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Third Degree

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One solitary window was illuminated in the entire apartment building. The shiny beacon in the foggy night belonged to a ground level unit. An owl nearby hooted, crickets chirruped, and a distant car’s turbo engine hissed. Two men crouched amongst the shadows, both of them listening to the night sounds around them. The night time was the best of times for stalking, spying, and collecting enough data on their subject to devise the most cryptic and creepy video responses under the guise of “totheark”.

Inside the small and bare apartment, Jay paced idly back and forth going over everything that had happened in the past forty-eight hours. Upon returning to Brian's house, he had found to his surprise that the old magazines and newspapers littering the floor were all but gone. Not only that, but there were two new additions to Brian’s house:
1. A white, slender doll with no mouth or nose (but had two eyes).
2. A masked man who, as far as Jay knew, meant him harm.

But it wasn’t the tidying up that freaked Jay out, nor the confrontation with Mr. Seizure. It was the lapse of memory after he shut the camera off that was unsettling. Just this morning he'd woken up in his car, unarmed and confused. How did he manage to drive all the way out to God-knows-where when he had no memory of even turning the camera off? Stranger still, totheark had posted another response and in this video was the message “Tell us. You have been keeping secrets. Smile for the camera.” And towards the end of this video was a picture that resembled Tim. What did Tim have to do with this? Did totheark mean Tim was keeping secrets? Or was Jay keeping secrets from himself?

Jay shrugged his brown zip-up hoody off and decided to call it a night. The morning had the possibility of bringing more clarity to this whole situation involving masked weirdos and abandoned houses. For now, sleep was most welcomed and needed.

“Rebmemer uoy did?” asked Tim.
Conversations between the two young men who were part of totheark were conducted almost entirely of riddles. Perhaps stalking Jay, and therefore inevitably running into The Operator, was beginning to take its toll on them. Brian seemed the more coherent of the two, for he was actually able to formulate sentences that didn’t require Sherlock Holmes’ intelligence to decipher.

“Yes,” answered Brian before he put on his own mask, “but next time can you speak English?”

Quickly and quietly they moved from behind the bushes towards the lit-up window. Just on the other side, Jay was undoubtedly asleep. The pair had been taking it in turns, watching him in the night over the past month. Jay usually went to bed at around 11:00pm to 12:00am. He also drank a glass of sparkling water right before bed. In light of this information, two and a half hours earlier Brian had snuck into Jay’s apartment and dissolved two tablets of Rohypnol into the bottle of sparkling water in Jay’s fridge.

A quick glance to Brian’s wristwatch confirmed that Jay should be sound asleep as the small hour hand inched ever closer to 1. Furthermore, the flunitrazepam should be in full-swing inside Jay’s little body.

As Jay slept, unaware of his two stalkers, Brian and Tim huddled together directly below Jay’s window. They were making weird hand gestures to each other. Tim held out his left palm and with his right hand made a gesture to the center of his palm. Then he closed both fists and bumped them together. Afterwards he held up a thumb’s up with his right hand and a thumb pointed sideways with his left. Brian simply nodded. He actually could only decipher 60% of what Tim ever said in his secret hand-code messages. All Brian was able to understand this time were the words “Roofies”, “You”, and “Go”.

Brian began to scale up the window, but felt a hand pull him back. Tim held Brian close and whispered into his ear, “Me…first.” Before letting Brian go, Tim’s arms loosened their grip, allowing his hands to run softly down Brian’s sides and hips. With little effort Tim opened the unlocked window and then pulled himself up. Brian watched Tim climb up, noting that Tim had remarkable upper body strength. Once he was safely inside, Brian followed.