I was a student at my local university, planning my major to be somewhat in the field of archaeology, but I never really worked out the specifics of it. Anyway, you all read these stories to get some fear driven in you, huh? The good old fashioned longing for campfire stories goes back, oh, I can only guess, since we as human beings could even understand what fear was.
Of course, I studied all this in my historical literature class. Up until it all happened, I viewed this class to be of the least eventful or time worthy. Actually, come to think of it, the professor, for the most part, had the same attitude as me towards his class. I guess 30 years of teaching the same uninterested college kids will wear a guy down. One day, however, it changed. The professor, Dr. Welford, decided to give the class a new and different type of assignment. It was simple, to the point, and almost too easy. Find a story that incited the most horror into people made post-internet age, and examine the factors of what made it startling to people. When I heard the prompt I had almost been perplexed at the ease that night's homework would be. Aside from all the random history documents I had to look over for the class, this sparked my interest.
I got home that day and fumbled through my backpack for my laptop. But not before dozing off a few times to some late night reruns of Rick and Morty. I must have fallen asleep as when I opened my eyes after what I wanted to be a quick rest, I started towards my computer taskbar to see the time: 3:30 AM. You’ve all heard it before, the classic “wake up at three-thirty" scenarios. But didn’t bother me in the slightest. I'm pretty sure all the university life had practically turned me nocturnal at this point. Feeling rested enough, I popped open a new tab on my laptop and prompted Google for a new search: “Scariest story ever told”. I pressed enter and immediately I was fluttered with the usual garbage BuzzFeed articles, and top ten YouTube videos. I even came across a few Nosleep stories on Reddit, some of which I found myself reading casually. Although being the overlord of procrastination, I finally convinced myself to get to real business.
I flew past a few results and finally landed myself on a Wikipedia page. The page contained a few of the most recently uncovered myths and urban legends of ancient times. The article talked about the basics of storytelling, and how it evolved into the show business that we have today. However, after a few minutes of skimming this, something I thought rather peculiar caught my eye. Along one of the thin columns of sources listed in the article was one hyperlink, simply entitled: “Cow Head”. Fascinated by the randomness I clicked out of my own curiosity. The page that the link led me to was a simple formatted old style Wikipedia page. It actually didn’t look like it had been edited since the old days of the internet, detached from all the rest of the site. I’ll admit, that it gave me a bit of a scare. Don’t know why; it just seemed like the whole page was off.
I skimmed a few paragraphs of what I could make out to be plain Japanese writing. Not traditional though; like something straight out of a child's gibberish, I’d like to say. I had taken a few years of Japanese in my high school so I knew enough to recognize most of the article was nonsensical. There were, however, a few paragraphs of English I could read, mainly just summarizing the danger of a particular folktale of unknown origins with the name “Gozu”. It was probably the most unorganized article I had ever seen on Wikipedia. I don’t remember seeing a single cited source or author anywhere on the page.
“God damned weird,” I thought to myself. I scattered past a few more lines of babble and read the remaining English portion. The article went on to state that the tale of Gozu was not written by man, but by an otherworldly source of darkness. The way it was worded was strange and unnerving. I found myself reading this bizarre page lazily until I felt the burning wrath of my hot-as-hell laptop sitting on me. I checked the time again: 4:11. I decided I would rather sacrifice a grade to avoid 1st degree burns on my lap from my shitty laptop. I sat up and adjusted myself into a comfier, what I like to call “staying up till four in the mourning” position, before tossing my computer aside. Right before I closed it, however, I saw one last thing that stood out to me on the Wiki page. It was blue. Blue text. It had probably been the only link on the entire damn page, which is what I suppose got me.
It was a standard hyperlink which read, “More Info” in plain italics. I didn’t see the point of it at the time, as if it even mattered anyway. I was totally failing the assignment. But, I couldn’t resist. Don’t know what it was. It's just one of those things where you see it, and you can't hold your piece. So I clicked the link.
I should have never clicked that link.
I'm going to warn you: If you're going to be as dumb as I was at this point, and you're thinking you should attempt this for yourself, don't!
The link had led me to what at first was a blank grey page with no address bar or landing screen. As per usual, I thought of this as being a dead-end backlink. Wouldn't be surprised; for all I knew the Wiki page that led me there was probably older than me. Once again, another sign to sleep like a normal individual. Before I could gesture to the back button on my browser, in an instant, the page burst into life with several white chat boxes lining the screen. At first glance I assumed it to be an old forum thread. The most archaic forum page I had ever witnessed, at that. The format of the page was ancient. It reminded me of the earliest software I had worked with in my sophomore computer science class. At least from the mid 90’s. On the site were two clearly inscribed links: “Next page,” and “Search,” with nothing other than boxes of text created by the forum users.
The strangest thing about the place was the absence of a landing page or URL. It was simply a sequence of random numbers with no .com or dot anything. I started skimming through the posts in an effort to find something worth reading. Hell, it was five in the morning, I thought to myself; I had come this far to what had to have been an archaeological discovery for the internet itself. The first sentence I read, starting the first thread was what hooked me.
“So you have the proper encryption tools for this document right?” a user asked. There didn’t seem to be any usernames so you’ll have to bear with me through the characterization here.
Another user replied: “Ha, you seem rather anxious over this don’t you? Lol listen, I got everything a fucked up little horror monger could need.” I read on to the next reply.
“Ok man I am not going to be caught red handed with this thing, you have no idea what the authorities will do to secure something like this.” At this point, I was blown away at what I was clearly reading. It was an old drug crypto drug deal. I would assume before any of this deep web crap existed. I went on to read the last reply.
“You are the one who has no idea what you’ve gotten into. Here's the download to the pdf. Have fun.”
