Before I start this story and tell you all what happened and why you might not hear from me anytime soon, I guess I should clarify that I don’t support piracy. And apologies if the format is off, I’m writing this on my phone. I don’t want to touch my laptop anytime soon.
I’m a big comic guy. Marvel, DC, Image, Dark Horse, whatever. I can’t get enough of them. The one issue is that it’s admittedly hard to pay for some of my collections given my financial status. Especially the classics. I’ve been saving up for this big collection of all of the Tales From the Crypt comics, and I’ve barely been able to afford any of my standard Batman or Spawn fare. I’m rambling. This is all to say that sometimes I get desperate. And to keep up with everything that’s going on right now, I’ve enlisted the help of a… questionably legal site. My philosophy has always been that if there’s ads on it, it’s got to be legal, even if those ads are pop ups about how I won’t BELIEVE what Macaulay Caulkin looks like now, or that my Apple device’s security may be in jeopardy. I’m sure any of you who’ve used one of these sites know what I’m talking about. And there’s one we all know. Either a gorgeous Asian or Russian woman on the thumbnail backed by flashing text: Hot Singles in Your Area! I don’t know who’s dumb enough or down bad enough to click that, but it’s harmless. I assumed.
On these questionably legal sites, the ads can be aggressive. Last night was a more than fitting example. I clicked to turn the digital page, and the pop up… well, popped up. A woman with long brown hair, steel blue eyes, and a knowing smile. “Hot Singles looking to meet!” It said. She seemed familiar, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on why. I didn’t think much of it. I waited for the little X to appear at the top right of the advertisement and patiently clicked off. No big deal, I thought nothing more and went back to clicking through panels of Batman beating up Scarecrow. A few pages later, the weirdness began. Same ad popped up, but the model’s expression was different. She wasn’t as relaxed, standing more tense. In place of her smile was a thin look of amusement and a cocked eyebrow. “Hot Singles want YOU!” A bit aggressive, but no big deal. X. Click off. Batman punches bad guy. I read through to the end of the issue, ready for another ad. To my pleasant surprise, there was none. The rest of the night was unremarkable. I read issue after issue of whatever, and slowly my eyes closed, and I drifted to sleep.
I woke to the cold, blue glow of my computer screen, which was odd for a couple reasons. I use Night Shift on my laptop, and my laptop is set to turn off if I don’t move the mouse for a while. The screen was on another version of that weird singles ad again. The woman’s face had gone from amused to smiling, but it wasn’t a, I don’t know, a Hot Single smile. It was almost like a sneer, but her eyes were still soft. The text now read “Hot Singles will HAVE you!” I’ve seen some aggressive lewd ads, but “will HAVE you” was oddly threatening. Concerned, I clicked to close the ad. Under it was another ad. The same ad, but her leering smile was noticeably wider. I clicked the X again. Same ad. Wider smile. Clicked X. Wider smile. Clicked X. Wider smile. Clicked X. Wider smile. Clicked X.
“Hot Singles in YOUR AREA.” The ad said. Something in my stomach felt wrong reading this. As my eyes had left the last letter, I heard a noise coming from down the street. I live in one of those backwoods towns where every house is a good few minutes from each other, so I assumed it wasn’t someone out for a walk at 2 A.M. And it didn’t sound like footsteps. It sounded like rolling, a smooth sound along the gravel to my home. Rolling of something sticky and… fleshy. I went to my window to see what all this was, and…
The Hot Singles had found me. Under the streetlamp, I could see it: a massive ball, ten or twelve feet high. It was an amalgamation of flesh, long hair, expensive lipstick, and eyelashes batting over darting, oversized eyes. It had countless gibberish mouths, spouting out nonsensical conversation starters: “You come here often?” “You like comics? I love nerds,” et cetera et cetera. I sunk beneath my bedroom window and curled my knees up to my chest. What the hell was this Clive Barker nightmare I’d woken up in? It squished its way down the road, until, peeking over my bottom window sill, it reached my front door. This ball didn’t seem to have any hands, but I had no doubt it would push through at any moment.
“Join us, Lawrence,” one mouth said. Its voice was infuriatingly familiar, but I couldn’t quite figure out where I’d heard it before. My laptop sat open on my bed, the screen turned around to face me. The woman was on the screen, her expression now frozen in a mocking laugh. In the panic, one clear thought came to me. When an animal is loose, you turn your lights off so it doesn’t bother with your house. Maybe this could at least keep it disinterested in my room when it breaks inside. I leapt up and slammed the laptop down with both hands. As soon as I did, the sound of weight against the door abruptly stopped. I waited for a moment, and on hearing nothing, nervously went to my window. The mound of skin was gone without a trace, leaving nothing to prove what I’d seen. I was in disbelief. Had I made it up? Was this a dream? Am I one of those sleepwalkers? I stepped back to my computer and slowly pried the keyboard and screen apart. The computer left sleep mode, and the screen blinked back on to that ad that’s been burned into my brain, the text now reading “BE MINE <3”
A rumble shook my entire house. I almost dropped my computer and scrambled to the window. The Hot Singles were back, and were rolling back and forth against my door, leaving a repeating thoom, schlop noise as it rammed it and pulled its skin back from the wood. An idea occurred, and I clapped the computer closed again. Again, the thing was gone. I stood there for I don’t know how long until I grabbed my omnibuses of The Walking Dead, Invincible, and The Boys and set them on top of my laptop before drifting to my bed and sat down and eventually drifted off. When I woke up, Kirkman and Ennis’ works were still on my tech. I don’t dare take them off. Do I get a VPN and risk setting that thing on someone else? Smash the computer and potentially open Pandora’s Box? No matter what comes to mind, I can’t think of a way to get the Hot Singles out of my area.