Now where did I put my keys," Jamie's mother said as she frantically turned the house upside down in search of her precious keys. "Mom, they are right here," Jamie yelled as he jingled the keys from the tips of his fingers. Jamie's mother was finishing packing for her annual work retreat, and she was scatterbrained to say the least. "Thank you sweetheart! You are a life saver," She said as she gave him a quick peck on the cheek. "Mom! Gross," Jamie lamented as he began to tear away at the ruby red lipstick smudged onto his cheek. "Jamie, please don't do anything reckless while I’m gone, and for God's sake, please don't invite any friends over, especially Mike," his mother said with a stern look. "I won't mom. I really haven't even talked to Mike in the last couple of weeks anyways," Jamie said with quiet confidence although deep down he knew it was a lie. As soon as his mother's tail lights reflected down the road, Jamie picked up the house phone and called Mike.
Jamie and Mike had been best friends since grade school although Jamie's mother didn't seem to care for that particular fact. Mike was a bit of a troublemaker, and it usually followed him everywhere he went; often bringing Jamie along for the ride. Jamie didn't seem to mind though. With Mike, he knew that there was always bound to be an adventure; not to mention, Mike had just made the varsity high school lacrosse team, and with that, his popularity was on the uptick, as was Jamie’s. Jamie envisioned their senior year as the greatest time of their life. Parties and girls seemed to frequent his imagination often, but tonight, Jamie and Mike were going to lay low, and hopefully stay out of trouble.
Mike arrived around 10:30 and instantly began to rummage through the fridge for food. "So what are we getting into tonight my brother," Mike mumbled as he tore away at the plastic snack wrapper with his teeth. "I don't know. I figured we could just hang around, watch some TV, maybe do some gaming," Jamie replied as he looked at the expression on Mike's face that shown a less than enthusiastic stare. "We do that every weekend Jamie! Oh, I have an idea. Go grab your laptop," Mike commanded as he ran back into the kitchen to grab a drink. Jamie obliged and placed his laptop on the kitchen counter overlooking the living room. As the computer booted up, Jamie asked, "So what do you have in mind?" "Have you ever heard of an app called Chat Roulette," Mike questioned. "No I haven’t. What is it," Jamie said with a quick rebuttal. "Well, it's a live webcam chatroom. You just sign in, and Chat Roulette will randomly generate a complete stranger for you to chat with," Mike stated with excitement. "That sounds kind of sketchy Mike," Jamie said with hesitation. "Dude, it's really fun! One time, I got online and it spawned me into a chat with this fine ass chick who after a little persuasion, took off her top and played with herself on live stream. Trust me Jamie! It's worth it," Mike continued to persist. "Alright, but if we get into a chat with some old guy beating off I'm going to kill you," Jamie stated with a half joking/half serious expression.
For the first 30 minutes, there was not much action going on. As they flipped through the chatrooms, keeping the mic turned off to avoid starting conversations with unwanted patrons, they came across the same thing; teenage boys signed on looking for the same kind of action as Mike and Jamie were. "Mike, this is a waste," Jamie stated with annoyance oozing from his breath. "Just give it some time Jam. Tits don't just magically appear with little to no effort. It takes work...persistence. Your impatience is probably why you're still a virgin," Mike chuckled as Jamie began to second guess his friendship with this insane individual propped up on his kitchen counter. Jamie began to walk away when Mike grabbed his arm. "Jamie! Look," Mike said as he stared blankly at the dimly lit screen. Jamie's eyes turned towards the monitor and the video feed was dark, and you could barely make out a person other than the thin silhouette shaded in view. As the boys continued staring, the silhouette began to clear and a girl came into focus. "Is that... Abby," Jamie questioned. "Scabby Abby," Mike blurted out loudly. "Dude, don't be a dick. She can't help that she has those scars on her face," Jamie came to her defense. Abby Turner was a classmate of theirs, and had moved to Glenview a few years back. She was a bit of a loner, and mostly kept to herself. People in school would often make fun of her due to the hideous scars or scabs as the rest of Glenview High liked to refer them as. Abby had a medical disorder which whenever she felt nervous or uncomfortable she would begin to scratch and tear at her skin, and her face usually got the brunt of her attack. Jamie never spoke to her, and the only reason he knew of her condition was one day in the nurse’s office, he overheard the nurse comforting Abby as she was tending to her freshly carved wounds.
