Umm… hi. I am currently in a bed, inside St. Anne’s Hospital in North London. Dr. Martin kindly allowed me to use his laptop, so I can explain how I got here, and what happened to me.
My name is David Argento, I am 16 years old, and…apparently I am suffering from a mental illness of some kind.
There was only so much I could take in from the doctor’s words in the opposite patient room, since I have a bloody massive headache.
I’ve been given a fair amount of Ibuprofen, but this headache seems permanent. But I don’t care….I absolutely must get this written down at all costs. Anyways, you might be wondering how I got here. Here is my story:
About a four nights ago, I went upstairs to the loft and took my old schoolbooks to the burning pile. I just finished my G.C.S.Es, and like all my friends, hated every single subject I did. Math, History, English – especially English. You name it, I really hated it. So I found the books exactly where I left them a few months back (or dumped, more like) in a corner that was so old, there was enough dust to make a candy floss (cotton-candy).
I scorned the moment I looked at them again, except I knew this would be the last time I’d have to look at them. So I collected them all underneath one arm. Disgusting. I considered changing clothes shortly afterwards.
But then, something caught my eye. I’m not really sure how I noticed it, but I remember being so intrigued by it that I dropped the books on the loft floor and picked it up. It was a red CD-ROM case, about the size of the average book. There were no words of any kind, even when I turned it over on the other side, sod all. I was kind of excited, it looked like a computer game that the previous house owners had left behind. Since I absolutely loved computers at the time, I was interested in giving it a go on my Dell.
But when I opened the case, the disc inside lacked any kind of artistic illustrations, instead just a bland, white colour with some text written on it in black marker pen. The words were: “CHATROOM 98”. I wasn’t exactly pleased when I learned it wasn’t a game, but since someone had actually went through the effort of making a CHATROOM disc, rather than the vast chatrooms available on the internet, I concluded it would be somehow different. That, I got right.
Having kicked the worthless books down the attic ladder, I inserted the disc inside my old laptop. After a brief moment, a red box with no text in it appeared. I wasn’t sure what to make of it at first, but it seemed to linger there for half a minute. Then, the screen went black for a brief moment, and flashed. The words “Welcome to CHATROOM 98” appeared at the top centre of the screen. Chatroom 98? What was the significance of that number? Then, what appeared to be a white text box opened up in the centre. I didn’t know what to type, so I randomly put: “Hello.”
I didn’t expect any kind of response but then I got one. A person by the name of DARWYN CLARKE replied “Good Afternoon.”
There was no possible way that this person was real, it seemed like I was the only possessor of this CHATROOM disc. Then I realized it was one of those Chatbots; a software designed to stimulate an intelligent conversation with whoever talks to it. ICT was the only thing that I was good at.
I still thought it was strange, though. I’d only lived in my current house for 6 years, but I had never encountered that red box in my entire life. I suppose the houses’ previous owners must have owned it. But it’s not like they owned a computer – unless you count the smashed to pieces one that we threw away to the dump when we first arrived. Anyway, I tried to start a conversation, to see to what extent the A.I. had been programmed.
“Lovely weather we’re having,” I wrote. No sooner than three seconds, Mr. Clarke replied, “No, it seems rather miserable today.” I was taken aback. The weather was, more or less, exactly how he put it. I didn’t know either, until I looked out the window, and saw that it was about to rain.
It seemed the books had one more day to live. But I wasn’t too surprised; the Chatbot was probably programmed to say that, and since this is England I live in, it could have been more than likely. I then typed in,
“So what are your favourite movies?” Again, I got a response, “I don’t watch movies. I prefer the theater.” The theater? Was I talking to an old man?
I replied, “How old are you?”
I didn’t care if the bot got offended, it would have to give me an answer eventually. The answer was, “I’ll tell you about myself. I was born in 1867, and grew up with two sisters, whom I hated.” Okay, right, whoever programmed this was clearly having a laugh. I typed back, laughing hysterically as I wrote,
“Well I was born in 2098, with two identical twin brothers who are also aliens from the planet Boogaloo. I am also Jesus.” I wondered what the senile old man would say next; I knew it was a chatbot, but I kept thinking it was a real person for some unexplainable reason. He said, “Really? How droll. Nice to meet you, Mr. Jesus. Have your brothers abducted anyone yet?”
