The typing of keys filled the room as Jack entered his own world. This world was filled with tantalizing facts, hidden secrets, and assortments of cat videos. And he couldn’t be any more content.
Most college freshman were enjoying being brought up into the college-kid lifestyle of parties and companionship. Not Jackson Overland. Loud get-togethers and the over-familiarity with numerous people didn’t sit well with him. He’d been among the company of few people as long as he remembered, namely his mother and little sister. But he was much older than his sister, and didn’t see her very often given his minute social calendar.
Jack would rather spend his time on other social media websites, like Tumblr, 4chan, and Youtube. Some called him a troll; others: a quick-witted user that would be sure to appear and comment at the appropriate time.
To his few digital companions, he was Frost. And that was all they needed to know.
The anonymity the internet brought was something of a warm comfort over him, like his favorite hoodie fresh out of the dryer. Comfort was something he was lacking, but not needed. He didn’t need physical companionship. He loved to mouth off in his classes, definitely, but there was no person he wanted to speak to about his personal matters. They wouldn’t understand his references, his jokes, his quirks. At least with the use of words, he couldn’t be questioned for his reasoning. It was the internet, and that meant all sorts of people were to be expected.
A small ping drew his attention to his task bar where the Skype icon flashed orange. He clicked and got a small grin as bright as the laptop screen in his darkened room at the name of the sender. Myth has stuck by him as a follower on Tumblr, liking his reblogs and sharing his posts. Eventually asks were sent regarding the main fandoms Jack was involved in, which at the time was Left 4 Dead. Jack amazed himself with the conversation, being as witty as Frost and even the slightest bit smarmy, but Myth stuck around. They played a few co-op games on Steam, though Jack left his microphone on mute for the first several encounters.
Myth was the only one to know his voice. The only one Jack may have favored amongst his faceless followers. It was thanks to Myth’s shares that he’d gained even more followers, fans if you will. They were a small bunch, but Jack liked how it was exclusive. He liked Myth. He felt he could dissect everything about him even a world apart. He knew what could send him (he had learned) giggling and mashing his keys in excitement, typos to follow. He knew never to tell him spoilers of a movie he’d pirated. He knew that whenever he found some urban legend or creepypasta, Myth would have always known about it first, and recited his own theory as if he studied the subject for years.
For someone off of the internet, Myth was intelligent.
Hey Frost. Seems we’re both having a great Friday night, huh?
Jack chuckled. Was it Friday already? That meant his Psychology exam was on Monday. But that could be sorted out at a later time. Like four in the morning. He typed up his response rapidly, having aced his keyboarding capabilities.
You know it. Obviously we’re both out getting hammered with the best young individuals society has to offer.
Myth usually took his time when typing, so Jack reopened Chrome to browse. Tumblr was a bit slow as of lately, his dash only being flooded with generic ‘Share if you’ posts. Youtube hadn’t fared much better. He’d watched his subscription’s daily uploads already, and there were only so many good Youtube Poops to browse through before feeling the brain numb. 4chan, well…there was always the promise of another board. A saving grace of an exhaustingly slow virtual life was his hobby for writing. Whenever he felt bored, or up for multi-tasking, there was always some writing prompt generator to kickstart him.
Writing wasn’t entirely a serious hobby, but he had nothing else he considered himself good at. So why not continue.
Skype blinked again.
Yeah, exactly. From what you say about the kids in your dorm I can imagine how great it is to have a quiet night at least once a week.
Jack nodded slowly. Myth knew he was entering college, because they were the same age. Jack would almost always reply to any message that was sent to him swiftly, and had to explain himself if he was late. It was another Friday that a clamoring in his hall late in the night from his drunken dorm mates that distracted him for the moment.
Still, Myth just knew how old he was. There was nothing else really to it.
As he started to reply, Myth was already typing a second message. He drummed his fingers on the surface of his laptop, being patient, sure that once he’d click away the message would come.
I read up on this new indie horror coming out. Want the link?
What’s it about?
This was their friendship. And things were good.
Hours passed as normal. 4chan brightened up in the thickness of the night, and by brightened, Jack usually meant became sick, demented, and equally fascinating to watch humanity be pulled apart by the seams. Myth had shared the indie, which looked promising, but there were only so many preview trailers for it and the topic was dropped soon enough. They shifted on to other Steam games that were coming out, reblogging Tumblr links, and cooperatively answering retarded Tumblr hate mail in the most eloquently humorous way possible. It was the best fun he’d had that night, his fingers jittering excitedly on the keys and a grin surely on his face. Frost liked his stature on the internet, however minute an impact he made on the other users.
