‘Wrong Window’: A horror story for the modern teen

Before I get started, let’s bullshit a little bit. How are you doing? OK, that’s enough.

With summer right around the corner, on a long enough timeline, thoughts drift to idyllic summer campfires, telling scary camp stories. Remember those, from TV? Kids now just don’t get to have that experience. They don’t watch scripted television. They watch hypersexualized Korean cartoons on the Internet, and “meme” at each other.

Sure, you get a little older (like, 19) and you have a bonfire on the beach and do a little underage drinking, and the cops showing up right as you’re about to set the lifeguard chair on fire is arguably more terrifying than any stupid scary story that some stupid teenager tells to his stupid teenager friends. And maybe kids are still doing that. But it’s not quite the same, is it?

Well, I’ve got a horror story that I think this current crop of teens and tweens will really be able to relate to. Of course, they’ve already stopped reading because I hit the 140 character mark in the opener, but that doesn’t matter. Nothing matters.


Wrong Window

“Thanks for taking me out for my birthday dinner, mom and dad!” said little Andy. “I have a feeling 14 is going to be the best year yet!” he said, stupidly not realizing it was going to be terrible no matter what, because of biology.

Andy cheerfully skipped upstairs, dashed into his bedroom, and took out his phone for a moment. It was an iPhone 5, because all kids have latest generation smartphones now. Wait, what am I doinghe thought. I’m at home now, with my family. I should be using my iPad 4. There’s wifi here.

Andy tried to power up his iPad 4, but he was met with a screen that was black as night, emblazoned with a nearly empty battery symbol — empty, save for a sliver of blood red battery juice, indicating a dangerously low charge. “Hmm … nothing’s going right for me ever since after dinner!” he said, reaching for is MacBook Air. “Guess I’ll have to use this!”

As the MacBook Air took what felt like forever to power up, Andy’s thoughts dropped from his brain to his heart. Yup — little Andy was in love, or whatever teens think love is.

He had just seen her at school today. Suzie Unheil’s blonde-browny hair was all long and awesome, and her eyes were blue, or maybe green or brown. Andy wasn’t really sure. Males are statistically more likely to fall victim to color-blindness. But he knew he liked her, in that way that teenagers just know things.

“Ooh! MacBook’s finally running,” Andy narrated to himself. This was a trait he’d picked up as an only child. Sometimes he’d talk to his right index finger. “OK, Tony, let’s get clicking!”

Coming off his birthday dinner high, Andy’s mind and heart were filled with thoughts of hope for his future, a future he was now hoping to share with Suzie. Suzie Unheil.

“Tony, let’s see what Suzie has been up to on Facebook since we got out of school today!” Andy had only known Suzie for a week or two, but that’s more than long enough to officially become someone’s friend on Facebook.

Andy opened up Facebook in his Safari browser, logged in, and slid Tony across the multi-touch pad until the cursor hovered over the blank text field. He clicked.

And he began to type.

S … u … z … i … e … SPACE … U … n …

The text field completed itself. Suzie Unheil. Tony mashed into the “return” key, fingernail first. It hurt Andy. His fingernail had bent backwards a little bit.

“Ow! Tony! Be more careful!” Andy cried, just a little.

Wait, he thought. Where are my search results? Why hasn’t Suzie’s profile come up?

It wasn’t going to come up. That’s not what happens when you … TYPE SOMETHING INTO THE STATUS WINDOW.



“No …” whimpered Andy. “No way … I … I never do this! This isn’t my fault! They put the status window way too close to the search bar!”

Andy rallied Tony to his cause. “Tony, we HAVE to fix this!” But it was too late. Suzie Unheil had been tagged in his status. He knew she got the email notification. He made a mad dash for her profile page, to delete the tagged comment in a last-ditch effort for damage control. He went to click the delete button …

And hit “like” on one of her photos instead. It was a beach photo. Suzie was in a bathing suit. And there, next to the photo, which had become maximized on his MacBook Air (latest generation) screen, were the words “You like this.”

“N- … No … why is this happening to me? Tony, what have you done?”

“Oh …” hissed back a tiny, gravelly, nearly inaudible voice, “don’t you know? I’ve killed us.”

“T-T-T-Tony?” Andy stuttered, like a dummy.

“Ding ding ding ding!” Tony replied, louder this time, but still with a voice that sounded like it was coming out of a life-long smoker’s stoma. “Smart Andy wins the prize!”

“Why would you do this, Tony?!”

Tony’s fingery-stare was unsettling, largely due to his lack of eyes.

Spent a good 10 minutes trying to draw a face on my finger with a ballpoint pen before I remembered that I have Photoshop.

“Why? Why?! You’re a 14-year-old boy, Andy, boiling over with hormones. And I’m a finger on your right hand. I would rather cease to exist than spend one more day stuck to you and your relentlessly awkward, burgeoning sexuality.”

Tony slumped down to the floor, his back against his bed. He sobbed quietly for a while. But he did not sleep.

* * *

The next morning, Andy’s mom opened his door to wake him for school. She was not prepared to find him dangling from his ceiling fan, his neck twisted, his face a sickening blue. But that’s what she found. He had used an old iPhone 4 charger cord. It was the only thing it was good for anymore — they don’t fit in current generation Apple products.

She didn’t cry — not yet. She reached for his right hand. She squeezed his fingers. They were all cold.

All cold, except for his index finger. That one stayed warm until the day they buried him.

Tony got what he wanted. Tony always gets what he wants.

Never trust your mouse-clicking finger. Not on Facebook. Not anywhere.

The end … ?

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5 Responses to ‘Wrong Window’: A horror story for the modern teen

  1. jamaguire says:

    Enjoyed this.

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