There was an event a few days ago in which my laptop completely stopped working. Just out of the blue. I figured, assumed and believed that the battery had run dry, and, after trying for weeks to get it repaired, realized no one was able to allow it to hold a charge for more than several minutes. True, I had other computers, but I liked this one especially, as I’d had it for several years and had gotten accustomed to the model.
One day at yet another computer repair shop, after yet another startup which would inevitably shut down soon anyway, I drew a small flash drive from my pocket. I’d just bought it at the store yesterday, and I plugged it into the USB port. Opening the drive and pulling up the drive’s content screen, I found that, although there were only six files, the drive was at maximum capacity. I was frustrated, as I’d just bought the supposedly empty drive from a nearby thrift store. As I double clicked one to open it, the computer shot into the oh-so-recognizable blue screen of error. Any other time I would expect this after the amount of time the computer had been up and running, but it just seemed awkwardly coincidental in a way.
I put it out of my mind, taking my hopeless laptop back home with me and sticking the flash drive back into my pocket. The drive home seemed awkwardly long, as I was a bit anxious to see what exactly was on that flash drive I’d picked up.
One thing struck me as strange: how did the files get on the drive if the package I’d bought it in was enclosed in plastic casing? It couldn’t have been opened. Assuring myself this was some sort of breaking-in glitch, I shook my head and pulled into my driveway.
Getting everything settled, such as putting the dead laptop away and turning the lights on, even making myself some coffee before attempting to debunk the mystery behind the flash drive.
I sat down at my desk, my other (albeit less mobile) computer waiting to aid me in my task. Flicking the power on, I slid the flash drive in the second I saw my desktop appear. A strange thought lingered in the back of my mind, half having expected the computer to receive the blue screen as well once I’d plugged it in. The screen opened just as I’d expected it to, and yet again there were six files. Looking at them more closely, I realized even though I hadn’t actually opened the package for a week after I bought it, the files were all dated to have been added yesterday.
This further puzzled me, and startled me in a way, too. My curiosity got the best of me, and I looked even closer at the files. There were two audio files, one video, one word document, and two pictures. All of them were labeled assorted gibberish with the exception of the video, which was titled “stop” in the exact way written there. No punctuation, no capital letters. Just “stop”. Just stop.
I started with one of the pictures. It was a normal .png file, a picture of a girl playing with some dolls. Since the picture had a date on it, from about two months ago. I assumed maybe this had been her mother’s flash drive, defying my earlier logic but still trying to find an acceptable explanation for the moment. There didn’t seem to be anything strange or suspicious about this picture, so I allowed myself to put to rest my fears that some sort of virus or strange phenomena was lurking in this flash drive. I opened the other picture, and it was another picture of the girl, this time without a date, playing with her dolls again, but wearing a forlorn and concerned look on her face, her eyes looking somewhere not visible in the picture, at something I could not see. Some of her dolls were strewn about on the floor, and she only held one, a simple rag doll that seemed rather old and musty, as though someone had given it to her as a hand-me-down.
I looked at the girl in the pictures a bit more closely. She was about seven or eight years old, from what I could see. She had black hair, short and trimmed to a bowl cut. In both pictures, she was wearing a yellow flower clip in her hair, though since the clothes she was wearing were different, I assumed they’d been taken at different dates.
Ignoring the two picture files for now, I went back and clicked on one of the audio files. One of them began with a girl talking to herself, as though she was playing with her toys. I assumed that’s what it was: This same girl playing with the dolls she’d been playing with in the photo. Maybe a video had gotten spliced a bit when her mom took it, and this was all that could be salvaged? I went with that notion for awhile, and took closer looks at the file as well. It was a 6 minute, 30 second file. I wondered why a mom would videotape her daughter playing with dolls for that long. I had nothing better to do, so I sipped my coffee and listened. About 2 minutes in, something changed. There was a knock on the door, and footsteps, as though someone had come in without bothering to await an answer.
I heard the girl whimper, as though she’d anticipated this happening. There was whispering back and forth between the girl and whoever had just come into the room for a solid minute. The newcomer sounded like a grown man, about in his early 30s or late 20s, but something else was bothering me, too. The girl sounded older, about nine or ten. After a minute, something shattered, and the whispering stopped. It seemed glassy, like a vase falling to the floor. There was a muffled cry from the girl, and several thuds, as though someone had been thrown to the floor. The cries got louder and louder, while still being muffled, and more frantic, as though more and more pain or urgency was being implemented.
The sound cut out again after a single, loud, unsettling sound like that of metal beating against flesh. The sound did not return for awhile, and I assumed the file had ended, but as I reached for the pause button, I realized it was still going, and still had three minutes left.
Drinking down the rest of my coffee, I listened to the silence for another 2 minutes and about 50 seconds. On the last 10 seconds, I’d expected more silence, but instead was blasted with frantic cries of “Help me” and “mommy” from the girl, audible and not muffled for the first five seconds, loud enough to break my speakers had they been turned up more. I immediately turned down the volume almost completely, and just as it had started, it stopped, and in the remaining five seconds, I heard a sickening sound, like something penetrating through flesh. Like a knife.
