This is too much of a coincidence. Don’t you think? I asked myself. My mind had stopped working by now. I couldn’t think anymore. I sat on my bed holding my smartphone in my hand, sweating profusely in the middle of a November night. Without giving it much thought, I started typing a reply.
Who the f**k is this?
I hit backspace and deleted it. I typed again.
I deleted this one too. I typed again.
Honey? Is that you? Where are you? I’ve been looking all over for you. Your parents are worried sick. Give me a call ASAP.
I sat silently for a while and hit backspace again deleting the whole text. I desperately fought the urge of replying back to her. I turned my phone off and lied down on my bed. I didn’t want to screw things up. She was still a missing persons case and I didn’t want to become a suspect. I stayed up all night.
That was the first of many sleepless nights.
It happened again the next night. Then again the next night. And the next night. And the next night. And it’s been 3 weeks now. Every night it’s the same thing.
And that was enough to keep me up all night, panicking and overthinking each second of my existing. All this time, I’ve been desperately stopping myself from texting her back but tonight I couldn’t take it anymore.
I JUST COULDN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE.
I HAVE TO KNOW WHO THIS IS.
I can’t lose it.
But I need to know who is texting me from her number. I have to know who it is. It’s killing me inside…one text at a time. I pick up the phone again, unlock it and start typing.
Natalie…is that you?
It’s 3:15 am. It’s more than an hour now. Still no reply. I sit patiently on my bed in front of my phone waiting for it to vibrate again. But nothing. My neck starts twitching again. But I am used to it by now. I bite my tongue in the hopes of wetting my dry mouth. I hear the trees rustling outside as if they are trying to whisper something to me. I see the shadows of my curtains move silently across the wall as if they are trying to pull me into the shadow dimension. I feel the soft red glow of my digital clock illuminates my face in the darkness with the same crimson hue I saw Natalie take her last breath in. I feel the phone vibrate, only it doesn’t. I hallucinate. I want to escape this night. I want to escape this nightmare. I want her to reply. Just once. But she doesn’t. I want to sleep. Oh…how much I want to sleep. I feel myself lying down. But why am I still sitting up? Am I dreaming? No, this is happening for real. Are you sure? I breathe and try to focus. It’s hard. I just want to sleep. As I feel my eyelids slide down ever so satisfyingly, I feel the phone vibrate again. I snap out of my traumatic trip. My neck twitches hard and I open my eyes wide. I grab the phone quickly and unlock it.
I am imagining things. I need to sleep.
Bzzzt! Bzzzzzt! Bzzzt Bzzzzzt!
I feel a blood rush as I look at the phone. The lock screen is still lit up. It’s not my imagination anymore. I pick up the phone even though my hands keep shaking. I unlock it and tap the text notification. I feel my heart coming to a stop as the text opens.
An emoji. A smiling face emoji. A F**KING EMOJI.
What the hell is this?
This has gone too far. I am going to kill whoever is messing with me.
Just as I start typing a reply I feel my fingers come to an abrupt stop. My body freezes as the temperature in the room starts to drop rapidly. I start gasping for air as the room gets filled with a vile suffocating stench. I feel like death is breathing over my neck as I hear the main door creaking open agonizingly slowly. Wait…wasn’t it locked? I feel an indescribable fear grasp me as I realize the phone was indeed in her pocket the whole time. And so was the spare key to the house.