013-STLK
rating: +19+x

Database Name: 013-STLK

Nickname(s): Stalkers

Status: Active

Date of First Report: Exact date unknown due to initial dismissal of sightings. The spike of Stalker reports which lead to their detailing in the database is generally accepted to be around May of 1996.
Origin: Unknown, presumed to be extramundane.
Periods of Appearances: Early hours of the morning, particularly between the hours of 5am-6am.
Location of Appearances: Densely populated areas in Level 452.1
Frequency: Multiple times nightly, mostly in Winter. Appearances diminish greatly or completely in Summer.
Count: Unknown

Sightings: Unconfirmed, presumed to be around two hundred yearly.
Casualties: None directly, although 42 deaths have been attributed to Stalker hauntings' effects on the human psyche since their initial documentation.
Mortality Rate: N/A. Even encounters with a negative outcome do not always result in death, especially with treatment.

Danger Level: Green
Justification and Safety Measures: The prevention of Stalker attacks necessitates that all entrances to a house are locked every night before all members of a household go to sleep. This includes doors, windows, and even holes caused by damages, which is why many people opt to find temporary residences to stay in until these kinds of damages are repaired. It is worth mentioning that to the knowledge of the Local Council, holes too small for an average-sized person to fit through do not allow Stalkers to enter a household.

If the former safety procedures are not obeyed, Stalker encounters will very likely follow. During said encounters, the only thing that one can do is simply stay still, keep one's eyes closed, and wait the event out. Acknowledging the Stalker by opening your eyes, shifting too much, or otherwise disturbing it from its position will result in a haunting. Stalker hauntings cannot be conventionally prevented nor cured; the only prevention for them is to endure the initial attack.

Were one to consistently and adequately secure their household before they go to sleep every night, they would never have to encounter a Stalker. Furthermore, Stalker encounters are not all that frequent despite colloquial agreement of them being a common 'household pest' of sorts, and their effects are deemed by many as a mere inconvenience rather than a plight. In theory, Stalker encounters should be a relatively small threat to human life in Level 452.

Despite this, Stalker encounters have never decreased in number for as long as they have been documented. Part of this is attributed to an ambiguity in the 'rules' for Stalker entry into a household, but it's undeniable that the social presence of Stalkers has an effect on the way in which they are perceived by the general populace. To elaborate, the precautions against Stalkers are not observed as religiously as those of other notable perennial threats, leading to many falling victim to Stalker attacks. Taking into account how preventable Stalker attacks are, one could say that the sole reason they remain an issue is because people simply do not care enough.

Physical Description: Stalkers are structurally similar to humans, albeit, with some glaringly obvious differences. Stalkers lack any surface anatomy, and are entirely smooth. For example, their faces lack protrusions and orfices, and the depressions where their eyes should be are also seemingly absent. Due to the fact that they are entirely intangible, where exactly ingestion, egestion, or any of the other vital functions take place cannot be ascertained. Their bodies seem to be entirely vantablack.

Behavioral Description: The behaviour of Stalkers is split up into two distinct phases: encounter behaviour, and post-encounter haunting.

Encounter behaviour denotes the initial Stalker attack. This phase begins when the aforementioned criteria of house security is not adhered to and a Stalker enters one's home.2 The victim will wake up early in the morning to the sound of soft breathing and the sensation of somebody hunched over them. They will then feel the temperature of the room dropping sharply despite no objective temperature change, and all sounds come to a halt. The Stalker will keep watching over its victim for as long as it is no provoked.

Stalkers are highly delicate in regards to what exactly provokes them. The three known criteria thus far have been listed as:

  • Acknowledging the stalker via sight, speech, or touch. In the case of touching, accidental contact (e.g, brushing against a Stalker) does not elicit responses, but things such as direct contact (e.g grabbing, assault) do.
  • Moving oneself in such a way that the Stalker is disturbed from its original position. Small changes in position do not provoke the Stalker, but notable changes (such as it moving an entire hand from one place to another) will.
  • Moving oneself in such a way that the Stalker is no longer hunched over you.

