Logan wasn’t a great student, but that fact never really seemed to bother him. He wasn’t good at any traditional sports either, and at 14, he was still too young to have had any real time to develop a sense of humor. What Logan WAS good at was Call of Duty. Of course, he was still in middle school and didn’t have a job or any bills to pay, meaning he probably had a lot more free time to devote to the game than most. But it was more than that. When it came to video games, Logan had always naturally excelled.
Back before his older brother Michael had gone off to Afghanistan and died when his Humvee was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade, Mikey used to con his friends by betting they couldn’t beat the then-nine year-old Logan in a 1-v-1 match of Halo. Logan would let them pick the map and set whatever variables they wanted…launchers only, double health, unlimited sticky grenades. It didn’t matter. Logan always beat them.
It was Michael who first introduced his little brother to Call of Duty and these days, Logan was a top-tier player. Ranked third in the Under-17 division, and those rankings were worldwide. Unfortunately, Logan’s “l33t skrillz” and pubescent voice caused a lot of older players to lash out at him.
As upsetting as it is to admit any cliché, the Call of Duty community isn’t exactly known for its level-headed sensibilities and discovering they had been bested by “a squeaker” was usually too much for the players ranked at Logan’s level to take in stride. Obscenities and vulgar threats were lobbed his way on a daily basis. Though to Logan’s 14 year-old ego, they might as well have been giving him a standing ovation.
That is until “XxxtHeFaCeSiTtErxxX” sent a private message to Logan’s XBox Live account one evening after a particularly heated match. The Face Sitter’s message contained an audio recording of what sounded like a grown man screaming, “You little shit! You’re gonna teabag me?! I’ll summon a demon to eat your fucking soul!”
Logan had become so desensitized to receiving these kinds of threats, he really didn’t think much of the message until later that night when the whispering started. He was in his bed and was about to fall asleep when he heard what sounded like a person quietly calling out his name.
The TV in his bedroom was still on and Logan assumed the movie he had been watching was the source of the sound. Without opening his eyes, he managed to grab the remote from his nightstand and switch off the TV.
The voice was coming from under his bed. It seemed to be coming from deep beneath him, as if the cluttered stretch of floorboard below his bedframe had somehow been replaced by a cavernous void. And somewhere within that void, a man was softly calling out Logan’s name. He was calling out Logan’s name because he was coming for him.
Logan realized all of this in the span of about two seconds, which was the same amount of time that it took for the man to whisper Logan’s name once more. And this time, he sounded a lot closer.
When he was little, Logan never had much of a problem with the dark or sleeping alone. He was something of an anomaly in this respect. That’s why, when Logan came barreling through his mother’s bedroom door that night at 1AM looking terrified, she assumed someone must have broken into the house.
Logan’s mom shot up into a sitting position.
“What?! What is it?!” she shouted.
Logan was still staring back through the open bedroom door, gazing into the darkened hallway as he exhaled.
“Nothing, sorry… I had a bad dream.”
“Damn it, Logan, you know I got a double tomorrow…” His mother let out a weary sigh and lifted the end of the comforter. “If you keep me up, I’m kicking you out,” she said.
Logan climbed into her bed and spent the rest of that night pretending to sleep, his eyes glued to the bedroom door. The next day, he googled certain keywords while researching how to get rid of a demon and this eventually led him to contact me.
I should disclose that I actually knew who Logan was before he emailed me because he belonged to a professional-level CoD clan that was based in New Orleans and I was subscribed to their YouTube channel. I was subscribed to their channel because I also play Call of Duty. Not as much as Logan (and I don’t take it nearly as seriously), but I do waste more time watching videos about it than a grown man probably should.
Anyway that’s why, even though Logan’s story had come with an extra-large pair of crazy pants, I was intrigued enough to follow up on it. This wasn’t the first time I had been asked to investigate what essentially amounted to a haunted house but usually when I do, 99 percent of the time what happens isn’t very interesting.
My laser thermometer might detect a few cold spots or the EMF app on my smartphone will jump around a bit and maybe I’ll catch a weird visual artifact on video, but it’s rarely much more than that. This time, however, was no bullshit.
I arrived at Logan’s house at about 7:00PM, expecting to be greeted by concerned parents wanting to know what kind of guy made plans to hang out with a boy half his age that he met over the internet (and rightfully so), but it was Logan himself who answered the door.
“Hey, are your folks home?” I asked, not wanting to actually enter before I knew for sure. I had seen enough Dateline and didn’t want to accidently walk into a Chris Hanson segment.
