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I looked at the phone. I waited for the text to come back. It was maybe about ten, fifteen minutes.
That hideous face popped up on the screen, with the reply.
“You didn’t do the last task I asked of you. Now, there will be consequences.”
The last task was done, actually, but not by me. The phone I was holding was not mine. It was my son’s. I wanted some answers, something that would help me get through what had happened. I needed to know the truth.
I wanted to know what made my son kill himself.
I had thought him being secretive was just because he was a teenager. I remembered when I was a kid, I tried to hide things from my family, things I was embarrassed of. But I never expected to walk into the bathroom to find him collapsed on the floor, his wrists cut.
It was one thing to just be suicide, but then there were the phrases on the walls, the symbols. All gibberish, written in lipstick, on the mirror and the shower door. “She tastes all,” and “Bend the circle.”
The Momo Challenge was what they called it. A sick, twisted thing that looked like it was just for fun, but it terrorized people, mostly children. I found out about it, and everything I read after my son’s death made me angrier the more I found. That weird woman’s face wasn’t some demon, some creature from the pits of hell. It was just a statue, that belonged on some weird bird creature thing in Japan. They used it like an avatar, lured kids in with the promise of some good scary fun. Then the increasingly frightening challenges. Watching a scary movie alone was first. Then, not telling anyone about these conversations, or else their personal information would go out. Then the fear that ‘Momo’ would come and get them if they didn’t continue.
I never expected my son to be fooled by it. But I read the conversation. The things ‘Momo’ was willing to tell people. I could see why he got scared. They knew so much, all from a couple of clicks. Hacking.
I never even knew what WhatsApp was, but my son used it to message friends outside of Facebook. A friend told him about the number, but was too scared to try it himself. So, my son tried it. The friend never knew what was really going on, and was horrified to learn what had happened. He would have never sent it along if he had known.
The police couldn’t do anything. They said the number was a spoof, useless, probably a disposable cell phone, though it was odd that it wasn’t one normally associated with the Momo Challenge they normally looked into. They knew the group did things out in South America, and there wasn’t much as local officers they could do. They took the phone as evidence, but after they didn’t get anywhere with it, they returned it, and offered me their condolences.
They said it wasn’t worth trying to contact them. They’d given their last command, they probably would ignore the number.
I didn’t care. That phone sat in my son’s room, in a little Ziploc baggie, for weeks. My wife didn’t want me to touch it; she didn’t want anything to do with the monstrosity. She just wanted the memory of our son to stay as it was.
But I wanted to know why. I wanted to know why people would do such a horrible thing.
So I texted back. “I didn’t do your last thing. I was too scared to try.”
Then I got that response. Then another came through. “You get one more chance, and then everyone will know your secrets. Go to this address, alone. It’ll be fun.”
My eyes widened. The address wasn’t far from where I lived, maybe a few miles or so. It would’ve been a fast drive.
If the group was in another country, they wouldn’t have bothered. But this was local. Maybe I would get answers.
I left my wife asleep in our room, but I took my coat and my handgun. Funny, even though I showed my son how to handle it, I never got over the worry he might hurt himself with it, even locked away in my locker the way it was. Now he never would.
I drove out to the address. The neighborhood wasn’t great, but it didn’t seem like any place I would have felt unsafe walking after dark. The house itself was a bungalow, dingy gray color on the outside, no vehicles anywhere near it. There wasn’t even a detached garage. All the lights were out.
I parked across the street. I got out and went to the front door. There was a note on it.
Come inside…if you dare.
The door was unlocked. I didn’t bother knocking.
I entered a small hallway with a staircase going up, an entry into a little living room to the side, and a kitchen straight ahead. Even in the dark, I could see the kitchen had old, flaky yellow wallpaper, and a small table with chairs at it.
The house didn’t look abandoned; just empty. I didn’t see anything weird in the living room, so I went ahead into the kitchen.
I tried the light switch. It flicked on, which I honestly didn’t expect to work. A doorway led into a laundry room, another door led off onto a back porch, and a third with a security latch on it led underneath the staircase. The room was small, but not uncomfortably so.
On the back wall, there was a note on the refrigerator.
I opened it. There was nothing in there but a plate, with a note on it.
I heard footsteps behind me. Thing is, whoever was attacking was expecting a high school kid, I’m sure, not a grown man, and not one who played football when he was younger. I turned around and ducked down, charging the dark shape that had come down from upstairs and through the front hall. I knocked him over, and I hit him again and again until he stopped fighting.
