Murder by Chat

Abby had heard about the new random video chat site but had been too embarrassed to try it until now. Her friend Marcia swore that it was way fun except for all the penis shots, and told her to stop being such a prude, and anyway Darren was using it so she might accidentally stumble across him, and wouldn’t that be awesome?

Yes, it would, and now that there was a localized version to pair up people in the same state, the odds of that happening weren’t totally ridiculous. Abby picked a rainy night to up the likelihood of Darren being at home, alone with his computer. That meant her mom was home, too, but they had this mutual respect thing where if she locked the door, her mom wouldn’t bug her, so that was that. She spent an hour beforehand ransacking her closet for a really cute top, then fixing her hair and carefully applying makeup so her eyes would look wide, her mouth full and kissable. With bated breath, she opened up the site and clicked “Next.”

After fifteen minutes of brief conversations with rude boys, nonexistent conversations with other girls, and more male genitalia than she had ever hoped to see in her life, Abby was ready to give up. At one point someone had offered to draw her, and it had ended up as a picture of a monster with penis eyes. If this was all the site had to offer, she was over it, and she would tell Marcia as much. Maybe she could go downstairs and watch the end of some TV show with her mom before bedtime.

One more for the road, she thought, and clicked. The window showed a blank white space, like the other person’s camera was pointed at an empty screen. The slow blink of a cursor in the top left corner attracted her attention. Rolling her eyes, Abby moved her mouse to close the browser window.

Letters appeared as if typed, forming a word.


Did she feel like typing back? Not really. Bo-ring. There was no sound, just the word and the blinking cursor, which started to move again.


Oh my god, it was someone she knew. “Who is this?” she replied. No answer. Could it be Darren? Marcia? Someone else from school? “Come on,” she typed, “who are you?”


Let it be Darren, she thought.


Abby held her breath.


At first, Abby froze. A tense heat began at the base of her neck and spread to her back. Then, she laughed.

“Very funny,” she typed. “Seriously, who is this?”


“Fine, whatever, don’t tell me,” she wrote. “Dick.” Before she could close the window, thunder crashed outside and the power went out. Grumbling, Abby carefully stepped over to her bed to get the flashlight her mother insisted she keep in her nightstand drawer. A dim glow appeared over her shoulder.

Her computer screen was on, back to the blank white page. Her breath stuck in her throat so that the only sound was the rain that tapped at her window. The screen flickered and now, instead of being empty, it contained the image of a gun.

“Mom!” She tried to shout, but could only manage a croak. The gun was a revolver. As she watched, the cylinder popped out and a single bullet floated into view. The round slid into a chamber so softly she wasn’t sure she’d really heard it. The cylinder spun like a roulette wheel and clicked loudly into place. The hammer eased back and the gun turned so that she stared down its pixelated metal barrel.

From the front, she couldn’t see the trigger being pulled, but she saw the cylinder rotate and heard when the hammer struck an empty chamber. Lightning flashed in the window behind her, on the other side of the bed, illuminating her room for a split second. Thunder boomed hard on its heels.

Abby clambered backward onto her bed, the gun following her every movement. Again, the cylinder turned and the hammer fell on nothing. Again, and again, and again. Now she did scream, over and over with pauses to gasp for breath. Footsteps thumped up the stairs but her attention was intently focused on the gun, each muted click like the second hand on a clock ticking its way to the stroke of midnight.

Lightning flashed. A heavy knock struck the door in a staccato rhythm fast as the beating of her heart.

The gun fired.

Thunder shook the house. Then, silence.

One by one, Abby unclenched her eyes. On the screen, the gun was gone, replaced by words.


The icy fear in the pit of her stomach sublimated into white hot rage in an instant. “You dick!” she shrieked, throwing a pillow at the monitor. She remembered the battery backup then, the one that kept her computer from turning off when the power went out. How could she have been so stupid? And screaming like that! Her mom must be freaking out.

Abby slid across the bed and stepped toward the door. The power flickered back on in time for her to realize that someone had been knocking before, and that she had just stepped in a pool of blood slowly soaking into her carpet from the hallway outside.

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24 Responses to “Murder by Chat”

  1. Excellent story! I was on the edge of my seat and then I was kind of bummed that she lived, but the ending was great.

  2. John Wiswell says:

    Reads like an urban legend waiting to spread, Valerie. I think I’ll stick to e-mail for a while.

  3. ganymeder says:

    I was on pins and needles right up to the end. 🙂

  4. Loved that little bitty counter-twist at the end, just that last line. Excellent stuff. Well done!

  5. Very cool story! As John said, it does read like an urban legend. Well done!

  6. Joanie says:

    Excellently done! I love the visual of the gun. She was so afraid of the artificial that she didn’t realize the real thing was coming up the stairs. I thought she had escaped until I saw her mom (I’m assuming?) didn’t. 🙁 Really suspenseful up to the very end!

  7. Liked the double twist!
    After all those penises (penii?!), to have another phallic object pointed at her… poor girl!

  8. @lil_monmon says:

    That totally gave me the jibblies. Google-chat-roulette is just too creepy. The ugly cyber underworld of sickos and trolls. You really put palpable fear into that nagging revulsion. Well done.

  9. T.S. Bazelli says:

    You got me with the double twist! I let out a breath of relief when the power went back on but then…

  10. Yowsa. That’s a rush to the end read. Loved it.

    But it may take therapy to erase the phrase “monster with penis eyes” from my brain.


  11. Icy Sedgwick says:

    A brilliant advert for NOT using video chat!!

    Gripping stuff.

  12. Eeek. Video chat is creepy. Still. Good story!

  13. Creepy! You leave just enough unanswered, and the twist at the end was interesting.


  14. Adam Byatt says:

    A taut thriller with a clever double twist at the end.
    Adam B @revhappiness

  15. Lena S. says:

    Creepy creepy creepy. If I have nightmares to night, I’ll blame it on this story (so I guess that means you did a good job writing it).

  16. Great intensity and tension. Swept me up right to the ending. To be continued? Roland

  17. Aidan Fritz says:

    Great flash. I did not expect her to live and the twist at the end was a nice touch.

  18. Pamila Payne says:

    Flash slasher film material ready to be filmed. Well, except a gun instead of a knife. I agree that it had a very cool urban legend feel to it. Very visual, fast thriller pace.

  19. Laura Eno says:

    Very creepy…great suspense to this and like others said, another urban legend is born!

  20. Valerie says:

    Thank you all so much for reading! Still not sure whether this is horror or suspense but perhaps there is no easy answer. I almost ended it with her death but it seems like that was what everyone expected, so I hope my twist succeeded. Not trying to give anyone nightmares, though… But suffice it to say that I won’t be trying Chatroulette anytime soon, either.

  21. Vandamir says:

    Fascinating idea and great twist at the end. I thought video chat was creepy before, this just underscores that feeling. I think this falls under “suspense” though the idea of all those penis shots could certainly inspire horror.

  22. I too was on the edge of my seat throughout Valerie. Fantastically chilling piece!

  23. Yikes! Great job upping the suspense with the thunder and her mom knocking. I don’t think I breathed until the end!

  24. Jason Warden says:

    Fabulous, I really enjoyed this one. Great suspenseful read. The tension was palpable. Well done!!

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