“Yeah,” Logan said with a nod and then pointed a thumb back over his shoulder. “My mom’s laying down in her room. She says if you’re hungry, we got lots of cereal and Eggo waffles, but there’s no butter, so you might not want the waffles.”
“I ate before I left. Thank you, though,” I responded and slowly took a step inside the house. I was still afraid to go much further than that, but I did move aside to let Logan close the door. “So, what does your mom think of your whole…situation?”
Logan glanced at the hallway leading off from the dimly-lit den.
“I tried to explain it to her but she’s been pretty distracted with work and stuff,” he said.
“Does she know you invited a complete stranger here to film you while you sleep?”
“I told her who you were. Like three times but she never said anything so whatever. I read some of your stories. I like ‘em. They’re pretty messed up, but you don’t seem like the kind of guy who would molest me.”
“That’s good to know.”
“Besides if you try anything, I’ll just zap you with this,” Logan said as he held up a taser.
“Is that a fucking taser?”
“Yeah, my dad’s friend is a cop.”
“Clearly not a very good one,” I joked.
“I also got a bunch of ninja stars and Airsoft guns, but my mom says we have to go outside if we’re gonna mess around with those.”
“Nah. I left my ninja stars at home and those are the ones I trained on. It wouldn’t feel right.”
Logan shrugged. “Your loss,” he said.
He led me into his bedroom, which was larger than the one I’d had at that age and the massive flatscreen mounted to the wall across from his bed was bigger than the TV currently in my living room. There was something almost surreal about the well-lit bedroom with its quality trappings which stood in direct contrast to the rest of the house’s ratty furnishings and gloomy atmosphere.
As if he were reading my thoughts, Logan made a sweeping gesture at the room and said, “My dad’s kind of loaded, but his new wife is a bitch and she hates me, so he did all of this when he made me move back in with my mom so he wouldn’t have to feel guilty.”
There were so many potential landmines of awkward in his statement, I wasn’t exactly sure how to respond, so I simply nodded and started to unpack my equipment which consisted of my laptop, an analog tape-recorder, and two GoPro cameras. I set up the cameras so that one was facing the top of the bed and the other was aimed at the space beneath it.
Logan had already started up his XBox and dug out a second controller by the time I was done with my setup. He asked if I wanted to play a round of Zombies and I said sure, but I wasn’t familiar with any of the new maps at that point and Logan eventually started to make fun of how bad I was at the game. Then I made fun of him for never having sexually gratified a woman and that seemed to shut him up.
After Logan got sick of carrying me in Zombies, we switched to Multiplayer and took turns playing that until about midnight when I finished a round and started to hand the controller to Logan, only to realize he was no longer sitting next to me. I glanced over at his bed and saw Logan sprawled out on top of the covers, sound asleep and quietly snoring.
I turned off the overhead light and then spent the next two hours or so reading on my phone while I sat there in the dark, listening for any strange voices that might be coming from under Logan’s bed. Eventually, I nodded off and woke up just before dawn with a painful knot in my back from sleeping while sitting up.
Logan was still snoring away, so I quietly gathered my equipment and left. When I got home, I went back to sleep for a few hours and then woke up and answered some emails. I was about to send one to Logan when I realized I had yet to actually review last night’s footage. That’s when shit started to go all David Lynch on me.
I watched the footage from the camera facing the top of the bed first because it was positioned at a wider angle and you could see me and Logan in the shot. I had intended on fast-forwarding to the part where I fell asleep, but it quickly became apparent that the footage I was seeing wasn’t lining up with my memory of the night before.
I rewound to where things first started to look weird and watched as I and Logan stood up and began to scream at the ceiling. There was a loud hissing sound, followed by a loud POP as the audio cut out and the rest of the video was completely silent, which made everything that happened next seem that much more surreal.
Suddenly, we both stopped screaming and Logan walked off camera as I got down on my knees and began to punch the hardwood floor. I glanced down at my hand, which I suddenly realized was quite sore, and finally noticed the tiny cuts lining each of my knuckles. I watched myself continue to punch Logan’s bedroom floor for almost a minute before a rail-thin woman with short blond hair suddenly crawled into frame.
I recognized her as Logan’s mom from when I had glimpsed her walking back from the kitchen earlier that night. She looked different now. There was something wrong with her eyes. The pupils were so dilated that her corneas looked black and she was baring her teeth at me.
