's 2013 Horror Write-off:


Submitted by Christopher Wolf

I've never really been one for shock sites or gross-out images. In the 90s and early 2000s when it was super trendy to direct your friends to those "find something wrong in this photo - surprise, here's an ugly face" gags... suffice to say I was less than impressed.

It's not that I had any real distaste for shock images and the like, it's just that they weren't really frightening. It was more of a cheap 'gotcha' than anything else.

So basically, that's why I never click links or open images unless I know what they are. If someone forwards me a picture with the line "FUNNY - LOOK!" I will ask them what the image is. If they won't tell me, I'll delete it.

The only time in recent history that I actually broke my rule... the ONE time I slipped... was when someone directed me to

I should note that I had no reason not to trust the fellow who sent me the link. We'd worked together for the same web company for a few years, and for all intents and purposes he seemed utterly humorless. He was the sort of fellow who, when I'd make a crack about the boss, would complain that he felt unconfortable and would pretend I hadn't said it.

So yeah. He sends me this link.

"Check this shit out," he wrote, "What do you think this is?"

Figuring it might be some sort of phishing site that had made a fool of my poor drone of a friend, I ramped up my security settings, got ready to handle any problems that might arise, and I took a look.

All I saw was a black background. Nothing.

What shit, exactly, was I supposed to check out? What did I think WHAT is?

Then the first image popped up. A little square with a messed-up face inside. As I considered the fact I'd just wandered right into another shock site, the second image revealed itself. A snake. Then the third, which was a fly or moth of some sort.

It wasn't all that shocking.

As I moved to close the page, a single word appeared beneath the images: "Haunted."

As I read it, a refresh symbol appeared above the images, seemingly out of order.

Now I saw what this guy was talking about. He wanted to know what I thought this was, and to be honest it looked like nothing at all.

I went to click the refresh icon, but the cursor stayed the same... an arrow. I clicked anyway, figuring nothing would happen.

Instead, the page did indeed reload. I had "clicked reload" as the website name told me, and for my efforts I recieved a series of three new images and the word "Grave."

I did this a few times. I thought perhaps that after you clicked three, five, or ten times it would stop doing the same thing and would suddenly reveal some sort of message or a link to another page.

Something like "Thanks for clicking reload, you dumb douche, now buy a t-shirt from my shitty CafePress store!"

But, no, it just kept displaying new images.

I was finished looking at it, now, so I went to close the page. I noticed the images now displayed seemed to be some sort of monk or druid, a frame of light with a shadowy figure in the center, and a large monstrous hand back-lit by eerie green light. Beneath, the word "Fear."

I went about my business for about an hour afterward, though I wasn't exactly keeping track. Eventually I replied to the letter, saying the site was clearly nothing important - probably some artsy-fartsy attempt at performance art.

The response I got back was a bit confusing.


"Oh? Oh, WHAT? biggrin.gif" I quickly fired back, expecting more of an answer about this thing.


There was no follow-up reply right away, and I thought nothing of it.

It was then that I heard a knock at the door. The sun had just set, and it was a bit late to be recieving any sort of package or an unexpected friend - but both had happened before, so I didn't hesitate in calling out that I was on my way.

The knocking was continuous, desperate, like someone who needed to use the bathroom or had been in a car accident just outside.

"Yeah?" I said, opening the chained door just enough to peer out.

At the door was a tall, pale, elderly man dressed in black, with a musty old book in his hands. Clearly, this was some sort of door-to-door "savior" who wanted to know if I'd heard the word about Jesus.

"Hello." He said flatly. I could see food between his large, square teeth as he croaked out the word.

"Yeah?" I repeated, making no attempt at concealing the annoyance.

"If you died tonight..." He trailed off, almost as if he was waiting for a response.

"YEAH??" I basically shouted.

The elderly preacher-man leaned forward, peering in the door. His eyes rotated from side to side as he seemed to take in everything I had in the living room. In response, I closed the door a bit more.

