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I woke up suddenly, my eyes blurry, my head pounding, and my ears ringing. I sat up on my bed and glanced at the clock. 2:04 AM. I rubbed my eyes and groaned, and as my ears slowly stopped ringing, the noise was replaced by something else. The sound of my phone. I groaned, got up off the bed, and went to pick it up. I glanced at the display.

"Unknown Number."

I picked up the phone with some reluctance and raised it to my ear.

"H...hello?" I said, groggy and half-awake. On the other end, there was nothing but static. At first, I attributed the technical malfunction to poor weather, but I could hear nothing outside. No wind, no rain, nothing. There was no way the weather was doing this.

After trying to figure out what was going on for a few more minutes, I finally gave up and made my way back to bed. I lay there for a while, my eyelids getting heavy as sleep began to set in. Just when I was about to fall asleep, I heard the noise once more.

It was the phone ringing.

I got out of bed, now absolutely pissed. Nobody I knew could be calling me at this time, so this was either a prank caller or some freaky stalker. I picked up the phone again, but instead, I heard something.

A voice, repeating the same phrase over and over and over again: “File.error.corrupt.180.” The voice sounded as if it was generated by an artificial intelligence, the sort of thing you’d hear on an emergency alert broadcast or something. This wasn’t normal. Not by a long shot. So I set up my laptop, opened Internet Explorer, and typed in the phrase, “File.error.corrupt.180”.

My computer went batshit insane. The windows I had open closed, the task manager closed as soon as I opened it, and the screen took on a blue tinge, fading into the message that every computer user dreads:

“Your PC ran into a problem and needs to restart.”

Except, this wasn’t a normal blue screen. No, this couldn’t have been—because blue screens don’t transition like that. They pop up out of nowhere, usually when something has gone very badly wrong. This wasn’t a blue screen at all.

The screen went totally black. I pressed the power button and nothing happened. I tried again; nothing. While I was trying to turn it back on, my mobile phone started buzzing like crazy. I had 25 or so new messages, all from an unidentified number. The messages all said exactly the same fucking thing:

“Your system has been corrupted by File.180.”

This wasn’t the message I’d been receiving. No, this was something new, something familiar, but something I hated just as much. And then, just as I was taking in this new, unwanted development, the lights shut off, one by one.

The last light to go off was the lamp in my room.

As my last source of comfort flickered and died, the first thing I noticed was a sudden chill in the air. It felt as if the room had gotten at least five degrees cooler in the span of a second. As if my predicament couldn’t get any more uncomfortable, I heard a single sound.

A tap on my window.

I spun around and saw a pale hand pressed against it, somehow visible through the all-encompassing, inky blackness.

A shape began to form, and I quickly realized it was the thing’s face, its huge eyes bulging, somehow appearing to illuminate the rest of its form. Its jaw hung loosely, like that of an eel, and as it swung open, a row of large, spike-shaped teeth became visible in its fucking throat. It was streaked in a dark liquid, but whether it was red or pure black, I couldn't tell.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I screamed, like I’m pretty sure anyone would do, and I got the hell out of there as fast as I could. I sprinted down the stairs, flung open the door, and ran out into the road, heart pounding in my chest. I kept running until I felt I was safe.

That's when I noticed that all the streetlights were going out, one by one.

I turned around. The thing was right there, its horrific visage suspended in the air right in front of my face. There was no body, no head, just a face. As I watched the thing, a pair of long, arm-like appendages materialized out of the inky blackness, tipped with the same pale hands I saw on my window. Then came the long, thin body, and a set of legs which seemed more at home on a giant insect than on whatever this thing was.

Its arms shot out towards me, and as I turned to run, it grabbed me, lifting me up and hauling me closer to its face. The loose jaw unhinged, splitting, and the same spike-like teeth began to manifest elsewhere in its mouth. Saliva dripped from its maw as it pulled me closer.

With all of the force I could muster, I screamed at the thing. I screamed so loud that it, disoriented, suddenly dropped me onto the ground. I wasted no time getting up and turning around to run. But then, it materialized right in front of me, and as I kept trying to run, the thing kept doing it. There was no escaping it.

I can't actually remember how I got into the broom cupboard. I don't remember whether I somehow managed to escape the thing, or whether it shut me in here itself, but in any case, here I am. I don't actually know what I'm going to do next, either. I know it's still out there, and I know it's going to come back.

I'm just going to stay in here. Whatever the thing does next, I hope it's over quickly. I'd prefer the unending void of death to this.

Written by Palaeontologica
Content is available under CC BY-SA

Based on an idea by Very Inked