By Luke Amaral (age 13)
Col was on his computer when he saw a pop up ad appear on screen, “HEY YOU! WOULD YOU LIKE TO TEST A BRAND NEW IPHONE 8?! WE WANT TO GET TO KNOW THE PEOPLE WHO USE OUR PRODUCTS! HELP US MAKE IT A GREAT FIT FOR ANY USER! JUST FILL OUT THE FORM BELOW, THEN COME TEST AND KEEP OUR NEWEST TECHNOLOGY. SEE US AT THE ADDRESS BELOW!"
Recognizing the street name as a street right next to his old elementary school, he was willing to go. Although he knew to never send his address to anyone, the offer of a brand iPhone was too tempting. He filled out the basic questionnaire required and submitted it. He received a response right away, he could collect his new phone this afternoon. Great! Anyways, what else did he have to do today?
Col walked down to the bottom floor of his house and told his parents that he was going to his friend’s. His Mom let him go and while saying goodbye, told him to be home by 6. Col agreed and stepped out, the lie leaving a sour taste in his stomach. He didn’t want to lie, but he knew his mother wouldn’t trust a popup ad.
Col walked his normal route towards school; a left on Maple Tree road, walk three blocks and the school was on the right. He quickly found the street from the ad; it was right around the corner. The street was lit and familiar, but there were areas covered in shadow from the towering buildings in front of them. Col saw a sign pointing into an alleyway saying, "Free iPhone." He turned into the alley to find a small building nestled between two larger ones cloaking it in shadow. He had never noticed it before. There was only one light on, and Col walked over slowly. He had told his friends that he would get a new iPhone 8 and knew if he didn’t there would be plenty of annoying questions. Reluctantly, he walked towards building, not knowing what would be inside.
The school slid out of sight and his eyes shifted over to the small building. He approached a rickety aluminum door and saw a man inside was talking on an old-timey telephone, not a cell phone, but the kind with a cord and a plug that went into a wall. The man noticed Col, said goodbye to whoever was on the line and introduced himself.
"Hello there, young man! Here to test the new iPhone?"
"Yes, I am," Col replied.
"Good, good, very good."
The room had a musty smell to it, making Col think it was kept poorly. The man had sunken eyes, the kind that reminded you of an insomniac or some kind of drug addict. His hair, clearly thinning, was greased back in thin strands. Although his features were quite ragged, he had on an expensive looking suit and tie with black pants.
"Well, here it is," the man said, handing over an iPhone.
Col reached out for the phone and, when he grabbed it, he noticed the man's strangely long fingernails. They looked like they hadn't been cut in weeks; they were also very dirty and had a yellow tinge.
"Do I have to do anything?"
"Nope, just go on home and have fun with your new iPhone."
"Okay, thanks a lot, sir"
The man then picked up his phone on his desk, pressed a couple of buttons and resumed his conversation from before. Col looked back once more, and his eyes glanced to the floor. He saw the plug to the phone the man was talking into, lying unplugged, on the floor. Col ran the whole way home.
Not expecting much, Col pushed the home button to access the phone. To his surprise it actually worked! He began downloading his apps, like Snapchat, Instagram, and various games, when he decided to take a picture. He saw that there were some pictures already in the camera roll. First, he saw a picture of the world. Perplexed, he continued looking through the pictures. Next was a view of the USA from space. Next was of his home state, Maryland. Next was an overview of his neighborhood. After that, there were pictures of the houses on his street, coming closer and closer one by one to Col's own house. Finally, a picture of Col's front door.
He heard a piercing scream as he clicked on the next picture. It was of his mother with an expression of pure terror on her face. Next was a picture of the stairs and the hallway leading up to his room, and finally a picture of Col's bedroom door.
Col was frozen. A sudden creak came from the window, which made Col jump. His head snapped over to look at the window where he saw nothing but darkness. He then received a text with a picture. It was of the same window Col had just been looking at, but with three words etched into it, "LOOK BEHIND YOU."