"Don't quit your day job." I snapped, slamming the door in his face.

I locked it immediately thereafter.

Now, I should mention that my front door leads right out onto a small wooden porch, with cement steps leading down to the lawn. I can usually hear people walking up to the door, even from my bedroom where the computer is housed.

I hadn't heard him, though, and what's worse - I wasn't hearing him leave.

After a few moments of staring at the door quietly, listening for the sound of footsteps on wood, there came a strange groan... like someone who'd eaten bad seafood and was about to vomit. It was a wet, angst-ridden groan that almost seemed to anticipate something awful.


Guilt immediately hit me like a hot weight on my chest. Maybe he was having a heart attack. Still not entirely sure of the situation, I rushed to the window and pulled back the curtain to see what was happening.

The preacher-man was lying on his back, on the porch, spasming wildly like he was having a seizure. His limbs trembled and lashed out at the air as his eyes rolled back and foam spurted from his lips in small bursts.

I rushed to the door and flung it open wide.

The man was gone. In the span of one second, he was thrashing on my doorstep and then missing without a trace. Not a footprint, not a sound, nothing but empty darkness throughout the entire front yard.

I had to call 911, and fast. I knew that somewhere in my neighborhood, some wingnut Jesus freak was shambling around near death. I closed the door without locking it and without replacing the chain. This was just too important.

As I dialed the kitchen phone, just three short numbers, a thought crossed my mind. What if it was some sort of scam? Like when one kid distracts you on the sidewalk while another steals something from you. A misdirection.

I stopped dialing. It would only take me a moment to lock the door again, and if this guy died because of a five second delay, he would've been doomed anyway.

As I turned the corner out of the kitchen, my stomach started burning and the acid reached the back of my throat. I was looking at my own wide-open front door.

Immediately, I caught sight of a dark silhouette through the corner of my eye. The form darted into the hallway before I could even fully turn my head.

"HEY!" I shrieked in a high-pitched, frantic tone that unsettled even myself.

I quickly took up a broom and wielded the handle like a weapon, following the silhouette cautiously and not wanting to actually confront this person. I assumed it was the same elderly man at the door, which wouldn't be a real threat, but he could have still carried something more dangerous than my improvised weapon.

As I poked my head into the hall, I saw the dark form once again disappear into a doorway, this time it was the spare bedroom.

When I say this was a dark form or a silhouette, I mean just that. Though I only caught a fleeting glimpse of it, my mind already wanted to register this not as a person, but as the shadow cast by some sort of invisible man. It dragged along the wall, angled and contorted against the textures much like a shadow would.

However, as much as my senses were screaming at me about how wrong this was, the logical thoughts drowned them out. It wasn't just a shadow, because it couldn't be one.

So, I followed the thing a bit more, thinking I could then close the spare room door behind it and somehow break the knob or otherwise trap whoever this was for the Police to cart away for a few years.

The closet door in the spare room was open when I finally got up the nerve to look inside. A few things stored there had been haphazardly thrown to the floor.

This was even better. I'd just close the closet door behind this bastard, this old door-to-door preacher or burglar or whatever the Hell he was, then I'd push the dresser in front of the door and call him every profanity I could think of while he clawed and cried and begged for me to let him go.

I stalked toward the door... silent, ready to strike if need be... fully confident in my control of the situation. This was my house, my turf, and I knew exactly what to do.

Unfortunately, the closet was empty when I reached it, my hand on the door and ready to slam it closed.

The broom flew from my hand, out the open window next to me that I hadn't even noticed.

Reeling from shock, I backed away from the window and nearly fell to the floor. Someone - something out there just wrenched the wouldbe weapon right out of my hands like an adult takes away a baby's rattle.

A street light cast a yellow tint on the grass outside. At first, I saw nothing... heard nothing...

Then it moved from behind one tree to another. A hunched, half-leaping shadow with no visible head and lengthy, almost ape-like arms that struck the ground as it moved along.