Stalker encounters typically end at around eight in the morning, meaning they can last anywhere between one to four hours, depending on how early they begin. They can also end earlier than they normally would if someone else looks at the victim during their slumber, most likely due to them being a sort of 'personal' entity that affect only one given victim of a household at a time. If one can hold out for the entirety of the encounter, then the Stalker will disappear, and the encounter can be considered over. Should a Stalker be provoked however, it will get up from its position and run away from the bed in a frenzy, vanishing into thin air shortly afterwards. The unlucky victim will, from this point onwards, be a victim of Stalker hauntings.

Post-encounter haunting is a poorly understood part of the Stalker 'life-cycle'. Victims of hauntings are characterized by a constant delusion wherein they believe that they are being stalked, apropos of the entity’s given name.. Despite the fact that they do not seem to be viewable by any other people, the effect they have on the victims are very real. Victims will quickly grow paranoid due to the appearance of Stalkers in their peripheral vision, and they will oftentimes find themselves experiencing shock, heart attacks, and paralysis during more serious encounters.

The hauntings themselves vary in severity from victim to victim. Mild reports include seeing Stalkers peering at oneself from behind corners, seeing them staring from far off in the distance before vanishing into thin air, or an acute feeling that one is being watched at all times. More severe reports include appearing briefly after the opening of a door, or nighttime visits during sleeping periods — similar to encounter behaviour in nature — in which the Stalker apparently speaks gibberish to the victim. Even more disturbing are the rare reports of apparent physical beatings, which contradict the belief that Stalker hauntings are just a delusion, complicating research outcomes.

The danger these hauntings pose is for the most part mental. Once hauntings begin, it takes very little time before the victims become excessively paranoid, oftentimes falling victim to a myriad of mild anxiety and paranoia related mental illnesses. If no efforts are made to relieve the victims of their ailments, more severe illnesses follow not long after: common diagnoses include paranoid personality disorder, hypoactive delirium, crippling depression, and in some victims, suicidal tendencies. Most Stalker deaths are attributed to the later effects of their hauntings, particularly once the course of the more severe mental illnesses advances.

With proper treatment and care, Stalker hauntings will not necessitate the more severe illnesses mentioned above. Therapeutic care and, if they are available, antipsychotics, alleviate large amounts of Stalker-related maladjustments, to the point where a victim of Stalker attacks can go about their life in similar fashion to how they would have were they not victims of an attack. This of course requires lifelong care, but considering the large amount of resources which are at the disposal of citizens in all of the majorly populated areas, this is not that taxing of an issue.

Extranormality Description: Stalkers are abnormal mainly due to their tactility. Whilst it is confirmed that the only people who can see them are their victims, their tangibility is still a mystery. In initial attacks, Stalkers are always described as tangible and touchable, whereas in hauntings, reports of them making contact are scarce and not particularly convincing. Because of this, it's still not understood what exactly Stalkers are, where they come from, or what their motives may be. They do not seem to feed off of their victims, and they do not actively hunt humans. They do not even seem capable of carrying out all of the vital functions, so their status of being 'alive' is also debated.

Creating theories that account for all of their behaviours has proven to be impossible. If Stalkers are purely a mental phenomenon, reports of their physical state are not accounted for. If they are said to be physical, then Stalker hauntings themselves are not accounted for. Some experts have suggested a possible shared delusion between all denizens of Level 452 so potent that it lets Stalkers and all of their intricacies exist, though many consider this theory laughable, far too improbable to be grounded in anything but hypothesis.

Time and time again, concrete detailing of the intricacies of Stalkers has proven to be impossible. Most researchers have simply accepted that Stalkers will forever remain an enigma, and that the best thing that can be done at the time being is to simply take precautions against them with the information that is thankfully known about them.

Relevant Documents

Name: The diary of Boris Helpmann
Origin: Level 452, the house of Boris Helpmann
Date: Initial entry on the 28/01/1996, final entry on 06/03/1996
Abstract: The contents below contain mentions of suicide and similar themes of self-harm which some citizens may find disturbing — viewer discretion is advised. Documented below are a set of diary entries by Boris Helpmann, a well-known corporate whose claim to fame was being the first to propose the industrialization of Sjied to make Level 452 entirely self-sufficient. Helpmann took his life with his own hands following a Stalker haunting, in what is widely believed to be the first recorded instance of Stalker-related death. The entries detail Helpmann's declining mental health, as well as early descriptions of Stalker encounters and hauntings which have given researchers an edge during the first few waves of Stalker attacks.

