I sat in my dark office. The wall was plastered with newspaper clippings, images of cats, and the occasional drawing from my son. The only sense of warmth in the room was the buzz and glow from the computer screen. The only noises to be heard were that of the keyboard clicking and the occasional car driving past. I hated these late nights. The work load was enormous and I only had the four hours until daybreak to complete it. I tried not to get distracted, but to no avail.
A half an hour later, I found myself on the internet, browsing through popular pictures, viral videos, and checking Facebook every now and again. In my ignorance, I failed to acknowledge a popup which had appeared in the bottom of my screen. It was one of those phony pages made to scare you. I was bored, and no one was online, so I decided to check it out. I have done many things when I have been overtired, but this had to be the stupidest one yet. The popup window read:
"Find out how YOU die! Click here!"
What harm could it do right? I mean, it is only an ad.
I was wrong.
I clicked on the link, and found myself on a black and red page. The cliche was getting old, and the only thing scary was a face that took up half of the window. It was a tortured face, almost unrecognisable in the way it looked.
Although it was my first time visiting this page, the face looked strangely familiar, but I thought nothing of it. Next to the picture, it had a form to fill in. It looked fairly straight forward. If I entered my name, birthday, and mobile number, I would get the answer.
It seemed legitimate. I filled in my details, and clicked go. I should never have entered my phone number. I had no idea what it would bring. If I did, you bet I would never have clicked continue. In fact, if I had known I never would have clicked the link in the first place.
The screen flickered for a bit, and the face popped up again. This time it was less tortured, but still unrecognizable. The familiarity of the face began to unnerve me, so I skipped over it and went to the results. My blood was pumping, the excitement racing through my body. At the time I thought it would really tell me how I would die, but I was still a little skeptic. The page loaded for a bit, then suddenly everything went dark. I tried again and again to turn it back on. I though about a blackout, but the lights on the hallway were still on.
I unplugged my computer and then plugged it back in, pressed the on button and hoped for the best. The machine whirred to life, and I thanked god that it was still working. It went through the normal stages of booting up.
It went to the login page, but instead of having the usual ‘Harrison’, it was simply ‘User’. This was not out of the ordinary, as my computer was old and not supposed to be running on advanced software.
I clicked on it, and no password protection came up. This was suspicious; I always locked my account with a password to keep certain things personal. I clicked login, and waited. It was taking longer to load than usual, so it gave me some time to think. Why was my computer acting up, in such a way that it forgot my details? Was it a virus spread by the popup ad?
The computer finally finished logging in, after what seemed like an hour. It was to my horror as to what I saw. The face was there, staring at me with its distorted expression and painful emotion. It was slightly less tortured again, but this time it was recognizable.
It was mine.
The text below was legible, but I could not read it right away. I was too horrified by the face staring at me from the monitor. After I could not bear to look at myself anymore, I read the text.
"Check your phone."
At that moment, my mobile buzzed in my pocket. I was petrified, unwilling to look at the message sent to me. It was from an unknown number, but I could already guess who sent it. I took out my phone and went into my messages. I checked my recent ones, and there it was. It was the message that chilled me to the bone.
I dared not to look behind me, in fear for my safety. But I felt a presence. The kind of feeling you get when someone is watching you out the window, and you do not know where they are.
I felt someone’s hot breath on the back of my neck. I slowly turned in my office chair. My heart was racing, and I could not hear myself think over the thumping in my chest.
I turned to face the darkness. The computer screen had gone black again. As I looked into the abyss, I thought about panicking and yelling for help. However, I was transfixed to what was in the darkness.
One single blue marble, suspended in mid air.
It was unusual, and for some reason, it seemed like it was looking into my worse fears. Little did I know, it was. Suddenly, there was a flash of silver and everything went black.
I awoke in a dark room, similar to my office. Yet in this room, I had no control. I was tied to what seemed like a wooden chair, and the darkness seemed to go on forever. There was a small sound, and a mechanism started moving above me. Ever so slowly, a mirror was lowered about a foot from my face. A light turned on behind me and what I saw shocked me.
There were bruises on my face that looked like giant purple blotches; it appeared to be similar to the face on my monitor. The cut that stretched along my face had probably been from the knife that cut me, before I was knocked unconscious. My eyes were red and strained; it looked as though I had not slept in days, even though I had been unconscious for what seemed like quite some time.
