I love horror stories.

I always have. I love the thrill of being scared, of not being able to sleep because of the shadows that surround me. Of waking up in the middle of the night because of the slightest creak. My fascination, like many others, started on the internet. I always thought horror movies were boring and books took too long to read, and that's when I discovered creepypasta. Short stories that kept you up at night and anyone could write. I loved the things. I frequented message boards to read them. But, naturally, I kept craving more. Jeff the Killer and the Rake can only scare you for so long, you know. So I started scouring horror threads for something new, and I came up with an address.

Seemed a little too easy, but hell, what did I have to lose? I clicked the link and it took me to a blank page. Disappointment soon rushed in. But that didn't keep me from digging through the source code. There had to be something more to this site, but the only thing I found was a jumbled mess of unnecessary code, and yet I figured nobody writes that much if it all adds up to a blank page, so I refreshed the page and saw a picture, a picture of me. Just sitting there looking bored, staring at my monitor. It certainly gave me chills, but I didn't think much of it, guess all that code did add up to something. So being who I am, I immediately made a stupid face and refreshed the page again. And what came up made my skin crawl. It was another picture of me, but slightly sadder, not terribly so but like I had just found out I had failed math. I closed the tab and went to sleep, even though I barely could.

I still remember what I dreamed of that day.

I awaken in my house, but there is no one there. This is weird since I always sleep next to my girlfriend. As I am preparing to walk outside I notice a crowd gathering around the house, looking in through the windows. Naturally I call the police, but all I get from my phone is the voice of a woman softly whispering, "Why?" She keeps asking in an ever-lowering voice, fading into cold static. I hang up and turn around to see my girlfriend on the ground. She is horribly disfigured, her face twisted and barely recognizable, her eyes empty and devoid of life, yet terrified, her t-shirt covered in blood, still warm. When I finally break away from her I look up to see a sign in blood on the wall that reads "EMBRACE FEAR", and I'm awoken by a flash of light.

Thank god it was only a dream. I'm still shaking, but I have to head to college, so I pack up and head out, a cold sweat still coating me. “I have to stop scaring myself shitless,” I keep thinking as I drive. I finally get there, take some classes, talk to my friends. Everything is pretty normal. I am taking a particularly boring lecture when I open my binder and notice something slip out of it. Thinking it’s a copy or a page that got loose I bend over to pick it up, only to find it to be glossy paper, the kind used in photos.

Memories rush back in and I start shaking again. I slowly turn it around to see my face, a look of anguish on it, I jump back from my seat and fall to the ground, some people chuckle, and the professor asks me to leave, and leave I do. This has to be a prank, right? Some sick joke pulled on me by one of my friends. After all, I had told them about the site and how freaked out I am, and they can be real assholes sometimes. In any case I wanted to use my free time to get some food, maybe that'd help me relax. I open my bag to get a sandwich I had in there when I come across another piece of paper, another photo. This one depicted me absolutely terrified, like when I was 5 and I was watching 'The Mummy'. I was pale and tense, my eyes shut tight with fearful tears trickling down my face. I choked out a scream.

I ran, looking for my car. Got in and found another picture on the dashboard, threw it out and raced toward my house. I couldn’t move two inches without coming across my face. Pictures were everywhere. On the covers of books people were reading, adorning restaurant windows, on the local newspaper. Each more horribly terrifying than the last, my face twisted with fear in inhuman ways, flames searing it, black holes where there should have been eyes, my skin melting to give way to splintered bone. The sight of my front door is a soothing one, I step out of my car, forgetting to get the keys out and head to the door and who the fuck are all these people just standing in my front yard?! I was finally getting home. I pull my keys out of my pocket and turn the lock, even its sound was familiar, comforting. My door opens and I look down to see black stains on the floor. Footsteps, leading away from my bedroom door.

I take in a mouthful of air, the world stops, I can hear my heart beating, my agitated breathing. I can feel a cold drop of sweat racing across my forehead and onto my nose. Falling toward the ground with a sickening thud that shakes my every bone. The talking outdoors fades to a mumble. Then a low hum. Then complete, absolute, crushing silence. The lights start fading, and I struggle to keep my eyes open. I put my foot forward, barely able to move. It comes down on the old wood, which produces the single loudest, longest creak in history, I get to the door and find something pinned to it with a single red tack.

A Polaroid of me.

Holding a knife.

A sickening smile on my face.