Previously: “A Diary In A Mine.”
When I stumbled upon the short horror story “A Game Of Tag” recently, I found it to be a delightful surprise. Posted to the Creepypasta Wiki on May 1, 2017 and r/NoSleep about a week later on May 7, both times by a writer going by the name Cainmak, it’s the kind of tale that sets up such a realistic framework that I wish the videos and online forums described in it actually existed.
[Like what you read? Consider supporting The Ghost In My Machine on Patreon!]
While there are a few factual tidbits in “A Game Of Tag” that could use some correcting — the claim that “Ring Around The Rosie” is about the Black Death is actually apocryphal — it’s nothing a solid editor wouldn’t be able to help improve; the premise and presentation is strong enough that a good writing and editing team working in tandem could really make it something special. What I like about it is how effectively it uses actual, observed behavior with regards to how people react to crises in the digital age: Videos on YouTube and social media do proliferate; there is a lot of speculation when the details aren’t readily available, both by the media and by regular folks on the internet; and subreddits do spring up extraordinarily quickly as people rush to try to solve whatever mysteries remain, mostly because we just can’t deal with not being able to understand the who, what, why, or how of situations like this.
The ending, too, is quite good, if a little clumsy in execution (and what’s more, Cainmak has remarked in the revision history that English isn’t their first language, so that’s understandable). The implication is the sort that makes your heart drop into your stomach when you realize the enormity of what it means:
In 2017, a certain video appeared on YouTube.
The phone recording presented a busy intersection in a rather large city, probably in the United States. The circumstances indicated the situation took place during rush hours on March or April, as people were wearing light coats and some snow was still visible along with blooming trees and grass.
The recording starts with screaming.
You can hear distant cries. Few people are seen running and even from a distance, it is clearly a panic rush, with lots of scuffling and pushing aside. There is a sense of confusion and uncertainty in the air. Among the obscured noises, one clear “What’s going on?” can be heard. The video is good quality, but shaky, as the person holding the phone is trying to get closer to the commotion.
Around the tenth second the chaos starts spreading. Pedestrians are now moving faster and more people are running. If it wasn’t for the crowd on the crossing, some would definitely got hit by a car as they are reckless and focused on getting as far as they can. The faint sound of police sirens can be heard at the moment. The phone user is now more or less 40 feet away from the center of the ruckus, getting a nice panorama shot. Two seconds later there is a scream somewhere very close. Mass hysteria ensues.
When the timer hits nineteen seconds, a girl in a green hoodie emerges from the right corner of the screen.
[Photo via Free-Photos/Pixabay]