Within – a short story

Part of Month of the Macabre

click HERE for the content warning and about Month of the Macabre

“Within”
a short story by Jeremy C Kester (All Rights Reserved)
[original draft appeared on site in October 2020]

I was feeling strange at work. In fact, I had been feeling strange. Ever since I read that letter, the feeling plagued me. Odd. I mean, who sends letters anymore? Everything is text or email now. Or social media. Especially social media — that was how I preferred to interact. A letter though?

Even so, the whole idea of it was intriguing. A bit of romanticism returning to those times where we had to wait for letters, where we weren’t able to call each other. Or even better, we didn’t have this thing called social media soaking up all our time. Then that idea goes away as I am reminded how boring that would be.

Temptation had me wanting to throw the letter away as it didn’t have a return address or a name for who sent it. It was better to be thrown in the trash rather than wasting my time with it. There’s a reason we don’t write letters anymore. Curiosity got the better of me though, so I read it. 

It made no sense to me. It was all written out in cursive. At least, that’s what I thought it was. It took some time to figure it out. It only pissed me off as I did. There were only a few words, too.

Feeding the need to rant and post,
Deny the being needs the most,
Brazen for in your sense abide,
To grow the beast you keep inside.

A goddamn fucking poem. As soon as I finished with it, I dropped it right where I was. It fell over to the side where I’d soon forget about it. No one even signed the shitty thing.

With a quick search, I found a little bit about this thing. A few accounts reported getting a similar letter, people who posted frequently and then nothing. Little information about what happened to them after. Strange deaths or disappearances along with some conspiracies littered the message boards. Nothing was helpful. A lot of people just speculated what it meant.

I shared the links along with a picture of the letter. “Is this some kind of fucking joke?” 

Once the post was up, I went back to attacking the dumb-asses online who thought that they knew better. That was my favorite thing to do, my calling: to troll anyone who had an ounce of belief in themselves. Everything was fake anyway. What did it matter?

Even at work, the duty of keeping idiots in check needed to be kept up with. Along side the PC where I ran my numbers, my phone would buzz with the notifications from Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, and all the others. Some were people falling for my traps while others were alerts on updates from people that were important to follow. Sometimes they came through faster than I had time to pay attention to. The appearance of productivity had to be maintained or else I’d lose my job. 

Everything online was a secret too. My bosses wouldn’t find much on me online. I kept a real account of myself on each platform. There was barely a post on any of them, all to let people believe it wasn’t something I cared about.

It was the day after I started feeling sick, like something was swimming around in my stomach, like I ate a fish whole and it decided to keep swimming in there. Nauseated, I went to the bathroom a couple of times. Couldn’t vomit or anything else. The whole time I kept answering attacks online or laying out my own. Before leaving the bathroom, I stepped over to the sink to wash my hands. That was when I felt something crawl up my throat. Was I insane? Was that a finger that just poked out of my mouth?

Seriously? Was I going crazy? I stood there, water still running as I stared at my mouth. My tongue swished around to see if there was anything there. Did I just imagine it? I had to have.

Much of the day came along with nothing out of the ordinary until I came across a DM. It wasn’t unusual to get DM’s, but this one caught me.

“The letter is going to kill you,” it said. The avatar was a picture of a girl, smiling. Looked harmless enough. Quickly, I looked over all her information online. She was one of those normal accounts. At least it looked normal.

I thought it odd, almost laughable. What was she doing writing to me?

I typed a reply. “How so?”

A response came in fast. “My brother was addicted to social media like you. It killed him. You need to quit social media or the letter will kill you.”

“What could possibly hurt me? It’s only a letter with a shitty poem,” I wrote back.

Again, the reply was fast. Whoever this girl was, she was persistent and knew I was looking at the messages now. I looked at her accounts again. There were a handful of posts, not many. A few pictures of her brother and her, the whole family. Then there were messages about God and links to a number of articles on the pitfalls of social media addiction. I saw the pictures of the prayer cards (at least that’s what I think they’re called) from her brother’s funeral.

The laugh was unavoidable. She was one of those bastards that went around trying to convince people like me to get rid of their accounts. Her brother was probably a drug addict or some shit. I opened up the message, curious to what crap she was going to push at me.

“It climbed out of him… it was like a demon or something. He was complaining for days that it felt like something was moving inside him after he got the same letter. There was… there was blood everywhere and it attacked me before running out. Please, save yourself before it does to you what it did to my brother.”

With it came a picture of the same letter I got. Same handwriting, everything. I deleted the message and blocked her. What the fuck was that?! This girl had to be part of some fucked up religious group. The letter was probably from her, laced with some drug to make me feel weird. The story of her brother was just some lie to make the story seem more real. Shit. How could I have been so foolish? Got trolled by a fucking religious cult.

For good measure, I reported the account and then sent all my followers after her. That would teach her a lesson.

Later, when I got home, the feeling got worse. It didn’t matter. I kept close tabs on the happenings with all my followers posting screenshots of the conversations with that girl. Some of them felt like they went too far, but fuck her. Her and her little church group shouldn’t have sent me that letter.

That drug she laced the letter with was strong, too. Then a thought occurred to me that I had something from that burrito place earlier. Why did I get that place again? It always gave me the shits.

As I passed the mirror, I felt the same thing I had earlier. Something crawled up my throat. Fingers curled out of my mouth. I thought I even saw them.

I fell backwards, screaming. I slammed down against the floor, feeling my face. There was nothing there. Again. The drugs. I laughed as I shook my head, ready to renew the attack, to update them on what had just happened. The response should be great. That girl will regret the day she messed with me.

The phone had skidded over to the other side of the room when I fell. I stepped up, picked it up, then walked back into the bathroom. A good shit would solve this problem; a shit and a little bit of trolling will do the trick.

The feeling came up again. As I passed the mirror, I saw the fingers come out of my mouth. This time, they didn’t vanish. I felt them pulling my mouth open. I tried to scream, but there was no way to. My throat tore as something grew inside me. I could not breathe, like my heart and lungs were being ground against my ribs. Pain was like nothing I felt before, my jaw pulled free, falling to the floor. I watched in horror as something started climbing out, my own blood covering it. I was gagging — until my body tore in half.

Story written and owned exclusively by Jeremy C Kester. Do not reprint, copy, or anything other than sharing direct links to this page without written permission from there author.

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