Chapter 3:


Face Me Online

Once I was let into the house, I passed by a blinding mirror-lined hallway, only to come face to face with my face again. Now that I could see my handiwork, the ruddy scratches started to properly ache.

Harrison dug in a cardboard box situated at the far end, pulling out a yellowing magazine that left miniscule clouds of dust in its wake. Even though his eyes were inoperable and his mouth did not move, his vocal chords vibrated and emitted sounds to the tune of coughing, the only sound in the otherwise silent house.

After a moment of carefully flipping dog-eared pages, he tapped his finger on a mostly silver double spread of a room-spanning server, a white-blonde portly young man in a beige suit in the front and a black mass shaped like a female head peering over the back of the silver boxes. "Maiden of the internet. Rumour is that people - normally men in the computer industry - get their faces stolen upon death, the same way mine was, with no real reasoning as to why."

His placeholder face still seemed so serene, even after this explanation. That didn't explain why he expected it though.

"If she's possessed you, then she must've become stronger somehow. I was looking into this ghost because she affected one of my dad's colleagues - the twins' father...she was never this strong."

He turned the page to reveal a stack of sheets, each with a few modern photos of male corpses with the same face as him.

"I tried to hold a seance to commune with her and maybe even get rid of her..."

His nonexistent brows furrowed in worry. "You can see how much I stuffed up." This revelation seemed to exacerbate the emptiness of the silence.

Abruptly, he turned his blank face away from me and ushered me out, with no attempts to be hospitable at all.
The next morning, I sat on a park bench aimlessly, a cough mask over the majority of the facial features I rejected as my own. Brooke was at her job - I'd recently been kicked out of the same job for not giving "proper customer service" - and university hadn't started yet anyway. (Besides, with what had happened to me, I figured it was time for an internet purge for once.)

Just as the midday sun began to bake the bench, two dark haired people my age zoomed past on bikes, one a girl with a ponytail, one a boy with short cropped hair like Harrison's. Both wore white shirts from the local university with jeans, contrasting with their caramel skin. They hit the brakes in front of a nearby tree before whirling back, the girl in front of the boy.

"B-Brooke?" I spluttered, causing her to scream in response.