He sighed, realizing that he was scrolling mindlessly through social media, and looked up briefly from his phone. Signe was sitting next to him on the couch as she edited a video to upload to YouTube. Things between the two of them were a little strained, which was expected because of everything happening to Sean. He planted a kiss on her head before getting up to get some coffee. She’s been very supportive, but he could tell she was worried and stressed.
After he poured his coffee, he decided to look at his list of games. Games that he wanted to play, and games people suggested. Sometimes the suggested games coincided with what he wanted to play, and sometimes he’s surprised at how much he liked a game. He smiled softly as his mind wandered and sighed. He knew this break wasn’t going to last for long. Somehow, he knew the hacker was going to show up again. Or that something else was going to go wrong.
Sean sipped his coffee and remembered Subnautica came out with a new DLC. “It’s on the list somewhere here. This damn thing’s so long.” He said to himself, flipping through his list. He eventually set it aside and stood up to go record, coffee in hand. As he walked by the couch he and Signe sat on, he glanced her way. She seemed focused, so he didn’t disturb her.
“Well, time to record. This should be fun.” Sean said as he set up his recording equipment.
“Hope the game’s installed already. I wanna get into it already.” He switched on his computer.
“Ok. Warm up time.”
Sean recorded an hour-long video of the DLC. He was incredibly impressed, as the main game impressed him as well.
After turning off his recording equipment and computer, he happily headed back to where Signe was. He was feeling better after playing and wanted to see how she was doing. Probably get her something if she needed it or go on a walk together. But as the couch came into view, she wasn’t there. The computer was now, in fact, on the floor.
Sean’s heart started pounding. She wouldn’t just do that. He quickened his pace and looked in the kitchen. She wasn’t there either. He went to the bathroom, the bedroom, storage closet, outside. She was nowhere to be found. Sean grabbed his hair and grimaced, wanting to cry, but was unable to. He wanted to scream and punch something.
He didn’t understand. How was she just up and gone?
“Oh fuck.” Something horrible went through his mind.
“Maybe while I was recording, the hacker got in? Aahh fuck. Ok, ok, just stop. Think…”
He paced back and forth in the kitchen. He tried to come up with a logical explanation but couldn’t. Signe wouldn’t up and leave like that. She always told him if she was going somewhere. But as he paced, he heard a shrill laughter. He jumped and looked around wildly.
“What the fuck?!”
He heard it again, as if it was inside his brain, scratching, trying to rip it apart. He clutched his head and let out a groan in pain.
“Wȩ̶l̵͘͡l̨̀̕, ̧w̢͝e̷̛l̀l͟,͏̶ w͘è̛l͞l̕.”
Oh no. It was Anti’s voice. Another hallucination? This one felt so much worse.
“S̶h̸ȩ's̨ go̴ne,̀ isn'̶t sh̵e? ͡H̡o͏w ̕sád.͢”
The hallucination’s voice was changing. It was starting to sound almost…normal.
“Shut the fuck up.” Sean growled. He didn’t want this, his own fucked up mind telling him what he already knew.
Sean’s head snapped up. A completely, normal sounding voice. His voice. Maybe he was succeeding. Or it was getting worse. He couldn’t tell. He decided to sit down; he was feeling dizzy.
“Don’t you know, Sean? I took her.”
Sean, whose head had been down, finally looked up. He was horrified at what he saw. He saw himself. Just him. Standing there, looking back at him, with this unnatural smile and a blank stare.
“Who the fuck are you?” Sean asked, his voice cracking with fear.
The other “him” chuckled softly.
“It’s me.” He leaned in a small bit. “Ą̵͞n̴t̢̀͠i̸͜.̛̀͜”
Sean just stared back, feeling very unsettled.
“I’m no hallucination.” Anti said, leaning back and standing normally. “Demons are very, v͏́e̴͏ŗ̷y͟͠ real.”
Before Sean could react, Anti, with surprising speed, grabbed hold of Sean’s shoulders threw him out of the chair and on to the hard tile floor. Sean managed to brace himself with his arms, but it hurt like hell. He turned on his butt, wincing, and backing away.
“How can your mind come up with something like this? Huh?” Anti screeched. “Can you explain away the bruises that will show on your arms in a day?” He got closer to Sean and squatted down to eye level.
“You have been f̀u̶͟n̶̡͝ to play with, Sean, and I’m not done yet,” He grabbed a wad of his hair. “f͡a̢r ̵̷̡f̨͟͝r̸̴o̷̧m̸͜ ͏d̸̀ò̷͟n͜e.”
Fearing for his life, Sean punched at Anti, but it was caught by Anti’s free hand. He threw his head back and cackled.
“Where is my girlfriend?!” Sean screamed. Anti’s cackle stopped abruptly, and his head snapped down at an unnatural speed.
“It’s as though she never existed, Sean.” Anti replied. Sean struggled in vain.
“She was hindering you.”
“No! We had our problems, but she wasn’t hindering me.” Sean yelled.
“And what if you were the one hindering her?”
“She’d tell me! We’d…I’d talk to her, and if she wanted to leave, then I’d respect that.” He suddenly grew very angry.
“Do not try to turn me against her.”
Anti chuckled softly. “Your inner struggles fuel me, and your fake bravery is entertaining. You will see me again, Sean. Remember what I told you. I̧͏͘ ̵́a͠m ̀͟r̸͝͞e̷͟͝ą̧͜l͟͡͏.̢̛”
Sean wanted to cry from the pain, but he willed himself not to.
“There is no hacker. Only me.”
“What do you want?” Sean’s words came out to barely a whisper.
Anti, with his hand still gripping Sean’s hair and fist, leaned in closer. An unnatural smile formed on his lips.
“I want you to watch as your fans continue to die. To sit back and not be able to do anything because gu̧e͞s̀s̴̀ ͏w̵͜͝h̵͡a͘͢t͝͠, Sean?! As far as the authorities are concerned, I am you. I want your life to be completely ruined. I want you to watch as everyone leaves you. As everyone labels you a m̷ų̡rd͏̶ȩ͢re͏r̶̨ and t͝r̷͢a̷i̵͢͡ţ̕o̢r to your fans.”
Sean couldn’t stop the tears from coming out, because his heart broke more and more as Anti spoke. No way this fight was in his mind. No way this was a hallucination or extension of his mind. He loved his fans dearly. His own mind couldn’t be thinking this.
There was never a hacker.
“I ơ͟w̸n͟͡ you now, Sean.”
“I wonder who will be next?”
And he can’t do a fucking thing. Not one thing.
Anti fianlly let go of Sean’s fist and hair, grabbed his throat, and slammed him down hard against the floor. Sean was motionless.
Anti put his palm on Sean’s head, and it was soon covered in blood. With a disturbingly soft smile, he conjured a small portal and reached his other hand into it, pulling out a towel.
“This will do.” He said, and he carefully wrapped it around Sean’s head. “I said you’d see me again, and I meant it. You won’t die yet.”
He licked some of the blood from his palm and stood up. Sighing, he turned on his heel and glitched. And he was gone.