The 28th of January, 1996.

I have just had the most peculiar encounter early this morning. I was awoken from my slumber by a chill breeze and the most awful sounds of breathing. I opened my eyes and I found myself face to face with a dreadful sight! A man whose skin was entirely as dark as an unlit alleyway, hunched over me on all fours. When he saw that I opened my eyes, he jumped off the bed and made haste. I could've sworn that I saw him vanish into thin air — perhaps it was not human, rather, it was a new creature I have yet to hear of?

I awoke Esmeralda with a scream, and I told her of what I saw. She consoled me and told me that perhaps it was a nightmare, and that everything was alright, but I doubt that was the case. It felt far too real to simply be a passing night terror, but nothing hints at the thing ever being in my room. The fear I feel in my heart right now is very real however, and even now as I write this, a few hours later, I feel like that thing is still somehow with me. Perhaps it's paranoia, though I pray it is not something as sinister as my panicked nature is making it out to be. Knowing how the beasts of this place are however, I doubt this will be the last time I see the creature.

Stalker

I have drawn a picture here for reference. If I am to show this to other people in the future, I think depicting what I have seen will help make recounting the tale easier.

I suppose I'll just have to wait and see. I will end this entry on a positive note — Esmerelda and I received wonderful results from the obstetrician we visited a while back. They say that she's well on her way to delivering the healthy baby girl we have been anticipating for months now. We have yet to decide on a name; I have personally been in favour of naming her Jane, after my late mother, but I am obviously not the only parent in this relationship.

We will be visiting them sooner than we originally thought. Esmerelda's labour is bound for March, and they would like to keep her at the hospital a few weeks before she gives birth, just in case something goes wrong. Hopefully, things go smoothly, and we can enjoy the company of a new family member in due time. Father will be very pleased with this news once I tell him later today.

Boris.

The 1st of February, 1996.

I went to Sjied today to oversee the building of the new coal burning plant. We've had abundant coal reserves for quite a while, so much so that we've practically begun giving them away for dirt cheap prices to other communities. Meanwhile, Kabira and Sjied run on a single power station that the founders built in the first few years, which is absolutely insufficient for the ever-growing population. The council takes care of many things in this world and I am very grateful for their services, but when it comes to the very basics of human society, sometimes it seems like they wouldn't know what to do without me and the rest of the humane development team's guidance.

Overall, productivity and morale are very high. The crew is very dedicated, their chemistry is amazing, and their work ethic is something I haven't seen in builders before; I will definitely recommend them to Harold and the others. We simply cannot lose good men like them, so I will make sure their salary is plentiful. That should be enough to keep them in business and willing to cooperate in the future.

Though, I must say, today felt a bit odd. I felt like I was being watched at all times, as if someone was peering at me from behind a corner — no doubt the fault of that thing I saw a few nights ago. I haven't spoken to Esmerelda about it, partly because she may think of me as a lunatic, partly because she needs not the stress of my predicament. I shall simply see how it plays out, and maybe then I'll speak to my advisors about it.

I have naught to say here anymore. Today's entry is succinct, though that is simply an indication that there is very little that bothers me. I pray that this creature is merely a nuisance rather than a threat, but that is something only time can tell. Until then, I shall take life one step at a time, and experience things as they come.

Boris.

The 6th of February, 1996.

There it was again, that feeling of being watched. I was at the grocer today to pick up ingredients for supper, and I suddenly felt like I was being watched. I knew the source of it, but something in me told me to get out of the shop and go as far away as possible despite my knowledge. With that sudden burst of anxiety, I quickly showed the lad at the counter my purchases and bid the store farewell, shopping list only half done. I could not stand being there for another moment.

What followed was far more chilling however. On my way home, I passed through Ebejer's road. There's always a crowd there so it's very easy to simply not see a person whatsoever, but what I saw stood out like a sore thumb: the creature! It was standing far away from me, people passing by it, but it knew where I was, and it was staring at me. Right at me, unmistakably so. It knew who it was searching for.