I shook my head, trying to get the sounds out of my mind. It had to be a prank, maybe as a joke by the girl and her father for some friends. I switched to the next file, keeping the volume turned down just in case. This file was only 3 minutes and 45 seconds long. There was humming for the first minute or so, like a girl humming while she was playing. This one sounded oddly higher pitched, though. Younger. I’d guess about five or six. The next sound was that of someone entering the room, and yet the girl still sounded happy when they did, instead of whimpering like the other one. There was the sound of carpet being protruded upon, as though someone were kneeling or sitting down on it. Very faintly, I heard an exchange of words so quiet that I was forced to turn the volume back up to hear them.
“What’s that?” The little girl’s voice for sure.
“It’s just a toy,” a man’s voice reassured her.
Suddenly there was the sound of thuds, as though someone was being thrown to the ground again. Whimpers from the girl finally arose, and that sickening sound of flesh being pierced came up again. Only two screams came from the girl, both average volumed and very pained. Then everything was completely quiet. I turned my volume down in case something happened that caught me off guard again.
The sound was cut out for about two minutes, again, and the file eventually reached the point where there were only seconds left. In the last four seconds, I could hear soft breathing. Very soft.
This was beginning to unnerve me, but my curiosity was dominating by now. I continued on to the word document, and looked at the page count. 104 pages? The first page was blank, as was the second. And the third. I scrolled until something showed up, which first happened on the 26th page. In the center of the page was a simple “I want her” in 10-point font. I continued scrolling through the blank pages until I reached page 54. In the middle of the page there was another “I want her”, but this time in all capital letters. There was nothing else until page 73, where there was the word “dead” on the bottom of the page. I want her dead? Who? I continued scrolling, and there wasn’t anything else until the very last page. At the bottom of the last page there was a name. Emily. Coincidentally, I knew an Emily, I knew her very well.
This scared me pretty decently, but I still naively shook it off as pure coincidence. At last it was time for the final file, the video, but before I clicked it, I opened the first picture back up again. Although both girls had been wearing the flower clip, I realized they were completely different girls altogether. One of them was a tiny bit shorter, with splotched freckles, but otherwise the same haircut. On a closer look, the hair was a lighter shade than the second girl’s hair.
These girls were completely different people.
I felt a chill go down my spine and mustered up my courage to open the video. The video was short, only 30 seconds long, but watching it felt like it would last for eternity. A small girl, this time with long red hair and that same yellow flower clip in her hair, was lying on the ground, face down. Her head was turned sideways, and she was motionless, drooling blood onto the carpet. A puddle of it laid below her face, tangled in stray locks of her hair. She was missing her right hand, and in its place was a cleanly cut space, showing her flesh and bone to the world as it dripped blood. The skin was turning a sickly green shade, withering, almost, and I swore I could see maggots wriggling around in the absent space her arm used to be in, eating away at the decaying skin. Her arm had been gone for quite some time. The flesh was rotting away right before my eyes. Her neck was broken, as well, and the bones were sticking out from places they should never stick out. My neck burned a little looking at this: it was as if someone had wrung her out like a towel.
The rest of her was intact, and yet there were two more factors that scared me. There was a knife lying on the carpet, amidst a sea of splattered blood nearby it, as though it had been thrown down, and there were dolls, also sprinkled with blood, lying about it. The other factor was the man crouching behind the girl’s body, just staring down at her. For 28 seconds the man stared at the girl, breathing softly. But for the last two, he looked up at the camera and just glared. His eyes were dark brown, but thoroughly disturbing and unsettling. It was as though they were seeing past my eyes. Down into my soul, into where my secrets were kept under lock and key.
He was dressed in all black, wearing a heavy-looking black jacket and a black hat. No color from him was anything but. Alarmed and highly horrified, I was just considering calling the police at this point. I leapt up and darted for my phone, but I stopped and acted casually as my seven-year-old daughter arrived home from school. She carried an envelope in one hand, addressed to her. There had been no mail when I’d gone to check earlier, and the mailman hadn’t even come yet. Someone must’ve given it directly to her. More concerned with my problem at the moment, I dialed the local police station and recounted to them the story of the strange files and videos I’d found on the flash drive. After filing a thorough report and being reassured that there would be police cars arriving at my house in several minutes, I hung up the phone and sighed, slinking back to the computer and staring at the files in depression and shock, still shaking from the overall shock of their contents.
Out of nowhere, a new file appeared on the bottom of the content list of the drive. I took a deep breath, ignoring the logic that this was not possible by technical standards, and looked at it. The file was dated several seconds before I’d seen it appear, and was labeled “next”. I took a deep breath, expecting the worst from my newfound nightmare generator. Double-clicking it, my eyes opened wide with pure concentrated terror.
It was a picture of my daughter, dressed as she was today, playing with her dolls in her room.
I leapt up from the chair, dashing into her room and flinging the door open. “EMILY!” I cried.
“Yes, daddy?” She looked up from her dolls, contemplating the cause of my horror.
I froze in terror as I looked at her head. Sitting upon it was a yellow flower clip.
At that moment, I could’ve sworn I heard soft breathing behind me.