I voice echoed above me, announcing where I was.
"You are in a isolated cell and nobody knows you’re here. Your family, friends, co workers, and even your enemies have no recollection of you ever existing. You are here because you wanted to know how you died. I am going to tell you, step by step, how you die in the funniest way possible."
I struggled frantically against the ropes constraining me. I screamed for help, but remembered what the voice had said. No one could hear me scream. I tried anyway, but fell silent when I saw a glow in the distance. The bright blue marble approached me, hovering about six feet off the ground. As the marble came closer, I slowly saw that it was not a marble at all. It was a man. When the man came more into focus, I realized who he was.
He was me.
His bright blue eye the only thing distinguishing him from myself. Well, that and the fact that he did not look like he had just been mugged.
"Welcome. This is the place in which you feel most at home. This is your mind. Notice it is empty?" the clone chuckled, at his own lame joke.
"I am going to lead you through the steps of your death."
And so started the torture.
"First, your left eye will be removed and held in front of your face so that you can see how ugly you are for the last time. Then, each of your fingers will be cut off and fed to you one by one. If you struggle, it will be your toes as well. Understand so far?"
He waited for my answer, but I was too petrified to give one.
"No? Well, let me demonstrate."
He pulled out a silver pocket knife and advanced towards me. He grabbed my head and turned it to face him. Although he was apparently me, he was certainly stronger. He raised the knife up to eye level.
"Beautiful knife isn’t it? You get it from the fair, in a year’s time."
In a quick movement, he jerked the blade forward and an indescribable pain entered my body, through my eye. Then he started twisting. I screamed. I am not afraid to say that I screamed my heart out. He turned it again, and again, and again, until finally it snapped free. He pulled it out and held it in front of me.
"You see this?" he asked, turning to pull out a rolling desk from the darkness. The eye was placed upon it. In one quick movement, it was smashed by his fist. Blood spattered all over his white business top.
"Do you need another demonstration?" he asked, with a playful ring in his voice.
All I could manage was a whimper before bursting into tears.
"Well, I am not sure about you but I didn’t exactly hear a no," he grinned, pulling out a second knife.
He forced one of my hands onto the table, and tied it down with straps. He slowly cut through the knuckle of my first finger, causing blood to run down my arm. He then cut through the second, and then the third, and so on, until every one of my fingers had a clean cut in it. I almost passed out from the pain. I thought that was bad, but what he did next was even worse.
He pulled out a butcher's knife, and place it on my first finger. He slammed down his other hand on top of the knife. It cut clean through the bone. I cried in agony. The second and third finger were done at the same time, but the last two were done slowly and painfully, with a saw. My clone seemed to be enjoying this. He seemed to be enjoying it too much.
"Shall I spare your other hand?"
I nodded, slowly.
"Alright. Fine," he sighed. "But what did I tell you about crying when you get tortured?"
Another mechanism slowly lowered down, this time behind me. Two metal arms came forward, and clamped onto my cheeks. It slowly opened my mouth as my clone collected the five fleshy, blood covered fingers from the table.
"Don’t worry child, just one more," he whispered as he put them in my mouth one after another.
Once they were all in, the machine retracted, closing my mouth. He stared at me.
"Well, aren’t you going to swallow?" he piped up.
I shook my head and tried to grumble, "No more," but it simply came out as, "mph mmm".
The clone began to get annoyed.
"Well," he said, "Swallow. Come on."
I vigorously shook my head. That was when he snapped. He quickly lowered down to my height, and put his nose against mine.
"I said swallow!" he shouted, spitting flying onto my face.
I woke with a start, looking at the clock. I realized it was almost morning. My computer had gone to the screen saver. I moved the mouse around, to find it on the document I needed for work. It turned out that everything was fine. Everything was OK. I made my way to my bedroom, to try and get some decent sleep before I had to go to work. I was getting out of my work clothes, and into my pajamas, when I saw it.
On the bedside table, was a blue ball. A blue marble. Next to it, was an envelope addressed to me. I opened it and read the note inside. It was one sentence that made my whole world come to a halt.
"You may need this..."