Just then, Logan reentered the shot and slapped his mother across the face. She cowered as the blow hit her and then slinked out of view like a scolded dog. Logan, now looking excited, said something to me and gestured to follow as he got down on his stomach and started to crawl beneath his bed.
From what I could tell, the footage on the camera looking beneath Logan’s bed lined up with everything on the other angle. I fast-forwarded to where Logan slid beneath the bed, but the space below was too dark to see anything, even from this camera. Logan seemed to completely vanish from view as soon as he was underneath it. I watched myself do the same as I followed him beneath the bed and for the next four hours or so, that’s where we stayed.
I fast forwarded to when Logan and I finally reemerged, just before dawn. We were both laughing and I had a patch of blood on my arm that turned out to be a bite-mark. I had it looked at by a veterinarian and, based on the amount and size of the teeth, he was able to rule out human as the source, but couldn’t tell me much more than that.
I resumed the first video and watched Logan climb into his bed and close his eyes as I dropped down into the chair in front of the flatscreen and did the same. A beat later, I “woke up” and stood. I stretched and started to collect my stuff, just as I had remembered doing.
Only at the time I hadn’t noticed Logan’s mother standing in the far corner of the room, almost completely obscured by darkness except for her face and her wide unblinking eyes, which were fixed on me as I approached the camera and switched it off.
I threw a glance back over my shoulder, reflexively scanning the corners of my own bedroom and finding them free of frail blond women. This didn’t do much to ease the mounting sense of dread that compelled me to reach for my phone and dial Logan’s number as I hurried out to my car. There was no ring; the call went immediately to voicemail.
“Logan, it’s Joel. The dude from the internet. You need to get out of your house right now. I’m serious. Call me back and I’ll explain everything. I think it’s in your mom,” I said and then hung up, so flustered by this point that I hadn’t even realize how suggestive that last line sounded.
I was still clutching my cell when it lit up a moment later and I looked down to see Logan’s name on the screen. I quickly accepted the call.
“Hey man, I’m on my way over there,” I shouted.
Logan cut me off, his voice sounding unnaturally calm. “There’s no need. We’re fine,” he said.
Logan held his mouth close to the receiver. “Pleasehelpme!” he whispered.
It took me a beat to process what he had just said. “I’m on my way,” I said.
With that, I hung up and floored the gas. I arrived at Logan’s at least a half hour after sundown, and yet the lights were off when I pulled up to the house. The feeling of intense dread I had been managing to suppress up to this point intensified until it felt like a caged animal was gnawing at the lining of my stomach.
Don’t go in there, a tiny voice pleaded inside my head. This was one that I didn’t hear from very often — my voice of reason. Please? You know I don’t ask for much but seriously? What do you have to gain from going inside that house? You know that kid is as good as dead. Peace of mind is for fucking suckers.
True as that may be, I told Logan I would help him and I had to at least try. I preemptively opened the flashlight app on my phone and slowly exited my car. As soon as I stepped foot outside, I noticed something was off, but I couldn’t pinpoint exactly what.
Logan’s house wasn’t in a bad neighborhood, but it looked like it belonged in one. I didn’t recall the peeling white one-story looking QUITE so ratty the day before, but then again, my memory hadn’t exactly been the most reliable as of late, so I tried my best to shrug it off and began to approach the front door.
I knocked and the door, which hadn’t been completely shut, slowly creaked open as I rapped my fist against it. The caged animal resumed gnawing at my stomach as the voice started up again.
Unlocked front door that slowly swings open as you knock on it? Doesn’t that happen in that film? What’s it called? Oh yeah, EVERY FUCKING HORROR MOVIE EVER! Seriously, man, take a hint!
I leaned in through the doorway and shouted into the darkness.
I waited a full and very tense 10 seconds for his response and when it didn’t come, I waited a full 10 more. Still nothing. I slowly stepped through the doorway and finally entered the house as I continued shouting.
“Logan, man, it’s Joel! Are you okay?! Is your mom here?!”
As soon as the question was out of my mouth, I heard movement to my left and quickly swiveled to scan the adjacent room with my phone’s camera-light. The room was positioned between the den and the kitchen and was probably intended as a dining area, though it’s only furnishings at the moment were several large cardboard boxes positioned so that they concealed one corner of the room.
“Who’s there?” I shouted, aiming my light at the box-fort. Familiar music began to blare from somewhere behind me and I jumped. Someone in Logan’s bedroom started up Call of Duty and what I was hearing were the opening notes of its multiplayer menu screen.