"Well if I wanted to stare at Scabby Abby all night, I would just as soon order a pizza and look at that because that's pretty much what we are seeing right now," Mike chuckled as he slugged Jamie's arm hoping he would respond, but he didn't. Jamie just stared at her face. Looking at her eyes and seeing something sad about them. She looked lost, afraid, and unsettled. "Okay, well enough of this shit show, let's get to some real action," Mike said as he nudged Jamie from in front of the computer to flip to the next chatroom, but Jamie stopped him. "Mike, turn up the volume for a second," Jamie requested. "Jam, you can't be serious," Mike questioned with annoying persecution. "Yes! Turn it up," Jamie yelled. As Mike turned up the volume, he couldn't make out what she was saying at first, but as his ears began to focus, he could hear her whispering through her tears, "Will someone please talk to me?" "Maybe we should say something," Jamie said with a concerned tone. He didn't know Abby personally but she seemed to be in pain. "Fuck no Jamie! If word gets around that we even looked at Abby for this long and our budding reputation will be shot. We are so close to being the kings of Glenview High! We don't want to squander that because of some emo bitch who just wants attention," Mike stated with such a stern confidence that it almost frightened Jamie to think of how long he stood being this asshole's friend. As she continued to plea for someone to talk to, knots began to form in Jamie's stomach. "I'm going to step out for a minute. I need some air," Jamie said as he stepped out of the kitchen and headed towards the back patio.
Jamie paced around the back yard for a few moments, taking in all of tonight's events and began to question how he could be friends with a person like Mike. His mother told him numerous times that he was trouble, but Jamie tended to chalk it up to parent overreaction more than any circumstantial evidence. Tonight... tonight was the tipping scale. To see his cruelty towards another human being was sickening. Jamie thought to himself, "I would rather be a loner like Abby than to turn into a giant asshole like Mike." Jamie decided at that moment that it was time for Mike to leave. Jamie gathered up the courage and walked inside to see Mike texting frantically from his phone, not even acknowledging Jamie's presence. "Mike, I think you need to..." Jamie paused as his eyes transferred from Mike on the couch to the computer monitor in the kitchen. "MIKE!" Jamie yelled as he darted to the computer. Jamie's eyes were locked onto the computer screen as Mike stumbled from the living room to join him. Neither one of them could believe what they were witnessing; Abby Turner, age 17, hanging from her bedpost, unresponsive. As the shock of the sight laid before their very eyes began to seep into their subconscious, Jamie glanced over to the chat bar at the side of the video feed and there they were: Abby's final words, “The silence kills us all..."
Jamie, in a panic, began to search for the controls to turn on the microphone with the glaring hope that maybe if Abby heard someone's voice calling out to her it would somehow bring her back to the land of the living; or at the very least, someone in her house would hear the commotion and find her. But just as Jamie located the microphone control, Mike slammed the lap top shut. "Mike! What the fuck are you doing," Jamie seared with anger. "Jamie, you are ridiculous! We don't even know her, at least not personally," Mike stated like he was trying to win some sort of legal case. "That's not the point Mike! She was a person. That was someone's daughter! You are fucking unbelievable," Jamie said as he threw his hands up in the air with frustration bellowing from within. "Dude, I’ve seen her in class. She was a morbid and twisted individual. Who knows if this is even real? Wasn’t she in the Drama Club or something? How do you know that this isn't some sort of act she’s putting on because she is nothing but an attention whore," Mike continued to raise questions hoping to talk Jamie down from the ledge he had begun to stoop himself upon. "I think that she's faking. There's no way she hung herself from her bedpost like that and actually offed herself. I mean, her feet were barely hovering above the ground. I bet first thing Monday morning, we are going to walk into school, and there she'll be. Scabby Abby in all her morbid, fucked up emo garb," Mike continued on until Jamie interrupted, "Just shut up Mike!" The boys sat in silence for a moment; both of them trying to process the recent events in their own way.
Jamie walked into his bedroom and settled down on his bed, trying to erase the memory of Abby hanging there so helplessly. He tried counting the tiles overhead with the hopes that it would drown out the imagery buried within his memory. He closed his eyes and tried to picture something happy, something a little less morbid than a teenage girl hanging from her bedpost; nothing worked. Her final words echoed through his entire body; raising the hairs on the back of his neck and leaving a void that resonated throughout. The silence kills us all... those words. What was it about those words that became so unsettling? All Jamie knew was that the white noise surrounding him at this very moment was eating away at him; the silence slowly beginning to prepare for the kill.
