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Yashvi Shah

The Deep Web

The Deep Web was getting to be popular these days at my school. The students would always talk about their weird experiences with the web and the crazy things that happened with some people they know.
 
It’s said to be the hidden Internet where things like drugs, murder, human experimentation, hiring a hitman and all that crazy stuff. As if I ever cared. It didn’t interest me.
 
It was Friday night, and I had just finished a video call with one of my friends, Marcus. He was telling me how the Deep Web has all these secrets, tricks and ways to hack specific sites, but I didn’t want to. 
 
I put my laptop in sleep mode before shutting it, placing it carefully beside my night lamp on my bedside table and turn my night lamp off. I grabbed the end of my blanket, letting it cover me as I fall back, my head colliding with the soft pillow. I let out a sigh as I shut my eyes, snuggling into the cozy, warm sheets.
 
Sometimes, I have these nagging thoughts in my brain that urged me to open my laptop, go onto the Deep Web and surf through it just for those government secrets. What was a twenty-two-year-old to be lawyer supposed to look for anyway?
 
Ah, screw it. What’s the worst that can happen? I was only curious.
 
I sit up straight on my bed and grab my laptop, placing it on my lap. After a quick call with Marcus, who guided me on how to access the Deep Web, I begin my search for government secrets. Lucky for me, I had a VPN on, so if I came across something illegal, I wouldn’t get caught.
 
After a little while, I started to get bored, so I figured I’d explore a bit longer.
 
I was clicking around for a bit when a new page loads and opens up. I see a black screen with a bunch of links to different websites and pages.
 
I clicked on the third link, and the first thing I saw was a website that was mostly centred around topics to do with death pictures. I didn’t hang around this site for too long.
 
Not even ten minutes into this Deep Web thing, I felt uneasy.
 
I mean, it’s not like it was supposed to be all unicorns and rainbows, right?
 
I then click on a random link that led me to a page dedicated to watching people through security cameras.
 
These screens were showing me empty patios, stores and change rooms. Others were showing me rooms filled with strange things, like creepy teddy bears and dolls. 
 
I saw a screen with a little girl entering the change room carrying a white dress.
 
I began to search for a way to exit this page. I was definitely not going to watch this.
 
All of a sudden, something caught my eye at the bottom of the screen.
 
Inside a large, black, rectangular box, it wrote: Want to see something cool? In large, creepy red letters. More government secrets, I assumed. After all, I was mostly searching around for that.
 
But, something didn’t feel right.
 
What if it was a prank?
 
For some reason, I chose to ignore my instinct because I found myself hovering the cursor over the box.
 
I felt something twist in my stomach when I clicked it. The feeling of dread and regret arose, staggering over my head, almost breathing down my neck as I felt the shivers down my spine.
 
For a few seconds, the page loaded before showing a large, black screen for another few seconds before live footage began to play. I couldn’t see much except a dimly lit room with white flickering lights.
 
The camera then zoomed in, and I saw three silhouettes of girls sitting on their knees. The room illuminated some more, and I noticed that they were almost half-naked due to their torn up clothing.
 
The girl further on the left of the room, appeared to be twelve years old with short, brown hair. The girl beside her was wearing a black mask that covered her face. The last girl towards the right seemed like she could be a year or two old.
 
A goddamn infant.
 
She was sobbing uncontrollably, whimpering in her tiny voice for someone to stop and let her go home. The girl on the further left was breathing heavily, silent droplets of agony running down her cheeks.
 
My heart and soul shattered into pieces at the sight of them. Everything in me felt super wrong and twisted that I couldn’t watch this any longer.
 
I was about to exit the page when suddenly, I saw two men walking towards the girls from the right. They appeared to be grinning maliciously. One of them was holding a sewing needle and thread.
 
What the heck?
 
The other man went to the girl on the left of the infant wearing some black mask, crouching down onto his knees. He removed her mask, and what I saw next scarred me for life.
 
