I have been warned by my young son to avoid walking the dog in the wooded area of the Auckland Domain.
Apparently, lurking in the undergrowth is something so ghastly, I feel duty-bound to pass on this information to readers.
The apparition is called "Slender Man". His existence has also been confirmed by my son's various school chums.
They describe the phantom as exceptionally tall, dressed in a black suit, white shirt and neatly knotted black tie. When I suggested that perhaps they'd mistakenly identified a Bible-banging doorknocker, I was assured that Slender Man doesn't bother knocking on doors because he has the ability to pass through ordinary building materials when he goes rampaging.
Feeling nervous, I asked my child if he would accompany and look after me next time I exercised our mutt in the woods.
"No way!" he replied, adding, "Slender Man is the worst creature you could possibly imagine, he's faceless and has very long arms that can reach out and grip you tightly. He likes to eat children's souls and amazingly, he can teleport himself!"
"Teleport himself?" I questioned, dumbly.
"The ability to transfer matter from one site to another without traversing the physical space between two points ... don't you know anything Dad?" replied my innocent, rolling his eyes heavenwards.
Apparently Slender Man is yet another fictitious creation that has gone viral, thanks to internet phenomena such as Creepypasta and Minecraft.
In an effort to keep ahead of my children who are now exploring weirdo places, I downloaded a couple of games to review what Slender Man is really all about.
I was bemused to discover he's just a re-creation of the same old spectre that's been frightening kids for centuries.
When I was young he was called "Bogeyman". I recall my grandmother describing him as being dressed in a long black cloak, and warning me about his eating habits.
Back through folklore history, Slender Man has existed under many guises, traditionally residing in dark forests and with a special liking for devouring naughty children. I was about to dismiss him as boring old stuff regurgitated, when I recalled something my son had nervously whispered to me.
"He's faceless and has long arms that can grip you tightly," he'd warned.
Suddenly, I gulped. That description doesn't sound like a fictitious creature lurking in the forest - it's a tax official I'm dealing with at Inland Revenue.