I often like to view creepy things on the internet. I don’t totally know why, I’ve just always been intrigued by things that are just…off. Any media is fine to take in the content. Stories, movies, videos, audio clips, video games, whatever. I just want to be unnerved. I work third shift, so my sleep schedule is all messed up. I sleep during the day and work at night. I get two days off a week, though, and always in a row. I could use this time to have some semblance of a normal life, but I’d rather not have to readjust my sleep schedule once work starts again, so I just stay up all night and sleep during the day.
So, browsing the internet on one of those days off I came to a thread which had a bunch of links on it. Each comment was just a link. Some of them led to websites about unexplained mysteries, some were streams of horror movies, and others were of accounts of paranormal events which were supposedly true. Then I saw one that was none of the above. I don’t remember what the link was; it was just random letters and numbers. It was nonsense. I clicked on it, and it took me to a single page with a single picture, and nothing to click on. It auto fullscreened, and refreshed at random intervals anywhere between, roughly, two and ten seconds. There was text on the top of the picture which read, “Xan Iou waI:t X to dIe/?X ”
Creepy. I liked this site already. The picture showed a painting on the wall of a nondescript forest scene. There was a small TV screen centered at the bottom of the picture. An old CRT. On top of the TV was an older-looking analog clock with a wood frame and fancy hands. The site continued to refresh but the picture never changed. Out of sheer curiosity, I didn’t leave the page. I kept the tab open, and checked back every minute or two. Still no change.
After about ten minutes I got tired of missing the refreshes. Maybe it was changing drastically, but only once every minute or something, and I was completely missing it. So, I closed all other tabs to make sure I wouldn’t be tempted to leave. I was staring at that picture for what seemed to be an hour. I checked my phone. It had been twenty-six minutes. I guess time goes slowly when you’re just staring at a still image online.
I can’t say what it was, or when it was, but at some point I noticed that it wasn’t just a still image. Well, it was, but the image was changing. The clock, when I first pulled up the page, read something close to 4:15. Now it was showing 4:56. The clock had been changing the entire time. I watched it for a full minute, and somewhere among the refreshes I saw the minute hand change to 57. The time on the clock didn’t reflect the real time.
Still, though, this was dedication. Someone had to take a picture once per minute for an hour, or at least 45 minutes, and then have it change every minute. I kept watching it until it showed 5:00. I expected it to shift back to 4:00, but it just went to 5:01. That’s even more impressive. Maybe it went for a full twelve hours. Someone needs a job.
Anyway, now I was hooked. I had to see if it had the full range of times. Now that I knew I didn’t have to intently stare at the picture anymore, I was able to shift my focus to the text. It definitely seemed strange. I realized quickly that it was a code of sorts, and it said XIIXIX. I thought about it for a while, but then realized the colon in the phrase. XII:XIX. 12:19. I guessed I had to wait til 12:19 to see what was going to happen; what was so worth all this work.
The next few hours were boring. I’d check it every so often and see no change. Once I thought I saw something in the painting, but I’m pretty sure that was just my imagination, and my mind wanting to see something. I set all of my clocks in my house to the time on this site so I’d know where it was even when I wasn’t at the computer.
12 o’clock came and I was glued to my computer. No getting up. No other tabs. I was just staring intently, watching the hands on the clock refresh, minute after minute. 12:18. Refresh. Refresh. Refresh. I was certain that this minute had actually taken four or five minutes to transpire. Finally, 12:19. Nothing. No change in the image. No change to the site.
That was disappointing. I figured I’d at least get a message on the site, or a different picture or something. Maybe that was the prank. Nothing. The guy who made this would lure people in, give them a simple puzzle to solve just to pique their intrigue, and then disappoint them greatly. Bravo, I thought to myself. Or brava, I quickly corrected. I left the website and went back to my day.
I couldn’t get the site out of my head, though. Not even an hour after I left, I had convinced myself that I should go back to the site. Ctrl + Shift + T. After all, there are two 12:19s in a day, aren’t there? The clock now said 12:48. I looked over at the clock on my desk and it also said 12:48. The creator must have kept it synced up with their local time or something.
I had a nearly twelve hour wait ahead of me now. I could have stayed up all night (night for me, day for most normal people), but I didn’t want to drive myself crazy, so I went to sleep. I didn’t sleep well, or for very long, but then again I rarely do. I checked the clock on the desk, which was still set to the website time, and it said 8:52. Only a little over three hours of a wait from here. I checked the site, and still no change in the image. I did things around the house and online to kill the next few hours. As soon as the clock was near 12:00, though, I was once again seated firmly in front of my computer screen. The next eighteen minutes were agonizing. The last minute was even worse. The hands of the clock once again struck 12:19, and once again, nothing happened. I was distraught. I had invested a lot of time into this. The minute wasn’t over, though, so I continued to watch.
I then heard a click. Quiet, but still audible. After that, I noticed that the webpage wasn’t constantly refreshing anymore. The screen on the TV began to brighten. Finally! What I had waited for was happening! As the screen on the TV brightened, I began to be able to make out an image. It was small, because the TV screen on my monitor was only about two inches wide, but I could still clearly see that they were showing woods. Maybe it was the forest in the picture. The camera was bobbing up and down as grass and leaves passed by. It must have been someone filming themselves walking. The camera was kept pointed at the ground for the first minute or so, but then slowly started to point more horizontally. I could see that they were coming up on a yard. Some houses flashed quickly on the edges of the screen. There was some talking in another language, I couldn’t say what the language was, and then clicks and clunks like they were dealing with equipment. The camera made larger movements than before. I realized, as the sounds went away, and the image stabilized dramatically, that they had been setting it up on a tripod. Once they got it set up, I heard a little more talking, and then the camera made one final turn. During the turn I could see that it was set up just along the woods. The camera finally stopped shaking, and there was a house centered within the frame. As small as it was, I could tell it was my house.
I jumped up from my desk chair, but kept my eyes fixed on the screen. The men abandoned their camera and walked up to the house – walked up to my house. They stood at the door for what was probably 20 seconds, but it seemed like five minutes. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know if there was anything to do. They knocked on the door. I heard it faintly through my speakers, but it wasn’t at the door.
Not hearing it within my house calmed me down enough to check the door. Nobody was there. Nobody was in the yard, but I couldn’t make anything out past a couple hundred feet. It was dark out, and the moon wasn’t very bright. I closed and locked the door, and ran back up to the computer. The screen was still displaying these two men standing at the door. They knocked again, but this time harder.
I watched as the door opened. A man answered it. I couldn’t make him out. I was half expecting it to be me. I was relieved, though, to see that it wasn’t. I have brown hair, the man on the screen had red hair. One of the men gestures something to him, and the red-haired man begins to close the door. At this point the other man shoves the door open again, pulls a gun from his belt, and shoots the man in the head.
I felt my face go pale and my jaw fall open. My vision started to go black, but I forced myself to keep my composure. The two men ran from the door and toward the camera. In the small TV screen on my monitor, and in the blur of motion, I could still see that both men were smiling widely. They grabbed the camera, not bothering to take it off of the tripod, and ran into the woods again. The camera swiveled on the tripod and showed one of the men’s faces, but quite blurrily. He looked at the camera, reached over toward it with his other hand, and the screen of the TV went blank.
The page refreshed again, but only once, and the clock still read 12:19.
I exited out of my browser, and even shut down my computer. I ran to the door one last time to see if I could see anything. Once again, there was nobody there.
To this day I have no clue what actually took place. I haven’t had the nerve to revisit that website, or ask anybody what happened to the people who lived here before I did. And I’m not sure I ever will.