Her teary, dark eyes looked gloomy and miserable. Her wet strands of hair were sticking onto her face. She had blood-soaked strands of thread that were messily tied and intertwined in her lips, sealing them shut. The dried up blood coloured her chin and dripping and staining her hands and legs. She was visibly shaking with fear.
 
The men laughed sinisterly, and I felt myself clench my jaw, biting back on my teeth. They proceeded to stand by the infant, holding the sewing needle in front of her widening eyes.
 
That was the last straw. I immediately closed all tabs and reopened my browser, clearing any remains of the Deep Web.
 
Ignoring the dizzy feeling in my head, I jolted up from my bed, grabbing my phone from my nightstand with my shaky hands.
 
I immediately dialled the police, and as soon as someone responded, I quickly blurted out,
“There are these girls on this video. Deep Web. They’re trapped and- Jesus, it’s bad.” I sounded like a wreck.
 
“Sir, please close your windows and clear your history.”
 
I felt my mouth turn dry. “I did.”
 
“We’ll be over in fifteen. We’re going to need you to show us exactly where you found the video on our computer, so don’t worry about reopening it from yours.” They informed me before asking for my address. I gave it to her, and they assured me they’d try their best to save those girls.
 
I thanked the officer and practically dragged myself to my bed and sat down when suddenly my phone buzzed. It startled me for a split second before I checked it. It was a message from an unknown number. It read:
 
You’ll pay for this. Shouldn’t have called, boy. Take it back.
 
My breath hitched in my throat as my brain tried connecting the dots. How did this person know my number? How did they know I saw that video?
 
For some reason, my eyes darted to the little camera on my laptop. I didn’t cover it this time.
 
Goddamn it!
 
I nearly jumped when my phone rang. I held it over my ear, waiting for god knows what. After a few moments, a thick, bone-chilling voice spoke up, “Last warning. You shouldn’t have called the cops, Leo. Take it back, or else.”
 
How did he know my name?
 
“Or else what? I’m sticking to my word, you sick bastard!” I screamed into my phone before realization hit me.
 
I’m so, so stupid. I shouldn’t have even said anything.
 
I take deep breaths and sit on my bed, burying my face in my palms.
 
The police will fix this. It will get better.
 
However, it only got worse.
 
***
 
An hour had passed ever since that creepy phone call, and the police hadn’t arrived yet. 
That phone call was the last one because every time I tried calling the cops or anyone, it wouldn’t go through, and the same thing happened with the landline.
 
I gave up trying to contact anyone and tried to sleep, only to continually wake up with the slightest noise or nightmares.
 
***
 
The next day, Marcus came over and told me he` been trying to reach me, but I never answered my phone. His face was dead serious when he informed me that five police officers were shot multiple times last night, around 3 am. They were on their way to my neighbourhood when out of nowhere, two black trucks blocked their paths. Four men in black and masks hopped out with large guns and started firing at the officers until they were all dead.
 
The blood drained from my face. Was it the same men from the video?
 
Marcus kept on asking me what’s going on and that it was okay to tell him that he could help.
I couldn’t tell him what happened. At least not after what those sick men did to the police officers. They might do worse with him if I uttered a single word.
 
I’m going to have to take this down to my grave.
 
***
 
It had been three days ever since that incident, and I was able to call through my phone and landline again. I tried to avoid the Internet as much as possible and vowed never to revisit the Deep Web.
 
Everywhere I go, I’ve been seeing this black van, whether I’m at my University, work, or in my street. I know they’re following me, trying to hold me back from telling anyone about what I saw.
 
It’s not like I was going to, until now. I need to warn people to stay away.
 
This will be the last time I’m ever on the Internet. I’m dropping out of my University for a while and quitting my job. I’ll probably end up moving across the globe or something to stay far, far away from those men.
 
They’re probably tracking my number and can see me through my laptop, but I’m leaving all that behind and even selling my car. I regret this so much. I should’ve just stayed away.
 
Please, please, please don’t go on the Deep Web. I beg you. It’s not worth it. It’ll haunt you for life, and the consequences might follow you for a lifetime.
 
Stay away from the Deep Web.

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