Alright. So it looks like I'm finally writing this.
It's been a while since the events I'm about to describe, about three to four months. I lost count. These white walls really drain us of reality, don't they? But the events... the events that took place over that month continue to shake me up. My caregivers told me I occasionally wake up with a scream, in a pool of sweat. I don't remember it, though. No dreams have come to me since...well, I'm not going to go into that. It was something different. No amount of therapy has helped me. Anti-psychotics numb the pain, but they do not stop the memories. It seems the whole world has given up on me. I'll give this a few days. Let you hear out my story. Then I'm going to end it.
It all started on a crisp winter day sometime in November, 2019. My few friends, Sean and Sam, were out for the week doing whatever it is they were doing. My mom was at daycare with Molly, my sister, and Dad was at work. The whole house was mine for the time being. Most kids would probably think it was a dream come true to have the freedom to do whatever I desired, even if only for a couple of hours. That's what I thought. That was until I raced downstairs for the console controllers and realized the fucking whore hid them. Again. The frustration was turning into numb disappointment at this point, but the lack of trust still hurt me. I could've tampered with Mom's meds or something like that. But to be completely honest...I didn't blame her. The foster home I resided in was pretty rundown (the nurse was a complete crack head. The schooling wasn't that great either.) And the minor facial deformities running down my cheek didn't help much. I know my mother isn't the type of person to get an idea out of my personality based on that alone, but still. Things reached a boiling point when I brought a knife to school. I wasn't going to USE it. Maybe. Shit, I'm getting off topic.
Anyway, the only thing I could really do was scroll through my Instagram feed to pass the time. I was doing exactly that when a new notification appeared: re_neurosis is following you. I didn't give it too much thought. Every five seconds some perv tries to get in good with me, so it was habitual of me to blow them over.
So, like I said, I didn't put too much thought into it. Time passed, the minutes morphing into hours. Dad was still on his late shift. Mom was nowhere to be seen. Taking a final glance at the driveway through the blinds, I saw no cars. Mom had ordered me not to call or text any friends while she was away. I guess she thought I was going to watch porn or traffick weed the second she stepped out the door. I was desperate for some form of communication, though. So I broke that one rule: I called Sam.
I sat there for a while, talking and looking over any trending Tweets I could come across. And of course, we unloaded shit on pretty much everyone in our class. It's not that I'm antisocial, and I wouldn't exactly consider myself a sociopath. It's just...well, I don't even know at this point. Virtually everyone in my school turned into an asshole at one point or another. Sam, Sean, and a handful of other kids were the only exceptions. So it felt kind of comforting to lay down what we really thought about everyone in the safety of our homes.
Sean joined on with us sometime around eight. We talked and challenged each other at cup-pong for another hour or so until Sam had to hang up. Sean and I made promises to see each other the following Friday and also hung up. There wasn't really anything left to do. My phone was dying and, naturally, Mom had taken the liberty of hiding my charger. I took a last look over at the clock resting on the kitchen counter. 9:40. The only thing to eat was leftover from the shitty Thai place down the block and I didn't feel like wasting my battery life shame-watching my favorite vlog channels, reminding myself that they're ten times richer than I'll ever be. So I kind of just stretched out on the couch and let myself drift off. A minute the phone rang. I was already buried in my covers and didn't feel like picking it up, so I just put my head in my hands and let it ring.
It went to voice mail and Dad's thundering voice boomed through the speakers.
"Hey kid it's me. Listen, I have to cover someone's shift tonight. I, uh, won't be home until around ten. Your mother should be home soon. There are leftovers in the fridge. Love you." A beep sounded and the message ended. I peered over at the clock rested on the kitchen counter. It was a quarter to eight. Again, Mom hid the console controllers, so the only practical thing I could think of was messaging Sean. The second I logged into Instagram, though, I made an unusual discovery. Re_neurosis had messaged me. Fifty-six times. Within the last hour.
The usual pervs will send me around one to three requests or message me something around the lines of "hey pretty boy", but this...this was different. Just then another three notifications popped up, all reading the same thing: re_neurosis is following you.
I don't know what made me do it. Maybe it was out of curiosity. Maybe because I knew the messaging and harassment would continue if I chose to continue ignoring it. Being home alone, my nerves were on end. I waited. And waited. No response. So I put down my phone and shut off the bedroom lights, trying to catch some sleep. I was awoken no more than a minute later with the sound of my phone buzzing. Another notification on Instagram, this one from my cousin. I was initially relieved that there was someone I could socialize within the few hours I actually had to myself. Until I read the message:
"Ur mom in crash on 18th blv. Stay put."
