I love my mommy.
But she doesn't love me.
She wants me to go away.
"You want to hear something really stupid?"
Azelma rolled over on her bed and sprawled out her arms. "Sure," she laughed.
Morgan, her eyes wide and her grin contagious, propped herself up on her elbows. "So yesterday, this idiot at school comes up to me and tells me about some chip that everyone's been talking about, apparently." She made a face.
"What chip? Who even talks about stuff like that?"
"Beats me. It's the chip with the video file that kills you when you watch it. That's what the guy told me."
Azelma looked up at her friend, more attentive. "That…kills?"
"Yeah, it's got some curse on it. At the end of the video, you get a voice comm from a stranger—they know that you've watched it. All they tell you is that you have seven days before they hang up on you." Morgan bit her lip. "And after those seven days, you die."
Azelma did not laugh along with Morgan at this. She slowly sat up, her face frozen in dread.
"Pretty stupid, right?"
Azelma's lip trembled. "I've…I've watched it," she whispered.
"I've watched that video. At the end I got a comm and there was this girl that said 'seven days' and—"
Morgan let out a roar of laughter. "You're such a liar! There's no way that thing exists."
"I..." Azelma sucked in a breath and began to cough. She wrapped her hands around her throat.
"What the hell, Az?!" Morgan rushed over her. "Snap out of it!"
Suddenly, Azelma went silent and stopped moving, as if she were dead. A smile spread across her face and she stuck out her tongue. "Gotcha!"
Morgan slapped her friend's head. "Don't ever do that again, you moron," she laughed.
"You totally fell for it!"
Just as Morgan was about to tackle Azelma to the ground, a deep ring echoed from down the hall. The two froze, both looking towards the source of the sound. Azelma trembled in fear and stood. She then made her way down into the living room, where the netscreen on the wall signalled an incoming comm. Azelma sighed with relief when she saw that it was just her mother. She quickly established the link.
"Hi, Sweetie! Is everything going well?"
Azelma bit her lip. "Yeah, I have Morgan over for the night. We're watching movies," she lied.
"Ah, alright. Well, I just wanted to tell you that your father and I will be staying in Towa until tomorrow afternoon—the party went a bit long."
Morgan came up behind her and tickled her back. Azelma forced back giggles. "Okay, sure. We'll be fine here."
"Goodnight, Sweetie. I love you very much."
"Me too, me too. Goodnight."
Azelma disconnected the link and leaned against the wall. Morgan wrapped an arm around her shoulder. "So, do you wanna do what you told your mom? I hate to be a liar," she mused.
"Whatever," Azelma chuckled. "Go pick something fun out on the big screen downstairs—I'm gonna go to the bathroom."
"Can do, boss." Morgan hopped along until she was out of sight.
Azelma shook her head. She struggled to calm her thundering heart; the cool touch of fresh water on her face did little to ease her. She was nearly crippled by her sudden anxiety. She didn't know why, but she couldn't shake off the feeling that she was being watched. Her eyes flickered to the mirror that took up most of the bathroom wall. Everything seemed normal until a shadow flickered away in the corner of her eye. Azelma quickly turned her head, but there was nothing to see.
She felt faint. Slowly, a horrible ringing sound overtook her, and she crumpled to the floor. The sound bounced in her ears, inside her skull, bringing about a pounding headache. Something cool licked at her knees, and she noticed a puddle of water spreading across the floor. It wasn't coming from the sink, nor the bathtub; rather, it was slowly leaking into the bathroom from the hallway. Azelma followed the trail of water up until her bedroom. The liquid was seeping under her closed door. She rubbed her eyes. She could've sworn that she had left her door open—Morgan must've shut it behind her.
The doorknob was freezing to the touch. Gritting her teeth, Azelma forced her trembling hand to twist it and push the door open. Everything within her screamed to leave it alone, to run as far away as she could. Something stronger, though, was making her body act against her, and she was left at the mercy of whatever was compelling her inside.
Her own personal netscreen was on and lit up the room in an eerie white glow. Azelma could see a very familiar scene on this screen; a monochrome still of a brick well, surrounded by cherry blossom trees and lush-looking grass. Water poured from the well, through the screen and onto the floor. Her heart sank—it had been a week, hadn't it?
She had tried to convince herself that it was all a stupid hoax. But now, all she think was that she was going to die. Her nightmares from the past six nights were coming to fruition.
The chip that she had found in the antique shop was still plugged into her netscreen. Azelma didn't possess the words necessary to describe the sheer strangeness of the video that had been put on it. Now, it played on repeat in her mind. The fire, the moon, the wolves, the well, the woman in the mirror...
The glowing ring of light, slowly fading in the distance.