How to find the INNER YOU!
It was almost midnight. Not unusual for me, of course. I’ve been a night owl practically since birth, and as unhealthy as it probably is, I’m too old to stop now. I was sitting on my laptop watching Youtube, some mindless gaming channel with two guys who would scream every time they died, found an item, won a battle, breathed… I had no clue why I was forcing my eyelids open for this. As the guys discovered a secret boss level (and screamed about it) I noticed an advertisement on the side of my screen: PERSONALITY QUIZ TO FIND THE INNER YOU!
I considered it. Usually I ignored ads like that. After all, if you click them, it’ll prove that they work on you, and you’ll start getting even more. But something about this one seemed oddly compelling. Not true fascination, of course, but a sense of, “Eh, why not?” I clicked it.
After a few seconds of buffering, I was blinded by a page framed by flashing neon popups, with a little icon saying ‘start quiz’ in the middle of the screen. I turned down the brightness on my display and clicked the button. Instantly, all the popups vanished. I was taken to a navy blue screen with a small line of white, blurry text. I squinted at it, and figured out it said something like, ‘You acknowledge the possibility of anything that may happen. You agree to complete the quiz.’
At this point, I was already thinking, “What the hell? What could Happen? Why do I have to finish the quiz?” My cursor hovered over the Accept button… to click or not to click? “You know what?” I reasoned. “It isn’t worth it. I could be agreeing to all kinds of crazy sh*t here.” I moved to close the tab, put my finger on the scrollpad… and misclicked. OF ALL THE GODDAMN ROTTEN LUCK! I’d accepted it. It was too late. I expected a few seconds of buffer like usual, but the transition to the next page, to the first question, was instantaneous and smooth as butter. The quiz had begun.
Okay, whatever. I’d probably just agreed to let them show me targeted ads or something… though I was still a little confused as to why there were still no ads on the page. Weren’t clickbaity sites usually full of them? I reminded myself that I could just close out of the website if things seemed off. And on that slightly reassuring note, I read the first question.
What is your favorite color?
Orange, I answered. Could a question like that really say anything about my inner self?
The next question appeared, again with an unnaturally smooth transition.
What is your favorite animal?
There wasn’t a very broad selection, so I just chose Dogs.
What are you most afraid of?
Uhh… well, since neither eternal loneliness nor The Walten Files were on the list, I picked spiders.
Which image is most similar to the general location of your home?
This one made me do a physical double-take. It seemed really irrelevant, and definitely a bit stalker-esque. But, maybe it just wanted to find out what kind of climate and living situation I prefer, in relation to my personality, or… something? I hesitantly selected the photo of a snowy mountain.
Do you feel safe?
Jesus Christ. This was definitely some sort of Halloween quiz written to scare people. Not worth my time. I moved to close the tab and get back to my mindless gaming binge… the other tabs had disappeared, seeming to have closed themselves. I tried to X out of the quiz tab, but the button wouldn’t respond. Tried closing the window, no response. I tried to manually shut down the computer in the hopes that it would fix this weirdness, and nothing. This stupid thing was a virus! “Fine,” I decided, “I’ll take it to tech support in the morning.” I closed the laptop and lowered it onto the carpet beside my bed.
I then got up to turn off the lights… but before I reached the switch, they turned themselves off for me. No flickering, no fade, just immediately off as if someone’d cut the wires. My blood ran icy cold. Maybe it was just the adrenaline talking, but I swear the wind picked up right about then, fiercer and more violent than I’d ever heard it. My windows rattled, less like they would at the wind, no matter how fierce, and more like as if something was trying to get inside. I thought I could hear vehicles, too, roaring trucks with screaming motors. Nobody in my neighborhood ever drove this late at night.
At this point I was frozen at the spot. Out of fight, flight, or freeze, my brain always seems to pick the least helpful option: standing like a deer in headlights. Forcing myself to snap back to reality, I flipped the switch. Nothing, as I’d honestly suspected. There was no way I was leaving my room when my worthless fear-high body was still trying to magnetize me to the floor. I dove to my bed and grabbed my laptop in a desperate attempt to calm my nerves with any sort of light in the blackened room.
The second I opened the computer, the wind and engine noises stopped. The window quit rattling. A few moments later, the lights came back on. A small popup window in the corner of the screen read, ‘Thank you for agreeing to continue the quiz. We apologize for what almost happened.’ I shivered involuntarily. I didn’t really want to wonder what would’ve happened had I waited much longer. Clearly, these sickos had meant it when they said I had to complete the test. I selected ‘Yes’ for the safety question and pressed on.