My eyes widened. Dad called me soon after, and this time I answered. Some asshat was on his phone and rear-ended her. Every two seconds, Dad's voice would break down. I could tell for once, he wasn't completely sure of himself. Of anything. Anyone.
He went on, ordering me to stay home and stay in contact with my cousin. He also told me Mom was going to be okay, but Molly suffered a mild injury to the head along with a concussion.
"It's going to be okay," he kept telling me. And I believed it. I forced myself to. He wished me a good night and hung up. Just before sulking to my room, I logged back onto Insta, replying to my cousin's text. A final notification appeared in the top of the screen. Message from re_neurosis. A bland "hello" was typed out on his side of the message wall. I texted back the same. It seemed his response came instantaneously.
"Do you want to play a little game?", followed by several smiling emojis. At the time, I thought it was some kind of a joke or code for cannabis or something like that. Either way, I messaged him back saying something like "yeah, sure" and powered off my phone. And then I forgot about it. I closed my eyes, lay back, and thought. Just sitting there, thinking. I can't tell you about what exactly. Maybe it was my Mom's health. Maybe it was Molly. Or maybe...never mind. I'm getting off topic again.
The next morning I woke up around 12:00 to the sound of sizzles. Dad was home. Somehow, I forced myself up and marched down the stairs, where he greeted me. He handed me a plate of bacon and a small glass of orange juice. I nodded my head, as sort of a thankful gesture, and picked up my phone. There were several new messages.
Two were from Sean reminding me to get together with him on Friday. Two were from my cousin. Two were simply system updates or notifications from games I've downloaded but haven't played in years. And then there was one that stuck out. This one was from Sam. Carefully I read it, inspecting every word. "Woke up to weird noises outside. Were you cutting through my backyard again?"
There wasn't anything particularly alarming about it. Last Halloween Sam had stayed home sick with the flu. Sean and I thought it would be fun to hop over his fence, cut through the lawn, and tap on his window to scare the shit out of him. It was, to say the least, very effective.
"No. Was home all night." Figuring that was that, I put down my phone and dug into my breakfast. The lack of sleep added onto the boulder of stress seemed to work my appetite, since I finished the whole plate almost instantly and asked for seconds. My phone buzzed. I thought it was Sam, so I left it be. It buzzed again. Another notification. And another. By now the noise by itself was testing my nerves, so I checked anyway. According to my notification wall, I had two new messages from re_neurosis on Instagram.
I logged on and swiped over to my "followers" page and tapped on his username, then went over to recent messages. Both were images. My eyes widened in horror. My hand shook uncontrollably. I wish I just looked away. But I didn't. My neck was snapped into position, my eyes scanning the screen. I let out an appalling cry and startled Dad. He came over to comfort me, to ask what was wrong. He peered over my shoulder at my phone. He followed my gaze. And then he saw it too.
The first image depicted the corpse of an embryo lying in some kind of cellar, surrounded by flies, maggots, and rats. A pool of dried blood circles it. The second message was just below it, this one a video. I couldn't bring myself to play it, but the thumbnail said enough already. A frail woman, half naked and wearing tattered clothes, sat between two standing robed men. Their faces were blurred. Both had their hands on the back of her head, forcefully shoving it into an abnormally large bowl of soup resting on the table in front of them. Her face was a ghastly white. I had heard stories about deep web torture videos from the kids at my lunch table. I just never thought I would see one.
Dad was on top of it almost immediately, blocking the user and calling the police. My phone, along with the images on it, was handed in. They told us there wasn't really much that could be done. Still, life went on. It was dark by the time we got home, and we had gotten a call from the hospital beforehand that Molly was going to be okay. The police had also given me back my phone on the condition that I would immediately report ANY suspicious behavior to either them directly or Dad. The next day, 14 hours after my account was privated, my phone buzzed. New message on Instagram.
I figured Sean would try to get into contact with me after all of his recent calls were sent straight to voicemail. The notification was still visible. I tapped on it and was immediately brought to a re_neurosis' message page. Only one text was displayed.
"Let the game begin."
You probably expect me to tell you that I haven't slept since or something along those lines, but the truth is, I forgot the entire incident within the span of a week. Mom got home from the hospital, Molly was recovering, and Dad had found a new higher-paying job with shorter work hours. I deleted Instagram for obvious reasons, but Sean had convinced me to go back on Twitter and Facebook so we could still keep in touch over the break. My life seemed to be improving.