That last bit confused me. Surely pdf files didn’t exist in those days. Definitely not download attachments. I scanned the page for anything else until my eyes darted to a timestamp directly below the post:
Updated 1 hour ago
Words could not describe what I felt after reading that. How in the hell could this page have been updated an hour ago?
I hovered my cursor over the attached document below the last post. For what I could see at that time, there was nothing but a foreign title to the attachment. I hesitantly clicked the file, and after a second saw a download prompt appear at the bottom of my screen. I could now see the file’s name in its entirety. I wasn’t fluent in the Japanese, I had spent the latter half of my high school life learning, but once again I could denounce that it was nothing but gibberish. I ran it through my Norton software twice to be safe. Norton could not run the file for some reason. Nothing. Both times. I kept getting a diagnosis error. Obviously recognizing the mistake I could be making, I opened the document up anyways.
My default Windows' text reader wouldn’t open it either. It would simply display the same error message: “Cannot read application”. It was as if Windows itself knew something was very, very wrong with the document and refused to read it. I finally managed to force run the file using Command Prompt. The file opened with a rich text document.
At first, I didn’t know what the hell I was looking at.
Oh God, why did I open the file?
It was pure madness. All of it. The first thing that got to me was the absurdly large text in pure traditional Japanese. It was obnoxiously big. Bigger than what I thought was the maximum font size for text readers. I could identify that all it said was “Go back” over and over again.
I began reading below the ridiculous text. It got even more incomprehensible as I went along, but I could understand it somehow. I kept reading. I couldn’t pull my eyes away from what they were absorbing. It was evil, darkness, terrible things were flying through my mind as I read on. I kept reading, I didn’t know what the fuck I was reading but at the same time I understood everything. Unspeakable horrors passed through every fiber of my being as I read faster and faster down the seemingly endless pages of foreign tongue. I tried to stop. I knew whatever this was: it was VERY, VERY WRONG.
I had to stop. I tried to pull away with all the strength; I had to stop reading the horrific words. I envisioned endless suffering, fear, anguish. Everything in me wanted to escape. I felt as if my mind itself was trying to run away from the what it was experiencing. I saw war… blood… hunger… death… It was as if all pain and terror experienced by all humans in history passed through at one moment. I wanted to die. I wanted nothing else in that moment but death to escape the evil I was experiencing. At this point my eyes mindlessly combed the page as my vision faded. Before it all went black, I remember looking down at something towards my left arm. It looked like another arm adjacent to mine, but not of a human; it was a hoof, the leg of a bull. As I dropped my head I felt the presence of large eyes barge through me.
I awoke the next day late to my first and second period classes. My head had been lying on the rough texture of my laptop's keyboard.
I stared up to glance at the time only to see Windows error reboot on my screen. I had an unimaginable migraine. Feeling lackadaisical and discombobulated, I struggled to fully comprehend what had happened. I glanced at the computer once more. “Your PC ran into a problem and had to restart”. I got up and moved slowly across my dorm to my old fashioned digital clock to check the damage.
It read: 10:42 AM.
“Shit,” I said to myself. At that point in time, I was completely dumbfounded at what exactly happened. I… I didn’t really want to know. At the time I thought maybe I had slipped a few drinks in as I normally did from time to time. I started to grab my things and throw on a pair of the nicest pants I could find in the first five seconds of looking. I scuffled over to close my laptop and drop it into my bag. But not before looking at it once more.
“Your computer failed to boot up. Error code:” and then some weird characters I hadn’t seen before.
I didn’t even have any other language than English setup on the thing so it confused me at the time. But I brushed it off and turned the whole thing off the manual way before scurrying out the door.
I did end up remembering that night. Slowly over time, and countless self forced therapy sessions with the school psychiatrist, I pieced together the events that took place. I… I can't come to a full rational thought about what I read even now; my mind feels like shutting it all down, burying it all in the deepest corner of me. However, despite my delusional state I have come to recall just what I read on that document in detail.
It started out with a description of an area in what I think is northern Mongolia or Japan. There was intricate detail on a harsh lack of food and water, death itself seemed to be lingering upon the land. I read about men and women dying, villages being overthrown and ransacked by other villages seeking food. But there was one village in particular. One village was in the same condition as all the rest, but there was something different. The men and woman were corrupt, cannibalistic, committing unspeakable acts that I, actually can't recall in great detail, fortunately. And right at the brink of total extinction of the village, a visitor approached from afar. A creature, or entity, something the story described as a warrior with the head of a bull. The concept as surreal is almost seemingly childish in nature, I know, but it was wrong. Something about it was so wrong in fact, the villagers attacked it, killed it, and feasted upon the bizarre body of the thing in the last attempt at survival of the harsh famine.
The story at this point gets cloudy. Evil poured down on the village. Evil like none other. A type of evil that crushes the malevolent nature of all dictators and fairytale antagonists.
I think it was at this point I passed out.
You know that your brain is programmed to simply shut down if it's experiencing too much fear. Too much sheer terror.
I know I’m not free yet. I know that, no matter what I do, eventually, I will remember more and more of the story. Every day I wake up, I feel more of it creeping from within the darkest depths of my conscious being. I need help.
And for all of you asking if I don’t cover it, no, I never recovered my laptop. I took it to the Microsoft store where they had tried every technique in the recovery process. Eventually, it came to dismantling the computer itself. What they found was the strangest part of all this.
The interior was in shambles. The hard drive was scratched beyond recognition, the motherboard obliterated, and a several-inch hole burnt through the processor. Whatever had done this much physical damage to my PC was doing it from the inside out. Please, whoever reads this, I continue to write not with motivation, but out of a burning desire to warn. Don’t go snooping around looking for things not meant to be found. Some stories originate from the deepest pit of hell with only a purpose of destroying sanity itself. Some stories are better left untold.