While Jamie was away, Mike was sitting beside the kitchen counter, thumbing through his phone like nothing horrible had happened at all. His mind began to wonder what the exact moment was that he became such a monster. Was he born this way? Was this something that was always there and just continued to boil until it reached critical mass? Was he always an asshole? As the questions ran around in his brain, the only thing he knew was that he really didn't care. There was no remorse; no regrets. There was nothing. Mike really didn't even care what Jamie thought. He only cared about himself and his selfish need to protect himself at any cost. He began to play different scenarios in his mind that could potentially pinpoint Abby to himself. "There's no way this bitch is going to bring me down with her," Mike said to himself as he began to destroy any evidence that could connect Abby to him; but before he could get started, something drew his attention away from the smaller screen laid in his palm. He glanced up at the computer, and the chat roulette screen was switched back to Abby's room. "What the hell," Mike said quietly so Jamie wouldn't hear him. Mike looked puzzled. He could have sworn he left the computer closed. "Maybe Jamie opened it back up while I wasn't looking," Mike thought to himself as he made his way back to the computer. He could still see Abby hanging there, lifeless, dead. His eyes were locked on the silhouette of her face, trying to make out if there was any sort of movement, but there wasn't. The realization was setting in that Abby Turner was dead, and that deep down, he was the reason. He placed his hand on the mouse and moved the cursor to flip the chatroom. He clicked the spin button, and the screen flickered briefly but nothing else happened. He was still trapped in that room with her. He clicked again; still nothing. He clicked again; he could feel the cold beginning to slither its way into his veins like a cancer. He clicked again and again, and with each click, he could feel the presence of death getting closer. The feeling of dread was overwhelming, almost as if he was in Abby's bedroom with her; feeling what she felt, smelling her body beginning to decompose. Mike let out one last desperate click of the mouse with the hope that this nightmare would finally cease. As his finger pressed firmly, the screen finally released its hold and switched to another room. "Finally," Mike said as he let out a desperate sigh of relief. He placed his head into his forearm and rested along the top of the kitchen counter.
An hour had passed, and Jamie returned to the living room to find Mike nodding off at the computer. He nudged Mike's arm to wake him. "How long was I out," Mike asked as he picked his head up and rubbed his eyes to clear them out. "I don't know. I just came back in here. Why is this still on my computer," Jamie asked as Mike confusingly looked up at the screen. "No! No! No! No! No! This can't be happening! I switched the chatroom on this before I passed out," Mike stated in a panic. "Just turn it off Mike," Jamie demanded but before Mike could shut down the computer, he noticed one glaring difference in the video feed. "Where is Abby," Mike questioned as his face froze in a sorrowful stare. Jamie's eyes stared at Abby's bedroom, and everything was how he remembered it, even the white sheet with a noose tied at the end draped over her bedpost, but Abby was gone. Mike slugged Jamie's arm with gleeful excitement at the realization that maybe this was nothing more than just a ruse. "I told you that bitch was acting," Mike proclaimed with confidence as he began to prance around the living room with his arms raised as if he had just won a national lacrosse championship. Jamie remained silent as his eyes began to drift further into the video feed. Abby wasn't gone; or maybe she was, but there was something in that room; he could sense it. Even worse, he could feel it staring back at him. "Mike," Jamie said in a morose tone although Mike didn't even acknowledge it at first. Finally, Jamie mustered up enough energy to yell Mike's name to get his attention. "What," Mike stated with frustration, "Can't you see I'm celebrating here!" "Look..." Jamie's voice faded out as he simply pointed back to the computer monitor. There, in the shadows of her bedroom curtain, she was watching them. "What the hell is she doing," Mike's voice turned from confident cheering to worry. "I... I don't know. Is she...smiling," Jamie said as he could feel an overwhelming sense of dread flowing towards him. Hypnotized, they both continued to stare at her. Her eyes were dark, and her body didn't move. She just continued to stare, penetrating their very being with those eyes. They couldn't move. They couldn't blink. All they could do was watch as her left hand slowly protruded from behind the silk curtain and pointed to the right hand corner of the monitor. Jamie and Mike stared at the chat bar as a message popped across the screen. It read the same phrase from earlier, "Silence kills us all." Jamie without hesitation responded. "What do you want Abby," He asked her. "I want to talk, “she replied. Jamie began to type another message when Mike once again clicked on the button to flip chatrooms. This time, the chatroom changed, but Abby was still there, waiting in the background, still smiling. "This can't be real! This is just another one of her games," Mike yelled out trying to convince himself that there was some sort of logical explanation for this. He continued to click through the chatrooms, but with each new chat they stumbled into, Abby still lurked within the feed; and with each flip of the chatroom, Abby grew closer and closer to the screen. "Now Mike, I know you like to play hard to get, but you know how this is going to end," Abby's message stated as they continued to click through chatrooms. "What does she mean by that Mike," Jamie questioned. "How the hell should I know, she's a fucking nut case," He said in frustration as he continued to click. "Michael, you love my kind of crazy," she replied with a smiley face exclaimed behind it. "How does she know what we are saying," Mike questioned as the look of terror began to overwhelm him. "The microphone! She can hear us," Jamie said as he turned the microphone off. "You shouldn't have done that Jamie. I want to talk," Abby replied once again. Their eyes still glued onto the screen, she was right in front of them, staring...smiling. "This is not happening! This is a joke. Guess what Abby! Joke's on you," Mike screamed as he unplugged the computer and pulled out the external battery. The screen faded to black. The nightmare was over... or so they thought.