But then it happened.
Sometimes I don't remember the exact date, during spring break, Dad and I were binging Stranger Things when Mom called. The tone of her voice was a mixture of anger and dismay. It took me a while to actually calm her down and get her to explain what had happened. Apparently, someone had maxed out her debit card. Forty thousand dollars worth of savings had somehow disappeared overnight. I handed the phone over to Dad. His calm voice seemed to soothe her, but I could still hear the screaming on the other end. They went to the bank and found out the thieves had used every cent on the black market, where it was virtually untraceable. I both reasoned with myself that there was nothing I could do and empathized with Dad. He had it rough lately, especially since Molly had made a habit out of sprawling her initials, M.K., on every piece of furniture we owned when we weren't looking.
Over time, Mom managed to ensure some of the money. Dad's job covered our medical expenses. Still, life never really went "back to normal". The debit cards were just the beginning, though. Four days after the incident, Sean and I met together just as promised. We locked ourselves in my room and googled "rap tracks", putting our own comedic verses on top of every song. It started off as a joke of sorts. Then we started recording it.
The tone shifted from comedic to emo rap. Of course, we had our laughs here and there, but mostly we were serious about our music. After brief post-production, we had some twenty short songs mashed together into one tape. We told a story. It took a while to render, so I didn't have the time to show Sam the completed version. So I went onto Facebook with the intention of uploading the song. Facebook was linked on my google homepage, so I was able to get on immediately. I was met with the Facebook login screen. Strange, since I swore I hit "save username and password" after creating my account.
Regardless, I typed in my username, along with the password, and clicked "login". Nothing. A red text appeared underneath it, reading "invalid login". Bullshit, considering I used the same password for all of my accounts and had confirmed it after first signing up. So I tried again. Same thing. It wasn't the worst thing that could've happened, seeing that my account was barely five days old and had literally no content on it. But still.
I created a new account, typing in my password key by key, and clicked my way through the opening tutorial users are created with after signing up. I was searching through my file explorer for the song file when...I detected something near the bottom of my page under "recommended users". I scrolled down and leaned in, focusing on the third recommended user's name. It was my account. And I was online.
My fingers went cold and started quivering again. The gut-wrenching feeling returned. I clicked on the user icon and was brought to the page.
It was horrifying.
Every picture I had ever posted was switched for an obscene image of a corpse or a dismembered body part. I scrolled down. More pictures loaded in. An infant child covered in rat feces. A half-naked teenager laughing as he bathed in animal urine and needles. Two grown men with jagged scars across their body shackled and bathed in vinegar. They were looking up at the camera wearing fake smiles, their faces twisted in agony. Glass shards were carelessly spilled into their eyes. And there was blood, too. Bags. Of. Blood.
It wasn't just that. There were pictures of people in there, too, with what looked like their home address listed directly under. The entire description I wrote out was tampered with and replaced with tangled binary code.
I immediately flagged every image, from the top of the page to the bottom. I also contacted the Facebook Privacy Department and filing a complaint. I didn't tell Dad, nor did I phone the police. At the time I was completely blinded to the fact that things like these should be reported. Besides, I had already filed a complaint. The images would be taken down within a matter of days and the perpetrator would be caught. At least, that's what I told myself.
The account did get taken down the next day, along with a message from Facebook. The person behind it was never caught. Fearing that they would somehow get access to my Twitter as well, I deleted my account. There wasn't much to do from there. I tried to forget. It wasn't as easy this time.
The amount of spam mail in my inbox also increased. Most of them were just dead links that I didn't dare to click, but sprinkled in between there were random messages. Not messages in the traditional sense...messages as in a picture of someone, usually a child with their head cropped out of the picture, holding a cardboard sign. All of them came from the same place: Carry Kid's Co. The messages started off as innocent drawings and "hi"s with the I stylized as a heart. Then they progressively got darker and more aggressive.
"Answer the door."
"Don't you love us."
"There are eyes in the walls."
"Don't trust her."
"YOU FUCKING GATT!!!"
That's around the time I stopped answering them. It should have been sooner. Strangely, I never reported this to the police, the google help administration, or even my own parents. I've grown a complex about it. An irrational fear of sorts that giving my problems will only exploit me and make the problems worse. Anyway, I was perfectly capable of handling it myself.
