
'Why are there so many Slender Man apps on the App Store?'
Let's start at the beginning
Some have traced the supposed inspiration behind this terrifying spectre to a woodcutting which allegedly dates from the 1500s.
In this image, a thin, almost-skeletal, creature is shown in combat with an armoured soldier. The figure is undeniably slender, and looks a bit like a man. An open-and-shut case, I'm sure you'll agree.
Jump forward 500 years.
It's 2009, and the Something Awful forum launches a Photoshop competition. The comedy website invites readers to turn existing photographs into creepy-looking ones, and then post them on paranormal forums in the hope of duping their members.
One Something Awful user, Victor Surge, posts two images, both of which contain groups of young children with a strange figure in the background. The images bear the description 'Slender Man'.
Almost immediately afterwards, peculiar video diaries begin to appear on YouTube channel MarbleHornets.
Listed as the last-known recordings of a missing high school kid, these short, often-silent videos claim to show glimpses of a being with similar characteristics to the Slender Man.
The YouTube account is later identified and attributed to two film students. Videos are still being posted to this day.
Jump to 2012.
Parsec Productions releases a downloadable PC game titled Slender: The Eight Pages. The game involves your searching darkened woods and other sinister locations for pages of a manuscript.
In the game, you are stalked by the Slender Man, who appears without warning, and whose visage will drive you insane. Stare at him for too long and your sanity meter will empty, ending your game.
The game receives positive critical feedback. People in dark rooms videotape themselves screaming at their computer screens. The Slender Man legend grows.
All of which brings us to September 29th, 2012.
While scanning the App Store listings, we stumble across Slender-Man. In the description for the game, its creator claims that the Slender series "is finally available on iOS".
As it transpires, this app has nothing to do with anyone from Parsec Productions. It was, in fact, created by another developer apparently seeking to cash in on the Slender game phenomenon.
Later that day, the developer of Slender-Man amends the game's App Store listing, removing the comment linking the game to Slender: The Eight Pages.
Slender business plan
Today, five weeks later, both the iOS and Android marketplaces are flooded with Slender Man apps from various developers, all hoping to capitalise on growing public interest in the spindly apparition.
Some of these apps seek to replicate the thrill of the PC game. Others allow you to create your own Slender Man photos. Some are renamed ports of games that were arguably copies of a far better game in the first instance.
All are terrifying in their own way. The question is: what do you fear most? Trend-surfing novelty apps? Cynical copy-paste cash-ins? Or a skinny faceless gentleman in a sharp suit?