01 Feb I Run a Cursed Images Website: the Recent Submissions are Scaring Me
I run a cursed images account. You probably know the type if you spend any time online, I like to joke that my site is the eleventh most popular cursed images account, and if you can think of one it’s probably a competitor.
Well, I used to run one, it’s down now, though I don’t think it matters much anymore.
The site was downright simple to run and I got a lot of submissions. Most days I woke up and checked the various places people sent me photos to consider. Email, dropbox, facebook, twitter, instagram. Once I had enough followers, people made the rest of it almost automated for me. I picked out four images for the day and scheduled them to post on my website. Once they went live on the website, they automatically reposted on all my social media, where people shared them, and then more people saw them and followed me and sent me stuff. It never made any money, but I had a lot of followers and it was fun. The whole thing took maybe 20 minutes a day before work.
What is a cursed image? It’s hard to describe, but it’s a photo that makes you uneasy. A picture that, as you look at it, gives you a gnawing feeling of dread. I don’t like the edited ones, like the pictures where someone’s mouth has been photo-shopped over each of their eyes. I like real photos, ones that get under your skin and are eerie and unsettling and creep you out just a bit. The heavy feeling that starts in your gut and crawls up to your head.
The first picture arrived just about 3 months ago. I checked my dropbox and there it was, 100.jpg. I opened it and saw a patch of disturbed dirt in a field at night. Not a great one, honestly, and I stuck it in a folder with the rest of the rejections before continuing my day.
The next day I had another in the drop box, 99.jpg. I opened it and immediately recognized it as the same place I saw the day before. In this one I could see a shallow grave dug in a field, with what looked like a body laid at the bottom of it.
This might sound crazy, but it really used to happen all the time. People tried to scare me, they pulled elaborate pranks on me, they hoped to get a fake photo on the site they could brag about fooling me with. This one didn’t even look entirely real. I moved it into the rejection folder and forgot about it.
The next morning another photo appeared. In this one, a horribly flayed body laid on the ground next to a shovel. There was too much blood to see much of it, and honestly it still didn’t look real. 98.jpg went into the rejection pile, though I was amused at this point. Most people either sent one fake photo or overloaded me with them, this one was working in reverse order and being clever about it.
The next day I got a movie, 97.mov. I watched it. I watched it again and vomited. I watched it a third time and called the cops.
This one showed the death of the person in the first two videos, and there was no doubt it was real. The victim, who had been horribly tortured, was stabbed over and over.
The police were disgusted, but also unimpressed. They took a copy of the files and told me to email them if I got more, but that it was probably a prank. Even if it wasn’t a prank, there was no way to know where in the world this happened. They probably didn’t have jurisdiction.
The next day switched back to photos, still in descending order. Each one showed the victim in a cell, in the midst of being horribly tortured. Each one was the same, no metadata, nothing distinguishing, I couldn’t even see the victim’s face in any of them. I just knew I was looking at a relatively young man tortured for a very long time.
After a month I finally snapped and deleted my dropbox. The police weren’t responding to my emails anymore, even to confirm they received them, and I couldn’t keep looking at these photos.
The next day, photo 68.jpg landed in my facebook DM, from an account with an obviously fake name and photo (that of a fairly well known celebrity). I blocked the account, but each day the photos still slipped through.
I changed my facebook settings so I couldn’t receive messages anymore, then I did the same with my twitter. I deleted my email address, and used a new one that I didn’t post online.
I also reduced the number of images posted. I had a lot of submissions left over, but people started to complain. My social life suffered, I would come home and lock myself in, feeling anxious about the arrival of the next day’s photo.
Still the pictures made it through.
My personal facebook, my personal email, a text message on my phone. Every time I deleted an account it just showed up in another, even ones I had never posted online. I scanned my computer for viruses, but nothing changed.
50, 45, 20.
For some reason I was growing increasingly frantic as each day passed, feeling that I drew closer to some awful truth I was better off not knowing.
7, 5, 2.
One morning the photo was an email in an alumni account I forgot I had. The next it printed out of my printer.
The first photo showed the victim lying in a clean cell, they had a bag over their head and seemed to have just been put in there. It was horrible to know what followed, but it had a feeling of finality, somehow.
The next morning I woke up and realized there was no picture.
With a sense of freedom I logged onto my website to post the day’s photo, and saw there was one already there.
It was the cell that I had seen so many torture photos in. But now it was empty, clean. An old fashioned sign that said “vacancy” hung on the bars. The file name was 0.jpg.
I deleted my website and every account I had, if someone could hack my account I didn’t want it anyway. I threw my laptop in a drawer and called my internet company to cancel my service. I tossed my phone in the trash after that, and picked up a new one on sale at a place down the street.
I woke up the next day feeling uneasy, but hopeful. There was really no way to reach me, I hadn’t even given the new phone number to my parents. I went to work and settled in nicely, until the mail came. Tucked in along with some packages I was expecting was an envelope with the number -7 on it. I opened it and found a photo of someone sleeping. I couldn’t make out any details, it was taken in a dark room, and you could see someone in bed, but nothing distinguishing.
I got fired about five minutes later, right after I unloaded on Betty, the nice lady who did our mail. She had no idea what was wrong, I still feel bad about that.
The next morning I woke up and, still trying to figure out what to do with my day, almost slipped on the next photo. The envelope, marked “-6”, had been slipped under my front door during the night.
This photo showed the same sleeping figure in bed, but this time it was taken from further back. I could see the room. I saw the framed poster over my bed of my favorite movie, the lamps I bought at a garage sale because I thought they looked cool.
I saw myself, sleeping. Worse, I could see the beer can I left on my nightstand last night, something I never did. This photo had been taken just hours before, while I slept, by someone in the room with me.
I dug my laptop off and powered it on. I looked through all the horrible photos again, this time ignoring the fact that I couldn’t see the face of the victim. Now I noticed the scar on my side from where my best friend caught it with a stick in second grade. I noticed the birthmark on the back of my knee, the mole on the side of my neck. I watched myself be slowly tortured, over the course of several months, before dying. I watched the video again, realizing that the screams were mine, or what would be left of me by then.
I’m on the road now but I don’t know where I’m going. I know I have just a few more days before that empty cell is supposed to be full, only a few more days before whoever or whatever is hunting me plans to begin torturing me to death, slowly.