"Crazy bitch," Mike panted as he tried to catch his breath and slow his heart rate. "You said it," Jamie said as he extended his hand to offer some sort of victory high five, in which Mike obliged. As the boys began to let out a chuckle, Jamie's house phone rang. He walked through the living room and answered, unaware of who or what was on the other line. "Hello," Jamie asked. He could hear someone on the other end, but all he could make out were shallow breaths resonating from the receiver. "Hello," Jamie asked again, growing impatient, but still no answer, just shallow breaths. "I'm hanging up now," Jamie stated in a stern voice but before he could hang up, a voice called out to him, "I told you Jamie... I want to talk." The color in Jamie's face faded away, and his cheeks were white as ghosts. "Who is it Jamie," Mike asked with a genuine concern. "It's Abby," Jamie mustered to choke out the words before panic began to set in. Abby began to let out a maniacal giggle, and continued to breathe slowly, deliberately into the receiver. The boys glanced back towards the computer, and she was back on the screen. "That's not possible," Mike said trying to convince himself that this was all just a bad dream, but it wasn't. This was all too real. "What do you want," Jamie pleaded with Abby or whatever foul demon was on the other side of the line. She giggled again and was silent for a moment before eerily speaking, "I want to play a game with you Jamie." Mike's eyes bounced from the computer to Jamie and then back to the computer, trying to wrap his head around the insanity. "Tell Michael to give you his phone," Abby requested. "Mike, give me your phone," Jamie said as he held out his hand. "What? No way," Mike proclaimed. "Give me the fucking phone Mike," Jamie demanded as Mike stashed the phone in his back pocket. As the boys wrestled around, the lap top message board began chiming non-stop and Jamie could hear Abby letting out a sinister laugh with each ring. The messages that appeared didn't make a lot of sense to Jamie, but the messages resonated deeply with Mike:

Abby: Mike, I see you. Please talk to me...
Mike: Fuck off!
Abby: Why are you acting like this? This isn't you. I KNOW YOU
Mike: No you don't. The guy you hung out with ONE TIME is not who I really am
Abby: please don't do this Mike! I won't tell anyone about us
Abby: No. It was more than that. You are more than that to me. That night I saw the real you. THAT is who I want to talk to
Mike: That night was a lie... GO AWAY ABBY!
Abby: Please talk to me. I don't know what I'll do if you don't talk to me.
Mike: How about you go kill yourself? YEAH! That's a great idea Scabby Abby! Why don’t you light some candles, put on some mood music, fasten yourself a nice little noose, and fucking hang from it!
Abby: You don't mean that
Abby: Michael?
Abby: The Silence is killing me...