That was until I started receiving the death threats. I only read through one of them and had no intention of reading the other ten I received regularly. No cute little messages sprawled on pieces of cardboard. Just threatening emails.
It was around this time that Molly really started pissing me off. Ever since coming home from the accident, she would make a routine out of coming downstairs wasted, taking her meds, and locking herself in her room for the rest of the day. Then she'd come out in the middle of the night to fuck with me.
The first time I can remember this happening was when I woke up to giggling and found her in my closet drooling on a stuffed dragon I played with as a toddler. Looking back, this was notably disturbing. But for whatever reason, I kind of thought it was "cute" and silently led Molly back to her room. She wouldn't actually go IN, of course. The door was closed. She just stood there and banged her head against it. I was in no mood to deal with this, so I just kind of left her there and figured Mom would take care of it.
The lack of sleep and constant paranoia started to get to me. My eyes became wild and veiny. My temper shortened. It got to the point that Mom forced me to start visiting a psychiatrist. Two days later I was diagnosed with insomnia, whatever the hell that meant. My mood was worsening by the day, with mild depression to top it all off. The routinely night terrors didn't help either. Dad saw it too, which is why he was the one to propose visiting my aunt in Boston for a few days. The vacation actually somewhat helped me. The pool, along with Aunt's pantry of snacks, helped me recover from my daily home life.
I was lying near the pool, resting. The few particles of water singed off my chest and melted into my skin. And just as quickly as it came, my vacation was gone. I was awoken to a blood-curdling scream. It was my younger cousin, Theodore. I sat up and watched as Aunt helped him out of the hot tub and tried her best to appease him. His eyes filled with tears, he mumbled something through tears before collapsing onto the pavement. The ambulance arrived shortly afterward, but it was too late.
Somebody had put a pair of water snakes in the tub, one of which bit him. He succumbed to his wounds on the ride to the hospital. There was a small family gathering before we headed back home. Back to the nightmare.
On the way back our luck somehow worsened. Both of our tires had slits in them, so we had to spend the weekend at some crappy motel a few blocks over while it was repaired. All these things began piling up on me became nearly unbearable. Then, just as I was recovering from my insomnia, I woke up near 2:00 in the morning. Seeing I was already up and running for the day, I figured I could go to the kitchen and grab a glass of milk before quickly heading back to bed.
As I headed towards the kitchen, I noticed our hotel door was open by a crack. I went to close it and...well, I don't really know how to describe it. An uneasy feeling dawned on me. I spun around and saw a bug-eyed Molly staring at me from the corridor, her left eye twitching uncontrollably. Something had changed with her. Even with most of her coated in darkness, I could still see it.
"Oh, fuck off," I muttered. She didn't budge. Like me, her face remained emotionless. Slowly, she tilted her head at me and softly purred. I kicked a nearby pillow at her. She pointed at me, smiled, and disappeared down the hallway.
We arrived home the next day and, almost instantly, Sam called. The loss of my cousin still stung, so I tried to take my mind off it. We talked for a little about our classes, gossiped about our teachers. He burst out laughing at everything I told him. This was the first sign that something was wrong. Sam, although an amazing and supportive friend, hadn't laughed since his brother died three years ago when we were in the fifth grade. And there was a hint of despair in his laugh. A small part of him seemed to be holding back. His breaths were abnormally deep. There was an awkward silence just as Sam's end of the line fell into silence.
"Sam?" I asked, holding my breath in. The silence continued. I was about to hang up when something on the other end of the line caught my attention. There was silent whimpering, followed by a series of thuds as if the phone had been dropped from his hands. The whimpering continued, turning into a muffled cry. He picked up the phone. I asked again.
"Sam? You still there?"
No response from his end. The muffled crying continued, barely overlapped by the static. Then another voice came in. A grown man's voice, whispering something inaudible. I couldn't make out anything except for the last sentence.
"Come on. Say it." Sam got back on. Like any good friend, I asked him if he was okay. He changed the subject. This went on for some time. I continuously asked him what had happened, or if his dad was home if he was okay. And every time I asked, his response was the same: do you want to come over. Eventually, I gave up and told him I was going to bed. He persisted, causing me to hang up on him. Looking back, I guess I felt somewhat sorry for him. It was common knowledge in my school that Sam was a victim of abuse by the hands of his dad. He told me and Sean stories about the things the fuck did to him. Horrible things.
