I had this co-worker a few years ago, Matt, who became obsessed with fame, or rather, the idea of becoming famous. He was too lazy to pursue anything original in the creative arts field but figured fame would just come to him one day, like a dog scratching at his front door. You remember those kids in school that used to copy your work and try to take credit? He was one of them. It didn’t matter if it was a drawing of a cartoon tree crying at being cut down by a logger with a chainsaw, that same image would end up on his sheet of paper praised by the teachers and stinking of unoriginality.
Matt hit the jackpot one day and got this small bungalow on a quiet cul-de-sac. It was away from the sounds of emergency sirens and gridlock in the city. The bungalow itself was a cookie-cutter and looked the same as every other house, a perfect fit for Matt in that way. Anyway, he bought the place at auction for dirt cheap and had to throw out the leftover contents. He chucked out everything from an old piss-stained chesterfield with cigarette burns, to some ugly beige kitchen cabinets covered in pork grease and god-knows-what. Something of interest that Matt found in the house hidden in the bedroom closet was a large cardboard box marked vaguely as “Old stuff”.
He was curious, as anybody would be, so he lifted out the box and placed it on the scraggly carpeted floor. He had this cheap orange penknife in his pocket that he used to sharpen sticks with as a kid; he was never without it. Anyway, he cut through the tape and couldn’t wait to see what was inside.
Photographs. There must have been hundreds, maybe even close to a thousand. All glossy in mint condition. On each one was this striking young lady, posing in different garments. And when I say striking, this was the most beautiful woman Matt had ever seen in his life. She had long flowing red hair down to her shoulder blades and blue eyes so inviting you’d think you were a kid with free reign of a candy store. Her eyes, they seemed to jump out of each picture. In some of the photos she was modeling bare summer swimwear, and then cozy knit Fall sweaters in others.
So, who was she? There was no name etched on the box or scribbled anywhere on any photo. Matt rifled through several to see if there was any means of identification.
That afternoon he lost track of time until it was dark. He busied himself, flicking through each photo. Her eyes staring right at him. Each newly discovered pose gave Matt this sense of wanton desire. Those piercing blue eyes grabbed him in a way he’d never felt before.
Flick. Flick. Flick. Flick.
Each newly discovered photo was more desirable than the last, each new outfit skimpier, until close to the bottom of the box, she was out of her clothes altogether.
Matt had an Instagram account. It started for him as just a small piece of social media enjoyment. He wanted to see what his favorite wrestler was benching during workouts, he wanted to know what foods affected his sleep patterns, he wanted to see behind-the-scenes make-up effects applied to actors on set during the making of his favorite B-movies. These were his primary interests until he discovered Instagram models. This was when his personality started to change.
In no time, Matt’s account was flooded with constant updates and images of beautiful women, all sipping iced lattes on verandas supposedly in Southern California wearing just enough clothing to satisfy the content rules and regulations. He’d scroll through his phone constantly, addicted. Even at work when he didn’t think one of the swing managers would notice, he’d be stood there ogling.
Eventually, he lost interest in the wrestlers, the movie stars, the B-Movie horror icons, until it was just a slew of different models of all shapes and sizes appearing on his phone, each satisfying his perverted curiosity in a different way.
Earlier I’d mentioned Matt’s little character flaw: his obsession with fame. Well, some of these models on Instagram have millions of followers, and those followers in turn give them millions of “Likes” – those beautiful little seals of approval; that nice dopamine shot to get you through the day. Sometimes it can even get lucrative when it comes to sponsorships and advertising. So, fame and money just from posting stuff online. Well, Matt thought to himself, why not create an account using a made-up name, and post these newly discovered photos? If this perfect girl could draw in followers like him, he’d achieve everything he thought he ever wanted.
Matt didn’t show up to work after that. He didn’t call in sick or request emergency vacation time, he just never left the house. The large computer screen in his bedroom gave him all the Instagram feed he could handle.
Days turned into weeks, and Matt’s appearance changed. The former fleshy two-hundred pounder had withered to become almost skeletal. His face was drawn and sunken. He didn’t care; the new Instagram account was booming.
In just a few weeks this mysterious girl’s face and body had lured over ten million followers from around the world to gaze upon her. Matt’s inbox was flooded with messages of wanting from fans begging for another fix. Messages pertaining to marriage proposals, job offers, and sponsorships were in the hundreds of thousands. She was the newest Instagram sensation, and her name was Nia Savini.
Matt was proud of creating the name. It was probably the most original idea that ever entered his farcical grey matter of a brain. Matt had made money but more importantly, gotten his taste of fame. Or rather, Nia’s fame.
Soon, Nia’s wings were spread to more than social media; her face was appearing on news channels around the world. The general public even became obsessed with her, especially since they had only seen pics and no video footage. There was one news story, it must have scared Matt, even before everything else happened.
A Mrs. Gould was interviewed on one of the news channels. She was in her sixties but looked older, the six-packs-of-smokes-a-day kind of person. On the program she claimed to be the mysterious girl’s mother. I’ll never forget her face, it was chilling. She was sobbing uncontrollably, pleading, for the page to be taken down. She claimed that Nia Savini was, in fact, Megan Gould. Megan went missing from her home three years ago, leaving behind a pool of blood. No body was ever found.
Matt, being so infatuated with Nia, didn’t care. He continuously posted the photos, sometimes as many as six in a day, just to satisfy the public’s cravings as well as his. He didn’t care for anything else. His lawn was an overgrown jungle; flies zipped around his kitchen spewing up on dirty dishes; his pet goldfish floated dead in his dirty tank; all the while, Matt’s own personal health must have declined. Then one day, Nia’s account stopped updating. Matt had used up all the photos from the box. All of them, except for the au naturel ones at the bottom.
Instagram had verified itself as a profitable tool and Matt’s ghoulish face salivated at the thought of creating an ‘OnlyFans’ account for the raw photos. The amount of money and fame involved here could be a positive goldmine. Matt had been using a scanner connected to his computer for uploading the physical photos, so he proceeded to start with the new batch of skin.
At first, he estimated there must have been a glitch on his PC. The photo didn’t upload properly. It just presented him with a dark faded image he couldn’t make heads or tails of. He removed the physical photo and put it back in to scan again. All the while this was going on, Matt didn’t notice the figure standing in the corner of his bedroom.
Matt’s face dropped when he looked at the screen. It couldn’t have been real. The image that scanned to his PC was of him, sat in his bedroom at his computer desk. The image was taken from the corner of the room. At this point, Matt was breathing heavy feeling his ribcage tickle. He began to turn his head slowly, and his peripherals gauged a dark wiry figure with bent knees and boney limbs. He was facing it, but the shape just stood there in the dark. The tension was too much, then he heard a voice. His ears positively pricked up when he heard a guttural voice whisper from his computer screen.
“My name is Megan Gould.”
I’m still not sure to this day how the video was able to upload to his Instagram page, but I’ll never get the images out of my head for as long as I live. In the video, Matt sat at his desk, with every crack of wall-space taken up with a different photo of the girl. His pale expression haunted and seemingly in a trance, repeating out loud that his name was Megan Gould, slowly carving his own face off down to the muscle fibre with his orange penknife.
Credit : Alex McIntosh
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