I couldn’t believe I had knocked him out.
I dragged him into the kitchen, pulled out one of the chairs, and sat him up in it. In the light, I could see he was wearing all black, including a hoodie and a ski mask. He also had a knife in his hand.
I took the knife away and dug through the drawers, hoping to find some rope. I didn’t, but a junk drawer had a few unused zip ties. I bound his wrists and tied his feet to the chair.
I pulled off his ski mask as well. He was young, maybe college age.
I sat and waited for him to recover. I kept my gun on him. It didn’t take too long, and when he saw me, he went wide eyed and pulled at his ties.
“Who are you?” I waved my gun at him.
“What the hell’s going on here?” I expected him to be upset, and a little scared considering his situation. But he looked more than scared. His eyes were rimmed with lack of sleep. “Let me go, man! Let me go!”
“I want an answer. Who are you?”
When he kept struggling, I kicked him in the knee, hard. He yelped. I asked him a third time.
“I’m just playing the game, man. It’s what I was told to do.” He started crying.
“I started playing that challenge thing, the Momo challenge. I looked it up, I thought it was all horseshit. I gave them all fake info, so they couldn’t dox me. But it figured me out.”
I relaxed the grip on my gun, but just a little. “Who figured it out?”
“It asked me to kill myself, it would tell everyone about me, everything I’d ever done, unless I did it. I didn’t, I told it to screw off. But then the messages, the pictures…they stopped. It just said it was coming for me.”
He sniffed. “And it did.”
He looked over at the locked door. “I went downstairs, in my basement. It came for me, in there. But I got away. I locked it in there. But it kept talking. It kept saying it would come for me, it would get me, unless I passed on the game.”
He looked at me. “I started getting texts. I got information. I told him to off himself, like I was told. I was hoping he wouldn’t mail back. But then you did. And then it told me since the plan didn’t work, I needed to feed it, or else it would get me.”
He broke down and cried again. “I’m sorry, man. I’m so sorry. I didn’t know. I haven’t slept right in weeks. I barely even know what’s happening anymore.”
I looked at him. He looked downright pathetic, sitting in that chair. Bawling away.
And I looked over at that knife.
He took my son from me. And he planned to kill me.
I felt no sympathy for his sick, pathetic ass.
I smashed the gun across his face. He screamed.
“Please! I said I was sorry!”
I grabbed his chair. I pulled it over to the basement door.
“You scumbag shit. You killed my son. MY SON! And you think lying to me about some…thing scaring you into murdering him will make me feel sorry for you?!?”
He saw me unlatch the door. His eyes widened again.
“NO! NO! STOP! PLEASE! DON’T DO IT! I’LL DO ANYTHING!”
I opened the door. I saw the stairs, leading down into darkness.
Perfect. I leaned back, and kicked his chair.
He screamed as the chair tumbled down the stairs. He landed at the bottom. I saw him laying there, sprawled, sobbing and yelling.
“MY LEG! MY LEG! OH, GOD! OH, GOD, NO! HELP!”
I went to shut the door, when I saw it.
The long, thin pair of arms reaching out from the darkness, into the light of the kitchen.
The hair. Long, black, scraggly.
The bulging eyes.
The body that was not on a chicken monster, but on a thin, pale frame, with a dirty, gray tank top.
And its hideous smile.
It didn’t look like Momo. Not exactly. But it was nothing human.
It dragged the chair, slowly, back into the darkness.
I didn’t think his screams could get any louder, but they did.
I shut the door. I slammed the door latch back into place.
I waited, unsure what to do. The screams ended, abruptly.
A minute later, just on the other side of the door, I heard a thin woman’s voice.
“Are you ready to play with me?”
I drove home faster than I ever thought possible.
It’s been weeks since then. I haven’t heard from the police. I haven’t heard from anyone about a missing person. It’s just quietly gone away from our lives.
I know that there are sick people out there that get their jollies from torturing and frightening children. I sincerely hope you can protect your kids and they are never exposed to it. I also hope that someday what I saw in that basement will give them exactly what they deserve.
But I will not give out that weird, secondary number that it used. I know it’s not some kind of angel that punishes the wrong people. It’s not safe.
I know because I got a text the other day. On my phone I erased it, but it’s still in my mind.
“I’m out now. Let me know when you’re ready to play.”