It was supposed to be a game. Like Sara Is Missing. I played that one with my boyfriend, on his Android, back in fall.
When the app loaded, a fake cell phone screen popped up, filled with photographs and text messages and emails. You were supposed to pretend like you found a random cellphone on the ground, Sara’s cellphone, and had to figure out what happened to her. Had to look through her photos and text her friends for clues about her kidnapping. It was interactive. Immersive. Pretty damn entertaining.
By the end of the game, the beautiful Asian actress that played Sara either died. Or she didn’t. Depending on your choices.
Last month, when I found another app called Amy Is Dying, I thought it was from the same company. That it was just the iPhone version. That I would be bargaining with the life of a fictional character. An actress.
The woman in this game was white. In her late twenties. Red hair. Bright green eyes and ghost-white teeth. When I first opened the app, I remember thinking that they should’ve gotten someone more realistic.
The game officially begun after I agreed to let the app track my location (at first I declined, but the game wouldn’t let me play until I gave in and agreed). Once I did, the fake phone screen lit up with notifications, all from the same person. The name read ‘unknown,’ but I knew it was her kidnapper. I could tell by the photographs they sent – of the pretty white girl tied to a table with a towel stuffed in between her swollen lips.
The game let me choose between several responses, just like the last game, the harmless game. I had the option of texting back: (1) What are you doing to her!? (2) Who the hell is this? (3) Send me another pic.
I didn’t think twice about choosing the last option. It was more fun to play as an asshole. Besides, I was planning on playing though a second time, and that time I could play the nice guy. It was a game. I could restart if I wanted. It was supposed to be a fucking game.
Another picture came through the phone. This time, it was a close-up on her face. Her eyes were as puffy as her lips. Half of her face was bruised, some spots yellow and some purple. They must’ve had a damn good make-up artist. I made a few crappy films back in college and our fake blood and bruises looked nothing like that. Must not have been an indie game.
“What do you want me to do to her next?” the kidnapper sent, along with another picture. This one showed a metal table covered in knives, some big, some small, some rusted and bent.
Options: (1) Leave her alone, you psycho! (2) Shove one of those knives down your own fucking throat. (3) Slice her ear off.
Again, I chose the asshole option. The interesting option. And I waited – so long I wondered if the game froze – until finally a video came through.
The woman’s whimpering rose to muffled screaming as a gloved hand reached out with the rusted knife. Pushed back her pretty hair, damp at the roots with blood. That hand dug into her ear, slicing off a chunk, taking a golden hoop and an industrial bar along with it. She was still squealing as the hand picked up the skin and flipped it back and forth in front of the phone camera, like he was a magician showing off a card.
Maybe I should have been disgusted. Immediately deleted the app. But NCIS and The Walking Dead and Criminal Minds had desensitized me. And it was a game. Smoke and mirrors. If anything, I wanted to watch it again.
I sound like an idiot now, but I was impressed by how realistic it looked. Some movies had worse special effects. I wondered how big the publisher’s budget was. I was tempted to look back at the app page to check which company had created it, but I told myself I’d do it later. Once the game was over.
Over the course of the next hour (God, I can’t believe it was that long), I kept choosing the asshole option. I made the gloved man rip off half of her fingernails. Slice her face. Splash her stomach with battery acid. There was a part where I could’ve had the kidnapper rip off her dress, but it was the only time I picked the ‘good guy’ option. I didn’t want to see that. Not even with a prerecorded actress.
When I reached the last question, it asked me how he should kill her. Options: (1) Don’t you dare. I’m going to get you arrested, you sick fuck. (2) Make it fast and painless. Please. (3) Shove a knife into her heart and twist.
That’s how she died. The knife dug into her chest, dull and rusted, but apparently still sharp enough to get the job done. The blood was everywhere. On her clothes. On her skin. In her hair. Everywhere.
I didn’t even hear the lock being picked, the door being pushed open, because I was paying attention to the screen. The last thing it said, instead of GAME OVER, was WHAT IF I TOLD YOU THIS WAS ALL REAL?
I was considering what that could mean when the towel clamped over my mouth. Must’ve been soaked in chloroform. The only other thing I saw before passing out was a pair of gloved hands, a little smaller than the pair in the videos, but with the same logo on the back.
I don’t know who did it. But I do know that the next time someone opens the app, the next time someone plays the game, they won’t see a beautiful girl with red hair and green eyes.
They’ll see me.