Estimated reading time — 3 minutes
“Okay, so get this. My dad comes upstairs last night, right? He walks in and he’s like ‘how do you put pictures in an email? There’s this thing that says attachments but I don’t want to attach anything I just want to send pictures.’” My best friend and I laughed at the misfortune of the older generation as a whole. We sat on our beds, states apart, internet friends brought together by the magic of technology. It was a Sunday; cold, rainy, and it was late. The digital display on my bedside table gave off a red 1:58am. Inwardly, I groaned at how late it was, even though I had nowhere to be the next day.
“Hey dweeb, shouldn’t you be getting to bed? It’s like 3am there, isn’t it?” I looked at my friend’s face on my laptop screen briefly before turning my attention to the potato chip bag to my right. Grabbing the bag, I tilted my head back and poured the salty snack into my mouth, golden and greasy crumbs tumbling down my face and chest. “Damn it,” I muttered.
My friend shrugged, also glancing at the clock visible on the wall behind her. “Eh, summer break for a reason right?” My clock now glowed an angry 2:00am. “Hang on,” my friend said, climbing off of her unmade bed to peer out her door and down the stairs. I directed my attention to my crumb covered face and chest, brushing them off and onto my equally unmade bed. When I looked back up, Natalie was holding her laptop, carrying it down the dark stairs. “Someone’s knocking. Plus I’m hungry, so I’m taking you with me.”
“Kay,” I said, switching tabs to check my facebook feed. As usual, nothing exciting. I switched back to the Skype window in time to see her peer out of the peep hole in her door and shrug.
“I don’t even see anyone,” she said, busying herself with looking through cupboards for a suitable late night snack. I heard the faucet turn on. “Do I want mac and cheese or?”
“Obviously.” 2:10am. This time I heard the knocking too.
“Are you kidding me?” Natalie said, this time opening the door. Looking past her, I couldn’t see anyone. She shook her head and shut the door. “Who the hell does this at 3 in the morning anyway? Like, are you serious right now?” I shrugged in response and watched her put a pot of water to boil on the stove. Another knock. I could almost feel the anger radiating through the screen. Natalie threw the door open and shouted into the night, “WHAT?!”. I winced from her volume, knowing full well how fantastic her temper could get. Again, I strained my eyes to look past her, but there was no one to be seen.She shut the door, and as soon she did, another loud series of knocks came from the other side of the door, making it visibly shake. I watched her freeze and back away from the door. She slowly turned to face the webcam. “I swear to God, I just checked and there was no one out there,” she whispered into the mic.
“Natalie…” I whispered, watching the door slowly slide open behind her. The lights in her kitchen flicked off suddenly, giving me only one brief glimpse of her panicked face. After a second, I heard a spine chilling scream, so filled with agony and distress that it made me weak. “Natalie!” I screamed, hands flying to my mouth to silence myself. My screen suddenly filled with a new face, someone with a makeshift mask that appeared to be made out of a white sheet, an unsettling smiley face drawn on in black marker, lit only by the backlight on Natalie’s computer. That was the last thing I saw before the video call was disconnected. I panicked, slammed my laptop shut, and began searching my bed for my phone. Unable to find it, I ran out to the kitchen and snatched up the house phone, dialing 911 with frantic, shaking fingers.
“911, what is your emergency?”
“I-I’m calling t-to report…to report…”
“Hello? Stay with me.”
My eyes flickered to the clock on the microwave. 3:00am.
There was a knock on the door.
Credit To – Ashleigh Margaret
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