Friday, March 22, 2013

"He's Going to Cut It Out of Me!"


Charlotte Hamm has once more posted a story on her Facebook profile.  I found it just a few minutes and have copied it for you to read.

He's Going to Cut It Out of Me!
I’m not sure if I should share this, really.  It might make me sound like I’m insane.  But after what happened two nights ago, I feel like I have to get it off my chest or I really will lose my mind.
I was sitting at my computer, around ten, when the second monitor in my setup flickered and went black.  This was the third time it’d done this in the last week, and my “secret” repair method (punching it) didn’t work like it had before.  It was time, I guessed, to replace it.
Firing up Craigslist, I immediately noticed something was wrong.  The site was definitely off.  The font was different-- larger and spaced oddly.  Some letters even appeared to be slightly higher or lower than the others in a word.  The effect was a little disorienting.  Assuming this to be some weird glitch, I hit refresh and the page went back to normal.

I put in the search “HD computer monitor”, chose the price range I wanted, and waited for the results.  But instead of a page full of listings, only one was returned.  And it didn’t seem to have anything to do with my search.  The title simply said “Help” with no additional information below it.  Curious, I clicked on the link. 
The ad, which I thought was probably a posting for a job or something along those lines, was empty, offering no indication of what type of help the person wanted.  Disinterested, I back out to the search again. 
This time I took out the price specification I had entered to expand my search a little.  The results were the same, though; the one “Help” listing is all that popped up.  Confused, I backed out again and changed the search to simply “monitor”.  This would definitely pull up something else, I thought.
But it didn’t.
By now I was annoyed.  Not only had Craiglist’s appearance apparently been bugged earlier, but now the search feature was broken.  This was turning into a frustrating night.
Curious if this was an isolated problem, I decided to search for something else.  I settled on “iPhone” since there are always plenty of those listed.  I didn’t specify a price or a model, either, just to be sure I’d get something back, but the “Help” listing was still all that showed up. 
Clicking on the link again, I decided to try and contact the seller to see if there was a real person behind this apparent bug.  To my surprise, there was an email option.  I quickly typed out a question, inquiring if the person knew why their ad was showing up for every search.  Within a minute, the first reply had arrived.  It was rather cryptic, though, and simply read “Please.  Help me.”
A little creeped-out but undeterred, I decided to ask who the person was.  I had barely pressed send, however, when the response “I don’t have much time!  Please, help me!” showed up in my inbox. 
The whole thing seemed like a prank, really, but I couldn’t understand how someone could set this up unless they worked at Craigslist.  Still, I was interested enough to play along.  In my next email, I asked how I could help and what the problem was.  The tone was more than a little tongue-in-cheek, though.
A few seconds later, the reply came and was far more alarming the ones before it.  It read, “Please, he’s coming for me!  I’ve heard the screams in the rooms around me.  He’s going to cut it out!”  I immediately responded by asking who was coming and what was he going to cut out, but there was no reply for several minutes, prompting me to write the entire thing off as fake.  Eventually, I grew tired of waiting and decided to refresh the page to see if the problem had been fixed. 
When the page had loaded, there was still only one ad on the screen, but it wasn’t the “Help Me” listing I had grown to loathe.  Instead, the title read “Man Seeking Women”, a startling change which made me laugh.  I, of course, had to click on the link to see the rest.
Inside was further information, unlike the last listing.  It said, “Ladies, are you tired of looking for love in all the wrong places?  Don’t let dating ruin your life.  Contact me and I promise to steal your heart!”  Again, this seemed pretty cryptic, but I was intrigued by the craziness of this whole ordeal, so I went ahead and sent the guy an email.  I obviously wasn’t looking for a date, though; I simply wanted to know if this was somehow related to the other phony listing. 
The reply came quickly, just as they all had.  I have included the entire thing.
"Dear Sir,
First, let thank you for bringing this to my attention.  You actually did me a favor by doing so, and I won’t forget it.   While I did not send the other emails, I can guarantee you won’t be bothered by them anymore. 
I thought this was really weird since it was the first email that seemed personalized and not just some generic, bot-like response.  I couldn’t bring myself to reply again, though; the experience had just been too strange to keep it going any longer.  Shutting my computer off, I changed quickly and fell into bed.  That night I didn’t sleep well, though.
The next morning, I woke up still thinking about the emails.  All of the tossing and turning the night before had given me plenty of time to dwell on them, and I’d decided to email “Steven” again.  So, skipping breakfast, I went over to my computer and switched it on.  To my disappointment, though, Craigslist was back to normal and I couldn’t find the link.  Even weirder, the emails were all gone from my inbox.  In fact, I had almost convinced myself I’d dreamed the entire thing by the time I left for work.
That hope was a short-lived, though.   Rushing down my front steps, I almost tripped over a small, cardboard box.  It definitely hadn’t been there the day before.  I stooped down to pick the container up, the sound of its contents rolling around inside instantly noticeable.  I dropped it again when I read the card taped to the front.
"Dear Sir,
After our correspondence last night, I felt obligated to make amends for the annoying emails and to thank you in some way for helping me out.  I don’t even want to think about what might have happened had someone else gotten those first few messages.  Please accept this small token as proof the offender won’t trouble you again.
P.S.  This might be my finest work, yet!

Aside from the foreboding title, I'm not sure we can assume much about this story.  It does weigh on my mind that the story's time frame (2 days ago) could apply to my incident in the woods, but the theme obviously doesn't really go along with anything that's happened.  If Charlotte is trying to warn me about the tattooed man, I would probably be wise to listen; I just wish she wasn't so damn cryptic all the time.

If you have any ideas, please share them in the comments.  I could use the help on this one.

Until next time...