Previously: The Chained Oak Of Alton Towers.
(CW: Homicide, suicide.)
Type: EV (Electronic Virus).
Period/location of origin: Late 1990s; Japan; the internet.
Appearance: Subject appears to be a small pop-up banner or advertisement of the variety commonly encountered on the internet. However, the pop-up does not actually advertise anything. Rather, it asks targets a single, unfinished question: “Do you like…?”
The pop-up is red in color and features black text; additionally, when it appears, it is accompanied by a high-pitched voice reading the featured text aloud. Due to subject’s location of origin, the text is typically Japanese and therefore presented as a combination of Hiragana, Katakana, Kanji characters. Subject is referred to in Japanese as 赤い部屋 (phonetically, “Akai heya”).
It is unknown whether subject may appear in countries other than Japan.
Modus operandi: Subject will appear seemingly at random to targets browsing the internet. (Note: It is unknow precisely how subject identifies targets.) Should target attempt to close subject upon encountering it, subject will pop up again immediately. Each time subject reappears, it will display more and more of its initially unfinished question. Should target persist in attempting to close subject, subject will eventually complete the question: “Do you like the Red Room?”
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At this point, one of several things may occur:
According to one account, a crack or fissure will somehow appear in subject, widening dramatically over a short period of time. The crack will soon break entirely, at which point target immediately expires.
According to another account, target’s computer screen will fill with a window with a red background displaying a long list of names in black text. Target will then sense an additional present behind them. They will later be found deceased in their home. The walls of the room in which they are discovered will be painted red with blood.
According to a third account, target will see the list of names described by the previous account; however, should target close out of this window, target’s computer will begin malfunctioning repeatedly. First, the screen displaying a dialogue window stating, “Your computer is about to have an error.” Moments later, a second window will appear with the message, “An error has occurred.” Attempting to X out of the “An error has occurred” window will fail to close the window, while clicking “OK” causes the window to replicate with growing speed. Subject will eventually return, at which point target expires.
According to yet another account, it remains unknown precisely what happens next. Targets will simply fail to appear at school, work, or a similar obligation and will later be found in the manner described in the previous account.
In all cases, it is unclear how targets expire. According to some accounts, it may be the work of a third party; however, according to others, targets die by suicide. Regardless as to the precise method, however, the outcome is always the same: Target goes missing and is found in their home sometime later, deceased, with the walls of the room of discover coated in blood.
Containment: It is possible that an ad or pop-up blocker may mitigate the danger. However, a small number of reports state that subject is still capable of appearing to targets even when such an extension is installed within target’s browser. Proceed with caution.
Additional notes: In the early 2000s, a short video animated with Shockwave/Adobe Flash was uploaded to the internet. Hosted at a Japanese Geocities site, the animation relays an account of subject: It begins with two boys discussing the possible existence of subject in a classroom at school. Later that night, the more skeptical of the boys sits down at his home computer and attempts to research or locate subject. He is initially unsuccessful; however, as he is about to give up, subject pops up on his screen. After attempting to close subject several times, he is presented with the dialogue window full of names. The other boy’s name — the one with which he had discussed subject earlier in the day — is at the bottom of it. The boy then senses a presence behind him.
Neither boy appears at school the next day. According to schoolyard gossip, they were both found in their rooms having died by suicide.
After the video’s conclusion, a pop-up appears on the Geocities site on which the animation is hosted. Consisting of black text on a red background, it asks, “Do you like…?”
It is assumed that the pop-up that appears at the end of the animation is a facsimile of subject, rather than subject itself.
However, the possibility remains that this pop-up is NOT a facsimile.
It is possible that this pop-up is subject.
It is unknown whether subject is related in any way to so-called “red numbers” or “red rooms.” It does not appear on the surface to be the case; the color red is a common trope in subjects of this nature, and its use in all three subjects may therefore simply be a coincidence. At the same time, though, a connection has not yet been definitively ruled out.
Subject achieved notoriety in the early 2000s due to the Geocities animation’s association with a homicide known colloquially as the “Sasebo slashing.” On June 1, 2004, a 12-year-old girl in the Japanese city of Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture, was murdered with a utility knife by a fellow 11-year-old student at the elementary school they both attended. Due to her age, the perpetrator has been referred to in news coverage only as Girl A. At the time of the crime, Girl A was found to have the animation concerning subject bookmarked on her computer.
In September of that year, a Family Court ordered Girl A to be institutionalized for two years. In September of 2006, the sentence was extended for another two years. After 2008, authorities did not seek a further extension.
A similar murder of a 15-year-old girl by a 16-year-old classmate which occurred in Sasebo in 2014 is not believed to be connected to the 2004 case.
Recommendation: Should you encounter subject while browsing the internet, make no attempt to close the pop-up window.
And do NOT — under ANY circumstances — go looking for subject.
You might just find it.
And if you do, you might find your own name soon added to that long, red list.
[Photo via screenshot/Geocities]