This is the end for me. This is really it. Do you ever wish you could go back and erase just one mistake? I know I do. As a matter of fact, I can’t think of anything I want more than to go back to a time before I stepped into this mess and do things differently. I can’t go on like this. Looking over my shoulder all the time. For me, the never-ending nightmare began about eight months ago. I was still living in Florida with my parents at nineteen years old. I decided college wasn’t for me, and I was working for a friend of the family. I was bored one night while home alone so I got on a site called ChatRandom. It’s kinda like Omegle or Chatroulette. You just turn on your webcam and the website will pair you with a random stranger to chat with.
It’s pretty dumb but I was hoping I would maybe end up face to face with a pretty girl. I knew the odds weren’t in my favor but hey, sometimes you get lucky. Pathetic, I know. Anyway, I spent most of my time hitting the next button only to be greeted over and over by some dude. Well, if you’ve ever been on one of these sites… you know how that goes. I’ll spare you the graphic details but I saw more of… that… than anything else and I don’t remember exactly how long I was lying there hitting the next button but eventually I just dozed off and fell asleep in front of the laptop.
I woke up around 9:30. I must have turned over in my sleep because when I opened my eyes I was looking out my bedroom window and I had my back to the laptop which was still sitting open on the nightstand next to my bed. I rubbed my eyes and rolled to face the laptop once again. I opened my eyes and was startled by what I saw. My muscles tightened for a moment and I froze. I found myself face to face with… a girl. On my computer screen, the ChatRandom page was still active and the site had connected me with some girl in the UK.
She sat alone in a dark room, directly in front of her webcam, staring at me and grinning. I’ll never forget that face. As long as I live, I will never forget that face. Red hair, dark eyes, pale skin. I can picture it so vividly… I close my eyes and I still see it. The most unsettling image I have ever seen was burned into my brain that day. That smile, it was almost like it didn’t belong to her face. Her black, soulless eyes studied me, and as I examined the image I could see subtle movement so I knew this wasn’t a freeze frame. She was watching me live on webcam. Those cold eyes followed me as I sat up in bed. She never said a word. She just stared at me. The tiny blue light on my webcam informed me that I was still visible. I quickly closed the browser and shut my laptop.
After the initial shock, a million thoughts began to race through my head and the questions I was left asking myself still haunt me to this day. How long had she been watching me? Why was she just staring at me? What was she smiling for?
I guess that is the difference between horrific and creepy, isn’t it? The horror is in the answers you are forced to see while creepy is the product of unanswered questions. I got up out of bed and took a shower. The incident had creeped me out, to say the least, but I did my best to shake it off and get her face out of my head. I remember being afraid to close my eyes in the shower because I had creeped myself out even further with the thought that I might open my eyes and see her face if I did, so I didn’t wash my face or hair.
Sometimes my imagination gets rolling and I wind up scaring myself more than any horror movie could hope to. By that night, I had put the scare out of mind and was happily distracted by video games with friends. Mike, Trevor, Marshall and I had spent the evening hanging out, watching vines and playing video games. My parents, who were out of town for the week, called to see how things were going and after that I logged onto Twitter while the guys continued gaming.
A message notified me that I had one new follower. I don’t have many followers on Twitter so I was interested to see who “@2prettymolly” could be. Maybe a girl from school? It wasn’t a girl from school. No… No but I knew the face in the profile picture. It was the girl from ChatRandom. The exact same, sinister smirk I was greeted by that very morning was still plastered on her face. I jumped back in my rolling chair with a gasp as I covered my mouth in disbelief. Trevor asked me if I was alright but all I could do was shake my head and say, “There’s no way,” over and over again. I couldn’t believe… I didn’t want to believe that this was really happening. I felt like I was going to throw up and I remember I was trembling. Trevor said I looked like I had seen a ghost.
The guys came over to see what I was looking at and that’s when I told them what had happened that morning. I think they were all pretty disturbed by my account but they quickly resorted to joking about it, I guess, in an attempt to offer some comic relief and break the tension in the room. We were all creeped out, but for me, there was no comfort to be found in their “psycho ex-girlfriend” remarks. Mike suggested a reverse image search to see if her profile picture had been taken from somewhere else online, but the search yielded no results.
Questions flooded my mind as I stared, dumbfounded, at her profile page. Why doesn’t she follow anyone else on Twitter? Is this a new Twitter account? When did she... How did she find me? Does she have some sort of facial recognition software? How did she even know where to begin looking? Was there some clue as to my identity visible on camera in my room this morning? I mean, who knows how long she was watching me there in my room?