Black images started to appear on Imgur, a website only worth frequenting some of the time in Jack’s opinion. The teenager yawned, realizing that many of the black images were reshared over and over, but were also from how often his eyes had started to drift shut. He groaned, seeing the digital clock at the corner of his screen reading 4:52 a.m. and sighed outwardly. With nothing keeping his active attention, he’d become tired. Jack always needed to be doing something, even sitting in front of the screen. He was eating some pretzel sticks in Nutella sometimes, and today he was twirling his earbuds in his fingers until they twisted, and then spun them in the opposite direction, repeating.
He checked his conversation with Myth. Last response: 23 minutes ago. He rolled his eyes, thinking of himself smiling, unconscious to whether he actually did or not. Myth definitely had fallen asleep in the middle of a good theory, surely. Gradually, Jack began to close his tabs, reblog one last gif of a bunny (the late nights usually meant he reblogged irresistibly fluffy things in his groggy state), and lastly, check his e-mails.
He deleted a few that alerted him of his Youtube subscriptions updating, and couple Gamestop and Steam sale alerts following soon after. He read through a couple from fanfiction websites—a hobby he kept separate from his Frost persona, before deleting those as well as they were simple “new follower” alerts. His Tumblr account was silent of news, but he deleted the old ones alerting him to a new ask in his inbox. He really needed to update his settings and remove that option.
Finally with that done, he hovered over the shut down button. He stopped, looking at the notepad extension on his desktop. It mostly kept important dates, which were usually related to when he needed to update a story, or when homework was due.
“Before Saturday Night- Turn in Psyche paper”
Jack sighed. He’d completely forgotten to submit that. Thankfully, he had the thing written the day after it was assigned. He was terrible with remembering dates, especially with the college’s online document procedure. He reopened Chrome to the school services and went about submitting his word document after one last look-over. He hit send.
Instantly he knew his school e-mail would be assaulted by the annoying messages of “congratulations, you’re one step closer to having a future. Please click here to rate this assignment”. If there was one thing Jack despised, it was a full inbox, or rather: an inbox that was not empty or otherwise sorted.
Given he had the browser open, he skated along to the school e-mail, typing in his password swiftly, his brain not even registering the gesture as they’d repeated the code so many times it was instinct. He swiftly checked the box and deleted it.
You have no messages.
Jack smiled, stretching back in his creaky rolling chair, his jaw dropping into a well-needed yawn. Fingers ran through his course brunette hair, retaining its messy look at all times. He dropped his hands back into his lap, digging his phone out of his indigo hoodie pocket and setting it on his desk. He rarely charged it, given his family were the only ones to really have his number. It was otherwise used to check his Tumblr in class or listen to music during a lecture. He plugged it in regardless, having worn on its battery during a wonderful talk on something in History.
His phone made a small blip as it began charging, and he closed the pop-ups as soon as they appeared. “No, I’m not interested at opening the files on this device,” Jack mused internally. The pop-ups disappeared, and his mouse skated to the red X in the corner of the browser. His eye caught something. Bold text in a horizontal line and a light blue hue behind the lettering.
You have (1) unread message!
He frowned. What had the school felt inclined to send him at nearly five in the morning? He was about to check the box when his hand froze.
Subject: For Jack, Room 281
“Why does the sender say Anon? Like, anonymous? This is my school e-mail, the records office knows my dorm number, but no one is sending messages from there now.” He thought, staring at the message. His brain whirled. He never shared his school e-mail, and the college was excellent at filtering junk mail. “Some kind of automated response for holiday check outs or something.” Jack sighed. It was nearing the end of his first semester already, and winter would be upon the city soon.
Begrudgingly, he clicked the message, watching as it loaded. He raised an eyebrow. The recipient line was definitely just his e-mail, with no one else in the CC field. The message appeared blank, though he scrolled a line down.
Forward this message, and see the picture below!
Jack rolls his eyes, scrolling down further. A single line was in a simple font, bolded, large, and italicized.