The sight was brief, just a flash of insanity, but it did what the previous surprise couldn't and sent me hurtling backward onto my backside.

I crawled out the room, not closing the window, not closing the closet, just scrambling out as fast as I could while my fingernails hooked and ripped on the rough carpeting.

When I passed the door to the spare room, I rolled onto my back and kicked it closed. Hard. I stumbled to my feet and ran straight back to my bedroom. That call to 911 was happening as soon as fucking possible.

I closed the door to my room and pulled the bed in front of it. I had a touch of that super-human strength that only comes to you when something very, very bad is happening.

I picked up the phone and found nothing but dead air.

In the shock of seeing my front door opened, I hadn't even hung up the kitchen phone.

Thinking fast, now, I slammed down in my computer chair and started to bring up my instant messenger. I'd just tell someone to call 911 for me. There was no way I was going back to the kitchen, now.

I looked at the screen, where was displayed even though it wasn't what I had last looked at.

Something began banging at the bedroom door. It was that same desperate, consistant knock. Behind the door, I heard the preacher-man shouting in a hoarse, atonal voice. It sounded like his throat was bleeding.

"What if you DIED tonight?
What if you died TONIGHT?
What if YOU died tonight?"



I was frozen in terror, unable to move for fear I'd make some barely audible sound he'd hear. Something that would definately tell him I was still here instead of escaped through the window like that shadow beast.

My hands trembled over the keyboard as my gaze was locked on the screen, pain washing over my eyes as they slowly dried out in the same manor my mouth was now becoming parched.

Then, the room was washed in a green light.

It was sudden, like someone had just switched on stadium lights directed right into my room through the window.

The screaming outside my door had stopped, and all was quiet once again.

Thinking... wishing, really... that it was the Police, who had heard the commotion, I crept once again across the floor and peered out the bedroom window.

The green light outside wavered and flickered like some maddening night club effect... something designed specifically to make patrons disoriented... something that would make your heart race and your mind swim...

Out of the center of the light came a tremendous being.

Human-shaped, but much taller. Much thicker. Covered in spans of matted hair. Not muscular or fat, but just larger in mass.

It lumbered from the light, toward my window in a straight line. The straightest line. It was the sort of unthinking yet purposeful movement that you'd see from a spider moving across its web to the ensnared insect... but much slower.

Agonizingly slower.

This is the point when it occurred to me. The monk, the shadow, the giant hand and the eerie green light.

I looked back to the computer and saw these images on the screen. They seemed to match up with the events that were transpiring.

I sat down again and clicked reload.

A new set of images were displayed.

The light faded. The pounding at the door didn't return. It was another twenty minutes or so before I looked out the window and saw nothing out of the ordinary. Taking a pocket knife in one hand and a pair of scissors in the other, I methodically searched the rest of the house. Nothing.

For the rest of the night, I reloaded that page as I thought about what had happened and whether or not it would happen again if I stopped.

I figured that it had been an hour between the first time I'd stopped reloading and when the... those THINGS... came around... so I made sure to reload it at least once per hour as my mind raced.

Then I checked my e-mail again.

"I'm sorry." ... it was a message from the guy who sent me the damned link... "Just send it to someone else if you ever read this. Just send it along. You never open these things, so I was hoping you wouldn't and maybe it would end! I AM SO SORRY!!!"

I didn't fully understand, but I got the gist.

The only way out of sitting here, refreshing for the rest of my life, was to get someone else to sit at THEIR computer and do it in my place.

I assume by now that someone out there read this story and, perhaps out of impatience or just innocent curiosity, already went to when they saw the URL at the beginning of this tale.

I couldn't think of another way to inflict this on someone completely random. Not knowing anything about the target was the only way I knew I might be able to sleep well at night. Some day.

If you didn't go there, DON'T DO IT NOW.

If you already did... if you...

I am so, SO sorry.