My friends tried to get my mind off of it but it was no use. We hung out for a bit longer but eventually they all went home and I was left alone with that face on my computer screen. I couldn’t sleep. I sat on the couch watching TV. My laptop sat open on the table in front of me. My imagination had paralyzed me... I was paralyzed by fear. I got it in my head that if I opened the blinds and looked out the living room window, I would see her standing there. I wanted so badly to open those blinds and make this frightening thought disappear but I couldn’t. I knew it was a ridiculous idea and I tried to tell myself that, whoever she was, she was across the ocean in the UK somewhere and she couldn’t hurt me. “I’m safe here,” I told myself. “She can’t find me.”
By 2:00 AM, I wasn’t even paying attention to the TV anymore. I guess I just needed it for the background noise. As if in a trance, I watched lions rip antelopes to shreds on the Discovery Channel and sipped on an energy drink.
The trance was broken by a loud crashing sound coming from the direction of the kitchen.
I jumped like ten feet and immediately grabbed the nearest hard object, which I am pretty sure was a scented candle jar. I moved to the corner of the room furthest from the kitchen and crouched, weapon in hand, and watched the kitchen doorway. I was sweating profusely and trying to breathe as quietly as possible. I was huddled in that corner for a couple minutes until… My cat came strolling casually through the doorway. Stupid cat must have knocked over the pile of dishes in the sink. I’m fairly sure I cursed him out before eventually putting the jar back on the coffee table and returning to my seat on the couch.
When I sat down, I noticed that “Molly” had tweeted at me. I reluctantly clicked on the notification, hoping and praying that somehow this tweet would explain away my fears. I thought I might be able to get some answers that would put my mind at ease. The page loaded. The tweet read:
“:) I love your cat.”
My eyes widened and I could feel my heart racing. There was a picture attached to the tweet. The image was a close up of her head, she was smiling, and holding something up to her face. A cat, she was holding a cat that looked an awful lot like mine. I felt my stomach drop and I thought my heart was going to burst out of my chest. I was afraid to look around me. Was she in the house? I couldn’t believe this was happening. I felt tears welling up in my eyes. I’ve never been so scared and I knew I had to move, but it was as though I was stuck.
It took all the willpower I could muster to force myself up off the couch and I bolted straight for the front door. I ran to my car, reached the driver’s side door and realized much to my dismay that I had left the car keys on the kitchen counter. I was panicking and breathing heavily, looking around frantically in all directions for any sign of her. I looked back at the house, my eyes darting from window to window. I took to the streets and made a mad dash for the well lit area across from the entrance to my neighborhood. I didn’t have any plan or clear idea about what I must have looked like at that moment. I had no clue what was supposed to happen next but I just needed to get some place public.
Eventually, after calling Trevor, who managed to calm me down a bit, I went to the police and explained what had happened. They went to my house to check things out. The house was in perfect order. There were no signs of forced entry. My cat was still there and perfectly fine, as far as they could tell. They eventually made it clear to me that their part in this story was over, and that there was nothing more they could do. I was angry about that at the time but, looking back on it, what more could I expect them to do?
There were no reports of suspicious activity in the area, there was no evidence indicating my home had been broken into, no evidence of any crime whatsoever, and, on top of that, the only person who could be called a suspect was supposedly on a different continent. And yes, I showed them the picture of the girl with the cat but they made the point that it could have easily been another cat and the poor quality of the image made it hard to pick out any distinct features on the cat she was holding. And yes, I told them about the suspicious circumstances of the eerily-timed tweet, but one of the officers I spoke with theorized that the timing of the tweet was coincidental. He suggested that perhaps this girl saw my cat on camera before I woke up or in a Twitter picture and wanted to show me that she had a similar looking cat. I, of course, didn't buy that theory at all. But, again, what more could I expect the officer to do with literally zero evidence of any actual crime?
As creepy and as awkward as it is to watch a stranger sleep, I had voluntarily accessed the website and, in doing so, agreed to allow the website access to my webcam. Although the officer admitted he wasn't sure how she found me on Twitter, he still maintained he had no evidence whatsoever that any crime was committed and all he was really willing to do at that point was give me a lecture about being safe on the internet. Like I was a child or something.
I dropped it though, because, after the feeling of utter terror had subsided, I became self-aware once again and realized how this might look to a cop. Since my own parents, after they returned home and I told them this story, asked me if I had been using any drugs, I guess I was right about how crazy I must have sounded.
I deleted my Twitter account, moved into an apartment with my buddy Mike and I never went on one of those random chat sites again. I also never heard from Molly again. Until today. Today, I received an e-mail from an address I did not recognize with the subject line, “I’d follow you anywhere.”
The e-mail contained only one sentence, “You are so beautiful :)”
And it was signed, “Your Molly, Forever.” Attached to the e-mail was a picture. In the image, you can clearly see a woman’s hand gently pulling back a shower curtain… just enough for the camera to peer into the shower. It was my shower. Standing under the showerhead was a man with his back to the camera. The picture was of me… Washing my hair.
Written by J.T. Perkins