The violence seemed to have a toll on his personality too. He was a quiet kid. Always sitting by himself at recess, always pushing away any extra help our teacher offered him. Whenever Sean and I asked him to do something, say a favor, he would do it with little to no questions asked. The unquestioning obedience he showed was both admirable and somewhat disturbing.
So I was a little surprised when he Facetimed me about a minute later. And stupidly, I answered. I guess I thought I could've smoothened things out with him or something. But the second I answered, he barraged me with a series of cusses and accusations. "You fucking narcissist!" he screamed. I tried to reason with him. Every time he insisted that I come over. And every time I denied, the screaming continued.
It was just then that I realized the box where his face was supposed to appear as black as if his camera wasn't functional. My reasoning turned into pleading. My friend had turned into somebody else. Eventually, my temper flared. I cussed him out and told him to go to hell before hanging up and burying my head in my arms. Tears poured down my cheeks.
The phone rang again. Sam was requesting to Facetime me. My temper had faded and, to be honest, I couldn't afford to lose anyone else. Not this time. I answered. The camera was working this time, so I was immediately greeted by Sam's face. His eyes were watery and his face scarlet red. I could tell he was trying to seem brave. But something in his eyes gave it away: he was terrified.
He took two steps back, swallowing hard. In his hands was a cardboard sign. On it, written sloppily in the black sharpy maker, were four words: come or I die. My legs felt weak again. I had to use my free hand to steady the other as to not drop the phone. Sam began wailing, this time out loud. My mouth couldn't work. All that came out were a series of stammers.
I heard somebody pump a shotgun in the background. Sam was shaking as well but refused to let himself fall. The camera suddenly spun around, revealing a man in a gas mask on the other side, mostly concealed by darkness.
He held up three fingers. Then two. Then one. Needless to say, I threw the phone just as the shotgun discharged. Mom and Dad stormed in and saw me punching my pillow in anguish, my phone half across the room. We went to the police with it and they allowed us to stay the night with "protective services" while a caretaker looked after both the house and Molly, as she came down with pneumonia two days ago and was still too weak to leave the house.
Therapists came in and out all night, trying to help me cope with the trauma. It was different this time, though. The fear left me. The memories didn't. We woke up the next morning and were given a complimentary breakfast at the hotel across the street. Dad got his keys and we headed home. The lock on our gate was broken and the flower beds Mom planted in the spring were trampled, although I didn't initially notice it. Dad made his way up the steps and knocked on the door. No answer. Dad opened the door himself and headed upstairs, entering the guest room.
Mom and I entered after him. Mom immediately broke down in tears and crouched in the corner of the room. Dad tried to comfort her. And me? I stood there. Emotionless. Slowly inching forward, step by step. My mouth became moist. I could feel the color drain from my face. There, resting only a few feet in front of me was the mangled body of the caretaker. His face was carved into a hideous Glasglow smile. His eyelids were pulled and stapled to his forehead. Blood dripped down and met with the tips of his cheeks, lengthening the exaggerated smile.
Police arrived soon after and cleared up the room. He then ordered me to "wait outside" while he showed Mom and Dad something.
Dad inched out of the room a few seconds later and explained what had happened. Near 2:00 in the morning, while our caretaker was most likely asleep, three masked men in black trench coats broke through the front gate and entered the house through a window in our living room. He mentioned in explicit detail that the intruders were aware of the cameras and often waved at them, pointing to something outside. They didn't steal anything. They roamed the house, taking down the cameras as they went by. As if they were looking for someone.
Dad droned on as I went down the steps and outside onto the patio. The frigid air hit me like a slap and the broken gate creaked open. Dad started chasing after me. The door to Molly's room creaked open as I sprinted by. Hesitantly, I neared the blue mailbox stationed outside the house and opened it. Inside was a USB port and a note:
It was fun while it lasted.
Thank you for looking after our very own sweet little Maggy Kohen for us. You can keep her if you wish. We already have what we came for.
Your sister has a very unique face. It took us a lot of slicing and dicing to get Maggie's JUUUUST right. Yours was even trickier. I feel that our work speaks for itself, though. Too bad you never got to see it.
We had to pour in lots of effort but, after seeing those wonderful photos you posted on you're story, we figured it would be worth our while.
Speaking of the devil, don't worry. She's having a wonderful time right here. Why don't you watch for yourself?
Remember to be careful next time you're online!
P.S Maggie would like her snakes back you're the earliest convenience.
Written by SlothIsBack