Thought Catalog

I Accidentally Signed Up For A ‘Scavenger Hunt’ That Was Created For Sociopaths

  • 0
Twenty20 / onlysuperstition

We did scavenger hunts all the time back in high school. Make a superhero costume out of tin foil. Eat a spoonful of hot sauce. Run around the track ten times.

And, of course, the teachers would throw in some philanthropic stuff to make it a learning experience. Donate blood. Plant a tree. Feed a homeless person.

So when I wrote my name on a sign-up sheet hanging from my local bar’s gum stained bulletin board, I thought it would be a repeat of my childhood. That I’d get to run around town, acting like a complete idiot, and maybe help some people in the process.

But that’s not what happened at all.

The sheet asked me to fill out my name, my cell number, and the name of a sponsor. I wasn’t exactly sure what that last part meant, but I scribbled down my sister’s name. If they asked her for money, so what, she owed me two hundred anyway.

I got drunk on fireball that night. Completely forgotten I’d volunteered for some scavenger hunt, let alone when it was set to happen and what the damn thing was called.

It hit me about a week later while I was bored at work, so I decided to pull up a browser on my phone and search for the information I needed. It was called something like Hell Hunt?

No. No, it was The Sinner’s Scavenge. Yeah, that was it.

No official page appeared, but I found a site containing reviews, all of which were negative.

The first one, which had been upvoted thirty times, said:

“They have the perfect thing going. Anyone who loses the hunt dies, along with their sponsor. And anyone who wins is too scared to go to the police because it means they’d have to admit what they’ve done. They’d be in jail for life. Get the death penalty, even.

Please, if you haven’t signed up yet, then don’t. If you can erase your name, do it. But it’s probably too late. They’ve probably found you already.”

I didn’t understand what that meant until I read a little further down. Someone else explained how the mysterious people in charge do their research. They track phones, find addresses, peer through windows into darkened bedrooms.

Of course, I thought that was all a bunch of bullshit. Chalked it up to a hoax, a practical joke, something to scare drunks and druggies. I assumed I’d never hear about it again. That I could forget about it.

And I did. Until I woke up with a red dot on my chest. The sight from a sniper rifle.

The laser hovered over my tank top, above my rapidly beating heart, until my phone beeped and the light jolted toward it, like it was pointing me in its direction.

And then it flashed off, the red fading to black, leaving me in darkness. Leaving me to check my latest text, which said:

“Cross off as many items as you can from the list. If you skip an item, you lose. If you tell anyone why you’re doing what you’re doing, you lose. If you’re unable to complete the entire list in under 24 hours, you lose.

And if you lose, your sponsor dies. And so do you.”

A photograph came attached to the message, containing a handwritten list of six items. The first one appeared in blood red marker, but the rest were blurred out. Impossible to read, so I had no idea of what was to come.

  1. Draw blood from an animal.

Well, that wasn’t going to fucking happen. Unless I could capture one of the rats that scampered down the city streets. Or snatch a bird from its nest.

No. I wouldn’t hurt a bird. I wouldn’t hurt a goddamn fly.

I tossed in my bed, but the light from the sniper rifle hit my chest again. A warning. Tick tock. Get to work.

I only owned one pet, a dog, Hunter, and he was overdue for his nail trimming. I’d wanted to find a new place to bring him, because the lady at the last salon kept cutting too far, sprouting blood.

I had a pair of doggie clippers still in their wrapping, unused. I could use them. I could cut too far. I could make him bleed, just a little, just enough to save my sister.

It would only hurt for a second.

I lured Hunter onto my lap with a baggie of his favorite treats and let him chew while his front paw rested in my palm, ready for his beauty treatment.

He kept calm during all his baths and shots and shavings — as long as my hand rested inside his fur. He trusted me not to hurt him. He knew I wouldn’t let anything bad happen to him.

Before I even lifted the clippers, I could picture him whimpering. Yelping. Tilting his head, wondering if I did it on purpose, if he did something wrong.

No. No fucking way. I refused to hurt my dog.

Without much thought, I swapped the clippers for a pair of scissors, split them open, and rested them against my upper arm.

After a single swipe, a line of my skin faded to white then burst with red, dripping down in dots.

Check Wikipedia. We’re categorized under the kingdom of Animalia. I’m technically an animal. I drew blood from an animal. There you fucking go.