Abby: Michael...please

"What the hell did you do," Jamie exclaimed as he wrestled Mike to the ground, removing his cell phone from within his back pocket. As he thumbed through all of Mike's messages, Mike sat in silence. Abby continued to stare on from the computer monitor and breathe heavily into the phone receiver, almost to the point where it felt like she was right there in the room with them. "Jamie...I," Mike tried to explain but Jamie stopped him dead in his tracks. Jamie paced back and forth, the voice on the end of the phone laughing maniacally in the distance. "What do you want," Jamie asked growing tired in light of recent events, "please just tell me what you want me to do? How can I fix this?" The computer screen went black for a moment and came back on; this time with what appeared to be a recording coming from Abby's room. In the video, Mike was there with Abby, sitting on the edge of her full size bed, his hand placed gently on her knee. They were talking very softly and Jamie couldn't make out the words. Mike caressed Abby's face, kissed her, and then slowly laid her down to undress her. Jamie became hypnotized by the video, and Mike sat on the ground, head in hands, beginning to tear up. As Jamie grew closer to the monitor, his eyes transferred over to the window in Abby's room, and there she was again...Smiling. The terrorizing image shocked him as he dropped the phone on the floor, shattering it into pieces, but it didn't matter. Abby began almost chanting from behind the curtain, taunting Jamie to do the unthinkable. "Kill him Jamie...Kill him..." Over and over again, the demon continued to push Jamie to the brink. Mike got up to his knees, pleading for his life. Abby, still smiling, was relentless in her request. Her voice began drowning out all of Jamie's thoughts, subduing his subconscious into doing some horrific to his best friend. "Jamie, please don't do this," Mike pleaded as tears rolled down his face as Jamie wrapped his hands around Mike's throat. "Jamie Don't!'' Mike exclaimed as his lungs began to fight for air as Jamie began to squeeze harder. Like a man possessed, Jamie continued to squeeze as Mike's eyes began to fade in and out of consciousness. Abby continued to chant, so loudly in fact that it sounded like she was right next to him, whispering in his ear. As he continued to squeeze, his concentration broke for a fraction of a second; his eyes moving towards Abby and Mike laying together in her bed on the video. His ears tuned into their conversation, and he heard something that brought him back from the brink of murder. "Abby, you are the only person who I think has seen the real me," Mike whispered as he traced his hand down her cheek. Abby smiled, placed her head closer to his heart and said, "Shhh...Just be silent." Jamie snapped out of his trance, releasing his grip. Mike gasped for air as the color in his face began to return to normal. The computer powered off, and everything was silent.
"Is it over," Mike said faintly as he held onto his neck, trying to rub the soreness away. "I think so," Jamie began to speak, "I think she..." But before he could finish his sentence, the lights in the house powered down, and the computer came on yet again. Abby wasn't finished. Mike began to struggle backwards on his hands and backside trying to scramble to his feet. Jamie was frozen in sheer terror as his eyes had already locked on to the computer screen as 2 hands slowly began to bellow out from beyond it. The creature slithered and crawled all the way out, its body jittering and stuttering back and forth as it made its way onto its feet. Jamie stood there, completely still, frozen. The Demon drew closer to Jamie's face, running her sharp, jagged finger nails across it. He tried to move. He tried to speak, but he was trapped. Abby dug her fingers deep into the flesh of his face, carving out little scabs before breaking his neck.
Mike oversaw the frightening specter of Abby coming closer towards him as he ran down the hallway towards Jamie's room. It seemed with every step closer to the room, the farther away it became; but Abby was so close that he could feel her long strands of black hair scraping the back of his neck. He could hear her laughing. As he slammed the door to Jamie's room, he paused for a moment to catch his breath. He closed his eyes, and envisioned this all being a dream, because if it was, then his best friend would still be alive and not out there with that abomination. He clinched his eye lids tighter and tighter, wishing this to not be real; but when he opened his eyes and turned around, his nightmare was just beginning. He was no longer in Jamie's room. "This isn't real," Mike said to himself as he frantically paced around what appeared to be Abby's room. The four post bed, the silk curtains, even the distinct smells of skin care ointment resonated from within its walls. He spun around like a top trying to find some way to escape, but there wasn't one. He noticed her computer sitting on her dresser, and the computer’s light was the only form of illumination through the darkness. Mike darted over to the computer; the Chat Roulette app was still open on the browser. Mike sent out message after message hoping someone on the other end would hear or see his desperate pleas. “Somebody! Anybody! Please help me,” Mike said struggling to hold back the emotional tears that began to run across his face. His despair only grew as he slouched down towards the floor, bellowing out screams into the great beyond. He thought he was alone and that this place had become his own personal version of Hell; until he heard a faint voice in the distance faintly exclaim, “Shhh…” As his eyes glanced towards the curtains, there she was... still smiling. Mike backed away slowly although he knew there was no escape. He tried to scream as Abby motioned forward; her face mangled from scars that now oozed with blood, her eyes as black as night, and nails sharper than the words that Mike had spoken earlier that led him to this terrifying fate. As he fell backwards onto the bed, Abby straddled on top of him, sliding her bony, jagged finger nails along his face before they dug into his skin, ripping the bottom half of his jaw off. As Mike slowly bled out, gasping and fighting for his last breath, Abby placed her head on his chest, caressing what was left of his face and whispering one final time, “Shhh…just be silent.”
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