I cracked up again; whoever made this must have done an impressive job. I typed in, “Yes, they are actually alien pedophiles, who prey on human children. You’d better watch out, they also have a fetish for CD-ROMS!”
The next reply was just plain unsettling. Clarke replied, “Well, although I may appear to be a CD-ROM, I was actually a human myself. Once. Until I faced judgement for my transgressions. ”
I didn’t know what the fuck he was saying, but the poignant detail of his description startled me for a second. It felt…real. Too real. And then, to my surprise, he typed another message:
“You don’t understand? Let me make myself plain. My sisters, whom I hated, met with a tragic accident.”
I was starting to feel cold. This was not just a chatbot. This must have been a psycho chatbot, or something. Or it was a big joke. I typed in, to see his reaction: “Do you know what else my brothers have done, lately?”. And then, I was met with the biggest surprise of all. Darwyn Clarke responded again, only this time: I could see his message being typed, like a ticker tape typewriter. “You are an only child, David.”
What the actual fuck? I was seriously getting creeped out now, so I typed in “What the fuck are you?” And the response simply couldn’t have been made by A.I. It seemed too much like a human was actually talking to me.
“LET ME TELL YOU A STORY. DO YOU KNOW WHAT HAPPENED TO YOUR HOUSE’S PREVIOUS OWNERS?”
I sat there like an idiot, staring at the computer, awaiting a response.
“THE SAME THAT HAPPENED TO MY TWO SISTERS. REMEMBER, I DESPISED BOTH OF THEM.”
That was it. I moved the cursor to the top right corner to click the cross button, and end this nightmare. I was relieved. I had only been talking to it for five minutes, but it seemed like two hours. But when I tried to shut down the P.C, the unthinkable happened.
The computer became unresponsive. It went all glitched and fucked up. Worse still, the chatroom opened by itself! I got another message, and by this time I was sure to be hallucinating by now.
“YOU HAVE NOT HEARD EVERYTHING YET.”
I scrambled at the keyboard, I was losing my mind. “Are you fucking with my computer? STOP!!! This is seriously not funny!”
Finally, I think this is where it happened. Darwyn Clarke typed in again, this time in a much slower ticker tape typewriting fashion than last time. I could hear nothing more than my own heartbeat. It intensified more and more, with each passing letter. My face was practically melting with sweat.
As I focused more and more on the letters as they were being typed: the horrified expression on my face would have become so visible, I think I remember seeing it in the reflection of my laptop. The final message that he gave me, which lost me my sanity and ruined my health was: “LOOK BEHIND YOU.”
I remember feeling as if everything around me was slowing down. I really was worried. Part of me knew that there would be something behind, and a smaller part tried to assure me that there was nothing there. I shut my eyes, and clenched my teeth violently together, then shot my head back like a bullet. Nothing. Absolutely nothing. I spat out a weak laughter, and nodded my head in relief, and I felt like everything was safe again. Until I looked back to my computer monitor. I must have seen it the moment I swiveled my chair, but it caught me anyway.
There was a face. A FUCKING FACE of a man. A FUCKING PALE, WHITE MAN, who was grinning at me, on my laptop screen. His hair was blonde, and he seemed to be in his mid-twenties, but his facial expression was the exact opposite of friendly, his eyes were crimson red.
I only saw it for a nanosecond of a nanosecond, but that was all I could take. After that, apparently I screamed violently, and then fell unconscious for 4 hours. That’s what Dr. Martin told me. He’s the guy looking after me at the moment. He really doesn’t know what I’ve been through.
So, here I am now, sitting in a bed at 4:30 A.M, typing this story to the world. Even as I type I still worry that the face will appear once again and scare the shit out of me. I seemed to be suffering from a trauma. My eyes have grown dark purple circles around them, because I have literally not slept at all since the incident. I tried sleeping, but that face… that face stops me from sleeping.
Now that I have written this story, I urge everybody to watch out. If you see a red CD-ROM case, throw it away. Do not open it and do not use it. I am now going to jump out a third story window. I can’t take this anymore. I am fucking scared. I want to die now! If anyone tries to resuscitate me, then fuck you too. And do NOT, I repeat, do NOT go looking for Darwyn Clarke. He may or may not be real, but he can drive you insane.
You have read this message.
DO NOT LOOK FOR DARWYN CLARKE.
IF YOU FIND HIM, YOU WILL LOSE YOUR MIND!