My phone dinged while I was peeling open a bandaid. The message contained another photograph with the second item revealed. I must have checked off the first item, then.

  1. Draw blood from an animal. 
  2. Rip out one of your own teeth.

For one blissful second, I’d been hoping I could find a loophole for each item. If I owned a fake tooth, a crown, then I could tear it right out and move onto item number three.

But none of my teeth were artificial or even loose. My friends all hated me back in middle school, because I was the only one without braces. The perfect smile.

Damn it.

I got on my knees and rummaged beneath my kitchen sink, where I kept a tool kit. Found a pair of pliers. Rinsed them under hot water, as if that would lower my risk of infection.

After locking myself in the bathroom, so Hunter wouldn’t have to see me writhing in pain, blood pouring from between my lips, I stood in front of the mirror, mouth open.

Might as well get it over with. Move quick. Pull on the count of three.

One…

Did I have any other options? If I ran to the police, if I tried to warn them about the hunt, the sniper would see. He would shoot me down before I got anywhere near a station or dialed 911. And then he’d kill Linda.

Two…

I could have my dentist fix the damage during an emergency appointment, but how long would that take? The hunt had to be completed in 24 hours. I had four items left and who knew how long they would last? I couldn’t spare an hour. And I couldn’t risk getting an anesthetic, having my brain too fuzzy to function.

Three…

“Fuck it. Let’s go.”

I thought I’d be able to yank once and be done with it, but all that did was slightly dislodge the tooth. I had to wiggle and yank. Wiggle and yank. Trying hard not to stare into the mirror at the strings of pink hanging from my raw gums.

The blood gushed out, my entire mouth pulsing with sharp pain, even though I’d purposely picked the smallest tooth I could find.

I reached for the gauze on the corner of the sink and stuffed it into the hole, fighting the urge to pass out, and losing.

Fifteen minutes later, I woke up to a new message on my phone:

  1. Draw blood from an animal. 
  2. Rip out one of your own teeth. 
  3. Tie up your sponsor.

Honestly, it could be worse. I could handle that. As long as I didn’t spend too much time thinking about what they’d have me do to her after she was tied up.

So I swallowed four Advils, packed a backpack with rope I had leftover from a fishing trip, and bought a bus ticket into Linda’s town.

I considered how I would break in — bust open her front door or shimmy through a window — and then I realized I could knock. I could treat her like an actual human being.

She answered the door on the ninth knock, still in her pajamas, a yawn on her lips.

“What are you doing here, Donnie? Are you bleeding?”

I could have invited myself inside, whipped up eggs and bacon, and slipped something into her orange juice. I could have placed a rag over he mouth and watched her go limp. But, believe it or not, I didn’t own any roofies or chloroform. Didn’t know where to get them on such short notice, either.

So I showed up with a gun. The same gun our father had gifted me for my eighteenth birthday.

She looked confused when I placed it against her temple. Even more confused when I handed her the rope.

“Tie yourself up,” I said, sounding lispy from the gauze still in my mouth.

“What?”

“I would shoot the ground to show you I’m serious like they do in those Westerns we used to watch but then the neighbors would hear and the cops would show, so that’s not going to happen.”

She half-smiled, like her goofy little brother was telling a joke and it was only a matter of time until I revealed the punchline.

When I didn’t budge, she swatted at my arm, a silent put down the gun.

I cocked it instead. Stepped forward. She stepped back.

“Donnie. What the hell? Do you need money? I have the money I borrowed. More too, if you want it.”

I pushed her back further. Gestured to a chair. Told her to sit. She listened.

I tied lengths of rope to both hands, both ankles, securing them to the chair. While I worked on the knots, she spoke to me like I was a child, a patient in a mental institution, a crazed man with a gun, using a soothing voice meant to stop me from hurting her.

Did she really think I’d hurt her?

My phone went off before I could ask.

  1. Draw blood from an animal. 
  2. Rip out one of your own teeth. 
  3. Tie up your sponsor.
  4. Take naked pictures of your sponsor.

Shitshitshit.

How the hell was I supposed to do that without ruining our relationship? Without scarring her for life? What kind of excuse could I use? I was going to look like a sick fuck. An incestuous nut job. There was no coming back from that.

