Allison turned on the laptop. It was evening, and everything was shit. A week ago, they planned to have a great night out – Allison and her friends. But somehow most of them caught flu. Is it a pandemic again? Here she was, sitting at home alone – yeah, alone because her roommate is having a good time somewhere, as it should be on Friday evening! It was unfair.
Absent-mindedly, Allison switched between the browser tabs. Facebook offered nothing interesting. Then it was a website with celebrity rumors – visit us, here lies the mystery you never guessed! A fiction that all these so-called authors copy and paste from each other. Mystery, they said. Allison made a face and opened the list of Chrome extensions. The VPN apps were all there. Time to dive deeper.
It was Pete who introduced her to the Deep Web a couple of months ago. The hidden Internet lies under all those usual websites and communities, an area where you can talk about real secrets. Together with Pete, they could unblock websites and watch secret communities from outside. One website promised to unravel the mystery of the community planning world domination. And though Allison was not into conspiracy theories, it was fun.
“Hi, Allison! Did not expect to see you online. Is the party too boring?”
Pete! Allison started typing in the Facebook Messenger’s field:
“I’m home. The party did not happen. So, just sitting here and watching Netflix. Want to join me?”
“Ha-ha! I have a better idea. What about Lost Pictures? Saw them?”
Allison tried to recall it. Pete told her about the website somewhere deep. He said it had tons of video records of the most unexplained things. Allison looked at the clock on the wall – it was eleven in the evening. The right time to go for a scary online journey. What if it beckons to darkness – would it be interesting to have a glimpse on the other side?
“I’m in. Where are we going?”
The URL was long – it seemed to contain a couple of hundreds of symbols. Allison checked her browser – she was curious but careful. She added the VPN browser extension a couple of months ago when she went to Turkey for vacation. Istanbul was awesome, but Allison needed to unblock websites she liked. However, for what she wanted to do now, a free VPN for Chrome would not be enough. She had another one, much more powerful. Allison enabled it and followed the link that Pete sent her.
It was an old forum with a design that had become obsolete about twenty years ago. Still, it was very active. According to the stats, there were almost two hundred users online. Allison checked her invisibility settings, VPN apps, and firewalls – they had to ensure impenetrable protection. And she was experienced enough to trust them. Still, for some reason, she was nervous when she opened the first thread.
It had photos and video records. And there were strange things on them. Human-like, animal-like, slender figures with no eyes or mouths. Allison saw such records before, but she did not believe in them. Most of such “evidence” was so fake she could tell it at once. These were different. Well, Allison smirked, this forum does the job well – it keeps in suspense, and she was not the one to get impressed easily.
The next video showed a creature running along the street. It was big and black – it resembled a dog, but it moved differently. It seemed the shape it wore was unusual for it. Still, it moved fast and… dedicatedly. As if it was searching for something. Suddenly, it stopped, and the video “picture” became crystal clear. Allison understood that creature was in the street with condominiums and a small shop next to the corner, just like the street where she lived.
It was her street! She recognized the shop – she went there regularly and bought some trifles. The creature raised its muzzle – it had too many teeth but no eyes, but somehow it was looking at Allison.
“Pete, I don’t like it. I’m leaving”
“You can’t leave”
“Of course, I can!”
Allison closed the video and the window of the browser. Then she shut the laptop down. What if they – whoever they could be – traced her? No, that’s impossible. She trusted her VPN apps; no one could define her location. She is safe.
The smartphone tinkled as the new message arrived. Then it went on the speaker itself.
“Allison, you can’t leave. It is too late”
She never heard Pete’s voice. They chatted online through text only. But she knew it was Pete. And his voice was… strange. Like he was trying to articulate sounds he never spoke. Maybe, because the mouth was not designed for such sounds?
Then she heard the screaming outside. A woman’s cry, full of terror, and the growling of the beast. With a trembling hand, Allison grabbed the smartphone and tried to call 911. Perhaps a stray dog attacked a woman on the street. She had to call for help.
Then Allison realized that screaming was not in the street. She heard it through the corridor wall. It was on the landing next to their flat. Then there was the small snapping noise, scratching claws, and the front door Allison had locked earlier opened.
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