I wiped the sleep from my eyes. The clock across the room glared red, 3:32 AM. Who could have possibly texted this late at night? Reaching across the pillow, I picked up my phone from the end table. Apparently someone liked my face and my dry attempts at humor on Tinder. I opened up the app and waited for it to load. It was then I noticed the faint but specific smell of sulfur.
I thought nothing of it as the light from my phone lit up the room and a gorgeous woman was now staring back at me. I remembered her from a couple days ago, hoping we’d match. Strawberry blonde hair with silver eyes, a dazzling smile and a stunning body to boot. What the hell was she doing matching with me? My average looks coupled with a short bio that read, “can cook minute rice in 58 seconds” couldn’t have been enticing enough to draw in this genetic jackpot.
I sat up in my bed as I flipped through the rest of the photos. She really was stunning. Being far pickier than I should considering how average I am, I honestly could not zero in any flaws on this perfect human. Her pictures were of her either hanging out with friends or in athletic gear on some nature trail. For some reason, the last picture wouldn’t load though. Bummer.
“5’6″, love the gym! My hobbies include a mixture of writing, indie films, cooking, and hiking. I love reading Oscar Wilde.”
I definitely needed to message this girl in the morning. Maybe I could charm her into possibly getting coffee sometime soon —
“Julia sent you a new message!”
It was almost 3:45 AM at this point. I opened the app back up and tapped on Julia’s conversation.
This can’t be a bot can it? Usually they just send you a grammatically incorrect paragraph with some shady looking link and hope you follow it. Julia said hello about eight times before stopping. Wasn’t entirely sure what to make of all this so I decided to message back.
“Hey what’s up?”
Not really much else to say when it’s almost 4am on a Monday night. Without missing a beat she replied back.
“i like u”
Twenty-six-years-old and still can’t spell out “you” in conversation. There’s that flaw I was looking for, but it was only an insignificant blemish on the ruby that was this girl.
“You’re pretty straightforward haha. I like you too!”
This was a pretty weird conversation, especially at this time. I couldn’t shake off feeling that something was off. My phone lit up again.
I had just noticed the scent from earlier had been getting stronger to the point where it was a nuisance. I live alone in a pretty big house in Illinois, more of a rural area. It wasn’t uncommon to have strange smells fill your home from time to time. Before I had a chance to reply, I was being flooded with messages.
Now this was getting really fucking weird. I turned on the lamp next to my bed and swung my feet to the side.
“what do you need?”
A coyote yelped outside. Another one howled. Time ticked away as the clock reached 4:15 AM. No response from Julia. I decided to check her profile again to see if there was anything strange that I hadn’t picked up on earlier. Her photos were all still the same but the bio had been erased. I flicked through her pictures again and the last one finally loaded. It was a picture of a countryside road lit only by moonlight and the photographer was standing right in the middle facing down the road.
I stood up and shut my window. The smell was becoming unbearable. I looked back at the picture when something else caught my eye. Under her name, it said that Julia was only 3 miles away. Earlier I could have sworn it was around 35 miles away. What the fuck is this?
“Julia has sent you a new message!”
“I NEED TO. BE WHOLE.)”
It sounded like what had to be more than four coyotes simultaneously howling and yelping outside. I wouldn’t say I’m one to be scared easily, but I fucking bolted downstairs and locked every door as quickly as I could. I got back to my room and sat on my bed with my phone in my hand. This better be one of my asshole friends playing a stupid joke on me. I went back to her profile.
Every picture was erased. The last picture was now the first followed by another picture of a house in the distance. The third picture was the same house but closer. The fourth was my door. The smell of sulfur was painful at this point as I quickly locked my bedroom door.
It’s 4:59 AM and my doorbell has been slowly ringing for over half an hour.