Do not stray far from the light
Several spaces followed afterwards, like someone leaving placeholders, or just being a bit trigger happy with the enter key. Below this was a rectangular image, but it was just plain black. Jack right clicked to see if it had loaded, which it had. Who sends a forward with a blank image like that? He scoffed, brain too tired to even think of reasons for why he’d received the message.
He scrolled down to the bottom of the e-mail. There was no signature, like the ones all the teachers had with detailed information. In fact, the signature was slightly more shocking.
14 Robin Dr (Home)
1500 University Dr
North Hall 281
“That’s my mom’s address back home. And that’s definitely the college’s information too.” Jack reread it once for good measure, and twice to hope his blurred, tired eyesight was playing tricks. “What kind of person gets a school e-mail to send me an e-mail with my info at the bottom?” No matter how many times his mind asked itself, he couldn’t draw a conclusion. No return address was listed for the user Anon, and the image was black even if he saved it to his desktop. He felt a shudder when he stared too long, and dragged it to the recycle bin, emptying that as well.
“This is the shittiest chain mail I’ve ever received.” Jack grumbled to convince himself. Even on Tumblr he refused to believe those old “send this along or be cursed” messages. Myth might have his own theory on them, but not Jack. All he knew was that it was bullshit, and the only form of trolling he would not find the slightest bit of merriment in.
He checked the box and deleted the message, finally shutting down his laptop. His room became encased with darkness, given he’d neglected to even turn on his lights as the sun set. He needed the sleep, and didn’t bother trying to set an alarm for the next day. He spun around in his chair with a squeak, tugging off his jeans to put on his more comfortable pajama pants. They were perfect to wear on a crisp fall Friday night (Or Saturday morning, more like). He fumbled around at the window just to the side of his desk, tugging a curtain to the side just a fraction. A sliver of the mood gave him just enough light to find his way to bed without a stubbed toe. He didn’t even bother taking off his hoodie, already wrapped in its warmth and dropped down onto the sheets. He yawned once more, stuffing an arm under his pillow and laying on his side, a normal position for his sleeping habits. His deep caramel eyes drifted shut slowly, allowing the darkness behind his eyelids to finally take him, even with the surge of paranoia lingering in his mind.
The darkness shifted through his vision as he entered the deepest state of his sleep. Jack stood, finding himself outside in the park nestled near his home back in Burgess. Trees littered the area, but did not hinder the place from having nice flat lands ideal for children’s games. Picnic shelters and benches were seen off in the distance, especially close to the small lake. Jack smiled. When he first saw that lake he knew it’d be great for ice skating. Winter was his favorite thing.
He paced over to the edge of the lake. The edges were crystallizing, beginning to freeze in the chill night. Winter would be around soon enough, and then he could go ice skating. Did he really want to? Leaving his computer to go outdoors wasn’t something he frequently partook in. The only thing tantalizing the outdoors had to offer him was the chill wind against his pale skin, snow between his fingers, and the smell of pine trees. It was infatuating, but came with a price.
Jack felt his breath leave him in a shudder. He always had a high tolerance for cold, but for whatever reason, his blood began to chill. The lake in front of him started to ice over before is eyes, branching out like frosty arms grabbing towards the center. Once they reached the middle crystalline structures sprang out into the sky, sending a shock through the air that ripped oxygen out of Jack’s throat. He fell back, fingers in the thin layer of snow just how he liked it, unable to tear his eyes away from the ice structure that would not stop moving up. It got to just be a pinpoint in the sky before shards began to rain down, starting small, and becoming icicles aimed down to skewer Jack.
A scream tore out of his winded throat as he tried kicking himself out of the way of the spike. He tugged again and again before his eyes shifted down, ice encasing his ankles and wrists, black particles started to creep up its surface.
He shut his eyes tightly as he practically felt the gravity of the spire above him getting closer and closer, preparing for impact.
The loud shattering of glass brought Jack sitting up in bed, his pillow tumbling to the floor. He gasped for air, as if he’d been drowning. He couldn’t get enough air.
It was chilly, and by getting his eyes adjusted to the dim moonlight, he saw his window, now with a nice hole in it from some kind of launched projectile. Shards of glass shimmered on his floor, but didn’t make it across to his bed or desk. He forced himself up to his knees to peer over the edge of his bed to the window. He was on second floor, and saw no silhouettes of a perpetrator down below.
It was good he liked the cold. The sun started to peek out from the horizon and Jack pushed his curtains shut, dropping back onto his bed, already asleep before he could notice he was without his pillow.