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I used to be fearless.

Horror movies never really scared me. Scary books had no effect. Haunted houses are meaningless. I was never a child who slept with the covers over their face, or with a night light.

As a little girl, I never felt the need to crawl into bed with my mother after having a nightmare. I never really had nightmares to begin with, and the few I did have, most people would never consider a nightmare at all.

I’ve simply never been afraid of what goes bump in the night. Our home security system kept away fears of very real humans with dark intentions, as did our rottweiler, aptly named Killer. As for threats outside the home, well, who could be afraid in a nice, white, upper class community? I’ve lived in a bland bubble all my life, never knowing what fear is.

So why should I ever be afraid of the dark?

Up until this moment, I haven’t been. I saw it as childish and illogical. Of course, I don’t feel that way anymore. I’m writing this to you now as a warning because it’s too late for me. I know that now, and it’s brought on a surreal sort of calm…When I finish warning you, it will be all over. So forgive me if I’m being long-winded…I enjoyed life a bit more than I was once willing to admit.

It all started with what I thought was a virus. I had been linked to a video called “Girls and Boys Come Out to Play.” It sounded harmless enough. I thought it was an art student’s film, perhaps. The person who had linked the video promised it was very good. Well worth watching.

I can’t remember the video. All I can remember is the feeling it brought up. It wasn’t fear, but it was close. I was uncomfortable. I was unnerved. I was also vaguely ill.

From then on, things only got worse. The background on my computer had changed to a picture of a disturbed looking young woman who stared at me from a black abyss. Every now and then, and growing more frequent by the day, strange noises would emit from my computer, even when the sound wasn’t on. Screaming, strange laughter, grinding noises…

At the time, I was annoyed; the fear hadn’t settled in quite yet. Then, the faces started popping up, like those ridiculous ‘screamers’ that scared my friends in high school. Yet these were different. They looked real. They were the faces of the dead; and they had died violent deaths.

I wish I could say that I stopped using the computer, but I couldn’t. My job requires me to use my computer frequently. What was I to do? I had no other computer available to me.

I tried to take it in to have the virus removed, but no one could help me. They said there wasn’t a virus. They said the computer was fine.

Meanwhile, it got worse. The faces weren’t just popping up; they would stay. And with those horrible, rotted eyes, they would hold my gaze. I couldn’t look away from them and their terrible, mocking grins. And oh, God…the smell. My computer forever had a vague stench of death around it.

I thought I was going crazy. I thought that perhaps someone was messing with me. The people at the computer repair place didn’t know what they were talking about. Something was wrong, but I knew that it had to be something very real that just had to be fixed.

So I got a new computer. Everything was fine for a while, but then it all came back, and in full force. Now there were voices. Now there was screaming. Now, the rotted faces showed their stinking bodies. I could see every maggot, every fly, every pus-filled crevice…And they were calling to me. Telling me that soon, very soon, I’d be joining them. They were so angry that I had tried to get rid of them, and now they would make me pay.

I didn’t know what to do. Ignoring the problem wasn’t working. I thought maybe it was the fault of a friend from work. Perhaps it came from the emails they had been sending me? I never thought it was the video. Not for a second. After all, that just wasn’t logical.

I was at the end of my rope. Today, I unplugged the computer and began packing. I would go on vacation, clear my head, and pray that everything would be back to normal.

A few minutes ago, I realized it would not. The power went out, and for the first time in my life, I felt true fear. I had no idea that in a few moments, it would become mind-numbing.

I stumbled through the house, looking for a flashlight, when I saw that something was still giving off light.

The computer.

The unplugged computer was on, and the woman in the background was moving. Beckoning me over.

I couldn’t help myself. I sat down across from her with the darkness caving in all around me. And then the woman, like all of the other images I’ve seen before, began to rot away.

The whole scene rotted away, and then the screen went black. And without light, without a means of seeing my reflection, I saw her behind me for the briefest of moments, a bloody and rusted knife in hand. The computer came back to life, and my old background had returned.

But I know it’s not over.

So I’ve decided to come here. I know you all like to be scared, right? Well, take it from someone who has only very recently known fear: it’s not always worth it, and not everything is fun and games.

Of course, you probably won't believe me. Why should you?

The thing is…I haven’t been completely honest with you. There was no video. It was a story. A story quite similar to this one, though with subtle plot differences and perhaps better story telling. I know all of you like stories that might give you a good scare. That’s probably why you started reading mine.

Now that you’ve read this, you’ll share my fate. I know it’s cruel, and perhaps unfair, but it has to be done. I just hope that you can take comfort in knowing that when I’m the woman haunting your computer, I’ll be a bit more gentle. If I can, I’ll use a blade that’s a little less dull. Pictures of those who came before us who are a little less grotesque. Sounds that are a little less alarming.

But then again, you DO like to be scared, right?

Don’t worry. I won't ask you to repost this story five times. Nothing will save you. After all, nothing could save me.

The power is still out. And I know, behind me, the woman is waiting for me. I’ll see you very soon.

Goodbye for now.