But I’d take her life over my reputation.

“Linda, listen,” I said. “I’m going to untie you for a second and I need you to…” I ran a hand through my hair. “Can you take off that gown? There’s blood on it. I’ll wash it.”

“What the hell are you on?”

I stood behind her, placed my hands on her shoulders, and slid down the pale purple straps. “I’ll give you something else to change into. I’ll get it from your closet. What do you want?”

She twisted her neck and clamped down on my hand. Not hard enough to draw blood, but hard enough to leave a lasting mark. “A normal fucking brother. Or a restraining order. How about that? Get me out of here. It’s not funny anymore.”

That’s when I realized I’d never get the picture if I untied her. She’d run. Call the cops. Wrestle the gun from my hand and knock me out cold.

As my mind was shuffling through my choices, I thought of earlier. The first task. The scissors against my skin.

Scissors.

She kept a pair in a pencil container on her kitchen table, a few feet from where we were standing. While I sidestepped over to snatch them, she rocked her chair until it fell backward.

Now she was on the floor, on her back, and I left her there. Got on my knees and snipped the cheap fabric, starting at her thighs and working up toward her neck.

“I’ll promise I’ll pay for it,” I said. “I’ll buy you a new one.”

Her screaming turned to crying, the makeup she forgot to wash off the night before running down her cheeks.

She didn’t move a muscle while I worked — but I couldn’t tell if it was because she was afraid of being cut by the blade or if she was stunned, paralyzed, too emotionally disturbed to move.

When I lifted my phone and snapped a photo of her, I don’t think she even noticed the flash. But she heard the ding, her eyebrows furrowing as I checked my final message.

The last two tasks came together:

  1. Draw blood from an animal. 
  2. Rip out one of your own teeth. 
  3. Tie up your sponsor.
  4. Take naked pictures of your sponsor.
  5. Destroy your phone.
  6. Convince your sponsor to kill themselves. Or to kill you.

Like that was actually a choice.

I wondered how many sick fucks forced a loved one to kill themselves to save their own ass. I wondered how they lived with themselves. No wonder the police never heard about the hunt. The only people who survived were selfish cunts.

“Who just texted you?” Linda asked, watching me drop my phone and crunch it beneath my feet. “Did someone make you do this? You can tell me, Don. Tell me.”

With the phone destroyed, no one would know why I did what I did. All the evidence, gone.

I was going to die having my family think of me as a monster. As the type of guy who threatens my sister at gunpoint and then gets her naked.

She had every reason to kill me.

Except, if I handed her the gun and ordered her to do it, she wouldn’t. She’d say I was sick. She’d try to get me help. She’d call a psychiatric hospital and have them transport me somewhere safe.

No matter what I did to her, in her mind, I was still the little brother who played Barbies when all her friends were busy. Who covered for her when she snuck out to parties. Who beat the shit out of the first guy who broke her heart.

She would never kill me, her darling little brother — so I had to make her think I was someone else. That I was no longer the boy she remembered. Or that the boy had never existed in the first place.

So I left the gun on the floor, within her reach even with her wrists tied, and acted like I had no idea it was there.

And I started my speech.

I told her about how I used to sneak into her room to watch her sleep. How I used to masturbate over the thought of her. How I used to steal her bras and underwear. And how, now, I watch little girls on the playground, because they look just like her.

I made her believe I deserved to die. So she didn’t have to.

And for a second, I really thought I succeeded. I thought she would reach for the gun.

Instead, she gave a sad smile and said, “You went to the Alibi Pub? The one my ex works at. Didn’t you?”

“What?”

“You signed up for the hunt, too.”

I tried to talk over her. Tried to cut her off. Don’t tell anyone why you’re doing what you’re doing. Don’t talk about the hunt. Don’t mention the hunt. Remember the rules. 

“Remember those scavenger hunts we used to do when we were kids?” she said. “I signed up for one. I didn’t know what it was. I only crossed off the first item so far. I killed a bluebird. Smashed him with a rock. Is this one of the other tasks? I don’t know if I can do anymore. I don’t want to do any–“

The red dot appeared over her temple for only a second, a split second, before the bullet hit.

And, since she killed herself, since I failed my last task, I knew the dot was coming for me next. TC mark 

Read This

More from Thought Catalog

Thought Catalog Videos