I couldn't bear to be there any longer. I took another route home before that thing could try to do anything, and when I got there, I locked the door with all three locks. Thankfully Esmeralda was dosing off on the couch, so she didn't see this spectactle — it would not have done her any good.

This will not do. I ought to stay strong to support her, though this sinking feeling of mine does not seem to be stopping any time soon. Feelings of being watched come like waves every once in a while, and they have been increasing in frequency these past few days. What will become of me? Am I simply a disappearance in the making? What of Esmerelda and our child? What will she do without me? Not a moment goes by that I am not thinking of what this means for me. I shall try to remain strong to support them and finish the work I have started, but I fear that my situation will only keep worsening from here on out.

I am fearful for what future encounters with the creature hold. I said in my last entry that I hope the creature will be just a nuisance, but alas! Something wicked is afoot, and I am the victim here. I am supposed to be supporting my wife in her own ordeal, yet I have been plagued.

Let's just see what tomorrow brings. I will proceed from there.

11/2/96
I went to the construction site again today. The workers are still going strong — the first floor's structure is almost ready; they're going to be moving on to the next floor once that is done.

They told me to get something from the back of a lorry whilst I was there. The thing leapt out of the trunk and scared the living daylights out of me before disappearing once more. I had to stifle my screams to prevent having to explain myself, but I think falling to the ground after recoling is enough proof to these people that something's not all that right with me.

This is becoming all too common. Yesterday I saw it when I took Esmeralda to the park. It was watching us from the trees. It didn't move, and I couldn't take my eyes off it despite my wife's teasing and playfulness.

Something is happening to me and I think I'm beginning to crack. I've started struggling to relax because I'm always waiting for that thing to make the next move. Should I be doing the same? Should I be trying to harm it in some way? Is it studying me to attack when it pleases? Should I study it as well?

I don't like this at all. Not one bit.

19/2/96

Esmerelda went into labour yesterday and gave birth shortly after. She's at the hospital. I'm with her.

I was supposed to come see Esmerelda and the girl, Jane. We named her Jane in the end. I tried smiling for both of them, but I think Esmerelda knew something was wrong when she brushed me slightly and I almost had a panic attack. Can they blame me though? I kept seeing it in the window near her bed the whole time, watching me.

It came to me in my sleep a few days ago. I awoke in the middle of the night and it was speaking gibberish to me in the deepest, most horrendous voice I've ever heard. The whole time I couldn't move, and when I finally could, I woke up screaming bloody murder. It disappeared before I could show it to her.

I'm sleeping alone at home tonight. Esmerelda needs to rest and I have work tomorrow. I will be alone. I don't want to sleep without her in bed with me. It likes to watch from the ceiling when I try to sleep on my own.

27th

It's there everywhere I go. I saw it at the site today as the workers told jokes to each other. It was in the middle of them and they couldn't see it, but it's very real. It touched me a few days ago, so I know it's there. I handed over the project to someone else. I can't do this anymore, can't be seen like this. They'll think I'm losing it.

Esmerelda is exhausted and I'm not helping whatsoever. Jane woke her up crying last night and all I could do was cry myself because just a few minutes ago it was on the ceiling spewing nonsense. I couldn't go help either: the last time I went to watch over Jane it was standing next to the crib, waiting for me.

She keeps asking what's wrong with me but I just tell her I'm very stressed with work. She tried to hug me from behind a few days ago. I hit her. I hit her and I hurt her, but I wasn't aiming for her. She just didn't see that thing creep up behind her, but I know it was there.

I don't think she's forgiven me even though I apologised.

There's nothing left for me in this life if I'm spending my days like this.

I'm going to the forest tonight. I am going to find it there and kill it. I have six bullets loaded into my gun's chamber, I paid good money for it and its contents, so it better be worth it.

I'm unloading five of them in it, and if it's still standing, the last one goes in my brain.

If I'm not back by daytime, this diary is my story. The story of a father who's failed his daughter and a husband who failed his wife.

Esmerelda, if you're reading this, know I love you more than anything else in the world.

But I can't live in a world with you so long as that thing also lives with us.


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