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The Stalker (Penpal)

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The Stalker is the unnamed, unseen antagonist of the creepypasta-turned-novel Penpal.

He is a pedophile who obsessively stalks the unnamed narrator after receiving a letter from him as a kindergartner as part of a school project. The man follows the narrator around taking pictures of him. Over the course of the story, he traumatizes not only Dathan, but many of the people around him.

Biography

NOTE: The narrator is never given a name in the story, but is commonly called "Dathan" by fans, after the author, Dathan Auerbach. For the purpose of making this article flow better, the narrator will be referred to by this name.

Getting the letter and early actions

The stalker is a mysterious man who receives a letter from a kindergartner named Dathan as part of a school project that the boy was doing. He is supposed to write back with a letter detailing his community, but instead simply sends a photograph of what looks like a desert. Throughout Dathan's kindergarten school year, he receives more and more strange photographs which don't appear to be of anything in particular. After taking a good look at them, however, he discovers that each one is a candid of him. He shows his mother, not fully understanding the situation, and she becomes horrified and contacts the police.

Continued stalking and turning violent

Some time after this, Dathan and his best friend Josh decide to make maps. This eventually leads them to build a raft to travel down the river behind the home of Dathan's kind but senile elderly neighbor, Mrs. Maggie. While on the raft, the boys hear some rustling in the woods nearby. They call out "hello?" and then have a bit of fun before they become terrified when they hear a loud, whispering "hello" in response. Dathan and Josh try to get back to shore as quickly as possible, but their raft begins to break apart and they are forced to swim back.

Once there, Dathan discovers that his shirt is missing, and his pants pocket now contains a drawing of two stick figures, one small and one large, holding hands. Next to the smaller one are Dathan's initials. Josh goes to Dathan's house, and Dathan is greeted by Mrs. Maggie. While she usually invites Dathan and Josh into her home, she declines his request to come in and dry off. She states that Tom, her deceased husband whom she thinks is constantly away on business trips due to her senility, has come home. Dathan never sees Mrs. Maggie again after this, and it is stated that when she died, her house was condemned and men in hazmat suits carried foul-smelling garbage bags out of it. Though it is not elaborated upon, it can be inferred that the stalker pretended to be Mrs. Maggie's husband, then cut her up because she was kind to Dathan.

Appearance and Personality

The stalker is mostly unseen, and therefore has minimal information revealed about his appearance. The only physical trait that is explicitly stated is that he is a very large man, who is even bigger than Josh's dad (who is described as being large himself). The fact that Josh's dad states that he "didn't even look like he'd have $100" suggests that he probably has an unkempt or disheveled appearance similar to that of a homeless person.

While no direct interactions between him and the other characters are shown, the stalker still displays a clear personality. He is shown to be determined and obsessive by the fact that he spends over a decade stalking Dathan and his associates.

His murders of Mrs. Maggie and Veronica suggest that he is extremely selfish and prone to jealousy. The severity of this jealousy is likely very high, judging by the fact that he goes as far as to abduct (and probably kill) Dathan's cat.

In spite of his determination, however, he is likely either cowardly or very shy. He never approaches Dathan directly, and the one time he does act on his plans, he is apparently unable to follow through on them. Despite having multiple opportunities to do so, he never ends up kidnapping Dathan. Even his murders show signs of cowardice. While he directly murders defenseless targets such as Dathan's cat and the frail, elderly Mrs. Maggie, he prefers to kill Veronica, a young girl who may be able to fight him off, from the safety of his car. Able-bodied adults with even more of a chance to resist him, such as Dathan's mom, are not targeted at all.

He likely has a sadistic streak as well. He pays Josh's father, a construction worker, to seal a hole that he doesn't know contains him and Josh. Given the fact that he stalked Josh in addition to Dathan, he certainly knew who Josh's father was, and his profession. It is probably safe to assume that he specifically got Josh's dad to unwittingly kill his own son solely as an act of pointless cruelty. He is also likely aware of the trauma he causes Dathan's and Josh's families, but doesn't care.

Trivia

  • In real life, pedophiles tend to have very narrow ranges of interest. If the stalker had developed an interest in Dathan when he was five, then he realistically wouldn't still be interested in him when he was seven, let alone fifteen. This detail was likely either overlooked or omitted in order to make the story more interesting.

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