I turned and slowly made my way down the hall to Logan’s room. The door was sitting slightly ajar and I peeked inside. The wall-mounted flatscreen was the room’s only source of light, but there was no one seated in front of it. I placed a hand on the door and slowly pushed it open until I spotted Logan’s limp body sticking out from under his bed.
At least I assumed it was Logan. Everything from the shoulders up was hidden beneath the bed frame. I hurried into the room and knelt down beside him as I shoved the bed over, revealing Logan’s pale bloated face. The boy’s eyes were wide and lifeless.
It was all just so…fucking needless. Some asshat gets beat by a kid in a video game and he figures out a way to summon a demon to kill the kid and for what? Are there really people out there that detached from humanity? Are there people THAT cruel?
The flatscreen suddenly switched off and the room was enveloped in darkness. Luckily, I still had my phone-light on and wasn’t at a total loss. I aimed the light down at Logan just in time to see him grin at me, revealing a mouthful of needle-tipped fangs.
I tried to pull away as I felt Logan wrap his icy fingers around my wrist and my phone flew out of my hand, sending my only source of light sailing across the room. I yanked free of Logan’s grasp as my phone clattered to the floor a few feet away. The flashlight app switched to a slow strobe as it struck the ground, which made everything that happened next look like it was taking place inside one of those old Nickelodeon movie players.
I turned and started to stand, but Logan was too quick. I heard a shuffling behind me and suddenly his arms wrapped themselves around my throat. His weight drove me back to the ground as the possessed child hissed in my ear. I struck my shoulder against his dresser as I was crashing to the floor and something that had been resting on top of it clattered to the ground inches from my head.
I started to try and stand, hoping I could shove Logan off of me, when a jagged torrent of pain ripped through my body. I turned to see Logan biting into my shoulder. I let out a painful scream and reflexively glanced around, scanning my surroundings for some kind of weapon, when I finally noticed what I had knocked off of Logan’s dresser.
I jammed the taser into Logan’s face and pulled the trigger. Quick tip: the human body is a great conductor of electricity. Meaning if someone is say biting into your shoulder and you shock them with a taser, it’s going to shock you as well.
The charge of electricity made us both convulse and I released the trigger. Logan, stunned from the taser, stopped biting me. I took this opportunity to throw him off of me and I zapped him again. I snatched my phone from the ground as I bolted out of the room.
The flashlight app was still set to strobe, which was a bit disorienting, but at that moment, I was too focused on trying to get out of that godforsaken house alive to worry about fixing it. I sprinted down the hallway and back into the den. As I neared the open front door, I heard what sounded like cardboard scraping against the floor of the adjacent room.
Logan’s mom emerged from the darkness with her fingers curled into claws but I had been waiting for something to pop out at me as I approached the exit (a reflex of the trade, I guess), and I punched her square in the face as she lunged at me. The blow sent Logan’s mom stumbling back and her own momentum drove her to the floor as I hurried out of the house thinking:
Not today, bitch!
And that’s pretty much where the story ends. It took me a while to get over this one for a number of reasons, but mainly because of how senseless it all was. If I were a lesser man who believed in things like vengeance, maybe I would’ve found a way to back-trace the Face Sitter’s Xbox LIVE account and get his home address. I would’ve staked out his house and followed him to work a few times, figured out his routine.
Then I would’ve waited for him to be vulnerable, say one night after he worked the late shift, and I would’ve preemptively sabotaged his car so that it gave out on him while driving home. I would’ve waited for him to pop the hood and then I would’ve pulled over behind him and gotten out.
He would’ve been confused as he first saw me approaching, Logan’s taser in my hand. After shocking the Face Sitter into unconsciousness, I would’ve injected him with enough sodium pentothal to keep him asleep for the next phase of my plan, which started with a long drive.
When he did finally wake back up, the Face Sitter would’ve found himself half shoved under Logan’s bed, immobilized by the handcuffs now binding his wrists and ankles. He would’ve heard me moving around and screamed something stupid like, “Why?! Why are you doing this?! Please! WHY?!”
I would’ve turned and exited the room as the Face Sitter was suddenly pulled beneath the bed and I would’ve smiled as I heard him emit a horrified scream from what sounded like somewhere deep beneath the floor. Of course, none of this would bring Logan back or undo what had happened but for what it’s worth, that night I would’ve slept like a baby.
Just to be clear, though, we’re speaking hypothetically here. For the record, I do not condone kidnapping or vigilante justice of any kind and did not actually do any of the things mentioned above.
And even if I did, good luck proving a word of it.