Creative Corner: The World Wide Web

The following is an account transcribed from an anonymous source about their encounter with an unidentified anomaly.

The library closed at six. Forgive me for not giving you the name of the library. I still have a friend or two that work there, and I’d hate for them to come under scrutiny because of my account. They didn’t believe me when I told them about… It, but that doesn’t mean I hold anything against them. To give you an idea, the library I used to work at was a small one in a proportionally small town located not too far from here, but that’s all I’m willing to say.

Anyways, the library closed at six, but I always stayed afterwards. Many of my coworkers did too occasionally, but it seemed more often than not I would be the last one to leave the library. You see, I hate leaving projects unfinished. I just can’t get a good night’s sleep knowing that I left something unfinished at work.

So, I would always stay until I finished a project.  Sometimes I wouldn’t leave for hours after closing, and on rare occasions my work would keep me there late. It was during such a night that I was typing away at my computer when my screen froze. Well, not quite froze. I could still move my cursor around the screen, but when I tried to click away from the screen or type more words, nothing happened. I assumed it was a problem with the Internet connection.

I knew where the router was in theory, on the lower floors amongst the older computers and reference books long forgotten by the public. However, I had never actually seen it for myself. That wasn’t my department, but the idea of me just packing up and leaving for the night mid-sentence made a pit settle in my stomach. Maybe it was something I could fix without waiting for IT. That’s what I was thinking when I left my desk and went down the stairs that lead to, well, the basement. 

I tried to turn on the lights, but nothing happened. That should have been my first sign that something was wrong, but all I can remember thinking at the time was that after checking the router, I should take a look at the breaker next. I just turned on the flashlight on my phone and made my way through the maze of shelves.

They were a lot dirtier than I remember from my last visit. Surely that much dust and cobweb couldn’t have accrued in just over a week, but the farther I went towards the back of the room, the more the shelves were starting to look like they’d been badly decorated for some cheap haunted house.

I found the router in the back corner amongst what could hardly be called computers, they were so old. Wires laid across the floor with seemingly little care. I picked my way across them and started by unplugging and re-plugging in the router to restart it. Instead of its small LED lights coming back on, one of the ancient monitors turned on.

It was a bright blue screen that seemed out of place in the darkness, and the only thing that appeared on it was a white text that read:

Request access to the world wide web?

Below it was the words ‘Yes’ and ‘No.’ As far as I could tell, there was no mouse or keyboard connected to the monitor. There was no possible way for me to have clicked on either option. I really, truly don’t know what compelled me to do it, but I reached out a hand pressed my index finger against the ‘Yes’. 

The screen went blank except for the cursor that blinked in the middle of the screen. After a couple of seconds, more words popped up:

Request received. Processing.

The cursor continued its blinking at the end of the phrase, and then the bottom light on the router began to blink. I turned to leave. As far as I saw it, there was no need to wait around in a creepy basement for the router to restart, but after a few steps I stumbled. I looked down, and I saw my foot was lodged in a knot of wires I hadn’t noticed on the floor. I reached down to untangle myself, but the more wires I moved, the tighter they seemed to wrap around my foot.

I tried to yank my foot away, but as I pulled back my hands, I couldn’t let go of the wires. In the dim light the monitor, I noticed a film of nasty mucous encasing the wires that my hands held… no. I was not holding the wires. They held me. 

My next tug had me falling to the floor where I lay amongst the wires. As I struggled to stand, they seemed to stick to me with my every movement. They twisted around me, constricting my breathing until I could barely move. That’s when I looked up.

Far above me was a pitch darkness that the light around me didn’t penetrate. A couple of the wires that encased me seemed to lead upwards into that darkness, and as I strained my eyes to see where they lead, I saw it. Something resembling a mummified hand reached down from the darkness and took hold of one of the wires. Another hand joined it, and then I felt a tug.

The two hands pulled at the wire connected to my prison until I felt my body being lifted from the ground. When I realized that these hands were pulling me towards the darkness above, I redoubled on my attempt to escape, but at that point I was barely wiggling. I saw a third hand, then a fourth one shortly after that, join the other two.

I desperately craned my head around to look for anything that could be used to free me, but the only things in sight were the cursed monitor with its words still sprawled across its screen and the lights on the router slowly coming on one by one.

For a moment I got lost in watching their ascent along the small tower of the router, and I remembered, for some reason, the project left unfinished upstairs. You can say how foolish I was to be thinking of something like that at such a time, but to me it was like a final dash of salt rubbed into the wound that would be my untimely demise. 

I turned back to look above me, and my muffled scream burned my throat because right above me was one of those gnarled hands less than an arm’s length shy from reaching my face.

I was frozen, waiting for it to reach out and grab me, but the hand didn’t move. Neither did the other three. For a moment, I just hung there, still, and staring. I glanced back down to the router. Its lights had stopped just shy from the top. I felt my body jerk, and when I looked up, the hands were moving again.

Slowly, almost reluctantly, they released the wires they held, and retreated back into the darkness. My cocoon was slowly slipping down the wires that held me aloft. I turned to look. The lights on the router were off. And the words on the monitor had changed. 

Access denied.

When I was close to the ground, the wires started to fall away from me, and I struggled to get free as one by one, they fell back to the ground. I was free and ran from that God-awful corner in that forsaken basement, and I left the library without a second thought.

My coworkers told me it was a dream when I told them what happened, and I tried to believe them when I could find no evidence of that pile of computers in the basement during the day. According to IT, the router had been moved to their department office on the main floor weeks ago. Still, I started to take my work home with me whenever closing time came around, and it wasn’t long before I handed in my resignation.

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