The Internet is filled with information, viral videos, and your grandmother’s chicken soup recipe… but beyond the public’s eye is a bone-chilling society, filled with horrors no one even knows exists. The Gallery will take you on a journey as one woman’s life gets turned upside down when she comes face to face with the underbelly of the world wide web.
The first week in the new apartment was everything I thought it would be: silent, lonely, but relaxing. Unopened boxes lined the newly painted walls as my television provided some much needed background noise. I’d have to get used to being by myself; I lived with Roy for ten years. My love for him was still there, but I could no longer wait for him to be ready for marriage. I wanted babies, and the tick of my biological clock could have woken the dead.
The cell phone rang, jolting me out of my head space.
“Who’s me? This is a brand new phone and I lost my contacts.” I said.
“Me. Veronica. Your sister. The one who changed your diapers when you refused to sit on the bowl.” I forgot I had written my new number down for her and my mother. New life meant new beginnings: new apartment, new cell phone, new number, maybe a new man?
“Did you really have to go that far? Diapers? Really? What do you want? I’m unpacking.” I lied. Those boxes would probably remain sealed until I needed something from it.
“I’m just checking on my baby sister. Are you okay? How’s single life?” She was slurping as she spoke. High blood sugar wouldn’t keep her from her slushies, even if it meant possible death.
“I’m well. Seriously. And I have to go, my food is here. I’ll call you back. Love you!” I lied again. There was no food and I didn’t love her.
I turned off the lights in the living room and walked the three steps to my bedroom, which was actually just my living room with a curtain dividing the space. I plopped on the bed, the springs creaking as my body settled into its usual spot: fetal position.
The tears wet my pillow as the memories of nights spent with Roy flooded my brain again. I grabbed my phone, though I made a promise to myself not to save his number in my contacts, his number was etched in my consciousness. I began to dial when the phone lit up: private caller.
“Veronica, I said I’d call you back.” I answered.
“This isn’t Veronica.” A man with one of those voice changing applications was on the other line. I knew it wasn’t Roy. He hated jokes and pranks.
“Wrong number.” I said as I went to slide my finger to hang up.
“CHECK YOUR PHOTO GALLERY.” The man screamed before I heard the beep of the ended call.
Whoever it was, was creepy, and immature. I hated that the internet had all sorts of information on everyone and someone who wanted to disappear from the world can so easily be found.
I turned over, slightly uncomfortable by the call, but knew it was a mistake. Check your photo gallery. Who say’s those things? My new phone had two pictures on it: a screen capture of curtains I wanted and a picture of me and Roy from the early days.
An hour later, my stomach was still unsettled by the call. I grabbed my phone and went into my photo gallery to see Roy. My hands shook as the phone fell to the bed and a silent scream escaped my throat. The gallery had 102 pictures: 100 of them were of me sleeping in the new apartment.