Are you alone?
This seemed somehow like a loaded question. Alone in the house? In the room? And what if I was less alone than I realized, that something was here with me… I pushed the thought from my stupid, morbid brain. ‘Yes.’
What are you most afraid of?
These knuckleheads had put the same question twice! Almost defiantly, I clicked again on Spiders.
What is your exact address?
Okay, seriously, what the hell. I was going to just click some random answer, not that I expected any of the options to be correct, when I gave yet another shiver. The four choices were all the same, and each was my exact address. Down to the zip code, and mirrored across every little white box. I clicked one after a few seconds’ reluctance. Guess I just left location tracking on. I hoped.
What is your dream job?
Finally, back to the normal questions. I clicked, ‘Artist.’ To be honest, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, but Artist sounded most appealing out of the provided options.
What are you most afraid of?
Not again. But this time… there were no boxes. Instead, there was a little space to type an answer. I blinked at it confusedly. I’d taken at least a few clickbaity personality quizzes in my time, and none of them had asked for a written response. Then again, this was obviously no normal personality test. I thought about being cocky and typing Spiders again. I thought about answering with what I would've said, had I been given the option earlier. But at the moment, there was only one honest answer. I typed, ‘You.’ Because whoever concocted this quiz, who cut out my lights and rattled my windows, they were my greatest fear.
What is your name, and why is it Alex Fletcher?
Nope nope nope nope nope. How in the everloving hell did this thing know my name? Again, there were four identical options: Alex, Alex, Alex, Alex. My fingers itched to close the computer, to get up and run, but I knew what would happen if I tried not to complete the quiz. I clicked the first ‘Alex’ box.
Congratulations on completing the quiz! Your results will arrive at the provided location shortly. Prepare to meet the inner you!
There, I’d finished the test. All done. Wait… what exactly did it mean by ‘arrive at the provided location?’ Oh sh*t.
I’m writing this from a nearby all-night diner. I admit I chickened out, but you’d be scared too if you were in my shoes. I won’t be allowed to sleep here. Maybe I could stay in a motel? All I know is that I am NOT going home tonight if anything is arriving from that stupid website. I don’t even want to know what it means to ‘meet the inner me.’
I want to keep a log of this so if anything happens to me, people will know what. If anyone reads this, all I have to say is ‘Beware clickbait!’ You never know what advertisement you buy into could be your last.
Oh, speak of the devil, an ad just popped up on my phone: Take this quiz to find out how you will die!
Needless to say, I’m not clicking it.
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To start with, I think the premise is interesting, the idea of a quiz being more sinister than it appears is an appealing concept. I enjoyed the initial effects that things like "do you feel safe?" had on me, the ominous uncertainty was a great addition. However, as it went on, I found the questions too brazen and the build up came to fruition with the narrator just being scared a great deal. The ending was weak, I found the warning to be more comedic than scary, and the "find out how you will die" part even more humorous. In regards to the grammar, avoid capitalizing full sentences for emphasis, it looks unprofessional and italics are a much better way of conveying emphasis. I tried to read this from the mindset of myself when I've clicked on these types of bait quizzes, and I often find that curiosity only goes so far, and I didn't quite understand why the narrator suddenly changed opinions and decided to press on with the quiz despite obviously expressing that it wasn't worth the trouble; even trying to close the quiz.
That being said, the concept and premise was good, I can definitely see something like this being creepy, but you should endeavor to keep the questions ominous and bizarre but with a subtle and clear pay-off rather than throwing in a random set of seemingly unlinked questions that don't seem to go anywhere other than a random location with no hint of what is supposed to be occurring. For instance, I'd like to have seen the answers making some sort of correlated effect on the world around the narrator like the fear question or the question about the narrator's favorite animal. You did this for the "do you feel safe?" question and that was great. If you'd slowly built up from bizarre but mundane occurrences from the questions that could have worked better.
I really liked this story, and I agree with everything ZugZuwang said. In fact, the reason I'm dropping this feedback post is to hopefully encourage you to make any changes or revisions you intend to, and post the story. It's original, gripping, and spooky.
Needless to say, I'm anxious to see the finished result. I hope you haven't given up on it.