Sometime last year, I got DMed by a dude on Twitter. I’d interacted with him a little, but didn’t really know him. We certainly weren’t close enough to have the kind of joke I assumed he was making, anyway. The DM simply read ‘SEND NUDES’. Of course I replied ‘lol no’ and thought nothing of it. Probably just an off color joke. Went out for to the store, the usual shit. When I came back, I shit you not, I had over 30 DMs from this guy. They all read ‘SEND NUDES’. Okay, I thought, that’s creepy and annoying as shit. Blocked. Didn’t even think about the incident again for a month.
Ever realize that something major has happened in your life that seems innocuous at the time, and kick yourself in retrospect for not acknowledging how groundbreaking the event was when it played out? That was me with this fucking guy, the SEND NUDES lad. A month later, the incident all but forgotten, I went to get my mail. There, in my mailbox, a single piece of white paper with two words printed on it in block capitals. ‘SEND NUDES’. Of course, the memory of the DMs came flooding back. I stood out there looking around, paranoid. It was my usual quiet street on a summer morning. Mr. Large waved to me as he mowed his lawn. I waved back, then went inside unhappily.
Naturally I tried to rationalize the situation. This random guy from Twitter, who incidentally I’d never even heard from since I blocked him, surely couldn’t be the culprit. Had I mentioned the incident to any of my friends? I didn’t think I had. I’d barely even cared about it beyond it messing up my DM notifications. It had hardly been the first time someone had been pushy for nudes, and it’s not like he sent unsolicited peen or something. I went on Twitter and checked my blocklist, trying to find the guy. Either he’d deleted his account or changed his username cos I couldn’t find him.
Did I call the cops like I should’ve done? Of course not. I’m an idiot. I just went about my day, somehow convincing myself the note had been a prank. I got ready, went to work, had a successful shift waitressing (good tips! whoo!) and, after a hard day waiting tables, came back to my car. There was a sheet of paper stuck under the windshield. I pried it loose, assuming it was one of those fliers for the nearby baptist church that I always got lumbered with. You can guess what it was. SEND NUDES. I was beginning to freak out.
Now was the time to call the cops, I figured. But first I needed a shower. I felt grubby, horrible. I’d never dealt with a stalker before, if that was even what this was. I slipped the two notes into a sandwich bag just in case I could preserve evidence, then went upstairs. I stripped off, stepped under the scalding water and let my worries wash away. When I stepped out, skin glistening and hair dripping, I felt better. Then I saw the mirror. Fogged up by the steam from my shower, there was nonetheless a series of clear patches on the glass. Clear patches that formed letters. SEND NUDES.
Until now, I’d still held out hope that this was a prank. But this? This was too far. This guy had been in my home. He’d been in my bathroom while I showered. Why did he even *need* me to send nudes if he’d been watching me shower? And, shit, I hadn’t heard a single sound from the bathroom, and I’d been pretty on edge. Without really thinking, I snatched up a robe and charged through my house, looking for any sign of the intruder. Nothing. The doors were locked. Windows shut. Nobody was here. I went back upstairs, cursing myself when I saw the steam had already faded before I’d taken photographic evidence. I tried to fog up the mirror again. No dice. Nothing appeared. Frustrated and upset, I called my boyfriend to come over. He’d know what to do.
Derek showed up and I went to fetch the notes from the kitchen. They were gone. The sandwich bag I’d placed them in was still there, but of the notes, there was no sign. Derek looked at me pityingly. I knew what he was thinking. I was having some kind of breakdown. There was no way someone had been in my home. I tried to show him the Twitter DMs. Of course, they were gone too. Fuck. I spent most of the night crying, begging Derek to believe me. He said he did. He said that after a good night’s sleep, we could see how I felt about calling the cops in the morning. I knew without the notes, without *any* proof, that I was fighting a losing battle.
Eventually I fell asleep cuddled up against Derek in bed. When I awoke, it was morning, sunlight streaming through the curtains. Derek lay beside me, sleeping like a log. I checked my phone. Eight am. Time for us to get ready for work. I nudged Derek. He didn’t stir. I nudged him again. Nothing. A deep, uneasy feeling bubbled up in the pit of my stomach. I climbed out of bed, pulling the covers off behind me. I turned, to see if Derek had awoken. He lay there, in bed, on his back, eyes staring sightless at the ceiling. A bloody knife lay next to him, on the sheets. And there, carved bloody into the bare flesh of his chest, were two words. SEND NUDES.
So that brings us up to now. I’m on the run. I know the authorities would blame me, say I was mentally ill. I’m not. I’m haunted by those two goddamn words. I see them everywhere. On shop windows, in the newspaper, on the TV. Hidden in the walls, etched in the patterns of brick, the whorls of the wallpaper, the words forming in sheets of rain or clouds in the sky. And I’m not the only one. I’ve found others like me, all around the world, who are being pursued by this… thing, whatever it is. They say that once you start seeing them, it’s the beginning of the end. First it takes everyone you love. Then it takes your sanity. Then it takes you. Something so silly and innocuous being used to cause such harm. And from our research, we can tell it’s spreading. So watch out. If you see those words, they might not be so harmless after all. You’ll laugh, you’ll dismiss them, but one day, they’ll come back to haunt you.
Credit: Olivia White