Gary pressed his arms up against the back of his couch. Over the top of his lap, there rested a laptop computer. And while he was typing on it, he noticed a very familiar, ominous imprint on the screen. Gary spun around. The typewriter on his stomach was facing towards the laptop. He turned to face it—and to his amazement, he saw the number “16,” circled in red. Next to it, the name “Danny Shevchuk.” He recognized that name, too. He had seen Danny’s face. It was the face of the man who had screamed at him in his car. It was the same man who had screamed for help through the vents in his bedroom wall.

He was there. He was staring right at him. And then, with a sudden burst of speed, Danny shot out of the front door, not even waiting to see if Gary would attempt to flee. He was gone before Gary had time to react. Gary snapped out of his trance, and he turned his attention back toward the laptop screen. He hit F5. It was loading. He typed: Danny Shevchuk is a fucking mess. He is a desperate, unhinged man. Gary is a man with no real moral compass, who will stop at nothing to get what he wants—and he wants Aggie. The F5 key released the piece of information which was projected onto the screen. Gary heard a whirring sound coming from the laptop. He turned around, and he saw Aggie standing in the middle of the living room. Aggie smiled at him.

That’s it. I’m taking that typewriter. I don’t want to take her. If I take her, then I might actually die. Maybe she’s not real. Maybe she’s a projection of my mind. I should probably just sleep. It would be safer for everyone. The machine whirred again, and a screen scrolled down onto Gary’s laptop. It was a video message. I filled the screen with rapid, unhinged speech. I feel… better already, don’t you agree? The choice is mine, and me or a liar. Aggie? She is a liar. We—Aggie and I—can choose who lives and who dies. You are just another cog in the machinery that’s taking everything down. You will always be the outsider, with no hope. I will stop at nothing until I am triumphant, until I am complete. I will do anything to gain that glory. As long as it takes, I will stop at nothing until I have Aggie—in my hands. And then the screen flickered.


I would like to speak to Danny Shevchuk. If you are reading this message, then you have heard my message. I would like to speak to you. Is there a chance you would meet me? Or will you just go on your merry little way? I’m not in the mood for games. What really happened is something I would like to know. I want to know why you’re here. I’m not ready to give up, Aggie.


Fuck this, fuck you, fuck everyone here. I’m leaving. Leave me alone. I have some friends waiting for me at a bar. We’ll get out of here.


That’s it. I’m not scared of you.


Okay. I’ll meet you.


I’m… so sorry about this. It’s just… I’m so sorry. We never wanted to hurt you. We never meant for this to happen. I didn’t mean for you to get in the way.


When you get there, please don’t go home. Please stay there. When you wake up, the city will be under a State of emergency. It is up to you whether you wish to continue to live your normal life—and if so, just press enter to get back to the list of people who wish to speak to you—or go about your day like normal, and press enter to let people know you are safe and unharmed.


This is the last message I will send you. If you are reading this, then you have received this message. If you haven’t, you’re probably already dead. I don’t know if you are here or not, but I can tell you will be here soon enough. When you wake up—which will not be for a very long time — just go home. You should not go home to your normal life. Don’t go home to Aggie. Don’t go home.


Gary tapped the door to his apartment with his foot. There was a groan from inside, and then the heavy wooden door swung open.

‘Your back already?’ Danny asked. ‘So soon?’

Gary glared at him, and stamped back into the living room, trying to leave out the fact that he had spoken to Danny without opening the door.

‘You can’t leave,’ Danny said.

“No,” Gary said. “I don’t need to. My sister is on her way here. I just had to go take a walk,” he said. “I’m sorry I upset you.”

“It’s okay,” Danny said. “I can see how much you need to.”

Gary turned to walk out the door and heard Danny follow him out into the hall.

“You should call her,” Danny said. “Let her know you’re alright. She cares about you, Gary. You can’t just leave her like this.”

“I will not call her,” Gary said, his voice rising. “She’s upset. That’s all I’ll say.”

Danny raised his eyebrows at him, and Gary could feel the heat in his cheeks. He turned around and closed the door, making sure the chain was secure. He sat on his bed and thought about what Danny had said. Why did it matter what she wanted? It wasn’t her life. It wasn’t anyone’s life. And yet, she had seemed so devastated when she’d found out about Gary. She never got to say goodbye to him, and now Danny was doing everything he could to make sure she didn’t have to. Gary sighed.

“You know,” Danny said, “your sister might be overprotective.”

Gary turned and looked at him.

“I’m not your brother,” he said. ‘And I don’t know your sister. I barely know you. So why would you think I know anything about your sister?’

“I’m not trying to be rude,” Danny said. “I’m not trying to say you don’t know what’s best for you. But I just think maybe she would be a bit more understanding than you.”

“Okay, I get it,” Gary said. “You think it’s fine for me to go off and do my thing? I can take care of myself.”



This is the last message I will send you. If you are reading this, then you have received this message. If you haven’t, you’re probably already dead. I don’t know if you are here or not, but I can tell you will be here soon enough. When you wake up—which will not be for a very long time — just go home. You should not go home to your normal life. Don’t go home to Aggie. Don’t go home.

Gary scrambled off the couch, tripping over his dog, of all things. He launched himself into the living room, getting all his clothing tangled up and smeared with maple syrup. Just as he understood the stairs, he heard a pounding. It came from the front door. The banging came faster, and he saw the doorbell was ringing. It was coming from outside the living room. Gary’s door was slightly ajar, but there was no light behind it. It was completely dark inside. The only light coming in was from the lightning outside. Gary felt his way around to the front door, fumbling with the key he held in his sweaty palm. He could hear the doorbell ringing, and he could hear his housemate running around the house, calling his name. But he wouldn’t answer. Gary cried. He felt sorry for Aggie, but not enough to keep her out of this. He felt sorry for himself, but not enough to get out of this. There was something wrong with this world, and there was nothing he could do about it. But he had to go to Aggie. He knew that much, anyway.

The speed dial from Gary’s phone lit up, and a man picked up.

“This is Danny Shevchuk. I’m outside of Aggie’s house. If you don’t come out here, I will break the door down. If you don’t come out here, I will call the police and have them come and make you come out here. We have little time.”

Gary heard his housemate screaming from the bathroom. He was certain he could hear him crying. Danny was probably wondering what had happened to him. He wondered if he was mad at him. He wondered if he would even care. If he was being honest with himself, he was a little worried about Danny. He was almost positive that he had turned him in.

Gary turned to go through the front door, and he knew what he had to do. He opened the door. He was running out of time. But that was okay. The rain fell in a drenching stream from the sky, rivulets streaming down his cheeks. The thunder reverberated in his ears, and he shouted a single phrase to himself over the sound of the storm. Fuck it.

Gary threw the man a drenched look. It was only because they plastered his hair against his face that he could see anything. But he saw a flash of teeth, and then he remembered who he was dealing with.

“Why would you do that? You know that guy! I thought you guys were friends! Why would you help him? Why would you do that?”

“Oh, my dear brother.” The man chuckled, a cruel sound. “Don’t you get it? If I didn’t do that, I wouldn’t be outside of your door right now, breaking it down. I would have found you, and there is no way you are getting out without me.”

“How do you figure that? He didn’t seem so friendly!”

The man turned his back on Gary.

“Gary. Shut the fuck up. You’re wasting our time.” He shouted to him over the rain, his voice full of contempt.


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